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So, you’re trying to decide between the Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® chrome. At first glance, the two cards seem pretty similar. But with a little more research, you’ll find the Cash Back and Chrome have much different rewards structures.
With the Cash Back, you’ll need to navigate rotating bonus categories every quarter. With the Chrome, you’ll won’t need to track anything – you’ll automatically earn at gas stations and restaurants.
Discover it Cash Back vs. Discover it chrome
|Discover it Cash Back||Discover it chrome|
|Sign-up bonus||Cashback Match™ at the end of your first year||Cashback Match™ at the end of your first year|
|How to earn bonus||N/A||N/A|
|Rewards||5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on rotating quarterly categories (enrollment required), then 1%. Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else||
2% back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined spending each quarter, then 1%. Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
|Introductory offer||0% intro APR for the first 14 months on purchases and balance transfers||0% intro APR for the first 14 months on purchases and balance transfers|
|Balance transfer fee||3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*||3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*|
|APR after intro period||13.49% – 24.49% Variable||13.49% – 24.49% Variable|
Here are the details:
Discover it Cash Back
With the Discover it Cash Back card, you earn 5% cash back in bonus categories on up to $1,500 each quarter after activation. The bonus category changes every three months, helping you earn at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Uber and Lyft, Amazon.com and more, depending on the quarter. On everything else, you’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back with no activation needed.
In order to receive 5% cash back every quarter, you need to enroll online. Forgetting to do so will get you a flat 1% cash back on every purchase for the remainder of the quarter. You can view this card’s 2019 cash back calendar on the Discover website.
Discover it chrome
Don’t want to spend time tracking those pesky rotating rewards categories? With the chrome, you’ll get 2% back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, along with an unlimited 1% back on everything else.
If you’re hellbent on earning rewards specifically on gas and dining out, we recommend this card out of the two. Given the Cash Back’s rotating bonus categories, you’re not guaranteed to get a high level of cash back at gas stations and restaurants with the Cash Back card for more than one or two quarters per year.
The chrome’s $1,000 cap each quarter is relatively low, so if you know you’ll spend much more than $333 a month on gas and eating out, you might want to look into different gas and restaurant-specific rewards cards.
Which card is right for you?
Let’s start off with what you can get from both cards.
Both the Cash Back and chrome feature the Cashback Match™ bonus, meaning Discover will match all the cash you’ve earned at the end of your first year of card ownership. You won’t need to hit a certain purchase minimum and can expect to see the cash applied to your account one or two months after your one-year card anniversary.
The Cash Back and chrome also offer the same introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers: 0% APR for 14 months, 13.49% to 24.49% variable thereafter. So if you’re looking to pay off a big purchase or consolidate debt with your rewards card, either will do the job just fine.
For both cards, Discover offers a free FICO score check on each monthly statement (available on your mailed statement, online or on the mobile app). You’ll also have access to 100% U.S.-based customer service, free Social Security number alerts and Discover’s Freeze it® feature, which allows you to pause your account using their mobile app should you lose your card.
The Cash Back and chrome cards share a number of benefits. What it comes down to is your rewards earning preference. If you’d rather own a low-maintenance card focused on earning at gas stations and restaurants (that doesn’t require bonus category activation or strategic spending), we recommend the chrome. But if a 5% rewards category is calling your name, there’s no harm in going for the Cash Back card — so long as you stay on top of the rotating categories.
By maxing out your 2% cash back category on groceries each month using the chrome, you’d earn $80 for the year, or $160 your first year when including the Cashback Match bonus.
Likewise, if you maxed out your 5% category each quarter using the Discover it Cash Back, you’d earn $300 for the year, or $600 your first year with the Cashback Match bonus.
Keep in mind that in order to receive this level of cash back rewards, you’d need to max out the bonus category each quarter. Not every bonus category is going to be essential to your life (such as the October through December 2019 category, Amazon.com), so make sure to ask yourself, “Can I reasonably spend $1,500 in these categories every three months?”
Given the level of similarity between the Cash Back and chrome cards, either is a great option for earning a good amount of rewards.
If you think you can max out the 5% category of the Cash Back (and remember to activate the bonus category every quarter), go for it. If you’re more focused on earning at gas stations and restaurants and don’t want to deal with tracking rotating bonus categories, take home the chrome.
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