Best overall cash back card

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for balance transfers

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best overall student card

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.99% - 24.99% Variable
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best travel card

Discover it® Miles

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 1.5X Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
Intro offer
Discover Match® 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for gas station purchases

Discover it® chrome

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn cash back on your next road trip with 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Recommended credit
Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

Best for gas, dining & large purchases

Discover it® Student chrome

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • 1% Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.99% - 24.99% Variable
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for building credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
25.99% Variable
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

The information about the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Bankrate’s picks for best Discover credit cards

Card Name Best For Cash Back Highlights Bankrate Review Score
Discover it Cash Back Best overall cash back card 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter when you activate (up to $1,500 in combined purchases, then 1%) with 1% on all other purchases 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Balance Transfer Best for balance transfers 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter when you activate (up to $1,500 in combined quarterly purchases, then 1%) with 1% on all other purchases 4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Student Cash Back Best overall student card 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter when you activate (up to $1,500 in combined purchases, then 1%) with 1% on all other purchases 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Miles Best Discover travel card Unlimited 1.5X miles for every $1 spent 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it chrome Best for gas purchases 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%) with 1% on all other purchases 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Student chrome Students building credit 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%) with 1% on all other purchases 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Secured Credit Card Best Discover card for building credit 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%) with 1% on all other purchases 5.0 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at the top Discover credit cards

Discover it Cash Back: Best overall cash back card

  • What we love about the Discover it Cash Back: Discover’s CashBack Match program will essentially double your cash back earnings at the end of your first year.
  • Who this card is good for: Cash back strategy enthusiasts who want to and can maximize Discover’s rotating cash back calendar.
  • Alternatives: Cardholders who want to earn cash back without having to enroll into boosted categories each quarter on top of committing their quarterly purchases to those categories might find more convenience and value in a lower maintenance flat-rate cash back card.

Jump back to offer details.
Read our full Discover it Cash Back card review.

Discover it Balance Transfer: Best for balance transfers

  • What we love about the Discover it Balance Transfer: After the balance transfer intro offer ends, the card essentially becomes similar to the Discover it Cash Back and earns cash back on its rotating calendar.
  • Who this card is good for: Debt reducers who want to take advantage of an 18-month intro 0 percent APR offer on balance transfers (then 14.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable) and pay off credit card debt.
  • Alternatives: If you need longer than 18 months to pay off your balance without interest you might opt for a card with a longer, introductory balance transfer period like the Citi® Diamond Preferred card. Despite the Diamond Preferred card’s higher regular APR of 16.74 percent to 27.49 percent variable, cardholders with a large balance to carry may benefit from the additional three billing cycles.

Jump back to offer details.
Read our full Discover it Balance Transfer card review.

Discover it Student Cash Back: Best overall student card

  • What we love about the Discover it Student Cash back: Discover’s student cash back card has the least stringent credit requirements, but still offers the same rotating categories as the Discover it Cash Back.
  • Who this card is good for: Students who can fit maximizing bonus category spending and planning into their busy college schedules.
  • Alternatives: If you’re a student who has already established some credit history and has at least good credit, you might be more interested in the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students. This card earns 3 percent back in a category of your choice, 2 percent back at grocery and wholesale stores (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent on all other purchases. It’s a flexible option that gets you away from the structured enrollment requirements of the Discover it Student Cash Back.

Jump back to offer details.
Read our full Discover it Student Cash Back card review.

Discover it® Miles: Best Discover travel card

  • What we love about the Discover it Miles: The Discover it Miles card earns unlimited 1.5X miles on purchases and Discover will match your mile earnings at the end of your first year with the card.
  • Who this card is good for: Travel rewards card beginners who want to earn miles, but not with a specific airline.
  • Alternatives: As a travel card, the Discover it Miles earns rewards at a relatively low rate, making it difficult to earn a ton of miles. Cardholders looking for a new travel card will be better served by a card that earns boosted rewards exclusively for travel-related purchases rather than a flat-rate for general purchases. While you may consider the $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great option with rewards potential to easily offset the card’s annual fee and provide you with added travel insurances only available on travel cards in this caliber.

Jump back to offer details.
Read our full Discover it Miles card review.

Discover it chrome: Best for gas station purchases

  • What we love about the Discover it chrome: With the Discover it chrome card, the elevated 2 percent categories are capped at $1,000 on combined purchases a quarter then reverts to 1 percent, but no activation is required.
  • Who this card is good for: Roadtrippers and weekend warriors who fill up at the pump often.
  • Alternatives: A quarterly cap on rewards can be hindering to cardholders who spend around $350 each month on gas and restaurant purchases. If you want to earn 2 percent back on purchases in these categories, opting for a card that earns a flat-rate of 2 percent on all purchases will ultimately be more rewarding—especially one without a quarterly cap on your rewards potential. The Citi® Double Cash Card, for instance, earns 2 percent cash back on every purchase (1 percent when you buy, 1 percent when you pay your bill.

Jump back to offer details.
Read our full Discover it chrome card review.

Discover it Student chrome: Best for dining, gas and large purchases

  • What we love about the Discover it Student chrome: The Discover it Student chrome card gets most of the benefits of the Discover it chrome, but with easier credit score requirements for approval.
  • Who this card is good for: College students who commute to class, take plenty of road trips and dine out often.
  • Alternatives: Students who don’t leave campus frequently, don’t commute and eat using a meal pass rather than dining out might find little value in the Discover it Student chrome card’s rewards categories. Instead, they might find more value in a card that comes with boosted rewards in categories like event tickets, streaming services and entertainment. The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great option that earns anywhere from 1 to 8 percent across all of those categories.

Jump back to offer details.
Read our full Discover it Student chrome card review.

Discover it Secured Credit Card: Best for building credit

  • What we love about the Discover it Secured Credit Card: Discover it Secured cardholders can earn cash back as they build credit, a rarity among secured credit cards.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit beginners and people repairing bad credit.
  • Alternatives: You could potentially earn more cash back annually if you spend across various categories outside gas and dining. If you want to use your secured card on grocery purchases while still earning decent rewards, a card like the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 1.5 percent back on every purchase.

Jump back to offer details.
Read our full Discover it Secured credit card review.

What is Discover?

Discover is one of the four largest credit card networks in the country. As a network, it processes and verifies transactions between merchants, customers and banks. Discover is also a credit card issuer, which means unlike other major credit card networks, such as Visa and Mastercard, it doesn’t need to partner with other companies to offer you a line of credit.

As a credit card network, Discover has a 99 percent acceptance rate from merchants in the U.S., but you may notice that fewer stores abroad accept your Discover credit card. Regardless, Discover offers a variety of credit cards with high customer satisfaction ratings and few fees that make them appealing to consumers.

What benefits and features do Discover cards offer?

Discover credit cards come with a number of perks that help them stand out in a crowded field. Depending on your spending habits, you can earn cash back in a series of popular rotating bonus categories or earn consistent rewards in select categories like gas, restaurants and travel.

But no matter what you’re looking for, every Discover card comes with no annual fee and Discover’s signature Cashback Match sign-up bonus. Here’s a look at some other perks that make Discover cards worth a look:

Limited fees

Discover cards come with few fees and don’t charge penalty APRs, making them relatively low-risk with minimal maintenance. Along with no annual fee on any of its cards, Discover also has neither foreign transaction fees nor overlimit fees. Even when there are charges, like with your second late payment, you’ll only pay up to $41 after your first late payment is forgiven. This is a relatively forgiving offer that may appeal to first time cardholders and credit-builders.

Security

Most credit card issuers come with a host of security benefits that protect cardholders and their accounts. Discover cardholders benefit from these protections, giving them a layer of comfort and quick, prompt service:

  • $0 fraud liability for unauthorized purchases
  • 24/7 account monitoring
  • Free credit activity and Social Security Number fraud alerts
  • Discover Freeze it® account lock
  • Free overnight card delivery by request if lost or stolen

Customer service

When it comes to customer satisfaction, Discover is considered one of the best credit card issuers. According to numerous J.D. Power studies, including the 2022 U.S. Credit Card Mobile App Satisfaction Study, Discover ranks highest in online credit card satisfaction and credit card mobile app satisfaction, beating out strong competition from American Express, Capital One, Bank of America and Chase.

Discover’s high placement may be attributed to a number of factors, including:

  • U.S.-based customer service
  • Free FICO® Credit Scorecard
  • Year-end spending summary
  • Recurring charges dashboard

How the Discover Cashback Match program works

The way the Cashback Match program works is that all the rewards you earn in your first year as a cardholder are automatically doubled by Discover. For example, earning $500 in cash back in your first year as a Discover it Cash Back Credit Card holder means you’ll get an additional $500 added to your rewards.

This program may be more lucrative than a regular credit card welcome bonus that gives you money for spending a certain amount in the first couple of months with your new card. You have a whole year to build up your rewards and see their value double. These rewards are redeemable in all the typical ways, such as cash back, statement credits, gift cards and more.

Pros and cons of Discover credit cards

Discover has some of the best credit cards available to consumers, but like all issuers Discover cards are not without both advantages and drawbacks. Before applying for the best Discover credit card for yourself, consider the pros and cons of its credit cards.

Pros

  • Cashback Match: We can’t highlight this enough — Discover will match your cash back rewards at the end of your first year with the card, essentially doubling your cash earnings.
  • FICO credit score updates: Cardholders can check their FICO score for free on their Discover credit card account.
  • No redemption minimum: Whether you have $1 or $100 in cash back rewards, you can redeem it whenever.
  • High customer satisfaction: Discover earned 837 out of 1,000 points in J.D. Power’s U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, coming second behind American Express which scored 838 out of 1,000.

Cons

  • Limited travel rewards: While Discover’s travel card earns 1.5X Miles on purchases, there are better travel rewards cards out there with higher rewards rates.
  • Earning caps: Higher cash back earning categories come with spending caps that cardholders need to watch out for.
  • Lower merchant acceptance: Discover is its own credit card network and issuer, meaning it isn’t accepted by as many merchants worldwide as cards in the largest two networks, Visa and Mastercard.
  • No consumer flat-rate cards: None of Discover’s consumer cash back cards offer an elevated flat rate on all purchases.

How to redeem Discover cash back

You can redeem your cash back rewards in a number of ways, giving Discover cardholders a ton of control over how they access their rewards. These options include:

  • A statement credit
  • A bank account direct deposit
  • Direct payment at Amazon.com
  • A physical or digital Partner Gift Card with 5 percent to 20 percent added value to each gift card (depending on merchant). Partner Gift Cards range from $5 to $200 in increments of $5.
  • A charitable donation

Comparatively, Discover is one of the more flexible card issuers when it comes to point redemption. For example, you can use any Discover Miles you earn with the Discover it Miles card to cover travel purchases or Amazon.com purchases at the checkout screen. In addition, you can convert miles at a 1:1 rate for cash back as bank account direct deposit. Discover has also announced that your miles can now be used to cover your credit card bill, including the minimum payment.

Discover rewards don’t expire for the life of your account. Unlike a few issuers, Discover will credit your account with your cash back or miles balance rather than forfeit your rewards if your account is closed or unused for 18 months. This is an incredibly user-friendly perk that makes the issuer a top contender for people who are new to rewards cards.

Who should get a Discover credit card

There are several Discover cards available for consumers, and the one you choose should be based on your individual financial needs. If you’re not sure what type of consumer you are or where you fit with your financial habits, you can check out Bankrate’s spender type tool to see where you land and receive specific card recommendations. But cardholders in the following categories can definitely benefit from Discover cards:

How to choose the best Discover credit card for you

Choosing your next credit card – or your first credit card – can be a daunting task no matter how you approach it, but it doesn’t have to be. Deciding whether a Discover card is for you is as simple as asking yourself a few questions:

Are you willing to activate bonus categories every quarter?

Discover’s elevated cash back categories must be activated every three months, so you need to stay on top of your credit card account if you want to take full advantage of the 5 percent back on up to $1,500 in purchases, then it drops to 1 percent. Luckily, Discover releases its cash back calendar for the full year so you know which categories are getting that 5 percent back well in advance. If you don’t want to activate categories, opt for Discover’s chrome cards, which offer 2 percent back on restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 per quarter, then 1 percent, but don’t require activation.

Do you need easier approval requirements?

For the Discover it Cash Back, we recommend that people have good credit or very good credit scores before applying. If your heart is still set on Discover but your score is fair, consider the Discover it Student chrome or Discover it Student Cash Back. The credit score requirements are slightly lower than its flagship cash back card, and you’ll still get decent cash back, plus Discover’s Cashback Match at the end of your first year.

How much cash back do you want?

If you activate the bonus category and then meet the $1,500 cap for 5 percent cash back every quarter (then 1 percent cash back), you could get $300, plus another $300 at the end of your first year with the Discover it Cash Back. That’s a 10 percent return for your spending for the year, which is a lot more than what other issuers offer. You just need to be sure you’re maximizing your spending in each of the bonus categories quarterly and not skewing your spending toward purchases you wouldn’t otherwise make.

If category enrollment isn’t your thing, the Discover it chrome and Discover it Student chrome cards earn 2 percent back at gas stations and restaurants, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter (then 1 percent). With these cards you could earn $80 a year when you meet the cap each quarter and $160 in the first year with Discover’s Cashback Match.

How we chose our top Discover credit cards

Bankrate’s personal finance experts have evaluated the top Discover cards according to our 5-star rating system. The list of criteria for rating credit cards includes:

Rewards

Whether the card offers cash back, travel points/miles or multi-purpose rewards for eligible purchases and the potential returns based on rewards rate (1 percent cash back per $1 spent, 1 mile per $1 spent, and so on).

Perks and benefits

Whether the card offers extras such as retail discounts, extended warranties on purchases, travel insurance and financial management tools.

Annual fee

Whether the card charges an annual fee and if so, how much the card’s overall value and benefits might offset the fee.

Introductory offers

Whether the card has a sign-up bonus, welcome offer or similar sign-up incentive and how much it adds to the card’s overall value.

Variable APR

How the card’s annual percentage rate (APR) compares with current averages as an indicator of cost and value.

Foreign transaction fee

Whether the card charges a foreign transaction fee for international purchases and how the fee affects the card’s overall value.


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Frequently asked questions about Discover credit cards

about the author
As a Bankrate credit cards editor, Ashley Parks is fascinated by the ways people can make credit cards work for them when armed with the right knowledge.
about the editor
Courtney Mihocik is an editor at Bankrate Credit Cards and CreditCards.com specializing in credit card news and personal finance advice. Previously, she led insurance content at Reviews.com and worked as the loans editor at The Simple Dollar.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.