Best Discover credit cards for 2020

Discover offers a variety of credit cards for everyday shoppers, travelers, students and business owners. The Discover brand is known for customer service and no-annual-fee credit cards. Here are our picks for the best Discover credit cards available from our partners.

Editor's Top Picks: Best Discover Credit Cards

Best overall cash back card

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Cash Back

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

Best travel card

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Miles

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
Welcome Offer:
Unlimited Bonus: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There's no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 14 months
Regular APR:
11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Unlimited Bonus: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There's no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Best for gas station purchases

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® chrome

Rewards Rate:
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. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. Based Customer Service available any time.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

Best overall student card

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 6 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR:
12.99% - 21.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.

Best for good grades rewards

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Student chrome

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 6 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR:
12.99% - 21.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.

Best for building credit

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Secured

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR:
22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

The information about the NHL® Discover it® and Discover it® Business Credit Card, and Discover it® Balance Transfer card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.


Bankrate’s guide to Discover credit cards

Discover Financial Services operates one of the largest digital banks in the United States, Discover Bank, and a global payment network.  In addition to credit cards, Discover offers customers products within Discover Bank, like deposits and personal, student and home equity loans. Discover emphasizes value, customer service and security and claims to be the only issuer without annual fees on any card.

In 2019, Discover held the number-one ranking in the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction surveys for National Credit Card Companies, Credit Card Mobile Apps, Credit Card Websites and among Small Business Credit Card Companies.

Get to know Discover credit cards, and the Discover company itself, with help from Bankrate.

Bankrate’s picks for best Discover credit cards

Card Name Best for 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 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it® Miles Best Discover travel card Unlimited 1.5X miles for every $1 spent 4.8 / 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 3.9 / 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 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it® Student chrome Good grades incentive $20 statement credit every year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five consecutive years; 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 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it® Secured 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 4.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
NHL® Discover it® Best for hockey fans 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.
Additional 10% discount on NHL.TV and Shop.NHL.com (with ITPAYS code)
Coming Soon
Discover it® Business Credit Card Best for small businesses Unlimited 1.5% cash back for every $1 spent 4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)

 

What is Discover?

The story of Discover Financial Services begins with the Discover Card, launched in 1986 as a subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co.

The Discover network had just 1 million merchants in 1989 but had grown to 48 million accepted locations by 2019.

According to The Nilson Report, the 60.1 million Discover cards in circulation by the end of 2019 accounted for 5 percent of U.S. credit card purchase volume. Globally, the Discover Network held $177 billion in purchase volume with 18 network alliances in 2019.

Historical highlights

  • 1986: The Discover Card launches.
  • 1989: Discover Network reaches the 1 million mark of merchants accepting Discover.
  • 1993-1995: Discover spins off from Sears and launches its website.
  • 2000: The Greenwood Trust Company becomes Discover Bank.
  • 2006: Helps found the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council.
  • 2007: Introduces Discover Motiva, the first credit card to give cash rewards for good credit management.
  • 2008: Discover acquires Diners Club International, allowing broader global acceptance.
  • 2009: Introduces the Spend Analyzer tool and iPhone app, the first mobile account monitoring tools.
  • 2012: Discover cards first issued internationally, with banks in Ecuador and Russia.
  • 2013: The flagship Discover it Card is first offered. Discover becomes the first major credit card issuer to provide free FICO® Scores on monthly cardmember statements.
  • 2017: Announces free security alert service to cardmembers if their Social Security Numbers are found on risky websites.
  • 2019: Discover issues contactless credit cards.

What features do Discover cards offer?

Discover cardholders can expect features including:

Fees

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No overlimit fee
  • No penalty APR and no fee on your first late payment (up to $40 after)

Security

  • $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

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

What are the benefits of a Discover card?

Discover’s focus on customer service, ongoing value and security makes their cards reliable options for both new and multi-cardholders. Notable Discover benefits include:

Low fees and APR

One of Discover’s longtime appeals has been that there are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees on any card. Plus, Discover waives your first late fee (up to $40 after that) and doesn’t charge a penalty APR in case you miss a payment. Although you should try not to carry a balance on any credit card, variable APRs on Discover cards tend to compare favorably with current credit card interest rates if you have good or excellent  credit.

Valuable rewards

Cardholders can earn a high 5 percent cash back after activating Discover’s quarterly rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent on all other purchases with these cards:

  • Discover it® Cash Back
  • Discover it® Student Cash Back
  • NHL® Discover it®

Specialized spenders can earn a steady 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent on all other purchases with these cards:

  • Discover it® chrome
  • Discover it® Student chrome
  • Discover it® Secured

Only two Discover cards earn unlimited flat-rate rewards:

  • Discover it® Miles — Unlimited 1.5X Miles for every $1 spent
  • Discover it® Business Credit Card — Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back for every $1 spent

Discover Cashback Bonus

Holders of certain Discover cards can take advantage of the Cashback Bonus feature, which allows them to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in rotating category purchases each quarter (activation required) and then 1 percent after. Discover announces the full yearly calendar of bonus categories in advance, and categories remain largely consistent from year to year. Cards currently eligible for the bonus include:

  • Discover it® Cash Back
  • Discover it® Student Cash Back
  • NHL® Discover it®

Discover rewards redemption options

You can redeem your cash back rewards for:

  • A statement credit
  • A bank account direct deposit
  • Direct payment at Amazon.com and PayPal checkouts
  • Select partner gift cards, starting at $5 (with added cash value, depending on the merchant)

Discover rewards don’t expire for the life of your account. Unlike a few issuers, Discover will also credit your account with your Cashback Bonus or Miles balance rather than forfeit your rewards if your account is closed or unused for 18 months.

Cashback Match®

Rather than the traditional sign-up bonus many cards offer after spending a certain amount with your card in an allotted time (usually three months), Discover’s Cashback Match matches the cash back you earned in your first 12 months.

Patient cardholders who spend enough can have their cash back matched at the end of the first year and earn more than they would with typical sign-up bonuses. For instance, maxing out your bonus category’s $1,500 quarterly threshold each quarter will earn you $300 cash back — doubled to $600 once matched at the end of the first year.

Security and customer service

Discover emphasizes account security and customer service, which earned the top customer satisfaction ranking (842 points) among national issuers in J.D. Power’s 2019 survey — above American Express (838 points), Capital One and Chase (third-place tie at 807 points).

This survey also accounted for security and fraud resolution. Beyond the standard $0 liability for unauthorized purchases, Discover offers free overnight card replacement and an instant account lock feature called Freeze It® through its mobile app (also ranked #1 among credit card mobile apps by J.D. Power’s 2019 survey). Although credit bureaus like Experian and other credit monitoring services can also search thousands of risky sites for your Social Security Number, Discover is one of the few issuers that provides this deep web account monitoring alert service for free.

Rewards and benefits for less-than-perfect credit

All Discover cash back cards offer rewards programs and Cashback Match, even Discover’s secured and student cards. This means first-time credit cardholders and those with lower credit scores can earn cash back rewards.

Eligible student cardholders could also earn a $20 statement credit Good Grades Reward each year if their GPA is 3.0 or higher (up to five consecutive years). Plus, Discover it Secured card members may qualify to graduate to an unsecured Discover card after only eight months of making their payments on time.

What are the drawbacks of a Discover card?

Lower merchant acceptance compared to Visa or Mastercard

Since Discover uses its own network (like American Express), it isn’t accepted by as many merchants worldwide as cards in the largest two networks. However, the February 2020 Nilson Report stated 99 percent of U.S. merchants that accept credit cards take Discover.

Internationally, Discover’s 18 network alliances mean that 48 million merchants accept Discover cards in over 190 countries.

No purchase protection, extended warranty or standard travel benefits

Although these common card perks are offered on many major cards, Discover discontinued their purchase protection, extended warranty and auto rental collision insurance features in 2018. Discover it Miles doesn’t provide standard travel features like airline loyalty program mile transfer, concierge services, priority boarding, travel accident insurance or luggage protection.

If you’re a traveler who leans on these perks, you may want to look at other travel credit cards.

Limited branded cards

Discover’s only branded card is the NHL® Discover it® Card, which functions exactly like Discover it Cash Back but with a small 10 percent discount on NHL.TV and Shop.NHL.com. Other co-branded cards may deliver more valuable benefits unless you’re an avid hockey fan already in the market for a cash back card.

No specific balance transfer card

Discover discontinued the Discover it® Balance Transfer card in 2020, so it no longer offers any credit cards designed specifically for balance transfers. Although the Discover it Cash Back’s 14-month 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (11.99%-22.99% Variable) and 3% intro balance transfer fee (up to 5% on future balance transfers, see terms*) is a solid option, several other balance transfer cards offer 15-month or 18-month intro APR periods.

No consumer flat-rate cash back cards

The only flat-rate cash back card Discover offers is the Discover it Business Credit Card and its unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. The Discover it Miles (1.5x Miles on all purchases) offers the option of redeeming Miles for cash back at a rate of 1 cent per Mile.

How many Discover cards can you have?

Discover customers can hold a maximum of two credit card accounts with five authorized users on each. You can apply for a second card after their existing account has been open for 12 billing cycles.

Many issuers impose similar time windows and card limits.

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.

Learn more about Discover cards and rewards programs


Bankrate.com writer Garrett Yarbrough specializes in cash back, sign-up bonuses and other top cards to help you evaluate your most valuable options. His previous agency and freelance work ranged across a variety of topics, including personal finance and technology. Most recently, his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft coverage was featured on NextAdvisor.com. Send your questions about credit cards to gyarbrough@redventures.com.

Have questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

* 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.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.