Skip to Main Content

Best Discover credit cards for January 2023

Updated January 18, 2023

Discover offers a variety of credit cards for everyday shoppers, travelers, students and business owners. Furthermore, the Discover brand is known for customer service and the fact that its credit cards charge no annual fee. To find the best Discover credit cards, we considered rewards rates, perks, benefits and more for you to decide which Discover card to add to your wallet.

Image of Discover it® Cash Back

Best overall cash back card

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

16.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® Balance Transfer

Best for balance transfers

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
4.7 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

16.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® Student Cash Back

Best overall student card

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
4.3 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info
Image of Discover it® Miles

Best travel card

Discover it® Miles

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 3.9 stars out of 5
3.9 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Discover Match®
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

16.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® chrome

Best for gas station purchases

Discover it® chrome

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

16.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® Student chrome

Best for gas and dining for students

Discover it® Student chrome

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info
Image of Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Best for building credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
5.0 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

27.24% Variable APR

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Info

Compare Bankrate’s top Discover credit cards

Card Name Best For Cash Back Highlights Bankrate Review Score
Discover it Cash Back Cash back 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 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 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Student Cash Back Students 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 Travel Unlimited 1.5X miles 3.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it chrome 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 Gas and dining for students 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 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 16.24 percent to 27.24 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 17.24 percent to 27.99 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 gas and dining for students

  • 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.

Pros and cons of Discover credit cards

Pros

  • Checkmark

    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.

  • Checkmark

    FICO credit score updates: Cardholders can check their FICO score for free on their Discover credit card account.

  • Checkmark

    No redemption minimum: Whether you have $1 or $100 in cash back rewards, you can redeem it whenever.

  • Checkmark

    High customer satisfaction: Discover earned 837 out of 1,000 points in the most recent 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.

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.

Still unsure if a Discover credit card is right for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

How the Discover Cashback Match program works

With Discover’s Cashback Match program, 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 few months with your new card. You have a whole year to build up your rewards and see their value double. 

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 a bank account direct deposit. Discover has also announced that you can now use your miles 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 perk is incredibly user-friendly and makes the issuer a top contender for people who are new to rewards cards.

Are Discover credit cards worth it?

Discover offers a range of no-annual-fee credit cards that come with features many will find appealing. Students, credit-builders, travelers, cash back enthusiasts — even NHL fans — will want to take a look at Discover’s lineup of cards to see if one is the right fit for them. That said, we love the Discover it Cash Back, and many other Discover cards can be great in the right person’s wallet.

When it comes to deciding if a card is worth it, you’ll have to evaluate your own financial needs and see if any of the cards Discover has to offer align with those needs. Discover’s high rates of customer satisfaction, Cash Back Match program and fairly lucrative rewards rates make these kinds of credit cards worth a look.

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:
  • Checkmark
    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).
  • Checkmark
    Perks and benefits
    Whether the card offers extras such as retail discounts, extended warranties on purchases, travel insurance and financial management tools.
  • Checkmark
    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.
  • Checkmark
    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.
  • Checkmark
    Variable APR
    How the card’s annual percentage rate (APR) compares with current averages as an indicator of cost and value.
  • Checkmark
    Foreign transaction fee
    Whether the card charges a foreign transaction fee for international purchases and how the fee affects the card’s overall value.
Have questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.

Frequently asked questions about Discover credit cards