Credit Cards » Compare Credit Cards » Best Discover Credit Cards of 2021
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Best Discover Credit Cards of 2021

Discover offers a variety of cards to help you to find one that is best suited to your needs and spending habits. Here are our top choices.

Some products that appear here are from companies from which this website receives compensation. This may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). It doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. our opinions are our own.

Discover is one of the leading American Financial services companies. It owns and operates Discover Bank, plus Discover credit cards. The Discover Card brand is the third largest in the U.S, with almost 50 million cardholders.

Today, Discover aims to provide superb customer service with its 100% U.S based support team. The company offers products that are tailored to help people to achieve their financial goals. Discover offers a variety of cards to help you to find one that is best suited to your needs and spending habits.

Here are The Smart Investor select's picks of top Discover credit cards:

Discover It Cash Back

Discover It Cash Back review

On Discover Secure Website

Discover It Cash Back

Reward details

1-5% cash back

Current Offer

Match Bonus for the first 12 months

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers.

APR

11.99% – 22.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

Discover It Cash Back was awarded the 2020 U.S. News Best Credit Card for the cashback rewards card. This card offers a very high rewards rate on some categories that rotate every few months. The card gives a 5% cashback on any purchase that is up to $1,500, which is spent each quarter on the rotating bonus category. Some of the categories include; restaurant, gas station, online shopping and many more each time you activate them. However, on all other purchases, excluding the ones in the category selected, you will only receive a 1% cashback.

This card is best for individuals who want to have a high reward rate on every purchase they made and also individuals who love a more straightforward rewards program.

  • Rewards Plan: 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 + 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • APR: 11.99% – 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Sign Up bonus: 2x cash back with cashback match, get an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • 14 Month 0% Intro APR Period
  • Balance Transfer Fee
  • 5% Cash Back for Select Spending Categories
  • Matches Cash Back in the First 12 Months
  • No Annual Fee
  • Less Merchant Acceptance
  • No Sign-Up Bonus or 0% APR Introductory Rate
  • Limit on Cash Back Spending Per Quarter
  • Keeping Track of Bonus Categories

Discover it® Miles

Discover It miles card review

On Discover Secure Website

Discover it® Miles

Reward details

Unlimited 1.5x Miles

Current Offer

Match Bonus for the first 12 months

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers.

APR

11.99% – 22.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The Discover It Miles credit card is a solid entry level option for the occasional traveler who is looking to earn rewards towards flights, hotels, and car rentals. It has a flat rate of rewards and a very simple redemption process. It is, however, best for cardholders with a credit score of more than 700, and it is the best option for people who travel a lot.

They offer an unlimited 1.5 miles for each dollar you spend on purchases. There are no specified purchases so, this applies to ALL, and another great benefit - there is no annual fee. Also, Discover will match your points earned in the first 12 months of opening an account.

If you frequently travel abroad, the card does not charge any foreign transaction fees, but it is important to note that it is not acceptable in all countries. 

  • Rewards Plan: Unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. Your rewards never expire.
  • APR: 11.99% - 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Sign Up bonus: Discover matches your first year miles automatically (for example: 10,000 miles becomes 20,000 miles)
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Matches the Miles You Earn in Your First Year
  • 14 Months 0% APR On Purchases
  • Flexible Redemption Options
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • No Annual Fee
  • Balance Transfer Fee
  • High Requirements
  • Not the Highest Rewards Rate as a Travel Credit Card
  • Less Merchant Acceptance

Discover It Student Chrome

Discover It Student Chrome Card Review

On Discover Secure Website

Discover It Student Chrome

Reward Details

Up to 2% cashback

Current Offer

Match Bonus for the first 12 months

Credit Rating

Fair

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

6 months

APR

12.99% – 21.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

Discover it® Student chrome offers 2% cashback on restaurant and gas station purchases on up $1000 worth of purchases each quarter, and an additional 1% cashback on all other purchases.

This card also rewards you with a cashback match by doubling all the cashback you've accumulated in the first year. This means that $100 could turn to $200, which you could redeem for statement credit, gift cards, and other options. This card does not charge an annual fee, and new cardholders enjoy a 0% APR for the first 6 months.

  • APR: 12.99% - 21.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Rewards Plan: 2% cashback at gas and restaurants (up to $1,000 every quarter), 1% on groceries and other student related products
  • Sign Up bonus: Match Bonus for the first 12 months
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: 6 months
  • 0% Intro APR
  • No Annual Fee
  • Cash Back Rewards
  • No Foreign Fees
  • Not Widely Accepted Outside the US
  • Restrictions on Rewards
  • Late Payment Fee

Discover It Secured

Discover It Secured review

On Discover Secure Website

Discover It Secured

Reward Details

1-2% cash back

Current Offer

Match Bonus for the first 12 months

Credit Rating

Limited – Average

Annual Fee

$0

0% Intro

12 months

APR

22.99%
  • Overview
  • Card Features
  • Pros & Cons

The Discover It Secured credit card is a great way to build your credit history while still earning cash back rewards like a normal credit card. This is a great credit card option for students as well as folks trying to repair their credit history. Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit from $200-$2500 after being approved. 

Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit. Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.

  • Rewards Plan: Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • APR: 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Sign Up bonus: Discover automatically matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, no limits
  • 0% APR Introductory Rate period: Intro Balance Transfer APR is 10.99% for 6 months from date of first transfer
 
  • Build Credit History
  • Cash Back Rewards
  • Flexible Redemption Options
  • Get Extra Money Redeeming as a Gift Card
  • Refer a Friend for Cash Back
  • Put Down a Refundable Deposit
  • 10.99% APR for Balance Transfers
  • Less Merchant Acceptance
  • High Purchase APR

How to Compare Discover Credit Cards

Discover is one of the leading American Financial services companies. It owns and operates Discover Bank, plus Discover credit cards. The Discover Card brand is the third largest in the U.S, with almost 50 million cardholders.

Leading Card Companies by Number of Cards in Circulation (Millions, USA)

The Different Types of Discover Credit Cards

Discover offers a variety of cards to help you to find one that is best suited to your needs and spending habits. The current selection of cards include:

Cash Back Card

As the name suggests, the Discover It Cash Back Card offers cash back on your spending. You can earn 5% on selected purchases and an unlimited 1% cash back on all your other purchases.

The card has no annual fee and there is a 0% APR introductory rate for balance transfers and purchases for 14 months. After this time, the rate increases to 11.99% to 22.99% APR depending on your circumstances.

Gas Station and Restaurants

The Discover It Gas Station and Restaurant card allows 2% cash back on all your gas station and restaurant purchases up to $1,000 per quarter.

You’ll earn 1% cash back on other purchases with no spending cap. The card also has no annual fee and 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers for 14 months.

Travel

If you tend to travel a lot, the Discover It Travel card could be a good option for you. You’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend. Discover automatically matches the miles you earn in your first year, with no minimum spending or maximum rewards.

So, you’ll earn miles for miles match. The card has no annual fee with a 0% APR introductory rate for 14 months on your purchases.

Secured

The Discover It Secured credit card offers a solution for those looking to rebuild or establish a credit file. You’ll need to open your account with a refundable security deposit. This amount of deposit will influence your approved credit line.

In addition to offering this option for a genuine credit card, you can also earn 2% cash back for restaurant and gas station purchases for a combined $1,000 each quarter and 1% cash back on all your other purchases.

NHL

 This is a great option for hockey fans. You can not only pick your team to adorn your new card, but enjoy some superb rewards. You can earn 5% in selected categories that change each quarter.

For example, in 2021, the categories are Grocery Stores, Walgreens and CVS, Gas Stations, Restaurants and PayPal, Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com. There is a maximum cap of $1,500 per quarter, but you’ll earn 1% unlimited cash back on all your other purchases.

You’ll also save 10% when you shop at the NHLShop.com site and pay with your Discover Card, using the code ITPAYS.  There is no annual fee and you can enjoy a 0% APR introductory rate for 14 months.

Business

The Discover It Business card offers 1.5% cash back on all your purchases with no expiration for the rewards. This card is the only business card offering Discover Cashback Match. Discover will match all the cash back from your first year automatically, with no maximum rewards or minimum spending.

The card has no annual fee and there is a 0% APR intro rate for 12 months on purchases.

Student Cash Back

If you’re still studying, you can still get some great rewards with the Discover It Student Cash Back card. This card offers 5% cash back on purchases in categories each quarter and 1% cash back on all your other spending. The card has no annual fee and 0% APR for the first six months on purchases.

What makes this card special is that you can earn a $20 statement credit each year for up to five years, if you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Student Chrome

This is another card aimed at students with the same $20 per year GPA bonus for five years. However, where the Chrome card differs is the reward structure.

You can earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 per quarter on gas station and restaurant purchases, with 1% cash back on your other purchases. Like the Student Cash Back, there is no annual fee and 0% APR for the first six months on purchases.

As you can see, this is an impressive selection of cards that all offer some superb rewards. So, you can choose a card that fits your typical spending habits to maximize your rewards.

What Credit Score Will I Need in Order to Get Approved?

Like most credit card issuers, Discover uses your credit score to determine approval for its cards. Your credit score number will determine whether you have excellent, good, fair or bad credit.

Credit Score Ranges Basics

Since Discover offers some generous rewards, you will need to have good to excellent credit to be approved. While Discover does not specify minimum scores for cards, it will be helpful if you have a score of 670 or more to qualify for the Discover It Cash Back, Miles, NHL or Business Cards.

The two Discover student cards are a little more flexible. You can qualify for one of these cards with a fair credit rating. However, you may still qualify if you lack a credit history.

If you have a poor credit rating or no credit history, your best option may be the Discover It Secured. This allows you to pay a deposit to secure your card. This offsets the need to have a higher score.

Of course, these are only approximate guidelines, since there are no official minimum requirements. Fortunately, Discover makes it easy to determine if you would qualify for a card with its pre-approval.

This is the easiest way to find out if there is a Discover card that matches your financial profile. The pre-approval tool only uses a soft credit check that will not impact your credit score. It will show you which cards you can be pre-approved for.

Bear in mind that pre-approval doesn’t guarantee approval on the application, but it does indicate a high probability that you could qualify for those cards.

How Do Discover Cashback Offers Work?

Like many credit card issuers, Discover has a cash back program that allows you to earn cash on the purchases you make on your card. You can earn 1% to 5% cash back depending on your specific card and the most lucrative spending categories.

Some cards have set categories that offer a higher cash back rate, such as the Gas Station and Restaurant card. While others have rotating categories, such as the NHL card. This allows you to earn a higher rate of cash back in different quarters, so you can plan your spending for the most rewards.

Obviously you should choose a card that offers the best rewards for your everyday spending. There is no point in a card that offers a large cash back amount for items you wouldn’t typically buy.

However, what makes Discover different is that you can redeem your cash back at any time. There is no minimum redemption, so even if you’ve only earned $0.01, you can claim it.

Discover also offers a number of ways that you can redeem your cash back.

  • Apply it as statement credit
  • As a direct deposit into your bank account
  • Pay using your cash back. You can use your rewards during checkout at PayPal and Amazon.com

How Do the Discover Points Rewards Offers Work?

While many card issuers do have points rewards, Discover currently only has one card that does not have a percentage cash back. This is the Discover It Travel card, which offers Air Miles rather than a cash back percentage.

This works in a similar way to the cash back offers. However, instead of receiving a percentage on your purchases, you’ll earn 1.5 miles for each dollar you spend. There are no limits to the number of miles you can earn.

You can accumulate your miles and then redeem them for statement credit or cash towards a travel purchase. Your miles can help you with the cost of your trips and travel, with no blackout dates. This allows you to cover airfare, hotels or even gas station purchases.

As with the cash back, you can also use your points at checkout with PayPal or Amazon.com.

This makes the Travel card a great option for those who typically travel a lot. You can not only earn cash back on your everyday expenses and travel costs, but you can use your accumulated miles to offset the costs of your travels.

What is the Discover Rewards Program?

Unlike many issuers that have specific minimum spends or time restrictions, the Discover Rewards Program offers some great bonuses. The Cash Match scheme allows you to get a dollar for dollar, mile for mile bonus.

Discover calculates the amount of your rewards in your first year and provides a credit for the same amount.

This is a fantastic incentive that doesn’t require you, as the cardholder to do anything. Unlike other cards where you need to meet spending requirements within a specific timeframe to qualify for the introductory reward bonus, the Discover Cash Match doesn’t require that you do anything.

This means that you don’t need to track your spending or watch the calendar to make sure you qualify. Just make purchases with your card as normal and every dollar you spend will effectively qualify for double cash back or double miles.

There are no stipulations on how you redeem your bonus cash back. It will simply accumulate on your account after your one year card anniversary. Discover will process your rewards and add them to your account within two billing periods. There are no purchase minimums to qualify.

You need to maintain an active account to receive your bonus rewards. Discover will not pay the bonus on a closed account. So, if you’re planning on closing out your account, be sure to wait until your bonus rewards have been processed.

Discover Redemption Options + Cashback Calendar 2021

As we touched on above, Discover has a flexible redemption policy. The company offers several redemption options to claim your rewards. Unlike many other types of card, there is no minimum redemption. So, even if you only have $0.01 in rewards, you can redeem them. Additionally, redeeming your rewards does not impact the Discover Cash Match. So, you don’t need to worry about claiming your rewards at any point.

The simplest way to redeem your cash back is as statement credit. Once you request redemption, it takes approximately three business days for it to appear on your account. This is a good way to pay down your card balance. It also counts towards making the minimum payment for that statement period.

Another option is to request a direct deposit into your bank account. Again, this takes approximately three days. You’ll need to provide Discover with your banking information.

You can also use your rewards to purchase gift cards or pay with your rewards at checkout at PayPal or Amazon.com.

Finally, you can use your rewards to make a charitable donation. There is a full list of charitable causes that you can check on the Charity Redemption page when you log into your account.

When you’re planning your rewards, you will also need to consider the Cash Back Calendar. Discover releases the calendar each year and it details the categories where you can earn a higher rate of cash back in each quarter. This only applies to certain cards, such as the NFL card and Student Cash Back card, but it can be a great way to plan your purchases and maximize your cash back.

In 2021, you can earn 5% cash back at selected places at different times of the year.

  • January to March: Grocery Stores, CVS and Walgreens. This includes Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery, but it excludes other Target or Walmart purchases.
  • April to June: Gas Stations, Select Streaming Services and Wholesale Clubs.
  • July to September: PayPal and Restaurants.
  • October to December: Target.com, Walmart.com and Amazon.com.

In each quarter, there is a $1,500 cap on purchases. Additionally, you need to activate the particular quarter categories to ensure that your purchases are eligible for the increased cash back.

If you exceed the spending limit for the quarter, the additional purchases will still qualify for the base rate of 1% cash back.

How to Maximize Your Discover Rewards

While Discover offers a generous reward program, there are ways to maximize your rewards to get even more cash back. These include:

1. Plan Your Spending

While it is easy to impulsively spend, this is not the best way to gain the maximum rewards. The best approach is to plan your spending. Focus on the areas where you will earn the most rewards.

So, if you have Discover It Cash Back, look at the 2021 calendar and think about the timing of your purchases. Stock up for the year at your warehouse club between April and June. This will allow you to earn 5% cashback on up to $1,500.

2. Pay Off Your Balance

The more interest that you pay each month, the more it will offset your rewards. There is no point in spending like crazy only to leave the balance on your card accruing interests.

So, where possible, pay off your balance. This will also allow you to clear your card and then make more purchases each month, maximizing your potential rewards.

3. Watch Your Spending Caps

Most of the Discover cards have spending caps for the higher rates of cash back. So, it is important that you take advantage of these. Try to plan your spending each month, so you don’t miss it one month and then go over the cap in the next.

If you’re consistently getting the maximum cash back from these particular categories, you’ll maximize your rewards.

4. Remember Your Year One Cash Match Bonus

We’ve already discussed that Discover will automatically calculate your total rewards and match it dollar for dollar or mile for mile for your first year. However, if you miss this anniversary by even a day, your reward will not get matched.

So, take a note of your anniversary date and ensure that you don’t leave any eligible purchases to the last possible minute. You don’t want a processing delay to compromise you getting the most possible rewards.

5. Redeem Your Rewards as Statement Credit

Unless you have a massive credit limit, every dollar will count. So, if you want to be able to put more purchases on your card, you need to clear your balance as frequently as possible. Your rewards can actually help you with this. You can redeem your rewards at any point from any amount above $0.01 as statement credit.

This will count as part of your minimum monthly payment, but it will also free up part of your credit limit. So, you can make more purchases on your card and get even more cash back.

What are the Other Benefits of Having a Discover Card?

In addition to the generous reward program and Cash Match, Discover cards also offer a number of other benefits. These include:

  • No annual fee: Many card issuers charge an annual fee for offering generous rewards. This is not the case with Discover cards. Regardless of which card option you choose, there are no annual fees. This could save you as much as several hundred dollars per year.
  • No minimum reward redemptions: While there are some minimums for gift cards, generally, there are no minimum reward redemptions. So, even if you only have one cent, you can claim your rewards.
  • No Reward Expiry: Another benefit of Discover cards is that there are no expiration dates to worry about for your rewards. Some card issuers require that you redeem your rewards within 18 months, so if you lose track of time, you can miss out.
  • Free Security Alerts: Discover will alert you if your social security number is used on Dark Web sites or if a new credit request appears on your credit report. You can also freeze your account within seconds if you detect any security issues.
  • Fraud Liability Protection: You’ll not be responsible for any unauthorized purchases on your card.
  • Reasonable Fees: There are no foreign transaction fees or overlimit fees. Additionally, you won’t be charged a late fee on your first late payment.
  • Flexible Payments: You can pay your bill online or by phone up to midnight on the day it’s due.

How Many Discover Credit Cards Can I Have at One Time?

Most providers cap the number of credit cards customers can have at any one time. This also applies to Discover and the company has its own credit card limitation rules.

Customers are limited to two Discover credit cards at any one time. Typically, you need to have held your first card for at least one year, before you can open a second card. However, it may be possible to get a second card a little sooner.

Discover also allows you to have two versions of the same card. This allows you to maximize your rewards. However, Discover may require additional security checks to confirm that your application is genuine.

Since Discover does not have annual fees, you can pair the rewards in different categories to maximize your cash back.

With so many options on the market, credit cards offer more than just a convenient way to make purchases. With cash back, rewards and other incentives, it was considered commonplace to have multiple cards. However, in this chart using Shiftprocessing data, we can see that the average number of cards per person in the US has dropped from 3.7 in 2009 to 2.7 in 2019.

This shift could be due to the more competitive credit card industry, where card issuers are offering even more incentives to retain their customers. On the other hand, it could also be a result of consumers using other types of finance rather than relying on credit cards.

Number of Cards per person (USA)

How do I Cancel a Discover Credit Card?

Discover makes it easy to cancel a credit card and close your account. All you need to do is call the helpline at 1-800-DISCOVER (1-800-347-2683). There are no fees for closing your account and you do not need to clear your account balance before you close your account. However, you will need to continue making payments on your balance until it is cleared.

Bear in mind that before you close your account, you will need to redeem your rewards. If you close your account before you redeem your rewards, Discover will credit you with your balance, but you will not get to decide the most preferable redemption method.

Credit Card Reviews Methodology

In order to determine the best possible credit cards, we look at things like fees, interest rates and rewards. We do this with companies that are associated with us as partners as well as other offerings. From there, we make a decision about what the best card is related to different categories and needs. We focus on interest rate cost & fees, especially the cost of carrying a balance, rewards – cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely usability – cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting. We also consider customer reviews.

We look at cards related to good or excellent credit ratings that will then provide a range of different benefits and improvements for someone who has these scores. We also look at low fees when it comes to those who have lower credit scores.