Now that Discover credit cards have an acceptance rate of more than 90 percent in the U.S., you really should seriously consider getting one if you’ve ignored them in the past. I’ve had one for several years now (since 2008) and regularly use it because the rewards are so generous and the customer service can’t be beat. But which Discover card is best to get?
For 2016 there are several variations of the Discover it card for consumers and students – the main Discover it (noted below) that offers 5% cash back in quarter rotating categories and Discover it chrome (designed to replace the discontinued Open Road), which offers a fixed 2% on gas and groceries on up to $1,000 in spending each quarter. Previous product types (Discover More, Escape, Miles, and Motiva) were also discontinued a few years ago and are no longer available for application.
Discover it® Cashback Match™Discover it is by far their best card yet. With it you get all of the following:
- You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. We'll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.
- Earn 5% cash back in new bonus categories like gas, restaurants, Amazon and more - up to $1500 every quarter you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
- 100% U.S. based customer service.
- FICO® Credit Scores for free on statements and online.
- No annual fee.
- Click "Apply Now" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
All of Discover’s older cards noted below are no longer offered and are mentioned for historic reference purposes only.
More (discontinued for 2013, no longer available)
This is the one I personally use myself and overall, I think it’s the best choice for most people. Here’s why:
- There’s no annual fee
- 5 percent Cashback Bonus in multiple categories each quarter
- 5 percent to 20 percent Cashback Bonus at nearly 200 online retailers
There is one drawback on it though – your first $3,000 spent annually (excluding the above circumstances) only earns 0.25 percent. Then after you’ve spent $3,000 annually it raises to 1 percent.
Even taking that into account, I still feel this card beats the other guys in many categories of spending. For example, I just placed an order at 1800contacts.com and earned an extra 10 percent cash back by clicking thru to the store from Discover’s website. That is just one of the nearly 200 stores where you can earn 5 percent to 20 percent cash back and this program almost always pays more than competing online shopping programs from other banks.
The other reason of course is those 5 percent bonus categories each quarter. Remember, these along with the online shopping program are excluded from that $3,000 thing. So that means you will be earning 5 percent cash back on the bonus categories starting with the very first dollar.
Open Road (discontinued for 2013, no longer avail)
Another no annual fee in the lineup is the Open Road – this is the best Discover card for earning above-average rewards year ‘round at gas stations and restaurants.
- 2 percent Cashback Bonus at gas stations and restaurants. You get this on the first $250 in combined spending for these categories each month.
- 5 percent to 20 percent Cashback Bonus at participating online retailers (same as the More card).
Like the other card mentioned above, this has the same deal of giving 0.25 percent to 1 percent on “all other purchases” so that is something to keep in mind. The other potential reason to not get this card is if you regularly spend more than $250 per month on gas and grocery stores combined.
Escape (discontinued for 2013, no longer avail)
If you spend a decent amount, then this is not only the best Discover credit card for rewards, but you could make the case that it is the best rewards program, period.
Why? It earns you 2 percent on all purchases, without any limits!
That’s right – you earn 2 “miles” per dollar spent. Each mile is worth $0.01 you can use to offset virtually any travel purchase made with the card. You do this by converting your points to a statement credit. For example if you paid $310 for a hotel room, then cash out 31,000 points and get a $310 statement credit. It’s that easy.
Since the 2x miles are unlimited and you earn them on all purchases (regardless of category) this is a great program because it essentially guarantees you a 2 percent rebate value. The annual fee is $60 though so if you get this card, to realize the full value you will want to use it on a regular basis.
To top it all off the Escape comes with some extra travel insurance benefits built in, such as primary (not secondary) rental car coverage… which is extremely rare to find on a credit card. Not even any of the American Express cards give primary rental coverage, so this is a very hard-to-find benefit.
Miles (discontinued for 2013, no longer avail)
If you want a no fee card that always earns at least 1 percent rewards value, then the Miles will be your top choice.
- 2 miles per dollar for the first $3,000 per year spent on travel and restaurants
- 2 miles per dollar thru participating online retailers
- 1 mile per dollar on everything else
The miles work like they do with the Escape, where you redeem them in the form of a statement credit to offset a travel purchase.
Updated January 5, 2016