Discover Cash Back Bonus Review

Note: The ShopDiscover program has been discontinued and the information below is for reference purposes only

My Cashback Bonus screenshotGet the most from Discover Cash Back Bonus rewards & Shop Discover partners. Below are details explaining how the program works and what you need to know about recent changes to the program and the pros/cons for 2015.

How does it work?

Discover Cash Back Bonus is a credit card rewards program. With Discover’s most popular, the “it” card, you get 5 percent cash back bonus in rotating categories and up to 1 percent cash back bonus on everything else.

You can also get a cash back-bonus of 5 – 20% with online shopping completed through the ShopDiscover portal for cardmembers (hundreds of stores are part of the network). This accumulated bonus you earn on your spending can then be redeemed in a number of ways…

You have multiple redemption options

  • Get a credit to your Discover credit card account (at face value, i.e. $50 statement credit will use up $50 in cash-back bonus)
  • Get a direct deposit to your bank account (also at face value)
  • Donate your cash back balance to charity (at face value)
  • Get a Discover gift card with free shipping and no fees (at face value)

So those options are all at face value (where $1 in cash-back bonus equals $1 towards the reward) but there are a few options to bump up what you get in return:

  • A couple years back, the Discover Cash Back Bonus rewards program added merchandise as a redemption option. Upon viewing the selection in my account, it looks like they have several hundred products currently available -– electronics, small appliances, toys … you name it. With some of these products, it looks like you can get more bang for your buck (amount of cash-back bonus it costs is less than the price in the store).
  • Last, but certainly not least, a very popular option is to redeem your cash-back bonus for Discover-partner gift cards. There are nearly 200 companies participating in the Shop Discover and the face value of the gift card is more than the amount of cash-back bonus it will cost to redeem your cash back dollars (which is a great way to amp up your effective cash back earnings percentage. For example, you only need to use $20 of your rewards to get a $25 Staples gift card, $20 for a $40 Mrs. Fields Cookies gift card, etc.

How to maximize your cash-back bonus

For starters, take advantage of the 5% categories as much as possible. When it comes time to redeem your accumulated rewards, statement credits and direct deposits are only face value so skip those. The partner gift cards will almost always give you the most bang for your buck. At the very least, you can get a 25% increase ($25 gift card for $20 in rewards) or an 11% increase ($50 gift card for $45).

For non-category purchases, you receive a steady 1% cash back with the Discover it card. That’s on par with, or slightly lower than, the base cash-back rate on other cash-back rewards cards. Therefore, I recommend you do what I do: Use your Discover only for the bonus categories and online purchases through ShopDiscover participating retailers. Then, use another cash-back card that offers a slightly higher return on regular spending. The Capital One Quicksilver, for example, gives you 1.5% cash back on all spending.

Not a fan of Discover? Then check out the comparable Chase Freedom which gives 5% on categories that rotate each quarter and a full 1% on everything else.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Why can’t I just get cash back, I don’t want a gift card I just want cash.

CAUTION! these “reward” cards are a great thing. getting a few percent rebate is nice, but be careful!
1. the whole reason for the credit card companies coming up with the rewards scheme is to get you to use the card more. ie. spend more. its a psychological game they are playing with your money.
2. the usual ploy is also to make you think the rewards are a percentage of your spending. if the reward is 3 points, that’s 3%, or 3 cents back on the dollar. but, when you go to the website to redeem those points, you will quickly realize that a point is not a percent. look at the number of points you have to redeem for a particular item. do the math. in almost every case you are being charged way over the fair cost of the item. the easiest way to see this is look at how many points it will cost you to get, say, a $100 gift card. it will certainly cost you more than 10000 points.
so, reward points are ok. they are better than a stick in the eye. but, don’t get lured into a false sense that you are really being “rewarded”. you are not! be careful! you are paying dearly for those “rewards”, and you can easily “reward” yourself right into the poorhouse!

Discover gives you a monetary figure for your rewards, rather than points. So if you spend $100, you have $1 reward balance. It takes $100 to get a $100 gift card.

Chase gives you points, where 1 point = $0.01 . If you spend $100, you get 100 points (worth $1.00). It then takes 10,000 points ($100 worth) to get a $100 gift card.

Your post says that people that are irresponsible with their spending can get themselves into a bad situation. At that point, the individual has to blame themselves, not a credit card for their source of the trouble.

This posts is perfect for me. Thanks for publishing this article. Your post is perfect.

douglas langston

I’m having a very hard time trying to log-in or set up so I can check on my purchases for the calender month in order to get the $100 cashback

Your information regarding the 1% cashback is wrong. The Discover More card was tiered. Discover It always gives at least 1% cashback.

it used to be easy but i cant find the site. what happened to simple.

Why is it so hard to get a list of gift card partners? I have tried going through several options, & none of them will give me any type of access to a list of partners. For example: a list of restaurants, department stores, home improvement stores, gas stations, & etc.

Same here lol. Any luck?

Thanks for the article. It covers many bases of credit card comparison (got my question answered too).