Home > Credit Cards > 4 Ways to Get Max Value From Discover Cash Back Rewards

Comments 0 Comments

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Discover it – Cashback Match, Discover it chrome, Discover it for students and Discover it Secured Card – No Annual FeeDISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

There are a lot of cash back rewards programs out there so it’s important to compare them and have a full understanding of what they each offer to make sure you find the one that is right for you.

With that in mind, we thought we’d break down what the Discover Cash Back Rewards program entails, give you some insights into a few ways to use the Discover cash back program so you get the most for your rewards and mention some of the cards that offer this rewards program. (Comparing cards and looking for more rewards program breakdowns? You can see six hacks for using the Citi ThankYou points program here.) [Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.]

1. Cash or Statement Credit

Redeeming for cash or a statement credit is one of the easiest ways to get value through the Discover cash back program. There is no threshold for how much you have to earn before you cash out. Meaning, if you’ve only earned $5, you can cash out for $5 or you can wait until you have $100. You can apply the funds to your next statement, or transfer them to a bank account of your choice.

2. Gift Cards

One of the more interesting ways to use your cash back rewards from Discover is to receive gift cards. These gift cards can be from retail establishments, restaurants and gas stations. But what makes this an interesting option is that you receive $5 added to each gift card for free. While you might redeem $40 in cash back rewards, you could receive a gift card worth $45. Most of the gift cards come in the form of a physical card, which means you could have to wait up to 10 days before your card arrives. However, you can also receive eCertificates. These can be downloaded to your computer or on the Discover mobile app and used immediately.

3. Pay With Points

Discover has a relationship with Amazon that allows consumers to make purchases on Amazon.com and use their cash back to help cover the cost. It’s important to note that there is no value added when using your cash back on Amazon. One dollar in cash back equals one dollar on Amazon. Because of this, it may make more sense to pay for your Amazon purchase with a credit card, earn the additional rewards and then apply a statement credit toward the expense.

Earlier this year, Discover also announced an agreement with PayPal allowing cardholders to use cash back rewards on any purchase where PayPal is used. While this option has not gone live as of post time, it is expected to work the same way as the Amazon partnership.

4. Donate to Charity

While you will not earn anything extra, value wise, here, you have the option to help others and donate your cash back rewards to charity. Partners include the American Cancer Society, World Wildlife Fund and the American Red Cross. This can be a good option if you’re looking to donate money to one of these charities anyway, or if you’re simply in the giving spirit.

Earning Discover Cash Back Rewards

There a few cards that let you earn Discover cash back rewards. Let’s take a look at some of them. (Note: Most of the cards listed below require decent credit to qualify. Before you apply, you can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com so you can get an idea of if you’ll be eligible for the card you’re considering or not.)

Discover it Card

Anyone looking for a generous cash back card, without an annual fee, may want to have the Discover it card on their list of considerations. With this card, you can earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter. One quarter it might be at gas stations and movie theaters, and the next it might be restaurants and groceries stores. There is a limit of $1,500 in purchases each quarter that earn 5% back. All other purchases made with the card receive 1% back. Plus, Discover matches everything you earn with this card for the first 12 billing cycles. That means if you earn $200 in cash back rewards, you actually receive $400. This card comes with an introductory 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Afterward, the APR rises to a variable 11.99% to 23.99%.

Discover it Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card

If a lot of your monthly spending is focused on gas and restaurants, then the no-annual-fee Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants card could be a good option. With this card, you earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 each quarter on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. All other purchase made receive 1% back. Just like the Discover it card, Discover matches all your earnings during the first year as a cardholder. This card also offers an introductory 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Afterward, the APR becomes a variable 11.99% to 23.99%.

Discover it Student Card

The Discover it Student card works a lot like the standard Discover it card. You earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter. Plus, all other purchases earn 1% back, with Discover matching your earnings during the first year. With this card, students get rewarded for earning good grades. Each year you earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you receive a $20 bonus cash back reward. This card comes with no annual fee and has an introductory 0% APR for six months on purchases. After the introductory period, the APR becomes a variable 13.99% to 22.99%.

Discover it Secured Card

If you’re attempting to rebuild your credit, or are new to the world of credit entirely, the Discover it Secured card might be an option worth considering. This card is a little different than most secured cards because it allows you to earn cash back while you build a better credit history. You earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% back. Plus, like all other Discover cards, Discover matches your earnings the first year. There is no annual fee for this card. The APR is a variable 23.99%. (You can learn more about secured credit cards here.)

Image: PeopleImages

At publishing time, the Discover it, Discover it Chrome, Discover it Student Card and Discover it Secured Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team