[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 Fee. DISCLOSURE: 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.)
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).