Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card Review: Great Rewards with No Annual Fees

For credit card users looking to get the most out of their rewards, the Discover it Cash Back card should grab your attention. If it has a high rewards rate for quarterly rotating categories, and Discover will double the rewards cardholders earn during the first year, with no annual fee.

The Discover it Cash Back is the perfect step up from a basic rewards card for consumers willing to put in some work to maximize their return on spending.

Intro BonusIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – from Discover only. Discover automatically matches all the money you’ve earned by the end of your first year. There is no minimum spend or maximum reward. You can put $150 cash back into $300.

April11.99% – 22.99% Variable

Recommended credit Excellent/Good

Reward rates

  • Earn 5% cashback on daily purchases in various places every quarter such as, supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay with PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Automatically earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

Annual contribution$0

Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 months

Discover automatically matches the cashback you’ve earned, dollar for dollar, over those first 12 months at the end of your first year. There is no limit to the number of Discover matches and you do not need to sign up to receive this introductory offer. There is also no annual fee to worry about.

In addition to the high rewards potential, the card comes with a 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for an impressive 18 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable). That means new purchases within that time will not accrue interest, nor will it accrue any balance transferred from another credit card.

The compensation structure is based on rotating quarterly expense categories that must be capitalized each quarter. Cardholders receive 5% cash back (of the first $1,500 spent each quarter, then 1%) on expenses such as grocery stores, health clubs and gym memberships, gas stations, Target purchases, and online shopping. You also automatically earn 1% cashback on all other purchases with no limit.


  • 5% cash back on a variety of different purchases
  • 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers
  • Cashback Contest
  • No annual costs


  • No shop or travel protections
  • $1,500 Quarterly Spending Limit for Big Rewards

Things to consider

Not a fan of managing which reward categories are active? This card may not be for you. Cardholders must activate the reward categories every month or else they will only earn 1% cashback on those purchases instead of 5%. However, rewards drop to 1% once the quarterly spending limit of $1,500 is reached.

One more note to keep in mind: Discover isn’t as widely accepted compared to Visa or Mastercard, so you may be more limited in terms of where you can use it. You will probably need a spare card in case a restaurant or other establishment does not accept it.

Discover it® Cash Back redemption details

After activating rewards for the quarter and earning 5% cashback (of the first $1,500 spent), there are several things cardholders can do with their cashback. Cardholders can redeem rewards if:

  • Statement credits
  • Deposit directly into a bank account
  • Donations to specific charities
  • Amazon Purchases
  • Gift cards

Gift cards can only be redeemed in $20 increments, but there are no minimum redemption requirements for any of the other options.

How does it compare to other cashback cards?

If you prefer a more straightforward rewards structure, a flat rate card may be a better choice. Credit card users who don’t want to worry about changing reward categories can consider an alternative such as the Citi Double Cash Card. There is no cashback limit and no bonus categories to track.

The Chase Freedom Flex is another cash back card that offers consumers varying reward categories at an identical rate to the Discover it Cash Back card. There is also an introductory offer of $200 cash when you spend $500 on purchases within three months of account activation. And for the first year, the card earns 5% cash back on gas. It covers slightly more ground than the Discover card thanks to the static 3% cash back categories for restaurants and drugstores. And it can even increase the rewards potential depending on how much you spend, despite Discover’s cashback match.

[This article was first published on The Simple Dollar in 2020. It was updated in March 2022.]

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