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Is the Discover it Cash Back worth it?

Big (but limited) category bonuses and first-year cash match are the star incentives


The Discover it Cash Back card offers plenty of perks for cardholders who know how to utilize rotating categories. Consider pairing it with another flat-rate card so your earning potential stays high.

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When it comes to credit cards that offer cash back, there are numerous options to choose from, including the Discover it® Cash Back. As the name suggest, the Discover it Cash Back is a cash back credit card that allows you to earn 5 percent cash back on rotating quarterly categories and other perks. Coupled with no annual fee, the card can be an attractive option for those who want to earn cash back rewards on categories that change every few months. As a bonus, the cash back cardholders earn during the first year is doubled at the end of the year thanks to Discover’s Cashback Match™ program.

So is Discover it Cash Back the right card for you? Let’s take a look at when the Discover it Cash Back card may be worth it, and when you might want to consider alternatives.

When is the Discover it Cash Back worth it?

The Discover it Cash Back card offers a few different perks that may make it worth considering as an addition to your wallet. If you’re looking for a new cash back credit card, the Discover it Cash Back card may be worth considering when:

You want to earn 5% cash back on purchases

One of the biggest perks of the Discover it Cash Back credit card is the ability to earn 5 percent cash back on rotating quarterly categories. Discover has a different set of bonus categories each quarter.

For example, for the second quarter of 2023, the Discover 5 percent bonus categories are restaurants and wholesale clubs. It’s worth noting, however, that you do have to manually activate your purchase categories each quarter in order to earn the 5 percent.

With this card, you can earn 5 percent cash back on your first $1,500 in purchases in the bonus categories each quarter. After reaching the cap, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back. On purchases outside the rotating categories, you’ll always earn 1 percent.

By maximizing your bonus categories each quarter, you can earn up to $300 in rewards per year. After your first year (when all of your cash back is doubled as an initial sign-up bonus), you could get up to $600 in rewards, just from spending in the quarterly bonus categories. That’s a hefty reward considering that this is a card with no annual fee.

You could use an intro APR offer

The Discover it Cash Back card has a variety of rewards and benefits, and one of the most popular is its 0 percent introductory APR offer. You can get 15 months of 0 percent APR on both new purchases and balance transfers (17.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable thereafter).

If you’re unsure as to whether you can pay off your debt within 15 months, using a balance transfer calculator may help you determine whether you should transfer the balance. As for the intro APR on new purchases, whether you’re buying a new washing machine or blender, be sure to make regular payments before your APR offer ends.

When is the Discover it Cash Back not worth it?

While the Discover it Cash Back card can be a solid addition to your card lineup in many cases, it may not be the best option for everyone. The Discover it Cash Back card may not be worth considering when:

You want a higher return on everyday purchases

Earning 5 percent cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories can be a great return if it lines up with your spending. However, the 1 percent cash back rate on all other purchases is lower than the rewards rates that many other credit cards offer on everyday spending.

For instance, the Citi Double Cash® Card offers unlimited 2 percent back, with cash back of 1 percent on general purchases and 1 percent when you pay off those purchases. That card could be a better option if your regular spending doesn’t align with the Discover it Cash Back’s rotating categories and if you pay off your card each month.

Another option is to pair the Discover it Cash Back with the Double Cash Card or a card that’s similar to the Double Cash. If you already use flat-rate credit cards, this could be beneficial to you. You could use the Discover card for the bonus categories, then once you hit the $1,500 quarterly limit, start using a card that gives more than 1 percent on all other purchases.

You prefer travel rewards and perks

The Discover it Cash Back is a good card, but its redemption options are limited to cash back and similar alternatives like gift cards, donations and statement credits. Cash is king and can be used to book travel or anything else you want, but if you’re a frequent traveler looking to maximize your purchases for travel rewards, you should shop for a travel credit card. If you’re looking for free checked bags or elite status perks, you may want to look for an airline or hotel credit card.

A good hotel card that gives great all-around value is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card due to its high rewards rates, a generous sign-up bonus and a Free Night Award every year after each account anniversary.

As for an airline card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card gives points on some everyday categories and provides convenient travel perks like two free checked bags, baggage delay insurance and the opportunity to earn a Companion Pass.

Should you get the Discover it Cash Back card?

The Discover it Cash Back credit card is a great option for people who are looking to supercharge their cash back rewards. The ability to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter is an excellent return on spending. If you play your cards right, you would earn up to $600 cash back your first year, thanks to Discover’s Cashback Match.

The card is best suited for cash back enthusiasts who don’t mind activating categories each quarter and would love to spend the extra time strategizing purchases to fit the category rotation schedule.

However, if you don’t mind having multiple cards in your wallet, the Discover it Cash Back works best when combined with another card that you can use for non-bonus spending. Since its 1 percent cash back on other purchases is below average, we recommend adding a flat-rate cash back card or another cash back card with bonus categories in reliable, everyday categories, such as groceries or gas.

Bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back is a solid, no-annual-fee card that earns up to 5 percent cash back on all purchases. It also comes with a wide array of benefits, including free access to your FICO score and a zero-interest offer. If you love earning cash back in a variety of categories and wouldn’t mind expending some effort toward maximizing the card, it could be perfect fit for you.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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