How Do You Choose the Right Discover Credit Card?

Picking the right credit card can be difficult, particularly when there are so many credit card issuers and cards to choose from. Discover offers credit cards with different rewards rates and perks, but also ensures that every cardmember receives valuable benefits.

Which credit cards does Discover offer?

Discover has cash back and travel credit cards, including credit cards for students, and people who are looking to build their credit. The Discover it® credit cards are:

Each Discover card has specific features that will appeal to different people based on their needs or lifestyle. But every Discover card also comes with certain benefits.

Benefits that come with every Discover card

No matter which Discover card you choose, you’ll receive:

  • No annual feeDon’t worry about starting with a balance or having to decide if your card is worth keeping each year — none of Discover’s cards charge an annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fee. You also won’t pay an additional foreign transaction fee when you use your card abroad or make purchases online in a foreign currency.
  • A sign-up bonus. All Discover credit cards come with an unlimited Cashback Match or Discover Match®. If you’re a new cardmember, Discover will automatically match all the cash back or miles you earned after the end of your first year.*
  • Redeem With Ease. Plus, your rewards never expire*, and redemptions start at one penny.
  • Easy reward redemptions. Choose among multiple redemptions options, including cash back, gift cards, charitable donations, or a statement credit.
  • Nationwide acceptance. Discover cards are accepted nationwide by 99% of the places across the country that take credit cards according to the 2022 Nilson report.

Additionally, Discover gives cardmembers security features and insights that can help cardmembers take steps to protect themselves. These include Freeze it®, which you can use to freeze your account if your card is misplaced to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.* Discover also offers free Social Security number alerts if your Social Security number is detected on one of thousands of Dark Web sites.* These alerts are free to activate.

What Discover credit cards give the best rewards?

While every Discover credit card offers unlimited rewards, the rewards rates can vary. There are three earning styles you can choose from:

  • Fixed-rate rewards. The Discover  Miles Card offers 1.5 Miles on each purchase.
  • Tiered rewards. The Gas & Restaurants Card, Student Chrome Card, and Secured Credit Card offer 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.* You earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Rotating rewards. The Cash Back Card, Student Cash Back Card, and NHL® Card offer 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter when you activate. You earn 1% cash back on other purchases.

A fixed-rate Discover rewards card might work best if you don’t want to think about bonus categories when you’re making a purchase, or if you tend to shop at different types of stores. But a card with tiered or quarterly bonus categories could help you earn more rewards if your purchases align with the bonus categories.

How do you choose the right Discover credit card?

Choosing the right card can depend on your circumstances and preferences. Consider which cards you’ll likely be able to get, how you want to use the card, and which type of rewards you want to earn. Here are a few general suggestions that could help you determine which card is best:

  • You’re a student. Students might want to try one of the two cash back student credit cards. These cards could start with a low credit limit, making it easier to get the hang of using a credit card responsibly.
  • You’re building or rebuilding your credit. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is designed for people who are building or rebuilding their credit. Discover reports your account to all three major credit bureaus. It offers cash back rewards, a sign-up bonus, and you get your deposit back after six consecutive on-time payments and six months of good status on all your credit accounts.*
  • You want to maximize rewards. A card that offers bonus rewards on qualifying purchases in certain categories could help you earn the maximum rewards. You could also pair a fixed-rate and a rotating rewards card.
  • You want to travel. The Discover Miles  Card could be a good pick if you want to redeem your rewards Miles for a statement credit for travel purchases.* You can also redeem your travel rewards Miles for cash if you’d prefer.

Find out which Discover cards you can qualify for

A credit card company will generally check your credit report and score when you apply for a new credit card. The credit check can result in a hard inquiry, which may hurt your credit score and stay in your credit history for up to two years.

However, using the Discover pre-approval tool, you can see which Discover cards you’re pre-approved for without impacting your credit score. You may already have an idea of which card you want. But you can compare the rewards styles, bonus categories, and intro APR offers of the cards you’re pre-approved for to see which card is going to be the best fit right now.

Cashback Match: We'll match all the cash back rewards you've earned on your credit card from the day your new account is approved through your first 12 consecutive billing periods or 365 days, whichever is longer, and add it to your rewards account within two billing periods. You've earned cash back rewards only when they're processed, which may be after the transaction date. We will not match: rewards that are processed after your match period ends; statement credits; rewards transfers from Discover checking or other deposit accounts; or rewards for accounts that are closed. This promotional offer may not be available in the future and is exclusively for new cardmembers. No purchase minimums.

Your rewards never expire: We will credit your account with your cash back bonus balance if your account is closed or has not been used in 18 months. See rewards terms and conditions.

Discover Match®:  We'll match all the Miles rewards you've earned on your credit card from the day your new account is approved through your first 12 consecutive billing periods or 365 days, whichever is longer, and add it to your rewards account within two billing periods. You've earned Miles rewards only when they're processed, which may be after the transaction date. We will not match: rewards that are processed after your match period ends; statement credits; rewards transfers from Discover checking or other deposit accounts; or rewards for accounts that are closed. This promotional offer may not be available in the future and is exclusively for new cardmembers. No purchase minimums.

Discover® Identity Alerts are offered by Discover Bank at no cost, only available online, and currently include the following services: (a) daily monitoring of your Experian® credit report and an alert when a new inquiry or account is listed on your report; (b) daily monitoring of thousands of Dark Web sites known for revealing personal information and an alert if your Social Security number is found on such a website. This information is intended for, and only provided to, Primary credit cardmembers whose accounts are open, in good standing and have an email address on file. The Primary cardmember must agree online to receive identity alerts. Identity alert services are based on Experian information and data which may differ from information and data at other credit bureaus. Monitoring your credit report does not impact your credit score. This benefit may change or end in the future. Discover Bank is not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. To see a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit discover.com/freealerts.

When you freeze your account, Discover will not authorize new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers. However, some activity will continue, including merchant-indicated recurring bill payment, as well as returns, credits, dispute adjustments, delayed authorizations (such as some transit purchases), payments, Discover protection product fees, other account fees, interest, rewards redemptions and certain other exempted transactions.

Redeem Miles: Starting at 1 Mile, you can redeem your Miles as a credit to your account to pay for all or part of your bill, for cash as an electronic deposit to your bank account, or for a credit for Travel Purchases made on your statement within the last 180 days. Travel Purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites, commuter transportation, restaurants and gas stations. Restaurant purchases include those made at merchants classified as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, fast-food locations, and restaurant delivery services. Gas Station purchases include those made at merchants classified as places that sell automotive gasoline that can be bought at the pump or inside the station. Gas Stations affiliated with supermarkets, supercenters, and wholesale clubs may not be eligible.

Even if a travel purchase on your statement appears to fit in a Travel Purchase category, the merchant may not have a merchant category code (MCC) in a Travel Purchase category. Merchants and payment processors are assigned an MCC based on their typical products and services. Discover Card does not assign MCCs to merchants. Certain third-party payment accounts and digital wallet transactions may not be eligible for credit redemption if the technology does not provide sufficient transaction details or a qualifying MCC. See Terms and Conditions for more information.

Chrome Disclosure: You earn a full 2% Cashback Bonus® on your first $1000 in combined purchases at Gas Stations (stand-alone), and Restaurants each calendar quarter. Calendar quarters begin January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. Purchases at Gas Stations and Restaurants over the quarterly cap, and all other purchases, earn 1% cash back. Gas Station purchases include those made at merchants classified as places that sell automotive gasoline that can be bought at the pump or inside the station. Gas Stations affiliated with supermarkets, supercenters, and wholesale clubs may not be eligible. Restaurant purchases include those made at merchants classified as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, fast-food locations, and restaurant delivery services. Purchases must be made with merchants in the U.S. To qualify for 2%, the purchase transaction date must be before or on the last day of the offer or promotion. For online purchases, the transaction date from the merchant may be the date when the item ships. Rewards are added to your account within two billing periods. Even if a purchase appears to fit in a 2% category, the merchant may not have a merchant category code (MCC) in that category. Merchants and payment processors are assigned an MCC based on their typical products and services. Discover Card does not assign MCCs to merchants. Certain third-party payment accounts and digital wallet transactions may not earn 2% if the technology does not provide sufficient transaction details or a qualifying MCC. Learn more at Discover.com/digitalwalletsSee Cashback Bonus Program Terms and Conditions for more information about your rewards.

Getting your deposit back:  Monthly reviews start your seventh month as a customer. We will refund your security deposit if you have made all payments on time for the last six consecutive billing cycles on your discover accounts including any loans, and you've remained in "good status" on all credit accounts you are responsible for whether they are Discover accounts or not. "Good status" means: (1) your credit report shows no delinquencies, charge-offs, repossessions, or bankruptcies for the six months prior to our review, and (2) your Discover secured card is not in a prohibited status at the time of our review, including, but not limited to: closed, revoked, suspended, subject to tax levy, garnishment, deceased, lost/stolen, or fraud. Monthly reviews may be delayed if you change your payment due date. We typically process your refund in 2-3 business days based on your delivery preference. If you close your account and pay in full, we'll return your deposit within two billing cycles plus ten days.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.