Discover Financial began offering the Discover Card in 1985. They introduced the first cash rewards credit card in 1986. Credit and debit cards are the two primary types of card Discover offers. Discover claims to be the first credit card company to offer cash rewards in the U.S. Discover Card is the third biggest credit card brand in the United States with 61 million users. Today, Discover Banks issue almost all discover cards on the market. Around the world, Discover has over 10,000 employees. Their company slogan is, “It pays to Discover®.”

 

Rank Chart
APR
Reward Options
Our Score
#1
8.24 - 18.0%
8.3
#2
11.24 - 23.24%
8.0
#3
11.24 - 23.24%
7.9

The Good

Annual fee range

There are no annual fees with any of Discover’s credit cards. When compared with other top 5 credit card companies like Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank, we found that Discover stands out in this area. Most of these companies offer a large plethora of cards with some having zero annual fees, others having annual fees ranging from $29-$450/year and a few cards with introductory offer of zero annual fees for the first 6-12 months. When it comes to annual fees, Discover really shines.

Customer support

When you want to talk to a real person about your credit card, Discover has U.S. based customer service representatives available by phone 24/7. This toll-free number is all-encompassing, meaning there are not different numbers for certain cards or specific issues. This also pertains to their international number. Some credit card companies offer international numbers where cardholders can call collect while Discover does not. They also offer an Account Center, an online portal for Discover card members where they can send secure emails to Discover about their account. The Account Center is closed for maintenance every Sunday from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. EST. Any other time they are open 24 hours a day.

Cards Offered

Here is a list of the names of Discover’s credit cards:

  • Discover it® card
  • NHL® Discover it® card
  • Discover it® Chrome Card
  • Discover it® Miles travel credit card
  • Discover it® Chrome Student Card
  • Discover it® for Students Card
  • The Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Options for Rewards

We were very impressed with Discover’s Rewards options, many of which are competitive and others that are unique when compared to other credit card companies.

There are many great rewards Discover offers, but here are the ones we liked the best:

  • Discover it® Chrome Student Card—offers Cash Back for Good Grades. Students can get $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years. At the end of your first year, Discover adds up ALL the cash back you’ve earned on your student card, and match every bit of it. Also, Students can automatically earn 2% at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter on their student card and earning 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover it® Cash Credit Card—gives 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.
  • Discover it® Miles Credit Card—offers an automatic match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year; no blackout dates. Fly any airline, any time; Redeem your Miles for any amount to credit your travel purchases on your statement or get the cash at any time; and getting up to $30 back each year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases.

These rewards offer consumers many advantages, depending on the card you choose.

Security

In cases of fraud, whether preventative or recourse, Discover offers consumers several ways to protect themselves:

  • Free Overnight Card Replacement— If you need a replacement Miles card for any reason, Discover provides free overnight shipping at your request to any U.S. street address—even on vacation.
  • Freeze ItSM—an on/off switch for your account allowing cardholders to freeze or unfreeze their account in seconds with Discover’s mobile app or through their website. When you freeze your account, Discover will not authorize net purchases, cash advances or balance transfers. However, some activity will continue, including bills that merchants mark as recurring, as well as returns, credits, dispute adjustments, payments, Discover protection product fees, other account fees, interest, rewards redemptions and certain other exempted transactions.
  • Track your recent FICO® Credit Scores for free. Discover advertises itself to be the first credit card to provide customer’s FICO® Credit Score on monthly statements and online for free. These scores are Now you can see your recent scores in one easy-to-read chart any time.
  • No liability policy—means Discover monitors every purchase, every day and let you know if we spot anything suspicious; therefore, you’re never responsible for unauthorized purchases.

After surveying all of Discover’s cards, we found all of their security features to be available with each card. We also were impressed with the ability to freeze and unfreeze your own account. Almost every company requires you to call them and report suspicious activity and wait for one of their representatives to freeze your account. This is not offered by any of the companies we reviewed.

Unique Features

Discover is unique in that they let you compare their credit cards with cards of other major competitors. Most companies only offer comparison between cards they offer. Discover offers this, too, but they also offer the chance to compare to other companies’ cards as well. When you select a specific Discover credit card, you can see a side by side comparison of features from that Discover card and other specific cards offered. For example, viewing how Discover compares to Chase Freedom Unlimited℠, Capital One® Quicksilver® and Citi® Double Cash and others.

Also worth mentioning is that Discover lets you pick the color and/or design of your card with your application. For example, when you apply for the Discover it® Card, you get a selection of 5 solid color options.

Building Credit/Student Cards

Discover is a winner when it comes to offering opportunities to build or repair credit. Very few credit card companies offer both student cards and Secured cards and offer more than one student card and secured card. Their Student it® Card Student Chrome Card has an Intro purchase APR is 0% for 6 months from date of account opening. This is unheard of for student cards, which typically offer a fixed APR. Their student cards also stand out for offering cashback rewards. Most student cards offered by other companies do not offer any rewards. These student cards also carry no annual fees, which is also unique. Most companies we reviewed who offer student cards with annual fees—sometimes higher fees than their unsecured cards.

The Bad

APR Range

Most of Discover’s credit cards offer introductory APR of 0% ranging from 6-12 months from date of account opening. Their ongoing APRs range from 11.24%-23.24%. This is not different than their main competitors, who offer both intro and ongoing APRs within the same range. Getting a Discover card would not be advantageous based on APRs alone—it depends on your creditworthiness.

Late Payment

Making late payments on Discover’s cards will cost you a penalty charge of up to $37. However, they have a unique offer: there are no late fees the first time you pay late. After that, it goes up to $37. Although it is commendable that you don’t get penalized the first time around, the ongoing fee is on par with the high late fees that is common in the credit card industry.

Foreign Transaction Fees

We’re not sure why, but Discover’s terms and conditions do not list foreign transaction fees for any of their cards. This is not only unusual, but it is unfavorable. Almost every company we reviewed openly displayed their foreign transaction fees, which were typically at 3%.

The Bottom Line

Maybe there is something to be said about simplicity, because even though Discover only has about 5 credit cards that they offer, their credit cards have some great benefits. For starters, none of their cards have annual fees on them. Discover also has a unique security feature called Freeze ItSM which lets you freeze or unfreeze your Discover account from your mobile device or computer in cases where you suspect fraudulent activity on your account.

Regarding APRs, Discover is the same as all the other big name credit card companies—Citibank, Chase, etc. When it comes to rewards, however, Discover is so confident in the value of their cards that they do a side-by-side comparison of other cards right on their website. Their rewards are almost second to none with cashback and other benefits that are very practical and reasonable to attain. We also liked that Discover lets you pick the color of your own card and they provide free overnight shipping at your request to any U.S. street address—even on vacation if your card is lost, misplaced or stolen.

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