Discover Checking vs. Capital One Checking [2024]: Cash Back or In-Person Banking?

BANKING - CHECKING ACCOUNTS
Capital One is a larger bank with more products and services, but the Discover® Cashback Debit account makes a great case if you want to earn cash back on purchases.
Updated March 22, 2024
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Overall, we prefer Capital One 360 Checking because Capital One is one of the largest banks in the U.S. and offers more products than Discover. Additionally, Capital One has physical locations while Discover doesn’t.

But it is a close call because the Discover® Cashback Debit account has many benefits and perks. This includes no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, which is the same as Capital One 360. Additionally, you can earn cash back on qualified debit card purchases.

So while we generally recommend Capital One, our Discover Checking versus Capital One Checking comparison shows it’s a tight race.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • We generally like the Capital One 360 Checking account more because Capital One is a larger bank with more resources. That translates to in-person branches and a wider variety of products and services.
  • Both the Discover® Cashback Debit and Capital One 360 Checking accounts have $0 monthly maintenance fees, no minimum opening deposit requirements, and no minimum balance requirements.
  • Capital One 360 Checking provides an annual percentage yield (APY) rate of 0.10% (as of Jan. 10, 2024)1, while Discover Cashback Debit isn’t an interest-bearing account.
  • Discover Cashback Debit offers 1.00% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month, while there’s no option to earn cash back with Capital One 360.
  • Both Discover and Capital One provide insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per depositor on their checking and other applicable bank accounts.

Compare Discover Cashback Checking vs. Capital One 360 Checking

Discover Cashback Checking Capital One 360 Checking
Annual percentage yield (APY) None 0.10% (as of Jan. 10, 2024)
Cashback rate 1.00% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month None
Minimum deposit requirement $0 $0
Monthly maintenance fees $0 $0
ATM access Fee-free access to 60,000+ ATMs Fee-free access to 70,000+ ATMs
FDIC insured Up to $250,000 Up to $250,000
Learn more in our review Learn more in our review

Our verdict

The Discover Cashback Debit and Capital One 360 Checking accounts have a lot of similarities, so it makes sense to consider the banks themselves to determine which account is better for you. We recommend Capital One because it’s a larger bank that offers more services overall, including in-person banking and more financial products.

How does Discover Cashback Checking work?

Pros
  • Earn 1.00% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
  • Benefit from no minimum opening deposit or minimum balance
  • Pay $0 monthly maintenance fees
Cons
  • Requires funding your Discover bank account within 45 days of account opening
  • Doesn’t have in-person branches

The Discover Cashback Debit account has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no minimum opening deposit.

Even better, you can earn 1.00% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. Considering many checking accounts don’t earn any rewards, Discover Cashback Debit stands out from the crowd.

Keep in mind
While there’s no minimum opening deposit requirement, you have to fund your account within 45 days of account opening or the account will be closed.

Discover's main drawback is that it doesn’t have in-person branches, which might not be a big deal if you prefer online or mobile banking.

Apply now or learn more in our Discover Checking review.

Discover®️ Cashback Checking - Earn Cash Back

Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.2 No minimum deposit or balance. FDIC Insured.

Open Account

How does Capital One 360 Checking work?

Pros
  • Take advantage of in-person branches
  • Benefit from no minimum opening deposit or minimum balance
  • Pay $0 monthly maintenance fees
Cons
  • Has limited in-person branch locations
  • Has a low APY rate

Capital One 360 Checking has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no minimum opening deposit.

On top of that, you can earn 0.10% (as of Jan. 10, 2024) APY. While this rate isn’t the most competitive APY rate, it’s uncommon for checking accounts to earn any interest at all.

We like that Capital One has in-person branches you can visit if you prefer face-to-face customer service. But we don’t like that Capital One locations are relatively sparse compared to banks like Chase and Wells Fargo. In general, most Capital One branches are located in the Northeast.

Learn more in our Capital One 360 review.

Discover Cashback Checking vs. Capital One 360 Checking: What both accounts excel at

  • Service fees: You pay $0 monthly maintenance fees with both accounts.
  • Minimum opening deposit: There’s no minimum opening deposit requirement for either option, so you can fund your account with any amount.
  • Minimum balance: Neither account requires a minimum balance, so you won’t have to worry about paying a fee if your balance falls below a certain threshold.
  • Multiple products and services: You can take advantage of checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and loans with both banks.
  • Highly rated mobile apps: Both the Discover Mobile and Capital One Mobile apps have excellent ratings on the App Store and Google Play and offer simple and streamlined online banking experiences.
  • ATM access: Both checking accounts provide ATM access to thousands of fee-free ATMs.
  • FDIC insurance: Like many of the best banks, Discover and Capital One offer FDIC insurance up to $250,000 per depositor for applicable checking or savings accounts.

4 important differences between Discover Cashback Checking and Capital One 360 Checking

The main differences between the Discover Cashback Debit and Capital One 360 checking accounts are:

  1. APY rates: You can earn interest with the Capital One 360 account, but not with the Discover Cashback Debit.
  2. Cashback rates: You can earn cash back with the Discover Cashback Debit account, but not with the Capital One 360 account.
  3. In-person branches: Capital One has in-person branches, while Discover is mainly online only.
  4. Products and services: Capital One is a larger bank with more products and services.

Apart from these differences, the two accounts are similar in many ways. Let’s compare them in each of these four areas.

1. APY rates

The Discover Cashback Debit account isn’t an interest-bearing account, while the Capital One 360 Checking offers an APY rate of 0.10% (as of Jan. 10, 2024).

Considering the Discover account doesn’t earn interest, Capital One 360 Checking is the clear winner here. But keep in mind that 0.10% (as of Jan. 10, 2024) APY is a low rate that doesn’t translate into meaningful gains. For better APY rates, check out our list of the best savings accounts.

Winner: Capital One 360 Checking because it enables you to earn interest

2. Cashback rates

With Discover Cashback Debit, you can earn 1.00% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. The Capital One 360 Checking account doesn’t offer cash back for making debit card purchases, making Discover Cashback Debit the winner here.

That said, we recommend using cash back credit cards for increased security and the potential to earn more rewards compared to most debit cards.

Winner: Discover Cashback Debit because it provides cash back on eligible debit card purchases

Discover®️ Cashback Checking
Discover®️ Cashback Checking - Earn Cash Back
Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.2 No minimum deposit or balance. FDIC Insured.

3. In-person branches

Discover is largely an online-only bank, which means you likely won’t find a Discover branch nearby. On the other hand, Capital One has a decent number of in-person branch locations, largely in areas like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and New York.

Winner: Capital One 360 Checking because Capital One has in-person branches

4. Products and services

Capital One is a full-service bank. You can visit in-person branches and apply for a number of financial products, including bank accounts, credit cards, and loans.

Discover also offers similar products but on a smaller scale. For example, Discover has less than 10 credit cards, while Capital One has more than 30.

Winner: Capital One 360 Checking because Capital One offers more products and services

Which checking account should you choose?

When you should choose Discover Cashback Checking

  • You’re an existing Discover customer
  • You want to earn cash back on eligible debit card purchases
  • You prefer Discover products and services

When you should choose Capital One 360 Checking

  • You’re an existing Capital One customer
  • You want an interest-bearing checking account
  • You live near Capital One branch locations
  • You prefer Capital One products and services

What factors to consider before choosing

When comparing checking accounts, you typically want to consider these primary factors.

  • Fees and requirements: In our opinion, the less fees and requirements, the better. That means no monthly service fees and no minimum opening deposit or minimum balance requirement.
  • Mobile and online banking: If you prefer banking on the go, make sure your checking account is set up for online banking. For mobile banking, check the app reviews to see if people are liking the experience.
  • In-person banking: Depending on the situation, in-person customer support can be a lot more helpful than talking to an online chatbot. If you prefer this type of experience, consider banks with physical branches.
  • Rewards and benefits: Some checking accounts offer APY rates and/or cash back for making debit card purchases. Other benefits could include free checks or wire transfers.
  • FDIC or similar insurance: It’s rare to not have a checking account with FDIC or NCUA insurance, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

FAQ

Which is better, Discover or Capital One?

Both banks offer checking and savings accounts as well as credit cards that we typically recommend and find useful. Capital One is a larger bank with more products and services, including in-person branches and over 30 credit cards. Discover, on the other hand, is largely an online-only bank that doesn’t have physical locations aside from one branch in Delaware and offers fewer than 10 credit cards.

Is Discover the same as Capital One?

No, Discover and Capital One are two different banks. However, on February 19, 2024, Capital One announced its plans to acquire Discover in a deal worth over $35 billion. This merger could catapult Capital One into being more competitive with megabanks like Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. It could also disrupt the payment card network industry where Visa and Mastercard control much of the space.

What bank did Capital One spin off from?

Capital One was known as OakStone Financial when it was part of Signet Financial Corporation. The credit card company spun off from Signet in 1994 and was renamed Capital One. Today, Capital One is a full-service bank offering bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and more.

Discover Cashback Checking vs. Capital One 360 Checking: bottom line

If you only look at their benefits and fees, the Discover Cashback Debit and Capital One 360 checking accounts are fairly close. But if you consider the banks themselves, we think that Capital One is a bit ahead since it has in-person branches and more products overall.

If you want a full-service bank, Capital One 360 Checking is the way to go. If you don’t plan on using or needing physical branches or other Capital One products, we recommend Discover Cashback Debit because you can earn cash back on purchases.

You can also check out alternative options in our list of the best checking accounts.

Discover®️ Cashback Checking Benefits

  • Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month2
  • No minimum deposit, no minimum balance, and no account fees
  • Access your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay
  • 60K+ fee-free ATMs and make cash deposits at Walmart stores nationwide

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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