Discover it® Cash Back Review [2024]: Big Rewards and a Generous Cashback Match

CREDIT CARDS - CASHBACK CREDIT CARDS
You could earn 5% back on cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
Updated Feb. 1, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

When it comes to credit card cashback rewards programs, you can't beat a card that earns 5% back on cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. And that's exactly what's on offer with the Discover it® Cash Back.

Because you have to sign into your account and activate your bonus to get the maximum cash back, this card is best for people willing to do a bit of added legwork to maximize their credit card rewards. But with a $0 annual fee and a generous welcome offer, this extra effort is well worth it.

Read on to learn more about the Discover it® Cash Back and its benefits.

Up To 5% Cash Back

4.7

Discover it® Cash Back

Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

In this Discover it Cash Back review

Key takeaways

  • The Discover it® Cash Back offers a great rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • It also has a generous welcome offer: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • If you don’t mind dealing with rotating bonus categories, this card’s cash back could add up.

Who should get the Discover it Cash Back?

The Discover it Cash Back is a great credit card if you want to earn cash back on purchases rather than earning points or miles. The card is best for you if you spend within the categories where you can earn bonus cash back — and if you're willing to pay attention to rotating categories.

People looking for the simplest credit card rewards program or who want the highest cash back on all purchases should consider a different cashback card. The Discover it Cash Back requires a little more work to maximize rewards because you need to activate bonus categories and time your spending. But if you don't mind making the effort, you'll be generously rewarded — especially in your first year as a cardmember since Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Discover it Cash Back card basics

Card type Cash Back
Credit card issuer Discover
Annual fee $0
Welcome offer Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Rewards rate Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Intro APR 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable)
Foreign transaction fee 0%

Why we like Discover it Cash Back: benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Introductory APR: New cardholders will pay 0% intro APR (annual percentage rate) on new purchases within the first 15 months as a cardmember (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable). You can also take advantage of 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).
  • Rewards rate: You can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. This is one of the highest cashback rates available.
  • Free FICO Score: Monitor your credit easily so you can see how your borrowing behavior affects your credit score over time.
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees: There's a $0 annual fee and 0% foreign transaction fees.
  • SSN alerts: You can opt-in to receive optional SSN alerts that tell you if your Social Security number is found on the dark web.
  • No initial late payment fee: The first time you're late with a payment, there's no late payment fee. If you miss a subsequent payment, you will pay a fee of up to $41. Discover also doesn't charge a penalty APR. 

What we don't like about Discover it Cash Back: drawbacks

  • Bonus earnings cap: There is a spending cap on bonus category purchases. Cardmembers can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. The quarterly maximum is $1,500.
  • Tracking spending categories: With this card, you need to activate quarterly categories and track your spending to get the most value. For some people, this could be a hassle. Though others may be happy to do it in order to earn bonus cash back.
  • No extended warranty protection: This is a common credit card benefit, but it’s not offered by the Discover it Cash Back card.
  • Worldwide acceptance: Discover cards are not as widely accepted worldwide as Mastercard or Visa. It is accepted more places worldwide than American Express. If you plan to use this card while you travel, make sure it's accepted at your destination before your trip.

Earning and redeeming cash back

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look at how your cash back can add up with the Discover it® Cash Back.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $1,070

Year two earnings: $535

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee.

Note that the values above do not account for bonus category spending.

Best ways to earn

The best way to earn the maximum cash back with your Discover it Cash Back card is to shop within the bonus categories each quarter. You can earn 5% cash back cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.

For 2024, the Discover Cashback Calendar bonus categories include:

  • Restaurants and drugstores (January to March)
  • To be announced (April to June)
  • To be announced (July to September)
  • To be announced (October to December)

For 2023, the Discover Cashback Calendar bonus categories included:

  • Grocery stores, drug stores, and select streaming services (January to March)
  • Restaurants and wholesale clubs (April to June)
  • Gas stations and digital wallets (July to September)
  • Purchases at Amazon.com and Target (October to December)

Check Discover's bonus cash back calendar each year to see what the bonus categories are. Then log into your account to activate the bonus — or ensure the activation was done properly — so you can earn your bonus rewards.

You also get 1% on all other purchases, and Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Try to sign up for the card at a time when you know you'll be charging a lot in order to maximize your cash back.

Maximizing your redemptions

Discover it Cash Back redemption options include:

  • Statement credits
  • Deposits to eligible checking or savings accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus at select merchants (Amazon and PayPal)

Since you're getting a flat percentage of cash back, you can simply redeem your rewards anytime you feel like it. There’s no minimum amount required to redeem cash back as a statement credit or bank account deposit, and your rewards don't expire as long as your account remains active. Just log into your account via Discover.com or the Discover mobile app whenever you're ready to redeem your rewards.

Discover it Cash Back card FAQs

Is the Discover it Cash Back a good credit card?

Discover it Cash Back is a good credit card. Just make sure you activate the appropriate categories each quarter and shop where you can earn the bonus.

This card is also a great option as Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

If you don't remember to activate the bonus cashback categories and aren't earning a cashback match, you should be able to find a card — like the Citi Double Cash® Card, for instance — that offers flat-rate cash back and better rewards than the standard 1% back on all other purchases Discover offers.

Is there a limit on cash back with Discover?

There’s a limit on bonus cash back you can earn. You can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

Additionally, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Does Discover match my cash back every year?

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Do Discover it Cash Back rewards expire?

Discover it Cash Back rewards don’t expire.

What credit score do you need for the Discover it Cash Back card?

The Discover it Cash Back is best for people with average to excellent credit scores. That typically means a FICO score of 670 or higher. Keep in mind that approval is at Discover’s discretion, and having a certain credit score is not a guarantee of your overall creditworthiness or acceptance.

Other cards to consider

Not convinced the Discover it Cash Back is the right Discover credit card for you? Check out these options that are often considered some of the best cash back credit cards:

Chase Freedom Flex℠

This card also charges a $0 annual fee and offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 20.49%-29.24% Variable).

The Chase Freedom Flex offers 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service); and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You'll also earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Learn more in our Chase Freedom Flex review.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

This credit card offers 1.5% cash back as its standard cashback rate. It also offers a $0 annual fee, and it comes with a generous welcome offer — you can earn $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months of account opening. It provides a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)). Note that a balance transfer fee applies.

The bottom line is that the best credit card for you depends upon your unique situation and needs. For some, a flat-rate cashback credit card may make the most sense, while others may appreciate the flexibility of activating a different bonus category each quarter.

Learn more in our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Discover it Cash Back: bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back is an excellent card for earning cashback rewards in common categories. With a high rewards rate and a $0 annual fee, this card makes a lot of sense if you want a low-stress card for earning cash back.

Compare credit cards to find the right credit card offer for you.

Up To 5% Cash Back

4.7

Discover it® Cash Back

Why We Like It

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

See how these cards compare:

Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Up to 5% cash back on spending
  • Perks from Lyft, DoorDash, and more
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then 19.99% - 29.99% (variable) APR; Balance transfer fee applies
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Rates and fees

Author Details

Christy Rakoczy Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt