Discover Review: Practical Credit Cards, Convenient Banking, and Versatile Loan Products [2020]

Whether you’re looking for credit card, banking, or loan services, Discover has a competitive product to meet your needs.
Last updated Jun 5, 2020 | By Stephanie Colestock
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Whether you are looking for a new credit card, a high-yield savings account, or a loan, finding the right option is imperative. You want to work with a company you can trust, that won’t nickel-and-dime you every step of the way.

Discover is one company worth considering. While this company may be best known for its credit cards, it also offers a variety of financial products and services geared toward saving you money and frustration. Let’s look at what Discover has to offer, and why it should be on your radar the next time you’re looking for any number of financial products.

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What is Discover?

You are likely familiar with the name Discover, whether or not you are already one of their 44 million customers. This financial services company, originally introduced by Sears in 1985, is the youngest of the four major card networks in the United States. Discover Bank has also become a trusted household name in the 35 years since its founding.

Which products does Discover offer?

Though Discover is best known for its feature-rich credit cards and bank accounts, that’s not all that’s available. It also offers some of the most enviable loan options to suit a wide range of consumer needs, whether you are looking to fund a big purchase, buy a new home, or even get funding for tuition.

Here’s a look at the types of Discover products that are available today.

Credit cards from Discover

There are many different credit cards to choose from at Discover. You are likely to find a card that meets your needs, whether you’re seeking a:

  • Great everyday cash back rewards card
  • A credit card that will earn maximum miles for travel
  • Card product that’s geared toward students
  • Secured card while you establish or repair your credit
  • Business card for your company that also earns cash back
  • Card with no annual fee

Typically, these cards are good choices for customers interested in an everyday product with simple cash back redemption. If you plan to use points toward travel — especially if you enjoy transferring to partner airlines and hotels for better redemption rates — Discover might not be the best option.

Additionally, while the issuer’s travel product (Discover it Miles) does offer some benefits for travelers, it’s important to note that Discover still isn’t accepted everywhere worldwide. So before you travel, ensure that your destination country will accept this issuer’s cards.

All Discover cards offer 100% U.S.-based customer service, fraud monitoring, and a free Credit Scorecard each month. Of course, there are certain eligibility criteria for each card, and these requirements vary from one product to the next. Typically, though, you will need to have a good-to-excellent credit score in order to qualify.

Who Discover credit cards are suited for: Everyday spenders who prefer fee-free cards with simple cash back redemptions, aren’t worried about worldwide card acceptance, and/or don’t plan to transfer earned points or miles to travel partners for redemption.

Banking with Discover

Discover Bank offers banking products to meet all of your needs. Here, you’ll find cash back checking accounts, high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts (MMAs), and even flexible certificates of deposits (CDs), all with competitive terms and interest rates.

There are no monthly fees or overdraft charges associated with Discover’s banking accounts. This makes Discover an excellent choice if you want somewhere safe to put your money, hate paying fees, and want to maximize your interest and cash back rates.

Discover’s banking products are also a good option for customers who prefer (or at least, don’t mind) banking online, as Discover does not have brick-and-mortar banking locations. Opening an account with Discover is easy, even though you can’t pop into a local branch to do so, and the process takes most customers only a few minutes to complete online.

You will have access to mobile check deposit, and there are 60,000 in-network ATMs that you can use to withdraw funds without a fee. However, if you prefer stopping by your local branch with questions, depositing checks at the counter, or making cash withdrawals in person, you may not enjoy Discover Bank’s online-only presence.

Who Discover bank accounts are suited for: Customers who prefer an online-only bank that offers cash back rewards, competitive interest rates, and no fees.

Personal loans from Discover

Discover also offers personal loans, which can be used to cover a variety of expenses, from emergency home repairs and unexpected medical bills to consolidating high-interest credit card debt.

Regardless of how you plan to use a personal loan, Discover is there to offer the funding that meets your needs. Here is what you can expect when taking out a Discover personal loan:

  • Loans up to $35,000
  • No processing or origination fees
  • Flexible repayment terms of 36, 48, 60, 72, and 84 months
  • Fixed interest rates ranging from 6.99% to 24.99% APR*

You’ll enjoy customer service that is entirely based in the U.S., in case you ever have questions about your loan or need help managing your account. Discover also offers same-day decisions on personal loans in many cases, helping you get the funding you need fast.

Plus, if you change your mind about your personal loan, you have the option to return the funds within 30 days — and you won’t be subject to any interest charges.

In order to qualify for a Discover personal loan, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and have a household income of $25,000 or more. Your interest rate and approved loan amount will be determined according to factors such as your creditworthiness and ability to repay.

Who Discover personal loans are suited for: Consumers who are shopping around for personal loans that are quick, origination fee-free, and offer flexible repayment terms would be wise to give Discover a look.

Private student loans from Discover

Discover offers private student loans to cover your undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law, health professions, residency, or even bar exam costs. Additionally, you can use a Discover student loan to consolidate your existing private and federal student debt, making repayment easier (if not also cheaper and faster).

It’s important to note that anytime you refinance federal student debt into a private loan, you will forfeit certain financial benefits. These may include deferment or forbearance options, income-driven repayment plans, and federal student loan forgiveness programs. Be sure to weigh your options before you decide to refinance your federal loans.

Discover student loans have no fees and offer either deferred or in-school repayment options. Interest rates range from 1.49% to 11.49% variable or 4.49% to 12.39% fixed (as of June 5, 2020), and there are zero fees. Your application can take as little as 15 minutes to complete and if you do not qualify on your own, or want to snag a better interest rate, Discover does accept cosigners on student loans.

If you make good grades, Discover will also reward you with a cashback bonus. You’re able to request a one-time cash reward — for 1% of each new loan’s value — as long as you maintain a 3.0 GPA or equivalent.

Lastly, Discover makes it easy to fund your entire education with its multi-year funding option. Rather than repeating your entire loan application each school year, you can remain pre-qualified for future years and avoid the hassle. There won’t be any impact on your credit when it comes time to fund your future semesters, as long as you attend the same school, keep the same cosigner, and work toward the same academic degree.

Who Discover student loans are suited for: Student or parent borrowers who want fee-free loans with flexible repayment, quick decisions, and the option for cash back rewards.

Home equity loans from Discover

If you own your house (with or without a mortgage), your best borrowing option might be to tap into that home’s equity through a home equity loan. This not only allows for potentially lower interest rates, but any interest you pay on your home equity loan might be tax-deductible.

These loans are perfect for a variety of needs, such as:

  • Home improvement projects
  • Debt consolidation
  • Educational expenses
  • Major life events, such as weddings

Home equity loans through Discover are available from $35,000 all the way up to $200,000, though you will be limited based on the available equity in your home at the time of application. There are no application, origination, or home valuation fees charged by Discover, though, and no cash will be required at closing.

Interest rates are currently between 3.99% and 11.99% APR fixed (as of June 5, 2020), and terms are available in 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-year flavors with fixed monthly payments.

In order to qualify for a Discover home equity loan, you’ll need to have a credit score of 620 or higher, currently live in said home, have verifiable income and employment, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. And of course, as we mentioned, you’ll need to have equity built up in your home before you can take out a home equity loan.

Who Discover home equity loans are suited for: Borrowers who want to utilize their home’s existing equity for various funding purposes without worrying about low loan limits, fees, or closing costs.

What Discover customers are saying

If there’s one thing that’s clear about Discover, it’s that its customers are overall pretty happy. The evidence of that? For the fifth time in the last six years, JD Power & Associates has ranked Discover number one in credit card customer satisfaction in 2019.

Of course, some consumer rating sites paint a slightly different picture. It’s important to remember that consumers aren’t as quick to post online when they are happy with their financial establishments, so online reviews are often disproportionately negative.

With that said, Discover Financial Services does have a 3.5 rating out of 5 on ConsumerAffairs.com. Common complaints include things like accounts closed unexpectedly due to inactivity, issues with aggressive fraud monitoring, concerns about disputed charges, and misunderstandings regarding certain banking fees (such as those for cash advances).

Discover Financial Services currently has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, as well, and has been accredited since 1989. Their customer-submitted rating is only 1.5 stars out of 5 on BBB.org, however, due to many of the same complaints as above.

FAQs about Discover

Which Discover card is best?

The best card for you will depend on many personal factors, such as where you typically spend the most money, how you plan to use your earned rewards, and what your current credit score will allow you to qualify for. With a variety of card options to choose from, however, you’re sure to find the product that suits your needs.

Is a Discover loan a good option?

If you’re looking for a loan that doesn’t charge origination fees, has flexible repayment options, and can offer a same-day decision for most applicants, a Discover loan is a great option to consider. Additionally, you’ll enjoy U.S.-based customer service and, if needed, can even return your loan within 30 days and pay no interest.

Can I pay off a Discover loan early?

Yes. There are no penalties or fees involved with paying off your Discover personal loan early. If you want to contribute a little extra to your principal balance or simply pay off the entire loan ahead of schedule, you can do so without worry.

What credit score do you need for a Discover personal loan?

There is no specified minimum credit score that you will need in order to qualify for a personal loan through Discover. However, your credit history and score will be taken into account when determining eligibility. Additionally, you will need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have a minimum household income of $25,000, and be at least 18 years old.

How long does it take to get a Discover student loan?

You can be approved for your Discover private student loan in as little as 15 minutes, but it’s important to keep in mind that funding can take a bit longer. Discover does recommend that you apply a few weeks before you actually need the money: 45 to 60 days for undergraduate, graduate, residency, or bar exam loans, and 30 to 45 days for consolidation loans.

The final word on Discover

While Discover is primarily known for its credit card and banking divisions, the financial services company has an even wider range of products and services to suit most consumers.

Their loans, in particular, are very competitive, offering fee-free options, quick approvals, and flexible repayment terms. Whether you are looking for a personal, student, or home equity loan, you’re sure to find funding that meets your needs. Plus, with a number of prestigious customer service awards under their belt, you can feel comfortable knowing that Discover has your back.

*All rates and fees are accurate as of June 5, 2020.

5% Cash Back

Discover it Cash Back

Discover it Cash Back

Discover it Cash Back

Benefits

  • Up to 5% cash back
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Cash back match your first year
  • No foreign transaction fees