Discover is one of the largest issuers of cash back credit cards, and there is an option under the Discover brand for just about every type of spender. Cash back rewards through Discover are simple to understand and each card provides additional card member benefits at no cost. The Discover it and the Discover it Chrome are two of the most popular additions to the Discover line of cash back rewards cards. Each card option has its advantages and disadvantages, and each is best suited for a specific type of card holder. Let’s review the difference in card basics first.
Discover it Basics
The Discover it credit card is a combination bonus cash back and flat rate cash back credit card that provides card members the ability to earn points in various ways. First, card members can ramp up cash back earnings by spending in certain categories throughout the year, up to a maximum earning limit. Discover it card members earn 5% cash back on quarterly bonus categories, such as gas, entertainment, and online shopping, up to $1,500 in purchases. Every other purchase made with the Discover it credit card earns 1% flat rate cash back which is unlimited. Regardless of the category in which cash back points are earned, rewards do not expire and they can be redeemed in any amount at any time.
Discover it Chrome Basics
Discover it Chrome was designed with students in mind, specifically for the card member who does not want to activate or track quarterly bonus categories to maximize cash back earnings. Instead, card members earn a flat rate of 2% cash back on purchases made at gas stations and restaurants; all other purchases earn the standard 1% rate. The enhanced cash back on gas stations and restaurants are capped at $1,000 in purchases, combined, but all other cash back earnings are unlimited. Similar to the Discover it credit card, Chrome card members can redeem rewards at any time and in any amount.
Card Member Benefits
Both the Discover it and the Discover it Chrome cards offer a variety of ways to cash in on rewards points. Card members can redeem rewards for cash, either as a statement credit or as a direct deposit into a bank account, or to check out at Amazon.com. Additionally, gift cards may be purchased with accumulated cash rewards through Discover’s rewards site. Card members may also donate cash back rewards to charity – a unique feature not found with many rewards card issuers.
In addition to flexibility in rewards redemption, card members of both the Discover it and the Discover it Chrome credit cards have a variety of other benefits that come with membership. One of the current promotions automatically built in to both card options is the cash back matching where Discover matches any cash back earned within the first year of membership, dollar for dollar. Additionally, Discover offers a free credit FICO credit score on each monthly statement for all card members, making it a breeze to track credit changes over time. Account holders also have the benefit of being able to temporarily freeze a Discover credit card through the Freeze It feature. This is incredibly helpful in preventing new purchases, cash advances or balance transfer if a card is misplaced.
Both the Discover it and the Discover it Chrome cards come with free purchase monitoring as well, which provides a text, e-mail or phone call when suspicious activity takes place on a card member’s account. Discover does not hold card members responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized purchases creating an additional level of protection. Finally, all Discover card members have the ability to reach the U.S.-based customer service line at any time, day or night.
While the aforementioned benefits are inherent to each Discover card member, the two cards differ slightly in promotional offers. As a card designed specifically for students, The Discover it Chrome credit card also offers an additional $20 cash back reward for card members with a GPA of 3.0 or higher throughout the school year. This additional benefit can be earned for a maximum of five consecutive years from the time the account is opened. The Discover it credit card does not currently make available additional cash back promotions aside from the matching program referenced earlier.
The Discover it credit card currently offers a 12-month zero interest promotional period for purchases and balance transfers, which is a significant bonus for card members who plan to carry a balance for the first year of ownership. The standard APR after the promotional period ends ranges from 11.24 up to 23.24% depending on the applicant’s credit score and history. For card members who select the balance transfer option, a fee of 3% for each transfer is assessed.
The Discover it Chrome credit card also offers a promotional 0% APR on purchases, but only for the first six months after an account is opened. Currently, no balance transfer offers are available for Discover it Chrome card members. The purchase APR reverts to the standard 13.24 to 22.24% after the promotional period ends. Both the Discover it and the Discover it Chrome credit cards have no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, making both smart choices for the cost-conscious card member. Cash advances rates for both the Discover it and Discover it Chrome cards are a variable 25.24%, and the greater of a $10 or 5% fee is assessed for each cash advance transaction.
Which Card is Right for You?
The Discover it credit card is a strong option for individuals who spend heavily in the bonus categories each quarter and those who don’t mind activating each bonus category when the time comes. With no annual fee, an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases, and the additional card member benefits, the Discover it card can be a great addition to your wallet.
For students, the Discover it Chrome credit card is a sound alternative. The additional 1% flat rate cash back rewards earned for gas station and restaurant purchases is an attractive feature which eliminates the need to track categories every few months. The high GPA cash back bonus is also beneficial to card members who perform well in school. However, with a shorter time frame for the 0% purchase APR offer and no balance transfer availability, the Discover it Chrome card is not the best choice for card members who are not students.