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Discover Rewards Guide

Taylor Moore

Taylor Moore

Finance & Insurance Writer

5 min. read

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As one of the largest credit card brands in the U.S. (behind Visa, Mastercard, and American Express), Discover is no stranger to the rewards game. It’s made a name for itself by offering simple, easy-to-understand rewards credit cards for the average American customer. This means that Discover is light on the frills (no TSA PreCheck credits or airline lounge access), but the trade-off is that none of the cards charge annual fees — a great benefit in an industry where the privilege of having a card can cost upwards of $400 per year.

Each card offers unlimited, non-expirable cash back or miles on all purchases. Some cards will give you more rewards-per-dollar on money spent at gas stations and restaurants, while others will change the rewards category on a quarterly basis. But regardless, the baseline is 1% cash back or one point per $1 spent on any purchase, and at the end of your first year, Discover will double your rewards with its own match.

In This Article:

Earning Discover Rewards

Discover offers a slew of cards that will give you rewards, mostly in the form of cash back. Frequent diners, heavy spenders, students, and business owners can all take advantage of Discover’s competitive cash back offerings, which let you earn on purchases at restaurants, grocery stores, online stores, and more. 

However, if you’re looking for a robust travel rewards card, you may be better off with a credit card provider like Chase or American Express. Discover only offers one travel rewards credit card.

ProsCons
No annual fees
Multiple cash back credit card options
Rewards are unlimited and do not expire
1% cash back or one mile for every $1
Only one travel rewards credit card
No introductory bonuses

Travel

Discover it Miles 

  • Earn 1.5X miles on all purchases
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match mile-for-mile the rewards you earned

Cash back

Discover it Cash Back Card

  • Earn 5% cash back on different categories of purchases per quarter, including grocery stores, pharmacies, ride-hailing apps, restaurants, and Amazon.com
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match dollar-for-dollar the rewards you earned

Discover it Gas and Restaurant Card

  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match dollar-for-dollar the rewards you earned

NHL Discover it

  • Earn 5% cash back on different categories of purchases per quarter, including grocery stores, pharmacies, ride-hailing apps, restaurants, and Amazon.com
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match dollar-for-dollar the rewards you earned

Discover it Business Card

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match dollar-for-dollar the rewards you earned

Discover it Secured

  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match dollar-for-dollar the rewards you earned

Discover it Student Cash Back

  • Earn 5% cash back on different categories of purchases per quarter, including grocery stores, pharmacies, ride-hailing apps, restaurants, and Amazon.com
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • Earn $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match dollar-for-dollar the rewards you earned

Discover it Chrome for Students

  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • Earn $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years
  • At the end of your first year, Discover will automatically match dollar-for-dollar the rewards you earned

What You Can Redeem Discover Rewards For

Travel

The Discover it Miles credit card lets you redeem your miles for:

  • Credit to your account for travel purchases (including flights, hotel stays, rental cars, cruises, and vacation packages) made within the last 180 days
  • Electronic deposit into an account

Keep in mind that one mile with Discover is equal to one penny. Unlike other travel credit cards, which let you pay for travel purchases directly with miles or points, the Discover it Miles credit card acts similar to a cash back rewards card by crediting you after the purchase. This is ideal if you’re not loyal to any particular airlines or hotels and just want a simple rewards program, but you’re better off with other rewards credit cards if you’re looking for the biggest payout.

Cash back

If you have one of Discover’s many cash back rewards credit cards, you can redeem your non-expirable rewards as:

  • Credit to your account
  • Electronic deposit into an account
  • Gift card from Discover partners
  • Charitable donation to select charities
  • Payment for an Amazon.com purchase

Rewards maintain a $1-to-$1 value, so it may not benefit you to use your cash back on Amazon purchases, according to The Points Guy. The only way to increase the value of those rewards is to buy a gift card through Discover’s marketplace. The merchants and offers will vary, but it’s possible to spend $20 in cash back rewards and receive a $25 gift card, for example.

How to Redeem Discover Rewards

Discover.com will be your main hub for rewards redemption. Once you log in, you can redeem your cash back or miles for a statement credit, transfer it to another account, purchase a gift card, or make a charitable donation. If you’re interested in spending your rewards on Amazon.com, you can either go with Discover.com or use your points during the Amazon checkout process.

The Bottom Line

Discover is strong when it comes to cash back rewards credit cards, offering options for frequent diners, students, businesses, and even NHL fans. However, the sole travel credit card, Discover it Miles credit card, isn’t as robust as other cards on the market, because it doesn’t offer any introductory bonuses, mile multipliers, or online portals that let you make purchases with your miles. It’s a no-frills credit card provider, but that’s valuable if you don’t want to pay an annual fee for your card and aren’t interested in complicated schemes in order to get discounted travel.

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