Discover it® Cashback Match™ Is an Amazing Cashback Card (For the 1st Year at Least)!

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My new Discover It card came in the mail this week, in very nice packaging.

I activated it online and got about to exploring Discover Deals now that I have full access.

And I might have to change my tune now.

I’ve long heralded the Fidelity AMEX as the best cashback card.

But now I’ll refer to it as the best ongoing cashback card. Because, the 1st year at least, the Discover It has it beat by a mile.

I’ll still get great use out of the Discover It card the 2nd year, albeit much reduced.

The 1st year, this card is good for an easy $600, at least. And I’m even thinking this no annual fee card has the potential for over $1,000 back.

Getting the Discover It card

Discover It packaging - front

Discover It packaging – front

Discover It packaging - back

Discover It packaging – back

Discover It packaging - the color of the package matches the card

Discover It packaging – the color of the package matches the card

Card, terms, cashback info

Card, terms, cashback info

Very cool card! Almost a wood grain texture - no info on the front (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred)

Very cool card! Almost a wood grain texture – no info on the front (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred)

Discover Deals

The card is very slick-looking, no doubt about that. And once it was activated, I set about logging into Discover Deals for the 1st time.

Boom!

Boom!

It was as cool – better – than I thought it’d be.

Keep in mind that you can go ahead and double all the percentages you see.

Until September 30, 2015, new cardmembers get double cash back after the 1st 12 billing cycles.

The doubling doesn’t happen until after the 1st full year. So if you get the card in August 2015, you won’t get the “double” part of “double cash back” until September 2016 – after the 12th billing cycle closes.

So you’ll get a nice haul for the 1st year – and then you’ll get a bit of a cashback windfall. Play the card to its maximum potential and you’re looking at $500 or more on that 13th billing cycle!

I’ll get 10% back from shopping at my beloved Kohl’s.

5% back at Kohl's

5% back at Kohl’s

What I think I’ll do is:

  • Buy Kohl’s gift cards from Staples with the Chase Ink Plus for 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • Click through the AAdvantage shopping portal to do so (because they pay out even on gift card purchases)
  • Then click through the Discover Deals portal to get 10% cash back (after doubling)
  • Use promo codes, free shipping, Kohl’s cash, and Kohl’s Yes2U Rewards to save even more
  • Use the Discover It card to pay balance at Kohl’s for 10% more cash back from quarterly category bonus
  • Bank Ultimate Rewards, American miles, and cash back – and save money while doing it

You could play this strategy for any store, really. And if you don’t have a Chase Ink Plus, you could go right to Kohl’s, Sears, Macy’s, JC Penney, etc. to get portal cash back + category bonus cash back.

In fact, if the portal pays out 10% and you get 5% cash back from the category bonus, you’re effectively getting 30% cashback (10% + 5%, both doubled = 30%).

I told Jay about this and he described it as “insane!”

Pretty much! That’s a fantastic return! And you can stack it with other promos and sales, too.

Lots of department store are at 10% back on the Discover Deals portal

Lots of department store are at 10% back on the Discover Deals portal

I saw really high payouts for other stores I shop at occasionally.

30% back at shoes.com! They have frequent sales and discounts, too

30% back at shoes.com! They have frequent sales and discounts, too

20% back at The Body Shop is the highest payout I've ever seen at this store

20% back at The Body Shop is the highest payout I’ve ever seen at this store

For The Body Shop, I could click through the Discover Deals portal and then pay with another card (maybe the 75K Citi Hilton card I just picked up, for example, to meet minimum spending).

But the caveat always is: if there’s any issue with the cashback posting, you’ll have no recourse if you don’t use the Discover It card.

Even still, you get 2% cash back the 1st year anyway on non-bonus purchases with the Discover It card the 1st year. 22% cashback back (10% + 1%, both doubled) is still an incredible deal for online shopping.  And 32% cashback in the case of Shoes.com!

Adding it all up

Here’s what really got me going.

  • Buy a couple of pairs of new shoes from Shoes.com – spend $100 – get $30 back
  • Spend $50 at The Body Shop – get $10 back
  • Max out the quarterly categories – get $600 back in a year
  • Click through Discover Deals and get 20% on all quarterly category spending – get $1,200 more back
  • Add in purchases here and there with the shopping portal…

It could easily add up to $1,000 – or more – really easily.

Plus I’m sure there will be holiday promotions and random opportunities that pop up.

That’s pretty awesome.

The Discover experience

This is my 1st Discover card, so I was interested to see how it all worked in application.

Getting the card, activating it, setting up the online profile, and downloading the mobile app were all seamless, focused, easy experiences.

The mobile app has lots of powerful functions

The mobile app has lots of powerful functions

The mobile app, in particular, is very robust. You can activate your card, get to customer service, redeem cashback, make a payment, and sign up for promos (and quarterly cashback) right on your phone.

It’s a nicely designed and intuitive app – and the website is equally responsive.

So far, I’m enjoying the “rollout” of the new customer experience. I can see why people rave about Discover. It’s not clunky, and is focused on ease. I didn’t have to click more than 2 times to get to any part of the website or app. Very nice.

I won’t bank with them, though

Discover also offers checking and savings accounts, and you can link your Discover It rewards to them for instant cashback redemptions, which is a nice feature. Currently, the banking accounts are only available if you have a Discover credit card.

But you have to make 100 debit card transactions per month to get the advertised $120 cashback per year.

ONE HUNDRED.

You "can" earn $10 a month ($120 a year), but you'll have to have 100 transactions per month (!) to get it

You “can” earn $10 a month ($120 a year), but you’ll have to have 100 transactions per month (!) to get it

I’m sure it’s a nice account and all, but I’m just fine with my Fidelity Cash Management Account with NO ATM fees, and none of that hassle.

The savings account is pretty good is you need one though, and also links up to the cashback rewards.

Actually not a bad rate from an online savings account these days

Actually not a bad rate from an online savings account these days

I’ll stick to my AMEX Personal Savings account, though.

I like that is DOES NOT easily link up to my other accounts. It keeps the savings saved, and I like it that way.

The APY is .90% instead of .95%.

The AMEX Savings Account is truly online-only

The AMEX Savings Account is truly online-only

With a $5,000 account balance, the difference in the rates would earn you an extra $3 over the course of a year. Not earth-shattering, or worth the hassle of switching, unless you want to easily “bank” the cashback rewards (which could be very substantial!).

And a good option if you need an online savings account – everyone should have one!

After the 1st year

Back to Discover It…

“It” turns into a pumpkin after 12 months.

The 5% cashback in quarterly categories and 1% on everything else… is exactly like the Chase Freedom card, whose points (Ultimate Rewards transferred to Chase Sapphire) I value more.

BUT. I will use this card to maximize the categories – as they do NOT overlap with the Chase Freedom’s schedule, which is nice. Or if they happen to over, great! Once I max out Chase Freedom, I can fall back on Discover It for 5% back.

And 1% cashback… no. I’ll go back to my lagan love, the Fidelity AMEX. 2% cashback there.

Discover It will be a nice fling for the next year.

The thing I love most is the Discover Deals shopping portal. Especially since the FIA WorldPoints Mall closed down earlier this year.

And because it doesn’t have an annual fee, it costs nothing to keep – and might occasionally be very useful.

Bottom line

Holy smokes! I’m newly obsessed with “Discovering” It.

If you don’t have this card and want to pick one up, I highly recommend doing so! You can click through my links (and thank you!).

I’m looking forward to maximizing this card for all it’s worth… and I’m gunning to get $1,000 in cashback, just from the excellent shopping portal alone.

If you sign up now, you’ll also get 10% cashback from Amazon.com until the end of the quarter (which ends September 30th – and so does the double cashback promo for new cardmembers!).

I’ve spoken to a few friends who have the card and all of them have found personalized ways to get value. Considering it has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, you have little to lose. And everyone should have a no annual fee card anyway!

Let me know if I missed any ways to maximize cashback on the Discover It card… or if there’s anything to watch out for!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. The opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site.

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  1. Hey Harlan,
    I’m really debating on getting this card but I have one question. I’ll be living mostly in Vancouver, Canada over the next year and even though I know there’s no foreign transaction fees, I want to know how acceptable it is above the border. Any idea? Even if it doesn’t work too well up there, I will definitely be taking advantage of the online shopping portal.

    Thanks for the help.

    • Probably similar to the acceptance here. You won’t have many issues at bigger merchants, or grocery stores, but small businesses may not accept it (like AMEX).

      Like you said, it’s great for online shopping. The more I walk around, the more I’m noticing the little Discover logo… right under Visa, MasterCard, and AMEX.

      I think you’ll be fine.

  2. I have the Discover It card, and I’m obsessed with it too.. However, you HAVE to use your Discover card when shopping through the Discover Deals portal in order to get the cashback bonus. You cannot use another credit card, and I doubt you can use 100% gift cards.

    • It depends on the merchant. I’ve used gift cards and still earned the bonus. Others not.

      But in general, you should use your Discover card when you click through Discover Deals. They’ve cracked down on that recently.

      I usually don’t mind because the portal bonus gets doubled too, which makes it worth using anyhow.

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