Full Review of Discover it Chrome Credit Card
Above-the-norm rewards at gas stations and restaurants
Valuable cash back match offer for the first year
0% APR for 14 months on new purchases and balance transfers
No penalty APR
Cash back rewards are capped each quarter
Limited benefits beyond rewards
- Decent Rewards at Gas Stations and Restaurants: If you spend a lot of money at gas stations and restaurants, the Discover it Chrome card can help maximize your rewards. You'll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. You’ll earn a standard 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Cash Back Match: At the end of your first year as a cardmember, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned during those 12 months. With that bonus, in its first year the card effectively offers an outstanding 4% in cash back on qualifying gas and restaurant purchases and a generous 2% on all other purchases. If you spent the maximum amount on gas and eating out that’s eligible for rewards, you could enjoy an additional $80 in cash back from your first year with the card.
- Introductory APR: If you're planning on making a big purchase or want to complete a balance transfer, this card is a good option. You’ll get a 0% introductory APR on purchases and on balance transfers for 14 months that post to your account by October 10, 2020, a fairly typical length for such offers, at least for cards with no annual fee. You’ll pay between 3% and 5% of the transfer amount, depending on when you make the transfer; again, these are typical fees, although some cards do waive them for introductory offers. Once that introductory offer expires, your APR will be 11.99% to 22.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
- No Penalty APR: Unlike most cards, the APR doesn't increase to a penalty rate—usually the highest interest rate charged on the card—after you’ve been in arrears on payments for 60 days or more.
- Cash Back Rewards Cap: There’s a limit of $1,000 a quarter on the spending at gas stations and restaurants that’s eligible for that solid 2% cash back rate. After you hit that total, further purchases for the quarter only earn the standard 1% cash back. That’s a lower amount annually than some other cards that have caps, which often allow $6,000 in spending per year to be eligible for their best rates. And because the caps are totaled quarterly, with no ability to carry over any underspending, the card offers little flexibility to spend heavily during some parts of the year and minimally at others. If you tend to spend more than $1,000 per quarter at gas stations and restaurants, you may want to consider carrying another credit card for your spending above that limit.
- Limited Benefits: Beyond its rewards, the Discover it Chrome card has limited perks. Other cards—even those with no annual fees—typically offer a number of robust benefits, including rental-car insurance coverage, travel insurance, and extended warranty protection. You may want to also carry another card for select purchases where you require these and other extras.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
Incurs gasoline or other commuting expenses each month
This card is perfect for users who spend a significant amount of money at gas stations and restaurants, and want a card that rewards those purchases well—and for no annual fee.
You'll earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in purchases at gas stations and restaurants each quarter. If you spent the maximum each quarter, you'd get $80 in cash back rewards. And, thanks to Discover’s cash back match, the company would double those rewards for the first year of purchases, earning you $160 in total.
You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases, with no limit to the spending that’s eligible for that level of reward. Cash back earned at the 1% rate is still eligible for the cash back match after your first year, so the rewards can add up.
Discover it Chrome Credit Card Bonus
Discover’s bonus works differently than most other offers. With many credit cards, you have to spend a certain amount within the first three months of opening an account to qualify for a bonus.
Discover, however, has no such spending minimum. Instead, the company will automatically match all of the cash back you earned during your first year as a cardmember. If you earned $250 in cash back rewards, Discover will match it, giving you a total of $500 in rewards.
There’s a $1,000 limit every quarter, as noted, on the spending that’s eligible for the highest cash back rewards, on gas and restaurant purchases. But there’s no limit on the rewards at the regular cash back rate that are eligible for this doubling up of cash back.
Rewards Earning Details
You'll earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 spent each quarter. The quarters are three-month periods that begin on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1.
To qualify for the 2% cash back rate, your gas station or restaurant purchases must be made at merchants classified as gas stations, full service restaurants, cafes or fast-food locations. Wholesale clubs, warehouse clubs and discount stores don’t qualify.
Rewards Redemption Details
You can receive your cash back as a credit to your account, where they can be applied to your balance at any time, or sent electronically to your bank account. There’s also an option to use them directly as payment at certain retailers, including Amazon.com, or to direct them to charities. An additional, potentially lucrative option is to exchange the cash back for a gift card at Discover partners. A bonus of at least $5—it varies by the merchant—is added to the value of the gift card for every $20 you redeem. Partners include American Eagle, Banana Republic, Gap, L.L. Bean, Bath and Body Works, Omaha Steaks, Old Navy, Black Angus, Foot Locker, Nike, and Under Armour.
You must accrue at least $20 in rewards to redeem them for gift cards. For the other redemption methods, you can redeem rewards when you have earned as little as one cent.
Your rewards never expire. If your account is closed or if you haven't used your card in 18 months, Discover will credit your account with your cash back bonus.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
To get the most value from your card, use the Discover it Chrome card to pay for all of your purchases at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 spent each quarter, which earn the card's higher cash back rate of 2%.
If you're a typical household, though, you may well exceed that spending cap. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household spends approximately $2,000 per year (or $500 a quarter, assuming your spending was even throughout the year) on gasoline, and a further $3,450 (or about $860 a quarter) on eating out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s nearly $1,500 more than the annual limit for the top cash back rate for the Discover it Chrome.
Any spending over the $1,000-per-quarter limit will still earn you rewards, but at the lower 1% rate. If you tend to spend more than the limit at gas stations and restaurants, then, you may want to consider using another card in addition to your Discover card to maximize your rewards, one that offers better than 1% as its default rate. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card allows you to earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.
- Free FICO credit score
- Discover identity alerts and account monitoring
- Freeze it on/off switch to prevent unauthorized charges
According to the 2019 J.D. Power Credit Card Customer Satisfaction survey, Discover is most satisfying card issuer out of 11 card companies surveyed. It has a score of 842, compared with the average of 806 in the survey.
Discover says its customer service is based in the United States. It's available over the phone, on its website, or through the mobile app. Help is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-DISCOVER or you can contact customer service online, including via live chat.
Discover, as with many other card issuers, allows you to freeze and unfreeze your account as needed and to monitor your credit report online or through the mobile app. The company will notify you if there is suspicious activity, and you’re never responsible for unauthorized charges, which are also standard features.
If you're looking for a basic, no-cost credit card, the Discover it Chrome card is a smart choice. Offering 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent each quarter at restaurants and gas stations, you can earn a solid rate of return on some of your regular spending. And those rewards are supercharged as a one-time offer, with all cash back earned being matched at the end of your first year of using the card.
Offering 14 months at 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers, the card is also a good option for those looking to finance big purchases or pay off high-interest credit card debt.
However, those who spend more than the $1,000 quarterly spending limit at gas stations and restaurants will likely be better off with another credit card with a higher—or no—rewards spending limit.
While the absence of a foreign transaction fee is a nice plus, Discover cards have limited acceptability abroad, and the company's card lack such travel perks as insurance coverage for rental cars. Travelers should consider carrying another card on trips, and especially those outside the U.S.