4 Ways to Get Max Value From Discover Cash Back Rewards

Discover has a generous and flexible cash-back program. Here's how you can make the most of it.

There are a lot of cash back rewards programs out there so it’s important to compare them and have a full understanding of what they each offer to make sure you find the one that is right for you.

With that in mind, we thought we’d break down what the Discover Cash Back Rewards program entails, give you some insights into a few ways to use the Discover cash back program so you get the most for your rewards and mention some of the cards that offer this rewards program. (Comparing cards and looking for more rewards program breakdowns? You can see six hacks for using the Citi ThankYou points program here.)

1. Cash or Statement Credit

Redeeming for cash or a statement credit is one of the easiest ways to get value through the Discover cash back program. There is no threshold for how much you have to earn before you cash out. Meaning, if you’ve only earned $5, you can cash out for $5 or you can wait until you have $100. You can apply the funds to your next statement, or transfer them to a bank account of your choice.

2. Gift Cards

One of the more interesting ways to use your cash back rewards from Discover is to receive gift cards. These gift cards can be from retail establishments, restaurants and gas stations. But what makes this an interesting option is that you receive $5 added to each gift card for free. While you might redeem $40 in cash back rewards, you could receive a gift card worth $45. Most of the gift cards come in the form of a physical card, which means you could have to wait up to 10 days before your card arrives. However, you can also receive eCertificates. These can be downloaded to your computer or on the Discover mobile app and used immediately.

3. Pay With Points

Discover has a relationship with Amazon that allows consumers to make purchases on Amazon.com and use their cash back to help cover the cost. It’s important to note that there is no value added when using your cash back on Amazon. One dollar in cash back equals one dollar on Amazon. Because of this, it may make more sense to pay for your Amazon purchase with a credit card, earn the additional rewards and then apply a statement credit toward the expense.

Earlier this year, Discover also announced an agreement with PayPal allowing cardholders to use cash back rewards on any purchase where PayPal is used. While this option has not gone live as of post time, it is expected to work the same way as the Amazon partnership.

4. Donate to Charity

While you will not earn anything extra, value wise, here, you have the option to help others and donate your cash back rewards to charity. Partners include the American Cancer Society, World Wildlife Fund and the American Red Cross. This can be a good option if you’re looking to donate money to one of these charities anyway, or if you’re simply in the giving spirit.

Earning Discover Cash Back Rewards

There a few cards that let you earn Discover cash back rewards. Let’s take a look at some of them. (Note: Most of the cards listed below require decent credit to qualify. Before you apply, you can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com so you can get an idea of if you’ll be eligible for the card you’re considering or not.)

Discover it Card

Anyone looking for a generous cash back card, without an annual fee, may want to have the Discover it card on their list of considerations. With this card, you can earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter. One quarter it might be at gas stations and movie theaters, and the next it might be restaurants and groceries stores. There is a limit of $1,500 in purchases each quarter that earn 5% back. All other purchases made with the card receive 1% back. Plus, Discover matches everything you earn with this card for the first 12 billing cycles. That means if you earn $200 in cash back rewards, you actually receive $400. This card comes with an introductory 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Afterward, the APR rises to a variable 11.49% to 23.49%.

Discover it Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card

If a lot of your monthly spending is focused on gas and restaurants, then the no-annual-fee Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants card could be a good option. With this card, you earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 each quarter on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. All other purchase made receive 1% back. Just like the Discover it card, Discover matches all your earnings during the first year as a cardholder. This card also offers an introductory 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Afterward, the APR becomes a variable 11.49% to 23.49%.

Discover it Student Card

The Discover it Student card works a lot like the standard Discover it card. You earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter. Plus, all other purchases earn 1% back, with Discover matching your earnings during the first year. With this card, students get rewarded for earning good grades. Each year you earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you receive a $20 bonus cash back reward. This card comes with no annual fee and has an introductory 0% APR for six months on purchases. After the introductory period, the APR becomes a variable 13.49% to 22.49%.

Discover it Secured Card

If you’re attempting to rebuild your credit, or are new to the world of credit entirely, the Discover it Secured card might be an option worth considering. This card is a little different than most secured cards because it allows you to earn cash back while you build a better credit history. You earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% back. Plus, like all other Discover cards, Discover matches your earnings the first year. There is no annual fee for this card. The APR is a variable 23.49%. (You can learn more about secured credit cards here.)

Image: PeopleImages

At publishing time, the Discover it, Discover it Chrome, Discover it Student Card and Discover it Secured Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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5 Seriously Simple Cash Back Credit Cards

These simple cash back credit cards are a good fit for folks who don't like to think too long or hard about what rewards cards are in their wallet.

Keeping track of the rewards you earn with credit cards can be a real headache. Some cards offer different cash back amounts for different categories of spending. Some cards offer bonus cash back on categories that change every quarter. Unless you have the time to keep track of everything, well, then, the struggle can be real.

If you don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what rewards credit card is best to use each time you swipe, a flat-rate cash back credit card might be just what you need. These cards offer straightforward rewards programs that net you the same amount of cash-back every time you make a purchase. (Just be aware: These cards tend to require good credit, so if you’re in the market for one, you’ll want to check your scores before you apply. You can do so by viewing your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Here are our picks for the best flat-rate cash back credit cards.

1. Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash card is one of the leading cash back cards on the market today. You have the chance to earn up to 2% back on every purchase you make. You earn 1% when you actually make the purchases, and another 1% when you pay it off. This card also comes with a lengthy 18-month introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) on balance transfers. Once the introductory period is complete, the APR will change to the standard purchase APR of 13.49% to 23.49%, depending on your creditworthiness. The card carries no annual fee. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

The Citi Double Cash card also comes with Citi Price Reward. With this program, you can record your purchases and Citi will look for a lower price within the first 60 days. If they find one, you will receive the difference back to your account — up to $500 back per item and $2,500 per year. If you want more details about the Citi Double Cash Card, check out our full review here.

2. Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

One of the most recent additions to the Chase credit card line-up is the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. With this card, you’ll receive an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You’ll also receive a bonus of $150 after you spend $500 in the first three months. When you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the same three-month period, you can receive an additional $25 bonus.

This card includes an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR will change to a variable 15.49% to 24.24%. This card has no annual fee.

3. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card

When you use the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card, you will receive 1.5% back on any purchases that you make. Plus, there is no limit on the amount of rewards you can receive and they never expire as long as your account stays open. When you become a cardholder, you can receive a $100 bonus if you spend $500 within your first three months. In addition to having no annual fee, you can also receive an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 9 months. After that, the APR will become a variable 13.49% to 23.49%.

4. Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard

With the Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard, you will receive an unlimited 1.5% cash back on any purchases made. When you sign up, you will receive a $100 bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days. Each time you redeem your rewards, you will receive a 5% bonus available on the next redemption. If you are looking to make a balance transfer, you will receive an introductory 0% APR for 15 months. Afterwards, the APR will change to a variable 15.24%, 20.24% or 25.24%. There is no annual fee with this card.

5. Capital One Spark Cash for Business

The last card that made our list is for small business owners. With this card, you will earn 2% back on every business purchase you make. You also have the opportunity to receive a $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 in the first three months. You will be able to add employee cards at no additional costs and their spending will add to your reward total. Your purchase APR will be a variable 17.49%. There is no annual fee the first year, and then each subsequent year, it will be $59.

At publishing time, the Citi Double Cash, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards, BarclayCard CashForward World MasterCard and Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: pixelfit

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