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Though I often talk about the Chase Freedom‘s quarterly rotating 5x bonus categories, let’s not forget that the Discover It card also has quarterly rotating merchant categories where you can earn up to 5% cash back on purchases, and up to 20% cash back by shopping through the ShopDiscover portal.
We’re well into April, which means the second quarter of 2014 and the current Discover It bonus category is Home Improvement stores including furniture stores and Bed, Bath & Beyond. You can earn 5X points per $1 on up to $1,500 of purchases per quarter at a rotating selection of merchants. For the rest of this year, they include:
Quarter 2, April – June: Home Improvement Stores (including furniture stores and Bed, Bath & Beyond)
Quarter 3, July – September: Summer Break (details to come, but this usually includes amusement parks and gas stations)
Quarter 4, October – December: Holiday Shopping (details to come, but this usually includes pretty much all online shopping)
As you can see bonus categories can be pretty broad, making hitting those bonus caps quick and easy. Also contributing to the lucrative points-earning structure of the Discover It is its ShopDiscover online shopping portal, where you can browse over 200 merchants and earn 5-20% cash back bonuses at retailers such as Apple, Best Buy, Macy’s and Nike.
Once you rack up the cash back points, you can then redeem your cash back in the following ways:
- Direct deposit: Straight into your bank account
- Statement credit: Use your cash back bonus to credit your Discover card account
- Pay with cash back bonus: Use it to shop with Discover partners Amazon.com, Facebook and iTunes.
Discover also has a referral program where, when you refer friends who then sign up for the card, you get $50 in cash back for up to 10 friends per year, and they get $50 cash back with their first purchase. You can refer them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or via e-mail.
Why It’s Worth Considering
While transferable points like Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are still my points strategy mainstay, I’ve been thinking more and more about fixed-value points and cash back cards given points and miles program devaluations from both hotels and airlines as well as the high taxes and fuel surcharges I’ve seen on some recent airline ticket purchases.
I already have the Chase Freedom card and I maximize it by taking advantage of its quarterly rotating 5X categories, but those are capped at $1,500 per quarter for a total potential of 30,000 points per year. I also usually leverage my Freedom points by transferring to my premium Ultimate Rewards accounts linked to my Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus cards so that I can transfer them to Chase’s 10 travel transfer partners. You can also redeem your Freedom Ultimate Rewards points for 1 cent per point towards travel, though you can actually get a value of up to 1.34 cents per mile with this feature.
I also recently applied for the Barclaycard Arrival. It earns 2x miles per $1 on all purchases, which can be redeemed at 1 cent each toward travel purchases and are eligible for a 10% mileage refund. However, if you redeem Arrival miles for other things like merchandise or gift cards, they are worth less than one cent each (usually around 0.5 cents), so I’m looking for a card where I can get a solid 1% cash back on all purchases and redemptions, and potentially a lot more.
That’s where the Discover It comes in. It does not currently offer a sign-up bonus, but it also does not have an annual fee, and Discover also added some great new features to the card back in August including waiving foreign transaction fees (which the Freedom charges), no annual fee, no over limit fee, and no fees on your first late payment. Plus, like Barclaycard also announced as a cardholder benefit recently, you get a free FICO Credit Score on your monthly statement to help you stay on top of your credit, which is a really valuable benefit and one that makes it easy to keep an eye on your financial well-being.
Plus, as I mentioned, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes time to redeeming your cash back, whether it’s getting a direct deposit to your bank account, redeeming for statement credits, or making purchases through partners, so it makes getting value on a wider range of purchases a lot simpler.
All in all, though I’d consider it a basic credit card offering, the Discover It card comes with some great value-added benefits and earning potential, especially with 5% cash back categories that vary from others I already get with my Freedom card. I also like its redemption opportunities my other credit cards don’t offer as good a deal on like simple cash back or statement credits on a variety of purchases. All in all, it’s become a really solid product and one I’m considering myself.