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Whether you’re a college student starting to build your credit profile, or simply someone who’s attracted to lucrative rewards in rotating categories such as dining and Amazon purchases, you may have either considered or already added a Discover it® card to your wallet.
It (pun intended) is among the top cash-back cards currently on the market and offers a rewards structure similar to that of the Chase Freedom card — you earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in eligible spending in rotating quarterly categories and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
As it’s a cash-back card, there isn’t any way to truly “maximize” the rewards earned with the Discover it card. The one exception to this is when redeeming cash back for gift cards. Here’s a step-by-step look at the different ways you could redeem your Discover cash-back rewards.
Once signed in to your Discover account, you’ll want to click on the “Ways to Redeem” button below your cash-back balance to be taken to the rewards page. There, you’ll be presented with four redemption options — you can redeem your cash back toward cash (obviously), Amazon purchases, gift cards and charitable donations.
Option 1: Redeem for Cash Back
The first, and most obvious, redemption option is for cash in the form of an account credit or a direct deposit to your bank account. You’ll get the full value of your rewards like this, and there’s no minimum redemption amount.
Option 2: Shop at Amazon.com
Alternatively, you could shop with “points” at Amazon, but since rewards maintain a $1-to-$1 value, there’s no advantage in taking this route. You’d be better off using your card to pay for your Amazon purchase, potentially earn additional rewards (Amazon is part of this year’s Discover it Q4 5% cash-back category) and then apply a statement credit toward the expense.
Whether or not it’s done directly through Amazon, eligible items purchased using points will still be covered by Discover’s Price Protection benefit.
Option 3: Redeem for Gift Cards
As mentioned above, there’s just one way to increase the value of your cash-back rewards, and that’s by redeeming for gift cards. Redemptions for gift cards start at $20 and earn at least a $5 bonus. The discount and minimum redemption amount varies based on the merchant. So, for example, $20 gets you $25 at Banana Republic, but $30 at Sunglass Hut. Other merchants include iTunes and Whole Foods, but they have higher minimum redemption amounts — $45 and $70, respectively — and both only yield a $5 bonus.
Option 4: Make Charitable Donations
The final, and possibly most rewarding, way you could redeem your cash back is by donating it to charity. There’s no value added to your cash back with this type of redemption so you may want to first cash out your rewards and then make the donation outright in order to have greater flexibility in where your money goes and potentially earn airline miles for giving back.
Redeeming Discover cash-back rewards is very simple, and it can be extra rewarding when redeeming for gift cards rather than cash. Although our main priority here at The Points Guy is maximizing the amount of points and miles we earn from using travel rewards cards, for some people, it might make sense to also pick up a cash-back card.
Like most cash-back cards, the Discover it® Cash Back doesn’t carry an annual fee, but what makes this one stand out is that it also doesn’t impose any foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. The card is especially attractive for students since it offers an annual cash-back bonus for maintaining good grades and is typically easier to be approved for than many other cards.
That being said, if you’re already a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, you’d be better off first working toward possessing the “Chase quartet” by getting the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards due to their ability to convert cash-back points into Ultimate Rewards points.
Know before you go.
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