Reviews Of The Best Discover Credit Cards and Offers
Published 12/9/08 (Modified 9/10/12)
Updated List Of The Best Discover Credit Cards Below
In the United States and Canada, most people are familiar with major credit card networks like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. However, fewer people have had experience or exposure to another quiet, but big player in the credit card industry - Discover Card. Introduced in the 1980's as the preeminent card of choice for the Sears department stores (the dominant retailer at the time), the Discover Card has had its share of ups and downs in terms of card acceptance and popularity, and has been facing a tough battle for its piece of the pie recently. Currently, Discover has the lowest market share of any major credit card issuer in the United States, and overall card acceptance at smaller stores and remote markets remain spotty. Most of the major merchant stores and retailers take Discover for payments, but smaller retailers and more obscure websites are less likely to accept it. However, despite the highs and lows over the years, the Discover Card has managed to evolve its program with attractive offers to grow with the times and remain continuously relevant.
The Discover Card was the first credit card I ever applied for and my first exposure to the use of revolving debt. I applied for the Discover Card back in high school during the height of its popularity, because at the time it was my parent's primary credit card for everyday purchases. Since then, I've applied for other cards, but my old Discover Card remains a nostalgic favorite that I still use for niche purposes like gas credit card purchases or interest free transactions like 0% balance transfers. One thing I've noticed about Discover is the credit card program's resiliency over the years in the face of stiff competition from giants like Visa and MasterCard. Despite the current credit crisis in the financial markets that has wrecked havoc and caused major pullbacks in card offers among major credit card issuers like Citibank, Discover has not retreated from its existing array of promotions.
Discover Card's Benefits Include High Cash Back Credit Card Rewards and Attractive Balance Transfer Offers
Because of its relatively small share of the credit card market, Discover Card has needed to distinguish itself to consumers by offering more competitive reward credit card deals and more appealing 0% balance transfer promotions than most. The company has a history of frequently sending out mailers to prospective customers with tantalizing 0% APR and low interest balance transfer for life offers. Among the many benefits of carrying a Discover card, not the least of which is that the card has no annual fee, the card offers a relatively attractive selection of card offers to pick from. Discover Card currently has four line ups in its credit card offerings - the Discover More, the Discover Motiva, the Discover Open Road, and the Discover Miles card - and all four card types offer its own different reward and interest free benefits packaged into consumer, business, and student card variations. For example, the Open Road Discover card type appeals to drivers with its high cash back credit card reward rebate for gas purchases, and the Miles card appeals to business airline travelers or consumers who want to rack up frequent flyer miles quickly for free airline tickets. Other than the Discover credit cards issued directly by Discover, the company also issues Discover branded cards under the trademark of other major retail names like discount giant Walmart and wholesale warehouse Sam's Club.
All Discover cards also qualify for high reward earning opportunities under the Shop Discover Card program. By shopping through the ShopDiscover website portal to visit its broad lineup of online stores such as Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Circuit City, and Hotwire, cardholders can earn extra rewards up to an additional 5-20% cash back on all purchases.
Exclusive Discover Business Credit Card Benefits Such As Free and Easy To Use Purchase Checks That Actually Earn Rewards
For its top business credit card line up, Discover also offers a very unique and intriguing benefit - the ability to write and issue fee-free Discover Card Purchase Checks. Sometimes, small business owners or entrepreneurs run into merchants or suppliers that do not accept credit cards. Discover PurchaseChecks work just like your regular credit card. When you encounter a store or retail merchant that does not accept credit cards or specifically, the Discover Business Card, simply write a check out to the merchant for the amount of your purchase. The check will appear with all your regular Discover Card transactions as a regular purchase, helping you with expense accounting and bookkeeping. Purchase Checks may be used to make any business related purchase when credit cards would otherwise not be accepted. Best of all, there is no fee or charge to use Purchase Checks and transactions are recorded as credit card purchases. All checks written get the standard interest rate offered to ordinary credit card purchases rather than the high interest rate demanded of cash advances. Quite remarkably, amounts written on Purchase Checks also earn credit card rewards, something almost unheard of among other credit card reward programs.
Of course, this raises a very interesting proposition and a rather sneaky idea for consumers and part time small business owners like myself. As we all know, consumers and non-business owners can apply for business credit cards by submitting their Social Security Number as their business ID on business credit card applications. As such, ordinary consumers can apply and qualify for business credit cards like the Discover Business Card to take advantage of benefits like Purchase Checks. One interesting idea for credit card reward seekers would be to utilize rebate-earning Purchase Checks to pay the rent, which for many people is frequently in excess of $1,000 a month easy. For the rule abiding folks, the official stated policy of Discover Card is that Purchase Checks may not be used to pay rent, but I guess it begs the question - how would Discover Card otherwise be able to realistically tell the difference between Purchase Check payments that you write to your landlord, and checks given to genuine business merchants? Just something to ponder about.
Current Acceptance Of Discover Card In the U.S. And Around The World
I don't think anyone really thinks the Discover Card program is completely lacking in the way of credit card purchase rewards or 0% balance transfer offers. The knock against Discover Card has always been their seemingly weak acceptance and usage rate in the US and other foreign locations where Americans predominantly visit. Despite reportedly having over 50 million cardmembers in the Discover Network, unlike its more well known competitors like Visa or MasterCard, the Discover Card is neither widely issued nor widely accepted outside of the United States and Canada. Even in the US, while it's accepted at most major locations like gas stations, supermarkets, mall outlets, department retailers, and online stores, it's not always compatible with all retail merchants that accept credit card payments.
Undeterred, Discover continues to expand its adoption nationally and internationally, signing semi-exclusive agreements with certain major retailers, and partnering with big time credit and debit card networks in the US and overseas. Discover currently has a special card agreement with major retailers Walmart and Sam's Club to issue store branded Discover cards. Per arrangement, wholesalers like Sam's Club currently only accepts MasterCard and Discover, but not Visa or American Express. Despite the lack of international acceptance overseas, Discover has been making major inroads into countries like China, having recently signed a partnership agreement with card payment network China Union Pay (the largest credit card network in China) to accept Discover Card payments anywhere that displays the Union Pay logo. This means that you can pull out your trusty Discover credit card to pay anywhere that accepts China Union Pay. Like Capital One credit cards, neither Discover nor Cap One charge extra interest fees for foreign credit card transactions, making them the best international credit cards to own. While places like China still remain primarily a cash based economy, card usage is growing rapidly and as China Union Pay remains at the forefront, Discover stands to enjoy unique growth potential in future market share.
Reviews Of The Top Discover Credit Cards (Consumer, Business, and Student) With Rewards and Balance Transfers:
1) Miles Card by Discover Card - Earn two reward miles on up to $3,000 in combined travel and restaurant purchases every year, and 1 mile for every dollar you spend on all other purchases. This offer is Discover Card's best travel rewards credit card for earning frequent flier airline miles and free airline tickets. While this card is mostly about airline miles, you are also given the option to exchange earned miles for cash, travel credits, or gift cards - it's up to you. Mileage rewards can be used to book airline travel anytime with no black out dates or restrictions. There is no earning limit or maximum cap on the miles that may be earned, and all rewards you accrue never expire. However, if your account is closed for any reason or inactive for 18 consecutive months or if you fail to make any minimum payment due for two consecutive billing periods, any miles in your miles account will be forfeited. There is no annual fee. Currently, pursuant to this online offer, you can earn up to 12,000 Bonus Miles - 1,000 Bonus Miles each month you make a purchase for your first year*.
2) Discover More Card - Get 5% cash back bonus rewards with the Discover More credit card in categories that change throughout the year like gas, restaurants, department stores, and more up to the quarterly maximum. Plus, cardholders get up to 20% cash back on purchases made at major retailers through Discover Card's online shopping site. All other purchases automatically earn rewards up to 1%. The More Card features an introductory 0% balance transfer offer for fifteen months with a 3% balance transfer fee.
Currently, the Discover More Card also comes in several different card designs, however their terms and conditions do not otherwise vary significantly:
- Discover More Card - This is the standard Discover More card variation that most people seek out and apply for.
3) Discover Motiva Card - Earn up to 1% cash back on all eligible purchases with the Discover Motiva card. This particular card features an interesting twist on the usual credit card rewards program. Along with your normal cash back rebates you may earn a cashback bonus equal to 5% of your Interest Charges automatically each month when you make an on-time payment. This is a very intriguing incentive to motivate you to pay off your card balance on time and earn extra bonus rewards in the process. As with almost all Discover card rewards, your cash back earnings can be increased in value if redeemed through Discover's network of online retail partners. There is no annual fee.
4) Discover Open Road - Get 2% Cashback Bonus automatically on up to $250 combined spend per month at any gas station and any restaurant. In addition to the gas rewards, cardholders earn up to 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases beyond $3,000 a year. Plus they can earn up to 20% rebate rewards for spending money and making purchases at major store retailers through Discover's online store. There is no annual fee.
5) Discover Business Card - ($100 Sign Up Bonus) - With the Discover business reward card, you can receive up to 5% cash back rewards on office supplies, 2% on gas, and up to 1% on all other purchases. Cardholders can also earn up to 5 to 20% more in cash back rebates at top retailers through Discover's exclusive online shopping website. Your purchase rewards can be doubled when you take them as gift cards or gift certificates from many of Discover's online retail partners. There is also an introductory 0% APR offer on purchases for 12 months, and a low interest balance transfer promotion for 6 months. However, the best card feature is the ability to write fee-free Purchase Checks to pay merchants who don't accept credit cards. As with most business card programs, cardholders also enjoy free employee cards with customizable card limits and monthly reporting metrics on their spending. There is also no annual fee.
6) Discover Business Miles Card - With the Discover business mileage reward card, you can receive double reward miles on travel and gas purchases up to $5,000, and 1 mile per dollar for everything else. Miles can be redeemed for airfare travel or reduced prices on airline tickets for most major U.S. based airlines, on any seat, with no blackout reservation dates. Miles can also be redeemed for cash or gift cards from a huge selection of brand name partner stores. Currently the card is offering an instant bonus reward offer of 12,000 bonus miles upon card application approval, along with an introductory 12 month, 0% APR offer for all purchases. Business owners, entrepreneurs, or regular consumers operating as sole proprietorships get access to Discover Card's exclusive reward earning Purchase Checks that can be used to pay merchants that don't otherwise accept credit cards. There is no annual fee.
7) Discover Student More Card - With the Discover student credit card, cardholders get a 0% introductory APR on credit card purchases for 9 months, plus enjoy 5% Cashback Bonus* in categories that change throughout the year like department stores, gas, groceries, restaurants, and more. Means extra money for you, and extra toppings for your pizza.
Card holders also earn up to 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases. The Discover Student Card is much easier to qualify for compared to regular consumer cards as it doesn't rely on stringent income or credit checks.