Discover itUpdated: September 21, 2017

When considering a new credit card, it’s important to look at what the card can do for you as well as what the drawbacks might be. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain whether a specific feature or perk will be as helpful as it sounds until after you’ve gotten the card. One of the most popular credit cards we review is the Discover it – Cashback Match, and when I found myself in the market for a cash back credit card this past fall, it was at the top of my list.

Why did I choose Discover it – Cashback Match?

I knew I wanted a credit card that would earn me a significant amount of cash back, as well as one that had no annual fee and offered a long 0% intro APR on purchases. Discover it – Cashback Match offers exactly that, as it earns 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter you activate (up to the quarterly maximum, then it’s 1%) and 1% on all other purchases, offers a 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee) and has no annual fee. What’s more, Discover will match all of cash back earned at the end of the first year as a cardholder, which was really appealing, and the card is available to those with average to excellent credit (usually a credit score of 670 or higher). I was a bit concerned about the potential for Discover to not be accepted by a lot of the retailers and businesses I frequent, especially with an out-of-state trip coming up. However, after weighing the pros against the potential cons, I decided to go for it. I applied and was approved in late November and began using my new credit card straight away. Spoiler alert: I love it! And as such, I decided to write about my experience with Discover it – Cashback Match to help anyone who’s also considering this credit card make a decision.

The pros of Discover it – Cashback Match

After more than three months of owning and using this credit card, I can safely say that it’s one I am pleased to have in my wallet. Some of the primary factors influencing my opinion include:

Hefty cash back earning potential

Without a doubt, what drew me to apply for Discover it – Cashback Match was the potential cash back earnings. When I applied, one of the rotating 5% cash back categories was purchases, and since it was the holiday season, I knew I’d be spending a good amount on that site anyway. Rotating categories can be hit-or-miss, but overall I have found that the categories Discover has chosen each quarter to be worthwhile to me. Although you have to enroll in the cash back categories each quarter to make sure that you earn 5% when you shop, doing so is a breeze thanks to reminder emails from Discover as well as an easy-to-use cash back section on the website. Even better, you can enroll as soon as a quarter’s bonus categories are revealed — I was able to enroll for the April to June bonus categories in February — which is helpful for those of us who can be forgetful. Even if I’m not going to be spending within the quarterly 5% cash back categories, I still earn 1% cash back on all other purchases I make with the card. And at the end of my first year, I can look forward to everything I earn being matched, which will come in handy post-holiday season, when I will receive my matched bonus. It’s important to remember that when you’ll receive your cash back match will depend on when you open your Discover it – Cashback Match card — it will be around the time of your card’s first anniversary date.

Flexible redemption options

When it comes time to redeem my cash back, there are a plethora of ways to do so. I can redeem for cash which is deposited to my bank account or applied to my statement, or use my cash back at during checkout, to make a charitable donation or get gift cards through Discover’s website. Redeeming my rewards for gift cards is an opportunity to get even more bonuses, as Discover adds $5 free to each gift card I choose (so redeeming $20 in cash back for a gift card will actually earn me a $25 gift card).

Great customer service

Discover has ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction, according to a 2016 study by J.D. Power, and after several months as a customer it’s easy to see why. Customer support is available 24/7 via email, phone and chat, and the times I’ve reached out I received prompt, immediate and helpful responses. Its website and app are easy to use, allowing me to easily see how much cash back I’ve earned and redeem it with a few clicks. Discover lets me set up email and text message alerts to remind me when my bill is due and to enroll in new quarterly bonus categories as well as create custom alerts for when there’s a transaction over a certain amount — helpful for alerting me to potential fraud. I can also use the Freeze it feature to temporarily disable my card from my phone or computer if it should come up missing. As someone who’s occasionally misplaced my wallet in the past (and had it turn up after I’d canceled my credit cards), this is a really nice feature to have!

The cons of owning this credit card

There are drawbacks of every credit card, and it’s important to understand what they are and determine if the pros outweigh the cons before you make a decision.

Not everyone accepts Discover

Obviously, one of the biggest drawbacks of owning a Discover card is the fact that not all merchants accept them. I was worried about this at the outset, but decided not to let it stop me from getting a credit card with so much cash back earning potential. So far, in the months that I have been using my Discover it card, I have only encountered a couple of places where it wasn’t accepted. In those instances, I’ve been able to use my debit card, which is Visa-branded, to complete the purchase. I would suggest that anyone considering this credit card make sure to either carry cash with them or that they have a secondary credit card that is more widely accepted to use just in case. The last thing anyone wants is to get stuck unable to make a payment. You can also avoid that kind of situation by checking whether or not a restaurant, shop or other retail location accepts Discover before sitting down to eat or picking out your purchases. Also, those who live in more rural areas might have trouble with merchants not accepting Discover than those who live in more urbanized areas.

Rotating categories are a gamble

As I mentioned above, the downside of rotating categories is that they can be hit-or-miss. I was pleased with the categories chosen for my first two quarters because at least one of them covered some of my everyday spending — from October through December of 2016, ground transportation (including rideshare services like Uber) from January through March of 2017 — which made it easy for me to earn 5% cash back. However, the upcoming quarter’s categories for April through June of 2017 are ones I will likely not benefit from, as I don’t shop at wholesale clubs or home improvement stores. Disappointing as this is, it still doesn’t make me regret my decision. However, it’s a good idea when you’re considering a cash back credit card to take into account your spending habits and make sure there isn’t a card out there that’s a better fit. Our customizable cash back calculator can help you figure out which credit cards are the best bet based on your spending habits.

Is Discover it right for you?

Overall, my experience with Discover it – Cashback Match has been an overwhelmingly positive one. If you are considering this card, you should definitely think about where you’ll be using it and whether the rotating cash back categories are a good fit for your lifestyle. It’s also worth noting that several other Discover cards, such as Discover it Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card and Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, feature the same rewards match bonus, so depending on your needs, one of them might suit you better. Another cash back money-making machine to consider is the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser), which one of our editors wrote about here.

To learn more about the variety of cash back credit cards out there, you can read our cash back credit card reviews.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.