What could be better than a big sign-up bonus? How about an even bigger bonus? If you have ever considered getting a Discover credit card, there is no better time than now as Discover’s Cashback Match will double any rewards you earn in the first calendar year.
This bonus applies to every Discover card, including their top cards and even their secured card. With rotating categories, you can turn 5 percent cash back into 10 percent back! You might be tempted by a big sign-up bonus from a competitor, but if you have a little patience, you can ultimate take home a lot more money with Discover. The only limit is how much you spend on the card.
Compare the Top Discover Credit Cards
Before we get into our tips and tricks for the Discover credit card application process, let’s take a look at some of the top Discover card offers. No matter what your credit score or what kinds of rewards you like to earn, there is a Discover card offer for you.
Discover credit cards are popular for a reason: they all come with no annual fee, generous earning potential, a great welcome offer, no foreign transaction fees, rewards that never expire and excellent security features.
If you have good or excellent credit, you should consider the Discover it Miles card or one of the Discover it cards. They all require credit scores of 690 or better.
The Discover it Miles card earns 1.5 miles on all purchases. There are no limits and no special categories to worry about. Miles can be redeemed toward travel purchases made on your Discover card.
Get Zero-Interest Financing
The Cashback Match card comes in two versions. Both of them have rotating categories better known as quarterly bonuses. That means you’ll earn 5 percent cash back for purchases that fall into certain categories that change every four months. They vary from year to year, but often include wholesale clubs, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, Amazon and more.
The difference between the cards is in the interest-free periods for purchases and balance transfers. The Cashback Match card has zero interest on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, whereas the Discover it – 18-month balance transfer offer card has 0% APR on purchases for six months, but also 0% on balance transfers for 18 months.
And if you’re a hockey fan, you might consider the NHL Discover card, which has the same rotating categories, cashback match and 0% APR offer, but also comes with deal that gives you 10 percent off at Shop.NHL.com.
If you are a student, you can qualify for a Discover it Student card with just an average credit score of 630 to 689. There are two versions of the Discover card for students, each earning different rewards.
The Discover it for Students has the same 5 percent quarterly bonus categories as the standard Discover it card. There is also the Discover it Chrome for Students, which offers 2 percent back at restaurants and gas stations. All other purchases on both card receive 1 percent back.
Both of these cards also offer an additional bonus of a $20 statement credit each school year for up to five years as long as you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You must be at least 18 years old to apply for the student cards. The Discover line of cards does not accept co-applicants or co-signers on applications, so you must have income to apply.
If You Have Bad or No Credit
If you have bad or no credit (a score below 630), there’s still a Discover credit card offer for you. You can even earn Discover card rewards while building your credit by applying for the Discover it Secured card. There aren’t a lot of secured cards that let you do that, making this a great deal.
This card requires a $200 deposit but allows you to earn 2 percent back at restaurants and gas stations. And yes, fast food establishments qualify as restaurants.
How to Maximize Your Quarterly Bonuses and Cashback Match
If you apply for the Discover card, we can help you get more out of the quarterly bonuses. There is an annual limit to each quarterly bonus of $1,500. After you hit that max, you’ll earn just 1 percent back instead of 5 percent.
The timing of your Discover credit card application, though, may give you a chance to double dip in that category. The rotating categories are not set in stone, but for the past several years gas has been in the first quarter. If this holds true and you apply for the card in February, you may get a chance to earn 5 percent back on up to $3,000 worth of gas purchases (instead of the standard $1,500) in the first year.
If you don’t drive you may want to apply at a different time depending on the quarterly bonus you think you will be able to make the most of. Whichever category you decide to optimize, your first-year earnings will be doubled, meaning that this strategy could really pay off.
Don’t Forget to Activate
Also remember to activate your quarterly bonuses. The easiest way to do this is to login online at the account center. You can also call customer service. However, you must do this every quarter. You also want to activate them as soon as possible to get the most out of your rotating categories.
What to Know When Applying for a Discover Credit Card
Discover only gives out a maximum of two credit cards at a time. However, you won’t be eligible for a second Discover card until you have had your first car for at least a year. If you want to apply for a new Discover card but already have two, you will need to close one of those accounts first. You should also give it a little time between closing the old account and opening a new one.
The Best Way to Apply for a Discover it Credit Card
You can pre-qualify (or be pre-approved) for a Discover card without affecting your credit score. This is a great idea because it will tell you if Discover thinks you will qualify for the card. You won’t be subject to a hard pull (just a soft pull), so there’s no risk to you.
This is a good place to start if you are not sure where you stand with the issuer or with your credit score. Afterwards, you will know which cards you may qualify for.
If you haven’t received an invitation to apply or pre-approval by mail from Discover, just go to the Discover pre-approval website and fill out the info. If you have received a mailer invitation, simply follow the directions on the card.
You Still Need to Apply
While you should get pre-approved for a Discover card before actually applying, it is no guarantee that you will get the card. Pre-qualification is just a process to tell you if Discover thinks you’re a good candidate for the card. Think of it as a way to improve your odds when you actually apply.
While getting pre-approved will not affect your credit score, an actual application will. Discover will do a hard pull on your credit report, meaning that your score will take a minor hit. Don’t let this worry you too much because you can easily improve your score just by using your new card responsibly. Plus, there’s no way around it.
You can apply by phone, mail or online. Completing a Discover credit card application online is the quickest and easiest way to apply and can help you get the fastest decision possible. While Discover does not offer instant approval, the pre-qualification tool is quick and a good barometer of if you will get a card.
How to Check Your Discover Credit Card Application Status
You can check your Discover application status online at anytime by simply entering your Social Security number and zip code to login. Your status can be approved, denied or pending.
If you already have one Discover card, you may get a pending notice as your application status. You might then receive a letter asking you to call or a notification after you login to your existing account. Discover will likely ask you if you want to close your old account and open a new one or carry two cards.
Generally, most applicants will receive a decision relatively quickly. However, it can take up to 30 days. You can also call 1-800-DISCOVER. To get to the point, just press # then 4.
If You’re Denied
If your Discover application status is denied, there’s still hope. The first thing you should do is ask Discover why you were denied. They are required to tell you. If the reason is legitimate, you will at least know what you have to improve.
However, be sure to always check your credit report personally. There can be mistakes, like credit lines and loans that you have not opened and missed payments that you’ve actually made. If this happens, contact the credit bureau immediately and get the errors corrected as quickly as possible.
You should also call the Discover reconsideration line at 800-695-5171. This is your chance to explain to a human why you should get the card. Have an argument ready and a good reason for getting the card. It can’t hurt to try.
Another Reason to Apply for a Discover Credit Card
There was once a time when it was hard to find merchants that accept Discover credit cards. That’s no longer the case. Discover has been working hard to increase its payment network, and has recently surpassed Amex.
According to the most recent stats, Discover is now accepted by about 9.3 million merchants domestically, compared to about 9.5 million for Visa and MasterCard and just 6.9 million for American Express. That means it’s just about as easy to find someone who will take your Discover card as your Visa or MasterCard.
International Travelers Beware
While Discover never charges foreign transaction fees, it can be hard to find vendors outside of the U.S. who will accept the card. They’re trying hard to expand that network, but it’s not there yet. So, like Amex, if you have a Discover card and you travel internationally, you should also carry a Visa or MasterCard as a backup.
Start Earning Discover Card Rewards
Discover has a lot of great rewards cards on the market. Whatever your circumstances, spending habits and rewards goals, there’s a Discover card for you. We’ve given you the tips for applying, so now’s the time to start earning rewards with a new Discover card.