The 5 best Discover credit cards of 2023

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Discover credit cards have numerous benefits for a wide variety of consumers, all with no annual fee. Take a look at our picks to see if one of these cards is right for you.

CardBest for
Discover it® Cash BackCash back
Discover it® MilesTravel
Discover it® Student Cash BackStudents
Discover it® Secured Credit CardBuilding credit
Discover it® Balance TransferBalance transfers

Best for cash back: Discover it® Cash Back

Here’s why: Although the cash back system for the Discover it® Cash Back card can be a little confusing at first, you can earn significant rewards if you spend in certain categories.

This card offers a whopping 5% cash back on purchases in certain categories, up to a quarterly maximum amount of $1,500 (then 1%). But there’s a catch: These categories change each quarter, and you have to activate them to earn the bonus rate. Otherwise, you’ll only earn a standard cash back rate of 1% on all purchases.

When considering this card, make sure you’re likely to take advantage of these cash back offers, especially within the first year so that you can also take advantage of Cashback Match. With Cashback Match, Discover will match all of the cash back rewards earned by new cardholders after the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open. For example, if you earned $200 in cash back rewards over the course of the first year your account is open, you’d get another $200 cash back bonus.

You can redeem your cash back rewards at any time as statement credit, a bank deposit, a donation to select charities, or payment with Cashback Bonus at or Paypal.

From our partner

Discover it® Cash Back

3.7 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

For more details about how this cash back program operates, check out our Discover it® Cash Back review.

Best for travel: Discover it® Miles

Here’s why: Many travel rewards credit cards come with a pricey annual fee, but the Discover it® Miles card offers helpful travel rewards value without that upfront cost.

When you use the Discover it® Miles card, you’ll earn 1.5 miles for every $1 you spend on purchases. You can redeem miles for cash as a deposit to your bank account or as statement credit to cover certain travel purchases. There’s no expiration date on those miles as long as you keep the card open, so you can save up as many miles as you want before choosing to redeem.

Once you’re ready to book a trip, simply use your Discover it® Miles credit card to pay for it. Then, once the charge is applied to your credit card, you can log into your account and redeem your miles as a travel credit. Just make sure you apply for travel credit within 180 days of purchase, because that’s the cutoff.

Each mile is worth 1 cent when you redeem. When combined with your 1.5 mile-earning rate on purchases, that means $100 in spending will translate to $1.50 in travel credits.

From our partner

Discover it® Miles

3.5 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Interested in this card? Take a look at our Discover it® Miles review for more details.

Best for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Here’s why: The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers cash back on common essentials and rewards you for good grades, too.

There are two Discover credit cards directed at students: The Discover it® Student Cash Back card, and the Discover it® Student Chrome card. While the Discover it® Student Chrome card offers 2% cash back on your first $1,000 in combined gas stations and restaurant purchases each quarter (then 1%), the offer may be unattractive to students without a car or on a student meal plan.

That’s why we recommend the Discover it® Student Cash Back — it offers 5% cash back on more useful categories on up to a quarterly maximum of $1,500 (then 1% after that). These bonus categories change quarterly and need to be activated each quarter, but they provide impressive rewards potential.

Both the Discover it® Student Cash Back and Discover it® Student Chrome cards come with a great way to maximize rewards: New cardholders will get Cashback Match at the end of their first year.

From our partner

Discover it® Student Cash Back

5.0 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Curious how it matches up against other student credit cards? To learn more, you can compare student credit card offers on Credit Karma.

Best for building credit: Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Here’s why: The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a great option for folks looking to build their credit, because it reports to all three major credit bureaus. You’ll even get access to a free FICO score through your Discover account so you can track your progress.

Like all secured cards, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a security deposit as collateral, which will serve as your credit limit. The minimum is $200. Your security deposit is refundable, and Discover also gives you a path to graduate to an unsecured card.

Another thing that’s special about this card? It has rewards, which is pretty rare for a secured card. You’ll earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in purchases at gas stations and restaurants each quarter (then 1%), plus 1% cash back on all other purchases.

From our partner

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

4.2 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Best for balance transfers: Discover it® Balance Transfer

Here’s why: If you’re looking to save on interest payments, this card offers a long 0% intro APR period to help you manage your payments.

You’ll get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months from the date of your first transfer. After that intro period ends, the variable balance transfer APR rises to 17.24% - 28.24%. There’s also an intro balance transfer fee of 3% on transfers made before a specific date set by Discover. After that, the fee goes up to 5%.

You’ll also get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months after the date your account opens. After that period ends, the variable purchase APR rises to 17.24% - 28.24%.

Keep in mind that this offer is through Credit Karma and might not be available on other sites. You might see different balance transfer offers elsewhere, including on Discover’s site.

From our partner

Discover it® Balance Transfer

3.3 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

How we picked these cards

Discover aims its credit cards at a wide range of consumers, so we tried to pick categories that match the needs of as many people as possible. We hope there’s a card on this list that you’ll find useful.

After choosing our categories, we looked at what features each Discover credit card offers. Each of the credit cards we looked at has no annual fee but differs slightly, and we took these differences into consideration when choosing which is best in each category. For example, we looked at which Discover credit cards offer the best perks that could serve more students, not just the card that offers the best possible rewards.

How to make the most of Discover credit cards

Discover credit cards could be a great choice for people looking to minimize fees while still earning rewards. That’s because each of these cards comes with no annual fee, no late fees on your first late payment, no penalty APRs for late payments and no foreign transaction fees. You could also get great value from Discover’s rewards bonuses and the free FICO® score available on your monthly statements, which can help you to keep track of your credit.

But don’t forget that Discover isn’t yet widely accepted around the world. In some countries, Discover cards are rarely accepted or not accepted at all. It’s a good idea to check with Discover before you travel to see if merchants in your destination will accept the card — but you should probably still carry alternative forms of payment when traveling abroad.

So while these Discover cards might be right for those looking for a great value at home, consider opting for another card if you’re traveling overseas. Other credit card networks, such as Visa and Mastercard, are more widely accepted abroad and feature plenty of options with no foreign transaction fees.

About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance writer living in Kirkland, Washington. She has been a professional dogsled racer, a wildlife researcher, and a participant in the National Spelling Bee. She writes for websites such a… Read more.