Discover checking review: An account with cash-back rewards

A smiling person with long gray curly hair uses their smartphone to open a Discover checking account.Image: A smiling person with long gray curly hair uses their smartphone to open a Discover checking account.
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Discover checking accounts at a glance

Physical locations None.
Getting started Easy to open. There’s no minimum deposit, and you can complete the process online.
Monthly service fee None.
Overdraft fees None.
Other fees Wire transfer fee: $30 for outgoing wire transfer. Out-of-network ATMs: Discover doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees, but the owner of the ATM may.
How to deposit Online transfers, direct deposit, mobile check deposit, Zelle or mailed check.
How to withdraw/pay No-fee cash withdrawals from in-network ATMs; debit card at Discover, PULSE or Diners Club International ATMs; cash back at the register; online transfer or online bill pay; written check, bank check or wire transfer.
Notable feature Discover pays 1% cash back on all debit card purchases, up to $3,000 every month.

Discover checking is a free online checking account — there’s no monthly maintenance cost — that pays 1% cash back on debit purchases.

Members get all the advantages of Discover’s network of more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs and the ability to write checks — all with almost no fees. Discover checking also offers free overdraft protection, access to your paycheck up to two days early when sign up for direct deposit, fraud  protection and the ability to use your Discover debit card with Apple Pay.

4 things to know about a Discover checking account

Here are some things to consider about checking with Discover.

1. Cash back rewards

Discover checking pays a straightforward cash back reward of 1% on all debit card purchases, up to $3,000 monthly. If you spend at least that much on your debit card every month, that’s an extra $30 per month, or $360 per year. It’s worth noting that, unlike some online banks, Discover doesn’t offer interest checking.

2. (Almost) no fees

Discover advertises its cashback debit account as a way to “earn cash back rewards with no fees” — and for a number of customers that may be true. There are no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements and no activity minimums. Discover also does not charge fees for insufficient funds, issuing an official bank check, replacing a lost debit card, outbound ACH transfers or check reorders.

But there is an exception. Discover does charge $30 for each outgoing wire transfer. Also, note that while Discover does not charge any ATM fees outside of its network of more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs, the owner of an out-of-network ATM may assess a fee.

3. Overdraft protection

Discover checking offers all members access to an overdraft protection transfer service without any fees. This service allows you to link your Discover checking account to a deposit account, such as a savings account or a money market account.

Discover will automatically use the funds in your linked account to make the eligible purchase. But keep in mind that you’ll have to sign up for this service — you aren’t automatically enrolled. And if you don’t have enough money in your linked account, your transaction will be declined.

4. Early paycheck access

Discover checking includes a service called Early Pay. This perk allows you to receive your ACH direct deposit paychecks up to two days early.

What are the requirements to open a Discover checking account?

To open a Discover checking account, you need to sign up and download the Discover app. You’ll have to provide your name, email address and cell phone number.

Discover also lets you open a joint checking account.

Not sure if Discover is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Alliant Credit Union: Alliant might be worth a look if you’re considering interest checking.
  • Axos Bank: Axos Bank is another possible option for a cash-back checking account.

About the author: Renee A Butler is an experienced writer and consultant who helps explain complex ideas simply. For more than 15 years, she has been a leader in financial management, business strategy, and marketing. Butler has worked… Read more.