The Best Cash Back Credit Card for Beginners

There are so many choices to choose from when choosing a cash back credit card. Especially if you’re a beginner, all of the many options make coming to a decision a bit of an overwhelming process. However, there is one card that I often recommend to beginners who are simply interested in earning cash back and it’s the Discover it® – Cashback Match.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

There are a number of reasons why I recommend this card:

Approval odds

The Discover it is one of the easier credit cards to get approved for even when you have a thin credit history or lower credit score. While I always really like the Chase Freedom cards for cash back cards for beginners, it’s not as easy to get approved for Chase cards as it is for Discover cards.

What credit score is needed for the Discover it? 

It’s impossible to give hard cut-offs for credit scores needed for approval for any credit cards since so many factors come into play, such as payment history, credit history, negative marks, your relationship with Discover, etc.

However, with that said, I’ve seen data points where applicants have been approved for this card with credit scores around 650 or even a but lower. Once you get into the 650 and below range, it becomes very hard to predict approval odds, but just the fact that approval is a possibility with kind of score is a big plus for the Discover it.

So because this card is one of the easiest to get approved for, I’m big on it for those folks just starting out.

No annual fee

The Discover it comes with no annual fee.

This is big because if you are just starting out you want to be able to keep your account open as long as possible so that you can build up your credit history. By not having to worry about an annual fee, it’s a lot easier to justify keeping your credit card open.


This is the primary reason why this card is so high up on my list.

The Discover it offers cash back on rotating quarterly categories. What does that mean?

It means that every three months, you’ll be able to earn 5% back on certain categories. Only a couple of categories will be active at a time but the categories usually consist of categories like gas, ground transportation, restaurants, movies, home improvement stores, and Amazon.

You’ll just have to remember two things about these categories:

  1. You always have to remember to register for each quarter and activate your 5X earnings (this only takes a few seconds)
  2. You can only earn 5X up to a maximum of $1,500 spent each quarter

I personally think that 5X on a no annual fee credit card is great but there’s something that makes the Discover it even more appealing.

What really makes this card so appealing is that after the first cardmember year, your cash back earnings are doubled. This means that in effect you earn 10X on all of the quarterly categories and 2X on everything else. This only applies for the first year, but it’s a great way to get introduced to the world of cash back.

Discover Deals

You can take your cash back earnings to the next level by taking advantage of Discover Deals. This is a portal where you can do all of your online shopping and earn additional cash back. For example, you might be able to earn 5% at Walmart or Kohls or 15% back at Under Armour. It’s really not difficult to find good deals on those purchases and it’s a great way to supplement your rewards earned.

Redeem cash back for any amount

Some cash back cards set minimums for redeeming your rewards and some of these are quite high. With the Discover it, you can redeem your cash back at any amount at any time, making it very simple to take advantage of your rewards.

Also, another great thing about your rewards earned with the Discover it is that they never expire.

Free overnight shipping

It’s not uncommon for credit card issuers to offer free rush delivery for high-end premium cards that come with expensive annual fees. But it’s not so common for a bank to offer this service for a card with no annual fee but with Discover you can have your replacement card overnighted to you free of charge (anywhere in the US).

The Discover it® – Cashback Match is Forgiving

This is another reason why I love this card for beginners. It’s very forgiving.

Some cards will spike up your APR when you make a late payment but Discover does not do this, so you don’t have to stress out so much if you slip up. In fact, Discover doesn’t even apply a late payment fee for your first late payment. There are also no fees for charging over your credit limit. And finally, you can pay your bill up until midnight of the due date of your bill, allowing you even more flexibility.

All of these perks are great for those newcomers to credit cards who are still working on taking the training wheels off.

No foreign transaction fees

It’s not very common for no annual fee cards to offer no foreign transaction fees but the Discover it is one of those cards, so it’s great for travel.

Account freeze

If you ever lose your credit card you can log in online or even through the app and instantly freeze your credit card so that no purchases will go through and you won’t have to go through the process of disputing charges and clearing everything up.

Free monthly FICO score

Discover offers you a free monthly glimpse at your FICO score so you might be able to cancel any of those credit score monitoring services you’ve signed up for.

US-based customer service

If you’ve ever had to work things out over the phone, you know how frustrating it can be to get transferred to some customer service station overseas. Discover keeps things local in that regard and is known for having great customer service.

Final word

The Discover it® – Cashback Match is a great credit card for beginners who want to start earning cash back rewards. With a strong rewards earning program, no annual fee, tons of perks, and easier approval odds than many of its competitors, this card really becomes a no-brainer for many people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *