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Discover is like American Express in that it acts as the credit card issuer and also its own payment network. Over the years, Discover has emerged as one of the best options for people seeking cash back credit cards that come with great earning rates and some solid perks. Here are some reasons why I think Discover credit cards are worth your consideration.
Accepted in many places
Discover cards are being accepted at more and more establishments each year. In fact, Discover cards are accepted at more places in the US than American Express cards. According to the Nilson Report, Discover was accepted by 9.3 million merchants nationwide in 2014, which is not very far behind the 9.5 million merchants that accepted Visa and MasterCard. So Discover is very close to being on par with both Visa and MasterCard domestically.
Internationally, Discover is accepted at fewer destinations, however. You can use their own map to see where they might be accepted. Just because a country is highlighted, that doesn’t mean all or even most merchants will accept your card. While some places like China and Japan accept Discover widespread, it’s always a good idea to keep a back-up Visa or MasterCard on deck when traveling abroad.
Keep in mind that you can use Discover cards where some of their partners are accepted, such as Diner’s Club. If you see any of the logos below while abroad you should be able to use your Discover card at that merchant.
One fantastic thing about Discover cards is that they don’t require you to pay foreign transaction fees, even for cards with no annual fees.
Easier to get approved for
Many Discover cards are easier to get approved for than many other credit cards issued by other large banks. Discover offers secured credit cards and students credit cards for people who might have low credit scores or thin credit profiles, so Discover is often a fantastic way to begin to build up your credit profile.
Great cash back cards
Discover cards were originally an invention by Sears in the 1980s back when Sears was on top of the world. In fact, Discover actually pioneered cash back rewards when it started offering them in 1986 and so it’s no surprise that Discover is still offering some of the best cash back credit cards.
My favorite Discover credit card is the Discover it, which comes in several different varieties. The two I value the most are the Discover it® Cashback Match™ and the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card.
The Discover it® Cashback Match™ offers rotating categories just like the Chase Freedom where you can earn 5% back each quarter on up to $1,500 in spend. And the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card functions just like the Chase Freedom Unlimited except that it allows you to earn 1.5% back on all purchases to go towards travel.
What makes both of these cards special is that Discover doubles all of your earnings for the first year you have the card. So it’s like earning 10% back on quarterly purchases or 3% back on all purchases. Both of those offers are hard to beat and are terrific options for people just getting started with credit card rewards.
Discover also offers additional perks for the Discover it cards like free FICO scores (TransUnion) and also allows you to freeze your credit card instantly with the app. They also offer 100% U.S.-based customer service which can make resolving issues a lot easier over the phone. If you shop online, the Discover Deals shopping portal is a great way to earn additional cash back on many of your purchases.
Read more about that amazing shopping portal here.
And finally, a lot of their cards offer 0% intro APR for various periods. For example, the Discover it will give you 14 months of 0% APR. Once again, these type of perks are ideal for people just starting out with credit cards since they allow you to get used to paying monthly bills and while not penalizing you with interest in the first 14 months just in case you overspend.
I think Discover cards care great options for many people, especially if they are looking for cash back. The first year doubling on all cash back earned is hard to beat and makes the Discover it cards extremely competitive. Since Discover credit cards are accepted at so many places in the US, I think they are definitely worth considering.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.