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Reviews

Discover it chrome review: A gas and restaurants cash-back card that doubles your rewards in year 1

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Discover it® chrome to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

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It doesn't matter how carefully you planned your spending for the month, gas is expensive and those $8 lunches add up. But for consumers who spend regularly at the pump and dining out, Discover offers a card that's got your back in these two particularly money-draining areas. The Discover it® chrome offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%. Plus, cardholders earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.

Discover also offers a unique welcome bonus: For new card members in the first year only, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, without the need to enroll or sign up or hit a certain spending requirement. This helps Discover it® chrome stand out among many excellent credit cards for gas and restaurant spending.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the rewards and benefits associated with the Discover it® chrome to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

Discover it® chrome review

Discover it® chrome

On Discover's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn cash back on your next road trip with 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Welcome bonus

    Dollar-for-dollar match of all cash back earned the first year

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for 14 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    11.99% - 22.99% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good / Excellent

Pros

  • Cash-back program
  • Generous welcome bonus

Cons

  • Cash-back program limits earnings: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%

Discover it® chrome rewards

Discover it® chrome cardholders benefit from earning 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%. They also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically. As a welcome bonus for new card members in the first year only, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned in cash back at the end of your first year, without any special enrollment or spending requirements.

CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Discover it® chrome. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).

Here's a breakdown of how much cash back you can earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: $52
  • Gas: $37
  • Dining out: $62
  • Travel: $22
  • Utilities: $49
  • General purchases: $40
  • Total: $280

Based on the annual spending budget from Esri, the average American can earn an estimated $523 in the first year of card membership since Discover automatically matches all of your first-year cash back dollar-for-dollar. Over five years, you can earn $1,568 in cash back. This assumes that cardholders are redeeming cash back for a typical value of 1 cent each. Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value, and you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

There is no minimum for the amount of cash back you have to earn before you can start redeeming it. This is a nice feature, considering many popular cards, like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, have redemption minimums of around $25.

There's a wide variety of options to choose from when it is time to redeem the value of your points. The most common redemption method is an electronic deposit or statement credit. Discover also partners with PayPal and Amazon.com so you can cash in your points at checkout by opting to pay with rewards when you shop online.

You can also redeem your cash back for gift cards to your favorite stores. This option is available to cardholders once they earn $5 in cash back or more. And if you have a favorite nonprofit organization, Discover it® chrome cardholders can use their cash back points to donate to important causes, starting at a 1 cent minimum donation.

Additional benefits

Discover offers a few benefits that focus on consumer protection. First, the Freeze it® feature lets cardholders switch their accounts "on" and "off" if they misplace or lose their cards. This prevents unauthorized charges while your card is lost, and if you find out that it merely slipped in between the couch cushions, you have the flexibility to reactivate the same card without skipping a beat.

Like most credit cards, Discover customers have free access to their FICO credit score.

Bottom line

The Discover it® chrome can earn you $1,568 in cash back over five years — and $523 in your first year alone. Cardholders who spend regularly at gas stations and restaurants will get the most from this card, with 2% cash back in these two categories, up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter (after 1%), and 1% on all other other purchases automatically.

As with any cash-back or rewards credit card, it's important to know how each cash-back category is defined. With the Discover it® chrome, gas stations that are affiliated with superstores, supermarkets, discount stores, warehouse clubs or wholesale distributors may not qualify for the 2% cash-back benefit.

Likewise, restaurants are defined as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast-food chains.

For an-all around cash-back credit card that rewards every kind of spending, CNBC Select recommends getting a cash-back credit card with unlimited points, like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, which could earn you $1,800 over 5 years.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Information about the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® chrome, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.