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Discover it Cash Back vs. Discover it chrome: Which Card Is Better?

While many features are comparable, one card is clearly superior when it comes to rewards.

The Discover it® Cash Back* and Discover it® chrome* have many superficial similarities -- no annual fees, no foreign transactions fees, an Unlimited Cashback welcome bonus,  the same introductory APR -- but entirely different rewards structures. 

For most people, the Discover it Cash Back will offer greater rewards than the Discover it chrome because of the Discover it Cash Back's flagship rotating rewards category. That noted, the Discover it chrome may be the better choice for a specific audience -- commuters looking for consistent reward rates on gas stations and restaurants, and those might prefer more simplicity and predictability. 

Which card does it better?

Feature Winner
Annual fee Tie
Rewards Discover it Cash Back
Welcome bonus Tie
Introductory APR Tie
Personalization Discover it Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

7.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
APR14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 months
Recommended Credit Good/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 15 months
Balance Transfer APR14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Discover it® chrome

4.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
APR14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 months
Recommended Credit Average/Good/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 15 months
Balance Transfer APR14.99% - 25.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Annual fee

Winner: Tie

You'll pay the same annual fee for both cards: $0. And both offer benefits comparable to the best credit cards with no annual fee -- a competitive rewards program, welcome bonus and introductory APR that will mitigate interest charges on purchases or balance transfers.

Rewards

Winner: Discover it Cash Back

The Discover it Cash Back will earn you 5% cash back on everyday purchases via the quarterly rotating category on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter (then 1%). This makes rewards a bit unpredictable -- though they typically include basics such as gas stations, grocery stores and purchases from popular retailers. Through December 2022, you'll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spending on Amazon.com and digital wallet purchases (then 1%) -- which could make holiday shopping a rewards-generating opportunity. Otherwise, you earn 1% on all other purchases.

The drawback to the Discover it Cash Back rewards program is that you have to manually activate the rewards category each quarter. Not a dealbreaker -- Discover will send you an email reminder -- but another thing to keep track of. 

The Discover it chrome's rewards program isn't as competitive: It offers 2% cash back on gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter (then 1%), and 1% on all other purchases. The best restaurant credit cards and best gas credit cards offer up to 5% back, and not all will cap your earnings.

Welcome bonus

Winner: Tie

Though both cards offer the same potential welcome bonus in a vacuum, it's ultimately best for whichever card's rewards program fits your budget.

All Discover cards feature an Unlimited Cashback Match as a welcome bonus (referred to as the Discover Match "Unlimited Bonus" with the Discover it® Miles* card). Essentially, Discover matches all of the cash back earned during your first year -- but you'll need to wait a full year to collect it. Still, it's one of the best welcome bonuses available in light of its unlimited potential. 

Introductory APR

Winner: Tie

Both cards offer the same introductory APR, like the welcome bonus. You'll get 15 months of 0% introductory interest on purchases and balance transfers, with a variable APR of 14.99% to 25.99% thereafter. This can help you finance a large purchase, finance an emergency expense or avoid interest while you pay down existing credit card debt.

Both cards also offer the same terms on balance transfers. You can take advantage of the introductory balance transfer fee of 3% (see terms) -- the standard rate on most balance transfer credit cards. After that, the balance transfer fee increases to an exorbitant 5% (see terms).

Personalization

Winner: Discover it Cash Back

It's a small thing but very few credit cards allow you to choose a design, and when they do, there are only a handful of tepid designs. But the Discover it Cash Back offers imagery of popular hobbies and symbols, picturesque landscapes and your initials -- or you can opt for a plain design in a color of your choice. The Discover it chrome doesn't offer any design options.

The bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back is a better choice for most people -- it has the Discover it chrome beat in rewards. While Discover it chrome is a little simpler because you don't have to manually activate any rewards offers, the low rewards rates on gas stations and restaurants paired with the spending cap leave something to be desired.

FAQs

What are foreign transaction fees?

Foreign transaction fees occur when you make purchases abroad with a credit card that makes you cover the costs of the currency exchanges. Usually, it's 3% per transaction. A lot of travel credit cards -- as well as some everyday credit cards -- offer no foreign transaction fees, which can save you a ton of money. No Discover credit cards or Capital One credit cards have foreign transaction fees, either.

What are the best credit cards for restaurants?

The credit cards with the best rewards rates on restaurants include the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*, Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, Citi Custom Cash℠ Card and the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card.

What are the best credit cards for gas?

The credit cards with the best rewards rates for gas and gas stations include the Citi Premier® Card, Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

*All information about the Discover it Cash Back, Discover it chrome, Discover it Miles, and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.