Review of the Discover More Card

Last Updated: 1/10/2013

Note: Discover has radically paired down their credit card offerings, and the Discover More card is no longer available.

The Discover More card is a good example of just how complex humans can make things, and a good example of why the GetDebit Ranking Engine can be a valuable decision-assisting tool. To the casual consumer, one that just reads bolded marketing copy and doesn’t examine the fine print, the Discover More card might look like a 5% cashback credit card. But the fact is that Discover More has both spending caps and seasonally rotating categories, along with insanely complex rewards tiering (see below) which limit the value of the 5% cashback feature.

Note: we cover 2 distinct Discover More offers in this review.  The first offers a 15 month 0% promotional APR on purchases and balance transfers.  The second card offers an 18 month 0% promotional APR on balance transfers (but only a 6 month 0% promotional APR on purchases).

Not Into The Seasons?

If rotating seasonal categories aren’t your thing, but you’re otherwise on the hunt for a Discover card, check out the Discover Escape Card, our top-rated cash back card out of all Discover cards.  If you aren’t wedded to Discover, then you may want to have a peek at the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express-it’s a mountain of plastic.

Overview of Key Features of the Discover More Card
Discover More-15 Month 0% Purchase APR Discover More-18 Month Promotional Balance Transfer
Base Rewards
  • Purchases from $0 to $3K per year: 0.25% cash back on all purchases.
  • Purchases >$3K per year: all purchases earn 1% cash back, except warehouses, which earn 0.25% cash back.
  • Note: Both warehouse and rotating bonus categories do not contribute to reaching the $3K per year spend threshold.
Rotating Bonus Categories Earn 5% cashback bonus on pre-defined categories that rotate each quarter (see below for details)
Spend Range Bonus None None
Other Bonuses None None
Annual Fee None
Balance Transfer Fees Introductory balance transfers at 3%; after that, either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transaction Fee 0%

Breaking Down Discover More’s Seasonal 5% Cashback Bonus Categories

The Discover More card pays a total of 5% cash back on certain pre-defined spend categories, which rotate quarterly. Here’s both the 2011 and 2012 categories (we provide the 2011 ones to give you an idea of how the categories might change each year.). As you can see, from 2011 to 2012, Discover has significantly increased the amount of quarterly spend eligible for bonus treatment-an important improvement.

Discover More: Rotating Bonus Categories
Quarter/Time Period 2012 Bonus Categories 2012 Spend Limits on Bonus Categories 2012 Bonus Categories 2011 Spend Limits on Bonus Categories
Q1 (Jan-Mar) Gas, Movies, Museums $1,500 Travel (hotel, air, auto rental, cruises) and Restaurants $800
March N/A N/A Grocery and drug stores $200
Q2 (Apr-Jun) Movies and restaurants $1,500 Home improvement, Fashion (department and clothing stores) $400
Q3 (Jul-Sep) Gas, movies, theme parks $1,500 Gas, Hotels, Movies, Theme Parks. $300
Q4 (Oct-Dec) Department stores, electronics stores and toy stores $1,500 Restaurants and Fashion (department and clothing stores) $300

Based on the above spend limits, the maximum you could earn from these bonus categories would be $6,000 of spend per year at a 5% rewards rate, which works out to $300. Not bad, if you can max out those categories each quarter.

A Closer Look at Earning Rewards with the Discover More Card

The Discover More Card, is, without a doubt, the most complex rewards program we have programmed into the GetDebit Ranking Engine to date. The combination of rewards based on annual spend, along with certain spend categories (those rotating bad boys!) not counting as part of the annual spend, is a doozie. We’ll break it down here (after I down a martini):

  • So on your first $3,000 of spend each year (with the exception of the bonus categories) with the Discover More card, you’ll earn a paltry 0.25% on all purchases. Once you cross the magical $3K spend line, you’ll still only earn a plain-vanilla 1% cash back (a reward level you can get by blindly reaching into a basket full of plastic). What this means is that you should really only use this card to make purchases that qualify for the bonus category treatment of 5% cashback. Period.
  • The other factor to note: purchases made within your bonus categories do not count towards the $3K spend target. Since we’re strongly advocating that you only use this card to make bonus category purchases, if you follow our advice you will never hit the $3K spend target. Trust me, it’s for the better.
  • Warehouse purchases, like Sam’s Club and CostCo, always earn only 0.25% and never count towards the $3K spend target.

So Which of the 2 Discover More Offers Should I Apply For?

This is fairly straight-forward. If you need to make a balance transfer, then of course go for the 18-month 0% APR balance transfer offer (but you didn’t need me to explain that, now did ya).  On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a low purchase APR, then the 15-month 0% promotional purchase APR More card is the one for you.

GetDebit’s Takeaway on the Discover More Credit Card

With either of these Discover More cards, you can earn a maximum of $300 in cash back if you use the card perfectly and max out only the rewards categories. Let’s also be clear that you should not be using the Discover More as your primary everyday credit card.

Ultimately, Discover More’s spending caps and overall complexity of the rewards program are its Achilles Heel. You’ll have to decide whether the extra monitoring effort justifies the incremental annual cashback you could earn with it.

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