Last Updated: 7/7/2011
The Discover Open Road Card is a cash back card specializing in gas and restaurant rewards. It is hands down one of the most, if not the most, complex rewards programs that I have ever come across. It’s so complex that it took me a full 30 minutes just to figure out how to program it into the GetDebit Ranking Engine. While we are big fans of Discover and tout some of their cards, unfortunately this card isn’t one of them (not per se because of the complexity, but simply because the rewards don’t add up). The Discover Open Road card reminds us of the cool Talking Heads song, “Road To Nowhere”.
If you’re looking for a Discover cash back card, see our review of the Discover Escape card. Using the GetDebit Standard Spending Profile, the Escape credit card earned an average of 2.1% cash back over a 3-year period, while the Discover Open Road card earned only 1.3% cash back over the same time-frame. If you’re looking for a gas or restaurant card, see our recommendations at the end of this article.
Key Rewards, Fees and Benefits of the Discover Open Road Card
This table highlights some of the key aspects of Discover Open Road’s rewards and fees structure.
|Reward Program Type||Cash Back|
|Bonus Category Rewards||
|Points Expiration||Points don’t expire|
|Value of Rewards||$0.01 per $1 of spend|
|Redemption Details||Redemptions start at $20.|
|Optimum Redemption||Cash Back|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None|
|Balance Transfer Fees||4% of the amount of each transfer made under this card’s offer; otherwise $10 or 5% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater.|
Earning Rewards With The Discover Open Road Credit Card
The Discover Open Road card is another prestigious winner of our Sneaky Snake award, and right below we’ll call out some of the Discover Open Road’s potholes:
- Firstly, on your initial $3,000 of spend each year with the Open Road credit card, you only earn 0.25% cash back (excluding gas & restaurant purchases). Yes, that’s pretty bad. It’s not until you cross the $3K threshold that you begin to earn a rather ho-hum 1% cashback.
- Secondly, while gas and restaurant purchases pay out at 2% cash back, you are capped at $250 of combined spend in these two categories each month. So that’s a maximum of $5 per month in extra rewards in these categories. You won’t last long on the open road with five bucks these days.
- Thirdly, the first $250 in gas and restaurant purchases each month, along with any warehouse club purchases, don’t count towards the $3,000 annual spend target. Ouch!
Redeeming Rewards With Open Road
While you can redeem your rewards for partner gift cards, merchandise, and Discover Gift Cards, at the end of the day straight-up cash redemption is the way to go. Nothing fancy here. The minimum redemption is in $20 increments.
GetDebit’s Final Word on the Open Road Discover Card
While the Discover Open Road Card is a train-wreck, there are some other cards that can step in to fill the gap. We’ve already mentioned the Discover Escape card for a pure best-in-class cashback rewards card. If you’re interested in a gas card, check out our review of the PenFed Platinum Visa Rewards Card, which offers a whopping 5% cash back bonus on all gas spend with no caps. For a powerhouse restaurant card, check out our review of the Citi Forward Card, earning you 5 ThankYou Points for every $1 of restaurant spend.