Discover Open Road Credit Card Review

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.

Snapshot: Discover Open Road Card
Earning Rewards
Reward Program Type Cash Back
Base Rewards
  • 0.25% cash back on your first $3K of spend per year (except for gas & restaurant purchases, see below)
  • 1.0% cash back on any purchases after you spend $3K per year
  • Note that warehouse purchases always earn at the 0.25% rate and do not contribute towards the next spend tier
Bonus Category Rewards
  • Earn 2% cash back on your first $250 in combined gas and restaurant purchases each billing period. Combined gas & restaurant purchases in excess of $250 in a given billing period earn cash back at the same rate as other purchases.
  • Note that the first $250 in gas & restaurant purchases each period don’t count towards the $3K annual spending tier
Points Caps None
Points Expiration Points don’t expire
Redeeming Awards
Value of Rewards $0.01 per $1 of spend
Redemption Details Redemptions start at $20.
Optimum Redemption Cash Back
Annual Fee None
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.

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