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Discover it® Chrome Credit Card Review – 2% Cash Back on Gas & Restaurants

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At a Glance
4.2 / 5
Rating

Discover it® Chrome

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on gas station and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in combined category purchases per quarter; unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, including favored category purchases above the cap
  • Benefits: Double cash back during the first 12 months your account is open; Freeze It security feature
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Fees: $0 foreign transaction fees; balance transfers 3% of the transferred amount; cash advances 5% of the advanced amount ($10 minimum)
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Credit Needed: Good to excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Discover it® Chrome is a hybrid cash back and gas credit card with no annual fee. In promotional literature, Discover actually refers to Chrome as the “Discover Gas and Restaurant Credit Card,” and it’s not hard to see why: Discover it Chrome’s rewards program favors gas station and restaurant purchases, and moderately rewards other types of spending. It belongs to a broad family of Discover cash back and travel rewards credit cards, including the original Discover itDiscover it MilesDiscover it for Students, and its near-carbon copy, Discover it Chrome for Students.

Discover it Chrome also competes with a number of popular gas and cash back credit cards issued by other companies. Its closest competitors include Chase Freedom and Citi Double Cash Card.

It’s worth noting that Discover it Chrome doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, unlike the majority of its competitors. However, it does offer a double cash back bonus for first-year cardholders, a nice perk that can add up fast for heavy spenders.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

Besides the cash back match your first year, there is no other sign-up bonus for this card.

Cash Back Rewards and Redemption

Discover it Chrome earns 2% cash back on gas station and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in total spending per quarter. All spending above that limit earns an unlimited 1% cash back. All other purchases also earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Discover allows you to redeem your cash back rewards for statement credits, bank account deposits, and Amazon.com purchases in any amount, at any time. You can also redeem for both electronic and physical gift cards, subject to a $20 minimum.

First-Year Double Cash Back

On your first card membership anniversary, 12 months after your sign-up date, Discover automatically doubles all the cash back you accumulated during the previous year. There’s no limit to how much you can earn from this bonus. For instance, if you earn $100 in first-year cash back, you receive a $100 bonus on your card membership anniversary, bumping your total first-year cash back earnings to $200.

Freeze It

Discover it Chrome’s Freeze It feature lets you lock your account from any Internet-connected device. Freeze It prevents anyone (including you) from making new purchases or cash advances, and was created for situations in which you suspect that your card has been stolen or your account compromised in some other way. You can unlock your account in the same manner once the danger has passed. Remember that automatic or scheduled payments continue to execute as normal when Freeze It is turned on, and interest on unpaid balances continues to accumulate at the normal rate.

Introductory APR

Discover it Chrome has a 14-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. Qualifying balance transfers must be made by the 10th day of the third month account opening. For instance, if you open your account in June, you have until September 10th to take advantage of the promotion.

Free FICO Score

Discover it Chrome comes with a free FICO credit score on every monthly paper or electronic statement. Your FICO score is also available on-demand through your online account dashboard.

Important Fees

Discover it Chrome has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers always cost a flat 3% of the transferred amount, and cash advances always cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost $35.

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. Discover it Chrome has no annual fee. That’s an important advantage over competing cash back cards, such as Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card ($39) and Blue Cash Preferred from American Express ($95).
  2. Consistent Gas and Restaurant Rewards. Discover it Chrome always earns 2% cash back on gas and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in spending per quarter. For cardholders who use this card as their everyday spending card, this is a predictable return on two fairly broad and common types of spending. Many cash back competitors either don’t offer special gas or restaurant rewards, such as Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card or offer such incentives only intermittently (e.g., Chase Freedom).
  3. First-Year Double Cash Back Can Be Huge. Discover it Chrome doubles your first-year cash back earnings, with no caps or restrictions. That’s potentially huge: The bonus raises the 2% gas-and-restaurant reward to 4% on up to $4,000 in annual spending (boosting maximum annual 2% cash back earnings from $80 to $160), and raises the baseline cash back rate from 1% to 2%.
  4. No Penalty APR and First Late Payment Fee Waiver. Discover it Chrome never charges penalty interest. It also waives the late fee on your first late payment. If you occasionally miss a payment, this is a great advantage that can actually save you money.
  5. Solid Intro APR Period. Discover it Chrome’s 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers is a great help for new cardholders who need to make big upfront purchases or transfer existing high-interest balances from other credit card accounts.
  6. Anytime, Any Amount Redemption for Statement Credits, Deposits, and Amazon.com Purchases. Discover it Chrome lets you redeem your cash back rewards for statement credits, bank account deposits, and Amazon.com in any amount and at any time. This is great news for light spenders, who can go months at a time without hitting some competing cards’ redemption thresholds.
  7. No Foreign Transaction Fee. Discover it Chrome never charges foreign transaction fees, which is great news if you regularly travel outside the country – perhaps on driving vacations to Canada or Mexico, where you can use this card to fill up your car and try new cuisines. Competing cards such as American Express EveryDay Credit Card and Barclaycard CashForward (note: this offer is no longer available) do charge foreign transaction fees – sometimes as high as 3%.
  8. No Need to Have Excellent Credit. Discover doesn’t explicitly market the Discover it Chrome card as a remedy for bad credit, nor as a tool for building credit. However, it’s no secret that this card’s qualification standards aren’t as onerous as those of some competing cash back credit cards. Even if this is your first non-secured credit card, there’s a real chance that you can pass muster, as long as you prove that you have good credit and can accept a lower starting credit limit.

Disadvantages

  1. Low Maximum Cash Back Rate. Discover it Chrome’s maximum cash back rate is 2%. While that’s higher than some competing cards with flat-rate 1.5% cash back schemes, such as Capital One Quicksilver and Barclaycard CashForward (note: this offer is no longer available), it’s lower than many cards with special cash back rewards categories. For instance, BankAmericard Cash Rewards earns 3% cash back on gas purchases, while American Express Blue Cash Preferred earns up to 6% cash back on grocery purchases.
  2. Low 2% Category Spending Caps. Discover it Chrome caps spending in its 2% gas-and-restaurant category at $1,000 per quarter, which adds up to $4,000 per year. That’s lower than some other category-spending cards, such as Blue Cash Everyday and Preferred ($6,000 annual cap on grocery purchases, which respectively earn 3% and 6% cash back), not to mention Chase Freedom ($1,500 quarterly; $6,000 annual cap on rotating 5% categories).
  3. No Sign-up Bonus. Discover it Chrome lacks a sign-up bonus, putting it at a substantial disadvantage relative to most competing cash back cards. For instance, Chase Freedom offers a $150 sign-up bonus.

Final Word

Discover it® Chrome has a nice 2% cash back bonus for frequent restaurant and gas station shoppers. However, its $1,000-per-quarter 2% category spending limit is a bit low. If spend heavily at restaurants and gas stations, you’re likely to blow through that limit pretty quickly.

But that doesn’t mean Discover it Chrome has no place in your wallet. If your credit is good enough to qualify for a more generous gas or dining-out card, use that as your default food and fuel spending card. Once you hit its quarterly or annual spending limit, pull out your Discover it Chrome card and stretch your remaining restaurant and gas dollars just a bit further.

Verdict
4.2 / 5
Rating

Discover it® Chrome

Discover it® Chrome is ideal for light spenders who need a regular gas and restaurant credit card, and can also work as a secondary credit card for heavier spenders. It’s not meant for people with a wide variety of spending needs, those who travel frequently by plane, and those who prefer (and can qualify for) more generous rewards cards.

First-year double cash back, solid gas and restaurant rewards, intro APR period, late payment leniency, and reasonable qualification standards are all nice benefits. Low maximum cash back, spending caps for 2% category, and no sign-up bonus all hurt. Overall, a very good card for frugal, practical spenders.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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