Financial Advice

Discover it vs. Discover it Miles vs. Discover it Chrome: What’s the Difference?

Have you ever felt like getting rid of all of the clothes in your closet and starting over? Two years ago, Discover actually did something similar by discontinuing all of its credit card offers and replacing them with a single product, called “Discover it.”

While offering just a single credit card for everyone made selecting a Discover card very easy, it wasn’t long before the company introduced other flavors of the Discover it card. All of these new cards are referred to as “Discover it” but now there is now the Discover it Miles and Discover it Chrome to choose from, in addition to the original version.

The Original: Discover it

The Discover it card offers 1% cash back on all purchases, or 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter (then 1% for everything over the $1,500 mark) on select categories of purchases that change throughout the year. For example, in the third quarter of 2015 (July through September), the bonus categories are home improvement stores, department stores and purchases. There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and your rewards never expire. Furthermore, Discover is now doubling cardholders’ cash back for their first year.

The benefits of this card include free FICO credit score tracking as well as the Freeze it program that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards. In addition, cardholders receive numerous travel insurance and purchase protection policies. (You can read a full review of the Discover it card here.)

New applicants also have their choice of promotional financing offers. You can get 12 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, or six months of 0% financing on new purchases and 18 months for balance transfers. Both offers come with a 3% balance transfer fee. After that, the standard interest rate of 10.99% to 22.99% will apply, depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. Cardholders also have their first late payment fee waived automatically, and there is never a penalty interest rate applied. There is no annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees imposed on charges processed outside of the U.S. As with most rewards cards, these require excellent credit and are not good choices for people who carry a balance. You can get a free credit report summary every month on to see where you stand.

Discover it Chrome

Because some people don’t want to have to keep track of bonus categories that change throughout the year, the Discover it Chrome was introduced. Like Discover it, this card also grants 1% cash back on all purchase, but instead of rotating 5% cash-back offers, it features a permanent 2% cash back on restaurant and gas purchases, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. This version also offers double cash back the first year, with 12 months of introductory financing on new purchases and balance transfers. Otherwise, it includes all of the features and benefits of the the original Discover it card.

Discover it Miles

The Discover it Miles card offers 1.5 miles per dollar spent, and miles can be redeemed for a penny each as statement credits towards travel expenses, or as cash back. In addition, cardholders receive up to $30 each year in statement credits against in-flight WiFi purchases. This version also comes with 12 months of 0% financing on new purchases and 10.99% for balance transfers. As with the other Discover cards, customers will have their rewards doubled at the end of their first year of account membership, and all of the other features and benefits of these cards are the same. Discover it Miles was the second runner-up in this year’s Best Cash-Back Credit Cards in America ranking.

Which Card Is Right for You?

The original Discover it card did a great job of trying to be all things to all people, but ultimately that’s an impossible task. So now, this card appeals most to those who enjoy keeping track of featured bonus categories, and maximizing the amount of cash back they can receive at 5%. This is also the best choice for those who need 18 months of interest-free financing on balance transfers (you can get some expert tips for picking a balance transfer credit card here), an offer only available for the original version of the Discover it. Nevertheless, these cardholders will also have to remember to log in to their account each quarter to enroll for these bonuses, so it does require more engagement than the other Discover cards.

The Chrome card is the alternative to the standard version for those who don’t really want to be so involved with keeping track of bonus offers. By offering 2% cash back on gas and restaurants, it covers some of the major expenses for many cardholders, and they don’t need to do anything to earn the extra cash back. Finally, the Miles card is clearly designed to appeal to travelers, even as the 1.5% rewards can also be redeemed for cash back. And although it offers the $30 annual in-flight WiFi credit, this card could also be the right choice for infrequent travelers who would prefer a straight 1.5% rate of return over receiving different rewards for different purchases.

By considering the nuances of these three different versions of the Discover it card, you can choose the best one to earn the most possible rewards for your spending.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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This article by Jason Steele was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.