Discover it® Cash Back vs. Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurants: Which is best for you?

The Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurants cards both offer a percentage of cash back when you spend at specific locations or in specific categories. Cash back earned on these Discover cards never expires and can be redeemed at any time for direct credit on your account.

But which card is best for you? While each Discover option comes with the potential to maximize your cash back, how you spend and how much card micromanagement you’re willing to take on both have a significant impact on the ideal card for your wallet.  

At a glance comparison

First, let’s take a look at some of the basic benefits that come with Discover it Cash Back and Chrome Gas and Restaurant cards.

Discover it Cash Back Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants
Annual Fee$0$0
Rewards Rates5% cash back on specific spending categories that change each quarter up to the quarterly maximum (then 1%).2% cash back on all restaurant and gas station purchases, up to $1,000 combined per quarter up to the quarterly maximum (then 1%).
Sign Up BonusUnlimited Cashback Match™ at the end of your first year.Unlimited Cashback Match™ at the end of your first year.

CreditsNo credits.No credits.
Lounge AccessNo lounge accessNo lounge access.
Authorized User FeeNoNo

Standout features

Discover it Cash Back

What makes this card stand out? Here’s a more in-depth look at some of the top features of the Discover it Cash Back option.

  • Quarterly cash back — Each quarter, receive 5% cash back on purchases from specific categories and select stores. Discover offers an online Cashback Calendar which specifies the benefit categories and dates. It’s worth noting, however, that the 5% cash back offer only applies up to $1,500 in eligible purchases per quarter up to the quarterly maximum (then 1%), and you must manually activate this offer each quarter online or by contacting Discover directly.
  • Unlimited cash back — All other purchases earn 1% cash back with no maximum.
  • No expiration on cash back — Your cash back never expires and can be redeemed at any time and in any amount. If your account is closed or has not been used in 18 months, Discover will credit you the cash back amount.
  • First year Cashback Match™ — All cash back earned during your first year will be matched by Discover. This offer has no upper limit and does not require any cardholder action to activate.
  • Quick card freezes — If your card is lost or stolen, easily freeze your Discover it Cash Back card with the company’s mobile app.

Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants

Let’s dive into the specific benefits of the Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants card, which include:

  • Earn 2% cash back — All gas station and restaurant purchases earn 2% cash back, up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter up to the quarterly maximum (then 1%). Unlike the Discover it Cash Back offer, this does not require manual activation, and you earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • First-year matching — The Chrome card also offers unlimited first-year Cashback Match™ with no offer activation requirement.
  • Free Social Security alerts — Discover monitors the dark web and alerts cardholders to any suspicious use of their Social Security number.
  • FICO Credit Scores — Each month, you can view your updated FICO credit score on card statements, via the Discover mobile app and online for free.
  • U.S. customer service — U.S. based customer service agents are available via phone, through the mobile app and online to help with any card issues or account questions.

The case for the Discover it Cash Back card

If you’re considering the Discover it Cash Back card, here’s what you need to know: While the card offers substantial cash back potential with its 5% offer, it only makes sense if you regularly spend in quarterly categories and are willing to activate the offer each quarter. For example, the last quarter of each year offers cash back from popular online shopping sites — if you’re already spending on these sites, this card is a good fit. If you don’t normally shop online, you won’t see the full benefit from this card. Before applying, it’s worth checking the Cash Back calendar to see if offered categories match your spending habits.

The Discover it Cash Back card has lower than average interest rates, no annual fee and a 14-month 0% APR introductory offer on purchases and balance transfers with a 13.49% – 24.49% variable APR after that. It’s a good match if you don’t mind putting in the work to maximize your benefits.

The case for the Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants Card

If you don’t want the hassle of remembering to activate your quarterly cash back offer but still want the chance to earn rewards at a reasonable rate, the Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants card may be your best bet. With 2% cash back each quarter (up to $1,000 combined then 1% cash back once the maximum is reached) across the common purchase categories of filling up your car or going out to eat, you’ll almost always get your money’s worth with this card.

In addition, your first year comes with unlimited cash back matching and you can redeem rewards at any time and in any amount. Plus, the Discover it Chrome comes with a 0% APR introductory offer for the first 14 months with a 13.49% – 24.49% variable APR after that, which can be helpful if you plan to make some big-item purchases.

In a nutshell

Both the Discover it Cash Back card and the Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants card offer a way to get cash back on common credit spending. If you want maximum cash and don’t mind micromanaging your card each quarter, opt for Discover it Cash Back. If you prefer steady cash back earnings from common purchases, choose the Discover it Chrome Gas and Restaurants card.

Doug Bonderud

An award-winning finance, technology and security writer, Doug has a knack for distilling complex concepts down into actionable, readable copy that generates interest and drives engagement