The Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Card vs The Discover it® Credit Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Dec 11, 2014 | Updated May 14, 2019

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The Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Card and the Discover it® are both popular and valuable reward credit cards.

The Cash Rewards card provides 3% cash back in the category of your choice every month, out of six options, while the Discover it has rotating cash back categories that change throughout the year. Each card offers an introductory 0% APR for a relatively long period, and neither one has an annual fee.

The first is good for the kinds of purchases most of us typically make pretty often, while the second will be better for different kinds of purchases as the year goes on. Read on to learn if one of them might be a good card for you.

The Rewards

Bank of America Cash Rewards

You’ll get:

  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • 10% point bonus when redeeming into a Bank of America checking or savings account

Discover it

You’ll get:

  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate throughout the year (see calendar below)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Double the cash back you earn after one year

The 5% cash back calendar for the Discover it for 2019 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Grocery Stores
April – June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target, Walmart.com

You can redeem your points as a statement credit, which is the typical way, or you can use them to pay for purchases directly through Amazon.

The Verdict

These cards have very different reward structures: would you rather get the set 3% and 2% cash back on gas and groceries, or would you rather get 5% back (10% after it’s doubled) on different types of purchases throughout the year?

You’ll have to study the rewards they offer and your own spending habits: which card would provide you with the most discounts?

You can also consider using both cards. Use the Discover it any time you’ll be able to get 5% cash back, and then use the Cash Rewards card any other time. Using several credit cards isn’t bad for your credit – learn about the value of carrying multiple credit cards.

The Benefits

Each of these cards comes with several additional benefits. Here are all of the benefits for the Cash Rewards card, followed by a few of the most interesting from the Discover it.

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Account Management

  • Account Alerts

    Get alerts about account information on your phone.

  • Mobile Banking

    Pay your credit card bill online, transfer funds, check available credit and more.

  • Text Banking

    Send a text and get important account information.

Security

  • Fraud Protection

    You will not be held responsible for unauthorized use of your card.

  • Overdraft Protection

    Link a Bank of America account to your card and prevent declined purchases and return checks if you take out too much money from your account.

  • ShopSafe®

    Protection when you are shopping online.

Discover it

Account Management

  • Personalize Your Card

    Choose from a number of different designs to personalize your card, including several chrome colors, a variety of designs, and a wide selection of NHL team logos.

  • Temporarily Freeze Your Account

    Freeze your account when you lose your card, and unfreeze it when you find it. Use the Freeze button on the Discover website or mobile app, or call customer service.

  • Spend Analyzer Financial Tool

    Use the Spend Analyzer tool to view your purchases by category and get insights into your spending habits.

Shopping

  • Purchase Protection

    Provides coverage against damage or theft, up to $500 per eligible item.

  • Price Protection

    If you find an item you bought being advertised for a lesser price within 90 days of purchase, you can be reimbursed for the difference.

  • Extended Product Warranty

    Adds up to 1 year to a manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years or less.

  • Return Guarantee

    Items can be returned even if the manufacturer won’t take them back, up to $500 and for up to 90 days after the date of purchase.

  • Cash At Checkout

    When shopping at participating locations, you can get cash back immediately by charging an additional amount over your purchase.

Travel

  • Auto Rental Insurance

    Covers rented vehicles against collision damage when the car rental company’s insurance is declined.

  • Flight Accident Insurance

    You and your family are automatically covered on airline flights, up to $500,000.

The Verdict

Each of these cards offers a nice set of additional benefits, but the Discover it clearly wins in this category. The shopping and travel protections could really come in handy in certain situations, and you won’t get those with the Bank of America card.

Click here for a complete listing of the benefits offered by the Discover it.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the benefits offered by each card:

Bank of America Cash Rewards Discover it

Account Management:

  • Account Alerts
  • Mobile Banking
  • Text Banking

 

Security:

  • Fraud Protection
  • Overdraft Protection
  • ShopSafe® Online Security

Account Management:

  • Personalize Your Card
  • Pay Up Until Midnight
  • Temporarily Freeze Your Account
  • Card Replacement
  • Spend Analyzer Tool

 

Security:

  • $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee

 

Shopping:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Price Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Return Guarantee
  • Cash at Checkout

 

Travel:

  • Flight Accident Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

The Costs & Fees

Card Intro APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers Regular Purchase APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Bank of America Cash Rewards 0% for 12 billing cycles 16.24%–26.24% Variable 16.24%–26.24% Variable 19.24%–27.24% Variable 3%
Discover it 0% for 14 months 14.24%–25.24% Variable 14.24%–25.24% Variable 27.24% Variable None
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Bank of America Cash Rewards Up to 29.99% Variable Up to $39 Up to $28
Discover it None $0 the first time; up to $37 after that Up to $37

The Verdict

As you can see, these cards have almost identical costs and fees, including the length of the introductory APR period.

The only real differences here are the fact that Discover will not charge for the first late payment, and that Discover will not apply a penalty APR for bad behavior.

Of these, only the last is a very important feature. The Cash Rewards card may apply the high penalty APR if you make a late payment, and this can last indefinitely. The Discover card can be more comfortable to carry for this reason, as it will never raise your APR.

The Bottom Line

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card and the Discover it are both relatively good credit cards, and they can be very valuable when used responsibly.

Consider the rewards and benefits you’ll get with each card, because the interest rates and fees are about the same. Think about your personal shopping habits: would it be better for you to earn 3% back on gas and 2% back on groceries all year round, or would it be better to get 5% cash back (10% after it’s doubled) in the four Discover it categories?

Don’t forget, it’s not a bad idea to have multiple credit cards. This would let you earn 5% back in the Discover it categories whenever they’re available, and 3% on gas and 2% on groceries with the Bank of America card at other times.

If you use one of these credit cards, how do you like it? Leave your own review of the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card or the Discover it card, we’d love to hear from you!

Or learn more about Reward Credit Cards and see our picks for the best cards!
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