Discover Makes Changes to Cash Back Rewards

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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Way back in 1986, Discover made the groundbreaking industry innovation by being the first card issuer to offer a cash back rewards program. Since then, of course, practically every major credit card company has jumped on that bandwagon. Meanwhile, Discover customer have earned more than $12 billion in Cash back Bonus rewards, and Discover is still strategizing on new and improved ways to keep those cardholders happy.

In November, Discover announced some changes to the rules of its Cash Back Bonus rewards program. The good news is that unlike changes at some other card issuers, these changes are mostly customer-friendly, beneficial perks that should be an added value for most Discover cardholders.

Redeeming Your Rewards

The Discover cashback Bonus rewards have no expiration date and you can redeem them in various ways. You also can redeem them after accumulating relatively low amounts of rewards cash. Here are the ways you can now convert the points you have earned into cash credits and other goodies:

  • Gift cards or instant e-certificates, available from Discover partners starting at $20
  • Charitable contributions to selected charities, starting at just a penny
  • A credit to your account or electronic deposit directly into a designated bank account, starting at just a penny
  • Paying for purchases at selected online retailers, starting at just a penny

Beginning in April of 2015 you can no longer redeem rewards for Discover gift cards. Until that date, however, you may continue to do so in $20 increments. Even if your account is inactive for an extended period of time, Discover will automatically credit your card member account with your Cash back Bonus balance instead of forcing you to forfeit your rewards.

Other Convenient Freebies and Perks

  • If you shop at Amazon, you can link your Discover card to your account so when you get ready to pay for items at checkout, you can apply whatever cash back credit you have to that particular purchase.
  • During this current holiday shopping season, Discover lets current members sign up for free to earn 5% cash back at dozens of top brand name retailers. The deal allowed cardholders to earn as much as $1,500 during peak opportunities like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Discover also frequently runs promotions. Most recently customers could earn $200 cash back for meeting certain spending thresholds. Those deals have expired, but you can be sure that more will be coming our way in 2015.

Unique Flexibility and Service

Vice President of Discover Rewards, Heather Roche made a bold statement about these changes; “We know our customers want the most rewards possible, but equally important is their ability to use them when they want. We are excited to give our card members more redemption flexibility.”

Usually when company executives promise you the moon in a statement like that, it inspires consumer skepticism and lots of eye-rolling. Discover, however, is one of the financial institutions that has distinguished itself by being very consistent in their promises to consumers.

You may recall that last year Discover set a new precedent by becoming the first major credit card issuer to offer its customers free FICO scores, updated monthly and included with monthly billing statements. It’s no surprise why Discover keeps racking-up the customer service and satisfaction accolades and trophies year after year.

* Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by Discover. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the Discover, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Discover. This site may be compensated through Discover's Affiliate Program.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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