Discover Credit Cards

by Jeffrey Steele | Money Rates Columnist

In the mid-1980s, TV viewers witnessed advertisements for a radical new type of credit card. Not only would users be able to use the card to make purchases at thousands of businesses worldwide, but the card would actually pay them back for its use.

The commercial titled "Dawn of Discover" showcased consumers going about their typical American days, with the message, "Very few things cost you nothing to get and pay you back every day. But now the Discover card does."

Thus was born the Discover card, which when launched in 1986 brought the popular notion of credit card rewards into existence.

In the decades since that introduction, the soundness of the Discover card philosophy has been proven. Today, cash back rewards credit cards are a staple of the industry.

Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%
  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 Stars by over 4,000 cardmembers.*
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
  • No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee*.
  • 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter--no sign-ups needed*. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 12.99% - 21.99%.
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Card Rating ★ ★ ★ ★
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 14 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars by over 4,000 cardmembers.*
  • No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment - APR won't go up for us paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee.*
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These quotes are from credit card issuers which have paid for a link to their website. Offers are subject to change without notice and may not be the same for all consumers.

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The Discover differences

Discover differentiated itself in other areas as well. At the time of its introduction, annual fees were the norm in the credit card industry. But Discover card offered its cash-back promise while charging no annual fee, a platform that also has been widely copied throughout the credit card industry.

In addition, Discover card distinguished itself by offering a higher credit limit than most other cards offered at the time. It was also widely accepted by merchants based on merchant fees that were substantially lower than other cards.

These benefits have all contributed to helping make the Discover card a winner with consumers right from its introduction, and Discover has remained a pioneer and agent of change in the credit card industry ever since.

Industry firsts

The cash back offer, originally 2 percent of the amount spent using the card, has grown to a 5 percent cash back on some of its cards, based on the amount of use.

Discover was one of the first card issuers to provide customer service around the clock seven days a week, as well as secure account numbers for online purchases. Discover card has also striven to increase and grow its network linking millions of cash access locations and merchants.

The lineup of Discover cards has grown to include consumer and business cards that help users gain better control of their credit.

The current array of Discover cards include cash back, low introductory balance transfer APR, as well as a student version of the popular card and small business card that offers owners greater financial control and flexibility.

Discover Card was originally offered by Chicago-based Sears, then the nation's largest retailer. It was part of Dean Witter and subsequently Morgan Stanley in later years. In 2007, Discover Financial Services became an independently-owned company.

Today, Discover card is one of the leading credit cards in the U.S., and is held by more U.S. households than any other cash rewards card. It turns out that radical notion of a credit card that pays you back wasn't so radical after all.

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