Discover More Experiments in Progress

imageI recently got my first ever Discover card, the Discover More card.  I didn’t really want a Discover card, but I did want access to the ShopDiscover portal which often has higher cash back rates than any other portal.


5% Cash Back Bonus

Like the Chase Freedom card, the Discover card offers 5% cash back in various categories that change each quarter.  And, like the Freedom card, 5% is capped at $1500 in spend each quarter.  This quarter the Discover categories are Department Stores and Online Shopping.  The latter is a wonderfully broad category that literally includes almost every online purchase. 


The ShopDiscover portal is where things get interesting.  Here are some impressive cash back examples (at the time of this writing):

  • 20% cash back at Vision Direct
  • 15% cash back at
  • 15% cash back at Groupon
  • 10% cash back at Crate & Barrel
  • 10% cash back at Home Depot
  • 10% cash back at Kohl’s
  • 10% cash back at Sears & Kmart
  • 10% cash back at Walgreens
  • 5% cash back at Apple Store
  • 5% cash back at Best Buy
  • 5% cash back at
  • 5% cash back at Staples

The great thing is that these cash back amounts are in addition to the quarterly bonus categories.  So, since “Online Shopping” is one of the categories this quarter, I would earn an extra 5% on top of the percentages shown above.  For example, I would earn a total of 25% cash back at Vision Direct and 15% back at Sears.



In order to take full advantage of the Discover portal, I want to learn the following:

  • Do gift card purchases result in cash back?  The answer will probably depend on the merchant.  So far, it appears that physical Sears gift cards do result in cash back, but e-gift cards do not.  I need to do further experiments to verify this.
  • Do purchases made with gift cards result in cash back?  What if part of the purchase is paid for with a Discover card?  I have yet to test this question at all.
  • Do purchases made with other credit cards result in cash back?  Posts on FatWallet and SlickDeals are contradictory on this point.  I ordered another physical gift card in order to test this one out.

One frustrating finding so far is that there is no way to see pending cash back online.  Most other cash back portals provide a way to see purchases that were tracked, even when they are not yet payable.  When I contacted Discover to ask about this I was told that the only way to know if a purchase tracked appropriately is to wait to see if you get an email saying “You’ve Earned Additional Cashback Bonus Through ShopDiscover.”  In my experience so far, these emails take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to arrive.  As a result, ShopDiscover experiments are taking quite a while to run.

Once I have concrete results from my tests, I’ll report back.

Cash & Points

Depending on how the ShopDiscover experiments turn out, there may be some interesting opportunities to earn cash & points.  Here are a few examples:

  • Buy Sears gift cards through ShopDiscover to earn 15% cash back.  Then, spend the gift cards through a points earning portal to get points as well.
  • Buy Sears gift cards through a point earning portal.  Then, spend the gift cards through the ShopDiscover portal.
  • Go through ShopDiscover to Staples, but pay with a Chase Ink card which offers 5 points per dollar at office supply stores.  Hopefully earn 5% back and 5 points per dollar.
  • A variation of the above is to go through ShopDiscover to OfficeMax and pay with the American Express SimplyCash card.  This card offers 5% cash back at office supply stores and, through the Amex OPEN Savings program, it offers 5% to 10% back for online OfficeMax purchases.  Altogether you could earn as much as 20% cash back at OfficeMax.

The ideas above are just a few examples of what might be possible.

Reader Findings

Do you carry a Discover card?  If so, what have you learned about leveraging its cash back categories and/or the ShopDiscover portal?

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  1. The answer I’ve found with purchasing gift cards is largely “it depends”. I spent $1500 on this quarter, and as it’s considered an online purchase (in the 5% category this quarter), all $75 of the cashback bonus posted. Also recommending calling the promotions department once a quarter via 1-800-DISCOVER, as there are also occasionally unadvertised promotions that you have to call and get synced to your card.

  2. I don’t know much about discover but don’t they offer a travel / miles reward card ? Just seems like it would be better than the regular card unless it doesn’t give the cash back. Sorry thinking out loud on this.

  3. Discover’s shopping portal actually mentions in its terms that you must use your Discover Card so it’ll be interesting to see if other cards work out!

  4. @DaninSTL,

    Since Miler is out, I’ll take a crack at replying since he already posted on his logic. While a 5X card that give high value airline miles/points is generally more valuable than 5X cash back, it still depends on how you use the miles and the redemption value. A few blogger have made good points that if you have access to relatively cheap coach domestic fairs and if this is how you plan to use your miles/points, other cards can have value, including cash back or using points to truly “buy” fairs (remember, you get the MQMs and miles when done this way). The point is you may have more access to bonus categories that give cash back at a higher rate than you may be able to attain on a miles card, offsetting and big difference in 1X to 1X.

    Again, depends on how you use your cards, what your goals are, and how far you want to take this game. For me, I fly out of a regional airport, so even my lowest cost coach redemptions get me 1.6 cents/mile, so I don’t get too much into cash back unless I deal I just can’t pass up. (In other words, cash back would need to be 2X to overtake any 1X opportunities.)

  5. I have not had luck shopping with another card through the ShopDiscover Portal in the past.

    Just as an FYI, Discover is offering a *BONUS* 2% for all shopping on 11/23 Black Friday. So you’re looking at minimum 7% cash back for all “online shopping” on friday, or 2% in store (not so great). I have mostly been using the 5% online shopping as a bonus using other portals to shop through this quarter. I find it more valuable to earn miles rather than cash back, but if i can earn both (aka 5% CB + X miles/$) that’s a huge plus.

  6. @Mark082 Did you use it on Amazon or with Amazon payments?

    From my experience, purchases from Sears, Kmart and Lands End through Discover portal made with regular or egift cards or SYWR points all earned cash back within few days.

  7. you have to pay with your Discover card through the ShopDiscover portal in order to get the cash back. I’ve had a Discover card for a long time and learned this the hard way after trying to make a bunch of ShopDiscover purchases with Visas and MasterCards. you might have success paying a portion with gift cards and the rest with your Discover card. still the cashback percentages are great (15% at Groupon!) and you get a lot of bang for your buck (e.g. the $20 for $25/$40 for $50 gift cards). the current 5% quarterly online shopping bonus is just icing on the cake.

  8. So, what is the “best” discover card if all you are planning is just access to the shopping portal? Do all the flavors have the 5% rotating categories?

  9. I have a discover card and rarely use it. Don’t forget about going to and check all the programs. Only instance I found shopdiscover substantially better is groupon.

  10. romsdeals that is real sneaky posting on this site with a link to yours and your experiments !!. It is really getting boring , i skipped most blogs and now only read 2, frequent miler is one and the other when he feels like posting is OTR .

  11. OK I’m in. Not sure where or how I will use it yet but I too have never had a discover card and have also never applied thru a CC on this blog so gimme a link FM and I will set ya up! Thanks for the write up. When I get it and test it I will report anything I find. I know that if anyone is going to find the ‘yeah but what if this happens?’ thing, it’s going to be me lol

  12. actually fergit it! I found your link and applied… Congratulations! You’ve been approved. Welcome to Discover!
    Wow aint seen one of those since I dunno how long. Usually I have to wait but later get the cards.
    Anyway I will see how this one goes, breaux!

    • marathon man: Thanks! For others, if you’re interested in looking through credit card links for which I get a commission, you can click on the Credit Cards tab itself and you’ll be taken to this page: Scroll down and you’ll find a searchable table. For example, if you type “Discover” into the table’s search box you’ll find 13 different Discover card offers. Personally I went with one of the Discover More offers, but I don’t know enough about Discover cards to say which is best.

  13. Romsdeals,

    No offense but your blog name seems to be a rip off of dansdeals, and your perpetual churning machine seems to be a rip off of FM. In any case I won’t be reading your blog, I think most here won’t as well. You would do better to try and siphon off MMS readers as they might actually fall for your sherade.

  14. I think you are all being a little harsh on romsdeals. When it comes to point earning blogs, FM is hands down the best site I’ve come across. However, there is room on the internet for more than one site explaining methods that consumers can use to earn points for travel. He is not forcing you to go to his site. Don’t like, don’t click. Personally, I’ve checked out romsdeals’ site and I believe he has some original content that is interesting. Also, he seems to always add some positive comments here in the discussions. Why waste bandwidth and time ripping him when you can be earning points and helping others do likewise with more positive discussion?

    • Since writing this post, I did receive an email from ShopDiscover saying I was awarded cash back for a purchase of a gift card that I made with a US Bank card. I’ll wait till I actually see the cash back reported on my statement or somewhere before I declare victory.

  15. @FM
    Unrelated to current post, but here’s a suggestion for an experiment. If you have prior experience doing this then great, else if you can do this experiment in your lab, it may be useful for many frequent fliers.
    Many times we debate which card to use at hotel. If there is some Starwood hotel which participates in Visa Signature benefits program (meaning free wifi, etc.), can I handover Sapphire Preferred at the time of check-in and get the Visa Signature perks and at the time of settling bill at checkout, I can give my starwood Amex to get bonus star points?
    Will it work this way, or I can get Visa Signature benefits only if paying with that card?

  16. Hi! Going to purchase parents’ gift at Best Buy. Default 5% on Freedom is nice but any luck using Chase through Discover portal? Have some gift cards to use in conjunction…800 UR points through portal vs $20 cash back through Discover…let me know if I should just stick to chase. Thx!

  17. I just saw on my account page that I could also sign up for 2% cashback bonus for purchases on Dec. 22. Do you think extra bonuses like this will be stackable with the 5% quarterly bonus categories? I didn’t see anything in the T&C about this.

  18. Greg, any luck on buying vanilla visas via discover cb portal? You dont have to name the merchant if so, just wondering if I should bother searching. I see in the lab that walmart is no go.

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