What’s the deal with Discover Deals?

21

Discover Deals (previously known as Shop Discover) has long been one of the highest paying shopping portals around.  When Discover introduced Double CashBack for a year for new cardholders (and existing cardholders who jumped on the deal quickly), Discover Deals became too good to be true.  Those enrolled in the Double CashBack offer can click through Discover Deals to a merchant offering 10% cash back and, in the long run, they should earn a total of 20% cash back.  And, when a store offers 20% CashBack through Discover Deals, the customer should eventually get a total of 40%.  That’s phenomenal.  And, keep in mind, these rewards are on top of rewards earned by one’s credit card automatically.

The Catch

I’ve reported several times before that as of mid October, Discover Deals has stopped sending congratulations emails within a few days of each purchase.  Miles to Memories reports that people have received emails saying that they’ll hear from Discover in about 30 days to confirm the amount of CashBack Bonus they may earn:

Discover Deals Thanks for Visiting

In my case, I haven’t received any such emails, but recently I have received a few “thanks for using Discover Deals” emails from purchases made almost two months ago.  While the emails show the merchant and the reward amount, they do not show the transaction date or order ID.  Here’s an example:

Discover Thanks for using Discover Deals

In the above example, it was easy to figure out which purchase had earned cash back.  Since the payout for Sears has been 10% since the beginning of October, I know that a $40 reward corresponds with a $400 purchase.  In mid October I had gone through Discover Deals to Sears and reloaded a Sears gift card with $400.  Simple enough.  Another email, though, shows $1.90 in rewards.  I don’t have any records of a $19 purchase at Sears so I can’t figure out which of my many purchases were credited, or partially credited, here.  Discover Deals usually lumps together payouts from multiple purchases made in one day with the same merchant.  My guess is that the $1.90 payout is from two or three small separate purchases (but I still can’t find a combination that adds to $19!).

No tracking

Most online shopping portals provide an easy way to see rewards that are pending or paid.  Many even offer the ability to see “click-through” tracking so that you can see which stores you visited and when.  Discover provides none of that.  Once your statement has posted you can see a summary of how much you’ve earned from each merchant, but that’s about it.  Using Discover Deals requires a leap of faith that you’ll earn the promised rewards.  As far as I can tell, there’s no good way to check to see which purchases have been properly credited.

Recommendation

In the past I’ve recommended using the Discover Deals portal even if you didn’t plan to pay with a Discover card.  It usually worked anyway.  And, in some cases, buying or using gift cards worked too even if the terms and conditions said otherwise.  Now, my recommendation is different than before (but consistent with Shawn’s approach):

  • Check CashBackMonitor to find current portal rates.  If another portal offers rewards close in value to Discover Deals, then go with the other portal.
  • If you don’t want to pay for your purchase with your Discover card, then go with a different portal.
  • If you plan to buy gift cards and if the Discover Deals terms exclude gift card purchases from that merchant, then go with another portal (ideally, go with one that doesn’t exclude gift card purchases).
  • If Discover Deals offers the best rate and you plan to pay with your Discover card for an item that is not excluded, then go with Discover Deals.  Make sure to record the date of the transaction, the order number, and the amount that you expect to earn from Discover.  If you don’t eventually get cash back from Discover, call Discover and ask for a courtesy adjustment.
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