After the TSP, I invest my money in Betterment and Vanguard. I track all of my investments with Personal Capital. I also wrote a short, 2 hour book summarizing this site. You can buy it here.
In 2013 Discover completely revamped their lineup of credit cards. They cut down all of their offerings to a single card: the Discover it®. Having never owned a Discover card, I was intrigued that they took this bold move to consolidate all of their cards. I also had a few questions:
- Why is the “it” lowercase?
- Is there actually a decent rewards program with this Discover Card?
- Where is Discover actually accepted?
- Does this card offer anything I’m not getting with my other cards?
These are all great questions. Let’s take a look.
Discover it Cashback Spending
The Discover it copies the popular rotating category concept of the Chase Freedom card. You get 1% cashback on all purchases and then an additional 4% (for 5% total) on purchases in categories like gas, grocery stores, or restaurants. These categories change every 3 months.
Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards, you have less flexibility with these Discover rewards. You can take a direct deposit, a statement credit, or use the points for shopping online at retailers like Amazon or iTunes. There’s no option to transfer to airline miles or hotel chains.
While the reward points are purely cash points, the 5% categories are usually different from what Chase offers through the Freedom card. The Discover it® card could be a good way to augment your 5% cashback rewards.
No Foreign Transaction Fees…but…
…good luck using a Discover card outside the US. While this card does not have any foreign transaction fees, Visa and Mastercard are definitely the preferred method of payment internationally. After visiting 24 nations this year, I don’t remember a single restaurant, hotel, or shop that accepted Discover or one of its partner networks, like Diners Club.
You can take a look at the map here to see where Discover is accepted, but notice the big blocks of missing nations like Germany, France, Australia, and essentially all of Africa. I would definitely recommend a different travel rewards card for when you travel outside the US.
Free FICO Score from Discover it
A great feature that many cards (like the Arrival) are now including for free is a FICO score. This is being sold as a “genuine” FICO score, usually available only from myFICO or one of the three major credit companies.
However, almost every company uses a proprietary model to generate their credit scores, making every score slightly different. While it’s a nice feature, it’s certainly not worth getting the card just for a free score, especially when you can pick up a free score over at creditkarma.com that will be accurate enough.
Should I Get the Discover it Credit Card?
So what did we learn about the Discover it®?
- I guess the “it” is lowercase to be “edgy”
- The rewards program is matched by other no annual fee cards, like the Chase Freedom
- Discover is actually accepted more places than I thought, but it’s coverage is still weak compared to Visa/MC
- This card offers no annual fee, 5% cash back on rotating categories, and 1% cashback on all purchases. Nothing we haven’t seen in other cards before.
This card would be good for shopping online, but there are better deals like the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard, with a $440 sign up bonus. There are more powerful cashback and travel rewards cards available and accepted more widely than this card.
I won’t be adding “it” to my wallet.
2 Websites I Use to Achieve Financial Independence Faster
I have investment accounts all over the place. To keep track of all of them in one place I use Personal Capital. It combines all of my accounts, shows me where I may be overpaying in fees, and provides beautiful charts showing my overall asset allocation and performance.
I use Personal Capital to track my Roth and Traditional TSP, Vanguard IRAs, banking accounts, SDP, and my Betterment taxable account, all in one place. It's free, secure and presents me with a one-stop dashboard so I can see all my money on one site.
Read my full review of Personal Capital and see how easy it can be to manage your investments in one place. Trust me, once you try it, you'll love it.
P.S. - If you have over $100,000 of assets and a 401k, you really need to run the Personal Capital 401k Fee Analyzer.
The best way I know to achieve financial independence is to keep your investments simple, diversified, automatic, and low-cost. Costs eat into your returns like you wouldn't believe! A 1% difference in expense ratios can mean $100,000s lost to fees over a lifetime of investing.
Even if you're a DIY (do-it-yourself) investor like I am, you need to check out Betterment. You can read my full review here, but the bottom line is for only $250 per $100,000 invested (0.25% expense ratio) you get simple, diversified, and automated investing. In addition every account now gets free Tax Loss Harvesting+ features, which should increase returns for the average investor more than the minuscule management fee.
If you're not a DIY investor or are just getting started with investing, then you definitely need to check out Betterment. It's what I recommend to my family and friends who aren't strong investors or don't care to learn about asset allocations, diversification, or rebalancing.