Published in: Credit Cards | Dec. 28, 2018

Discover Credit Card Application Rules: What You Need to Know

By:  Lyle Daly

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Discover has some of the more stringent application rules for its credit cards. Find out what they are before you fill out an application.

chalkboard showing a list of rules

Image source: Getty Images

If you’re looking for a credit card with high-quality perks that won’t cost you a thing to have, Discover’s entire roster fits the bill. Unlike just about every other card issuer, Discover doesn’t charge an annual fee on any of its credit cards.

That’s not the only unique aspect of Discover credit cards, as there are also important things to keep in mind about its application rules and how its sign-up bonuses work.

Discover application rules

Discover isn’t a card issuer that lets you apply for card after card. It has a firm limit of two credit cards per consumer. You can only get one student credit card with Discover, and it would count towards your two-card limit.

There’s also a limit of one Discover card per year. If you want two different cards, you’ll need to get one, wait a year, and then apply for the second.

How Discover sign-up bonuses work

While the typical sign-up bonus is a specific amount of cash back or points that you earn by reaching a spending minimum, Discover offers a much different type of bonus -- a match of your first-year earnings, whether that’s cash back or miles.

If you earned $500 in cash back your first year, Discover will kick in another $500 for $1,000 total. If you earned 25,000 miles, the Discover will add 25,000 for 50,000 total.

How to choose the right Discover card

Since Discover will match whatever rewards you earn in your first year, that makes it crucial to pick a card that fits your spending habits. There are three cards to consider to earn the most back. Here's a quick rundown of Discover's main credit cards:

Discover it® Cash Back - Best for a one-card wallet that earns high rewards

Discover it® Balance Transfer - Best for balance transfers

Discover it® chrome - Best for gas and restaurants rewards

Discover it® Miles - Best for travel

Discover it® Student Cash Back - Best for students

Discover it® Secured - Best for building and rebuilding credit

Discover’s strict card limits mean you won’t be carrying a wallet full of its cards, but that makes sense when you consider how the sign-up bonuses are structured. When all your first-year earnings are getting matched anyway, it wouldn’t help much to use two different cards instead of one. Considering the simplicity and the high potential earnings through the first-year match offer, Discover cards are ideal if you want to stick to one credit card.

Our #1 cash back pick has a surprise bonus

This may be the perfect cash back card! That's because it packs in $1,148 of value. Cardholders can earn up to 5% cash back, double rewards in the first year, and avoid interest well into 2020. With such a deep bench of perks you'll wonder how this card packs in a $0 annual fee. Best yet, you can apply and get a decision in two minutes. Learn more with our in-depth review.

Find the right card for you

Cash Back & Rewards