Not Playing Discover Card’s Games

By Karen

Because Discover Card’s sliver of 1% rebate is an insult to incentives, I seldom use it, but it has become my most annoying credit card.

Since the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 gave issuers until next year to nail customers to the wall before it takes effect, I’ve been watching my cards.

The last time I used Discover to keep it active, I was inundated with phone calls beseeching me to use it more, not to mention almost daily shipments of “convenience checks.” Then I got a nice letter that began…

We want to thank you for participating in our FREE 5% Cashback Bonus® program and remind you how easy it is to make your money worth More.

Just use your Discover® Card at home improvement stores, department stores, and clothing stores from 04/01/09 until 6/30/09, and get 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $400 in purchases.”

Sounded good. I stopped reading and skipped down to the table laying out the 5% bonuses for each quarter of 2009.

I charged something at Home Depot in June. No 5% bonus. OK, maybe a system glitch. No big deal.

In July, the rebate switched to gas, so I used Discover for a few tanks. Again, no 5% bonus.

This time I called Discover, and learned I have to sign up every quarter. This is a chore I can live without.

I’ve had this stupid card since 1988. If Discover wants to increase my Cashback on certain purchases, fine. But don’t expect me to perform quarterly maintenance.

The Discover rep told me the enrollment gimmick is for marketing research. After 21 years, now I’m a guinea pig.

The rep granted my full gas rebate ($1.24) and enrolled me in this quarter’s 5% program, but all bets are off in October. So Discover is banished from my wallet indefinitely, and they can keep the loose change as my gift.

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6 Responses to Not Playing Discover Card’s Games

  1. MorganLF says:

    There is only a need for 2 credit cards. Put everything, EVERYTHING on Amex.
    A) You are forced to budget as it must be paid in full each month.
    B) Your statement shows you where every penny goes
    C) Miles!! I have not paid for airline tickets in years!
    D) They are super cool about reimbursing you when you protest a charge.

    Sure you pay a yearly fee, so what? No interest. I put my car down payment on the card. I put all food, gas, clothes, etc on the card. I never have cash, cash disappears into some void.

    The only reason I have another card is for those vendors that do not take Amex. Overseas when you use the card no nasty conversion issues. I don’t bother with gold or platinum my very worn little green card does me nicely!

  2. catsworking says:

    Morgan, you’re right, but it’s too late. I already have a ton of credit cards — 99.9% of which never get used. It started in college. I was working practically full-time and couldn’t get a gas card. Then my employer, JC Penney, gave me a card with a $300 limit and the race was on. I used that to leverage some gas cards, then it was department store cards, then the big boys, Mastercard, Discover, Visa. This was before we realized what an absolute mess credit scoring is, or I’d have kept it simple.

    Then all the department stores started turning their cards into MasterCards and Visas and wiped out the point of having them.

    Now I use my Visa for everything and pay it off every month, and I have a no-fee AmEx for my business and use it when I can get a rebate on something. If the card issuers start charging annual fees on most cards, I will take the hit to my credit score and cut them up. No way will I waste money on fees.

    Discover is as good as dead to me.

  3. MorganLF says:

    Get your credit report. Then IN WRITING cancel all but Visa & Amex. It must be in writing. Then you fill our a report (available) on line with the credit reporting agency stating you have done so. Why? The more cards you have the WORSE your score.

    The assessment is based on how much credit you have “access” to. So a lender is less likely to give a loan to someone with 5 cards each with a credit limit of 10K than someone with 2. Also if the credit card company raises your limit say NO thanks. Always as you say pay in full, but just to keep my report current I carry a small balance from time to time on the Visa. Car, mortgage never miss.

    I enjoy the highest credit score possible just by keeping to the rules. As a result I refinance ALL the time (at no charge) constantly rolling in things to the mortgage. Then I prepay the mortgage, usually doubling up and get a nice tax write off on the new car the renovations etc. BTW there is a great website Mint.com for finances, it’s agrat place to

    Also I get the lowest financing available. Trust me I make a living wage nothing fancy but a millionaire has nothing on my credit rating!!

  4. catsworking says:

    The last time I looked at my credit report, which was a long time ago when the free ones became available, everything looked fine. I think some of my cards have died of natural causes anyway. I have no idea what my score is, nor do I particularly care. This business of staying on top of things, ordering a report very quarter, is ridiculous. If you pay your bills on time and never owe finance charges, why should you have to be obsessing about the status of your credit, except for the fact that morons staff the places in charge of this total bogus, unfair system, they make a lot of mistakes, and they don’t care if they never get fixed.

    Morgan, good for you on gaming the system, but life’s too short and I couldn’t be bothered.

  5. Daniel says:

    Discover is very gamey. I’m thinking about ditching them at this very moment, which is how I found your blog post.

    Concerning mint.com, which I absolutely looooove, Discover does not include finance charges in the transaction list which is deceitful and messes up the trends and everything. It’s just missing information that makes everything inaccurate.

    I’ve had Discover for a long time, but the stupid rewards stuff you’ve described, high interest rates and other glitches like the mint.com thing really make me second guess keeping the account… bleh.

  6. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Daniel! I’m not familiar with mint.com, but it doesn’t surprise me to hear that Discover hides fees.

    I used my Discover card one more time after this post to pay for over $100 worth of stuff at Sam’s Club. Moment of madness. When the bill came and my cashback bonus was about 24 cents, I had another moment of madness. Fury, to be more exact.

    The media is reporting that many credit card issuers will be instituting annual fees on people who pay in full every month, just to get something beyond the fee merchants pay so everybody’s getting screwed. If Discover goes that route, it’s history and our 21-year relationship will be toast.

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