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Discover Bank review

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Updated: December 29, 2023

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Brick-and-mortar banks are expensive to operate, which is why online-only banks can offer accounts with better interest rates and lower fees than a traditional bank.

Discover Bank is one such bank and offers a full suite of checking, savings, money market and CD accounts with competitive rates and no monthly fees.

Find out if Discover Bank is the right fit for your banking needs.

3.5

Commissions and fees4.5

Customer service3

Ease-of-use4

Locations1.5

Savings options4

Rates4.3

While we like Discover Bank’s no-fee accounts and large network of participating ATMs, there are some limitations to having an account — chiefly, the inability to use a Discover debit card with many retailers.

Pros and cons of Discover Bank

Pros

Pros

  • No monthly fees or overdraft fees

  • No minimum balance requirements

  • Competitive cash-back checking account

  • Competitive APY for its CDs, and IRA CDs are available

  • 24/7 phone customer support

Cons

Cons

  • No physical locations

  • No out-of-network ATM reimbursement

  • No brokerage account option, so it's not a full-service banking solution

What is Discover Bank?

Discover Bank is an online bank owned and operated by Discover Financial, the institution behind the popular line of Discover credit cards with nearly 50 million cardholders in the United States. Discover is a diversified financial institution offering an array of financial products including private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, Diner’s Club and its own ATM network, PULSE.

The bank’s primary checking and savings accounts offer the exact features you would expect from a modern online bank. And with some other banks getting publicity for ending their free checking products, a truly free online checking account is a great alternative to a traditional bank account, if an online-only bank meets your needs.

I have banked exclusively online for about two years, and the only thing I can’t do is deposit cash. If you are happy managing your bank accounts from your web browser and your smartphone and rarely need to deposit cash, online banks offer a great product at a very low cost.

Discover Bank overview

Features Details
Accounts Savings, Checking, Money Market, CDs
Access Web Based, iPhone App, Android App
Amount of branches 0
ATM reimbursement
Online deposits
FDIC insurance
Customer service Phone: 24/7; Live Chat: 24/7; Email

Discover Bank accounts and products

Discover Bank offers everything you would expect from an online bank. Features include a cash-back debit card, high-yield savings and a large network of no-fee ATMs.

Checking

The flagship account of Discover Bank is the Discover Cashback Debit account. This account has no monthly fee. Nor does it have a minimum balance or direct deposit requirement. And the included debit card offers 1% cash back on purchases up to $3,000 per month.

This is better than most debit cards you’ll find in banking today. Logging in to the Discover website or app gives users access to free online bill pay. In addition, users can reorder checks or a replacement debit card at no fee. And like many other online banks, Discover lets you get paid up to two days early with its Early Pay feature.

Some activity does incur a fee, however, though these are not very common activities for responsible bank customers. For example, you don’t pay any fees for incoming or outgoing ACH transfers or incoming wire transfers, but outgoing wires have a $30 fee.

Savings

Highlights Details
Available for IRA
Account fees None
Custodial No
Savings rates Minimum Deposit $0 3.90%

Discover’s savings account pays a 3.90% APY as of July 18, 2022. This is in the upper tier of interest rates and comparable to many other online banks. And when compared to the big banks like Chase, Citi and Bank of America, Discover’s savings account pays far better. This makes the Discover Online Savings account a great choice for an emergency fund.

You can get a higher interest rating with a mobile bank like Varo. But Discover Bank still has one of the best high-yield savings accounts on the market right now, and you don't have to meet a certain balance requirement to get the best rates like you do with some competitors.

Like the checking account, there are no minimum balances to avoid fees. So this no-frills savings account is a great place to park a chunk of cash that you don’t expect to need for a long while, such as for a home down payment. This savings account is Discover’s standout product and my favorite account offered by Discover Bank.

Money market account

Category Details
Available for Taxable, IRA
Account fees None
Savings rates Minimum deposit $250 at 3.80%Minimum deposit $10,000 at 3.85%

Another reason to bank with Discover Bank is to take advantage of its money market account. At the time of writing, it pays over 1% for balances under $100,000, and you get a small boost for balances over this amount. There's no minimum balance requirement or fees either. And you also get free ATM withdrawals at 60,000+ nationwide ATMs.

Looking for more money market account options? Compare the best money market accounts

CDs

CD term Minimum deposit APY
3 months $2,500 2.00%
6 months $2,500 3.40%
9 months $2,500 3.50%
12 months $2,500 4.75%
18 months $2,500 4.75%
24 months $2,500 4.30%
30 months $2,500 4.30%
36 months $2,500 4.30%
48 months $2,500 4.00%
60 months $2,500 4.00%
84 months $2,500 3.80%
120 months $2,500 3.80%

Discover Bank offers two types of CD accounts: a traditional CD and an IRA CD. As of August 19, 2022.  APYs range from 4.75% for a 12 month CD, up to 3.80% for a 10-year CD. In the current interest rate and investment environment, however, CDs have fallen in popularity. The IRA CD works as either a traditional or Roth IRA.

More: Are CDs worth investing it?

Personal loans

One final Discover Bank feature is its personal loans offering. You can borrow $2,500 to $35,000, and you don't pay any origination fees. The current interest rate is 5.99% to 24.99% APR. Student and home loans are also available.

Discover Bank fees

As mentioned, Discover Bank doesn't charge any monthly account fees or require a minimum balance for its checking and savings accounts. You pay $30 outgoing wire transfer fees and fees for out-of-network ATM withdrawals. But overall, it's an excellent online bank for avoiding high banking fees.

How do I contact Discover?

One advantage of banking with Discover is that it offers 24/7 phone customer support at 1-800-DISCOVER. This isn't a given for online-only banks, and it's one selling point for Discover.

Is Discover Bank safe?

Discover Bank is a safe and secure online-only bank. Accounts get up to $250,000 FDIC insurance, so your money is safe. It also has numerous fraud monitoring and protection features in place, and you can freeze your debit card if it's lost or stolen.

Discover Bank alternatives

If you want a low-fee online bank with stellar customer service, Discover Bank is one of your best options. However, some competitors can offer higher interest rates and have additional features that Discover Bank lacks.

Highlights Chime CIT Bank Quontic
Rating 4.25/5 4.25/5 4.5/5
Accounts Savings, Checking Savings, Checking, Money Market, CDs Savings, Checking, Money Market, CDs
Online deposits
Physical branches
FDIC insurance
ATM reimbursement
Reviews Chime Review CIT Bank Review Quontic review
More Open account Open account Open account

Chime is one of our favorite Discover alternatives if you don't want to pay monthly fees. Its savings account pays a much lower rate than Discover, and its fee-free checking account doesn't pay cash back. However, Chime has a useful SpotMe feature that lets you borrow up to $200 to hold you over until your next paycheck. It also has a credit-building card you can use to improve your credit score.

As for CIT Bank, it has a very comparable money market account to Discover. Additionally, you can earn up to 4.60% with its Savings Connect account, and there's just a $100 minimum deposit requirement. See details here.

Want more options? Best online banks like Chime

Bottom line

For individuals looking for a truly free checking and savings account with better-than-average interest rates plus cashback on debit card purchases, Discover Bank has you covered. However, with limited card acceptance, reports of longer-than-average times before an incoming deposit clears your account, and many unflattering reviews, it is far from perfect. But if you have simple needs that an online-only bank can handle, Discover Bank can handle it just fine.

Eric Rosenberg Freelance Contributor

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full time.

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