Discover Bank Review: A Straightforward Choice for Online Banking

A woman holds up a Discover card.
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When you hear the name “Discover,” you probably think of Discover Card. That’s understandable, as the Discover Card is the fourth largest credit card issuer in the United States with approximately 44 million credit card holders. 

But Discover didn’t stop with credit cards. The financial services giant got into virtual banking with Discover Bank, an online bank that offers checking, savings and more. 

If you use a Discover Card, you may be inclined to pull your financial services together under one company. Your credit card, checking, savings and CDs could all be in one handy place. 

But is that the best choice for you and your finances? Our review will give you an honest look at the bank’s checking and savings features for individuals, as well as its overall convenience and mobile banking features so you can make an informed decision about where you do your banking.

What we like:

  • No fees or minimum balance requirements
  • 1% cash back on all debit transactions
  • Simple savings account with great interest and no fees
  • Good rates on CDs

What we don’t like:

Checking 

Grade: B+

Discover Bank’s most popular checking account is actually called the Discover Cashback Debit Account, but it operates much like a standard checking account. This account carries no minimum opening deposit, which makes it easy to get started with one.

You also won’t get pinged with a lot of fees. There’s no monthly maintenance fee and there are no overdraft charges. 

To opt for overdraft protection, link your account to another account, and Discover Bank will pull money from that account to cover the overdraft with no transaction fee. If you don’t opt for the protection, the bank will simply decline any transaction that will put your account into the red.

While you won’t earn interest on the money in your account, you’ll get 1% cash back on all of your debit transactions — up to $3,000 per month. That’s potentially an extra $30 coming your way each month. 

Savings

Grade: A-

As with its checking account, Discover Bank’s Online Savings Account does not have a minimum opening deposit amount. You also won’t find a monthly maintenance fee or a required minimum balance for your account. 

You’ll earn 1.60% APY on your money, which is far above the national average. There is no minimum balance requirement to start earning the interest either. You’ll begin to accrue interest as soon as you have money in the savings account, whether it’s $5 or $5,000.

If you’re looking to put your money into a CD, you can get anything from a 3-month term to a 10-year term. Their interest rates are some of the best out there ranging from 0.35% to 2.20%, depending on the length of term. There is a $2,500 minimum to open a CD, though, which is a lot higher than most online banks. 

Small Business Banking

At this time, Discover Bank does not offer business checking or savings accounts. 

Convenience

Grade: C

Discover Bank is an online bank, so you can reach it anywhere with your laptop or smartphone. The bank has hooked up with a network of 60,000 ATMs where you can access your money with no fees. 

Its website is easy to navigate and offers checking, savings, money market accounts, CDs and IRA CDs. However, it doesn’t have the full suite of loans and other financial products that the major banks and a few others offer. 

If you’re looking for advice, its website offers a “Modern Money Blog,” which covers frugal living, the basics of banking, budgeting strategies and more.

If you find yourself in need of a replacement card, it’s not only free to replace it, but you can get it expedited at no cost as well. 

You won’t be able to visit a local location or even deposit cash, but these are the standard compromises you make when you use an online bank.

Mobile Banking

Grade: A-

Discover Bank’s mobile app receives 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store and 4.6 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store. Both are pretty typical of what we’ve seen for other banking apps. 

Their app has a simple login as well as the ability to set a “quick view,” which can give you an account snapshot without logging in at all. Once you’re in your account, you can transfer money, pay bills, freeze or unfreeze your cards, or even put in a travel notification so you won’t have issues with your card while you’re on vacation. 

Pro Tip

Check out our current list of bank promotions for a chance to gain a monetary bonus when signing up for a new bank account.

Our Bank Review Methodology

The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features. 

To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you. 

For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.

Ratings are assigned on a scale of one (worst) to five (best) stars across the following categories:

  • Personal checking accounts
  • Personal savings accounts
  • Small-business banking
  • Convenience
  • Mobile banking

Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.

Tyler Omoth is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.