Review: Discover Open Road

Photo (cc) by photopaige

Credit card users want rewards for their spending. While most airline passengers may accept frequent flier miles, those who prefer wheels over wings are more likely to seek perks like cash rebates.

If you’re a driver more than a flyer, and like to eat out, your perfect plastic might be a card that rewards spending on fuel for yourself and your car. If that sounds good, the Discover Open Road Card might be for you, because it offers bonus cash back on gas and dining purchases, as well as standard rewards on every other purchase.

Advantages

  • Earn cash back: Cardholders earn 2 percent cash back for their first $250 in spending on gas and dining purchases each month. Most purchases other than gas and restaurants earn 0.25 percent on your first $3,000 of spending annually, and 1 percent thereafter.
  • Receive promotional financing: New applicants receive 0 percent APR on both new purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. There is a 3 percent balance transfer fee.
  • Fees: There is no annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
  • Customer service: Most Discover cardholders I know are intensely loyal to the brand and say they offer exceptional customer service.

Disadvantages

  • No sign-up bonus: These days, most reward credit cards offer a sign-up bonus that can range from $100 cash back to hundreds of dollars’ worth of frequent flier miles or hotel points. This card offers new applicants nothing except 0 percent introductory financing.
  • Restrictions on eligible purchases: Discover says purchases from discount and warehouse stores are ineligible for either the 1 or 2 percent cash back. If that’s where you do a lot of your spending, you won’t find this card very rewarding.
  • Limits on rewards: Cardholders can only earn 2 percent cash back on their first $250 in spending on gas and dining each month. That’s only $12.50. Worse is the fact that the 1 percent cash back is only valid on purchases in excess of $3,000 each year. The reward on the first $3,000 is only 0.25 percent, for a total of $7.50. I’d prefer cards that reward me with a steak dinner, not a Happy Meal.
  • Less acceptance: Discover cardholders find that their cards are less likely to be accepted by retailers than Visa or MasterCard.

Bottom line

Get it if: You are looking for a card with a strong introductory financing offer and nominal rewards.

Forget it if: You want competitive rewards and don’t carry a balance.

(Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card search page.)

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