First of all, here are the details of the Discover Platinum cashback program:
Earn 5% Cashback Bonus on purchases throughout the year by participating in each Get More program. In addition, earn a full 1% on all other purchases after your total annual
purchases exceed $3,000; other purchases that are part of your first $1,500 earn .25% and other purchases that are part of your second $1,500 earn .50%. Purchases made at select warehouse clubs, discount stores and their affiliates earn .25%. Rewards are redeemable in $20 increments. Rewards have no expiration date; however, certain circumstances, such as account closure and inactivity for more than 36 months, could result in forfeiture of some or all of your Cashback Bonus. Full terms and conditions will be sent with your Card.
So why do I have this card? My parents like Discover, so naturally when it was time for me to get my first credit card, I went with what I knew. Now, it's my oldest credit card, which helps my credit history. It also has a considerably longer repayment period than my other cards.
I don't use it often, but they do have occasional good deals that make me happy. For example, right now their Get More program gives you 5% cash back on all purchases made at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Circuit City, Crutchfield, Napster, and Waldenbooks. The caveat with the Get More program is that you have to register for each and every promotion several times a year, and keep track of the ever-changing promotions. Registering your card only takes five seconds, but is an extra step that Discover is counting on many people to forget.
However, this program allows you to get cash back on purchases that other cards do not. Last winter, they offered 5% back on doctor visits, which got me $15 back on my expensive eye doctor appointment and contact lenses. I like taking advantage of the Get More programs in addition to the other cashback card I have that offers cash back on drugstores, grocery stores, and gas, month in and month out, no additional registration required.
So once I accumulate my $20 cash back with Discover, I then take redeem it with Enterprise, where I can double my $20 and get $40 off an Enterprise reservation. What a steal!
Well, maybe. I called the special reservation number to use one of these certificates for the first time and asked to apply it to an existing reservation, a $150 weeklong rental. The Enterprise representative cheerily informed me that Discover "stipulates the pricing" on rentals using these certificates and that my weekly rate would go up to $157, meaning that after my $40 discount I'd be paying $117. I went ahead and took it, because I rarely rent cars, but was a little annoyed that my $40 certificate was really only worth $32. I suppose if I were making a more last minute reservation with a higher price, Discover's "stipulated price" might help me, though.
The other reason it's not such a steal is this: I get $3.75 back for the first $1500 I spend. I get $7.50 back for the next $1500. Only after that do I start getting a full 1% back on everything. Assuming I never participated in a Get More program, I'd have to spend $3,975 to get $20 cash back or $40 at Enterprise (or another of their merchant partners). That's not such a steal, after all.