Discover Open Road Rewards Changing (and Some Alternatives)

Effective October 1, 2007 it seems that Discover will be changing the terms of the 5% Cashback Bonus program on the Discover Open Road card. Unfortunately, these changes will be for the worse…

While Discover has always limited their rewards program such that you can only earn the full 5% on a set maximum worth of eligible purchases on your Open Road card (including gas, oil changes, etc.) per year, they’ve now tightened things down a bit further by splitting the $1200 up into 12 monthly limits of $100 each. Once you exceed this amount, your earnings revert to the standard 1% reward. And if you fall short of $100 of eligible spending in a month, too bad… That portion of your 5% earning limit is lost.

The good news is that the Open Road card is still offering 0% balance transfers (read more about how to take advantage of balance transfer offers).

As far as I can tell, this change in the rewards program affects only the Open Road card, as the fine print on the Discover More card still states that you will earn 5% “on purchases throughout the year by participating in each Get More program” without mentioning an eligibility limit. If you’re not familiar with the Get More program, it’s a 5% rewards program where they change the categories that are eligible for the 5% bonus quarterly, such that some months you’re getting 5% off on gas, some months it’s groceries, and so on.

Alternatives:

If you’re in the market for a reward credit card and want a more predictable reward-earning experience, then I recommend Blue Cash from American Express.

Blue Cashoffers 5% cash back with no rewards limits for “Everyday Purchases” (gas, groceries, and drugstores) and 1.5% on all else once you reach $6500 in total charges for the year. Until that point, the reward structure is 1%/0.5%.

[Hat tip: The Consumerist for pointing out the Open Road change]

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13 Responses to “Discover Open Road Rewards Changing (and Some Alternatives)”

  1. Nickel

    Well, even after the Driver’s Edge 6% promo runs out it still offers 3% on gas, groceries, and drugstores + 1% on all else, AND it has a high reward limit ($1k). What’s the Chase Freedom limit? Assuming it has a high reward limit, then it’s virtually identical to Driver’s Edge.

    The best combo might be something like Driver’s Edge or Freedom for gas and groceries and Amex Blue for all else until you hit $6500, then concentrate on Amex.

  2. Anonymous

    Once my Driver’s Edge card runs out, there’s gotta be a better rewards cart. Blue makes you do penance for $6500 (4-5 months for me) before you get the good rate, and “Capital One No Hassle Premium Cash Card” only gives 1.25%?

    For many people, wouldn’t the Chase Freedom card be better than any of the above, giving 3% cash back on Groceries, gas and quick restaurants?

    See also http://www.creditcardtuneup.com/

  3. Anonymous

    I’ve been looking at the Driver’s Edge card for awhile. The main thing that attracts me is the points for miles driven. (I already have a card that is 5% for gas/groceries/pharmacies and 1% for everything else).

    How does it work with multiple cars in the family? Would you need two cards in order to get the mileage counted for two cards or do they let you tie multiple cars to one card?

  4. Anonymous

    I have participated in the Discover “Get More”® program since they introduced it. I use my Discover as my primary card. They seem to be racheting down the limits for the last several offers (up to 5% on $2000, $500, $400 so far this year). I think it would be cool to be able to select your categories for the 3 month period from a list, say 5% on gas over the summer (which is actually the current deal) and 5% on online retailers around Christmas. The 5% back to school offer (which I used to defray tuition for a month) was sweet too. They have the previous 2 Get More offers still on their site and the next offer set to run Oct-Dec. I’d prefer an updated list of the next 3 offers (in case I might be timing a purchase…)

    Discover sent me a notice that they are changing/introducing some sort of balance transfer promotions and the terms might vary. I don’t do much with balance transfers or play the 0% transfer game, so I didn’t think it was too necessary to scour for details.

    A simple Visa/MasterCard program run similar to Discover’s would be GREAT, but I’m not sure I’d want to change/update my # everywhere. I sure don’t need another card to track and I’ve got a longer history with my current MasterCard too.

  5. Anonymous

    I’ve had my Citibank Shell Mastercard for about 2 years now and I think it’s great. I get 5% back on all gas at Shell stations, which is where I buy my gas most of the time anyway. The caveat is that the 5% is in the form of a credit towards future gas purchases, but at least it’s calculated and applied monthly (no long delays like with some other cards).

    I was initially excited about the Discover Open Roads card, but I got turned off when I saw the limit. $1200 a year in gas purchases is just not feasible for me (I have to drive a lot for my job). I probably spend 2 to 3 times that.

  6. Anonymous

    For the past 3 years, I’ve been using a reward card from Chase – 5% on gas/groceries/drug stores, 1% everywhere else — you don’t have to reach a certain amount of charges before the 5% is effective, and I think I can get up to $600 cash back per year.. They haven’t changed the terms on this deal ever since I signed up… However, I don’t think they’re offering this to new customers, unfortunately.

  7. Anonymous

    Thanks for the tips.

    Pairing two cards together sounds like a good suggestion. Initially, I think the Capital One card will be a good “beginner” reward card for me. I can easily do the math since there are no tiers, I can request a check payment online, and I don’t have to worry about annual fees.

    At least initially, “simplicity” is what I need.

  8. Nickel

    Scott, I agree that the BP card can be a good option if you buy most/all of your gas at BP locations. But if not, then I think you’re better off with a card whose best rewards aren’t tied to a specific brand of gas. Also note that the BP card doesn’t provide elevated rewards for grocery and drugstore purchases like the Driver’s Edge card does.

  9. Anonymous

    I mentioned this in another discussion, but we have a Chase/BP Visa card that pays:
    5% on all BP location purchases
    2% on travel/dining
    1% on everything else

    Unlike many of the Discover offers, these rebates are unlimited, and there’s no minimum amount to spend before they kick in. Rebates are paid in $25 increments by check, BP Gift Card, or charitable donation.

  10. Anonymous

    I recently signed up for the Discover More card and I noticed that you only get 5% for the Get More purchases on the first $400 you spend. It was hard to find that information–it took me about 15 minutes of scouring their web site. I don’t know if this is a change, but I thought I would mention it. I like my Chase Freedom card because they seem to be very upfront about their terms, unlike most of the other reward cards.

  11. Nickel

    Like I said, I’m a big fan of Driver’s Edge, especially with 6% off on gas, but… The rewards are either pseudo-cash (ThankYou Network) or you have to jump through hoops (albeit small ones) to get straight up cash. Still, 6% on $3/gallon is a pretty nice discount.

    The Capital One No Hassle card looks promising regular purchases because, well, 1.25% > 1%. But they don’t reward gas, groceries, etc. with a higher percentage. That’s why I suggested partnering it with another card such as Driver’s Edge. Aside from that, the best overall card that I’ve recently run across may be Blue Cash from AmEx. While they have reduced rewards for the first $6500, you get 5%/1% thereafter and no annual fee.

  12. Anonymous

    Naturally, right before I begin the process of acquiring a rewards credit card (mainly for gas purchases), one of the “contenders” changes its terms. Thanks, Discover.

    The Capital One No Hassle card sounds appealing. What is the best “cash back” rewards card? The best “here’s a check…don’t worry about calculating points…have a nice day” rewards card?

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