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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.
If that sounds good to you, follow along with this review to find out if Discover is the right fit for your banking needs.
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 Features
|Accounts||Savings, Checking, Money Market, CDs|
|Access||Web Based, iPhone App, Android App, Blackberry App|
|Amount of Branches||0|
|Customer Service||Phone: 24/7; Live Chat: 24/7; Email|
Discover Bank Accounts & Features
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.
The flagship account of Discover Bank is the Cashback Checking 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.
Discover’s savings account pays a 1.20% 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 mobile banks like Aspiration and Varo. But Discover 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.
|Available For||Taxable, IRA|
Minimum Deposit0 1.20%
Discover Money Market
Another reason to bank with Discover 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.
Minimum Deposit250 1.10%
Minimum Deposit10000 1.15%
Looking For More Money Market Account Options? >>> The Best Money Market Accounts.
Discover Bank CDs
Discover Bank offers two types of CD accounts: a traditional CD and an IRA CD. As of May 27, 2022. APYs range from 0.35% for a 3-month CD, up to 2.90% 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.
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.
Pros & Cons
- 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
- No physical locations
- No out-of-network ATM reimbursement
- No brokerage account option, so it’s not a full-service banking solution
If you want a low-fee online bank with stellar customer service, Discover is one of your best options. However, some competitors can offer higher interest rates and have additional features Discover lacks.
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 comparaible money market account to Discover. Additionally, you can earn up to 1.65% with its Savings Connect account, and there’s just a $100 minimum deposit requirement.
It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have to stay online-only. Options like TD Bank have the advantage of in-person branch support if you need to speak to someone, and you can also open a TD Ameritrade account to consolidate your banking and investing under one roof.
Want Even More Options? >>> The Best Online Banks Like Chime.
For individuals looking for a truly free checking and savings account with better-than-average interest rates plus debit card cashback, 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.
Chime Disclosure – Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
1Chime cannot guarantee when files are sent by the IRS and funds can be made available.
^Early access to direct deposit funds depends on payer