USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card vs. NHL® Discover it®

Are you between the NHL Discover it credit card and USAA’s Preferred Cash Rewards Visa one? This guide will help you decide which one is right for you.

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The Verdict

The NHL Discover it card trumps the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Signature card because it gives you more opportunities to earn cashback

At first glance, the NHL Discover it card and the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Signature card offer similar cashback reward rates at 1% and 1.5%, respectively.

But take a closer look and you'll see a different picture.

First, you can only become a USAA member if you're an active or former military member or related to a military member.

So, if you don't check either one of those boxes, the USAA card is definitely not the one for you.

Even still, if you do qualify, the NHL Discover it offers a stronger cashback rewards incentive program.

With this card, you get anywhere from 5-10 times more cashback than USAA's cashback card.

If you want a broader look at the 2017 credit card landscape, check out our review of the Best Credit Cards of 2017.

How the Discover it card compares to the USAA's card

NHL Discover it

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Signature card

1. How much cashback can you earn?

– 10% cashback for NHL.com and NHL TV purchases

– 5% cashback reward categories that rotate every quarter

– 1% cashback on all other purchases

– 1.5% cashback on all purchases

2. Is there an annual fee?

No

No

3. How high does your credit score need to be?

680+

700+

4. What is the average APR?

11.99% to 23.99%

12.90% to 26.90%

5. Is there a signup bonus?

Yes:

– Automatic cashback match for your first year

– 0% Introductory APR for the first 14 months

No

6. Are there foreign transaction fees?

No

No

7. Are there military discounts?

No

Yes

Why One is Stronger than the Other

The NHL card is stronger than USAA's card because you can rack up more cashback — and faster

While the USAA Visa Signature card offers you 1.5% cashback on all purchases, that still doesn't compare to the Discover it card, which can give you as much as 5–10% cashback in certain categories.

The NHL Discover it card also matches all of the cashback you earn during your first year of membership.

We can't say the same about the USAA cashback card.

You'll also enjoy 14 months of 0% interest with the Discover it card as part of its initial sign-up bonus offer.

As if that wasn't enough, customers can't stop gushing about the approval process or spending limits with the NHL Discover it card.

People love Discover because the approval process is instant and it's generous with credit limits

Many customers praise Discover for its quick and easy approval process.

Within a few minutes, applicants know whether they're approved.

Numerous cardholders report the NHL Discover it card has their highest spending limit.

Plus, Discover it cardholders say their credit limits were increased after a few months of responsible credit card behavior, making it a good choice to build credit.

Americans' Average Credit Limit

Not everything is so peachy with the NHL Discover it card, however.

A few common complaints cropped up.

The biggest customer complaint about Discover is that it also decreases your spending limit

Many current cardholders complain about spending limit decreases that came out of nowhere— their credit limits were slashed to less than half of what the cardholders were initially approved for.

The problem is, if you've already hit or come close to your spending max and your limit suddenly drops, your credit score will take a serious nosedive.

Lenders want to know you can juggle your spending limits without going over them.

But if the limit suddenly changes, you may already be over your financial head without realizing it.

With that said, is this right for you?

You're the ideal NHL Discover it cardholder if you're a die-hard NHL hockey fan trying to build on decent credit

If you can answer yes to most of the questions below, the NHL Discover it card has your name on it:

  • Do you regularly make purchases from NHL.com or NHL TV?
  • Do you have a minimum credit score of 680?
  • Do you plan to use this card for most of the everyday purchases you make?

The NHL Discover it card is probably not your best option if you answered "no" to those questions.

So let's check out the USAA Preferred Visa Signature Card to see if that's a better fit next.

Counter Argument

The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards card offers perks that go beyond the actual cashback rewards of the card

USAA's card may not offer as much in the way of cashback as the NHL Discover it card, but it makes up for that with other enticing perks:

Protect your home. That is, when you're away on deployment.

Enjoy free monitoring service so you can have peace of mind knowing your family is safe when you're not there.

Never worry about paying full price for travel again. If you find a cheaper price for hotel stays or cruises, USAA will match the competitor rates so you never overpay.

Enjoy travel protection. Whether you lose a bag or you're charged for carrying an extra one on the plane, USAA will help you save.

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Never worry about a canceled trip. With USAA's extra protection, you'll be covered in the event your trip gets canceled.

Enjoy up to 35% off car rental services. That is, when you pay with your USAA card.

Rack up exclusive discounts on new and used vehicle purchases. Browse through the USAA network of preferred partners and you'll save.

Enjoy exclusive retail discounts too. Use your USAA card for purchases and you'll enjoy discounts from select retailers.

When you combine all these perks with the 1.5% cashback you'll receive on all purchases, you can see why this card is worth your attention.

Sure, the USAA's cashback program isn't as competitive as others, but these extra benefits may add up to more savings in the end.

It's not just these perks that keep USAA customers loyal; it's also the dedicated customer service.

People love USAA's customer service

Many happy reviewers compliment USAA's team of customer support specialists and describe all the agents as polite and friendly and that they "handled fraudulent charges well" and seem as if they truly care "and are willing to help."

Other cardholders praised the USAA's card for helping them rebuild their credit when no other lenders would approve them.

But it wasn't all good news. We did see some common complaints too.

The biggest customer complaint about USAA is that even long-standing members face challenges

Multiple customers have complained that having a double-digit history with the card doesn't get you anywhere.

Some members claimed fraudulent charges were never investigated properly, leading to them being responsible for the purchases they never authorized.

Others complained that interest and late fees were charged incorrectly and never remedied.

Additionally, some reviewers felt that USAA abandoned them during difficult financial times and periods of unemployment.

In many cases, members canceled their USAA credit card because of these issues and the lack of loyalty.

Customers are unhappy that USAA does not take into consideration how long someone's been a customer when disputes arise.

So after learning all of that, should you go with the USAA's card?

You're the ideal USAA cardholder if you're in the military and can actually use the extra member perks offered

You can only become a USAA member if you're an active or former military member or related to a military member.

So if you don't check either one of those boxes, this card is definitely not the one for you.

If you do belong to one of those two categories, you'll have to ask yourself if you'll use those added perks that come along with being a USAA cardholder.

This card doesn't offer much in terms of cashback so the extra perks must be worth it to you in the end.

Otherwise, there are other cards that stack up against the Discover it Cashback card, and we've got one such alternative reviewed in our head-to-head review, Discover it Cashback vs. Barclaycard Arrival Card.

Up next, we'll talk more about both companies so you have a better idea of who you're doing business with.

About the Companies

While USAA isn't known as a top credit card company, it's backed by Visa and has seven times the market share as Discover

USAA is not in the credit card business per se.

Because of this, its credit card is backed by Visa, a leader in the credit card industry.

Americans Choose Visa

Visa current holds seven times more market share than Discover and boasts an extra 28 years of being in business.

In addition, Visa's acquired 335 million customers worldwide, which makes Discover's 51.4 million customers pale in comparison.

Visa pioneered credit and debit cards as we know them today

Visa paved the road for other credit cards to follow.

They were the first to introduce "revolving credit," credit that is renewed when you pay off your balance.

Visa was also responsible for creating debit cards. Being first may help explain why Visa is accepted nearly everywhere.

You're the ideal Visa customer if you want a card that's accepted everywhere

As the first consumer credit card, Visa has a long standing reputation around the world. This reputation means you'll never have to worry about whether your card will be accepted.

Discover is all about its customers

Discover may have surfaced 28 years later than Visa, but it's still a force to be reckoned with.

Since opening,its focus has always been on customer service.

The company also continues to improve upon helping its customers "get the most for their money."

It does this using reward programs that offer customers more bang for their buck.

If you're willing to branch out, Discover will reward you

Discover may not be accepted at as many places as Visa, but it does have competitive perks, higher cashback reward percentages, and friendly customer service.

As we saw with the NHL Discover it card, the cashback benefits are 5-10 times higher than the USAA Visa card.

Rewards and Bonuses

When you compare apples to apples, Discover offers you more rewards

As we alluded to earlier, Discover's perks and benefits are highly competitive, and the NHL Discover it card is no exception.

The good and the bad about the NHL Discover it card's rewards

General cashback on purchases is low. There's only a 1% cashback reward on purchases outside of the rotating categories which is .5% lower than USAA's 1.5%.

Earn 10% cashback on NHL.com or NHL TV purchases. You'll earn the most cashback anytime you shop through NHL.

Earn 5% cashback on rotating categories. Each quarter, Discover comes out with a new 5% cashback offer for a different rotating category.

As long as you enroll in time and make an eligible purchase in that category, you'll be well on your way to earning close to 4x the cashback USAA offers.

Earn double the cashback. The NHL Discover it card also offers an automatic cashback match program for your first year of membership.

Enjoy $0 annual fee. Neither the Discover card nor the USAA card makes you pay for the rewards you have access to all year.

Don't worry about paying costly foreign transaction fees. That is, when you use your card abroad, which saves you an average of 3% per transaction.

With these kinds of perks, it may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to choosing the Discover it card.

Before you decide for sure, let's see how the rewards program from USAA compares.

The good and the bad about USAA's reward program

Earn 1.5% cashback on every purchase. Instead of fussing with rotating categories each quarter, feel comfortable knowing that anytime you swipe your USAA card, you'll earn 1.5% in cashback automatically.

There's no limit to how much cashback you can earn. That's literally the opposite of Discover.

No fees mean fewer headaches. Specifically, avoid the dreaded annual fee and travel stress-free by avoiding those wallet-draining foreign transaction fees.

The takeaway: If you don't want to deal with rotating perks, you're better off with the USAA card

If you prefer consistent cashback earnings instead of jumping through rotating categories each quarter, the USAA card may be right for you.

Let's go over the other benefits that come standard with both cards.

Benefits

Both Discover and USAA offer benefits beyond straight cashback

When comparing credit cards, you shouldn't just look at the cashback incentives.

Often benefits that go beyond the card make one particular piece of plastic a standout option.

We'll go over the extra perks now.

Analyzing Discover's additional benefits

Freeze your account with one click. If you lose your card, you can freeze your account until you find or replace your card.

Your account remains active, but no one will be able to use it to make purchases while it's in this state.

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See your FICO Credit score for free. Each month, Discover includes your FICO credit score right on your statement.

Monitor your Social Security number. Discover will also let you know if it's been used recently or if any new accounts crop up.

It will even notify you if it finds your personal information on risky websites.

Comparing the benefits offered by USAA

As we discussed earlier, USAA's exclusive membership comes with some pretty nice benefits, including:

  • Discounts on 24/7 home monitoring
  • Price match on travel purchases
  • Travel protection
  • Up to 35% off car rental services
  • Exclusive discounts at select retailers

The takeaway: USAA's extra perks may add up to huge savings

Before you add up all those savings, you should also know about the costs and fees associated with using each card.

If you're on the fence about a cashback card, check out our head to head comparison review, Cash Back vs. Rewards: Credit Card Showdown.

Costs and Fees

The costs are about the same with both cards.

All credit cards charge fees and it's essential that you know and understand what you could be charged before you hand over an application.

NHL Discover it card rates and fees

There are no overdraft fees. At least not associated with this card.

Balance transfers will cost you a 3% fee. That is, on the amount being transferred, which could add up to a hefty sum. So be warned!

Cash advances may cost you a bit more. That is, $10 or 5% of your transaction. There's no maximum for how much you could be charged here.

Your APR remains fixed with this card. That is, even if you forget to pay on time.

Discover will also waive your first late payment fee. After your first late offense is waived, you'll be charged a late fee as high as $37 each time after that.

USAA's fee structure is similar.

USAA's cashback card rates and fees

Similarly, the big two fees make the annual check-up and travel easy. That is, there's no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

There's a 3% fee for both balance transfers and cash advances. USAA also charges a 3% fee for balance transfers and cash advances, which is 2% lower than Discover's cash advance fees.

The maximum fee per transfer and check advance is $200, also lower than Discover's.

$35 late or returned payment fee. We also see a $2 savings with USAA's late or returned payment fee.

The takeaway: Both Discover and USAA charge fees, but USAA's are slightly lower

The bottom line: balance transfers, cash advances, and late or missed payments will end up costing you with both cards.

You may see a slight savings here by going with USAA, but you'd save more if you didn't miss a payment altogether.

Customer Service

Expect excellent customer service with Discover

When it comes to customer service, both USAA and Discover do a decent job of keeping their customers happy.

But there are some other things to consider.

The truth about Discover's customer service

Discover's customer service reviews were positive.

We saw customers boasting about how friendly and easy the company's customer support team is to work with.

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All agents are based in the United States. So you won't have to worry about a language barrier or miscommunications.

Discover's team is also available around the clock. So help is there whenever, should you need it.

Replacement cards are shipped overnight. And free of charge.

But we did find one common complaint over and over again:

Cardholders frequently witnessed their spending limits slashed. And not by a small margin.

Many complained of their limits being cut to less than half of what they were initially approved for.

USAA's customer support is severely limited, as compared to Discover's, which we'll discuss next.

The truth about USAA's customer service

Customer support is not available 24/7. USAA's customer support is only available Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 10 pm CT, and on Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm CT.

Despite the limited availability, many customers like USAA's service.

Customer support agents are great. Customers complimented USAA's team, saying all of the agents have been polite and friendly.

However, we also saw a common theme of disloyalty from reviewers too.

No appreciation for loyal customers. Multiple customers complained that, despite having a double-digit history with the company, they still had trouble with common customer service issues.

Incorrect fees were never remedied. Others complained that interest and late charges were incorrectly charged and never removed.

No help during difficult times. Some reviewers felt that USAA abandoned them during difficult financial times and periods of unemployment and left them with extra fees tacked onto bills.

The takeaway: Discover has USAA slightly beat when it comes to customer service

Customers feel USAA should consider how long a member has been a loyal customer when they're unable to make their payments during hard times.

They also expect USAA to do more about fraudulent charges and incorrect billing fees.

When we compare this to Discover, we see that Discover fares better in terms of customer service but how does it rate when it comes to mobile convenience?

Key Digital Services

Both Discover and USAA have digital apps that make checking in a breeze

Download mobile apps for both Discover and USAA for both Apple and Android devices and you'll stay connected.

What's the Discover mobile app like? Cardholders love how easy it is to use Discover's app and dig how simple the dashboard is.

Here you'll have:

Enjoy quick access. Discover's mobile app gives you every aspect of your account from any device you use.

Pay your balance. Or part of it, using the mobile app wherever you are.

Set up notifications to alert you when your balance is due. Or once a payment has been cleared.

Consumers Are Receiving Mobile Banking Alerts (2016)

USAA's app shows a similar picture.

What's the USAA mobile app like?

USAA's mobile app gives you the same features as Discover:

Access your account from anywhere. Log in at any time to see your account.

Pay bills on the go. Never miss a payment with USAA since you can pay on the go.

See a snapshot of your account in real time. You can manage all of your USAA accounts from their main dashboard.

Speak with customer support agents. Speak directly with customer support agents right from the app.

The takeaway: Both Discover and USAA have created useful mobile apps customers love

Not only can you access your account at any time, but you can also manage and make payments from wherever you are using these apps.

Discover's mobile app can be found here for Apple users and here for Android users.

USAA's app can be accessed through this link for Apple customers and this one for Android users.

FAQ

  • How do I apply for the cards?

    You can start your application online or through the phone. The fastest way to apply for the NHL Discover it card is to submit an application online.

    You'll know immediately if you've been approved. Or you could call Discover at 1-800-DISCOVER.

    USAA is just as easy to get started with.

    Visit their website to apply online. Or call them at 1-800-531-8722.

  • How do I cancel a credit card with either company?

    For Discover, you must speak directly with a customer service representative.

    There are no fees to close your account, but you will still be responsible for paying off your balance. To close your account at Discover, call 1-800-DISCOVER.

    You can cancel your USAA card online.

    Simply log in and click "Request to Cancel Policy" and follow the prompts once they come up.

    If you'd prefer to call USAA, you can speak with an agent. Call them at 1-800-531-8722.

  • What does each card provider offer new customers?

    Discover offers 14 months of 0% introductory APR and matches all cashback earned in the first year.

    Unfortunately, there aren't any initial customer incentives with USAA.

  • What does each card offer as ongoing incentives for loyal customers?

    Neither Discover nor USAA offers any additional benefits for being a loyal cardmember. However, many Discover customers have seen dramatic spending limit increases the longer they stay with them.

  • What are the interest rates for each card provider?

    Discover's interest rates range from 11.99–23.99% while USAA's ranges from 12.90–26.90%.

  • Do you need a checking or savings account with either provider in order to obtain one of its cards?
    p>You do not need a checking or savings account with either provider in order to obtain a credit card from them.

    You will need to connect a checking or savings account with your credit card to cover overdrafts or bounced checks.

  • What security measures does each provider put in place to keep your identity and account safe?

    Discover recently launched its Discover Identity Alerts program whereby they'll notify you if any suspicious activity occurs on your account and this is included with your credit card at no additional charge.

    USAA also uses a similar feature known as USAA's Cyber Threat Operations Center to constantly monitor and alert you to any potential threats.

  • What credit score range should you be in before applying for each card?

    You should have a credit score of 680 or better before you apply to Discover, and 700+ for USAA.

  • Can I apply for a Discover it credit card or USAA card without credit history?

    Some customers have been approved for credit cards without having a credit history. But there's no guarantee it will be the same for you.

    The only way to know for certain is to submit an application.

  • Are Discover it credit cards bad?

    No. The Discover it credit cards are one of the best cashback cards on the market.

    The perks are substantial and the card is safe and trustworthy. It's also accepted widely across the globe.

  • Am I more likely to be approved for the Discover it card or USAA card?

    This is tough to say without knowing your complete credit history. In both cases, you do need a minimum credit score between 680-700 and decent credit history.

The NHL Discover it card offers you more rewards

  • You have a much higher chance of earning more cashback with Discover.
  • On the flipside, USAA offers other discounts aside from cashback that may prove to be more valuable than Discover's rewards.
  • Both cards will give you the same on-the-go access to their mobile apps and stellar customer service. However, Discover's customer support team is available around the clock, which USAA's is not.

Do you use the Discover or USAA credit card?

Let us know in the comments!

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