Up to 23% Cashback with Discover & Apple Pay – Full Details, Analysis & MS Options

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Discover Apply Pay Promo

Discover & Apple Pay Launch

Yesterday Discover announced what might be the best deal we have seen in a long time. Beginning on September 16, 2015, Discover customers will be able to add their cards to Apple Pay. While that is nice, Discover will also throw in an extra 10% cashback on all purchases made in-store with Apple Pay through the end of the year.

Here is how they describe the promo:

From September 16, to the end of the year, cardmembers who pay with their Discover card using Apple Pay will automatically earn an extra 10% Cashback Bonus on up to $10,000 of in-store purchases. Discover it Miles, Miles and Escape cardmembers will earn an extra 10 miles per dollar on up to $10,000 of in-store purchases.

As you can see, Discover is giving an extra 10% cashback over the normal cashback earned for regular spend. For the Discover it card that amounts to 11% back while the Discover it Miles will earn 11.5X miles per dollar spent. Good stuff. But of course it gets better.

Discover has confirmed to PDXDealsGuy that cardmembers with the Double Cash promotion on their account will have this bonus doubled. So here is what it all looks like in the end:

  • Discover it: 1% + 10% = 11% X 2 = 22%
  • Discover it Miles: 1.5% + 10% = 11.5% X 2 = 23%

That is amazing and if for some reason you can use this promotion at a merchant that is in the 5% categories for the Discover it, you could, earn up to 30%!

Stores with Apple Pay

Discover Apply Pay Promo
Some of the stores that accept Apple Pay.

Apple has been very successful with their rollout of Apple Pay and thus has a lot of merchants on board. While you can find the full list of supported merchants here, I thought I would highlight a few.

Sample of merchants that accept Apple Pay:

  • Office Depot
  • Officemax
  • Toys R Us
  • Staples
  • Walgreens

The terms of the promotion do say this 10%+ bonus is only good for in-store purchases, however Apple Pay is accepted in a number of mobile apps from stores such as Staples & Target. It remains to be seen if these purchases will trigger the bonus or not. Only time will tell.

Sample Purchases & Profits

Discover Apply Pay Promo

Walgreens and RiteAid stores both accept Apple Pay and sell Vanilla Visa cards for $4.95 per $500. (Some stores are cash only.) Staples, Officemax and Office Depot all sell $200 Visa cards for $6.95. Lets take a look at the math:

  • $500 Vanilla Visa Cost: $4.95
  • $500 Vanilla Visa Cashback Earned: $111.09/$116.14
  • $200 Visa from Staples/OM/OD Cost: $6.95
  • $200 Visa from Staples/OM/OD Cashback Earned: $45.53/$47.60

This means that you could purchase 20 of the Vanilla Visas and earn a profit of $2,101 with Discover it or $2,201 with Discover it Miles. For the $200 Visas the profit is $1859.45 with Discover it and $1959.45 with Discover it Miles. Wow!

Finding an iPhone Cheaply

Discover Apply Pay Promo
Compatible Apply Pay models.

If you are like me and have an Android or other non-iOS device, then you might be a little sad right now. Fortunately there may be a way to get  an iPhone cheaply.  One option is the AT&T Access More card from Citi. This card will give you a credit of up to $650 for purchasing a new phone. You could easily purchase an iPhone 6 or 6s and use it. There are definitely some drawbacks to this card, so take a look at my detailed review before going that route.

You can also purchase an iPhone online, use it to max out the promotion and then sell it. iPhones tend to have a decent resale value and you will more than make up for any loss by earning 22%/23% back! eBay has a lot of iPhones for sale and many people are trying to dump their old iPhone 6 models before the 6S comes out. Buying discounted eBay gift cards could be a way to save even more!

Getting Another Discover Card

Discover Apply Pay Promo

For some, it may be worth getting a second Discover card to fully maximize this promotion. Discover limits each person to two cards total and your first card has to have been open for at least 12 months to get a second card. Discover is still running the Double Cashback promo for new customers, so the 22%/23% cashback is definitely possible.


I most likely will pickup an iPhone on eBay and then use it for a couple of months while I max out the promotion on both my wife’s and my Discover it cards. 22% cashback is just too good to pass up and is worth the hassle of buying and then reselling a phone. For those of you who already have iPhones, this is indeed one of the best deals I have ever seen.

HT: Frequent Miler

Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Somebody posted this on another site:

    “I just got some bad news. Keep in mind I DID NOT ask if gift cards are excluded. He simply stated the terms for me when I asked him something else. Here is what he wrote.: “With this promotion, you can enjoy the convenience of Apple Pay and earn an extra 10% Cashback Bonus on up to $10,000 of in-store purchases when you use your Discover card with Apple Pay now through 12/31/15. Excludes gift card purchases.” He also said that an iPhone 6 or above is required which is what I thought.”

    Thoughts? Can ApplePay track and transmit what you’ve bought to the bank?

    • We should hear some data points coming through soon, but I would assume Apple Pay gets varying levels of data depending on the merchant. It is possible I suppose for them to see what you purchased.

  2. Shawn

    Couple of questions:

    1) As a new card holder of Discover IT do you have to wait until first statement before you start qualifying for double cash back or was this only for those who already had Discover cards and registered their existing card for that bonus ?

    2) Have seen other sites stating all cash back for the year is doubled including the 10% Apple Pay promo but noticed comments above saying it would NOT include the 10% promo doubling, can you confirm or deny that ?

    3) Looks like the VGC approach is going to be hard for people as very few stores now sell VGCs and instead the more limited denomination ones (200 or below) seem to be the norm. Of those that do still sell both then finding ones that a) take CC for them and b) support Apple Pay is going to be limited further. Just wondering if anyone can share their approach, thoughts on this one as it sounds like a challenge for all,


    • 1. You should get Double Cash from the beginning on new cards.

      2. Discover has confirmed in writing for many cardholders that the 10% will be doubled. You can chat with them and get it in writing as others have done.

      3. For me Staples will probably be the go to.

    • Looks like my Office Depot sells The Vanilla cards up to $500. I do not know if they will accept ApplePay for them, however. Then comes the challenge of transferring them to Serve…

      • Finding WAGs are sating cash or debit only. OD is the same and with low denominations (50, 100), OM is CC but very low denominations (200). Not a lot of retailers supporting that also have the GC options

      • while OD sells variable vanillas up to $500, these are hardcoded for cash only and it is the fixed values $25, $50, $100, $200 that they allow CCs as payment. These vanillas can be loaded to FD w/o a problem but at WM, they can only be loaded up to $49.99 per transaction.

        • Thanks for the updates you guys. Someone reported on one these threads that their local RiteAid was accepting ApplePay for the $500 Vanilla cards. Once I get my Discover It card, I’m gonna start looking around. When you load at Family Dollar, you have to buy the Vanilla reload pack or just tell them you want to load the card and go from there.

          • at most FDs I go to, I just tell cashier I want to load my Serve and they take out the VR barcode from a keyring they have at the register. At most, the manager has to type in their PW to start the loading process. You don’t pay for the VR, they just scan the barcode to start the process and follow the prompts. As long as you or cashier know the procedure, it’ll be easy. If they don’t know how but are fine with taking instructions from a customer who knows how, you’ll likely load successfully. Hopefully, you don’t run into one of those arrogant managers who’ll tell you cash only for card reloads because that’s definitely BS.

          • Cool. Thanks for the tips. I’ve never done this method before, so it just makes me extremely nervous. Don’t know why, but it just does. (laughs) I’ll give it a shot next week.

  3. Would be great if the Apple Pay apps were included in this promo, would certainly open up the stores you could shop.

  4. Harris Teeter just started accepting Apple Pay in my area. That will open up a lot of possibilities and allow me to save significantly on groceries.

  5. What are the pros/cons of Discover Miles vs Cash. I’ve never had a Discover card but I do have plenty of iPhones (Apple obsessive) and the new one arrives shortly!

    • It just depends if you prefer miles or cash. I look @ it this way, just like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” …..cash works for me! 🙂

  6. But the real question is can you buy a MC gift card at WAG using a credit card (or Apple Pay).?Everything I’ve read/seen says cash only for Visa/MasterCard GC’s at WAGs so if you’ve got an exception to the rule where you are then great!

  7. I didn’t see it mentioned but WAG also sells PayPal MCs with 3.95 fees so in one transaction, if cashier will allow you can buy one variable $500 Vanilla GC and one $500 PPMC.

  8. Wow ninja idiot. This thread has abs nothing to do w/ms experience, which most of us might have been doing when you didn’t even know what it was. Careful who you underestimate on this thread…you might truly not have any idea who is on here. For those of us who are quite happy on Android & have no intention of fully switching to iPhone, the iPad angle simply presents a less-complicated method than full iPhone including cell service. Pretty straight forward. Noob iPhone questions from an android user does not equal noob MSer. I for one very much appreciate Sue’s helpful contributions to this thread. Next question- does an iPhone 6 even need to be activated or have cell service at all in order to use apple pay?

    • Thank you for your kind words. Yes, an iPhone needs to be activated to use Apple Pay. My point was that if one already has the device then like Shawn said, this is Great to use. One other point that I forgot to make about Discover IT and their FICO scoring is that as of last month I believe they will not only give you this numerical score, but they graph it historically for you back the last ?2 years….so it’s kinda nice to see how opening up another card(s) effects it in any given month. I just found it KOOL and as a result was able to adjust my ratio one month when I was lower than I liked to bring it up over 800 again. Thanks again for your support and I was just trying to help and not stirr up this hornets nest. I guess only time will tell when it goes into effect on 9/16/15

  9. You know what guys… I really wasnt planning to join this discussion, but I really need to say something here…

    We always need to support each other in this community and always be mindful of n00bs who need some help because Im a total n00b myself, but some people REALLY REALLY need to stop asking stupid questions. Seriously. No joke. Theres no other way to say it.

    Not trying to be a dick here, but some of the crap I read here makes me 500% sure you did ABSOLUTELY no research before you asked which makes people not want to help you. This is no different than posers in Silicon Valley looking for funding when they clearly suck and have no hope of getting even an elevator minute of a VCs time.

    And for those who will bring an iPad into a store to use Apple Pay. Okay Captain. Y U SO SMART.

    Go do your own research, but let me give you a clue. Many Apple Geniuses dont know jack. Understand the difference between a NFC controller and a NFC antenna. Understand how NFC works and which components are used as Apple Pay’s “Secure Element” encryption.

    Take care.

    • Yes, but if you like to discuss call Apple (800) 694-7466… You may need to be transferred, but I think I started last night from this number….they are very Accommodating

    • According to Apple, and I have now called them twice, yes an iPad mini3 with WiFi only will work. Just so you know, I carry my iPad mini3 with me in my purse wherever I go i.e. Restaurants, stores, etc. & it has been very helpful. I am not any more embarrassed to whip it out, rather than my iPhone, to scan a bar code for better pricing, to take a pix, to see who’s @ my residences front door while I’m out, who just called my home phone etc. I can’t live without it.

  10. Good to know. I have an iPhone 6, so it’s no issue for me. I just saw all of this chatting about iPads so I just couldn’t figure out what the issue was.

  11. I don’t understand the issue with using an iPad to do this. If the requirement is to use Apple Pay, why does it matter if it’s on the phone or iPad. Did the details say iPhone only? I understand it’ll look funny as hell paying with an iPad. Or better yet, why not just use the Apple Watch with Apple Pay? The only other question I want to know is does your device have to have an ACTIVE internet connection to use Apple Pay?

    • If you don’t have and iPhone 6 or better then you can’t use Apple Pay. But, if you have an iPad mini 3 or better (like I have in my purse) then you can use ApplePay . No, you don’t need active Internet (or WiFi) because it works on a near field chip (NFC). I verified all of this with Apple last night.

    • P.S. To use the watch you must have an iPhone, but not necessarily an iPhone 6 or better. Sorry I forgot that part

  12. Waiting for 1st confirmation of IPAD in-store purchase. Great for those of us on Android who want minimal investment/hassle/phone service setup etc. Please confirm iPad purchase when this starts- preferably mini!!

  13. So I just signed up for the Discover IT since I never had a Discover card before and I have an iPhone 6.

    Two beginner questions: I get the first 11% portion rebate monthly, or at least “banked” monthly? The “doubled” amount is something I get after the 12th billing cycle?

    And are the rewards banked and able to be sent to a bank account at my request, or is it a credit on charges against the balance made during that month?

    I figure the rewards are banked and clearly plan on testing the waters before I go in head first but I might as well ask!

    Thanks in advance. This is a very helpful post.

    • Yes you receive the initial 11% monthly on the statement and then all cashback earned during the 12 months is doubled at the end. You can either get the money as a statement credit or call and have them send it as a direct deposit to your bank account.

  14. I’m trying to find the best store that sells ebay gift cards that also pays rewards when I use their reward program. Any suggestions?

  15. I’ve always had Androids, so forgive me if this is an obvious question…Is a mobile carrier (e.g. AT&T, Verizon) required to use Apple Pay?

    • No that’s not an obvious guestion @ all. You can do Apple Pay with several iPads without CELLULAR COVERAGE, & for that matter even WiFi at the store because these iPads have built in NFC (near field chips). The iPads that qualify are iPad mini 3 or 4 and iPad Air 2 or better. Hope this helps. But, you can’t sign up for Apple pay with Discover until 9/16/15. Additionally, one can buy refurbished iPads from Apple (1 year warranty) vs. other vendors.

      • I thought it was already cleared up that iPads won’t work with ApplePay in store. They may have NFC but don’t have the secure chip that the iPhone 6s have.

          • Really? sorry to doubt you but please 100% confirm they said ipad 2 + will work “in store?”

            because if you look at this link: http://www.apple.com/apple-pay/, it only lists ipads for working “in-apps” not “in-stores.” Perhaps the table is set up as is, is because Apple simply does not expect a consumer to pay in-store with an ipad.

            So again, Ipads can actually be used for instore purchases eh? if so, I agree with Sean, cant wait to bust out the beast and see what the cashier says 🙂

  16. what is your guys take on stores that qualify for 5% next quarter? with 2x promo that makes 10%. furthermore, if we use the apple pay promo in store (10%) and with 2x promo, equates to 20%. can we expect 30% savings at qualifying retailers who participate in Apple pay and who also qualify for the bonus category?

    • This is a great question. Since we still have a few days to plan maybe we can swap ideas about how this will work best. Maybe we can start with Winn Dixie.

  17. What is the diff between discover IT and discover miles….i dont have neither.. which one should I sign up for? thx

  18. Those looking for an iPhone 6 can probably wait a little longer. The price should drop pretty dramatically when the new iPhone 6’s come out.

  19. I’m on the fence if I should get an iphone just for the deal, it looks very good, but I’ll wait till other people can confirm $500 gc can be purchased from certain retailers.

  20. I just DM’d Discover on Twitter, they told me that each promotion they offer gives its own rewards so you WOULD NOT earn 20x miles and only the miles offered for the promotions. Weird…

  21. Since we have time to prepare ourselves before this is available could you please show a perfect scenario of how to get the most out of this opportunity. I would love to buy ebay gift cards at a discount. Maybe you can mention a store by name that will accept apple pay from discover where you can also get points or cash back from using the store promotion card.

  22. Sorry for all the replies. my last concern is this: I have an Ipad 2, I am not sure if this will qualify for “in App” purchases. I downloaded Staples app for instance and there was no Google Pay option at checkout (Staples is a qualifying merchant for in-app purchases according to the Google Pay table). Is this a result in my Ipad being outdated?

    • I’m guessing the reason is that Apple is a rival of Google so they don’t carry each other’s services. Why would you want Google Pay anyway? This deal is for Apple Pay.

      • OOOOPS, brainfart! i meant apple pay; about that, i found this link to be helpful and I actually contacted staples customer service via telephone, that is where I got this link: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201469

        So, it appears the only Ipads that work for “in-app” Apple pay are iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3. according to that link atleast

        So, i need to get an Iphone 6 or a new Ipad

        • I just found the iPad Mini 3 for less than $400 at Target. That seems to be about half of the price of the iPhone. Wouldn’t it make more sense to buy the iPad for this promotion?

          • You can get a refurb ipad min 3 directly from Apple with a 1 year guarantee for high $200s. Go to their site and look under refurbished for sale.

        • I just looked again and see the iPad won’t work for this deal. It says “Apple Pay within apps”. The promotion clearly says it is for “in store” only. That explains why you’re the first person I’ve seen mention getting an iPad instead of an iPhone.

          • thanks for clearing that up. guess I’m pretty terrible at this MS stuff 🙁

            that stinks for me though, I’m in a rural area and would have a decent drive to any qualifying retailer. I will look into it more in depth tomorrow. iPhone 6’s retail around $800, eh? my god

  23. This is great. I used to have discover card but have not use it since 2010. Maybe i should come back for this offer.

  24. I thought RiteAid disabled all contactless payments because they are Currentc members. Apple Pay would not work there.

    And seriously are there any Walgreens that accept credit cards for GC’s?

    • you know, if i follow through with this deal (first i need an iphone) i am not that worried if i can not liquidate the GC’s very easily. I have 0% APR on my new Discover card which will buy me time for one year. And if i can buy 10k worth of gift cards for around 8k, and have to use the gift cards on actual purchases, I guess so be it.

  25. I opened my Discover it card on late December last year.
    Do you think it is possible to close my current account and apply for a new one?

    • most likely. i have had an IT account for over a year but cant be to much more than that, maybe upward of two years. I literally just applied for IT miles. when my application process was finished there was a number to call. i called and one option was to close my IT card and open my IT miles, or i could keep both open. I chose to keep both open and as a result of that I had to split my credit limit amongst the two cards, however I chose to split it (I weighted it heavily toward my new card).

  26. Is buying an Apple Watch not appealing to you Shawn, instead of buying an Iphone?

    Also, I have an Ipad. Seems that an Ipad will not get me as far though, as it appears I can’t use it for an “in-store” purchase, eh? any benefits to owning an Ipad with this promotion? I to do not have an Iphone but I’m thinking about looking into an Apple Watch. Eh, but I see the Apple Watch is useless for In-apps purchases, so the phone would be best

  27. I just tried to link my discover CC to my Apple Pay. Unfortunately, it said ” your card issuer does not support apple pay”. I looked through all the banks support apple pay, it seems discover is not one of them. It is weird if Discover & Apple Pay co-launch this offer, how could discover card not support apple pay?! Or it was just me who could not add discover card?

      • Can you be more friendly?! So you assumed I did not read the comments before I posted it. How about I tell you I read it and found nothing,I posted it, and then few mins later I found reader Prashant had same issue here and I commented on his post too. It is so annoying seeing people being rude and assuming others are idiots.

        • yes, i simply saw his comment ahead of yours and did not think about the fact that it may not have posted(you posted pretty quickly after he evidently)

          Sorry, i was not intending to be rude 🙂

  28. hi Shawn,

    i am getting error while trying load add my discover IT cards to apple pay. it says – “your issuer Does not yet offer support for this card” any thoughts ?
    I am using iphone 6.

  29. Instead of buying an iPhone, can one put their credit card on a friend or family member’s iPhone and use that then? Or does it need to be your own personal iPhone?

    • I think you should be able to use someone else’s phone, but they may have to erase their settings or change the profile. Can someone else chime in on how this works? I don’t have an iPhone right now.

      • I’m an iPhone user and I must admit I’m not certain. But I think it would work without the friend having to change any settings. I think they’d just add your Discover card to their Apple Pay account as a payment method. Obviously, you’d both have to trust each other! I have to admit that I have not used Apple Pay yet, because I’ve been waiting for a bank to give me incentive to start using it … ummm … DONE!!

  30. WOW, this is a big deal thanks! Additionally, I took the liberty of calling discover and you do not have to sign up for this in advance and they are well aware of it. I also asked if they have a refer a friend and believe it or not, they do. If you refer a friend …you and a friend get $50!!! So if anyone needs a referral please email me @ HavenPnt535@gmail.com. I really like my Discover It card because I get a FREE FICO score from TransUnion Monthly. Currently the 5% bonus categories through the end of this month are Amazon, department stores, and home-improvement stores. The October through December 5% bonus categories are Amazon, department stores and clothing stores which you can activate right now as well. Thanks again.

    • I also discussed above with Apple and ApplePay will also work on an iPad Mini 3 (with or without cellular) because its equipped with a Near Field Chip (NFC), so you don’t even have to be on WiFi either!…..and ApplePay will work similarly on IPad Air2! How KOOL

  31. Do you think that this will work with buying gift cards (i.e., buying an apple store gift card in person?) This is an amazing deal and I’m very happy that I just signed up for a Discover card!

  32. Does an iPhone need service to use Apple Pay? Is iPhone 5s the oldest model with Apple Pay capability? Are there any iPads that can use Apple Pay?

  33. Thanks for the link to my humble little blog. But thanks most of all for writing this post. I was just starting to write something (similar but not as good!), but yours completely covers it … so I’ll just link to it (as usual!).

    I’d say this is definitely the deal of the year, even if you don’t have an iPhone. As you point out, getting one isn’t that difficult and totally worth it (especially as easy as it is to resell an iPhone).

    As for the second Discover card, do you know if AU cards count towards the limit (or the 12 months restriction)? I’ve read conflicting reports.


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