Discover Deals Shopping Portal Issues & Why I Am Using Alternatives Whenever Possible

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discover portal problems

Discover Deals Portal Issues

This has really been a crazy year with Discover. First, they launched the Discover It miles with 1.5X cashback that was doubled at the end of the first year. Then they began offering double cashback on the regular Discover It card. At first it was available on existing accounts, but eventually it became only available on new accounts. Then of course we have the Discover Apple Pay 10% promotion. On accounts with double cashback, that is like 22% cashback on all purchases!

One other cool thing about the Double Cashback promotion is that it works alongside the Discover Deals shopping portal. Whatever you earn through the portal is also doubled at the end of the first year. For example Dell is paying 10% back through Discover, so that will/should be doubled at the end of your Double Cashback year to 20%!

Discover Deals Portal Is Terrible

Sounds good right? It does! The only problem is their portal is terrible! There is nowhere to track your clicks and nowhere to track your cashback earned. The only time you see anything is when cashback is paid on your statement and even then it isn’t broken down. Sometimes they will send you an email when cashback is earned, but that doesn’t always happen and that isn’t easy to track either.

Even with all of that said, I have often dealt with the limitations of Discover’s portal, because it does generally work and often has high payouts. Unfortunately with so much on the line, Discover has started to tighten and that has altered the value proposition for me. For example, there are numerous reports of Discover clawing back cashback for people who defy the rules and use the portal without paying with a Discover card. This has been against the rules for a long time, however it has never been enforced. While not the friendliest thing to do, I sort of understand it.

Aggressive Unfriendly Moves

So I guess I can understand them enforcing long standing rules, but I just don’t like the customer unfriendly way they are going about it. Before you would receive an email confirming your cashback whenever they tracked the purchase. Now you get this:

discover portal problems

I don’t want to wait 30 days for a confirmation. Why not build a decent portal that shows cashback pending? You make it so hard to track my purchases and now have made it even more complicated. This email doesn’t reference an order #, dollar amount or anything else. It is about as customer unfriendly as it gets and I don’t like it.

The Way It Should Be

I buy a lot of stuff online and use a variety of portals. All of the portals now have built in tracking. Purchases post fairly quickly and can be seen as pending until they are confirmed. Many portals even have the date that the money is payable. Great! Why doesn’t Discover have this? I was willing to deal with their crappy portal, but with these recent moves, it just isn’t worth it most of the time now.

When I Will Use Discover Deals

discover portal problems

There are times when I plan to still use Discover’s portal. For example, I will always use another portal if it is close, but when Discover is significantly better, then it is probably worth the hassle. Since I still have double cashback, that has to factor in as well. With that said, I won’t always use Discover when they are higher. Since I now have to pay with a Discover card, I can find other ways to make up the savings.

For example, earlier today I purchased a television from Dell. Discover Deals is paying 10% at Dell. That means it would be 20% after doubling. Instead of doing that, I went through Ebates for a 13% payoff up front and then used a $100 off $599+ Amex Offer. Even though Discover’s portal was better, I saved more going the other way. Don’t have an Amex Offer? Look at discounted gift cards to makeup the difference. Since you are forced to one payment method with Discover and can use pretty much any payment with the other portals, the comparison isn’t even.

Conclusion

This post has been in my head the past few days because I am frustrated with Discover. It is clear they bit off more than they could chew with these promotions. Between clawing back portal cash and auditing most Apple Pay promotions, Discover has lost sight of what made them great. I was willing to look past their crappy portal because they paid well and the experience was clunky but good. I can honestly say I don’t think that is the case anymore.


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22 COMMENTS

  1. You pretty much nailed it. I have no problem with them enforcing their rules. But, as you point out, their execution is horrible. The lack of tracking is a joke. Like you, I’ll continue to use them when they clearly have the highest payout, but not if it’s close.

    I also think that it is very short-sighted of them to not allow any payment method other than Discover. I could see requiring partial payment (even something like 50% of the payment). But if I have a gift card for a retailer that covers part of my purchase, now Discover has assured themselves of me not using their card or portal for the rest of the purchase.

  2. Yeah, all of the miles/points portals are a bit of a crap-shoot, but with Discover’s unfriendly actions lately I’ve pretty much walked away from them. I still occasionally use them for VERY SMALL Apple Pay purchases that PROBABLY won’t trigger an email from them claiming I bought a gift card but I’m still not keeping receipts for 30 days to prove it. They’ll probably decline to pay on a bunch of these even if its at someplace like Whole Foods that doesn’t even sell gift cards. Screw it. Not worth the trouble.

    Amex sends me confirmation almost immediately. Why hassle with Discover?

  3. I recently picked up a Discover card and I ran into the same issues you mentioned: excellent value, esp. with with the 2x promotion, but no easy way to see which purchase was actually paid off.

    Having an excellent attention to detail this isn’t a major issue for me, since I can keep track of this and contact Discover when I see something missing. However, I’m convinced that I’m in a minority and that they’re counting on their customers not following closely every bonus payout.

    BTW, does anyone know where does this money come from? I can’t believe it’s Discover that pays out, let’s say, 10% off a $3000 cruise purchase (this is an actual example). Do they have some sort of agreement with the merchants and basically distribute coupons via their shopping portals, in the form of these discounts? And if “mistakes” happen and the customer doesn’t see the discount and forgets about it that’s how they profit?!

  4. Yes! I have been thinking the same thing. Especially in light of how much shopping I have been doing over the past couple days. I have also started shifting some of my shopping through portals that are “close”. A known rebate is always better than a maybe. I have still used Discover portal if it made sense to pay with my Discover card. But, I am not getting the number of confirmations that I had been getting when the double pay first started, even on orders paid with Discover. In the past 6-8 weeks I have used the portal about 15 times and have only received 4 confirmations. Not looking good.

    I agree with PDX, it is very short-sighted of them to not accept any payment form. Based on on-line comments, and my own experience, I have seen a shift away from the Discover portal to other cashback portals.

    Also, I got a couple of the form letters stating that my Winn-Dixie purchase contained a gift card. I talked to a supervisor yesterday and explained that I do not have my receipt, I made the purchase on vacation, and much of the total were items for our vacation. He was very firm in that unless I provided a receipt itemizing the purchases, I would not receive the Apple Pay credit. He stated that the receipt came up showing that a gift card was purchased, but he was unable to determine how much was gift card, the type of gift card, and how much was spent on other things. He also stated that it would take 3 billing cycles to begin seeing the Apple Pay credits.

    Has anyone see credit on their statements yet? Have they been accurate?

      • None of my purchases were gift cards, just various items. To update, not one confirmation from Discover yet for purchases made since November 18th.

  5. Shawn, On an unrelated note . . . . have you received/heard about anyone beginning to receive the IHG & MasterCard promo emails yet? Thanks.

  6. Yes, I once made a fairly large purchase through their portal and never saw the cash back. They strung me along for months and finally claimed I never went through the portal. Now I use my Discover card ONLY for special promotions. They will never get any more regular purchases out of me.

  7. agree with everything you write here Shawn – and more….. Come to think of it, I’ve been making precisely these observations and complaints since early September. (since about the time you and Greg were proclaiming the “insanity” — as in wow, good, super — of the latest Discover whatever)

    Absolutely inexcusable how miserable the tracking (or non-tracking) is at Discover…. especially when their competitors (beginning with Amex) can give you records of transactions in days, if not seconds.

    Looking forward to reading Greg’s mia culpa on discover. They’ve really blown it.

  8. I, too, have noticed glaring discrepancies on my expected Apple Pay cashback amounts. Is very disappointing from a company that, as you said, was considered a leader in the industry.

  9. I have had major problems using Apple pay. I assume this is like most promotions, they want to build loyalty.
    I wanted to use the promotion to buy an Iphone from ATT. It wouldn’t work and Discover was unwilling to do anything to help.
    This week I tried to buy a computer at the Apple store using Apple pay. They didn’t have the computer in stock so they wouldn’t let me buy it and ship it to me. I also found out that the business side of Apple doesn’t take Apple pay.
    Anyway, this promotion has been a disaster from everything I have seen. Apple pay isn’t ready for prime time yet.

  10. Shawn,

    I made a JCP purchase a few days ago using my Discover card through their portal. I haven’t received any email about it. How long should I wait to inquire about it since I met all of the terms?

  11. Wasn’t it you that later posted an article on taking a gamble with them and buying Sears gift cards with them? If it was you, how long did it take to get the cash back posted? I just bought something via the Apple Store through the shop discover link and it has not posted on this statement. How long should I wait before I complain?

    • I haven’t bought Sears gift cards through their portal in awhile, although I know it has worked for some people. Personally I would wait 30 days and then contact them to investigate.

      • Thanks for the tip. Turns out it was a post on the Frequent Miler that I was looking for, but Friday marks 30 days from the email, so I’ll go from there.

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