Posted by Chuck on November 10, 2017
Credit Cards

Published on November 10th, 2017 | by Chuck


Discover to Lower Referral Signup Bonus from $100 to $50 on January 1 [Statement Credit vs. Cashback Bonus]

Discover sent out an email this morning with a seemingly benign message that beginning January 1, 2018 the $50 refer-a-friend program will be in the form of a ‘statement credit’ instead of a ‘cashback bonus’.

What they are really doing here is saving themselves the cost of the Cashback Match on this $50 referral bonus. Since all first-year Discover cashback gets matched at year’s end, the signup bonus for the new member is essentially $100 when they use a referral link to sign up.

Starting January 1, the $50 will come as a statement credit which is not eligible for Cashback Match which lowers the signup bonus from $100 to $50.

Another difference is for the referrer. If someone refers a friend to Discover during their first year as a Discover cardholder, the referrer also gets a $50 Cashback Bonus which doubles to $100 at year’s end. After January 1, they’ll still get the $50 but as a statement credit which won’t be matched at year end.

Presumably, the same email was sent out to Discover IT Miles cardholder who also have the $50 referral program. If you’re on the fence for the Cashback or Miles card, it’s worth signup up now before January 1, 2018for the extra $50 bonus.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

This letter is to inform you that effective January 1, 2018 Discover® will be modifying the Refer-a-Friend program payout structure. You will now receive a $50 Statement Credit (previously $50 Cashback Bonus) for each friend who applies for the specific offer you send via the link provided and is approved for a new Discover account by December 31, 2018. You are eligible for a maximum of 10 referrals ($500) per calendar year.
Your account must be in good standing to receive your referral credit. Each eligible friend will receive a $50 Statement Credit after making a purchase within the first three months of opening a new Discover account. Existing Cardmembers and those who have opted out of receiving marketing communications from Discover are not eligible referrals. You will not be notified whether a specific referral was approved or declined. Please allow 1-2 billing cycles for the Statement Credit to post to your account after each approved referral. The Statement Credit you receive may be taxable to you. Please contact your tax advisor.
We’re glad you’re our Customer and we want to make sure you have the most rewarding relationship possible with Discover card. If you have any questions, please let us know. Knowledgeable Account Managers are available to assist you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-800-347-3085, or you can always visit us at
Discover Card Customer Service

I assume the tax disclaimer is standard, not sure if something changed now that it’s a statement credit. Since the max yearly bonuses for referring a friend is 10 ($500), that should keep us under the $600 reporting threshold.

Please do not leave Discover referrals on this page. You can leave Discover Cashback referrals on this dedicated page and Discover Miles referrals on this page. If you want a referral signup, consider using another reader’s link from those posts and you’ll both benefit. Try using the link of a reader you’ve found helpful in the comments in the past.

5 Responses to Discover to Lower Referral Signup Bonus from $100 to $50 on January 1 [Statement Credit vs. Cashback Bonus]

  1. Vic says:

    It’s a big negative change. Other than the lost $50 from cash back matching, cashback itself is worth 1.25x through GC.
    Also statement credit would mess up the $2 small balance each month, making the process more difficult

  2. Frito Pendejo says:

    Right now it’s effectively $100 each for the referrer and referee, right? Assuming referrer is also on their 1st year w/ double cashback.

  3. Harry Nguyen says:

    Dang, I was going to wait for the New Years to apply for it… is this card like the 2% cash back cards for the 1st year without the rotating categories and the cashback matching?

    • Curmudgeon says:

      Yes – you get 1% on everything which is doubled at the end of the first year so it’s effectively 2% on everything that year.

      Each quarter there are categories that earn 5%, doubled to 10% at the end of the first year. Unfortunately there is a cap of $1500 per quarter on these 5% categories.

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