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I wonder if there was any competitive pressure to change to allowing any amount to be redeemed because CapOne has had that for some time.

I'm sure the offers Discover is sending out are in response to competitive pressure, i.e. I use other cards because the rewards are better. I'm less confident that Discover has a clue as to the shape of the competitive pressure. If they had a clue, they'd offer me a base cash back package that's good enough to consider in the context of other cards widely available.

Getting the exact amount back, not necessarily a small amount, is a plus for a card that I don't want to use all the time. It's less important for a card that I'll use every month anyway; on a going concern card, I'll get the money eventually. On a going concern card, a statement credit would be fine; with Discover, I'll take the direct deposit.

The other thing I've noticed is that Discover uses a penny rounding algorithm that works against me. Yes, it's small change even in the context of cash back; but it's an indication of how the people running the program think. Fidelity Amex tends to round slightly in my favor. Citi rounds neutrally. Sam's MasterCard rounds in a way that ought to be neutral, but seems to give me one or two cents every billing cycle. Discover rounds in a way that takes away one to four cents per billing cycle; IIRC, it looked like they computed cash back at the transaction level and truncated to the penny. Or at least they did the last time I used the Discover card, in the context of the last bonus offer I took.

Maybe most people don't notice the rounding, and certainly the direct effect is no big deal. But it is an indication that I can't trust them. It leads me to believe Discover will always be looking for a way to give me less value in some way that I have a chance to not notice. And that's a tough history for Discover to overcome if they want to win more of my business on an ongoing basis.

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