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Discover cash back categories 2020

Earn 5% cash back on gas, restaurants and groceries.

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The Discover it® Cash Back is one of the go-to cards for earning 5% cash back on rotating categories. However, you need to activate them each quarter, and you’re limited to $1,500 in combined purchases every three months. After you reach the limit each quarter, you’ll earn 1%. You’ll also earn 1% on all other purchases or on the quarterly categories if you forget to activate.

2020 Discover cashback rewards calendar

January–March 2020April–June 2020July–September 2020October–December 2020
Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVSGas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubsRestaurants and PayPalAmazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com

Steps to activate your Discover rewards

Log in to your online account or call 800-347-2683 to activate your Discover rotating categories.

What to know

With the Discover it® Cash Back card the 5% cash back isn’t retroactive. This means if you activate the categories late in the quarter and made purchases beforehand in qualifying categories, you may not earn accelerated cash back on them. However, reach out to customer service to see if they would be willing to adjust it.

What counts as a 5% cashback category purchase?

Every time you make a purchase in activated categories — for up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter — you earn 5% cash back. After reaching the cap, and on all other purchases, you earn 1% back.

This means, you can earn a maximum of $300 on the 5% categories every year. For the first year, that would be $600 or 10% back thanks to Discover Cashback Match. Not bad, considering there’s no annual fee.

How can I redeem my Discover cash back?

  • Get a deposit into your bank account or use it toward your Discover bill.
  • Get gift cards with a $5 bonus added to each card.
  • Pay for Amazon.com purchases at checkout.
  • Donate to a charity.

Tips to maximize your Discover cash back

  • Activate your categories.
    If you fail to activate before the end of the quarter, you won’t earn accelerated cash back. You also may not receive retroactive cash back if you activate later in a quarter.
  • Cashback Match.
    Instead of a signup bonus, Discover will match the entire cash back you earn during your first year. Suppose you earn $500 in cash back, You’d get a $500 bonus for a total of $1,000 for the first year. This beats any signup bonus offered by a similar card.
  • Use at Amazon.com.
    When Amazon.com purchases are part of the Discover card categories, you can buy gift cards and use them later during the year. You can also use your card to renew your Prime membership.
  • Pair it with another card.Chase Freedom Flex℠ also offers 5% cash back up to $1,500 in combined purchases, and the categories rarely overlap. Combining the two cards can maximize your cash back during the entire year.

There are two other 5% cashback Discover cards

The Discover it® Student Cash Back and NHL Discover it® Card offer the same 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories, except these cards have additional perks if you’re a student or if you purchase NHL merchandise from the official online store.

Compare bonus rewards categories

Chase Freedom Flex℠ is another card that offers 5% cashback. Compare the Chase Freedom Flex cashback categories to see how it stacks up against Discover.

  • January to March 2020.
    Gas stations, select streaming services, Internet, cable and phone services.
  • April to June 2020.
    Grocery stores — excluding Walmart and Target — fitness club and gym membership.
  • July to September 2020.
    Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.
  • October to December 2020.
    Walmart and PayPal.

Which card is better?

There’s no clear answer, as it mostly depends on your spending habits. However, you could maximize your cash back if you combine both cards and use each card for the category with the highest cash back.

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