Earn 5% cash back on gas, restaurants and groceries.
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.
2018 to 2019 Discover cashback rewards calendar
|October–December 2018||January–March 2019||April–June 2019||July–September 2019||October–December 2019|
|Amazon.com and wholesale clubs||Grocery stores — excluding Target and Walmart||Gas stations, Uber and Lyft||Restaurants||Gas stations, Uber and Lyft|
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 custoemr service to see if they would be willing to adjust it.
Consider a top card from another brand
Chase Freedom®Read more
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.
Compare cashback credit cards
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® also offers 5% cash back up to 1,500 in combined purchase, and the categories rarely overlap. Combining the two cards can maximize your cash back during the entire year.
Compare bonus rewards categories
- January to March.
Gas stations; Internet, cable and phone services; and Apple Pay, Google Pay, Chase Pay and Samsung Pay.
- April to June.
Grocery stores — excluding Walmart and Target — PayPal and Chase Pay.
- July to September.
Gas stations, Lyft and Walgreens.
- October to December.
Department stores, wholesale clubs and Chase Pay.
The cards have several categories that overlap at different times of the year. However, Chase doesn’t have restaurants or Amazon.com purchases as any of its categories. It makes up for it with several sub categories, including three quarters of Chase Pay. With this you can earn accelerated cash back wherever Chase Pay is accepted.
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.