2019 Guide to Discover it Cash Back Bonus Categories

The Discover it® Cash Back Card is a great option for smart shoppers who want to earn cashback in a variety of ways. With the Discover Rewards program, you receive 5 percent cash back on purchases in bonus categories that change every quarter. Understanding how the cash back categories work will help you maximize your bonuses and rake in the rewards each quarter. 

Discover’s 2019 Cashback Bonus Category Calendar

The Discover it Cash Back Card offers 5% back on up to $1,500 worth of purchases for designated bonus categories each quarter (1% back thereafter). And 1% back for all other purchases. 

Quarter 1 (January 1st – March 31st, 2019)

Grocery stores

Quarter 2 (April 1st – June 30th, 2019)

Gas stations, Uber, Lyft

Quarter 3 (July 1st- September 30th, 2019)

Restaurants and Paypal

Quarter 4 (October 1st- December 31st, 2019)

Amazon.com, Target, Walmart.com

How to maximize your cashback with Discover categories

For each quarter of the calendar year, Discover changes the bonus categories. As long as you activate your card by the deadline, you will earn 5% back on up to $1500 on all combined purchases within the chosen categories. This means rewards of up to $300 if you spend the maximum $6000 a year. With this card, you also earn an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. 

A really cool perk that comes with this card is the CashBack Match feature. As an introductory offer, Discover will match dollar-for-dollar all of your purchases made within the first year of card ownership. This feature comes with no signup required, no limit to how much cash Discover will match and there’s no annual fee. 

To make the most of your Discover category bonuses in Q3, use your Discover card whenever you dine out or use the two most popular ridesharing apps – Uber and Lyft. You can also prepare for Q4 ahead of time by making your holiday shopping list. Bonuses at sites like Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com are bound to set you and your loved ones up nicely. 

Step-by-step guide to Discover it® Cash Back rewards

Before you start shopping, you must activate your bonus categories each quarter. Discover will only apply the bonuses once they’ve been activated, so if you wait a few weeks into the quarter, you won’t get any cash back for what you spent during those weeks. It’s best to stay one step ahead by planning early. Here are the earliest dates that you can activate your bonus categories for each quarter: 

January 1st – March 31st: activate on November 1st

April 1st – June 30th: activate on February 1st

July 1st- September 30th: activate on May 1st

October 1st- December 31st: activate on August 1st

If you’re worried about losing track of the dates, log on to your Discover account and sign up for quarterly email reminders. The email will contain a link to activate your card. You can also get to your account directly through the Discover website and activate it from there.  

How to cash in on rewards

You can redeem your Discover cashback rewards a few different ways:

Cash: Deposit the amount directly into your bank account or have it added onto your account as a statement credit.

Amazon.com: Use the rewards towards any purchases you make when checking out on Amazon.

Gift Cards: If you choose to redeem the cashback rewards through gift cards, earn an additional $5 for each card. There are a hundred popular brands to choose from. 

Charity: Pay it forward by donating your cashback rewards to a charity of your choosing. 

In a nutshell

If you don’t mind being proactive, the Discover it® Cash Back Card is well worth it. With the holiday season approaching, now is the best time to sign up for this card so you can start earning bonuses  on dining out and buying gifts for the whole family. 

Shiran Brodie

Personal finance writer

Shiran is currently living in Prague but missing home in Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time she enjoys reading fantasy novels, traveling the world, and watching Doctor Who.