Discover announces 5% cash-back quarterly categories for 2020

Nov 1, 2019

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Believe it or not, the year is almost over. And for Discover it® Cash Back cardholders, this means that it’s time to start planning your credit card strategy for 2020, because Discover just announced the full list of its 5% cash back bonus categories for the new year.

The bonus categories for 2020 are as follows:

  • January-March: Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS (activate starting now)
  • April-June: Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs (activate starting Feb. 1)
  • July-September: Restaurants and PayPal (activate starting May 1)
  • October-December:, and (activate starting Aug. 1)

All of these categories open up plenty of opportunities to really max out your 5% cash back, as they’re impressively broad. However, note that you must enroll each quarter and can only earn 5% in each quarter up to $1,500 in purchases. After that, you’ll earn 1% back on all purchases. Also, you must enroll each quarter before making any transactions — unlike the Chase Freedom card, you can’t do it retroactively after you’ve made the purchase and still have it earn 5%. You can enroll for each quarter here.

If you max out the bonus category each quarter, you could be taking home an additional $75 per quarter and $300 a year — not too shabby. Even better, if you don’t currently have a Discover it and sign-up for one now, Discover will match all the cash-back you earn in a 12-month period at the end of your first year of having the card. That ultimately adds up to a potential of 10% back on the bonus categories, meaning up to $600 in cash back. That’s pretty great for a no-annual fee cash-back credit card, and Discover also makes it pretty easy to redeem your cash-back.

Related: Best cash back credit cards, Best credit cards for students and recent graduates

If you’re interested in other cards with rotating bonus categories, the Chase Freedom mentioned above offers 5% back (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate) in a similar fashion to the Discover it. Additionally, if you have an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can convert cash back earned with the Freedom card into Ultimate Rewards points, making the Chase Freedom a powerful companion card.

Or if you want a straight cash-back card, the Discover it® Miles earns 1.5 miles (equivalent to 1.5% cash-back) on all purchases, and Discover will match your miles at the end of your first cardmember year — meaning you’re earning 3% cash-back on all purchases for the first 12 months of card membership.

For reference, here are the previous Discover it Cash Back quarterly categories all the way back through 2017:

Year/Quarter Bonus Categories
2020 – Q1 Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
2020 – Q2 Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs
2020 – Q3 Restaurants and PayPal
2020 – Q4, and
2019 – Q1 Grocery stores
2019 – Q2 Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
2019 – Q3 Restaurants
2019 – Q4
2018 – Q1 Gas stations and wholesale clubs
2018 – Q2 Grocery stores
2018 – Q3 Restaurants
2018 – Q4 and wholesale clubs
2017 – Q1 Gas stations, ground transportation, wholesale clubs
2017 – Q2 Home improvement stores, wholesale clubs
2017 – Q3 Restaurants
2017 – Q4, Target
Discover it® Miles

Set your own sign-up bonus with the Discover it Miles card. Any rewards you earn in the first year will automatically be matched at the end of the year and you'll earn an unlimited 1.5 miles on all purchases with no annual fee.

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More Things to Know
  • Unlimited Bonus: Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
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  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
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