Activate now: Discover updates 5% cash-back quarterly categories for 2020

Jun 2, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information, including The Home Depot added as a bonus category. This page includes information about Discover cards that is not currently available on The Points Guy and may be out of date.

While parts of the world are beginning to reopen, many of us will still be spending far more time at home as we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. That means more spending on things like groceries — or perhaps a home improvement project that you’ve been putting off.

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With the end of the second quarter rapidly approaching, now is the time for Discover it Cash Back cardholders to take advantage of the 5% cash back for gas stations, Uber and Lyft, wholesome clubs, and as of June 1, The Home Depot. You must enroll and the 5% back is only valid on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter; then 1%.

The information for the Discover it Cash Back has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

EL CERRITO, CA - AUGUST 14: A sign is posted in front of a Home Depot store on August 14, 2018 in El Cerrito, California. Home Depot reported second quarter earnings that surpassed analyst expectations with net income of $3.5 billion, or $3.05 per share, compared to $2.7 billion, or $2.25 per share, one year ago. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The bonus categories for the rest of 2020 are as follows:

  • April-June: Gas stations, Uber, Lyft, wholesale clubs, and as of June 1, The Home Depot (activate now)
  • July-September: Restaurants and PayPal (activate now)
  • October-December: Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com (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. For Q2, note that Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Warehouse both accept Discover. Costco has an exclusive deal with Visa, so the Discover card can’t be used onsite, although it is accepted at Costco.com.

Related reading: The best credit cards for groceries in 2020

Earning potential on the Discover it Cash Back

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% (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter).

Related reading: Activate Chase Freedom bonus categories

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 reading: Best cash-back credit cards

Discover it cash-back calendar

For reference, here are the previous Discover it Cash Back quarterly categories, going back to 2017:

Year/Quarter Bonus Categories
2020 – Q1 Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
2020 – Q2 Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs. The Home Depot (June only)
2020 – Q3 Restaurants and PayPal
2020 – Q4 Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com
2019 – Q1 Grocery stores
2019 – Q2 Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
2019 – Q3 Restaurants
2019 – Q4 Amazon.com
2018 – Q1 Gas stations and wholesale clubs
2018 – Q2 Grocery stores
2018 – Q3 Restaurants
2018 – Q4 Amazon.com and wholesale clubs
2017 – Q1 Gas stations, ground transportation, wholesale clubs
2017 – Q2 Home improvement stores, wholesale clubs
2017 – Q3 Restaurants
2017 – Q4 Amazon.com, Target

Other card options

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. The information for the Chase Freedom card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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.

The information for the Discover it Miles has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: These are the best cards for online shopping

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Featured photo by smgu3 / Twenty20A

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Annual Fee
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