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5% Discover Card Bonus Categories for 2020

5% Discover Card Bonus Categories for 2020

credit card advice

Anna Baluch
By: Anna Baluch
Posted: March 10, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

If you’re a Discover cardholder (or prospective cardholder), it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Discover card bonus categories for 2020. Bonus categories allow cardholders to earn higher rewards for purchases made at predetermined merchants during different quarters of the year.

Since these bonus categories change every three months, the purchases that give you the most cash back in January are different than the ones that maximize your reward earnings in June.

Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spending in Discover’s bonus categories, but you must activate your bonus categories each quarter to earn the bonus rewards rate. If not, you’ll earn the standard 1% cash back rate on all purchases.

Calendar | Qualifying Cards | FAQs

Discover 5% Cash Back Calendar for 2020

The Discover Bonus Calendar has added some fresh categories for 2020. Walgreens and CVS, as well as Costco and Sam’s Club, are all new additions its cardholders will appreciate.

Keep this calendar in mind when you plan your shopping trips throughout the year so you can really maximize your rewards. If you’re a new Discover cardholder, remember that Discover will match all the cash back you earn throughout the year after your one-year anniversary with the card.

That effectively gives you a 10% cash back return in bonus categories during your first year — no other card on the market comes close to that return.

Let’s look at the Discover bonus categories for 2020.

January – March (Q1)

Cardholders will earn 5% cash back at grocery stores as well as at Walgreens and CVS drugstores on up to $1,500 in purchases if activated.

Discover Card Bonus Categories: Q1

Note that any groceries you purchase from supercenters, like Walmart or Target, or at gas stations or wholesale clubs do not qualify for the bonus cash back rate. Another caveat is that anything you buy from a standalone merchant that operates within a CVS or Walgreens will not be eligible for the bonus. These purchases will default to the 1% cash back rate.

If you have space in your home, this is the time to stock up on household supplies and non-perishable food items. You can activate Q1 bonus categories through the end of March.

April – June (Q2)

Cardholders can score 5% cash back at gas stations, Uber, Lyft, and wholesale clubs on up to $1,500 in purchases when activated in Q2. Now’s the time to take a road trip or join a wholesale club if you’re not a member already.

Discover Card Bonus Categories: Q2

Keep in mind that while Costco stores do not accept Discover credit cards, you can use them online at Costco.com. Also, you won’t earn bonus rewards for any Uber or Lyft purchases you make outside of the U.S.

You can activate Q2 bonus categories through the end of June.

July – September (Q3)

Get 5% cash back on any purchases you make at restaurants and PayPal on up to $1,500 spent after activation. Many retailers allow you to check out through PayPal, so keep that in mind any time you shop online between July and September. Of course, your Discover card must be connected to your PayPal account.

Discover Card Bonus Categories: Q3

Foodies rejoice — you can save 5% on every meal out up to the quarterly maximum during these three months. Full-service restaurants, cafés, and fast-food chains are all eligible.

You can activate Q3 bonus categories as early as May 1 through the end of September.

October – December (Q4)

When activated, you can lock in 5% cash back whenever you purchase from Amazon.com, Walmart.com, or Target.com on up to $1,500 in purchases from October through December — just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Discover Card Bonus Categories: Q4

You may have noticed the “.com” part — only purchases made on these mega-retailers’ websites or mobile apps qualify for the bonus cash back rate;  in-store purchases will earn 1% cash back. Purchases at targetoptical.com and targetphoto.com are also excluded from earning bonus rewards.

You can activate Q4 bonus categories as early as August 1 through the end of the year.

3 Discover Cards Offer 5% Bonus Categories

Discover offers three cards that follow the bonus cash back calendar, whereas its other card offers simply provide flat-rate rewards (1.5% cash back on all purchases with no bonus categories) or fixed-tiered rewards (higher-rate rewards categories that do not change).

This allows anyone who qualifies for a Discover card to choose their preferred rewards structure, but if you’d like to participate in Discover’s 5% bonus category program, here are the cards to get:

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

With the Discover it® Cash Back, you can earn 5% cash back on every dollar spent in rotating bonus categories up to the quarterly maximum when activated plus 1% cash back on all other purchases. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

There’s no annual fee and you can enjoy an intro APR of 0% (14 months) on all purchases and transfers. In addition, the card will alert you if it finds your Social Security number on the Dark Web.

Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
14.49% - 23.49% Variable
$0
Fair/New to Credit

If you’re a student who would like to earn 5% cash back up to the quarterly spend maximum on rotating bonus categories when activated plus 1% cash back on anything else you buy, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is for you. If you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you’ll also get a $20 statement credit each school year for up to five years.

Discover will also match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Rest assured there’s no annual fee and no late fee on the first late payment.

Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Balance Transfer offers 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories when activated up to the quarterly maximum and 1% cash back on everything else. With this card, you can enjoy an intro APR of 0% (18 months) on all balance transfers.

You won’t have to pay an annual fee and Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

How Do I Activate My Discover Cash Back Bonus?

You won’t earn bonus cash back rewards on Discover’s rotating bonus categories unless you activate them. Log in to the Discover Card Account Center to do so online.

If you prefer to activate over the phone, call 1-800-DISCOVER. You can set alerts in your phone to ensure you don’t forget to activate your quarterly bonus categories, but Discover will also send you reminder emails.

Discover Calendar

You can activate first- and second-quarter categories now. Third-quarter activation begins May 1, fourth quarter activation begins August 1. Once you activate and start earning, you can redeem your rewards at any time.

You can apply your rewards to your Discover credit card bill or deposit them at any time into your bank account. You can also redeem them for purchases on Amazon.com or for gift cards.

Another option is to make a charitable donation and give the cash value of your rewards to one of the many nonprofit organizations Discover partners with.

Does Discover Match Cash Back Every Year?

In a perfect world, Discover would match all the cash back you earn at the end of every year. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Discover only matches your cash back earnings at the end of your first year with the card. There’s no limit to how much is matched — the more you earn, the more Discover will match.

Discover automatically matches your cash back earnings after your initial 12 billing cycles, so you don’t have to sign up or activate this feature as you do with the bonus categories.

You can make the most of Cashback Match® by taking advantage of Discover’s bonus categories. If you’re planning to make a large purchase, it’s wise to match it to a bonus category so you can maximize your cash back earnings.

Is it Worth Getting a Discover Card?

There’s no denying that Discover credit cards come with many perks. If you’re willing to put the time and effort into its rotating 5% bonus categories, it can be worth getting a Discover card.

Discover cards also offer other benefits that include cash back matching and promotional 0% APRs on purchases and balance transfers that differ with each card.

Since you won’t have to pay an annual fee on any Discover card, you really can’t go wrong. As long as you use the card responsibly and make your payments on time and in full (which is true for any credit card), they can be useful financial tools.

Obtaining a credit card is not a wise financial decision, however, if you know you’ll rack up interest charges and late fees.

Take the time to review each of the Discover cards at your disposal so you can choose the right one for your unique situation. As explained above, Discover’s cards come with different rewards structures, so it’s worth spending the time to decide which aligns best with your spending patterns.

Types of Cash Back Credit Cards

In addition, compare Discover credit cards to others so you can figure out whether there’s a better option for your spending habits.

Maximize Your Earnings with Discover Card Bonus Categories

Activate Discover bonus categories for 2020 and be strategic about the way you spend your hard-earned money. By doing so, you can earn a significant amount of extra cash that you can spend any way you please.

The cash back you can earn from Discover’s 5% cash back bonus categories can help you pay down debt, splurge on luxuries, pad your emergency account, or simply add some flexibility to your budget. But don’t forget to activate, or you could miss out on a whole lot of free cash.