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Activate Discover bonus categories for Q1 2022

See the latest bonus categories from Discover and get tips on how to maximize your cash back


Discover has added a few new bonus categories in 2022, including gyms, fitness clubs and digital wallets.

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Discover has announced the 2022 cash back calendar for the Discover it® Cash Back and introduced some new categories.

Most categories look rather similar to what we saw in 2021, but the issuer is adding fitness clubs and gym memberships in Q1 and digital wallets in Q4.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we know consumers are looking forward to both in-store and online shopping and are ready to get back into their gyms and fitness routines,” says Geeta Chandan, VP of rewards and product strategy at Discover. “The evolution of this year’s categories aligns with the broader shifts in spending we’ve seen over the past year and a half.”

Activation for the next year’s Q1 categories is open. Starting Jan. 1 and through March 31, 2022, cardholders can earn 5% cash back for purchases at grocery stores and fitness clubs, as well as on gym memberships after they activate (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%).

At a glance

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You must activate the bonus each quarter to receive 5% back.
  • The first-quarter bonus categories are open for activation and will be active from Jan. 1, 2022 – or the date you activate, whichever is later – through March 31, 2022.
  • The bonus is capped at $1,500 in combined spending per quarter and then the rewards rate drops to 1%.
  • All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Discover 5% cash back calendar 2022

In 2022, Discover will be introducing some changes to its cash back calendar.

QuarterBonus categories
Winter (January – March)
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gym memberships
Spring (April – June)
  • Gas stations
  • Target
Summer (July – September)
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
Holiday (October – December)
  • Digital wallets

In the first quarter, the issuer has swapped Walgreens and CVS with fitness clubs and gym memberships. While both drugstores and fitness are somewhat niche categories and may not fit into every cardholder’s spending, gym memberships can be easier to maximize by paying for the entire year in advance.

Further, in spring, Target will replace streaming services and wholesale clubs. Streaming services can be hard to maximize and wholesale clubs are rather restrictive since they require a membership. Target, on the other hand, is a popular retailer and can be an excellent choice for many kinds of shopping.

In Q4, digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay and Garmin Pay, will take the place of and While digital wallets are an available payment option at many online and brick-and-mortar stores, Walmart isn’t one of them. Since Walmart is one of the most popular retailers, this might not be the best news for some Discover it Cash Back cardholders – especially during the holiday season.

Discover’s 5% cash back calendar 2021

To compare, here’s what the Discover it Cash Back calendar looked like last year.

QuarterBonus categories
Winter (January – March)
  • Grocery stores
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
Spring (April – June)
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • Wholesale clubs
Summer (July – September)
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
Holiday (October – December)

Read on for everything you need to know about Discover’s current cash back bonuses, including our suggestions to maximize the 5% rate and how Discover’s bonus categories compare with Chase’s.

What is included in the grocery stores category?

In this category, cardholders can earn bonus cash back at stand-alone grocery stores, including eligible supermarkets, bakeries, meat lockers and smaller grocery stores. Grocery delivery services also qualify.

Purchases made at Walmart, Target, convenience stores, wholesale clubs, discount stores and supercenters are excluded from this category.

What is included in the fitness club and gym memberships category?

This category includes membership fees and purchases at health clubs, including eligible athletic or recreation facilities. Eligible virtual and in-person fitness classes may also qualify for bonus cash back. However, you might not earn bonus cash back in this category when shopping at individual merchants and stand-alone stores within eligible health clubs.

Tips for maximizing your bonus in Q1 2022

  • Make sure you’re using your Discover it Cash Back card when paying for purchases at grocery stores.
  • Stock up on non-perishable items to use throughout the year when you’re shopping at grocery stores to ensure you meet the $1,500 spending cap.
  • Consider buying gift cards at grocery stores to use throughout the year.
  • Pay for your annual gym membership with the Discover it Cash Back.

Discover vs. Chase bonus categories

Chase also offers a 5% cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly. For example, from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2022, Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders can earn 5% cash back at grocery stores and eBay upon activation. Bonus categories for the rest of the year haven’t been announced yet.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2022

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Discover it® Cash Back
January – MarchGrocery stores and eBayGrocery stores, fitness clubs and gym memberships
April – JuneTBAGas stations and Target
July – SeptemberTBARestaurants and PayPal
October – and digital wallets

Which card offers the better deal?

In the first quarter of 2022, the Chase Freedom cards may offer better value to most cardholders.

The Discover it Cash Back is an excellent deal for those interested in joining a gym or virtual fitness classes. Paying for an annual membership may help cardholders get closer to the $1,500 spending cap and maximize the card’s earning potential.

Chase Freedom’s eBay category can also offer plenty of value to online shoppers. As one of the most popular marketplaces on the web, eBay provides plenty of opportunities to maximize the bonus on Chase Freedom cards if cardholders use the website for most of their non-grocery shopping.

On the other hand, if you’re only now deciding which card to apply for, remember that the Discover it Cash Back will match all the cash back you earn in the first year with the card. In this scenario, the Discover it Cash Back may yield a better return on your spending.

As for the rest of the new year, it’s impossible to predict which card will offer the better value, since Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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