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Activate Discover bonus categories for Q1 2023

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


Compared to previous years, Discover has changed its policy from releasing its featured bonus categories all at once, every year, to one quarter at a time.

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In previous years, Discover used to announce the cash back calendar for the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Student Cash Back all at once, near the end of the year, for the upcoming calendar year. However, since the start of 2023, Discover has changed its policy to emulate Chase’s cash back calendar and will announce the categories featured on its calendar on a quarterly basis.

The edge that Discover previously had over Chase, in releasing its bonus categories all at the same time gave cardholders an idea of what to expect, allowing them to plan their purchases accordingly. Now, consumers can only base their rewards hopes on previous years’ calendars and wish for the best.

Still, the rewards structure on the Discover it Cash Back remains as generous as ever. The card earns 5 percent cash back on purchases, after enrollment, on up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent. You can also earn 1 percent on general purchases.

H2: Discover 5% cash back calendar 2023

Here’s a look at Discover’s cash back calendar for this year:

QuarterBonus categories
Winter (January-March)
  • Grocery stores
  • Drug stores
  • Select streaming services
Spring (April-June)TBD
Summer (July-September)TBD
Holiday (October-December)TBD

Discover 5% cash back calendar 2022

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

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

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

What is included in the grocery store category?

In this category, cardholders can earn bonus cash back on purchases made at any grocery store, excluding superstores like Walmart and Target and wholesale clubs like Costco. Otherwise, transactions made at supermarkets, meat lockers, bakeries, smaller grocery stores and grocery services will qualify.

What is included in the drug store category?

Whether you’re picking up a prescription or your favorite drug store mascara, purchases made at stand-alone drug stores, pharmacies, pharmacies located inside of retail stores and online pharmacies will earn you 5 percent cash back.

What is included in the select streaming services category?

As for select streaming services, your favorite media subscriptions, including television, film, audiobooks, music and more, will likely fall under this category. Some examples include: Amazon Prime Video, Apple Music, Audible, SiriusXM, Spotify and Youtube TV.

Tips for maximizing your bonus in Q1 2023

  • Remember to activate your bonus categories the first day you’re able to. You can easily enroll by logging in to your Discover account through the issuer’s cash back calendar page.
  • Do the majority of your household and food shopping, from shampoo to cleaning supplies to fresh produce to prescriptions, at grocery stores and drug stores. And don’t forget to pay for your prescriptions or cough medicine using your rotating category Discover card.
  • From January to the end of March, be sure to move all your media subscriptions to your Discover it Cash Back or Discover it Student Cash Back card. You’ll be surprised how much cash back you’ll earn from your various streaming subscriptions, especially considering that so many continue to raise their prices every year.

Discover vs. Chase bonus categories

Chase also offers a 5 percent cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly, and from January through March of this year, Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back at Target, grocery stores (excluding Walmart), fitness club and gym memberships upon activation.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2023

Chase Freedom Flex

Discover it Cash Back
  • Target
  • Grocery stores (excluding Walmart)
  • Fitness club and gym memberships
  • Grocery stores
  • Drug stores
  • Select streaming services

Which card offers the better deal?

If you’re looking to apply for either card as the year kicks off, the right option for you (strictly thinking about categories) comes down to where and how you’d prefer to do a majority of your shopping throughout the year.

Truthfully, it’s a better idea to take into account all that each card has to offer — like welcome bonuses, intro APRs and additional card perks — before making a decision to apply. Comparing historical card bonus categories is also a great way to determine which card is more likely to offer bonus categories that fit your lifestyle in the future.

If you’re deciding between which Discover card you should apply for, the choice is rather simple. Designed for students, the Discover it Student Cash Back has an identical rewards structure to the Discover it Cash Back, but it requires applicants to be enrolled in a two- or four-year university and is geared toward those with no credit history. However, working adults have no need to apply for the Student Cash Back, especially since student credit cards tend to assign lower credit limits.

Great for cash back enthusiasts, the Discover it Cash Back offers robust rewards, a 15-month 0 percent APR on balance transfers and new purchases (16.24 percent to 27.24 percent variable APR thereafter) as well as a Cashback Match, which will match all the cash back you’ve earned in your first year, dollar for dollar. Keep in mind though that the Discover it Cash Back is meant for consumers with a good to excellent credit score (FICO score of at least 670), so those below that may struggle to qualify.

Editorial Disclaimer

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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