Guide to Discover it Cash Back rewards and benefits

The Discover it Cash Back card offers 5 percent cash back on rotating bonus categories — but that's not the only benefit

Summary

If you want to maximize your Discover it Cash Back rewards, you need to know how to take advantage of your 5 percent cash back bonus categories. We’ll show you how — and explain how to get the most out of the other benefits and perks Discover it Cash Back offers.

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The Discover it® Cash Back is one of only a few of credit cards offering rotating category rewards. When you combine this card’s generous cash back opportunities with its other benefits and perks, the Discover it Cash Back offers big value for no annual fee.

To begin, the Discover it Cash Back offers 5 percent cash back in popular categories that rotate every quarter, for up to $1,500 in combined bonus category purchases per quarter (then 1 percent back). All other purchases receive 1 percent cash back. If you can max out those 5 percent categories each quarter, you can earn up to $300 in cash back on rotating-category purchases each year.

This card also offers a unique welcome bonus via Discover’s Cashback Match, which doubles all the cash back you earn in your first 12 months as a cardholder. So, if you charge $1,500 per quarter in each of your 5 percent categories in your first year, you could earn $600 in cash back.

All of this makes the Discover it Cash Back one of the best cash back cards on the market. But cash back rewards aren’t the only benefits. Here’s a guide to everything Discover it Cash Back offers, including how to make the most of your Discover it Cash Back bonus category rewards.

How to maximize Discover it Cash Back’s 5% categories

If you want to maximize your Discover it Cash Back rewards, you need to know how to take advantage of your 5 percent cash back bonus categories.

Start by planning ahead. For example, if you know Target will be one of the next quarter’s 5 percent bonus categories, you can start thinking about what purchases you might want to make in the next quarter to max out your 5 percent cash back bonus. Maybe it’s time to stock up on paper towels, fill your freezer with groceries or buy that outdoor camping equipment you’ve been wanting.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of how close you are to hitting your $1,500 quarterly maximum. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you think you’ll earn 5 percent cash back on a big purchase, only to find you’ve already spent $1,500 on your bonus categories that quarter.

To get the most out of your Discover it Cash Back rewards, have a strategy. The more you know about which 5 percent cash back categories are coming up, how much you’ve spent on your current 5 percent categories and how close you are to hitting that $1,500 quarterly maximum, the better off you’ll be.

Discover it Cash Back calendar for 2022

Discover announces its quarterly bonus categories at the beginning of every year. The Discover it Cash Back calendar‘s categories are pretty consistent from year to year. Here are the quarterly bonus categories for 2022:

QuarterBonus categories
Q1 (January to March)
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gym memberships
Q2 (April to June)
  • Gas stations
  • Target
Q3 (July to September)
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
Q4 (October to December)
  • Amazon.com
  • Digital wallets

Remember to activate categories

Before you can start earning 5 percent cash back rewards, you’ll need to activate your quarterly bonus categories. It’s easy to do. Just log in to your online account or mobile app and follow the instructions to activate it. Discover will even send you a one-click activation email, with no login required, to make the activation process as simple as possible.

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to start earning 5 percent cash back on your quarterly bonus categories until you activate them. This means if you make a category purchase on Jan. 2 but don’t activate your quarterly categories until Jan. 15, you won’t earn 5 percent cash back on that Jan. 1 category purchase. Instead, you’ll only earn 1 percent in cash back. That’s why it’s important to activate your bonus categories as soon as possible.

Best ways to redeem Discover it Cash Back rewards

You’ll have plenty of options for redeeming your Discover it Cash Back rewards. You can turn your rewards into a statement credit, use your rewards when you check out with Amazon.com or PayPal or give them to a good cause by making a charitable donation.

Plus, Discover now allows cardholders to automatically convert their cash back rewards into statement credits, so you no longer need to worry about remembering to redeem your rewards. Instead, Discover will automatically apply your cash back rewards to your next credit card bill. You can request that Discover always apply the full amount of your cash back rewards to your credit card bill, or designate a certain dollar amount to be converted into a statement credit — your choice.

Take advantage of Discover it Cash Back benefits

In addition to offering top-level cash back rewards, Discover it Cash Back offers several other benefits. Here’s what you need to know to take advantage of every credit-building, debt-reducing and fraud-preventing feature that comes with your card.

FICO scores

If you want to check your credit score for free, Discover’s credit scorecard offers free access to your FICO credit score, allowing you to track and improve one of the most important metrics associated with your credit.

0% introductory balance transfers

One of the best ways to improve your credit score is by paying off old debt, and one of the best ways to pay off old debt is by using a balance transfer credit card. The Discover it Cash Back card offers 15 months of 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (14.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable APR thereafter), making it an excellent tool to help you pay off old credit card balances without worrying about interest charges. With over a year of zero interest, you can make a huge dent in your debt.

To be eligible for the 0 percent intro APR financing, balance transfers must be completed by Dec. 10, 2022. If a balance is transferred before that date, Discover will charge you an intro balance transfer fee of 3 percent, after which the balance transfer fee will increase to 5 percent. Among balance transfer cards, a 3 percent fee is considered to be competitive. However, many cards now have a 5 percent fee, and on rare occasions, there have been cards with no balance transfer fee. Currently, there aren’t any credit cards offered from any of the major credit card issuers with a 0 percent intro APR and no balance transfer fee.

No fees

The Discover it Cash Back has no foreign transaction fees on charges processed outside of the United States. This card also has no penalty interest rate, and Discover will automatically waive your first late payment fee (after that, up to $41). The card is also one of our favorite no-annual-fee credit cards. Some cards offer high-level rewards while charging high annual fees, prompting consumers to ask themselves whether they’re earning enough rewards to justify the cost.

The Discover it Cash Back also allows you to earn 5 percent cash back on popular shopping categories without paying an annual fee. And it’s definitely not worth paying an annual fee if you can find a top cash back card that offers the rewards you want without making you pay for the privilege of earning them.

Identity freeze

Identity theft is still one of today’s most common forms of credit card fraud. Discover helps protect you from fraud by allowing you to freeze your credit account if your credit card is lost or stolen. In fact, Discover will even provide free overnight shipping to replace lost or stolen credit cards upon request.

In the event you lose your card, Discover’s Freeze it feature allows you to freeze your credit card through your online account or mobile app. Once your credit card is frozen, new transactions (including cash advances and balance transfers) will not be processed — but recurring transactions, such as payments to subscription services, will still go through. That way, you can protect yourself from credit card fraud without losing any of the automatic payments you’ve set up. And if you ultimately find your card, you can easily turn it back on.

The Discover it Cash Back also has a $0 fraud liability guarantee, so you’re never responsible for unauthorized purchases made with your card.

Bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back offers cardholders everything from 5 percent cash back on everyday purchases to 15 months of 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (14.99 percent to 25.99 percent variable APR thereafter). When you add up all of the rewards and benefits associated with the Discover it Cash Back, it’s easy to see why this is one of the top rewards credit cards on the market.

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.

Credit Card Rate Report
Reward
18.26%
Student
18.78%
Airline
18.08%
Business
16.47%
Cash Back
18.16%

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