Guide to Discover it Cash Back rewards and benefits

The Discover it Cash Back card offers 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories – but that isn’t the only benefit


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

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The Discover it® Cash Back credit card is one of only a handful 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 card offers big value for no annual fee.

To start with, Discover it Cash Back offers 5% cash back on popular shopping categories that rotate every quarter, for up to $1,500 in combined bonus category purchases per quarter. All other purchases receive 1% cash back. If you manage to max out those 5% categories, you can earn up to $300 in cash back just in rotating-category purchases.

What’s more, this card offers a unique opportunity to double that haul in your first year. Discover’s Cashback Match doubles all the cash back you earn in your first 12 months as a cardholder. So if you max out your 5% categories your first year – charging $1,500 per quarter in each category – you could potentially earn $600 in cash back.

All this makes Discover it 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 the Discover it Cash Back credit card has to offer, including how to make the most of your Discover it Cash Back bonus category rewards.

How to maximize Discover it 5% categories

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

Start by planning ahead. If you know wholesale clubs will be one of the next quarter’s 5% bonus categories, for example, you can start thinking about what purchases you might want to make in the next quarter to max out your 5% 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’re going to earn 5% cash back on a big purchase, only to find you’ve already spent $1,500 on your bonus categories that quarter.

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

2022 Discover it Cash Back calendar

Discover announces its quarterly bonus categories at the beginning of every year. Here’s the 2022 Discover it Cash Back calendar. These categories are pretty consistent year to year. As you can see, the 5% opportunities for Q1 include purchases at grocery stores and fitness clubs, as well as gym memberships.

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

Remember to activate

Before you can start earning 5% cash back rewards, you 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. Discover will even send you a one-click activation email, with no log-in required, to make the activation process as simple as possible.

Keep in mind you won’t be able to start earning 5% cash back on your quarterly bonus categories until you activate them. This means if you buy a gym membership on Jan. 2 but don’t activate your holiday quarter categories until Jan. 15, you won’t earn 5% cash back on that Jan. 1 gym membership purchase. Instead, you’ll only earn 1% cash back – which is why it’s important to activate your bonus categories as soon as possible.

Best ways to redeem Discover it rewards

Want to redeem your Discover it cash back rewards? Discover gives you plenty of options – whether you turn your rewards into a statement credit, use your rewards when you check out with or PayPal or give them to a good cause by making a charitable donation.

Plus, Discover recently allowed cardholders to automatically convert their cash back rewards into statement credits, which means 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 benefits

In addition to offering top-level cash back rewards, the Discover it Cash Back credit card offers a number of 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

Want to check your credit score for free? Discover’s Credit Scorecard offers free access to your FICO credit score, giving you the opportunity to track and improve one of the most important metrics associated with your credit.

You don’t even need a Discover card to access Credit Scorecard. So if you’re considering applying for the Discover it Cash Back credit card in the future, you can use Credit Scorecard to check your FICO score and see whether you have the right credit score for the Discover it Cash Back card.

In most cases, you’ll need good or excellent credit before your Discover it Cash Back application will be approved. If your credit is currently falling a little short, there are some steps you can take to improve your credit score quickly.

0% intro 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% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (12.24% to 23.24% variable APR thereafter), making it an excellent tool to help you pay off old credit card balances without worrying about interest charges.

To be eligible for the 0% APR financing, balance transfers must be completed within two months of account opening. During those first two months, Discover will charge you a reduced balance transfer fee of 3%, after which the balance transfer fee will increase to 5%. Among balance transfer cards, a 3% fee is considered to be competitive. However, many cards now have a 5% 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% intro APR and no balance transfer fee.

Use the Discover it Cash Back card to pay off your old balances and boost your credit score. With over a year of zero interest, you can make a huge dent in your debt.

No fees

The Discover it Cash Back has no foreign transaction fees imposed 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 Card gives you the opportunity to earn 5% cash back on popular shopping categories without having to pay a dime in annual fees. Are annual fees worth it? Not 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 card 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 card offers cardholders everything from 5% cash back on everyday purchases to 15 months of 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (12.24% – 23.24% variable APR thereafter). When you add up all of the rewards and benefits associated with 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.

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