Discover cash back calendar 2019

Activate the Q2 bonus category now

Discover cash back calendar

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Although we’re still in the first quarter of 2019, it’s not too early to start looking ahead to Discover’s next bonus category. In fact, Discover it® Cash Back cardholders can activate the second quarter bonus – gas stations, Uber and Lyft – as of Feb. 1, 2019. 

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, keep in mind that Discover continues to offer 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchase at grocery stores through March 31, 2019, upon enrollment. If you haven’t done so already, activate the first quarter bonus category here. While you’re at it, you can activate the second quarter bonus category as well.

Here’s what you need to know at a glance:

  • You must activate the bonus each quarter to receive 5 percent back.
  • The first quarter bonus is active from Jan. 1, 2019 – or the date on which you activate it, whichever is later – through March 31, 2019.
  • You can activate the second quarter bonus, which is effective from April 1 through June 30, as of Feb. 1.
  • The bonus is capped at $1,500 per quarter.
  • All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back.

Read on for everything you need to know about Discover's cash back bonus, including the full 2019 calendar, our suggestions to maximize the 5-percent rate and how Discover's bonus categories compare to those of Chase.

Discover’s 2019 cash back calendar

For the second year in a row, Discover has released its entire cash back calendar in advance – instead of on a quarter-by-quarter basis – allowing cardholders to get a jumpstart on planning their 2019 shopping schedule. Director of rewards strategy for Discover, Nidhin Mattappally, explained, “We release our full 5 percent cash back calendar as another way to make earning the cash back bonus easier for our cardmembers and help them plan their spending throughout the year.”

See the 2019 categories and activation dates below.

Discover 5 percent cash back calendar 2019

Winter Spring Summer Holiday
January – March
(Activate by March 31, 2019)
April – June
(Activate starting Feb. 1, 2019)
July – September
(Activate starting May 1, 2019)
October – December
(Activate starting Aug. 1, 2019)
  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Restaurants

While several of Discover’s 2019 categories are the same as those from 2018, the major item that stands out is the absence of wholesale clubs – which Discover offered during the first and fourth quarters of 2018. But if you frequently use ride-sharing services, you can come out on top during 2019: Discover added Lyft and Uber as new bonus categories for the second quarter.

What is included/excluded in the “grocery stores” category?

The “grocery stores” category excludes purchases made at convenience stores, gas stations, wholesale clubs, supercenters, discount stores and any grocery stores associated with supercenters or discount stores. Purchases made using tap-and-pay, mobile or wireless card readers, virtual wallets or similar technology also may not be eligible.

Tips for maximizing your bonus

  • Use your Discover it Cash Back card to purchase groceries from supermarkets.
  • Avoid purchasing food from wholesale clubs, supercenters, convenience stores, discount stores and gas stations during the first quarter.
  • Swipe or insert your credit card at checkout instead of using a virtual wallet or tap-and-pay to ensure that you receive the 5 percent bonus.
  • Purchase gift cards from grocery stores that can be used throughout the remainder of the year.
  • Check Discover’s shopping portal for opportunities to stack your rewards.

Discover vs. Chase bonus categories

Chase also offers a 5 percent cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly. From Jan. 1 through March 31, 2019, Chase Freedom® cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 at gas stations, drugstores and tolls.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2019

Discover it® Cash Back
Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom®
January – March Grocery stores Gas stations, drugstores and tolls
April – June Gas stations, Uber and Lyft Coming soon
July – September Restaurants Coming soon
October – December Coming soon

Which card offers the best deal?

Ultimately, it depends on your spending habits. If you have a big family and spend a lot on groceries each month, you’ll come out on top with Discover’s first quarter bonus category. But if you spend a large amount on medication and prescriptions each month – or if you have a long daily commute to work every day, the Chase Freedom card offers the better deal.

Beyond the first quarter, though, we can’t tell you which card offers the better deal. Based on the past year, we can speculate that Chase may offer the bonus rate on restaurant, grocery store, department store and Chase Pay purchases sometime during 2019. But because they don’t release their full calendar in advance, it’s impossible to tell which card will best suit your spending habits throughout the year.

See related: Chase launches its cash back category for Q1 2019, Chase Pay: How to use it and rack up cash back rewardsCredit card special offers and limited-time promotions

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Updated: 02-21-2019