Discover unveils entire 2019 cash back calendar

New categories include Uber and Lyft

Discover cash back calendar

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Discover it cardholders can get a jumpstart on planning their 2019 shopping schedule, thanks to the release of Discover’s full 2019 cash back calendar. In fact, you can even activate the first quarter bonus category – grocery stores – now.

This is the second year in a row that Discover has revealed the calendar in advance. Previously, the categories were unveiled on a quarter-by-quarter basis. Director of rewards strategy for Discover, Nidhin Mattappally, explains, “We release our full 5 percent cash back calendar as another way to make earning 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 starting Nov.1, 2018)
April – June
July – September
October – December
  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Restaurants
  • Amazon.com

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.

In the meantime, Discover continues to offer 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at wholesale clubs and Amazon.com through Dec. 31, 2018, upon enrollment. If you haven’t done so already, activate the fourth quarter bonus for 2018 here. While you’re at it, you can activate the first quarter bonus category for 2019 as well.

Read on for everything you need to know about Discover’s cash back bonus, including the 2018 calendar, our suggestions to maximize the 5-percent rewards rate and how Discover’s bonus categories compare to those of Chase.

Earning 5 percent back at Amazon.com and wholesale clubs through 2018

From October through December 2018, Discover it cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back at Amazon.com and wholesale clubs on up to $1,500 in combined purchases upon enrollment. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season upon us, this is a great opportunity to buy everything you need while earning a generous rewards rate.

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

  • You must activate the bonus each quarter to receive 5 percent back.
  • The fourth quarter bonus is active from Oct. 1, 2018 – or the date on which you activate it, whichever is later – through Dec. 31, 2018.
  • The bonus is capped at $1,500 per quarter.
  • All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back.

Discover 5 percent cash back calendar 2018

Winter Spring Summer Holiday
January – March
April – June
July – September
October – December
(Activate by Dec. 31, 2018)
  • Gas stations
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Amazon.com
  • Wholesale clubs

What is included/excluded in the “Amazon.com” category?

The “Amazon” category includes purchases made through the Amazon.com checkout, such as digital downloads and Amazon gift cards. Also, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Local Deals, Amazon Prime subscriptions and items sold by third party merchants through Amazon.com’s marketplace are eligible for the bonus.

What is included/excluded in the “wholesale clubs” category

Items purchased at wholesale clubs, such as food, cleaning supplies and clothing, are included in this category. Services, like travel and cell phone purchases, may be excluded from the category. Items purchased using a mobile wallet, tap and pay, mobile or wireless card readers or similar technology may also be excluded.

Note: Discover recommends that you check with your wholesale club to ensure that Discover cards are accepted there.

Tips for maximizing your bonus

  • Use your Discover it card to pay for all Amazon.com purchases.
  • Renew your Amazon Prime subscription using your Discover it card during the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • Purchase Amazon gift cards that can then be used throughout 2019.
  • Ensure that your Discover card is accepted at your wholesale club.
  • Purchase groceries, toiletries and household items from wholesale stores, instead of grocery stores and drug stores.
  • Do not use your mobile wallet to purchase items at your wholesale club.

Discover vs. Chase bonus categories

Chase also offers a 5 percent cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018, Chase Freedom cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 on department store, wholesale club and Chase Pay purchases.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2018

  Discover
Discover
Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom
January – March Gas stations and wholesale clubs Gas stations; internet, cable and phone services; Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
April – June Grocery stores Groceries, Chase Pay and PayPal
July – September Restaurants Gas stations, Lyft and Walgreens
October – December Amazon.com and wholesale clubs Wholesale clubs, department stores and Chase Pay

Which card offers the best deal?

Ultimately, we think Chase offers the better deal for the fourth quarter of 2018.

In addition to getting 5 percent back on department store and wholesale club purchases, Freedom cardholders can earn the bonus rate anywhere Chase Pay is accepted. Meaning that, along with groceries, clothing and household items, Freedom cardholders can earn the 5 percent rate on dining out, movie theater tickets, gas and more. 

See related: Chase launches its cash back category for Q4 2018, Chase Pay: How to use it and rack up cash back rewardsCredit card special offers and limited-time promotions


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Updated: 12-11-2018