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Activate Discover cash back categories for Q1 2020 now

Discover’s 2020 calendar offers even more opportunities to earn bonus cash back


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

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Discover has released its full 5% bonus calendar for 2020, and the new year is looking shinier than ever. Discover’s 2020 calendar offers the same earning categories as the previous year – including, gas stations, restaurants and major retailers Amazon, Target and Walmart – plus new earning categories, such as a valuable wholesale club category for the spring quarter.

Discover it Cash Back cardholders can activate the first quarter bonus category here.

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

  • You must activate the bonus each quarter to receive 5% back.
  • The first quarter bonus is active from Jan. 1, 2020 – or the date on which you activate it, whichever is later – through March 31, 2020.
  • The bonus is capped at $1,500 in combined spending per quarter.
  • All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Discover 5% cash back calendar 2020

January – March

(Activate by Mar. 31, 2020)

April – JuneJuly – SeptemberOctober – December
  • Grocery stores
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Gas stations
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Wholesale Clubs
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal

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

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

According to the Discover website, grocery store purchases only include those made at stand-alone grocery stores. Groceries purchased at convenience stores, gas stations, wholesale clubs or supercenters like Walmart or Target will not qualify.

What is included/excluded in the “Walgreens” and “CVS” categories?

For both the Walgreens and CVS bonus categories, Discover limits qualifying purchases to those made in-store, online or through the Walgreens or CVS apps. If you purchase an items from a standalone merchant that operates within a CVS or Walgreens store, it will not be eligible for the bonus.

Tips for maximizing your bonus

  • Use your Discover it Cash Back card for all grocery store, Walgreens and CVS purchases.
  • Stock up on bulk groceries, cleaning supplies and gift cards at the grocery story to meet the full quarterly spend cap.
  • Visit for more information on which digital wallet transactions qualify for the 5% bonus, if you prefer to shop that way.

Discover vs. Chase bonus categories

Chase also offers a 5% cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly. From Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, 2020, the Chase Freedom® card is offering a bonus rate on gas station, select streaming service and phone, cable and internet service purchases.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2020

Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom®
Discover it® Cash Back
January – MarchGas stations, select streaming services and phone, cable and internet servicesGrocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April – JuneTBAGas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs
July – SeptemberTBARestaurants and PayPal
October –, and

Which card offers the best deal?

Ultimately, it depends on your spending habits. In the first quarter of 2020, Chase is offering a better rate on gas stations and phone, cable and internet services. If you spend more on these purchases than those at grocery stores, the Chase Freedom might make more sense for you.

However, Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time. So for the rest of the year, it is impossible to predict which card will offer the better deal. Based on 2019 bonus categories, we can only speculate that Chase will offer a bonus at grocery stores, department stores and on mobile wallet purchases later in the year. Luckily, Discover releases its full calendar of rotating categories in advance, so you can take a look to see if they align with your spending.

See related: Activate Chase cash back category for Q1 2020 now, Credit card special offers and limited-time promotions

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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