Discover cash back calendar 2018

Activate the Q3 bonus category

Discover cash back calendar

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Although we’re still in the second quarter of 2018, it’s not too early to start looking ahead to Discover’s next bonus category. In fact, you can activate the third quarter bonus – restaurants – as of May 1, 2018.

From July through September 2018, Discover it cardholders can earn 5 percent back at restaurants on up to $1,500 in combined spending upon enrollment. In terms of earning rewards on dining out, 5 percent cash back is a generous rate.

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 purchases at grocery stores through June 30, 2018, upon enrollment.

If you haven’t done so already, activate your 2018 second quarter bonus category here. While you’re at it, you can activate the third 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 second quarter bonus is active from April 1, 2018 – or the date on which you activate it, whichever is later – through June 30, 2018.
  • You can activate the third quarter bonus, which is effective from June 1 through Sept. 30, 2018, as of May 1, 2018.
  • The bonus is capped at $1,500 per quarter.
  • All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back.

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

Discover’s 2018 cash back calendar

Discover is doing things a little differently this year. Instead of announcing its bonus cash back categories on a quarter-per-quarter basis, they have unveiled the full 2018 calendar in advance. According to Discover, the 2018 calendar is designed to include more places where Discover it card members routinely shop. See the categories and activation dates below:

Discover 5 percent cash back calendar 2018

Winter Spring Summer Holiday
January – March
April – June
July – September
(Activate starting May 1, 2018)
October – December
(Activate starting Aug. 1, 2018)
  • Gas stations
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Wholesale clubs

While several of Discover’s 2018 categories are the same as those from 2017, the major items that stand out are the absence of ground transportation, home improvement stores and Target stores. However, if you frequently shop at wholesale clubs, you’ll still come out on top with the 2018 categories. Because Discover is offering the bonus rate at wholesale clubs during the first AND fourth quarters of 2018, you can essentially earn 5 percent back at stores like Sam’s and Costco for half of 2018. Since you can earn the 5 percent rate on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter upon enrollment, and 1 percent cash back after that, you can potentially earn more than $150 cash back at wholesale clubs during 2018.

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 card to purchase groceries from supermarkets.
  • Avoid purchasing food from wholesale clubs, supercenters, convenience stores, discount stores and gas stations to ensure that you receive the 5 percent bonus.
  • 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 April 1 through June 30, 2018, Chase Freedom cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 of grocery purchases, Chase Pay purchases and PayPal purchases.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2018

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 and wholesale clubs Holiday – coming soon

Which card offers the best deal?

Ultimately, we think Chase does.

Although Discover’s 5 percent bonus on groceries is a great offer, the Freedom card offers the same deal – but with more flexibility and options. In addition to getting 5 percent back on groceries, Freedom cardholders can earn the bonus rate anywhere Chase Pay and PayPal are accepted. Meaning that Freedom cardholders can also receive 5 percent back at wholesale stores, department stores, restaurants, gas stations and more. 

See related: Chase unveils its cash back category for Q3 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: 06-18-2018