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Activate Discover it Cash Back bonus categories for spring 2021 now

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


You can activate the next quarter 5% categories on your Discover it Cash Back card, including wholesale clubs, gas stations and select streaming services.

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In the second quarter of 2021, Discover it® Cash Back cardholders will be able to earn 5% back at wholesale clubs and gas stations and on select streaming services (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%) after activation. Activation is now open, and cardholders will be able to earn in these categories from April 1 to June 30, 2021.

Most of the bonus categories from 2020 will be repeated this year, including grocery stores, CVS and Walgreens in winter, restaurants and PayPal in summer and, and during the holiday season.

However, there’s a change in spring categories. In spring 2020, Discover it Cash Back cardholders could earn bonus cash back on Uber, Lyft and gas station purchases, as well as at Home Depot and wholesale clubs. From April to June 2021, they’ll still be able to earn 5% back at gas stations and wholesale clubs (up to $1,500 in combined purchases quarterly, then 1%) after activation. But on top of that, the issuer is adding select streaming services to its bonus categories in spring this year.

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

  • You must activate the bonus each quarter to receive 5% back.
  • The second quarter bonus is active from April 1 – or the date on which you activate it, whichever is later – through June 30.
  • The bonus is capped at $1,500 in combined spending per quarter and then the rewards rate drops to 1%.
  • All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Discover 5% cash back calendar 2021

QuarterBonus categories
Winter (January – March)
  • Grocery stores
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
Spring (April – June)
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • Wholesale clubs
Summer (July – September)
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
Holiday (October – December)

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

What is included and excluded in the gas stations category?

This category only includes stand-alone gas stations that accept payments either at the pump or inside the station. Purchases at gas stations that are affiliated with supercenters or supermarkets are not eligible.

What is included and excluded in the wholesale clubs category?

In this category, you can earn 5% cash back at wholesale clubs that accept Discover cards. For instance, Costco only accepts Visa cards in-store, so you won’t be able to pay with a Discover credit card.

Additionally, purchases of affiliated wholesale services, such as delivery services, travel and cellphone purchases, may not qualify, as well as individual merchants and stand-alone stores within physical wholesale club locations or online.

What is included in the select streaming services category?

The following streaming services are eligible in this category: Apple Music and Apple TV+, YouTube TV, Spotify, Disney+, HBO Max, AT&T TV Now, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, BET+, CBS All Access, DAZN, ESPN+, Fubo TV, Google Play Movies & TV, Philo, Peacock TV, Showtime, Sirius XM, Starz, Sling and Vudu.

Note that if your subscription is bundled with another product or service billed by a third party, it may not be eligible in this category. The same goes to add-ons on select streaming services if they aren’t on the list of eligible services.

Tips for maximizing your bonus

  • Use your Discover it Cash Back for all eligible wholesale club purchases if it’s accepted at your preferred wholesale club.
  • Stock up on gift cards at wholesale clubs to use on purchases throughout the year.
  • Make sure to use your Discover it Cash Back as the preferred payment method on your streaming subscriptions.
  • Pay with your Discover it Cash Back at the pump and inside gas stations.

Discover vs. Chase bonus categories

Chase also offers a 5% cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly. From April 1 to June 30, Chase Freedom* and Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders can earn 5% cash back at gas stations and home improvement stores.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2021

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Discover it® Cash Back
January – MarchWholesale clubs and eligible streaming services, internet, phone and cable purchasesGrocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April – JuneGas stations, home improvement storesGas stations, select streaming services, wholesale clubs
July – SeptemberTBARestaurants and PayPal
October –, and

Which card offers the best deal?

In the second quarter of 2021, which card would work best for you depends on whether you have a membership with an eligible wholesale club. If you often go to BJ’s or Sam’s, the Discover it Cash Back can offer a better deal. But if you’re not a member, the Chase Freedom or Freedom Flex might be a better pick for you, especially if you’re planning a home renovation project.

As for the other two categories, the select streaming services won’t likely add much spend to meet the $1,500 cap, and both cards earn cash back at gas stations, so it’s also not a deciding factor.

On the other hand, Discover matches first-year cash back earnings for new cardholders, effectively increasing your bonus cash back rate in your first year with the card on rotating categories up to the spend maximum.

However, it’s impossible to predict which card will offer for the rest of the year since Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time. While we know that Discover will offer a bonus for restaurant and PayPal purchases in the third quarter, there’s no information yet on which purchases Chase will reward for the rest of 2021 since the issuer announces bonus categories one at a time.

See related: Credit card special offers and limited-time promotions

*All information about the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.

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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