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Activate Discover it Cash Back bonus categories for Q4 now

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


You can activate the next quarter’s 5% categories on your Discover it Cash Back card, including, and

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In the fourth quarter of 2021, Discover it® Cash Back cardholders will be able to earn 5% cash back at, and (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 starting Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021 – just in time for holiday shopping.

Meanwhile, cardholders can still earn 5% back at restaurants and on PayPal purchases (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%) after activation through Sept. 30, 2021.

At a glance

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You must activate the bonus each quarter to receive 5% back.
  • The third-quarter bonus is active from July 1 – or the date you activate it, whichever is later – through Sept. 30.
  • The fourth-quarter bonus will be active from Oct. 30 – or the date you activate it, whichever is later – through Dec. 31.
  • 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 with Chase’s.

What is included in the restaurants category?

This category includes full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast-food locations. Note that if you make a restaurant purchase using PayPal, you’ll still receive 5% cash back, meaning your rewards won’t double even if your purchase qualifies in two categories.

What is included in the PayPal category?

In this category, you can earn 5% back on purchases made with the PayPal wallet online when you send money via PayPal using your Discover card and for using PayPal Here. Payments you make through the Xoom transfer service, however, won’t qualify in the category.

What is included in the category?

This category includes purchases made on Amazon, such as digital downloads, Amazon gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Local Deals, Amazon Prime subscriptions and items sold by third-party merchants through Purchases also include those made in-store at Amazon Go, Amazon Bookstore and Amazon 4-Star.

What is included in the category?

In this category, you can earn bonus cash back at or when shopping through the Walmart app (including Grocery Pick Up and Delivery). In-store purchases are not included, and neither are purchases made through affiliates of

What is included in the category?

This category includes only purchases made online at or through the Target app. The offer doesn’t include purchases made through affiliates of, such as and

Tips for maximizing your bonus in Q4

  • Use your Discover it Cash Back for all eligible purchases you make at, and
  • Shop for groceries online at Amazon, or using your Discover it Cash Back card.
  • Buy gift cards online at Amazon, or with your Discover it Cash Back to meet the spend cap.

Discover vs. Chase bonus categories

Chase also offers a 5% cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly. For example, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, Chase Freedom* and Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders can earn 5% cash back at Walmart and PayPal.

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 – SeptemberGrocery stores and select streaming servicesRestaurants and PayPal
October – DecemberWalmart and, and

Which card offers the better deal?

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the better option depends on whether you prefer shopping online or in-person.

The Discover it Cash Back is an excellent deal for an online shopper, especially during the holiday season. It covers three major online retailers – Amazon, and – offering an opportunity to earn cash back on many kinds of purchases, from groceries to presents.

Chase Freedom’s PayPal category can also offer plenty of value when shopping online and paying through PayPal at checkout (many merchants on the web offer this payment option). At the same time, cardholders can shop in-person at Walmart and earn bonus cash back for in-store purchases.

It’s impossible to predict which card will offer the best value next year, however, since Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time, and Discover hasn’t revealed its 2022 cash back calendar yet.

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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