Discover Cashback Calendar [2024]: How to Earn 5% Cash Back

CREDIT CARDS - CASHBACK CREDIT CARDS
These bonus opportunities are too good to miss. Here’s how to take advantage of them.
Updated Feb. 20, 2024
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The Discover cashback calendar enables certain Discover cardholders to earn 5% cash back on certain categories each quarter up to a quarterly maximum. Earning this cashback bonus requires activation when a new set of spending categories rolls in.

Discover cards that help you take advantage of this calendar include the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Student Cash Back. The cash back never expires, and you can redeem it in various ways.

Here’s what you need to know about the Discover cashback calendar and the bonus categories currently available.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • The Discover it® Cash Back, Discover it® Student Cash Back, Discover it® Balance Transfer, and NHL® Discover it® help you benefit from quarterly rotating categories that earn high cashback rates up to a quarterly maximum.
  • The cash back you earn can be redeemed via bank deposits, statement credits, credits toward Amazon orders or PayPal purchases, gift cards, or charitable donations.
  • Discover requires you to activate the bonus cash back. Without activation, you’ll only earn the base rate that your credit card earns.

How does the Discover cashback bonus calendar work?

The Discover cashback bonus calendar is a rewards program where cardmembers can earn higher rewards on certain categories that they activate every quarter.

This program is available for certain Discover credit cards, including:

For example, the Discover it® Cash Back can help you earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

The quarterly maximum is typically $1,500 in eligible purchases. Keep in mind that third-party partner purchases — like a purchase from a Starbucks that’s inside a Target store — may not qualify.

Additionally, unless your chosen bonus category is digital wallets, you might find that purchases made using mobile devices or similar methods may not be eligible for the bonus cash back. This is because the technology behind methods may not give Discover the information needed to recognize bonus eligibility.

Discover's 5% cashback bonus categories for 2024

Discover releases its cashback calendar each quarter throughout the year, similar to many other cashback credit cards. Each category is released a month before it becomes available, which is a helpful benefit for cardmembers who prefer to plan their eligible bonus transactions ahead of time.

Cashback bonus purchases may be eligible for 5% rewards if they fall under the following categories:

2024 dates 5% cashback bonus categories Exclusions
January 1 through March 31 Restaurants and drugstores Restaurant purchases include those made at merchants classified as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, fast-food locations, and restaurant delivery services.
Drugstore purchases include those made at stand-alone drug stores, pharmacies, online pharmacies, and some pharmacies located inside of retail stores.
April 1 through June 30 To be announced To be announced
July 1 through September 30 To be announced

To be announced

October 1 through December 31 To be announced To be announced
2023 dates 5% cashback bonus categories Exclusions
January 1 through March 31 Grocery stores, drugstores, and select streaming services Excludes Walmart and Target purchases. Bundled streaming services or streaming services billed by a third party may not be eligible.
April 1 through June 30 Restaurants and wholesale clubs Purchases from individual merchants, stand-alone stores, and affiliated wholesale club services may not be eligible.
July 1 through September 30 Gas stations and digital wallets

Gas stations affiliated with supermarkets, supercenters, and wholesale clubs may not be eligible. Digital wallets include Apple Pay, in-store Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Garmin Pay. Using these digital wallets to make purchases at gas stations will only earn 5%.

October 1 through December 31 Amazon.com and Target Purchases from individual merchants and stand-alone stores within physical Target locations may not be eligible.

What credit cards qualify for the Discover cashback calendar?

Discover offers some of the best cash back credit cards. The following Discover cards can help you boost the cash back you earn from purchases in quarterly rotating categories.

Credit card Rewards rate Annual fee
Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. $0
Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically. $0

Discover it® Balance Transfer

5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories (up to quarterly maximum, once activated) and 1% cash back on all other purchases $0

NHL® Discover it®

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating quarterly categories when you activate, and 1% back on everything else $0

Discover cashback calendar FAQ

Does Discover give cash back on all purchases?

Discover credit cards typically can earn at least some cash back or miles on all qualifying purchases. Each Discover card may offer bonus categories where you can earn more. These categories may be fixed or may rotate every quarter.

For example, with the Discover it® Cash Back, you can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

Is there a limit on Discover cashback rewards?

Some Discover credit cards may have a limit on bonus categories that earn higher rewards. However, Discover doesn’t have a maximum earning limit for the base rewards rates its credit cards offer.

What is Discover Cashback Match™?

Discover’s Cashback Match™ is a rewards program for new Discover credit card users. At the end of your first year as a cardholder, Discover will match all the cashback rewards you’ve earned. This means if you earn $300 in cash back during your first year, Discover will add another $300 to your rewards balance at the end of your first year.

There is no limit to how much Discover credit cards match. You can redeem these rewards for cash, statement credits, gift cards, or charitable donations.

How do I maximize my Discover cashback bonus?

If you’re a Discover cardholder with rotating bonus categories, it’s a smart move to set a reminder each quarter to activate these categories. This way, you won’t miss out on any potential rewards. When it’s time to shop or pay for services that fall within these elevated categories, make sure to use your Discover card to maximize your cash back.

On the other hand, if your Discover card offers fixed cashback categories, you can optimize your rewards by strategically using this card for purchases that earn the highest rewards. By aligning your spending habits with the card’s reward structure, you can ensure you’re getting the most out of your Discover card.

Do Discover cashback rewards expire?

No, Discover Cashback rewards don’t expire. Additionally, if you close your account, Discover will credit your account with your remaining rewards.

Other cards with rotating bonus cashback categories

Discover is not the only credit card issuer to offer cards with bonus cashback categories. Though these other cards don't match your cash back in your first year like Discover, they still present great opportunities to make the most of your spending.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Past categories have included Walmart, PayPal, streaming services, drugstores, fitness club and gym memberships, gas stations, home improvement stores, Whole Foods, and a variety of other retailers.

As with the Discover card, these categories require activation if you want to earn the bonus cash back. Keeping an eye on the Chase Freedom categories will help you know where to spend and when.

Discover cashback calendar: bottom line

Staying in the know for when the Discover cashback calendar is published and remembering to activate the 5% bonus categories each quarter can help you get the most value out of your Discover it Cash Back Credit Card.

Even if you don’t plan on making purchases under a particular category, it’s a wise move to activate your option to earn lucrative quarterly bonuses in case you do. This is the best way to get the most out of this great rewards credit card.

Up To 5% Cash Back

4.7

Discover it® Cash Back

Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Jennifer Calonia Jennifer Calonia is a native Los Angeles-based writer and editor with eight years of experience in personal finance. She's passionate about helping others pay off debt, navigate family finance, and use rewards credit cards, responsibly. She's been featured on Forbes, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Credit Karma, Nerdwallet, and more. To find more information about her work, visit JenniferCalonia.com.

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