Discover’s cash-back calendar for 2020

The Discover it® Cash Back card is a good option for folks who like cash back because it’s a no-annual-fee card with no foreign transaction fees. Although it doesn’t offer a welcome bonus, Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first card year. So if, for example, you earn $350 cash back during your first year, Discover will give you an extra $350 at the end of your cardmember year (for a total of $700 cash back).

This card earns 1% cash back on all purchases with no caps or limits. Plus, you have the opportunity to earn even more with the card’s rotating quarterly bonus categories. And if you can make the most of the bonus categories, the rewards can really add up.

Let’s look at this year’s bonus cash-back calendar and ways you can maximize your spending in these categories.

Here’s how to make the most of the Discover it® Cash Back’s bonus categories. (Photo by Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock)

How the Discover it quarterly rewards work

With the Discover it® Cash Back, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made after enrollment in accordance with Discover’s 2020 cash-back calendar. Plus, earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

This means you’ll be able to earn up to $75 cash back each quarter in the bonus categories and that will get matched at the end of the year.

Discover it 5% cash back calendar for 2020

Quarter 5% Cash back rewards categories When to enroll    
January to March Grocery stores, Walgreens, CVS Activate starting Nov 1, 2019
April to June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft and Wholesale Clubs Activate starting Feb 1, 2020
July to September Restaurants and PayPal Activate starting May 1, 2020
October to December, and Activate starting Aug 1, 2020

With the Discover it® Cash Back, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in accordance with Discover’s 2020 Cashback Calendar after enrollment.

How to optimize your Discover it card spending

Spending $1,500 every quarter to maximize the cash back you earn may sound daunting, but it’s easier than you might think. For example, you can usually buy third-party gift cards (i.e. Amazon, Uber,, etc.) from retailers that are in each category.

With a little strategizing you’ll be well on your way to earning lots of cash back. Get creative and consider all the ways you can spend more in the various bonus categories.

January to March: Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS

I love it when cards offer a bonus on grocery store purchases because grocery spending dominates many household budgets. In addition, grocery stores and stores like Walgreens and CVS offer a lot more than just food and medicine.

Have a kid’s birthday gift to buy? Take a look at a Walgreens or CVS and you might find games and toys.

April to June: Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs

Cardholders living in larger cities who use ride-hailing services more will fare well with the Uber and Lyft bonus categories. And even if you don’t, you could consider loading up your Uber account with ride credit to use in the future. I’ve done this before when I know I have a trip coming up and will be using Uber to get to and from the airport.

July to September: Restaurants and PayPal

Much like grocery store purchases, dining out can be a substantial portion of many budgets. So it may not be too hard to maximize your spending during this quarter. But don’t forget, a lot of online merchants accept PayPal payments. So make sure you’re making the most of those purchases when you can.

October to December:, and

Most people do their holiday shopping in the last quarter of the year, and between Amazon, Walmart and Target, you can maximize your purchases. Just note, you’ll only earn bonus cash back on online purchases at these merchants, not on in-store purchases. So plan accordingly.

Other cards to pair with Discover It cash back card

If you’re considering the Discover it Cash Back, take a look at the Chase Freedom® too. Both cards have bonus 5% rotating quarterly categories (on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate) and earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

But with the Chase Freedom, if you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, you’ll earn a $150 (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) sign-up bonus.

Plus, only the Chase Freedom earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back or travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a rate of 1 cent per point. So if you earn 10,000 points, for example, that equates to $100 in cash back or travel.

And if you have an annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, you can combine your points to one of these cards and use them to buy travel at a rate up to 1.5 cents per point (depending on the card) through the Chase travel portal.

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