Guide to discover card rewards

Opening a rewards credit card can save you money if you earn back a percentage of what you spend in the form of cash, points or miles. Discover offers a number of rewards credit cards, each targeting a different spending style. If you want to earn rewards with Discover, read on to understand how the rewards program works.

Key learning points

  • Discover offers a variety of rewards credit cards, including cash back cards, travel cards, business cards, student credit cards, and secured credit cards.
  • In lieu of an introductory bonus, Discover offers a matching bonus for rewards earned during the first year of card membership.
  • Discover offers a variety of reward redemption options, including statement credit, cash deposit to a bank account, travel, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • When choosing a Discover rewards credit card, consider how rewards are structured and how much you could earn based on your spending habits.

Discover 5% Cashback Bonus

Discover’s 5% Cashback Bonus rewards program allows you to earn 5% cashback every quarter in certain spending categories, up to a maximum per quarter. To earn the 5% cashback bonus, you must have an eligible card and activate the bonus.

Cards eligible for the 5% cashback bonus include:

Read more about how the bonus works here. Each quarter, Discover allows eligible cardholders to earn 5% back in activated bonus categories, up to a spending cap of $1,500 per quarter. Once that cap is reached, cardholders will continue to earn an unlimited 1% cashback until the next quarterly bonus is triggered. All purchases not included in the bonus categories will also earn unlimited 1% cashback.

Maxing out the bonus each quarter adds up to a total of $75 in cash back rewards in addition to any rewards earned at the 1% cash back rate. The 5% Cashback Bonus calendar is updated every year. This is what the bonus categories look like for 2022.

Discover 5% Cashback Bonus Calendar 2022
Jan – Mar 2022 April – June 2022 july – sep 2022 Oct – Dec 2022
Grocery stores and fitness club and gym memberships (excluding Walmart, Target purchases). Gas stations and Target Restaurants (includes dine in and takeout) and PayPal. Amazon.com and digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Important

If you don’t activate the bonus category every quarter, all purchases earn unlimited 1% cashback.

Other Ways to Earn Discover Rewards

Aside from the 5% Cashback Bonus rewards program, Discover offers other rewards card options. You can choose between cashback rewards or a travel rewards card. The cards that offer cash back include:

  • Discover secured credit card. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover Student Chrome Credit Card. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover Gas & Restaurants Credit Card. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover Business Credit Card. Earn unlimited 1.5% cashback on every dollar spent.
  • Discover Travel Credit Card. Earn unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar with every purchase.

Tip

None of Discover’s rewards credit card options charge an annual fee.

Double rewards the first year

Many rewards credit cards offer an introductory welcome bonus to attract new customers. This bonus usually depends on meeting a minimum spending requirement. So, for example, you can earn $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Discover takes a different approach. Instead of offering an introductory bonus upfront, cardholders can receive an unlimited rewards match after their first year of card membership. The matching program applies to both Discover cashback credit cards and the Travel credit card.

This is a dollar-for-dollar (or miles-for-mile) contest. So, for example, if you earned $500 in cash back rewards with the Discover it card by the end of your first year, Discover will give you another $500 in cash back rewards. Or if you collect 35,000 miles, Discover will match you with 35,000 miles at the end of the year.

You don’t need to do anything to be eligible for the contest, except use your card to make purchases and earn rewards. The match is unlimited, so the more you spend with your card in the first year, the more you can receive in matching rewards.

Remark

Any rewards you redeem before the end of your first year of card membership will still be counted toward your matching bonus calculation.

Discover Redeem Rewards

Discover makes it as easy as possible to redeem rewards. For example, there is no minimum amount of cashback required to redeem, and there are no blackout dates when redeeming miles for travel. Your Discover Rewards redemption options include:

  • Cash deposited into your bank account
  • statement credit
  • Pay at checkout when you shop on Amazon.com or PayPal
  • Gift cards from $5
  • Charitable donations

Rewards will not expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. In terms of what your rewards are worth, they are valued at 1 cent each when using miles for travel. So 70,000 miles is worth $700 in travel statement credit that you can use to pay for flights, hotels, rental cars, and other travel expenses.

Discover’s 1% cash back means every dollar you spend on your credit card is worth 1 cent in rewards, although it’s possible to get an additional bonus when redeeming for gift cards. Using your cash back on gift cards is an easy way to increase the value of your rewards.

Important

Rewards are automatically applied as a statement credit if your account is closed or has been inactive for 18 months.

Do Discover Rewards expire?

No, they do not expire, but any accumulated rewards can be automatically applied as a statement credit if your account has been closed or inactive for 18 months.

How much money will I get back with my Discover Card?

The amount you can earn back depends on which Discover Card you have. Some cards earn a 5% cash back bonus every quarter, while others earn a 2% cash back bonus every quarter. Both bonus amounts are good up to a maximum spending limit, with any additional purchases yielding unlimited 1% cashback.

When can you redeem Discover Cash Back?

Discover cashback can be redeemed at any time and in any amount. Redemption options include a cash deposit into a bank account, statement credit, gift cards and charitable donations. You can also use Discover cashback rewards to pay at checkout when shopping on Amazon.com and PayPal.

It comes down to

Discover offers an attractive range of rewards credit cards, many of which are great for those looking to earn cash back on purchases. When shopping for a credit card, it’s important to consider how well the rewards program matches your spending habits. Also, don’t forget to compare the APR, fees, and account terms to make sure the card you choose is a good fit.

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