Guide to Discover Card Rewards

Opening a rewards credit card may 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 style of spending. If you're interested in earning rewards with Discover, read on to understand how its rewards program works.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover offers different rewards credit cards, including cash-back cards, travel cards, business cards, student credit cards, and secured credit cards.
  • Instead of an introductory rewards bonus, Discover offers a matching bonus for rewards earned during the first year of card membership.
  • Discover offers numerous options for redeeming rewards, including statement credit, a 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 might earn based on your spending habits.

Discover 5% Cash-Back Bonus

Discover's 5% Cash Back bonus rewards program allows you to earn 5% cash back in select spending categories each quarter, up to a quarterly maximum. To earn the 5% cash-back bonus, you must have an eligible card and activate the bonus.

Cards that are eligible for the 5% cash-back bonus include:

Here's more on how the bonus works. Each quarter, Discover allows eligible cardmembers to earn 5% back in activated bonus categories for up to a spending maximum of $1,500 per quarter. When that maximum is reached, cardmembers continue to earn unlimited 1% cash back until the next quarterly bonus is activated. All purchases not included in the bonus categories also earn unlimited 1% cash back.

If you max out the bonus each quarter, this will equal a total of $75 in cash back rewards in addition to any rewards earned at the 1% cash back rate. The 5% Cash Back Calendar updates each year. Here's how the bonus categories shape up for 2022.

Discover 5% Cash Back Calendar 2022
January to March 2022 April to June 2022 July to September 2022 October to December 2022
Grocery stores and fitness club and gym memberships (excludes Walmart, Target purchases) Gas stations and Target Restaurants (including dine-in and takeout) and PayPal Amazon.com and digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay

Important

If you fail to activate the bonus category each quarter, all purchases will earn unlimited 1% cash back.

Other Ways to Earn Discover Rewards

Aside from the 5% Cash Back rewards program, Discover offers other rewards card options. You can choose between cash-back rewards or a travel rewards card. The cards offering cash back include:

  • Discover Secured Credit Card. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover it Chrome for Students Credit Card. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover Gas & Restaurant Credit Card. Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
  • Discover Business Credit Card. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent.
  • Discover Travel Credit Card. Earn unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar on every purchase.

Tip

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

Double Rewards for the First Year

Many rewards credit cards offer an introductory welcome bonus to attract new customers. This bonus typically hinges on meeting a minimum spending requirement. So, for example, you may be able to earn $500 cash back when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Discover takes a different approach. Rather than offering an introductory bonus upfront, cardmembers can receive an unlimited rewards match after their first year of card membership. The matching program applies to both Discover cash-back credit cards as well as its travel credit card.

This is a dollar-for-dollar (or mile-for-mile) match. So if at the end of your first year you've earned $500 in cash-back rewards with the Discover it Card, for instance, Discover will match you another $500 in cash-back rewards. Or if you earn 35,000 travel miles, then Discover will match you 35,000 travel miles at the end of the year.

There's nothing you need to do to qualify for the match other than use your card to make purchases and earn rewards. The match is unlimited so the more you spend in the first year with your card, the more you could receive in matching rewards.

Note

Any rewards you redeem prior to the end of your first year of card membership are still counted when calculating your matching bonus.

How to Redeem Discover Rewards

Discover makes it as easy as possible to redeem rewards. There's no minimum amount of cash back needed to redeem, for instance, and no blackout dates when redeeming miles for travel. Your redemption options for Discover rewards include:

  • Cash deposited into your bank account
  • Statement credit
  • Pay at the checkout when you shop through Amazon.com or PayPal
  • Gift cards starting at $5
  • Charitable donations

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

Discover's 1% cash back means that every dollar you spend on your credit card is worth 1 cent in rewards, though it's possible to get an added bonus when redeeming them for gift cards. Using your cash back for gift cards is an easy way to stretch the value of your rewards.

Important

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

Do Discover Rewards Expire?

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

How Much Cash Back Do I Get With My Discover Card?

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

When Can You Redeem Discover Cash Back?

Discover cash back can be redeemed at any time, 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 cash-back rewards to pay at the checkout when shopping through Amazon.com and PayPal.

The Bottom Line

Discover offers an attractive range of rewards credit cards, many of which are well suited to people who want to earn cash back on purchases. When shopping around for a credit card, it's important to consider how well the rewards program matches up with your spending patterns. Also, remember to compare the APR, fees, and account terms and conditions to make sure the card you choose is a good fit.

Article Sources

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  2. Discover. "Credit Cards."

  3. Discover. "Cashback Match FAQs."

  4. Discover. "Discover Cash Back Rewards Summary."

  5. Discover. "Discover It Miles FAQs."