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Get ready to earn cash back on Lyft, Uber, Amazon and more.

Discover it® Cash Back cardholders have the opportunity to earn 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 per quarter) after activation, plus 1% back on everything else. Discover recently released its 2019 Cashback Bonus Calendar, so let’s take a look at which categories are included, how 2019 compares to 2018 and how cardholders can pair additional credit cards with the Discover it Cash Back card to maximize their rewards.

Discover’s 2019 Cashback Bonus Calendar

Here are Discover’s 5% Cashback Bonus categories for 2019:

  • January–March: Grocery stores (excludes purchases made at Walmart.com and Target)
  • April–June: Gas stations, Uber and Lyft (excludes Uber Eats)
  • July–September: Restaurants & PayPal
  • October–December: Amazon.com, Target & Walmart.com 

If you participated in Discover’s 2018 Cashback Bonus program, these categories might look familiar. Once again, restaurant purchases get rewarded between July and September, and Amazon purchases get rewarded between October and December. However, the January–March and April–June bonus categories have been swapped; in 2019, grocery store purchases will be rewarded in the first quarter of the year and gas station purchases in the second. Lyft and Uber are new rewards for 2019, and Discover has pulled the wholesale club rewards it offered in 2018.

How much cashback can you earn?

With the Discover it® Cash Back card, you can earn 5% cash back for up to $1,500 in bonus rotating category purchases per quarter, enrollment required. That’s $75 cash back every quarter if you hit the purchase maximum, or $300 cash back per year — plus, you get an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

If this is your first year as a Discover it Cash Back cardholder, the deal gets even sweeter. Discover’s Cashback Match program matches all of the cash back you earn during your first year, so if you maximize your cash back purchases and earn $300 cash back, Discover will match those rewards and give you another $300.

How do you activate your Cashback Bonus categories?

Before you can earn the cash back on Discover’s Cashback Bonus categories, you have to activate your bonus. Discover sends reminder emails with a one-click activation link every quarter, but you can also activate your bonus by visiting your Discover.com online account.

You do not need to wait until the beginning of the quarter to activate your bonuses. In fact, it’s best to activate your bonuses before the new quarter begins — because Discover only applies your bonus after it is activated. If you wait until January 15 to activate your grocery store bonus, for example, you’ve missed out on two weeks of earning 5% cash back on groceries.

Here are the dates on which you can begin activating your bonus categories:

  • January–March: November 1
  • April–June: February 1
  • July–September: May 1
  • October–December: August 1

If you log in to your Discover.com account, you can set activation reminders on your Apple, Google, Yahoo! or Outlook calendars.

Which credit cards pair well with the Discover it Cash Back card?

The Discover it Cash Back card is a great way to earn 5% back on up to $1,500 each quarter, in rotating categories, enrollment required; 1% on everything else, but it doesn’t have to be the only rewards card in your wallet. Consider pairing your Discover it Cash Back card with one of these options to earn even more rewards:

  • The Capital One® Savor® Rewards card earns an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, plus 2% cash back on purchases at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you spend a lot of money on restaurants, use your Discover it Cash Back card between July–September to earn 5% cash back up to $1500 when you activate and 1% after, then use your Capital One Savor Rewards card to get 4% cash back for the rest of the year.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of our top starter travel cards — and since Discover doesn’t really offer much in the way of travel bonuses (unless you travel exclusively with Lyft and Uber) you might want a card that rewards airfare, hotel and other travel spending. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get 2x points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and 1x point per dollar on all other purchases. Your points increase by 25% when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, so make sure to take advantage of that bonus when you book your next trip.

Since the Discover it Cash Back card only offers 1% cash back on all non-bonus purchases, you might want a flat-rate cash back card that offers a higher cash back percentage. The Capital One® Quicksilver® card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card both offer unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases; the Citi® Double Cash Card gives you 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay it off. All three cards are good options if you want to earn more than the 1% cash back you’d get from Discover.

Further reading: Latest advice from Bankrate on credit card rewards programs

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