The Discover it® Cash Back is one of the best rotating category cash back cards out there. The card offers 5 percent cash back on rotating categories each quarter, like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and more. All you have to do is activate each quarter to earn the generous rewards rate for up to $1,500 in category purchases. You’ll also automatically get 1 percent unlimited cash back on all other purchases. And as an added bonus, Discover will automatically match all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

For no annual fee, the Discover it Cash Back offers a zero percent APR for the first 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that you’ll be looking at a variable APR between 13.49 percent and 24.49 percent.

To learn more about the Discover it Cash Back, check out Bankrate’s detailed review.

Discover’s 2020 Cash Back Bonus Calendar

In order to maximize your Discover it Cash Back card’s rewards, you need to know what categories are offered each quarter. Here are the categories for 2020:

  • January–March: Grocery stores (excluding Walmart.com and Target), Walgreens and CVS
  • April–June: Gas stations, Uber and Lyft (excluding Uber Eats), and Wholesale Clubs
  • July–September: Restaurants and PayPal
  • October–December: Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com

How to activate your bonus categories

Bonus categories have to be activated in your online Discover account or by phone in order to take advantage of the card’s high rewards rate. Discover will send you a reminder email with an activation link each quarter. If you’d like a further reminder to activate, you can set up calendar reminders for Yahoo, Google, Apple and Outlook through your online Discover account.

Bonus categories can be activated up to one month before the bonus period begins and any time before the bonus period ends. It’s in your best interest to activate categories early—you only get the top rewards rate on purchases made after activation. Any purchases made during the bonus period prior to activation will only receive 1 percent cash back.

Here are the start dates for activating 2020 bonus categories:

  • January–March: Activate now
  • April–June: February 1, 2020
  • July–September: May 1, 2020
  • October–December: August 1, 2020

Each quarter, you have the potential to earn up to $75 for the bonus category if you reach the purchase maximum of $1,500. That’s a total of $300 a year, not including the 1 percent cash back earned on all other purchases. Plus, for the first year Discover offers the Cash Back Match program that matches any cash back you earn. That gives you the potential to earn $600 in cash back during your first year with the card.

How to redeem rewards

Your Discover it Cash Back rewards can be redeemed at any time during the year. You can redeem rewards for a statement credit, a direct deposit or gift cards (starting at $20). You can also use your cash back rewards to pay for purchases on Amazon.com. One last use of your cash back rewards is to support a charity. Discovery will pool card members’ rewards and make an annual contribution to the organization that receives the most member support.

Rewards never expire, and if you decide to close your account, your cash back rewards will be credited to your balance. However, closed accounts are not eligible for the Cash Back Match program.

The bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back is a great option for someone with good to excellent credit who is looking to earn cash back on daily purchases. It can also be paired with other cash back cards.

For example, you can maximize dining and entertainment rewards by adding the Capital One®  Savor®  Cash Rewards Credit Card. You could also add a card that offers a fixed cash back rate for all purchases, like the Citi® Double Cash Card. If you’re thinking of pairing the Discover it Cash Back’s rotating categories with another card to maximize your rewards, check out our reviews of the best cash back credit cards.