Discover launches 2022 cash back calendar

While some cash back credit cards offer a flat rewards rate for each dollar you spend, the Discover it® Cash Back takes a different approach.

Cardholders do earn a flat 1 percent back for all regular spending, but they also earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 they spend each quarter in rotating categories (activation required). After you hit that limit, you earn 1 percent on any additional purchases in these rotating categories. The card also comes with no annual fee, making it a good choice for the long haul.

Discover also takes a different approach when it comes to welcome bonuses. Instead of a traditional bonus that you earn when you meet a minimum spending requirement, Discover will match all the rewards you earn in the first 12 months. This means that if you earn $200 in cash back your first year, Discover will match that amount and you’ll receive a total of $400 cash back.

Considering the Discover it Cash Back card? Then you’ll need to know in which categories you can earn higher cash back rewards. This guide explains the Discover it Cash Back calendar and, in particular, Discover’s rotating categories for all of 2022.

Discover’s 5% cash back calendar for 2022

Discover’s cash back bonus categories change each quarter, giving cardholders the chance to consistently choose the categories in which they might earn the most rewards. It helps that Discover includes categories that most people can use.

If your goal is maximizing your rewards, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the 2022 Discover cash back calendar. Below, you can also compare Discover calendar details for 2020 and 2021 to see which spending categories remain consistent over time.

Quarter 2020 Discover it categories 2021 Discover it categories 2022 Discover it categories
Q1: January-March
  • Grocery stores
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Grocery stores
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gym memberships
Q2: April-June
  • Gas stations
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Uber and Lyft
  • Gas stations
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Select streaming services
  • Gas stations
  • Target
Q3: July-September
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
Q4: October-December
  • Amazon.com
  • Target.com
  • Walmart.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Target.com
  • Walmart.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Digital wallets

As you can see, the calendar for 2022 includes many of the same bonus categories as it did in 2021. However, in Q2 2022, select streaming services have been removed and the Uber and Lyft categories still haven’t come back from 2020.

Also, you’ll notice that the 2022 Q4 bonus category replaces Target.com and Walmart.com with digital wallet purchases (activation required). The great news is that the new Q1 bonus categories for 2022 are focused on health and wellness just in time for those health-related New Year’s resolutions.

How to activate Discover categories

You won’t earn your 5 percent cash back bonuses with the Discover it Cash Back card (or the Discover it® Student Cash Back, for that matter) unless you activate this bonus feature on your card. Fortunately, you can easily activate your bonus categories on your credit card’s online account management page.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve activated each quarter’s bonus categories, you can also check by using the Discover website. On the cash back calendar page, you can click on “log in to see if you’re activated.”

Making the most of this quarter’s bonus categories

In the first quarter of 2022, you can rack up 5 percent back on up to $1,500 in grocery stores, fitness clubs and gym memberships (activation required). Once you’ve maxed out the $1,500 cap, then you’ll earn 1 percent back on these categories. To get the most out of this quarter’s bonus categories, consider these tips:

  • Stock up in bulk: If there are items you regularly buy from the grocery store, consider buying in bulk to get a discount with your cash back. This could include anything from nonperishable food items to consumables like paper towels or garbage bags.
  • Jumpstart your commitment to health and wellness: Pay your gym membership in full or nab gift cards from your favorite fitness club hangout to cover extra fitness-related services and products throughout the year. Consider buying health food items from the grocery store to maximize your cash back for this bonus category. This could include meal prep foods, vitamins and supplements, meal replacement nutrition and more.

When we enter the second quarter of 2022, you can earn 5 percent back at gas stations and Target. Consider the following tips to get the most out of these bonus categories:

  • Big-ticket items, home decor and gift cards from Target: This quarter is an ideal time to purchase more expensive items like electronics and home furnishings. Plus, you can shop for cute knickknacks and other items to adorn your home’s interior at Target. Target’s gift card selection is pretty large and counts towards your cash back earnings, too.
  • Fill up your tank: If you usually use other means to pay for your gas, simply swap to Discover for your fuel-ups instead.

How to redeem Discover rewards

Unlike some other cash back credit cards that make you build up a minimum balance of rewards before you can cash them in, the Discover it Cash Back lets you redeem rewards for cash back into a bank account or purchases you make through Amazon.com or PayPal.com in any amount.

You can also redeem your rewards for a gift card when you’ve accrued at least $5 in your rewards account. Cardmembers can redeem their cash back for a physical or digital partner gift card with 5 percent to 20 percent added value to each gift card (depending on the merchant). Partner gift cards range from $5 to $200 in increments of $5. You can also donate your cash back earnings to charity.

Rewards you earn with Discover credit cards never expire as long as your account is open, so you can keep earning until you’re ready to redeem.

The bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back card makes it easy to earn rewards without an annual fee, but you’ll get more out of your card if you pay attention to the rotating bonus categories it offers. This is especially true during the first year you’re a cardholder, since Discover will match all the rewards you earn during those first 12 months. Just be sure to activate your bonus rewards each quarter so you don’t miss out.