Discover Unveils 5% Bonus Categories for Q1 2023: Grocery Stores, Drugstores, Streaming

These are familiar categories to eligible cardholders, but it's the first time in several years that Discover has opted not to release its entire annual bonus calendar upfront.
Jae Bratton
By Jae Bratton 
Edited by Kenley Young

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For holders of eligible Discover credit cards, the start of the new year will again be a good time to stock up on groceries.

From Jan. 1 to March 31, 2023, cards like the Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® Student Cash Back will be able to earn 5% cash back on combined spending of up to $1,500 for the quarter across the following categories (activation required; all other purchases earn 1% back):

  • Grocery stores.

  • Drugstores.

  • Select streaming services.

Grocery stores in particular are a familiar sight for Discover cardholders; they've appeared as a bonus category for the issuer every year since 2018 — and specifically in the first quarter of every year since 2019.

Discover bonus rewards categories for 2023

Q1 (Jan. 1–March 31)

• Grocery stores*. • Drugstores. • Select streaming services.

Q2 (April 1–June 30)

TBA.

Q3 (July 1–Sept. 30)

TBA.

Q4 (Oct. 1–Dec. 31)

TBA.

*The grocery stores category does not include grocery purchases at Walmart or Target or at other superstores or wholesale clubs.

🤓Nerdy Tip

This is the first time in five years that Discover has elected not to release its entire 5% bonus calendar all at once in January, meaning cardholders must wait for categories to be revealed quarterly. The release of the full year's bonus calendar had been a distinctive feature, making it easier for cardholders to time their purchases. But this move puts Discover in line with other 5% rotating-bonus-category cards, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠.

You can activate bonus categories online at Discover.com; through a one-click email from Discover; via the issuer's mobile app; or by calling 800-347-2683. Activation is not retroactive. If, for example, you drop $150 at a grocery store in the first week of January but don’t activate the bonus categories until Jan. 31, that grocery haul will earn only 1% cash back, or $1.50, rather than 5%, or $7.50.

These three first-quarter bonus categories are fairly inclusive, but there are some limitations. Grocery store purchases made at supermarkets and through delivery services qualify for the 5% rate, but purchases at Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs like Costco do not. Many popular streaming subscriptions are eligible for the 5% rate up to the quarterly maximum, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max, Spotify and YouTube TV. However, streaming services that are bundled with another product or service such as internet may not qualify for the bonus rate.

Cash back may be redeemed for a statement credit, direct deposit, gift card or charitable donation. Discover’s Pay With Cashback Bonus program also allows cardholders to use rewards to pay for merchandise with select merchants.

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