For the second straight year, Discover is showing its cards ... so to speak.
The credit card issuer has announced its 5% quarterly bonus categories for all of 2019, something it also did for 2018. In the past, the issuer would announce the categories one at a time as the designated quarter drew near. (A comparable card, the Chase Freedom®, still does it this way.)
Update: On May 1, 2019, the issuer added more bonus categories to those already announced. The additions: PayPal in Q3 and Target and Walmart.com in Q4.
Discover’s cash-back cards give you 5% back in bonus categories that change every three months, on up to $1,500 in combined spending per quarter, and 1% cash back on all other spending. Cardholders have to opt in, or “activate,” the bonus categories each quarter. Cards that earn 5% back include the Discover it® Cash Back, the Discover it® Balance Transfer – NerdWallet Exclusive! and the Discover it® Student Cash Back.
The 2019 categories are:
Q1 (January - March): Grocery stores.
Q2 (April - June): Gas stations, Uber and Lyft.
Q3 (July - September): Restaurants and PayPal.
Q4 (October - December): Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com.
Notable changes to the calendar for 2019
Gas stations move to second quarter. Every year from 2015 to 2018, Discover had gas stations as a first-quarter category. In recent years, the Chase Freedom® also had gas stations as a first-quarter 5% category. That forced consumers who carry both cards to choose. Additionally, both cards had grocery stores as a second-quarter category in 2018, meaning their calendars were similar for half the year.
Uber and Lyft added. In past years, Discover has sometimes had a 5% category made up of gas stations and "ground transportation," which included an array of alternatives to driving. In 2019, only ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft are called out.
No wholesale clubs. Discover had wholesale clubs as a 5% category in two quarters in both 2017 and 2018.
Amazon, Target and Walmart.com share a category. For the first time, Discover is offering bonus cash back at all three of these mega-retailers at the same time. Target purchases in-store, online and through the retailer's app are eligible for 5% cash back; with Walmart, only online and app purchases are eligible.