Cash Back Strategies – Discover

In these next few posts, I will cover cash back strategies I have used to save thousands of dollars over the years.


I applied for my first Discover It card long ago. For years, it was the only cash back card I used until I “discovered” the cash back strategies I will share with you in this series.

Discover It offers 5% cash back on quarterly categories up to $1500 in spending per quarter, and 1% on everything else. It takes a few seconds to sign up each quarter for the rewards. Discover matches all rewards earned in the first 12 months of card use, doubling the effective rate to 10% and 2%.

Discover allows you to have two Discover It cards. If you are married, each of you can have two Discover It cards. Here are some the 2020 quarterly categories:

  • Q1 – Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
  • Q2 – Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, Uber, Lyft, Home Depot
  • Q3 – Restaurants, Paypal
  • Q4 –,,

Optimal Strategy

Potentially, you can earn $750 in cash back over the first 12 months of a new Discover It card. Simply open the card in the middle of a quarter (mid-February, mid-May, mid-August or mid-October). Max out that initial quarter and the next three. Finally, max out the “initial” quarter again during the first few weeks before your card anniversary date. That’s $7,500 in spending at 10%, or $750 in rewards.

If you have no Discover It cards, you can potentially have ten quarters of 10% back in the categories. Open the first Discover It in the middle of Q3 2020 and max out for five quarters through Q3 2021. Then open your second Discover It card in the middle of Q4 2021 to earn through your card anniversary in Q4 2022.

If you are married and have no Discover It cards, you can potentially have 20 quarters of 10% back in the categories. That’s five years!

Maxing Out The Categories

What if you don’t have enough grocery spending in Q1 to reach $1500 on your Discover It card? I supplement with gift cards for expenses I expect to incur, such as Netflix, Hulu, Southwest Airlines etc.

In Q2, for example, I use Discover to pay my annual Costco membership fee and buy Costco Shop Cards online in addition to gasoline purchases.


If you are like most people and use one card for everything earning approximately 2% in cash back or miles, using my Discover It strategy can save you up to $600 per Discover card you open. For a married couple, that’s up to $2,400 in earnings over the next five years!

After the cash back match period ends, the card still earns a respectable 5% in the quarterly categories.

If this post is valuable to you, you can use this link to apply for a Discover It card before the end of the year to receive a $50 credit after your first purchase.

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