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Discover it Cash Back review: Earn 5% cash back for a limited time at grocery stores, drug stores and select streaming services

The Discover it Cash Back card lets you earn 5% cash back on a revolving roster of bonus categories offered each quarter. Select reviews its benefits so you can decide if it's the right credit card for you.


If you are looking to maximize your rewards, a 5% cash-back card can be a smart addition to your wallet. Oftentimes, they have standard interest rates and no annual fee.

Discover offers four different credit cards that, upon activation, provide 5% cash back in various categories on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases made each quarter in select categories (then 1%). Consumers can choose from the following cards: Discover it® Cash Back, NHL® Discover it®, Discover it® Balance Transfer and Discover it® Student Cash Back (Select's pick for best college student cash-back credit card).

Discover's 5% cash-back calendar for 2023 includes everything from grocery stores and drug stores to select streaming services (excludes Walmart and Target purchases). The eligible merchants rotate quarterly, and cardholders must enroll each quarter to receive the benefit at select merchants.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down Discover it Cash Back's rewards and benefits to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

Discover it® Cash Back

On Discover's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

  • Welcome bonus

    Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.

  • Annual fee


  • Intro APR

    0% for 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    17.24% to 28.24% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee


  • Credit needed

    Good / Excellent


  • Cash-back program
  • Generous welcome bonus


  • Cash-back categories must be activated each quarter
  • Cash-back program limits earnings: Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back in various categories on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%

Discover it Cash Back review

Welcome bonus

The Discover it® Cash Back card has a unique welcome bonus for new card members in their first year only where Discover automatically matches all the cash back they've earned at the end of their first year. So, if you earn $100 cash back at the end of the first year, Discover will give you an additional $100. There is no limit to how much Discover will match.

How to earn and redeem Discover it Cash Back rewards

Like the Chase Freedom Flex℠, the Discover it Cash Back offers 5% cash back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases after you activate the bonus every quarter (then 1%). After you reach the limit, it's 1% on all purchases. If you maximize your spending in these categories, you could earn $75 cash back each quarter on top of the unlimited 1% cash back you earn automatically in all the other categories.

Here's the Discover cash-back calendar for 2023:

  • January to March (closed): Grocery stores, drug stores and select streaming services (excludes Walmart and Target purchases)
  • April to June (offer ended): Restaurants and wholesale clubs
  • July to September: (activate now): Gas stations and digital wallets
  • October to December (activate 10/01/23): Amazon.com and Target

In previous years, other categories have included gas stations, gym memberships, restaurants, Amazon.com and digital wallets.

Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Discover it Cash Back. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).

Here's a breakdown of how much cash back you can roughly earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: $103
  • Gas: $44
  • Dining out: $73
  • Travel: $22
  • Utilities: $49
  • General purchases: $62
  • Total: $353

Cardholders can earn an estimated $707 in cash back the first year (including the cash back from the welcome bonus) and a total of $2,120 over five years.

The cashback doesn't expire and you can redeem your rewards at any time for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise and more.

Rates and fees

There is no annual fee for the Discover it® Cash Back card and it charges no foreign transaction fees. There is 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers, see terms. There's no fee the first time you pay late; after that, up to $41.

If you plan on carrying a balance, the Discover it® Cash Back offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months from the date of account opening for purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory no-interest period is over, there is a 17.24% - 28.24% variable APR.

Additional benefits and perks

The Discover it® Cash Back offers contactless tap-to-pay technology that makes it fast and easy to pay at millions of places.

Bottom line

Trying to optimize your quarterly credit card usage can be a lot of work, so it is worth it to do the research beforehand to make sure whether a 5% cash-back credit card is right for you.

However, using a cash-back card on a daily basis can save you money. If you don't mind rotating and activating your rewards each quarter, the Discover it Cash Back may be great for your spending habits.

Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in our credit card marketplace or get personalized offers via CardMatch™.

Information about the NHL® Discover it® has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Cash Back, click here.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Student Cash Back, click here.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Balance Transfer, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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