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Discover Announces 2021 5% Cashback Calendar

The Discover It Cash Back is one of the most popular cash back credit cards on the market. Like its now-famous competitor, the Chase Freedom Flex, Discover offers a rotating calendar of 5% cash back categories. Discover is now revealing its new 2021 5% Cashback Calendar. Here are the details.

2021 Discover 5% Cashback Calendar

Grocery Stores, Walgreens, and CVS

Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at stand-alone grocery stores, Walgreens, or CVS locations.

Official terms: Grocery Store purchases made at convenience stores, gas stations, warehouse clubs, discount stores, supercenters (or at grocery stores associated with supercenters or discount stores), including Walmart and Target are not eligible. Walgreens and CVS purchases include only purchases made in-store at Walgreens or CVS, online at Walgreens.com or CVS.com, or through the Walgreens or CVS app. Individual merchants and stand-alone stores within physical Walgreens or CVS locations (including health centers), or on Walgreens.com or CVS.com, may not be eligible in this category.

Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, Streaming Services

Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at as=stand-alone gas stations, or with select streaming services.

Official terms: Purchases made at Gas Stations include only merchants in the category that sell automotive gasoline that can be paid for either at the pump or inside the station. Gas Stations affiliated with supermarkets and supercenters may not be eligible. Check with your Wholesale Clubs to make sure your Discover card is accepted. Purchases of affiliated Wholesale Club services, such as travel and cell phone purchases, may not be eligible in this category. Streaming service purchases include only the following select U.S. streaming subscriptions: Apple Music, Apple TV+, AT&T TV Now, BET+, CBS All Access, DAZN, Disney +, ESPN+, Fubo TV, Google Play Movies & TV, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Philo, Peacock TV, Showtime, Sirius XM, Starz, Sling, Spotify, Vudu, YouTube TV. If your subscription is bundled with another product or service, billed by a third party (such as a digital platform, a cable or satellite provider, telecommunications, internet provider or a car manufacturer), the purchase may not be eligible in this category. Add-ons associated with Select Streaming Services may not qualify for this promotion if they are not listed, billed in a bundle, separately or through a third party. Listed merchants are in no way sponsoring or affiliated with this program.

Restaurants and PayPal

Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at restaurants classified as full-services restaurants, or on PayPal purchases. 

Official terms: Restaurant purchases include only those made at merchants classified as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast food locations. PayPal qualifying purchases are those made through the PayPal wallet online, when you send money to Friends and Family via PayPal using your Discover Card, and point-of-sale transactions using PayPal Here. Payments made through the Xoom transfer service are not eligible for 5%. Any restaurant purchase made using PayPal will only be awarded a total of 5% Cashback Bonus. 

Amazon.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com

Offer applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at Amazon, Walmart, or Target websites.

Official terms: Amazon.com purchases include those made through the Amazon.com checkout, including digital downloads, Amazon.com gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Local Deals, Amazon Prime subscriptions and items sold by third party merchants through Amazon.com’s marketplace. Purchases also include those made in-store at Amazon Go, Amazon Bookstore, and Amazon 4-Star. Walmart.com purchases include only those made at Walmart.com and when shopping through the Walmart app (including Grocery Pick Up and Instore Pick Up). Purchases made through affiliates of Walmart.com are not part of this promotion. Target.com purchases include only purchases made online at Target.com or through the Target app. Purchases made through affiliates of Target.com are not part of this promotion, including, but not limited to, targetoptical.com and targetphoto.com. 

The biggest news with the new Cashback Calendar from Discover is the change from Uber/Lyft to streaming services.

While Uber/Lyft was a great category (especially since the 5% back also applied towards Uber Eats food delivery), the addition of streaming services potentially adds greater value. With services such as Apple TV+, Hulu, Sling, and Netflix (as well as music services like Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify, Q2 looks to be a very lucrative one for a wider swathe of Discover It cardholders.

How Does the 2021 Discover 5% Calendar Compare to 2020?

Beyond streaming services in Q2, the Discover 5% Cashback Calendar is the same as 2020’s. For reference, here’s the 2020 Discover Calendar:

Grocery stores, Walgreens, and CVS

Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at stand-alone grocery stores, Walgreens, or CVS locations.

Home Depot (June only), gas stations, Uber, Lyft, and wholesale clubs

Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at stand-alone gas stations, or with Lyft or Uber rides (including Uber Eats).

Restaurants and PayPal

Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at restaurants classified as full-services restaurants, or on PayPal purchases. 

Amazon.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com

Offer applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at Amazon, Walmart, or Target websites.

The 2020 Calendar, for its part, was a huge step forward from the 2019 edition:

2019 Discover It Cashback Calendar

  • January to March: Grocery stores
  • April to June: Gas stations, Uber, and Lyft
  • July to September: Restaurants
  • October to December: Amazon.com

The 2021 changes might not be impressive in themselves, but the 2021 Discover 5% Calendar represents excellent value in every quarter. 

Discover doesn’t wait to surprise users with quarterly categories, like Chase. Instead, Discover gives cardmembers advance notice to let them plan their quarterly spending accordingly.

One of the impressive aspects of the Discover Calendar is its durability and adaptability. Discover only made one emergency add-on to the 2020 Calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while Home Depot was a nice feature, it wasn’t a game changer.

The real value with the Calendar is that the categories are broad enough to meet any challenge – especially PayPal (Q3), groceries (Q2), and Amazon (Q4).

How to Activate Cashback Categories 

Discover requires cardholders activate the 5% cashback categories before beginning to earn cash back. Discover It cardholders can visit the Discover website to log in and activate their bonus categories a few weeks before the new quarter begins.

The 5% cash back categories only apply to the first $1,500 in purchases that quarter. Once a user exceeds $1,500 in spending in the bonus categories, all other purchases earn an unlimited 1% back.

Related Article: Chase, Discover, & ABOC 5% Cash Back Calendars 2020

Featured photo by Webandi / Pixabay

About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident rewards expert, covering all facets of the points game – especially travel, hotels, and airlines. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.