The Bank of America content was last updated on February 1, 2021.

When you sign up for the Discover it® Cash Back card, you won’t receive the traditional $100-$200 introductory bonus. Instead, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year – with no maximum reward amount.

With the year’s higher spending months approaching, Discover it Cash Back cardholders can take advantage of this offer to maximize their cash back. If you combine making large purchases with the card’s 5% rotating cash back categories, you can earn sky-high rewards in the first year.

Traditional sign-up bonus or cash back match: Which is better in the first year?

Most cash back rewards cards offer some kind of introductory bonus, typically around $100 or $200 if you spend a certain amount in the first few months. For example, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers $200 in online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card and Discover it Cash Back card have pretty comparable rewards rates. Both offer 1% cash back on general purchases, with a few bonus categories that boost rewards. In order to get the full reward potential out of either card, you’ll have to spend most of your money in the bonus categories and charge up to the spending cap.

Despite similar rewards earning schemes, the Cashback Match offer from Discover gets cardholders significantly more in the first year.

Discover it Cash Back Card
Discover it Cash Back
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card
Rewards rate
  • Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in various categories, then 1%
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • 3% cash back on choice category, which can include gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchase
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter, then 1%
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus
  • Matches cash back at end of first year
  • $200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days
Annual fee
  • $0
  • $0
Estimated earnings in first year ($1,325 monthly spend)
  • $502
  • $325

How to spend your money to get the most out of your sign-up bonus

Since the Discover it Cash Back card doesn’t offer a flat intro bonus, cardholders have to be smart about their spending to maximize their rewards and earn a bigger match.

Each quarter, cardholders can enroll for 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%) in scheduled bonus categories. To earn the most possible rewards, you’ll definitely want to meet the $1,500 cap as often as possible. If you hit the spending cap each quarter, you’ll significantly improve your overall rewards rate and take home more every year.

As shown above, the average cardholder will bring home around $502 in cash back in the first year thanks to the Cashback Match offer. But if you weigh your spending more heavily towards each quarter’s bonus category and meet the full spend cap, you can make almost double that amount with the same monthly spend. In fact, just meeting the $1,500 quarterly spending cap will earn you a total of $600 cash back in your first year thanks to the Cashback Match bonus.

Here’s a quick look at the bonus categories for 2021 to give an idea of the kind of places you can get the best deals.

January – March April – June July – September October – December
  • Grocery stores
    (including Walmart grocery
    pickup and delivery purchases)
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Gas stations
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Select streaming services
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
  • Amazon.com
  • Target.com
  • Walmart.com

Even after you hit the spend cap on the bonus categories, you’ll earn 1% on other purchases, with no maximum. Since the Cashback Match offer essentially doubles the rewards rate at the end of your first year, you’ll want to make any large purchases you can in the first year.

Who is eligible to earn the sign-up bonus?

reward options with no minimum redemption amount, gift cards start at a $5 minimum and go up to $200.

Should you apply for the Discover it Cash Back card now?

The Discover it Cash Back first-year offer is one of the card’s staple perks, so there is no firm timeline on when you need to sign up to take advantage of this offer. But if you have any large purchases to make soon and want to earn more in rewards, the Cashback Match is a great way to earn a substantial bonus.

See related: Discover 5% cash back calendar for 2021, Credit card special offers and limited-time promotions, Guide to the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Source: creditcards.com