When Is the Best Time to Apply for a Discover It Card?

Discover It's cash back categories for Q4 were just released: Amazon.com and Target. With rotating quarterly categories, there's a strategic way to earn the most cash back in categories that fit your lifestyle. We're going to look at when you should apply for a card to maximize cash back.

During your first year, any points you accumulate will be double with the Cashback Match program. This can be powerful if you pick the timing correctly and optimize for categories.

Use our referral link to earn a $50 statement credit after your first purchase within the first 3 months: http://bit.ly/asksebby-discoverit2

For example, if you apply in Feb, you're getting more quarters because there are more than four quarters in your membership year. You're double dipping Q1 with Feb 2018 and another Q1 in Feb 2019.

To figure out the optimal strategy, we dove into the last four years of the different quarters.

Access the spreadsheet here to see which quarter you should apply: http://bit.ly/2vpxdwA

Discover it historic 5% quarterly categories

Discover it historic 5% quarterly categories

Looking through this, you can see some trends. Q1 has been gas and transportation for the past four years. Q4 has consistently been shopping and Amazon.com.

One thing to consider is Discover wants to optimize for people using their cards based on historical categories. My prediction is Q1 of 2018 will be gas and ground transportation. My guess is Q3 of 2018 will also be restaurants because it's summer and people want to dine out. Q2 is the wild card because it's different every year. 

With this information and your circumstances, you can optimize for when to apply for the Discover It card. If you're someone who spends a lot on gas and transportation, then you want to apply during Q1. Someone who dines out frequently should optimize for Q3. 

applying in q3

applying in q3

The strategy is straight forward with one Discover It card, but it gets interesting if you have two Discover It cards. Learn how to get two Discover It cards here. If you want to optimize the two card strategy, then add a one month buffer to your anniversary date to qualify. 

By optimizing around the right categories, you can earn an extra $150, assuming you can max out each quarter. 

For example, if you enjoy dining out and you spend a lot on electronics, you should apply in August/September 2017 for the first card, and wait until November 2018 for the second card. With the first card, you double dip for restaurants, and with the second card, you double dip for shopping/Amazon. 

If you're someone who spends a lot of money on Amazon and gas, then I would optimize for Q4 and Q1. For your first card, apply in November 2017, and apply for the second card in February 2018. 

applying in Q4

applying in Q4

Discover only lets you have up to 2 cards, so the strategy is to keep the first card and cancel the second one. I'll continue to cancel the secondary card and apply for a new one each year. 

When you are ready to apply for this card, there are a few things to consider to maximize your cash back. You can either apply for the card using a friend's referral link or our referral link to earn a $50 signup bonus. The $50 typically posts within the first 2-3 statements. With Cashback Match, the $50 becomes $100. 

Use our referral link to earn a $50statement credit after your first purchase within the first 3 months: http://bit.ly/asksebby-discoverit2