Maximizing the Discover Double Cash promo: Huge rewards via online shopping!

This is the third of a series of posts describing how to make the most of Discover’s Double Cash Back promotion.  Discover is offering to double all rewards earned for an entire year.  Both new and existing card members are eligible (existing members must call to sign up). Only new card members are now eligible. While it’s awesome that Discover will double all cash back earned for spend, especially within 5% cash back categories, the most exciting aspect of all this (to me) is that Discover will double rewards earned from their online shopping portal, Discover Deals, as well.  This presents the opportunity for huge earnings.

For review, please see the earlier posts in this series:

The Basics

Discover Deals is a website available to Discover cardholders that offers a combination of discounts and shopping portal cash back offers.  Those who have cards that earn so called “miles” instead of Cash Back will see only the discounts.  Those with cash back cards will see the good stuff.  This is one of the reasons I prefer the Discover It card over the Discover It Miles card for those who shop online.

Here’s how it works:

1. Go to the Discover Deals website

You can browse directly to www.discover.com/credit-cards/deals, or log into your Discover account and look for text that says “Looking for ShopDiscover? Check out Discover Deals” and click the link next to it that says “Shop Now”.

Discover Double Cash

2. Find the online store where you’d like to shop

Not all online stores are available, but most of the popular ones are here.  In my experience, Discover Deals tends to have equal or better cash back rates than most other cash back portals.  Let’s say, for example, that you want to buy stuff online from Home Depot.  Search within Discover Deals, and you should find something like this:

Discover Double Cash

Currently, Discover Deals is offering 5% cash back at HomeDepot.com.  You could then go to CashBackMonitor to compare this rate to other portals:

Discover Double Cash

Yep, Discover Deals currently has the best rate.  Even if it wasn’t the best rate, its worth considering Discover Deals if you’ve signed up for Discover’s Double Cash Back offer.  In this case, the long term earnings for Home Depot will be 10% cash back.

Note: Cash back earned through portals, including Discover Deals, is in addition to rewards earned from your credit card.  So, if you pay with your Discover card, you’ll earn cash back for the purchase directly, and you’ll earn additional cash back from the portal.

3. Click through to the store in question and shop

When you click through to a particular store, like Home Depot, the shopping experience should be exactly the same as if you had gone to HomeDepot.com directly.  If all goes well, HomeDepot.com will have tracked the fact that you came from the Discover Deals portal and will report the sale back to Discover Deals so that they can credit you with your expected cash back.

A few cautions:

  • Do not comparison shop within the same browser after clicking through from Discover Deals.  When you go to other websites, especially coupon sites, they can “steal” the click-through so that they’ll earn commission instead of you for the sale.  I recommend shopping in one browser (e.g. Chrome) and comparison shopping in another (e.g. Firefox).
  • Its rare, but a few stores are known to show higher prices when you click through a portal rather than browsing directly.  I highly recommend comparison shopping (but with a different browser) to make sure you’re getting the best price.
  • If you check out more than once, then make sure to click through from the portal again the second time.
  • When in doubt, click through from the portal again.  It can’t hurt to put things into your shopping cart and then click through from the portal before paying just to make sure that your click-through tracks appropriately.
  • Beware of browser plug-ins and toolbars.  Adblockers, deal-finder toolbars, etc. can potentially steal or mess up portal tracking.  Use a browser without any plug-ins for best results.

4. Wait for confirmation email

Days or even weeks after buying something you should get an email from Discover Card declaring that “You’ve Earned Extra Cashback Bonus!”  Within the email you’ll see how much cash back you earned, like this:

Discover Double Cash

5. Wait for actual cash back

If you look closely at the email example above, you’ll see that it says:

Cashback Bonus you’ve earned is currently pending.  You’ll see this reward reflected on your statement in 6-8 weeks.

This timeline is pretty typical of almost all rewards portals.  Usually (but not always) the portal operator waits until they earn their referral commission from the store in question before paying the end user.  This can take a while.  It also gives the merchant time to void the commission if you cancel your order or return items.

6. Wait a lot longer for Double Cash Back

The Discover Double Cash Back offer is designed to double all cash back earned after 12 months.  So, you won’t see the extra cash back for quite a while.

Caution: Cash back earned by shopping through the portal in the 11th or 12th month of the promotion might not get doubled.  It takes a while for the actual cash back to show up in your account. If the cash back shows up after the promotion 12 months, I doubt it will be doubled retroactively.

How good is this?

At the bottom of this post, I’ve included a screenshot of current “Dads & Grads” offers in the Discover Deals portal.  Discover has temporarily increased portal rates for these stores through June 21st (Sunday).  If history is any guide, we can expect most of these rates to drop 5% lower when the offer expires.  And, then, we can hope to see similar increased rates as we get closer to the end of year holidays.  For now, though, you can see that you can get 10% to 20% back at a number of popular stores:

10% Cash Back 15% Cash Back 20% Cash Back

Kmart

Sears

Sports Authority

Nordstrom

Macy’s

Jos. A. Bank

JCPenney

Lenovo

Dell

Lab Series

Panasonic

Ralph Lauren

CHEFS

Finish Line

Back Country

Under Armour

Brookstone

Rosetta Stone

Puma

AllPosters.com

Art.com

FTD

1-800-Baskets

The Popcorn Factory

Teleflora

Cheryl’s

Fannie May

Thanks to the Double Cashback offer, these rates will become 20% to 40% cash back for those who are registered with the promotion!  That’s pretty incredible all by itself.

One caution regarding flower and gift sites: Cash back is not awarded on sales tax and delivery charges.  With flower & gift sites, that can be a huge percentage of your total charge and can effectively make the portal cash back rate substantially lower.  There are a few strategies for combating this:

  1. Buy gift cards through the portal in order to earn full cash back, then use the gift cards to buy the flowers and gifts (this works for some, but not all merchants); or
  2. Sign up for a free shipping plan.  For example, 1-800-Flowers offers a Celebration Passport plan which gives you free shipping & handling for a year.  This works with their affiliated stores too: 1-800-Baskets, Fruit Bouquets, Cheryl’s, Fannie May, and The Popcorn Factory.

Increasing rewards through a category bonus double dip

A simple way to increase rewards is to shop through a portal and pay with a card that earns a category bonus for the store in question.  For example, you could go through a portal to Staples and pay with a card that offers an office supply category bonus, such as the Amex SimplyCash card.  If the portal offered 5% cash back then you would earn 5% from the portal and 5% points from your credit card.  With Discover Deals, thanks to the Double Cash Back offer, the total would become 10% cash back from the portal and 5% from your credit card for a total of 15% cash back.

Another example is to take advantage of the Discover It card’s rotating 5% categories:

Discover Double Cash

In the third quarter (July through September 2015), for example, the Discover It card is offering 5% cash back at Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and Amazon.com.  While Amazon.com isn’t available through the Discover Deals portal, many home improvement stores and department stores are.  Take Macy’s, for example.  Discover Deals is currently offering 10% cash back at Macy’s through the end of August.  By clicking through the portal to Macy’s and paying with your Discover It card, you can earn a total of 15% cash back, which would later be doubled to 30% cash back!

Increasing rewards through a gift card double dip

This trick works with some stores, but not all – not by a longshot.  With some stores, you can earn portal cash back when buying gift cards and then, again, when using those gift cards.  Here’s an example that has worked for me many times:

  • Go through portal to Sears.com to buy gift cards
  • Go through portal again to Sears to buy merchandise and pay with gift cards

Currently, with the Discover Deals portal offering 10% cash back at Sears through June 21, this double dip would result in the following earnings:

  • Go through Discover Deals to Sears.com: 10% cash back
  • Buy gift cards and pay with Discover card: 1% cash back
  • Go through Discover Deals to Sears.com: 10% cash back
  • Buy merchandise and pay with gift cards: No cash back (but if you’re a member of Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards program you’ll earn at least 1% back in SYW points)

In total, you’ll earn 21% cash back.  And, thanks to the Double Cash Back promotion, that will be doubled to 42% cash back!

How to know which stores work with the gift card double-dip, and which do not

Most stores do not offer portal rewards when you purchase gift cards.  Some do not offer portal rewards when you use gift cards to pay (but most do).  The best way to find out if a double dip will work with a store you’re interested in is to check the Frequent Miler Laboratory.  Use the search box to find the store you’re interested in:

Discover Double Cash

The search results will show experiment results conducted by myself and others.  While its rare to find the exact combination you’re looking for, its often possible to get an idea of how likely it is that your desired double dip will work.  In the example shown above, we see that in 2014 two attempts to buy gift cards (one physical gift card purchase and one e-gift card purchase) failed to earn portal rewards through the AAdvantage portal.  Even though this is not the Discover portal, results are usually the same across portals.  If a double dip works in one portal it usually (but not always) works in others.  So, Sports Authority is not a good candidate for a double dip.

Its also a good idea to subscribe to the Frequent Miler Laboratory comments section.  That way, you’ll receive email alerts whenever people report new experiment results.  And, as you uncover results of your own, please report them in the comments of that page.

Warnings:

  1. When you buy items and pay with gift cards, you do not get the automatic purchase protections commonly offered by credit cards.
  2. When you use a form of payment other than a Discover card through Discover Deals, you probably won’t get any help from Discover if your purchase does not track appropriately.

Increasing rewards through a triple dip

Things get more interesting when you can combine a gift card double dip with a category bonus.  For example, while we don’t yet have full details of the Discover card’s fourth quarter category bonus (Holiday Shopping & More), I think its likely that Sears.com will qualify.  Also, from past experience, I expect that Discover Deals will again offer 10% cash back at Sears sometime in the fourth quarter.  Assuming those things line up, then:

  • Go through Discover Deals to Sears.com: 10% cash back
  • Buy gift cards and pay with your Discover card: 5% cash back (thanks to the 4th quarter bonus)
  • Go through Discover Deals to Sears.com: 10% cash back
  • Buy merchandise and pay with gift cards: If you’re a member of Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards program you’ll earn at least 1% back in SYW points

In total, you’ll earn 25% cash back and at least 1% in SYW points.  And, thanks to the Double Cash Back promotion, that will be doubled to 50% cash back!

How about a quadruple dip?

If we get really lucky, we’ll not only see the conditions above that will allow 50% cash back for buying things from Sears, but we’ll also see a return of many Sears promotions for “100% back in points” that were common during the holidays in 2014.  If so, things get really crazy…

  • Go through Discover Deals to Sears.com: 10% cash back
  • Buy gift cards and pay with your Discover card: 5% cash back (thanks to the 4th quarter bonus)
  • Go through Discover Deals to Sears.com: 10% cash back
  • Buy items offering 100% back in points and pay with gift cards: 100% back in SYW points
  • Go through Discover Deals to Sears.com: 10% cash back
  • Buy items you actually want and pay with points: No SYW points earned when using points to pay.

In total, you’ll earn 35% cash back which will be doubled to 70% cash back!  Plus, you’ll get a bunch of junk great stuff from Sears (the 100% back in points items) that might be useful for yourself, or as presents, or to resell. 70%! That’s ridiculous!

Reality: In real life, the 100% back in points items tend to be limited in how many you can purchase (and if you try to go around those limits, your account could get shut down) and are often fairly low priced to begin with.  And, they tend to sell out quickly.  So, your ability to scale this up will be very limited.  Consider yourself lucky if you can buy a few hundred dollars worth of items with this approach.

Learn more about this approach here: Discover extreme savings.

Questions and Answers

Q: How do I know if my Discover card is eligible for the Double Cash Back promotion?

Call the number on the back of your Discover card and ask.  If you have a Discover card, but not the Discover It card, they may offer to make a product change for you. For most people, I’d recommend doing so.

Q: Don’t I have to pay with my Discover card to get cash back from Discover Deals?

While phone reps may tell you that you have to use your Discover card, in practice I’ve earned cash back from the portal for years and have hardly ever used my Discover card to pay (except when the card offers 5% cash back for that merchant).  If things go wrong with portal tracking, though, customer support probably won’t help you since they won’t see the purchase on your credit card statement.

Q: What if I don’t want to buy anything at Sears?

Sears was just one example here. During the Double Cash Back promotion, I’d recommend using Discover Deals for all of your online shopping.

As to Sears, some people have had luck using Sears gift cards in-store to buy other gift cards (including $200 Visa cards).  Be very careful, though. Many people have been turned away when trying to do this so its risky to sink more money into Sears gift cards than you’ll know what to do with.

Q: How best to buy/use Sears’ gift cards?

Please see: The complete guide to Sears gift cards

Current Discover Deals Dads & Grads deals:

Discover Double Cash

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

  1. […] Those who signed up for a Discover It card recently (and those who signed up as existing cardholders prior while they allowed that) have a remarkable opportunity: after 12 months, Discover has promised to double all cashback earned.  Since the Discover It card already offers generous 5% cash back in rotating categories and one of the best cash back portals around, there are plenty of opportunities to combine these promotions to earn fantastic rewards.  For example, in a previous post, I laid out how to take advantage of multiple Discover offers at once to get up to 70% cash back on Sears.com purchases.  For complete details, please see this post: Maximizing the Discover Double Cash promo: Huge rewards via online shopping! […]

Comments

  1. I think a word of caution is in order.

    Sears is a troubled retailer. There have been reports that manufacturers have limited shipping inventory to Sears because of their financial situation.

    Don’t get stuck holding more Sears gift cards than you can afford to lose. I’m not an attorney, but I believe that, in a bankruptcy, they’ll likely become worthless unsecured debt.

    • Thanks. I’m pretty sure that if Sears goes into bankruptcy there will be plenty of lead time to use up gift cards. That said, its always safer to use them quickly than to leave them hanging around.

    • very troubled indeed, though think we’ve been hearing this warning for years (which rhymes with sears). Come to think of it, I wrote a few such similar alerts myself. (esp. as I watched how horrendous Kmart practices infected Sears after they swallowed it) To be sure, Kmart/Sears is often a MISERABLE retailer to do business with – sadly so.

      Yet I’ve also been learning that in the midst of such chaos, pearls and deals like this do exist. (and I so do like the concept of getting great multi-dipped discounts on venerable Sears/Craftsman merchandise…. building my shopping list, from appliances to lawn & garden equipment, getting “it,” and then keeping open the possibility to be surprised.

  2. Great info but what I really want to know is how or if I can leverage Daily Deals for straight MS.

    Waiting for your Cash Back comparison eagerly so I can get a list of new card apps assembled.

  3. I got my Discover card before they started naming it More, IT, etc., close to 20 years ago. It is the second oldest card I have. I think it has transitioned to More lately. If I convert it to IT, will that change my average age of accounts?

  4. Hey, maybe a dumb question, but wouldn’t the Sears qualify NOW for 5% category bonus? I always considered it a cross between department and home improvement.

  5. Called Discover and they said that going through Sears.com would count as “online shopping” and not the “department store” category and therefore would be ineligible for the extra 5% category next month. Also even if it was eligible the 10% Sears discount from the Dads and Grads promotion ends as you note on June 21 while the 4th quarter department store 5% bonus category does not start until July 1. Can you please clarify if I am wrong?

    • That’s mostly correct. Keep in mind that phone reps can only tell you what they know to the best of their knowledge. The only way to know for sure which stores will really count towards different categories is to try them.
      Anyway, the time when I think we can do the full triple dip is in the fourth quarter (Oct-Dec): Holiday shopping. Then, I expect Sears to jump back up to 10% through the portal plus I expect that Sears will count for Holiday Shopping.

  6. I noticed that there are 3rd parties selling items on Sears’ website. Does the double-dip with buying giftcards first and then using the giftcards to buy the item you really want work with 3rd party sold items or does the item you want need to be sold directly from Sears?

  7. As of this morning 6/24 the offer is no longer being extended to existing cardmembers. Have to submit a new application in order to participate in the promotion. Or at least that’s what they told me over chat.

  8. Has anyone gotten a cashback for Macy’s purchasing their ‘everyday value’ item? I am looking to buy an espresso machine, it’s an ‘everyday value’ item which is almost always excluded from all Macy’s coupon codes and any promotions… It will be just too good to be true to get 20% off on this item…

  9. Do purchases from Sear’s 3rd party sellers work for cashback? If so you could buy pretty much anything there.

    • Yes, you’ll get cashback buying marketplace items on Sears.com. Beware that some of those are overpriced and you can’t return them to a Sears store. Also you can’t use SYW points to buy them (but you can use gift cards)

  10. Thanks for the great info.

    Do you know if Discover Deals pay cash back for Sears 3rd party seller purchases? I want to buy something. But only 3rd party sellers sell it. 🙁

  11. When I ordered a gift card from Sears, they called me after about an hour to do a security verification and approved the order manually. Would this cancel Discover Deals cashback?

    • It didn’t affect CB. I already got the email for cashback. But I saw comments elsewhere in this website stating that Discover took back the double dip cashback after awarding. 🙁

      • Security verification is normal and, as you found, doesn’t stop cash back. Yes, a couple of people have reported that Discover clawed back their cash back, but those reports are extremely rare. In at least one case, the cash back was clawed back for a reason unrelated to the form of payment.

        • I was one of the people who had Discover cashback clawed back, but it was back when they used ShopDiscover instead of Discover Deals. They got me because I used so many gift cards through their portal to double dip every month. I quit using Discover Deals within about 2 months of the changeover because they never posted my cashback when I used the portal with a GC, so I switched to shopathome, upromise,etc. Have you consistently had luck getting cashback through Discover Deals for purchases made with a GC?

          Another note that I hadnt seen yet but you might have covered elsewhere: if you refill enough giftcards on sears.com, they will permanently ban your sywr account and your credit card on their site. Then when you try to order anything at all, the order will go through and then immediately be canceled. There is no help after that. Customer service cant help, and for the most part they cant even figure out what happened. I lost 6 VIP accounts before I figured out what I was doing wrong! haha

        • Thanks for the info. I only did the double dip for three transactions. The value was big though. I didn’t have any trouble getting the cashback. Received cashback award emails 2-3 days after purchase in every case.

          I’ll keep in mind your tip about gift cards. 🙂

  12. I am new to the Discover card and any cutback deals as well. I just clicked through discover deals, went to macys.com and purchased some stuff. Applied the 20% coupon that was available in Macy’s wallet – will this make the 10% off discover deal invalid?

  13. I know that the Discover “Card” cashback has limits ($1,500 per quarter). Are there also total dollar limits to CashBack through the Discover Deals portal?

  14. What is stopping me from doing this:
    1) Buy a $100 SEARS gift card for $85 on eBay. (August 2015 deal)
    2) With it buying an $100 eBay gift card
    3) repeating first step over and over ..I should end up with many eBay cards with $15 on them.
    All for free.

    • I’m not the expert here but I have a lot of Sears MS experience. If your SEARS locations HAVE the $100 Ebay cards and ALLOW you to buy em up (YMMV in my experience) then “git er done”! Go easy and don’t be greedy and work it carefully once you find the right Sears situation

      • What is YMMV? Is it usually not possible to buy a gift card with a store gift card?
        Also can you buy visa debit cards with store gift cards? Let’s say buying visa with a SEARS gift card in a SEARS store.
        Thanks a lot

        • YMMV=your mileage may vary menaing nohtng is set in stone and it may differ from place to place. Yes, you can buy Visa Debit/Gift cards and 3rd party gift cards at sears, but each Sears toends to have their own policies even though compnay wide it is acceptable. Again…go slow and dont do TOO much all at once. Good luck

  15. With Apple pay GC dead looks like maybe buying through the portal at Macys is now better. 30% on first $1500……20% on ???? is there a limit on the cashback portal points earned?

    • No, there’s no limit on the portal. That said, the Discover portal doesn’t seem to be working since mid October. Hopefully payouts are just paused for a while and they’ll fix it, but we don’t have any way to know. See comments in the Frequent Miler Laboratory

  16. Do I have to keep the cashback with Discover for it to double or can I redeem at any time and it will still double?

    Thanks!

    • You can redeem at any time. They’ll keep track of how much you’ve earned and they’ll match that amount at the end of your 12 months of doubling. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent the rewards in that time.

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