DOES count as a department store for Discover’s 5% category bonus. Here’s why we care…


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 purchases.  For complete details, please see this post: Maximizing the Discover Double Cash promo: Huge rewards via online shopping!

Discover 5% at

One key piece of the puzzle is the ability to get 5% cashback from Sears during the 3rd and 4th quarter 5% category bonuses.  In both quarters this year, Discover is offering 5% cash back for department stores, among other options:

Discover 5% at

A few readers have commented that while Sears counts as a department store for in-person purchases, Sears doesn’t count for online purchases.  Here’s an example comment from an old post:

I love your blog and has been very very useful to me. But I would recommend you stop misguiding people about sears and discover portal earn rates. = purchases code as merchandise and are not eligible for “home improvement” or “department store” 5% quarterly bonus = purchases do get 10% discover deals bonus

sears instore purchase = you get 5% “department store” bonus

So max you can earn,without the double bonus at end of year, is 10% not 15%.

This would be a useful warning if it were true, but it hasn’t been my experience in the past. has always counted for 5% cash back during similar category bonus periods in the past, so why wouldn’t it count now?

With my recent purchases in which I reloaded Sears’ gift cards, my purchases coded as follows:

CATEGORY: Merchandise

Despite the coding shown above, I can now declare that does count.  In my latest Discover card statement, we can see that my combined $1000 worth of gift card reload purchases from did result in 5% cash back:

Discover 5% at

And, yes, I also earned 10% cash back from the Discover portal.  So, combined, I earned 15% cash back from reloading Sears’ gift cards.  And, when I buy things from using those gift cards, I always go through the Discover portal (which is offering 10% until August 31).  So, my cash back total comes to 25%, which will later be doubled to 50%.  And, in those occasions where I can buy items with 100% back in points, I’ll do even better (see: Roll gift cards into points for triple rewards).


  • The 5% quarter bonus only works for purchasing e-gift cards, print-gift cards, or refilling existing gift cards from  By-mail physical gift cards will not work because the charge will come from Kmart, not Sears.
  • The 5% quarter bonus only works for Sears & Kmart gift cards bought from  Sears advertises additional gift cards sold by GiftCardMall, but these will not earn the 5% category bonus (and they will not earn portal rewards either).
  • You can buy other (non Sears/Kmart) gift cards in-store at Sears to earn the 5% category bonus, but then you cannot combine this with a portal bonus.

Why we care

For anyone signed up for the Discover Double Cash Back promotion, all cash back earned will be doubled after 12 months.  So, a 5% category bonus will really mean 10% in the long run.  And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this and other deals can be combined for up to 70% cash back!  For full details of how to take advantage of this promotion, please see “Maximizing the Discover Double Cash promo: Huge rewards via online shopping!

How to get in on the deal

If you do not have a Discover It card, or you want a second one, you can still get in on the double cash back promotion by signing up for Discover It by September 30th.  You can find a referral link (from a friend of mine) on my best offers page.  This will get you both the double cash back offer and a $50 signup bonus (which will also be doubled at the end of the year).

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