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Travel cards aren’t as valuable in a world that can’t travel. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a lot of banks and travel brands adapting to circumstances quickly by enticing credit card spending. We’ve already seen:
- Capital One allowing cardholders to redeem travel points towards dining and streaming purchases
- Hyatt making it easier to earn elite-qualifying nights through credit card spend
- Chase offering increased point earnings for food delivery services
- American Airlines allowing credit card spend to count towards Million Miler
- A Comprehensive Guide to All Credit Card Benefits, Changes Due to COVID-19
Chase and Marriott are the latest to join the party, recently announcing the addition of grocery stores as a temporary bonus category for the majority of their travel-related cards. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get straight into it.
Chase Offering 3-5X Points on Grocery Spend
From May 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020, most Chase-issued travel cards earned 3-5X points on up to $1,500 per month in grocery purchases—including some grocery delivery services like Instacart.
This promotion has ended; however, no activation or registration was necessary, so you should earn extra points for qualifying purchases made during the promotion.
- Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card — 3X Avios
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card — 3X Avios
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — 3X Ultimate Rewards points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® — 5X Ultimate Rewards points
- Disney® Premier Visa® Card — 3X Disney Rewards Dollars
- Iberia Visa Signature® Card — 3X Avios
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card — 3X IHG Rewards points
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card — 3X IHG Rewards points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card — 3X Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card — 3X Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card — 3X Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- United MileagePlus® Club Card — 5X United miles
- United Club℠ Infinite Card — 5X United miles
- United℠ Explorer Card — 3X United miles
- United MileagePlus® Awards Card — 3X United miles
- United MileagePlus® Select Card — 3X United miles
- United MileagePlus® Presidential Plus℠ Card — 5X United miles
- The Hyatt Credit Card — 3X Hyatt points
- The World Of Hyatt Credit Card — 3X Hyatt points
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
- 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
- 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Earn 6X Points at Groceries with Most Marriott Cards
Starting today, all Marriott co-branded credit cards—except for the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card—will earn 6X points on grocery purchases through July 31, 2020. For Amex-issued cards, extra points earned are limited to U.S. supermarkets.
- This promotion requires no enrollment or activation.
- Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points on all grocery spend posting between May 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020.
- The bonus earning rate applies to a maximum of $5,000 in spending at grocery stores on Chase Marriott Bonvoy cards.
- The bonus earning rate applies to a maximum of $7,500 in spending at U.S. supermarkets on Amex Marriott Bonvoy consumer cards.
- This promotion applies to all currently—and previously—available Marriott Bonvoy credit cards except the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
- For Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card cardholders, U.S. restaurant purchases now qualify for the annual $300 statement credit normally reserved for purchases at Marriott hotels.
What Stores Qualify?
It’s important to figure out what will or will not be considered a ‘grocery store’ before you shop. While true grocery stores shouldn’t cause too much questioning, major warehouse clubs and discount stores—including some Target, Walmart, and Costco locations—typically don’t qualify. The Merchant Category Lookup Tool is perfect for figuring out how your purchase will code. The AwardWallet team is busy making updates to reflect the new earning rates, so results may not be accurate right away.
Is This a Good Deal?
While 3X, 5X, or 6X might look and sound great, it’s important to remember that all points aren’t valued equally. For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are typically valued around 1.7¢ each or higher, while IHG points are typically only valued at 0.5¢ a piece. This drastically changes the value of your return, regardless of the multiplier.
As a reference point, these are the cards that we typically recommend for grocery spending under normal circumstances. Before today, there are two clear-cut winners to consider:
- Chase Freedom® — This card currently earns 5% cash back—or 5X Ultimate Rewards when paired with a UR earning card—on up to $1,500 spent at grocery stores and supermarkets this quarter.
- American Express® Gold Card — This card earns 4X Membership Rewards Points on up to $25K spent at U.S. supermarkets annually. With MRs typically valued around 1.8¢ a piece, this represents a 7.2% return.
With that said, there are a few standouts here. For example, the Sapphire Reserve earns 5X now, which represents an 8.5% return if we used a 1.7¢ valuation for Ultimate Rewards. That’s simply fantastic, although I wish the cap were higher than $1,500 per month. All the other cards earning 5X are United co-branded, and after the significant devaluations United has recently announced, you’re probably better off prioritizing other currencies.
In regards to Marriott cards, considering that most normally earn 1X or 2X on grocery spend, 6X is a substantial improvement. If you value Bonvoy points conservatively at 0.7 cents each, this translates to a 4.2% return. While not quite as lucrative as earning 5X URs on the Sapphire Reserve or Freedom Card, the higher $5,000–$7,500 cap still makes this a solid opportunity to stock up on Marriott Bonvoy points. Plus, the temporary bonus on Amex cards is good through July 31 instead of June 30 for the Chase cards.
- Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
- Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
- 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
- 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
- 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
- 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
The motivation is pretty clear—a lot of people are spending more money on groceries now than they ever did before. Some grocery stores report up to a 30% increased demand in recent days! This makes a bonus in this category a win-win for cardmembers and card-issuers alike. Considering Amex is the only major card-issuing bank that previously offered bonuses for grocery stores year-round, this is a very timely development.
Which card will you be using at the grocery store in May and June?
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