My 6 Favorite Credit Card Category Bonuses

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We’re seeing credit card companies more competitive than ever before, and I tend to think that nowadays on average we have the opportunity to earn more miles per dollar spent than at any point in the past. While credit card category bonuses have been around for a while, we’ve seen some great new ones introduced lately.

With that in mind, I figured I’d share the six credit card category bonuses that I like most. I’d love to hear what your favorite bonus categories are in the comments section.

5x points on airfare

This is a fairly new bonus category. As of last weekThe Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines. I spend a lot of money on airfare, so this is huge for me.

I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~8.5% in the category.

Singapore-A380

5x points at office supply stores and on cell phone bills

Both the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card offer 5x points on purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. The Plus offers up to 5x points on the first $50,000 spent in the categories combined annually, while the Cash offers those points on the first $25,000 spent annually.

Being able to earn 5x points on things like your cell phone bill, cable bill, etc., really can add up.

I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~8.5% in those categories.

4.5x points at grocery stores

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express offers 3x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 of spend per year. On top of that, the card offers a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle on the card.

In other words, that means you can earn a total of 4.5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at grocery stores, assuming you make 30 transactions on the card per month.

I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so that’s like a return of ~7.65% in the category.

Grocery-apples

3x points on dining and travel

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card is the newest lucrative card to be introduced, and offers 3x points on all dining and travel purchases. That covers a huge array of purchases, ranging from Uber to parking to trains to flights to hotels. So while I use The Platinum Card® from American Express for airfare nowadays, this is my go to card for all other travel purchases.

I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~5.1% in the category.

3x points on gas

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express is not only rewarding for supermarket spend, but also for spend at U.S. standalone gas stations. The card offers 2x points in that category. On top of that, the card offers a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle on the card, for a total of 3x points on gas spend.

I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so that’s like a return of ~5.1% in the category.

1.5x points on everyday spend

Perhaps this isn’t a bonus category at all, but rather covers the rest of your spend. Rather than earning one point per dollar spent on your non-bonused spend, you can earn 1.5x points:

Given that I value Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, that’s like a return of ~2.55% on everyday spend.

Bottom line

I think it’s interesting to reflect on just how far credit cards have come in terms of the return they offer on everyday spend. I remember when I earned an average of a little over one point per dollar spent, while nowadays I’m averaging around three points per dollar spent.

While everyone will have different favorite cards and category bonuses, the above are my “go to” cards that help me maximize my spend.

Are there any category bonuses that I left out that you especially like?


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Comments

  1. Citi Premier offers 3X on gas (and travel) with no minimum transactions. Also offers 2x on entertainment, which none of the cards on this list has. It’s a shame the sign up bonus is gone, I used to tell everyone about this card.

  2. The other important point is the redemption rates. AX with 2 x on your named airline or any business/first ticket makes AX spend up to 10% return on platinum. AX points have just gone significantly up IMO.

  3. Citi AT&T – 3x online (including Plastiq); when combined with Citi Prestige gives 4.8% back towards AA (for next 8 months or so). Got retention bonus of extra 1x for next 12 months bringing to effective 6.4% back.

  4. @Matt B – Is that the retention on the Citi Prestige or At&t

    @Lucky – Don’t forget 5x on Amex Platinum on ALL Merchants (includes AirBnB) on United’s Mileage Plus X app

  5. Lucky, Not sure if it is a “category bonus” but the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free for hotels is quite valuable to me. Cheers.

  6. @Mileage Man:

    I thought there were reports that MPX is not coding as airline for the purpose of bonus points? However, if this is true, that would be pretty nice, as it would be 5x MR + 2x United miles for Amazon.com…

  7. Surprised you aren’t mentioning Mileage X App. Many restaurants are 5 miles per dollar plus 25% bonus for having a United credit card. Then link the app to a Sapphire Reserve card. So, I take my wife and kids to The Cheesecake Factory or TGI Fridays (or 100 other restaurant chains) and get 6.25 United points plus 3 Ultimate Rewards points. We’re not talking about fine dining, but the kids don’t want fine dining and my return is close to 15%!

  8. @JustSaying, good point. Do you (or anyone reading) have a list of wineries coded as 2x? I am on a number of wineries’ mailing lists, but never sure if I should use the Prestige card. Thanks.

  9. Turley-Yes
    Phelps-Yes…..but that may have changed recently
    Harlan-No
    Colgin-No
    Lokoya-No
    Realm-No
    Clos Solene-No
    Gros Ventre-??
    Dehlinger-No
    Schrader-No??
    Williams Selyem-Yes
    Robert Foley-Yes
    Verite-Yes
    Keplinger-No
    Schrader-No

    That’s all I know…….Some no’s are maybe….but all yes’s are one’s I have gotten the bonus on……….when it happens it is sweet and then it matters whether I use SPG or Citi…………

    Cheers!

  10. @JustSaying, thanks…that’s very helpful. You have good taste in wines…We have a small overlap. I will make sure to remember that with Williams Selyem and Robert Foley. Just FYI, I share your affinity for Napa cabs. I’m also on a few other lists…Quilceda Creek, Saxum, Alban, Kosta Browne, L’Aventure, Booker, Cayuse, Beaux Freres, Aubert…just branching out a bit. Hope our paths cross some day. Cheers.

  11. L’Aventure are great wines….their former assistant winemaker now is Close Solene………I would love to be on Saxum list…..I wait……….Cheers! Napa is near heaven……………

  12. I would like to point out that Fidelity Visa gives two points for everything and either sends you a check or deposits it into your Fideilty Investments account if you like….. And no annual fees and great customer service……

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