Credit card issuers like American Express and Citi have added COVID-friendly credits, bonuses, and flexibility — making it easier to earn and redeem rewards during the pandemicJanuary 6, 2021
This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.
- Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
- Many travel rewards credit card benefits are currently unusable due to the coronavirus pandemic, so card issuers have rolled out new perks tailored to life in quarantine.
- If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, or certain other small-business cards, Amex has launched new benefits and statement credits designed to reward you for online shopping, meal delivery, and everyday spending.
- Chase introduced a valuable, limited-time Pay Yourself Back option that lets you use points for groceries, dining, and home-improvement purchases when you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
- Capital One is letting select cardholders redeem miles to cover food delivery, streaming services, and mobile phone purchases, and Citi has made some benefits easier to redeem.
- Read Business Insider's guide to the best rewards credit cards.
In the grand scheme of things, not being able to fully maximize your rewards credit cards during the coronavirus pandemic isn't the biggest problem. But many of the best rewards cards charge high annual fees, and several of their top benefits like airport lounge access and airline fee credits are related to travel, so it can feel difficult to justify the fees when you can't put those perks to use.
Luckily, in addition to extending customers various relief programs like the ability to request payment deferrals, credit card issuers are making adjustments to their rewards programs.
Here's a breakdown of new benefits being offered by major card issuers. We'll continue to update this list as other issuers add new features and the ones already included here add to their rewards programs.
We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.
To adjust for the fact that most cardholders aren't spending money on travel, American Express rolled out limited-time rewards opportunities on some of its cards.
Amex Platinum PayPal statement credits
The Platinum Card® from American Express is currently offering cardholders up to $30 in PayPal statement credits each month from January to June, 2021. There's no registration required — just add your card to your PayPal account, and select PayPal as the payment method when you check out online.
These credits don't roll over from one month to the next, so if you don't lose them, you'll lose them. Also, be aware the credit won't apply to person-to-person payments, purchases of gift cards, or reloading of prepaid cards — and to qualify, your transaction must be made with a US merchant in US dollars.
If you max out the credit each month, this benefit is worth $180 — and it's a great way to help offset the card's annual fee of $550 (See Rates).
It's a good time to consider The Platinum Card® from American Express because it's currently offering an excellent welcome bonus of 75,000 points after you spend at least $5,000 in your first 6 months of account opening (Note: New Platinum Card® cardmembers can earn 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months of card membership).
American Express has also introduced up to $1,700 in statement credits for eligible Platinum Card members with open accounts as of November 1, 2020. You'll need to activate each Amex Offer and redeem it by June 30, 2021. Here's the full list:
- Spend $50 or more at BestBuy.com, get $50 back (up to two times, for a total of $100 back)
- Spend $50 or more at HomeDepot.com, get $50 back (up to two times, for a total of $100 back)
- Spend $50 or more at Home Chef, get $50 back (up to three times, for a total of $150 back)
- Spend $30 or more at Wine Insiders, get $30 back (up to two times, for a total of $60 back)
- Spend $9.99 or more at Scribd, get $9.99 back (up to five times, for a total of $49.95 back)
- Spend $250 or more at Instacart, get $50 back (up to two times, for a total of $100 back)
- Spend $1,000 or more at Samsung, get $200 back
- Spend $250 or more at Avis, get $75 back (up to two times, for a total of $150 back)
- Spend $150 or more at The Container Store, get $50 back (up to two times, for a total of $100 back)
- Spend $100 or more at Goldbelly, get $50 back (up to two times, for a total of $100 back)
- Spend $780 or more on eligible purchases at Virtual Personal Training by Equinox, get $130 back (up to five times, for a total of $650)
Limited-time spending bonuses, credits for select Amex business cardholders
If you opened The Business Platinum Card® from American Express by November 1, 2020, you can earn an additional 4 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar (total 5x points) for US purchases in the following categories through June 30, 2021:
- Office supply stores
These are Amex Offers so you'll need to add them to your account to activate them.
Some other Amex small-business cards, including The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express and American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, are eligible for an Amex Offer to earn a $25 statement credit on single purchases of $500 or more, up to 10 times through June 30, 2021. Activation is also required, and your account must have been opened by November 1, 2020.
Complimentary Uber Eats Pass with Amex Platinum, Gold, Green cards
If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Gold Card, or American Express® Green Card, you're eligible for a complimentary 12-month Uber Eats Pass subscription. To activate the benefit, you must enroll by December 31, 2021.
Eligible cardholders will get $0 delivery fees and 5% off restaurant orders over $15, and $0 delivery fees on grocery deliveries over $30 in select markets. An Uber Eats Pass subscription normally costs $9.99 per month, so this benefit is worth up to $119. If you have Platinum Card, this is a great way to get additional savings if you use your monthly Amex Platinum Uber credit for Uber Eats orders.
Use Venture miles to cover food delivery and streaming services
Acknowledging that most cardholders aren't traveling right now, Capital One introduced some new options for using miles. If you have the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, you can use miles to cover food delivery purchases made with your card.
You can also use your miles to cancel out charges for streaming services including Hulu and Netflix. This redemption option was extended through April 30, 2021.
Use Spark miles to cover mobile phone payments
If you have the Capital One Spark Cash for Business or the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, you also have a new option for using your miles until April 30, 2021. You can use miles from either of these business cards to erase select mobile phone payments from your statement. Additionally, you can use miles to cover eligible food delivery charges.
Eligible wireless phone service providers include AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. This category includes phone bills and other purchases made with these providers.
Bonus rewards with Uber Eats
If you have a Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, or VentureOne Rewards Card, you can earn extra rewards when you order delivery through Uber Eats.
The Savor cards will earn 5% cash back, and the Venture cards will earn 5x miles, on Uber Eats purchases through January 31, 2021.
Chase Sapphire Reserve — $300 travel credit for gas and groceries
Chase added the ability to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® annual travel credits (up to $300 per year) toward gas and grocery purchases in 2020, and that's now been extended through June 30, 2o21.
The credit renews every cardholder anniversary (or calendar year, if you opened your card before May 21, 2017), so be sure to use it before the end of June if you want to offset grocery and gas purchases.
Redeem your points to cover dining, groceries, home improvement, and more
Chase introduced a new option for using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points: Pay Yourself Back. Until April 30, 2021, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can redeem points to cover dining, grocery, home-improvement, and charity purchases made with your card.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your points are worth 1.5 cents apiece, and if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece. Either of these rates is better than the standard rate of 1 cent per point for cash redemptions, so if you have a lot of Chase points, this could be a great option for cutting down on your everyday expenses.
Chase Sapphire cards grocery bonus
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll earn 3x or 2x points respectively at grocery stores until April 30, 2021, on up to $1,000 in spending per month (then 1x).
Complimentary DoorDash credits and DashPass membership
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® introduced DoorDash food delivery credits in 2020 as a way to offset its increased annual fee. In 2021, cardholders can receive up to $60 in statement credits when they use their card to pay with DoorDash — no enrollment is required.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can also activate a complimentary year of DoorDash DashPass membership, which normally costs $9.99 per month. The benefits of a DashPass subscription include reduced service fees and free delivery on all orders of $12 or more.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders are eligible for a complimentary three-month membership, followed by a 50% discount for nine months. This also applies to Chase Freedom® and Chase Slate® cardholders (not open to new applicants).
To enroll, add your eligible card to your DoorDash account and click to activate the offer by December 31, 2021.
Select Chase co-branded airline and hotel cards — 5x on groceries, gas, and drugstores
Some co-branded Chase airline and hotel cards have an offer to earn 5x points or miles on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores until March 31, 2021. This promotion includes select airline and hotel credit cards such as the United℠ Explorer Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, and IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
These offers are targeted, and you'll need to activate it through the link you get in your email — it's not automatic.
Chase Hyatt, British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus cards — spending bonuses
If you have The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, British Airways Visa Signature® Card, Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card, or Iberia Visa Signature® card, check your email for a targeted offer to earn bonus points for spending a specified amount on the card.
With The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, you can earn 5,000 bonus Hyatt points after you enroll and spend $3,000 on purchases by March 31, 2021. The British Airways Visa Signature® Card, Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card, and Iberia Visa Signature® card are offering 15,000 bonus Avios points when you spend $5,000 on purchases by the same date once you activate.
Citi Prestige $250 travel credit for restaurants and supermarkets
Citi expanded the categories in which you can use the Citi Prestige® Card annual $250 travel credit in 2020, and the issuer has now extended the benefit. Through December 31, 2021, cardholders can apply the credit to purchases at restaurants (including takeout) and supermarkets, as well as the usual travel categories like airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more.
Courtesy credit upon card renewal for eligible Citi AAdvantage Executive cardholders
Citi is offering a courtesy credit to eligible customers with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, the high-end American Airlines card that offers Admirals Club membership in exchange for a $450 annual fee. If you had an open account prior to April 1, 2020, you'll get a $225 courtesy credit upon your card renewal, for renewal dates through May 31, 2021.
This could make it easier to justify keeping the card open even when you're not able to use its airline benefits.
Flight-discount and companion certificates are getting extended
Additionally, Citi's offering a six-month extension of flight-discount certificates on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® for customers whose certificates are set to expire between March 31, 2020, and May 31, 2021.
And if you have the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® with a companion certificate that was set to expire on December 31, 2020, you'll get a six-month extension, with your certificate now expiring on June 30, 2021.
Jasmin Baron is an associate editor at Personal Finance Insider, where she helps readers maximize rewards and find the best credit cards to fit their lifestyles.
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