Credit Card Deals Help You Earn and Use Travel Benefits During COVID-19

Issuers Are Offering Limited-Time Perks & Earning Options for Grounded Customers

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Spending habits and travel plans have changed dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic. That makes earning credit card rewards and enjoying other benefits more challenging, particularly if you have a travel card. Fortunately, a few card companies are now offering more ways to do both for a limited time.

American Express

Some American Express rewards card holders can enjoy automatic access to a number of short-term perks, including statement credits, extra points, and extended deadlines for earning bonus offers: 

More Ways to Use Statement Credits

Some travel cards offer statement credits that reimburse you for travel purchases you make with the card. But now, you can get rebates on other kinds of purchases with the cards below. These are good offers considering all five cards charge high annual fees (up to $550, actually), so the more ways you can squeeze value from them while you’re at home, the better. 

The Platinum Card from American Express: Get up to $320 back in statement credits between now and the end of the year when you use this card to pay for eligible streaming and wireless phone services bought directly from U.S. service providers. There are many popular streaming services included in this offer, such as Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video, and Spotify. You can receive up to $20 back each month for each streaming service.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express: Small-business owners can receive up to $320 in statement credits for wireless phone services bought directly from U.S. providers, and on U.S. shipping purchases through December 2020. You can get up to $20 per month per purchase each month.

American Express Green Card: Use this card to pay for wireless phone service from a U.S. provider and you can get up to $80 back via statement credits (up to $10 per month) through December 2020. 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express: The $300 annual statement credit this card offers is usually only good for purchases at participating Marriott hotels but now can be used for U.S. restaurant purchases made June through August 2020 (including takeout and delivery). 

Hilton Aspire American Express: U.S. restaurant purchases made June through August 2020 will qualify for the $250 annual Hilton resort credit, so you don’t have to go to a hotel to use this rebate, either.

Extra Rewards on Dining and Grocery Purchases

In normal times, hotel and airline-branded travel cards rarely offer high earning rates on groceries, if extra rewards are offered at all. However, since most consumers are at home and not racking up rewards on flights and hotel stays right now, American Express has added a more relevant earning category for some cards through July 2020:

American Express Cards Offering Extra Rewards on Groceries Through July 2020
Card name Short-term earning rate for grocery purchases
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card 4 SkyMiles per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card 4 SkyMiles per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets
Delta SkyMiles Gold Card 4 SkyMiles per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets
Delta SkyMiles Blue Card 4 SkyMiles per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $7,500)
Hilton Surpass American Express 12 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets
Hilton Aspire American Express 12 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets

Any extra points earned by using your Hilton Surpass or Aspire card through Dec. 31, 2020 will count toward earning Elite status tier qualifications in the Hilton Honors program and Lifetime Diamond status. Typically only base points earned through the Hilton Honors program by stays at hotels count toward those qualifications.

More Time to Earn Bonuses

If you opened an American Express rewards card between Dec. 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020, you have three extra months to earn the new cardholder bonus, if you haven't already. That means if you originally had three months to spend $1,000 to earn 15,000 extra points, you now have six months to meet that same requirement. The deadline is based on the date your card application was approved. This offer applies to bonuses for new cardholders of U.S. consumer and small business cards, but does not apply to promotional APR deals on any cards.

This is good news for new cardholders who had every intention to earn a bonus offer but are on a tight budget or just spending less these days.

For more information about the specific card offers described above, check out the webpage American Express has set up just for these limited-time perks. To learn what American Express is doing for cardholders experiencing travel disruptions during COVID-19, see “Can Your Credit Card Help With Coronavirus Travel Cancellations?

Chase

Much like American Express, Chase is temporarily offering higher earning rates on grocery purchases for many of its travel rewards cards and giving new cardholders more time to earn bonuses.

Extra Rewards on Groceries

Depending on which card you have, you’ll earn 3 to 6 extra points (or miles) per $1 spent on groceries (on up to $5,000 in purchases) through June 30, 2020 (or July 31, 2020 for Marriott Bonvoy cards):

Chase Credit Cards Offering Extra Rewards on Groceries for a Limited Time
Card name Short-term earning rate for grocery purchases
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 6 points per $1 spent
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card 6 points per $1 spent
Chase Sapphire Reserve 5 points per $1 spent
United Club 5 points per $1 spent
United Club Infinite 5 points per $1 spent
United Presidential Plus
(Not accepting new applications)
5 points per $1 spent
Chase Sapphire Preferred 3 points per $1 spent
Aer Lingus Visa Signature 3 Avios per $1 spent
British Airways Visa Signature 3 Avios per $1 spent
Disney Premier Visa 3% back in Disney Rewards Dollars
World of Hyatt 3 points per $1 spent
Iberia Visa Signature 3 Avios per $1 spent
IHG Rewards Club Premier 3 points per $1 spent
IHG Rewards Club Select
(Not accepting new applications)
3 points per $1 spent
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus 3 points per $1 spent
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier 3 points per $1 spent
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority 3 points per $1 spent
United Explorer 3 miles per $1 spent
United MileagePlus
(Not accepting new applications)
3 miles per $1 spent
United MileagePlus Awards
(Not accepting new applications)
3 miles per $1 spent
United MileagePlus Select
(Not accepting new applications)
3 miles per $1 spent

More Time to Earn Bonuses

New Chase cardholders also have three extra months to earn their new cardholder bonus. If you opened a new account between Jan. 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020, you’ll have six months to meet the bonus spending requirement instead of three. This offer applies to any Chase card offering a bonus of extra miles, points, cash back or statement credits, and does not extend the length of a 0% or other promotional APR period.

If you’re eligible for this bonus extension, you should have received an email from Chase with details and terms in April.

Citi

There aren’t extra point or mile offers for Citi cardholders at this time, but this issuer is offering a few extras for consumers who need or want more time to earn a bonus or eek some value out of their airline rewards card. 

More Time to Earn Bonuses

If you opened a new Citi rewards card between Dec. 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020, you have three extra months to meet the offer’s spending requirement. This extension does not apply to promotional purchase or balance transfer APR offers, or other pricing terms. Just rewards. 

More Ways to Earn Statement Credits and Use Travel Benefits

It’s impossible to earn travel credits or enjoy benefits when you don’t—or can’t—travel, which is why Citi has made the terms of these few travel card perks a bit more flexible for the rest of this year, and even into 2021:

Citi Prestige: Normally, you can get up to $250 worth of travel expenses reimbursed each year through statement credits. But from now through the end of this year, that $250 in credits can also cover purchases from grocery stores and restaurants. 

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: Since COVID-19 has impacted travel and caused American Airlines to temporarily close many of its Admirals Club airport lounges, many of this card’s benefits (e.g., lounge access and free checked bags) are impossible to use. To help make up for it, Citi will issue a one-time $225 credit to your account two billing periods after your next annual fee is paid. To qualify, your account just needs to have been open as of March 31, 2020.  

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard: If you have a $125 flight credit (earned by spending $20,000 on the card in a year) that has expired since March 31, 2020 and before May 31, 2020, your credit is now good for six more months from the original expiration date. 

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: Similar to the consumer version of this card, cardholders of this business card who have a companion certificate set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020 will get six more months to use the certificate. That means your companion pass will now be good through June 30, 2021. 

Remember: These Offers Won’t Last Forever

These are limited-time offers, which means they won’t be around long and are subject to change. For that reason we don’t recommend applying for one of the cards mentioned above just because of these offers. If you already have one of these cards, now is a great time to pull it out of hibernation and maximize your earnings while your spending patterns are changed. Eventually, you’ll be able put the points you’re earning now toward a dream vacation. If you want a new rewards card that will be a good fit long term, check out our roundup of the best rewards cards.

Article Sources

  1. American Express. "American Express Helps Consumers and Small Businesses Get the Most Out of Membership While Staying Home." Accessed May 14, 2020.

  2. American Express. "Retail Categories." Accessed May 14, 2020.

  3. American Express. "Coronavirus Support." See under "Welcome Offers on Cards." Accessed June 1, 2020.