Limited-Time Travel Rewards Card Offers During COVID-19

Travel Cards Are Still Offering Extra Perks for Grounded Customers

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American Express and Chase are the latest card issuers to roll out additional short-term credit card offers to help grounded travelers make the most of their rewards cards as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

Spending habits and travel plans have been in flux for months, and credit card issuers were quick to respond with extra benefits earlier this year in an attempt to offer customers more value. Many issuers have since extended their initial offers and added new ones. Here’s the latest on what travel rewards card issuers are offering grounded travelers right now: 

American Express

The latest batch of short-term travel card offers comes from American Express. This card issuer announced several new promotions on Tuesday, offering some cardholders perks such as extra rewards and statement credits. American Express has also created a travel resource page for cardholders seeking additional information, support, and card offer details during the pandemic. 

More Ways to Use Statement Credits

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

The Platinum Card from American Express: There are several ways to get extra statement credits with this card right now: 

  • Enroll your card in the Fine Hotels + Resorts Amex Offer and spend at least $800 on prepaid bookings through AmexTravel.com before Dec. 7, 2020 to receive a $150 statement credit. 
  • Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month through Dec. 31, 2020 when you use this card to pay for eligible streaming and cell phone services. No enrollment is required. There are many popular streaming services included in this offer, such as Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Disney+, and Spotify.
  • Receive up to $20 back each month for wireless phone services bought directly from U.S. service providers through the rest of the year, too. There’s no enrollment required for either offer.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express: In addition to the same $150 statement credit Fine Hotels + Resorts Amex Offer as the consumer version of this card, small-business owners can also get the following: 

  • Up to $20 in statement credits each month for wireless phone services bought directly from U.S. providers, and on U.S. shipping purchases through December 2020. 
  • Enroll in extra Dell computer purchase statement credits—up to $100 extra through Dec. 31, 2020 for U.S. purchases with Dell.

American Express Green Card: Use this card to pay for wireless phone service from a U.S. provider and you can get up to $10 back per month via statement credits through December 2020. No enrollment required.  

Those with an American Express rewards card that offers Membership Rewards points can also enroll in an offer with Marriott Bonvoy to get 40% more points when rewards are transferred to the Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty program through Oct. 31, 2020. Eligible cardholders who sign-up for this offer can also get a one-time $75 statement credit when they spend at least $250 on a reservation made with participating Marriott Bonvoy properties before Dec. 31, 2020. 

Discounted Domestic Airfare

For those who have either Platinum Card and are starting to make travel plans again, American Express is offering lower airfare costs on some U.S. routes and flights on AmexTravel.com through March 31, 2021. For more information on this offer and to search for the discounted flights, visit this new American Express webpage.

According to the latest announcement from American Express, cardholders with Membership Rewards points will soon be able to use their rewards to book prepaid rental car reservations through AmexTravel.com. There may also be promotional offers on some rental car services.

Extra Rewards on Everyday Purchases and Travel

In normal times, airline and hotel-branded travel cards rarely offer high earning rates on groceries, if extra rewards are offered at all. However, since many consumers are at home and not racking up rewards on travel right now, American Express has added some more relevant earning categories for a handful of cards for a limited time and boosted some travel earning rates, too: 

American Express Cards Offering Extra Rewards in 2020
Card name Short-term earning rate
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, restaurants, and Marriott hotels (up to $7,500 through Oct. 31, 2020)
Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, restaurants, and Marriott hotels (up to $7,500 through Oct. 31, 2020)
Hilton Surpass American Express 6 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations
Hilton Aspire American Express 7 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants
Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express 5 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases, 4 miles per $1 spent at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) through Dec. 31, 2020
Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express 5 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases, 4 miles per $1 spent at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) through Dec. 31, 2020
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express 5 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases through Dec. 31, 2020
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express 5 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases through Dec. 31, 2020
Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express 5 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases through Dec. 31, 2020
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express 5 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases through Dec. 31, 2020

There’s no limit on the number of extra points you can earn on restaurant purchases with the Delta Gold cards. All Delta card offers require enrollment. Delta SkyMiles Gold card holders can enroll here, and all others can do so via your online account.

Boost Toward Elite Status

If you’re all about the loyalty perks that come with earning and maintaining elite status with an airline or hotel program, Amex is giving some cardholders a few more ways to reach that goal this year.

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. 

Through Dec. 31, 2020, Delta fans who have the Delta SkyMiles Platinum or Reserve card (either the consumer or business version) will get 500 miles and 500 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) for each $1,000 spent on purchases with the card, up to 25,000 miles and 25,000 MQMs.

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 have been on a tight budget, but even if you opened a card on May 31, you only have a couple more months to earn your bonus under this offer.

Waived Point Transfer Fees

American Express is temporarily waiving the excise tax offset fee it normally charges each time Membership Rewards points are transferred to eligible U.S. airline loyalty programs (because Amex is getting a break from the government on the excise tax as part of a coronavirus stimulus act). Through Dec. 31, 2020, you can transfer points to a partner travel program without paying the usual 0.06 cents per point (up to $99). (Just remember you can’t transfer points back to your Membership Rewards account once they are moved.) 

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?

Capital One 

It’s not all travel-related, but Capital One is also giving some rewards cardholders flexibility for a little while.

Extra Rewards on Streaming Services & Food Delivery

Through Dec 31, 2020, Capital One Savor and SavorOne cardholders can earn extra cash back on purchases made through music and video streaming platforms including Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Savor cardholders will earn 4% cash back, and SavorOne cardholders will earn 3% back, according to information Capital One emailed The Balance. 

Furthermore, if you have the Capital One Savor, SavorOne, Venture, VentureOne, Spark Miles, or Spark Miles Select card, you can also earn 5% back (in points or miles) with Uber Eats through Jan. 31, 2021. 

You don’t need to activate either of these deals; just use any of the aforementioned cards as payment.

More Ways to Use Miles

If you have the Capital One Venture or VentureOne card, your miles can be used to pay for restaurant delivery, takeout, and streaming service purchases through Dec. 31, 2020. To do so, use the issuer’s Purchase Eraser tool to redeem rewards for a purchase statement credit, as you would for travel. According to Capital One, Venture Miles are worth 1 cent when used this way, just like travel. 

Chase

Much like American Express, Chase is temporarily offering higher earning rates on non-travel purchases for a few of its top travel rewards cards and giving cardholders more ways to maximize their Ultimate Rewards points. 

More Ways to Increase Point Value

With the several Chase credit cards that offer Ultimate Rewards points, one of the most valuable ways to use points is by booking travel through Chase. There’s now another option—”Pay Yourself Back”—for several cards, including the popular Chase Sapphire card duo, through at least the end of 2020. 

The limited-time redemption option, which uses points to apply statement credits to qualified transactions, essentially gives most cardholders the same rewards value boost they’d get by using points to book travel through Chase without traveling.

Chase Credit Cards Offer “Pay Yourself Back” Redemption Options
Card Purchases that qualify for statement credits Value of Ultimate Rewards points when used this way
Chase Sapphire Preferred Grocery store, restaurant (including takeout and delivery), home improvement store purchases, and eligible charity donations 1.25 cents each
Chase Sapphire Reserve Grocery store, restaurant (including takeout and delivery), home improvement store purchases, and eligible charity donations 1.50 cents each
Ink Business Preferred Eligible online advertising and U.S. shipping purchases, and charity donations 1.25 cents each
Ink Business Plus Eligible online advertising and U.S. shipping purchases, and charity donations 1.25 cents each
Chase Freedom Unlimited Eligible charity donations 1.25 cents each
Chase Freedom Flex Eligible charity donations 1.25 cents each
Chase Freedom Eligible charity donations 1.25 cents each

To access this benefit, use the Pay Yourself Back tool through your online account, select an eligible purchase made in the past 90 days, and apply points to all or part of the total cost. Chase Sapphire cardholders can use Pay Yourself Back through April 30, 2021. Freedom and Ink cardholders can take advantage of this limited time offer starting Oct. 1, 2020. As of now, the offer runs through Dec. 31, 2020 for Ink cardholders.

More Ways to Use Travel Credit

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can use their annual $300 travel credit to get reimbursed for grocery store and gas station purchases through Dec. 31, 2020. So you'll earn extra points on those purchases (as explained above), and be able to spend the $300 credit on gas, grocery, and travel purchases. That means you may start earning 3 points per $1 spent on travel (which includes more routine costs like tolls and parking fees) much sooner, and help offset the high annual fee.  

Citi

This issuer is also offering a few extra goodies for consumers right now, such as 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, if you haven’t already. 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 expired between March 31, 2020 and 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. 

Use ThankYou Points to Make Minimum Payment

Those with a Citi credit card that offers ThankYou Points may be able use points to cover their minimum monthly payment through Nov. 7, 2020. Typically you can redeem those reward points for statement credits, but you’d still have to make your minimum payment, so this is a convenient option if money is tight right now.

U.S. Bank

If you have the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent on takeout, food delivery, and restaurant dining through Dec. 31, 2020. Even better, those purchases will also count toward the $325 annual travel credit you’d get under normal circumstances. This offer automatically applies to all current and new cardholder accounts.

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.

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Article Sources

  1. American Express. "American Express Backs Travelers with New Resources and Offers Across Hotel, Air, Car and More." Accessed Sept. 29, 2020.

  2. American Express. "Retail Categories." Accessed Sept. 29, 2020.

  3. American Express. "New Offers Launching for Eligible Delta SkyMiles® Gold, Platinum and Reserve American Express Card Members." Accessed Sept. 29, 2020.

  4. American Express. "Coronavirus Support." See under "Welcome Offers on Cards." Accessed Sept. 29, 2020.

  5. Chase. "Sapphire Reserve is broadening your world of benefits." Accessed Sept. 29, 2020.

  6. U.S. Bank. "U.S. BANK ALTITUDE® RESERVE VISA INFINITE® CARD." Accessed Sept. 29, 2020.