A few major credit card issuers are rethinking travel rewards card offerings throughout the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to evolve alongside cardholder’s spending habits.
From added rewards categories to bonus point-earning opportunities and disappearing perks, here’s your guide to major issuers implementing card offering changes.
In April of this year, Citi first announced changes to the Citi Premier℠ Card. The issuer also recently revealed additional updates to the Citi Prestige® Card. Here’s a look at the changes for each:
Citi has updated its timeline for its Citi Premier℠ Card rewards structure changes from August 23, 2020, to June 2, 2020. This means all cardholders (new and existing) currently receive:
- 3X points for spending at supermarkets and restaurants
- A limited travel category that earns 3X points on air travel, hotels and gas stations
- 1X points on everything else
Prior Premier Card offerings included 3X points on travel, 2X points on restaurants and entertainment and 1X points on all other spending. New cardholders receive the full extent of the 3X travel category (including spending on cruises, parking, tolls and public transportation) and 2X points on entertainment purchases until August 23, 2020, whereas existing Premier cardholders (including those who applied before April 10) have until April 10, 2021. After each respective date, those purchases will earn 1X points.
Additionally, Premier cardholders will receive a $100 annual, renewable statement credit toward a single hotel stay of $500 or more (not including taxes and fees) booked through ThankYou.com starting August 23, 2020.
The information about the Citi Premier Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
Owners of the Citi Prestige® Card with open accounts as of May 22, 2020, now earn 5X points on select online purchases (up to 7,500 points), including retail sites and online grocery store and drugstore orders, until August 31, 2020.
As previously reported, supermarket and restaurant purchases made through December 31, 2020, count toward earning the card’s $250 travel credit.
Additional Citi changes
The 25 percent boost benefit to ThankYou points earned with the Premier Card and booked toward airfare via ThankYou Travel Center will cease to exist on April 10, 2021.
The information about the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
This past May, Amex revealed changes to some of its top-tier travel rewards cards and co-branded hotel and airline card offerings. To start, here are the new statement credit-earning opportunities broken down by card:
Through December 31, 2020, American Express® Green Card cardmembers can get up to $80 in statement credits ($10 per month) toward wireless telephone services purchases directly from U.S. service providers with their card.
Now through December 31, 2020, owners of The Platinum Card® from American Express can get up to $320 in statement credits ($20 per service type, per month) toward select streaming and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers with the card.
Owners of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can get up to $320 in statement credits ($20 per service type, per month) toward U.S. shipping purchases and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers with the card (through December 31, 2020).
Cardmembers can receive up to $200 in statement credits toward U.S. purchases with Dell (up to $100 now through June 30, 2020, and up to another $100 from July 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020).
Additional American Express changes
Almost every Amex-issued Marriott credit card automatically earns a total of 6X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $7,500 in purchases (other than the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card).
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, in particular, currently allows eligible U.S. restaurants purchases through August 31, 2020, to qualify toward the card’s $300 statement credit.
Delta co-branded card changes
Through July 31, 2020, the following cardmembers receive 4X miles at U.S. supermarkets in addition to the previous rewards structure:
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Hilton co-branded card changes
There are more than a few changes to note concerning American Express’ co-branded Hilton Honors cards. Here are a few of the most notable additions:
Hilton Honors Aspire Card and Hilton Honors Surpass® Card
Owners of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card can earn 12X points at U.S. supermarkets through July 31, 2020. Additionally, cardmembers’ bonus points (posted to their Hilton Honors accounts between May 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020) now count as base points.
Unexpired free weekend night certificates and those who are issued these certificates through December 31, 2020, can now use them any day of the week. Further, certificates issued from May 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, are now usable for 24 months.
Aspire cardholders only: Eligible U.S. restaurant purchases now through August 2020 count toward the $250 Hilton resort credit.
The information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
At the end of May, Chase announced Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders could expect changes such as additional grocery store rewards, bonus points toward past purchases and more.
Both Sapphire and Reserve cardholders can earn bonus rewards on grocery store purchases through June 30, 2020, as well as bonus points toward past grocery and home improvement store purchases (with slight variations). Here’s a full list of the current added benefits for each card:
- Earn a total of 5X points on grocery store purchases (including pick-up and delivery services) on up to $1,500 per calendar month through June 30, 2020, then 1X points
- Now through September 30, 2020, earn 50 percent more Ultimate Rewards® points on statement credit redemptions against eligible grocery, dining and home improvement store purchases made within the last 90 days
- Grocery store and gas stations purchases qualify toward the $300 annual travel credit through December 31, 2020
- Cardholders renewing the Sapphire Reserve from July 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, get $100 off their renewal fee (from $550 to $450)
- Earn 3X points on grocery store purchases on up to $1,500 per calendar month through June 30, 2020, then 1X points
- Through September 30, 2020, earn 25 percent more Ultimate Rewards® points on statement credit redemptions against eligible grocery, dining and home improvement store purchases made within the last 90 days
Additional Chase changes
Through July 31, 2020, all Chase-issued Marriott credit cards automatically earn a total of 6X points at grocery stores on up to $5,000 in purchases.
The full list of Chase co-branded credit cards that have added grocery store categories is as follows:
5X points or miles on grocery store purchases
- United Club℠ Card
- United Club℠ Infinite Card
- United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card
3X points or miles on grocery store purchases
- Aer Lingus Visa Signature
- British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card
- Disney Premier Visa
- Chase Hyatt Credit Card
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card
- Iberia Visa Signature® Card
- IHG Rewards Club Premier
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Employee card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United MileagePlus® Card
- United MileagePlus® Awards Card
- United MileagePlus® Select Card
A select number of Capital One travel credit cards now let you redeem statement credit for more than just travel-related purchases.
Venture and VentureOne
Through September 30, 2020, owners of the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card can redeem for statement credit toward eligible food delivery, takeout and streaming services.
Spark Miles for Business and Spark Miles Select for Business
Within the same timeframe, Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business and Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business cardholders can redeem for statement credit toward eligible food delivery, takeout and phone services.
Savor and SavorOne
Though not travel card-specific, as of June 12, 2020, owners of the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card get an added rewards category for earning on streaming services.
Through September 30, 2020:
- Savor cardholders receive an unlimited 4 percent cash back on select streamlining services (including Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu)
- SavorOne cardholders receive an unlimited 3 percent cash back on select streamlining services
The information about the Capital One cards mentioned has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
What these card changes mean for you
While generous travel-centric rewards structures and benefits like airline elite status, a first checked bag free and airport lounge access can help justify the cost of owning a premium card, the current environment may reduce the usefulness of these perks for many cardholders.
If you’re worried about any changes being made to your premium credit cards, including whether or not they’re still worth the annual fee, note that these adjustments are most likely short-term.
Overlapping category offerings: Is my card still worth it?
“While some of the recent changes are likely temporary (like so many travel cards piling into the grocery category), there was already a fair amount of overlap in certain categories,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate.
Rossman points out that, even before the coronavirus pandemic, issuers have had competing rewards offerings in spaces like travel, dining and gas.
“It’s not just spending, either,” Rossman says. “You might have multiple cards that offer access to the same airport lounges, or a similar Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee waiver.”
High annual fee? Reach out to your issuer
Rossman stresses that if you’re in a pinch with a high annual fee card that you’re not receiving as much value out of as originally expected, consider reaching out to your issuer.
“Card issuers are worried about losing valuable customers,” says Rossman. “Besides the things that have already been announced… if you ask for an annual fee waiver or reduction, you might get lucky. Or maybe they can give you some bonus rewards points to offset it.”
Cardholders may see more annual fee-focused credit card relief going forward, particularly if travel remains stalled in the coming months, Rossman says.