Best Category Bonuses

March 28 2017 Update

This page has been replaced with a new up-to-date version.  Please visit the new page here: Best Card Category Bonuses.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »


  1. […] Many stores offer their own rewards programs in which you earn points as a percentage of each purchase.  Grocery stores, in particular, tend to offer fuel rewards (points that can be used for gas station discounts).  Even better, they often run promotions for double or quadruple points for the purchase of merchant gift cards.  And, as you’ll see on the list above, many grocery stores now sell eBay gift cards.  Optimize your purchase by buying at a grocery store offering fuel rewards and pay with a credit card that has a great grocery store category bonus. […]


  1. Tom T: Apparently I messed up my footnotes! Citi ThankYou points are currently worth up to 1.33 cents each when paired with a Citi thankYou Premier card and used for flights. soon that will go down to 1.25 cent each.

  2. Penfed devalued their rewards program a couple of months ago (with absolutely no warning). Strangely, none of the blogs have even mentioned it except for PFD. If this had been Chase or Amex that devalued their point programs without warning there would be a huge outcry. 5x is now worth more like 4.2%. The devaluation affects both the PenFed Platinum Rewards and the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards programs.

  3. Kirk: Thanks for the heads up on that. I’ll update the % equivalents. I think that the real reason few blogs mentioned it is that few bloggers have those cards.
    SM Checker: Good question. I’ll look it up.

  4. Also, I canceled my British Airways card in April of 2012.
    Can I re-apply for the card and get the bonus pints again?
    I understand that you can after an 18 month waiting period.

  5. You probably won’t get the bonus again if you reapply for the BA card. Only if the BA card changes in a material way (so that it is considered a new product) will Chase officially allow you to get a new signup bonus.

  6. FM:

    Thanks for the info. Also, will amazon GC purchase with Discover card qualify for the 5% bonus? I really appreciate all of your help.

  7. Since the Amex Blue Cash Prefered card earns 6% cash back on groceries, and all of your other listings are ordered by fair trading price rebate, shouldn’t it be listed before the Wells Fargo Cash Back Card? Also, I’d suggest noting that the Wells Fargo Cash Back Card only earns a higher percentage for the first 6 months.

  8. FM:

    You don’t have a category for charity donations, but US Bank Flex Travel Perks card gives 3% back on charitable donations. I am not aware of any other cards that gives bonuses for this.

  9. The PayPal Extras MasterCard gives 3X on Gas and Restaurants. That would tie for 2nd place in the restaurants category.

  10. Also for Gas, Groceries and drug stores, you can add the Amex Blue Cash, 5% after $6,500 spend (on anything) per year.

  11. I don’t agree with listing the OLD version of the Amex Blue Cash card. I currently have a Citi Forward Visa card that gives me 5% at all restaurants (including fast food) and book stores, and a PenFed Visa Platinum card gives me 5x points (4.25% fair value) for all gas station pump purchases, but since you can no longer get those cards, there’s no point listing them. In fact, you added and then removed them from this page. So why is the old version of the Amex Blue Cash card worth noting?

  12. @ Themanwhocan and/or FM

    PayPal Extras MasterCard and eBay Mastercard 3X is not 3% unfortunately.

    Terms say 6,000 points can be redeemed for $50 cashback

    $50 divided into $2,000 3x category spend (2K x 3 = 6K pts) equals 2.5% cashback.

  13. FM:

    Did not get my 3X from US Bank for a charitable donation made to my church. Was told by the rep that since Visa classified it as a “religious organization” and not a “charitable” organization, it did not qualify, even though clearly a church is a charity under the IRS code. Strongly suspect the same holds true for all US Bank products. Tell readers to check Visa merchant classification before make contribution. I am appealing the decision and will let you know what happens.

    • Sorry to hear that. That’s a problem with all category bonuses. You only get the bonus if the organization you pay is coded a certain way for credit card processing. Sometimes, though, that can work in your favor. For example, some 7-11 stores are coded as gas stations (even when they are not) and so it is possible to get gas station bonuses there.

  14. I think the Fair Trading Value for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred in the Grocery category should be set at 4.75%, since that is the best you can hope to earn. It is capped at $6000 and has a u annual fee, so if you hit exactly $6000 in groceries you end up with 4.75%, and if you are more or less from $6000 the earnings percentage is less due to the fixed $75 fee. So the card should drop a few spots on the list.

    Any other cards with annual fees should be adjusted as well.

    So the Sallie Mae has the best cash back percentage, its only weakness is a low monthly cap.

    • That makes sense, but not for all cards. Often people will pay the annual fee for a card for its perks and so it wouldn’t be right to count that against the category bonus values. Plus, it sounds like a lot of work! 🙂

    • @Themanwhocan I agree completely that for those that think on the margin the Amex BCP has a marginal/incremental reward of 4.75% for each dollar spent from $1 to $6000 at grocery stores. For me, I view the Amex BCP as no longer having any further use once I would hit the $6000 cap, but of course other people may view the gas rewards or other benefits as worthwhile enough to justify the $75 AF and thus view the AF as a “sunk cost” rather than thinking on the margin.

  15. Just got an invite for the AAA Member Rewards card issued by BOA. No annual fee, 3x for travel and AAA related purchases, 2x for gas, grocery and drug stores, & 1x for everything else. Do not see where there are maximum cash back limits on spending. Does anyone have experience on how the CVS vanilla reloads are categorized with this card.

  16. This is a great page. so hard to find and keep track of category-specific rewards, esp. since they change every quarter for cards like Chase Freedom. Does anyone know of a page like this that is kept up to date? I’ve found this app to be useful for convenience since I tend to carry many rewards cards at once: but love to see the fair trading price rebate figures.

  17. You might want to add the Barnes & Noble MasterCard to the Books category. It provides 5% cash back via statement credit for anything (except gift cards) purchased at Barnes & Noble stores or via It earns 1% elsewhere via points that convert to gift cards in 25 increments (2500 points). It has a $0 annual fee and a sign up bonus of a $25 B&N gift card upon 1st purchase.

  18. The Barclay Arrival (non-Plus) is not listed here at all. It has 2X cashback on dining and travel purchases with no annual fee.

  19. You might need a new category, for online purchases. There are starting to be a lot of combination shopping portals with corresponding credit cards that often give 10% or more combined cash back at select online merchants. VISA, MasterCard, American Express, are just three that immediately come to mind. I guess Discover IT and Chase Freedom are also in this category.

  20. Elan has 2 new credit cards based on American Express network.

    A “Cash Rewards American Express” that gives 3% Gas, 2% Supermarket, 1% everything else. Gas bonus limited to $6000 spend per year. No annual fee.

    And a “Travel Rewards American Express” 3X Airlines, 2X Restaurant and Hotel, 1X everything else with $95 annual fee and $75 cash back after first card use.

    • Great question. I took out cards that don’t offer better than 2% and since my fair trading prices chart has Hyatt at just under a penny per point, that card’s 2X categories didn’t make the cut.

  21. Great tool. Kudos. You likely explained it elsewhere but I cannot find how the 3x bonus for charities for the US Bank Flexperks becomes 4.6%…

    • In my Fair Trading Prices chart, I have FlexPerks at 1.54 cents per point so I simply calculated 1.54 X 3 = 4.62. Keep in mind that FlexPerks points are worth up to 2 cents each when used for travel.

  22. Great job consolidating all this info in 1 page. 1 question though, I don’t see the a way to apply for the Chase AARP travel card anymore, only the gas/restaurant card. Am I missing something?

    • Thanks for that info. I see what you mean now. I think I’ll remove the travel version from this list for now since it doesn’t seem to be available to new applicants. I can put it back later if we find a working link.

    • Yeah, I used to have that one listed, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to apply for it anymore, so I took it out. On the page you linked to, if you select “Not a cardmember, Click here” it takes you to the application for the other version of the card.

  23. US Bank Cash+ will lose Restaurants as a 5% category and gain it as a 2% category. Fast Food is still a 5% category.

    Coldwater Creek MasterCard 3X Gas, Grocery. Dunno the redemption value of the X…

    Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards. 3% cash rebate Gas, Grocery, Restaurant.

    Security Service Power Travel Rewards. 3X Gas, Travel, Dining. +10% annual bonus on points earned. No statement credit option, but gift cards available at 1 point = 1 cent.

    New Mexico Educators Cash Rewards card. 5% rotating categories. Warning: the bank seems to have a huge number of potential fees, such as $5 PER DAY if your account is over drafted, and there are fees for not using your bank account, fees if the us mail they send you ever bounced back as undeliverable, etc, etc. even fees for setting up another bank so you can transfer money, and then fees for actually allowing the money to transfer…

  24. Citi has not been offering new accounts for the Dividend World MasterCard for at least two months now. Therefore, I suggest it not be listed as a 5% rotating category card above. Citi also has a Forward card (no annual fee) that gives me 5% off of all restaurants, movie theaters and brick and mortar bookstores (ecludes or You previously listed that card, but took it off once Citi stopped offering new accounts on it.

    • I left the Dividend card on this page because I believe it is still possible to get the card by downgrading other Citi cards. I removed the Forward card because you can’t get one at all if you don’t already have it.

      • I do not belive that Citi will allow you to open a new Dividend card under any circumstances, including conversion/downgrade. I already have one from many years ago, but Citi would not allow my wife to convert another Citi card to a Dividend card. Based on this, I recommend you longer list it. If you have other info on how to convert/downgrade an existing Citi card to a Dividend card, I would love the details.

  25. Just a heads up Golden1 Platinum Rewards Visa is only for CA residents.

    Given that I am in a bordering state I took a chance and successfully applied for deposit accounts followed by a credit card app. My credit card app was declined and told on reconsideration that no unsecured credit was granted outside of CA.

    Hopefully this helps someone else avoid a hard pull.

  26. My two biggest spend categories are groceries and restaurants – so it looks like one card I have, the Amex HHonors Surpass – covers both at 6X – can I ask a silly question? what does the second column mean – estimated value? thanks

    Would this be the first card you would reach for these categories?

    • Estimated Value for points & miles is based on my Fair Trading Prices (see page of same name under the Resources menu). The numbers on this page are slightly out of date, but are in the ballpark. So when it says that the Hilton card earns 6X and that the estimated value is 2.4%, that means that the 6X points you earn are worth roughly the same as 2.4% cash back.
      Personally, no, I wouldn’t use the Hilton card within those categories because I have cards that offer better returns. Otherwise, yes, I would.

  27. You should list the Citi ThankYou Premier at 3.75% (1.25 per point) for Car Rentals. Also, the Citi ThankYou Pestige should be listed at 3.99% where you have it as 3.75% for Hotels & Travel / Airlines above. From the official Citi ThankYou Premier application Pricing & Terms pages: “3 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies, gas stations, commuter transportation, taxi/limousines, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, campgrounds and trailer parks, time shares, bus lines, motor home/RV Rental and boat rentals” Also “25% more value on airfare, hotels, cruises and car rentals when redeemed through the ThankYou Travel Center.” The Prestige page states “3 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at airlines, hotels and travel agencies” and “50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points … enough points to redeem a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards” (equals 1.33 multiplier)

    • Thanks for the reminder!
      I added Premier (3X) and Prestige (3X via travel agencies) to Car Rentals
      I added Premier (3X) to Gas
      I didn’t change the rebate %s. Those are based on my Fair Trading Prices of points and miles and are independent of redemption values.

  28. The PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards actually provides 5% as a statement credit for gasoline pay at the pump purchases, as long as you also have a money market account at PenFed and also avoids the $25 annual fee for the card and makes it a “Plus” credit card vs. the “Standard” card. You can have a money market account with only $25 in it to qualify for this. See the details at

  29. Good compilation of information.
    A suggestion.

    It will be better to have another category credit cards with No foreign transaction fee. E.g. All Discover, All Capital one and many others so that readers can have a choice of selecting No annual fee & No foreign transaction fee card

  30. Thank you for all the amazing info you and other bloggers provide! Chase IHG card gives 2X on restaurants, gas, and grocery, as well as a free night annually at any IHG property – which more than covers the $49 annual fee.

  31. Shouldn’t the City National Crystal card be listed at 3% (up to 3.6% when redeemd for airfare) under the Gasoline, Grocery, Restaurant & Travel categories? Their official website at says: “Earn 3 Points per $1 spent on gasoline, grocery, airline, hotel, taxi, limousine, rental car, train, bus, restaurant, fast food and takeout food and dining purchases” (they really seem to emphasize the restaurant category by listing it 4 different ways)

  32. Marvel mastercard (

    3% Dining, Select Entertainment.

    Select entertainment categories include Movie Theatres, Video Rental and Game Stores, Theatrical and Concert Promoters, Amusement Parks, Digital Entertainment, Games and Software, Music, Books and Newsstands, Toys and Hobby Stores.

    In other words, it also works at since it covers book stores and music stores.

  33. You should probably add the Chase Sapphire Reserve with effective 4.5% Ultimate Reawards discount towards travel via 3x UR points from purchases on restaurant and travel.

  34. Did I miss the 5X update for AMEX Platinum business or did I misunderstand their new bonus? Also looking for who gives best bonus on electric car charging station charges?

  35. Surprised u didn’t mention (or I missed it) the app TPG To Go. While the reminder to use a certain card is a little slow to pop up (sometimes I’ve already left the store…), it’s sometimes easier than rifling thru all my cards at the check stand. Also useful when my labels fail me (or I’m uncertain if my quarterly bonus labels are up-to-date).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *