November 14, 2012
In my recent post, “Best Category Bonuses,” I listed credit cards that earn the best bonuses in different popular categories such as grocery stores, gas stations, department stores, restaurants, etc. If you browse through that ever growing list, you’ll see that there seem to be no end to ways to earn high rewards multipliers almost everywhere.
It’s great that credit card companies offer such generous bonus categories, but sometimes it can be difficult to figure out whether the places you shop qualify. For example, when I buy food from a take-out place, does that purchase qualify for a restaurant bonus? Fortunately, in the comments of a different post, a few readers shared a very helpful website (Thanks Rob and Nick!). Visa, provides this website to their corporate customers for finding suppliers. Luckily, they made this site open to everyone:
Generally, credit card companies use the same merchant codes found in this website to decide how to categorize transactions. So, while what you find in the Visa website won’t be perfect, it should be a good indicator of how transactions are likely to be classified.
Since I have my US Bank Cash+ card setup to pay 5X this quarter at department stores, I wanted to see which local stores count. I ran an Address Search and entered my City and State. Then, for “Industry Segment,” I selected “DEPARTMENT STORES”.
After pressing “Submit”, I was shown a list of qualifying local merchants. The results included obvious departments stores such as Kohl’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, and Sears. Less obvious were stores such as Kmart and Fourth Ave Birkenstock. Kmart is a nice find since they tend to have a better selection of gift cards than does Sears.
Despite Kmart showing up in the list of Department Stores, neither Walmart nor Target were there. So, out of curiosity, I ran a name search for Walmart. The results came back showing that Walmart has several merchant codes including discount store, drug store, and grocery store. Do any readers know how to get your purchases to ring up as drug store or grocery purchases? I wonder if it has to do with the location in the store in which you make your purchases? For example, I wonder if you buy items at the pharmacy check-out would the entire purchase ring up as a drug store purchase? That would be handy! It looks like I’ll have to run my Amex HHonors card over to Walmart to try this out.
I ran a name search for Target as well, but my local Target showed up only as a discount store. That’s too bad since I tend to visit Target much more often than Walmart.