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.


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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.

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280 Comments on "Best Category Bonuses"

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[…] Use a Credit Card to Earn Miles on Everyday Purchases […]

Kirk
Guest

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.

SM Checker
Guest

Isn’t the books limit on Sallie Mae $750 per month, not $250 (which is the limit for gas and groceries)

Themanwhocan
Guest

It looks like the Citi Forward is now just a 1X card for new applicants.

Marshall
Guest

FM:

Do you know if Amazon Payments made with Chase Freedom will qualify for Amazon spend for bonus? Thanks.

Marshall
Guest

FM:

Thanks for earlier info. Will the purchase of an amazon gift card thru Amazon qualify for the 5% Freedom bonus?

Marshall
Guest

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.

Marshall
Guest

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.

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[…] using the correct credit card is of paramount importance for getting more rewards. Frequent Miler has a great rundown of the best credit card bonus categories, and in a subsequent post, I’ll do an overview of the best cards for the military […]

TomT
Guest

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.

Marshall
Guest

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.

Card User
Guest

Cash Plus (also from US Bank) has a 5% category for charity.

Themanwhocan
Guest

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

Themanwhocan
Guest

Also the Ebay Mastercard has the same benefits. Apparently you can obtain one of each.

Card User
Guest

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

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

Themanwhocan
Guest

The Union Bank Graphite American Express Card gives 3% on Airline purchases, 2% Gas and Grocery, 1% everything else. It does have an annual fee after the first year of $99

https://www.unionbank.com/personal-banking/loans-lines-credit/credit-cards/graphite-american-express-card.jsp#

TomT
Guest

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?

Brad
Guest

@ 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.

Marshall
Guest

FM:

Just found a brokerage firm that lets you buy stock with a credit card! Can buy up to 2500 per month of any individual stock. Only limit is that there is a limited selection of stocks available. No fees for buy OR sell side. Here is the link.

http://a.loyal3.com/invest-in-stocks/?ref=pu_CJca_STOpl_ANsz_TXcid_SIGN#why

Marshall
Guest

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.

Themanwhocan
Guest

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.

Brad
Guest

@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.

Themanwhocan
Guest

https://www.santanderbank.com/us/personal/credit-cards/bravo

Bravo card has 3X Gas, Groceries, Restaurants. Cap at $5000 spend per quarter (15,000 points). Annual fee waived if you maintain a checking account with Santander.

Plus World MasterCard benefits.

afterbang
Guest

Looks like Wyndham is no longer a part of the MC Easy Savings.

Themanwhocan
Guest

US Bank Cash+ loses Hotels category, and Gains Gym/Fitness Centers in 2nd quarter 2014.

Brad
Guest

Ouch. The Cash+ is slowly turning into a more useless 5% card like the Citi Dividend Platinum Select!

James H
Guest

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.

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

Themanwhocan
Guest

The Discover Business Card gives 5% cash back on first $2000 spend/yr at Office Supplies.

https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/business/

Charles
Guest

Under Restaurants, I do not see the regular Chase Sapphire. 2x for restaurants.

Willard Crumberger
Guest

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: http://www.rewardscardpicker.com/ but love to see the fair trading price rebate figures.

Themanwhocan
Guest

Consumers Credit Union Visa Signature Cash Rebate Card.
3% Grocery/Convenience stores, 2% Gas purchases, 1% everything else. Maximum cash rebate of $6000/year.

$100 when you spend $1000 in first 60 days.

http://www.myconsumers.org/loans-credit/visa-cards/visa-signature-cash-rebate-card.html

Themanwhocan
Guest

Not sure if you want to list this one. It does have multiple useful 2X categories. 5X at Quicken.com, Intuit.com, TurboTax.com and QuickBooks.com

Chase Quicken Rewards Visa.

http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-tools/rewards-personal-credit-card.jsp

TomT
Guest

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 bn.com. 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.

Kroozer
Guest

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

Roc
Guest

Sam’s Club MasterCard offers 5% on gas, 3% on travel or dining, and 1% elsewhere.

Themanwhocan
Guest

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.

Ebates.com/Ebates VISA, Upromise.com/Upromise MasterCard, Savingstar.com/SavingStar American Express, are just three that immediately come to mind. I guess Discover IT and Chase Freedom are also in this category.

JustSaying
Guest

I didn’t see AMEX EveryDay Preferred and the Citi Thank You Premier?

PenFedCorrections
Guest

PenFed Platinum Rewards offers 5X points on gas (at the pump) purchases (not listed) and 3X points (not 2X) at grocery stores.

See https://www.penfed.org/visasignaturepoints/

rob black
Guest

T&C of Amex everyday says that loadable cards do not qualify. What has your experience been?

Themanwhocan
Guest

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.

Nikki O
Guest

I didn’t read all of the comments, but I’m curious why the Hyatt card isn’t listed?

Rob B
Guest

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%…

Dave
Guest

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?

Dave
Guest

There are (or were) 2 versions of the card: https://creditcards.chase.com/aarp/cardmember and https://creditcards.chase.com/aarp/TravelRewards one gives you gas and restaurants, the other travel. You have it listed in all 3 of those categories. The application link you sent seems to only let you apply for the gas/restaurant one, but not travel. I cannot find anywhere any information on the travel one being withdrawn or how to apply for it.

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

TomT
Guest

There is another Chase AARP card (different than the one you have listed with 3% rewards for gas & restaurants) that provides 3% rewards for travel purchases defined as “every flight, hotel stay, car rental, train ride, cruise and travel agency purchase”. See https://creditcards.chase.com/aarp/TravelRewards

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[…] 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. […]

Frank
Guest

Is there any card with bonuses for theater tickets? Not movies, but Broadway theater. I am about to spend $1000+ on tickets.

themanwhocan
Guest

The Saturday Night Live MasterCard gives 2X for entertainment purchases, and 4X for extertainment purchases on Saturdays 😉

https://d.comenity.net/snlcard/public/benefits/Benefits.xhtml

themanwhocan
Guest

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 Amazon.com 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…

http://www.nmefcu.org/home/loans-and-credit/credit-cards

TomT
Guest

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 amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com). You previously listed that card, but took it off once Citi stopped offering new accounts on it.

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

DaveA
Guest

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.

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[…] if you look at Frequentmiler’s list of best category bonuses on credit cards, the best bonuses are cashback. It’s true now more than […]

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[…] to your Magic Band end up on your hotel bill, which means that if you use a credit card that has hotels as a bonus category to settle up at your resort hotel, everything you charged to your Magic Band will also get that […]

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

Sherri
Guest

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?

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[…] are 20 different credit cards that offer at least 2x on dining. The US Bank Cash+ card offers fast food as a 5% cashback category, while the Amex SimplyCash […]

TomT
Guest

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)

TomT
Guest

I think you should also list the Amazon Store card. It provides 5% off all Amazon purchases for Prime members. Better yet, to annual fee for this card. You can confirm this at http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201739600

TomT
Guest

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 https://www.penfed.org/Platinum-Cash-Rewards/

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[…] there is a great resource on Frequent Miler, the Best Category Bonus – Credit Card […]

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

Themanwhocan
Guest

Bellco VISA Platinum Rewards.
3X at Grocery Stores, Gas Stations, Gas Pumps, Sporting Goods Stores, Shoe Stores, Sports Apparel, Sports/Health Clubs.

No annual fee.

The example Grocery Stores they list are: Whole Foods Market, King Soopers, Target, Walmart

3,000 points = $25; 10,000 points = $100
https://www.bellco.org/personal/loans-credit-cards/credit-cards/platinum-rewards.aspx

Themanwhocan
Guest

I forgot to mention the Bellco card is for Colorado residents.

Themanwhocan
Guest

UMB Simply Rewards VISA
3X on Gas, Grocery, Discount Stores, Restaurant & fast Food

No annual fee

$20 account credit for 2,000 points
https://www.umb.com/Personal/Banking/CreditCards/UMBVisaPlatinum/

Nish
Guest

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

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[…] decent credit cards are worth the cost.  In some cases, credit cards offer far greater rewards (such as those that offer 5X rewards at grocery stores or drug stores), so it’s OK to spend more than 1% when manufacturing […]

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[…] Credit card category bonus: 5X Chase Ink, Amex Simply Cash, Discover Business. Other category bonuses can be found here. […]

Mark
Guest

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.

TomT
Guest

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 https://www.cnb.com/lending/cards/individual/crystal-credit-card.asp 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)

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[…] stores (earn a credit card category bonus and fuel […]

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[…] 5X bonus categories are not available, you’ll need a backup card for restaurants.  My Best Category Bonuses page shows that its possible to earn 5% cash back with the US Bank Cash+ card, but only at fast food […]

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[…] You can find more great credit card options here. […]

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[…] Best category bonuses […]

themanwhocan
Guest

Marvel mastercard (marvel.com)

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 Amazon.com since it covers book stores and music stores.

themanwhocan
Guest

In the Online Shopping category, the Savingstar online shopping portal was shut down.

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[…] other cards offer better value for gas station purchases (found here).  And, many offer equal or better value for airline purchases (found here).  However, the […]

Tom Tuhtan
Guest

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.

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[…] (yes, this Thursday) to their Platinum cards: 5 points per dollar for airfare.  In looking at my Best Category Bonuses page, you can quickly see that the Platinum card will be the single best card for buying […]

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[…] large category bonuses are possible.  For example, if they are sold at grocery stores, we can pay with credit cards that earn great grocery store bonuses.  Or, if they are sold at stores such as OfficeMax or Staples, we can pay with credit cards that […]

JustSaying
Guest

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?

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[…] bonuses, as I do with Delta.  Or, perhaps you simply want to earn extra rewards using cards with big category bonuses, or big rewards for everyday […]

Jean
Guest

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).

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[…] Best Category Bonuses […]

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[…] make a tiny profit depending on your gift card resale relationships. Paired with a card that earns 5X or 5% at office supply stores, this is another nice opportunity to earn rewards and get a discount at the same […]

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[…] bonuses, as I do with Delta. Or, perhaps you simply want to earn extra rewards using cards with big category bonuses, or big rewards for everyday […]

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[…] advantage of some savings on Visa or Mastercard gift cards while also taking advantage of a great Category Bonus or the current Apple Pay promos from Chase or Amex. Make sure to log in and add these coupons if […]