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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about every area of our lives, which means the pandemic has definitely impacted the way we spend (or don’t spend) our money. Travel, dining out, and going to bars and clubs are out. Staying in, ordering delivery, and shopping online is in. 

credit cards covid-19
Some of the added benefits to credit cards due to COVID-19 include earning more points on grocery purchases. Photo by Albertsons

Perks Added To Credit Cards Due To COVID-19

For many credit card providers that rely on traveling cardholders, these shifts in spending habits could spell disaster. If cardholders aren’t traveling, they don’t need points and miles to spend on redeeming hotel stays or flights. Likewise, if all a card provider is offering in terms of rewards or perks is travel benefits, what’s the use? A cardholder is more likely to not use the card at all or, even worse, cancel their card. 

However, major credit card providers have pivoted their offerings and benefits. This credit card perks due to COVID-19 better suit today’s cardholders and their spending habits in the age of the pandemic. Here’s how.

New Ways To Earn

So many credit cards have expanded the ways in which you can now earn bonus points, with many recognizing the increased spending occurring at grocery stores and with food delivery services. Though, as some places begin opening up, we are starting to see more opportunities to earn points on travel. For instance, World of Hyatt’s Bonus Journeys promotion offers the chance to earn triple points on stays. 

Through the end of 2020, American Express is allowing Membership Rewards cardholders to earn two points for every $1 spent with food delivery services Grubhub or Seamless. There’s no cap to the number of points you can earn with the two vendors! 

At the grocery store, a range of cards is offering cardholders new ways to earn. 

American Express Grocery Store Bonuses

American Express has especially rolled out new ways to earn at the supermarket through the middle of the summer. These Delta credit cards now earn 4x miles for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets through July 2020:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Additionally, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card now both earn six Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets through July (with a cap — you only get up the bonus points on up to $7,500 of purchases). The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card likewise earn 12 Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets. 

The American Express bonus categories can help you maximize your purchases.

Related: Best American Express Credit Cards

American Express credit cards bonus categories
American Express credit cards bonus categories on select cards include streaming plans, groceries, and restaurants. Photo by American Express

Chase Grocery Store Bonuses

As for Chase, through June 30, a host of its travel-related cards are earning three or five points or miles for every $1 spent on groceries. These cards all earn 3x points or miles on grocery purchases:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the United Club℠ Infinite Card cards both earn five points or miles.

Related: Best Chase Credit Cards

New Ways To Redeem 

But credit card providers aren’t just giving cardholders new ways to earn points or miles this summer when travel isn’t as feasible. They’re also giving you new ways to redeem those points or miles, in case you’re not necessarily looking to book a free hotel stay or flight anytime soon. 

One of the newest ways to redeem comes from Chase with its Sapphire benefits. Now, Chase Ultimate Rewards members with either a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card can use the Pay Yourself Back feature to receive statement credits for purchases made at grocery stores, home improvement stores, and restaurants (as well as select food delivery vendors).

The Chase Pay Yourself Back tool is an easy way to use your points. Photo by Chase

While using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits is nothing new, this feature allows members to receive more value from each point they redeem, up to $0.015 for each point versus the typical $0.01 for each point.

New Perks

And, of course, credit card providers are rounding out the new offerings and changes with new perks as well. Credit cards with COVID-19 adjusted perks fit a variety of lifestyles.

American Express, through December, is giving cardholders up to $320 in statement credits when you switch your billing for select streaming and wireless telephone services to your Platinum Card® from American Express. This includes bills for Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Disney+, Spring, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and other similar services. Of course, this is in addition to all of the benefits of the Platinum Card from American Express.

American Express® Green Card cardholders receive a similar new perk, but they receive less in statement credits. The perk only applies to wireless telephone services, not streaming services. 

Amex Platinum cardholders similarly receive $200 in statement credits when they use their card for purchases in the American Express Travel platform. This is available from August 2020 through December 2021. 

Photo by American Express

The Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include a $300 travel credit annually. But with most cardholders cutting back on their travel, Chase is now allowing cardholders to use that credit for both gas station and grocery store purchases. Just note — you won’t be able to pick and choose which purchases in these categories are counted toward using up your credit on this premium metal credit card. From June 1, 2020, through the end of the year, any transactions at gas stations and grocery stores will go toward spending from the travel credit until it’s used up. 

The Citi Prestige® Credit Card’s $250 annual travel credit is also being used to help offset supermarket and restaurant purchases.

Related: Best Travel Credit Cards

Cutting You Some Slack

But it’s not just about how credit card providers can reward you this year. Many are also realizing that, rather than giving you anything extra, they might just need to cut you some slack. 

That’s why Chase, for example, is cutting its Chase Sapphire Reserve® card annual fee. The luxury card’s annual fee at the beginning of this year was a whopping $550. Now, existing cardholders with renewal dates before July 31 will receive a $100 credit toward the $550 fee. Those with renewal dates through the rest of the year will simply be charged the older annual fee of $450. 

Many other credit card issuers are offering waived fees, credit line increases or payment deferral and forbearance, or a mix of all three. Barclays is one popular card issuer offering a mix of all three of these. Most of the popular card issuers are offering at least one of these. 

Other credit card issuers are cutting you some slack when it comes to earning those welcome bonuses. For example, American Express extended its welcome offer spending deadlines by three months for those who were approved for a card as late as May 31, 2020. Eligible cards included consumer and business cards, as well as co-branded hotel and airline cards. Citi also extended bonus offers to give new cardholders extra time to earn the signup bonus.

Related: Best Rewards Credit Cards

The Bottom Line?

Credit card providers are, in many cases, doing everything they can to serve their cardholders through the pandemic and into the near future. Credit cards during COVID-19 have been adjusted to help earn more for common purchases. Check out the perks your cards might be offering right now and how you can take advantage of them.

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