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As stay-at-home orders are lifted around the country, you may be wondering the best ways to use your travel credit card. While you might not want to travel yet (or even be able to, depending on your local restrictions), you can still earn those miles and points to put toward future travel, as well as earn other perks via your travel credit card(s). Here’s how.

Use travel credit cards during a pandemic so you can earn rewards and keep your account active for when this is over. Then you can enjoy lovely pastries like these from Landman Gardens and Bakery. Photo by Johnny Jet

1. Take Advantage of Limited-Time Offers to Pay Your Bills

Several card-issuers have announced limited-time offers to help in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the issuers with special offers is American Express. This new bonus doesn’t result in points or miles. But it’s a credit that you might as well take advantage of if you’re an Amex cardholder. 

Through December 2020, Platinum Card® from American Express card members will receive up to $320 in statement credits when they purchase streaming or wireless telephone services directly from U.S. service providers. You can get $20 for each of the two spending categories per month. You likely already spend this money anyway — what with your bills for Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Disney+, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, or the like. Now it’s just a matter of getting those payments switched over to your Platinum Card from American Express.

American Express® Green Card cardholders have a similar offer, but it’s not as good. Through December 2020, cardholders can receive $10 per month in statement credits for wireless telephone services, but not streaming services. 

2. Take Advantage of New, Limited Ways to Earn Miles and Points at the Grocery Store

American Express takes things a step further, with new ways to earn for those who hold a co-branded travel credit card. Delta credit card cardholders receive new perks through July 2020, as do select Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards and Hilton Honors Credit Cards cardholders. 

Delta Credit Cards (Expired)

Now, anyone who holds a Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card will earn four miles for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets. The offer runs through July 2020. There’s no cap on the number of miles you can earn. If you have one of these Delta SkyMiles credit cards, you’re going to want to whip it out for each and every supermarket purchase you make between now and July.

Marriott Credit Cards (Expired)

As for those who have Amex Marriott Credit Cards, specifically the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card or the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, you’ll now be able to earn six Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets through July 2020. This offer isn’t as great as the one available to Delta SkyMiles cardholders, as there is a cap. You can only earn those bonus points on up to $7,500 of purchases. However, are you really going to spend $7,500 at the supermarket between now and July?

Hilton Honors Credit Cards (Expired)

Lastly, those with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card will receive 12 Hilton Honors points for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets. Like the Delta deal, these Hilton Honors Credit Card cardholders will have no cap on the number of points they can earn. 

Chase Credit Cards (Expired)

If you don’t have an Amex card, Chase credit card promotions are also an option. Chase cards are offering three points or miles for every $1 spent on groceries, too. This is through June 30, 2020, with no limit. Cards include:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • United℠ Explorer Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • British Airways Visa Signature® card
  • World of Hyatt Credit Card
  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Those with Chase’s luxury travel cards — specifically the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and United Club℠ Infinite Card cards — will receive five points or miles for every $1 spent. Citi has also extended their bonus offers.

3. Take Advantage of New, Limited Ways to Earn Miles and Points When You Dine

American Express is allowing cardmembers enrolled in Membership Rewards to earn two points for every $1 spent with Grubhub and Seamless. There is no cap and this is available through the remainder of 2020.

4. Ask For a Retention Bonus to Use Your Card More in the Coming Months

Maybe you haven’t used your travel credit card much since the travel industry came to a screeching halt. You’re not sure about using it, even as stay-at-home orders are lifted. As travel opens up again, it’s worth considering asking for a retention bonus.

Retention bonuses are offered by a card issuer in exchange for you to keep and use your card versus just canceling. Those retention bonuses may be easier to come by now that travel credit card issuers are in hot water. 

Retention bonuses come in the form of points or miles and statement credits. Typically, in order to get a retention bonus, you’ll have to spend some on your card. Think of it as an extra sign-up or welcome bonus. In order to keep you, the card issuer says they’ll give you 30,000 points or miles in exchange for spending $3,000 on the card over the next few months, or whatever terms you agree to.

The best way to score a retention bonus? Call up your card issuer and explain you’re considering canceling. Then, try to negotiate a way to keep the card that works for both of you.

Use Travel Credit Cards During Pandemic

How should you use travel credit cards during a pandemic? If you are able to, you can use them to take advantage of these offers from credit card issuers. For instance, if you are already paying for Netflix, why not switch your payment to your Amex Platinum and earn some statement credits back? At the end of the day, only you know what cards and offers best serve you. If any of these apply, consider taking advantage to help you save some money.

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