Have You Earned Surprise Bonus Rewards? TPG Readers Respond

Nov 23, 2017

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Even if you’re new to the points and miles hobby, you know that maximizing each and every purchase by choosing the right credit card is essential for quickly boosting your rewards balances across programs. Of course, even if you pick the best card for a given purchase, it needs to code correctly in order for you to earn the category bonus.

After a reader emailed us to share how he was able to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on duty-free purchases made at the US-Canada border (thanks to having the Ambassador Bridge Reward Card connected to his Chase Sapphire Reserve), we were curious to see which other purchases have unexpectedly earned bonus rewards. We posed the question in the TPG Lounge, and here’s what you had to say:

A Fortuitous Mix-Up

10% back with Uber for a record store purchase mistakenly identified as a Visa Local Offer partner? Sounds good to us. Image by Mara Elizabeth Ludwig/Getty Images.

Joe T. had this to say: “Uber local partnership, ordered a couple hundred in records from NYC, apparently it had the same name as a coffee shop here in Chicago because they gave me 10% back in Uber credits.”

Food Not Required

As we’ve noted in the past, often a bar that doesn’t serve food will still code as a dining purchase on an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Marcelius B. experienced this firsthand: “Bought a glass at a brewery because it shares my last name. Got coded as 2x points for Ultimate Rewards.”

Tavo R. also lucked out with bonus points while enjoying beer: “Signed up for the 5x bonus on the Chase Freedom for restaurants, mostly all CO breweries don’t have food service but still got 5x. Best bonus ever!” (No longer open to new applicants)

And Joel M. was able to take things one step further: “My barber shop is in a bar. 3x points on haircuts!”

A Wedding Surprise

Weddings aren’t cheap, but if the venue codes as a travel purchase, you’ll at least earn extra points. Image by Jianghui Cai/EyeEm/Getty Images.

Chris O. says, “My wife and I paid for our wedding using the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Our wedding venue coded as travel so we earned 3x points. All our vendors were also billed through the venue, so we even earned 3x points on floral, decor, DJ, and photographer costs.”

Daniel P. was also able to maximize wedding expenses: “Our wedding venue coded as dining! Several thousand bucks in spend. Talk about a happy day.”

The Silver Lining to a Bad Situation

As Doug H. learned, it can really pay to have rental car insurance through a travel rewards credit card: “I misjudged a u-turn in New Zealand and hit a tree. Hertz automatically charges and leaves it up to you to deal with insurance. Since I used my CSR I got triple points. Used the CSR rental car protection and got a check in the mail a few months later to cover the charges. Over 6,000 free points (even if I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the damage on the car).”

Featured image by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images.

2020 TPG Award Winner: Premium Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Reserve

SIGN-UP BONUS: 50,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on all travel and dining, $300 annual travel credit, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners.

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Regular APR
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.