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Have You Earned Surprise Bonus Rewards? TPG Readers Respond

Nov. 23, 2017
4 min read
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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:

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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)."

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

60,000 points
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 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, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, 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
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 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, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, 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