Which card should I use? A pandemic-era guide to navigating card perks and benefits

Feb 5, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information as card issuers shift benefits. 

If you’re a bit overwhelmed by which credit cards to use at the start of 2021, you’re not alone. Credit card companies have announced myriad changes to cater to spending behaviors that involve less travel. However, it can be a challenge to keep up — especially if you have multiple cards in your wallet and truly want to maximize your purchases.

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Thankfully, TPG is here to help.

While we have existing guides to the best rewards credit cards and best cash back credit cards, the information below is related to ongoing coronavirus-related benefits and bonuses. Curious about limited-time perks on consumer cards for the start of 2021? Just click on your category in the table of contents below.

Without further ado, let’s find out which card(s) you should be using during the pandemic.

Related: February roundup: The latest credit card benefit changes you need to know about

In This Post

What to use for in-store and online groceries

In 2020, grocery purchases surged as shoppers were more eager to have their essentials shipped straight to their homes. While consumers have slowly returned to in-store shopping, card issuers have continued to offer a select number of bonuses for in-store and online grocery shopping.

Online grocery companies include Instacart, Amazon Fresh, Shipt and Peapod, and they typically trigger the grocery bonus on most major cards. Here’s what you need to know for your temporary grocery benefits.

Limited-time perks on:

Related: Here are all the ways you can earn bonus points with Chase cards right now

The information for the Citi Prestige and Amex EveryDay cards have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: How to ensure you earn bonus points for grocery purchases

What to use for dining (including takeout and delivery)

While many dining establishments have reopened while COVID-19 cases remaining high, you may still be more comfortable with takeout or delivery. These are the cards you should be paying attention to for exactly that. Of course, don’t forget about existing benefits, such as the up to $200 annual Uber credit for U.S. services (which can be used towards Uber Eats) on The Platinum Card® from American Express or the up to $120 Uber Cash (distributed via $10 monthly credits) on the American Express® Gold Card. (Must add Gold card to the Uber app to receive Uber Cash benefit).

Limited-time perks on:

*Must activate through Amex Offers and be a cardholder as of Jan 1, 2021. Eligibility for this offer is limited. Enrollment is required in the Amex Offers section of your account before redeeming.

Related: Amex unveils limited-time perks on Delta, Hilton and Marriott cards

The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

What to use for streaming

Last year during the pandemic, streaming became one of the most hotly contested categories among card issuers. It’s no surprise considering the average U.S. consumer has 12 subscription streaming services. These cards will help you maximize your latest binge-watch.

Limited-time perks on:

Related: Your credit card has you covered if you forget to cancel a subscription service

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash, Wells Fargo Propel and the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

What to use for gas

Hitting the road instead of taking to the skies? That will continue to be a popular option in the months to come. Whether you’re just driving around town or around the country, these are the limited-time and permanent bonuses that you should know about when it comes to gas.

Limited-time perks on:

Quick tips on how to use the best card

To get the most out of your card portfolio, you have to know when to use the right card for each respective purchase.

  • Label your cards with a piece of tape (a low-tech solution, but it works).
  • Be willing to swap cards in and out of your wallet on a regular basis.
  • If you’re looking to earn a sign-up bonus, use that card instead.

Related: Going on a road trip this winter? Consider using these credit cards

Bottom line

Even if you’re not traveling now, it pays to be strategic about earning points, miles and cash back. To help cut through some of the clutter, refer to this guide if you need to figure out what card to use and when.

And if you’re looking for all card benefit changes broken down by issuer, we have you covered too.

Like all things related to the pandemic, card benefits are constantly evolving. Feel free to bookmark this page as it will be updated with new information as we receive it.

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy. 

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.