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The Most Unusual Credit Card Bonus Categories

Feb. 22, 2019
5 min read
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The travel rewards card market is undergoing a major shake-up, and it's great for consumers. With a load of recent card launches and updates, issuers are feeling the pressure to become more creative with their offerings. Besides adding perks, such as retail shopping credits, dining credits, automatic top-tier elite status and increased earning rates for certain spend categories, some issuers have been introducing entirely new bonus categories.

It's now possible to earn bonus points on a lot more than just travel and dining. Here's a rundown of the most unique bonus categories and earning schemes in the market. For this post, we'll focus on personal cards as small business owners have access to different bonus categories.

Round up to the Nearest 10 Points

The Citi Rewards+® Card and Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card offer a first-of-its-kind bonus multiplier in which earnings on all purchases are rounded up to the nearest 10 ThankYou points. So, paying 25 cents for a parking meter will earn 10 points instead of just 1, and paying $12.99 for a month of Netflix will earn 20 points instead of 13. This is especially useful for those who make a lot of small purchases as it guarantees a minimum of 10 points on every purchase and there's no cap to the bonus.

The information for the Citi Rewards+ Student 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.

These no annual fee cards also earn 2x ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per calendar year (1x ThankYou points thereafter) so those purchases earn a minimum of 20 points. Even better, you’ll get 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 points redeemed per calendar year, so in reality the earning rates are slightly higher. New cardholders of the Citi Rewards+ Card get 20,000 points after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. For a limited time, earn 5 ThankYou points per dollar on air travel and hotels up to $6,000 in the first 12 months; then 1 point per dollar spent thereafter.

These points on their own are worth one cent apiece, but if you carry the Citi Prestige or the Citi Premier® Card, you can convert them into full-fledged Citi ThankYou pointsworth 1.7 cents apiece based on TPG's valuations. The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

5% Back in Rotating Categories

The no-annual fee Chase Freedom and Discover it Cash Back cards both offer 5% cash-back in rotating categories each quarter upon enrollment and up to a $1,500 quarterly max in purchases. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases. The categories vary slightly between the two cards, but often include purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and Amazon.

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The Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) offers greater maximization potential on the long run as rewards could be converted into full-fledged Ultimate Rewards points if you have a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, Discover will match cash back on all purchases during your first year of card membership so you'll effectively be earning 10% back on bonus category purchases in year one with the Discover it Cash Back, which is amazing.

Bonus Points on Streaming Services

(Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images)

There are several other cards such as the Citi Premier® Card, Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and Sony Card from Capital One which offer 2x Citi ThankYou points, 4% cash back and 5x Sony Rewards points respectively for entertainment purchases such as concert tickets, as well as streaming services. The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit 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.

There's also the Uber Visa Card, which offers 2% cash back on all online purchases, including streaming services, but with that rate of return it'd be better to use a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay) — not just streaming.

Bottom Line

It goes without saying that bonus categories are more diverse than ever before. However, the bonus earning opportunities don't end there. You may be able to earn extra points for purchases that don't fall under one of these categories by taking advantage of Amex Offers and Chase Offers, as well as other limited-time promotions.

Featured image by Getty Images/Hero Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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