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How TPG readers’ credit card strategies have shifted during the pandemic

Nov. 11, 2020
7 min read
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Since May, we've seen numerous changes from credit card issuers to retain existing customers in light of the ongoing pandemic. From new category bonuses to reduced annual fees to new credits, it's easy to lose track of the developments. Thankfully, we've created a continuously updated guide to the latest card benefit changes.

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To that end, we've also been keeping tabs with readers in the TPG Lounge and TPG Women Facebook groups about how their credit card strategies have shifted during the pandemic -- and which limited-time benefits and bonuses have been the most helpful.

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In fact, in the spring, many readers accurately predicted some of the latest announcements. Without further ado, here are how some of our readers' card strategies have changed during the sometimes-turbulent year that has been 2020.

Related: How TPG staff’s credit card strategies have changed during the pandemic

Perks are driving how people are using cards differently

(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Daniel K.: I've been using my free year of DashPass with the Chase Sapphire Reserve — I had never really done food delivery, but the timing was perfect with COVID-19.

Peggy S.: After every quarter, I've been reevaluating to see which cards offer the best limited-time perks. It's been a bit of a challenge to keep up with each card's benefits but it's worth it in the long run to earn the most number of points.

Related: Make the most of your food delivery orders with these 7 credit cards

Limited-time Amex credits take priority

Throughout the last several months, Amex has announced a wide variety of limited-time promotions as part of changes to keep cardholders engaged during the coronavirus pandemic. Those have included various wireless and streaming credits on travel cards and additional Dell credits.

For instance, The Platinum Card® from American Express will give cardholders up to $20 per month each on streaming and wireless services through the end of the year.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Here's what TPG readers are saying how they use these credits instead of other cards:

Streaming, wireless and Dell credit

Angie S.: I'm using the streaming credit and wireless credit on my American Express cards. Previously, my streaming services like Netflix were on my Citi® Double Cash Card.

Chris D.: I'm actually using The Platinum Card® from American Express a lot more than I expected with the limited-time credits. Typically, I'd throw the streaming purchases on a card like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express which earns 6% cash back* on those [on select U.S. streaming services] services

Ken B.: I definitely think the streaming and wireless credit on The Platinum Card® from American Express is the most beneficial limited-time benefit. It hasn't increased my Amex Platinum's use though since I'm still primarily using the American Express® Gold Card for food and groceries [at U.S. supermarkets].

*Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Relevant articles:

Some Amex cardholders are receiving credits to offset annual fees — are you included?

Using a different card to earn elite status from home

With the ongoing pandemic keeping many travelers grounded (and closer to home), select airlines and hotels have made it easier to earn elite status right from the comfort of home.

Delta One Suites (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)
A Delta One Suite. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

Michael D.: Since I have plenty of airline miles and Amex Membership Rewards points, I have been taking advantage of the Hilton bonus points counting toward lifetime Diamond status while trying to build up points for a second trip to the Maldives. I still use my Membership Rewards-earning cards for Grubhub takeout for the bonus points but most of my spending has moved from the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express to Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

Meg G.: I'm about 140,000 American AAdvantage miles away from getting Platinum status for life. So I'm really into using the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. Anything I charge before Dec. 31, 2020, will count as 1 mile toward Million Miler status. I'm banking AA miles for a big family trip to Australia and New Zealand via Asia. Normally, I wouldn't be putting my spending on this card.

Gayl H.: I'm using my Delta Amex card to charge large purchases and get 500 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) each time.

The information for the Amex Everyday Preferred and Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select 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.

Relevant articles:

Bottom line

With so many changes in a constantly shifting environment, card issuers will struggle to satisfy every one of their cardholders. However, we've seen a chorus of support for some perks -- and how that has shaped how people are using their cards differently.

As the months roll on, all companies, including card issuers, will have to continue to adapt to consumer behavior changes. That likely means more unique perks and bonuses that cater to the times that we live in, right here and right now.

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.

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
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

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points
Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
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

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 100,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees