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While their chief focus in the near term is blunting the fiscal impact of the crush of loan delinquencies caused by spiking unemployment and falling incomes, they’re reacting in less visible ways as well.
One such response is an adjustment to popular credit card rewards programs and fringe benefits packages.
Well over a dozen credit cards — mostly premium travel rewards cards and business credit cards — temporarily added new rewards categories (or increased existing rewards rates) and potentially valuable fringe benefits to reflect their newly homebound users’ changing spending habits. Some have since expired, but others remain in effect.
New cardholders can still take advantage of the rewards and benefits that remain in effect, so it’s not too late to get off the fence and apply if you’ve been considering a new card. Here’s a detailed look at the best new credit card features and benefits for the COVID-19 era.
New Credit Card Perks & Benefits for the Coronavirus Pandemic
In response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple credit cards from American Express, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, and Citibank added temporary perks and benefits to their most popular travel cards and general-purpose rewards credit cards. Some remain in effect.
These American Express cards added new perks, benefits, and credit opportunities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check with the issuer to confirm that they remain in effect:
Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
For a limited time, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express card has a nice little bonus for cardholders who’ve temporarily paused their travel plans during the pandemic: a $100 Delta flight credit that’s yours after spending $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year.
This promotion has no set end date, but it’s subject to change at Amex and Delta’s discretion.
Hilton Honors Amex Credit Cards (Consumer)
Free weekend night certificates issued through Dec. 31, 2021, for users of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card, stay valid for 12 months from the issue date and can be redeemed on weekdays as well.
These JPMorgan Chase credit cards have added new perks and benefits as well:
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card has a very impressive lineup of temporary benefits:
- The $300 annual statement credit, generally reserved for travel, also applies to supermarket and gas station purchases through at least June 2021.
- The Pay Yourself Back redemption option assigns a redemption value of $0.015 per Chase Ultimate Rewards point for statement credit redemptions made against purchases in select categories — initially restaurants, supermarkets, and home improvement stores, but subject to change — through September 2021. That’s a 50% boost to the usual redemption rate.
These temporary opportunities complement a raft of permanent Chase Sapphire Reserve perks and benefits rolled out in early 2020, including:
- A complimentary subscription to DoorDash DashPass through at least 2021, depending on when your account is opened, with benefits like free delivery on eligible DoorDash takeout (delivery) orders
- $60 in statement credits against eligible DoorDash purchases in 2021
- Up to $120 back in statement credits on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through Dec. 31, 2021
- 10 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases of Peloton equipment (Bike, Bike+ Tread, Tread+, and accessories over $1,800), up to 50,000 bonus points earned, through March 31, 2022
Pay Yourself Back on Other Chase Credit Cards
For a limited time, several other Chase credit cards have added Pay Yourself Back, albeit at a slightly less generous redemption rate than Sapphire Reserve.
The following Chase consumer and business cards allow or allowed statement credit redemptions made against purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, and home improvement stores:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, through Sept. 30, 2021
- Chase Freedom® Credit Card, indefinitely (closed to new sign-ups)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card, through at least Sept. 30, 2021
- Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card, through at least Sept. 30, 2021 (Freedom Flex is also noted for its quarterly rotating 5% cash-back categories — refer to our Chase Freedom 5% category list for more information)
Additional Temporary Benefits for Chase Cardholders
Chase Sapphire Preferred® also offers a limited-time deal for Peloton members: up to $60 off select Peloton memberships through December 2021, including full access to Peloton’s digital workout library with no fitness equipment required, and 5 points per $1 spent on eligible Peloton equipment and accessories over $1,800, up to 25,000 bonus points earned.
These Citibank credit cards added limited-time new perks and benefits as well:
Citi Prestige Card
You can apply the Citi Prestige card’s 2021 travel credit — worth $250 — to restaurant and grocery store purchases in addition to airfare, hotel bookings, car rentals, and other types of eligible travel.
This offer is available only to current Citi Prestige cardholders and expires on Dec. 31, 2021, though Citi may choose to reinstate it in future years at its discretion.
See our Citi Prestige card review for more details about this card’s rewards program and benefits.
Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Current Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard cardholders earn a $225 statement credit upon account renewal. Eligibility for this perk is limited to accounts open as of March 31, 2020.
See our Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard review for more details on this card.
As we all adjust to the new normal of the post-COVID-19 era, it’s fair to expect credit card issuers (and cardmembers) to do the same.
That could mean more temporary or permanent changes to existing personal and small-business cards’ rewards programs and benefits packages, such as new rewards categories, sign-up bonus (welcome bonus) opportunities, and fringe benefits.
Perhaps more exciting, it could also lead to entirely new cards that reflect long-term changes in consumer behavior and spending. The airline and hotel credit card spaces have been especially volatile during the pandemic, so perhaps new offerings from top brands like Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott are on the way.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.