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By Martha C. White
May 11, 2020
Getty Images

Coronavirus has changed the way millions of Americans spend. Now credit card companies are changing the way customers earn and spend rewards to keep up.

Here are the highlights of how several of the biggest credit card companies are tweaking their rewards.

In general, the changes fall into two camps. Some issuers are giving new cardholders extra time to hit the earnings thresholds they need to reach to get their cache of signup-bonus points. And some issuers are expanding the kinds of purchases for which customers can earn accelerated points or miles to include things like streaming entertainment services and supermarket.

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American Express

With a heavy focus on travel cards and experiential rewards, AmEx has overhauled much of its rewards structure for the time being. In March, the company found that spending by Premium cardholders on streaming subscriptions, wireless services, grocery and food delivery spiked by nearly 20%.

Starting in May, consumer and business Platinum cardholders get up to $20 a month (up to a total of $320) in statement credits on most streaming and wireless phone service purchases through December. Green cardholders get up to $10 a month (up to a total of $80) in credits.

Also starting in May and running through July, AmEx has bumped up the reward earnings rates for supermarket purchases on its Delta, Marriott and Hilton co-branded cards. (Redemption rates and other program details such as points accrual for status or stay/flight credits vary by loyalty program and tie.)

Bank of America

Customers who applied for both business and consumer credit cards between Jan. 1 and March 31 of this year get an extra 90 days to meet the spending thresholds to earn their signup bonus.

Capital One

Through June 30, Capital One will let Venture and VentureOne cardholders both earn and redeem miles for restaurant takeout and delivery, and streaming service purchases.

Chase

Credit cards opened between Jan. 1 and March 31 get an extra three months to meet their signup bonus earnings thresholds.

There are also enhanced rewards for existing cardholders. Through the end of May, Chase Sapphire and Freedom cardholders will earn 5x rewards on up to $500 in DoorDash or Tock purchases.

Through the month of June, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve and most Chase co-branded cardmembers earn extra rewards on groceries. Sapphire Preferred and United Club, Club Infinite and Presidential Plus cardholders earn 5X points per $1 spent on grocery purchases — including online pickup and delivery orders — up to $1,500 a month. Chase Sapphire Reserve and most other co-branded airline and hotel cardholders get 3X points per $1. Chase co-branded Marriott cardmembers get 6X points per $1, up to $5,000.

Southwest Premier Consumer, Premier Business, Priority and Performance Rapid Rewards cardholders now have the option of using just spending (as opposed to a combination of flights and non-flight spending) to reach A-List status. Previously, cardholders could earn 1,500 qualifying points for $10,000 in eligible purchases, with a cap of 15,000 points per year. The new program eliminates that cap, and doubles the amount of points earned to 3,000 per $10,000 spent.

Citi

New Citi cardholders who applied for their cards between Dec. 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020 get an extra three months to meet their spending thresholds to receive their signup bonuses.

Current Citi Prestige cardholders can apply their 2020 $250 annual travel credit to grocery store and restaurant purchases in addition to travel.

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