As COVID-19 Limits Travel, Chase and Amex Add Some Amazing New Benefits for Cardholders [May 2020]

New benefits on certain Chase and Amex travel cards may make their annual fees worth paying even as the novel coronavirus cuts down on travel-related spending.
Last updated Sep 14, 2020 | By Christy Rakoczy
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Credit cards from American Express and Chase have long been known for their amazing travel benefits — but many of their best travel cards come with hefty annual fees. While awesome perks and generous rewards justify the cost for jetsetters, COVID-19 has left most people grounded.

With travel at a standstill, those considering downgrading or cancelling their cards may want to think twice as both Chase and American Express have announced special limited-time bonuses on things you're more likely to be spending on right now — such as groceries, streaming services, and food delivery.

New perks will vary by card so keep reading to see what your new benefits are so you can take advantage of them — or determine if they make your card worth keeping.

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Up to 5X on groceries with Chase cards

Chase has chosen to focus its new benefits on groceries as Americans hunker down at home. In particular, a long list of Chase credit cards are now offering up to five times the rewards for grocery store spending.

This includes purchases in stores and through grocery delivery services like Instacart. And you can even earn the bonus on purchases at superstores such as Target and Walmart, which are normally excluded from earning grocery bonuses. These purchases will now entitle you to the rewards boost as long as the superstore you shop at has a grocery section.

The extra miles, Ultimate Rewards points, or other perks will be available through June 30, 2020 with no activation required. However, your bonus earnings are limited to $1,500 in monthly spending.

Which Chase cards are included?

Here are all the cards offering the extra bonus for grocery buys, as well as details on how many extra points you'll get:

Legacy cards no longer accepting new applicants are also offering extra points. Here are the bonuses you'll get if you have an old card that's no longer offered:

  • Hyatt Credit Card (3X Hyatt points)
  • IHG Rewards Club Select (3X IHG points)
  • United MileagePlus Awards (3X United miles)
  • United MileagePlus (3X United miles)
  • United MileagePlus Select (3X United miles)
  • United Presidential Plus (5X United miles)

How valuable are these new perks?

The bonus offerings could be quite valuable for those who spend often at grocery stores. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for example, you could earn a full 15,000 in Ultimate Rewards points if you spend the full $1,500 on groceries in both May and June. Those 15,000 points are worth $225 when used for travel in the Chase portal. So, this perk could cover a big chunk of the card's $550 annual fee if you're able to max it out.

Limited-time perks with Amex cards

American Express has also added some new benefits for cardmembers. These vary by card but include statement credits for streaming purchases, bonus miles on grocery spending, and more. The table below shows some of the extra cardholder perks your Amex might offer during the COVID-19 crisis.

Which Amex cards are included?

Card Limited-time perk
American Express Green Card
  • $10 per month in statement credits for wireless phone services purchased directly from U.S. providers between May and December 2020. Receive up to $80 in total statement credits
Platinum Card
  • $20 per month in statement credits for purchases from U.S. service providers for select streaming and wireless phone services. Credits are available May to December 2020 and you can receive a maximum of $320 in statement credits
Business Platinum Card
  • $20 per month in statement credits for wireless phone services purchased directly from U.S. providers and $20 per month in U.S. shipping purchases between May and December 2020 up to a maximum of $320 in credits
  • Two additional $100 statement credits for U.S. purchases made with Dell between May 1 and June 30, 2020 and another $100 between July 1 and December 31, 2020
Delta SkyMiles Reserve
Delta SkyMiles Platinum
Delta SkyMiles Gold
Delta SkyMiles Blue
  • 4X the miles on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets between May and July 2020
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire
  • 12X the Hilton Honors Points for purchases at U.S. supermarkets between May and July 2020
  • Purchases at U.S. restaurants made between June and August 2020 (including on takeout and delivery) count towards qualifying for the $250 Hilton resort rewards credit
  • Bonus points on eligible purchases that post to your account between May 1 and December 31 count as base points for elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond status
  • The 12-month time limit for using unexpired free weekend night certificates has been extended to 24 months for certificates issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020
  • Current unexpired free weekend night certificates and those issued through December 31, 2020 can now be used on any night of the week
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass
  • 12X the Hilton Honors points for purchases at U.S. supermarkets between May and July 2020
  • Bonus points on eligible purchases count as base points for elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond status if they post to your account between May 1 and December 31
  • The 12-month time limit for free weekend night certificates issued between May 1 and December 31 will be expanded to 24 months
  • Current unexpired free weekend night certificates and those issued through December 31, 2020 will now be valid for use on any night of the week
Hilton Honors Card
  • Any bonus points from eligible purchases that post to your account between May 1 and December 31 are considered base points that count towards elite tier qualification or lifetime Diamond status.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant
  • 6X points on purchases at U.S. supermarkets from May-July 2020 (up to $7,500)
  • Eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants made between June and August 2020 now now qualify for the annual $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit
Marriott Cards
  • 6X the Marriott Bonvoy points on up to $7,500 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets between May and July 2020 (Chase account holders earn points only on the first $5,000 in spending)

How valuable are these new perks?

The value of these changes might depend on whether you already have one of the best rewards credit cards for general purchases. These extra perks can make up for missed travel benefits if you don't already have a card offering generous rewards on groceries, wireless phone service, or other extra categories providing the bonus points.

The Amex Platinum Card, for example, is providing up to $320 in statement credits for streaming and wireless phone services, which covers more than half the card's $550 annual fee. If you use other benefits, such as the existing $15 in monthly statement credits for Uber and UberEats, you'll have covered the fee almost entirely.

Bottom line: Find out about new perks your cards are offering

Travel credit cards may not seem very useful when you can't go anywhere, but if you have a Chase or Amex card in your wallet, be sure to check into the new perks these card issuers are offering.

You can take these new features into account when deciding whether to downgrade your card — and you may decide to consider changing which cards you use when you hit the stores or pay for streaming services so you can take full advantage of what your card issuer is offering.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Benefits

  • 80,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) until September 30, 2020
  • 3X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) until September 30, 2020
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits