Major credit card issuers have been making changes to their rewards and other benefits during the coronavirus pandemic to adapt to shifting consumer spending patterns. The latest is an update from Chase, which will soon offer its Sapphire credit card holders extra rewards on their grocery purchases. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cardholders with a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred card will earn 3 points or 2 points per dollar, respectively, on up to $1,000 in monthly grocery store spending. 
  • The promotion lasts from Nov. 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021.
  • This offer from Chase gives Sapphire cardholders the chance to rack up more rewards at a time when their usual bonus categories of travel and dining aren’t as beneficial.
  • But cardholders need to keep in mind that not all retailers that sell groceries—such as some big-box stores—count as grocery stores for rewards purposes.

How the New Chase Sapphire Offer Works

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred are among the best travel credit cards on the market, but their bonus rewards categories—travel and dining—aren’t as useful during the pandemic as they were before.

To appeal to cardholders, Chase has announced that starting Nov. 1, they’ll earn their respective card’s top rewards rate on up to $1,000 spent each month at grocery stores. For the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that’s 3 points per dollar on eligible purchases, and for the Chase Sapphire Preferred it's 2 points per dollar.

The big bank offered a similar promotion earlier this year across several of its travel credit cards, but that only lasted for a couple of months.

Additionally, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will still be able to count travel, gas, and grocery purchases toward their annual $300 travel credit through June 2021. The credit triggers automatically when you have made enough eligible purchases.

A Few Caveats to Keep in Mind

Grocery stores are a tricky category for credit cards. When a credit card issuer lists grocery stores or supermarkets as a bonus category, what qualifies depends on the merchant category code (MCC) of the retailer. 

A merchant’s MCC is typically determined based on its primary business, so if you’re shopping at Safeway or Kroger, for example, your spending will most likely be categorized as a grocery store purchase.

But if you buy your groceries at Walmart, Target, Costco, or Sam’s Club, that may not meet the criteria for the added rewards, because they may be classified as superstores or wholesale clubs rather than grocery stores. 

So if you want to take advantage of this promotion, be mindful of where you shop to ensure that your purchases count. 

Also, it’s important to note that while this promotion is an excellent perk for Sapphire cardholders, the American Express Gold Card remains your best bet if you want to maximize your grocery rewards. It offers 4 points per dollar on up to $25,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets. 

Alternatively, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets (and 1% after that). 

If you’re looking for a card that offers long-term value on groceries, one of those cards may be a better fit.