The ability to earn extra cash back on certain credit card purchases has existed for a long time, as evidenced by credit card shopping portals.
Some credit card rewards programs, however, are going a different direction, with “Deals” and “Offers” programs.
How deals programs are different
As with shopping portals, deals programs guide you toward a card issuer’s partner merchants and reward you for doing so. Here’s how they’re different:
- The hook: With a shopping portal, you generally have a specific purchase in mind (say, flowers). So you’ll log into your card’s shopping portal (if you even know it has one), find out which flower delivery companies partner with your card, buy flowers from that merchant and get extra points. Deals programs, on the other hand, operate with a more Groupon-like model. The program advertises a limited-time deal — extra points or a discount at a restaurant or clothing store, for example — enticing you to get your next meal or next shirt at that merchant.
- The process: With shopping portals, you need to make the purchase then and there. With Deals programs, you can generally add deals to your account and then make the purchase later. Because you’ve activated the deal, you’ll get the extra rewards or cash back whenever you make the purchase with your linked card (assuming you do so by the deal’s deadline).
- Deals are more personal: Many deals programs show you deals catered to you and your shopping habits. In some cases, deals will pop up next to related transactions when you review your account history in online banking. In other cases, the deals presented to you may be prioritized, based on your past purchases. Traditional shopping portals generally display the same way to everyone with that issuer’s card.
- Deals come to where you are: Deals programs often have corresponding apps that allow you to claim offers that match your location. In the case of Amex Offers (from American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner), you can link your card to your social media profiles and then claim them on those sites instead of logging in to your online banking account.
In short, deals programs are designed to have offers find you when you’re not looking. While that might tempt you into buying something you wouldn’t have otherwise bought, when used wisely, your card’s deals program can help you find ways to spend less on planned purchases.
Read on for how to use some of the most popular issuer deals programs – and how they compare.
(For more on the psychology behind card-linked deals programs, read this story).
With this program, you can seek out offers by logging in to your AmEx account and selecting the “Offers For You” tab. Select individual offers to add them.
Or, you can sync Amex offers with your social media accounts.
Facebook: Go to this page and select “connect to Facebook.” Once you’ve linked your card to Facebook (only one card per Facebook account is allowed), like the American Express Facebook page. When you see an offer you want, click on it, and it will automatically be added to your account.
Twitter: Go to this page and link your Twitter profile to an AmEx card (one card per Twitter account). Follow AmEx on Twitter and then tweet the required hashtags to claim your offer. For example:
Amex offers run the gamut from small everyday purchases (a few bucks off a meal) to large luxury purchases (for example, a $60 credit when you spend more than $300 on a Hilton hotel room). Our forum members tend to find this program lucrative.
Offers are plentiful and frequently refreshed. In fact, some offers are targeted to you and your card – so, if you have multiple AmEx cards, log in and check out “Offers For You” under each of your cards.
One of the longest-standing card-linked deals programs, this program allows you to add deals to your account via online banking or the app. Just use your linked Bank of America card (following the terms of the deal), and cash back will automatically be credited to your statement. Recent examples include:
The program makes it easy to track which offers you’ve claimed (and still haven’t used) and keeps a visible tally next to your statement, showing how much you’ve earned through the program.
Offers are personal to each cardholder, based on your spending habits. In fact, you can expect deals to show up in the stream of your transactions. If, for example, you bought fast food recently, you might see a notification next to that transaction, prompting you to claim a deal for another fast food chain. While there are some travel and luxury rewards, most BankAmeriDeals fall within the realm of everyday spending. This is convenient for those who consistently want a few bucks off a meal at a chain restaurant, but glamourous opportunities are rarer. Also, the deals tend to be repetitive.
While this program has “deals” in the name, it can function more like a traditional shopping portal. You can click through and buy instantly on the partner merchant’s site, or you can save the deal for later so that you’re credited when you do make the purchase (as long as you do so by the deadline).
Discover Deals has a few offers for in-store purchases as well. Some of its deals also allow you to get an immediate discount instead of additional rewards after the fact.
Discover has plenty of offers, with lots of major merchants and travel providers represented – including the coveted Apple Store. Click “Selected for You” to find deals that match your recent shopping habits.
Check out some recent offers (subject to change) below:
One caveat about Discover Deals is that they can be tricky to track. You don’t consistently get a notification that you successfully used a deal, and the only way to confirm is by checking your statement later, according to FrequentMiler.
Citi Smart Savings
This program is brand new, and it hasn’t yet been rolled out on all cards. If it’s available on your card, look for “Offers for you” when logged in to online banking. Browse the deals and click to add them to your account.
Most bloggers who have tested the service say that only a few offers are available, but the ones that exist can be quite lucrative (for example, 20 percent cash back at Starbucks up to a certain limit and 10 percent back at Hilton were available to The Points Guy).