Unexpected summer bonus categories you may not be maximizing

If you have a travel rewards card, bonus points on hotels, flights and rental cars are probably a given. Take a look at these cards’ fine print, however, and you might find bonus categories you didn’t expect.

Torfinn/Moment/Getty images

Torfinn/Moment/Getty images

But who likes reading fine print? We scanned the rewards terms of several popular travel cards so you don’t have to miss out on any unexpected bonus opportunities for your summer activities. So, if you plan on camping, boating or experiencing the theater (or even just the movie theater) this summer, use our table to find which cards best match your summer plans.

How to use the chart

The cards in the chart below all offer bonus points on broad “travel” and or “entertainment” categories. Find an activity you’ll be doing this summer and see how many bonus points you’ll get. For example, if you’ll be taking a train this summer, you’ll find that you’ll get 2X your baseline earnings with the no-fee Barclaycard Arrival and the Chase Sapphire Preferred — and 3X baseline earnings with the Citi ThankYou Premier.

Note: Cards frequently adjust their bonus categories, meaning yours could suddenly stop giving bonus points for, say, tour operators. Also, bonus points are rewarded based on the merchant code assigned to a purchase. If, for example, a water park isn’t coding its transactions as an “amusement park,” you won’t get your bonus points from the Citi ThankYou Premier.

Unexpected bonus categories for summer travel
CategoryCiti ThankYou Premier ($95 annual fee)Citi Prestige ($450 annual fee)Barclaycard Arrival (no-annual fee version )Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee)Costco Anywhere
Card (Costco membership fee)
Travel agencies3X3X2X2X2X
Travel aggregation/discount websites3X2X
Tour operators3X2X2X
Gas3X (includes warehouse clubs)
Commuter ferries3X2X
Commuter railways3X
Passenger railways3X2X2X
Limos/car services3X2X2X
Parking lots/garages3X2X
Campgrounds/trailer parks3X2X2X
Motor home/RV rentals3X
Boat leases/rentals3X
Live entertainment/concerts/live theater2X2X
Live sporting events2X2X
Movie Theater2X2X
Amusement parks 2X2X
Tourist attractions (incl. museums)2X2X
Video rental stores2X2X

Our chart features only cards that have broad “travel” or “entertainment” categories. Plenty of other cards give travel bonus points, but only for more focused purchases (such as airfare directly from the airlines). Other travel cards give an even return on all purchases but give a more favorable return on travel redemptions. You can explore all your options here.

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