How do you know which places count for reward categories?

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LadyinRed
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How do you know which places count for reward categories?

Postby LadyinRed » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:02 am

I have a Chase Freedom card and US Bank Cash+ credit card. I only use these for the 5% categories and use my Capital One Venture (2 miles / 2% back) for everything else.

I got my statements for the Freedom and Cash+ recently and the total cash back for both was a few dollars less than what would have been a full 5% back. Now I know that sometimes places will use a different code or something, but HOW do I know which stores did? With Capital One it lists what category every purchase is when I check online.

I'm just curious to know so I can avoid certain gas stations, restaurants, etc - or use my Capital One card instead to maximize rewards. Is it possible to find out which category each purchase falls into for Chase and US Bank?
AMEX: Blue Cash Preferred (6% on groceries, 3% gas & dept stores)
Capital One: Venture (2 points per $1, equivalent to 2%)
Chase: Freedom (rotating 5% categories), Disney Rewards (1 point per $1, Disney benefits)
US Bank: Cash+ (5% bookstores / 5% Electronic Stores)


jeffysdad
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Postby jeffysdad » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:52 pm

With Chase and US bank the only way I know to figure out where you didn't get the 5% is the hard way. Figure out your shortfall in cashback: what you would have gotten if all of your presumed 5% purchases had been treated as such minus what you did get. Divide this by 0.05 and look for transactions that are equal to or would add up to that amount.
American Express: Blue Cash Preferred (groceries, 6%; gas, department store, 3%); Gold Delta SkyMiles (Delta Air Lines, 2 miles/dollar, free checked bag).
US Bank: Cash+ (utilities, phone, internet, restaurant, 5%; drugstores, 2%).
FIA Card Services: Fidelity Amex (everything, 2%); Fidelity Visa (everything, 1.5%).
Chase: Freedom (rotating, 5%); Amazon (Amazon.com, 3%); PriorityClub (IHG hotels, 5 points/dollar); Sapphire (not in use).

*All cards are registered with PriorityClub IDine program for 8 points/dollar at participating restaurants.

LadyinRed
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Postby LadyinRed » Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:47 pm

Tried to do the math. Think I figured it out for US Bank.. but with my Chase.. it's definitely more than one transaction and pretty impossible to figure out.

I guess they leave that information out to avoid phone calls with complaints about how stuff was credited...
AMEX: Blue Cash Preferred (6% on groceries, 3% gas & dept stores)
Capital One: Venture (2 points per $1, equivalent to 2%)
Chase: Freedom (rotating 5% categories), Disney Rewards (1 point per $1, Disney benefits)
US Bank: Cash+ (5% bookstores / 5% Electronic Stores)

DavidNY
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Postby DavidNY » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:28 pm

To see how much of your Chase Freedom spending received 5% rewards (1% + 4% bonus), you can calculate ("Bonus points from 5% categories"/100)/.04 .

There may be a rounding error but the calculated figure should roughly equal your total charges if you only used the card for the 5% categories and didn't exceed the spending cap.

Money card
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Postby Money card » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:58 pm

alot of it is common sense , but in certain areas someplaces categorizes themselves weirdly.
some places down south like gas stations are connected to a grocery store, or a fast food store like you might be at a shell but it also says arbys so you would ask the attendent do you come up under restaurant or gas.

then there are places like Dairy Queen would that be ice cream or restaurant?
same thing with Cold stone?
if you go to a place that is more of a bar than a restaurant but sells food it comes up under restaurants . but if it's only a Bar like coyote ugly it most likely comes up as a bar.

LadyinRed
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Postby LadyinRed » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:59 pm

Yeah. It would just be SO MUCH easier if they told us what category everything is like Capital One does. I'm almost tempted to charge things and see how they come up on Capital One, but I've heard that something that's a restaurant for Capital One might not be for Chase. It's almost like they want to confuse us.
AMEX: Blue Cash Preferred (6% on groceries, 3% gas & dept stores)
Capital One: Venture (2 points per $1, equivalent to 2%)
Chase: Freedom (rotating 5% categories), Disney Rewards (1 point per $1, Disney benefits)
US Bank: Cash+ (5% bookstores / 5% Electronic Stores)

Gothicmoocow
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Postby Gothicmoocow » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:31 pm

I've been wondering the same thing...

jfinlayson
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Postby jfinlayson » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:48 am

Determining whether a vendor fits into a particular category is a non-trivial task, but that's inevitable. I don't think anyone is making it intentionally obscure. Given that the only workable way to run the program depends on the vendor's chosen Merchant Category Code (MCC), and that there are over 600 such codes, I don't know how it could be made easy to tell.

The categories you often see in statements (monthly and year-end) are much broader than the MCC list, of course, and aren't much use in determining a bonus match, as pointed out above. I imagine someone at the credit card company comes up with a list of broad categories that it thinks its customers would find useful for budgeting purposes, and then goes through the 600+ MCC and assigns each of them to one of those broad categories. That is, those categories have been defined to fill a different need than the bonus rewards program.

The bonus category definitions typically don't map precisely to any of those broad categories. I imagine they start by verbally defining the bonus category and then they go through the MCC list again and find the codes that fit their definition.

Sometimes the credit card company (I know they do for Citi Dividend and BankAmericard) publishes the list of MCC numbers that define a bonus category. If they don't, you can ask, and if the person you ask knows what you are talking about, they will most likely send you the list. Most people won't find having the list very useful, but if you are doggedly determined never to use the card on a 1% vendor, you can look up the MCC of the vendor and see if it matches the list before using the card there. I've done that once or twice. While an interesting exercise, I don't think it's an economical use of time, even if you are poor and unemployed.

Furthermore, if 100% of your purchases are in bonus categories, the bank will lose money on your account and will eventually close or downgrade your card. So I don't begrudge the accidental non-bonus purchases. They are helpful. Indeed, if I don't get enough of them, I try to throw in a few more to keep the overall average rewards under 3% over the long haul.



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