Coronavirus has affected the way consumers use credit cards, with many of us now making purchases to accommodate our lifestyles at home. Instead of spending on restaurants and travel, we’re using our cards on things like food delivery services and tools for remote working and learning.
In response to this drastic shift in spending, some credit card issuers have altered their benefits and rewards programs. American Express, for example has allowed their cardholders to use their monthly Uber credits on Uber’s food delivery service instead of Uber rides.
Let’s take a closer look at the various other credit card changes that could help save money and manage debt.
Changes in credit card benefits and rewards
Many issuers have made their own unique credit card changes. These changes may give you the chance to continue to earn rewards in the midst of the pandemic and save money in the process. Here’s a brief overview of what some of the most popular credit card companies have done.
American Express rolled out a number of other changes in addition to the one mentioned above. If you have its Platinum Card, you can get up to $320 cash back in statement credits from now until the end of the year. All you have to do is use it to pay for streaming and wireless phone services. This is great news if you’ve been spending money on Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, and Disney+.
They’re also offering a modified rewards program for cardholders who spend on groceries. With the American Express Delta SkyMiles® Blue, Gold, Platinum or Reserve Card, for instance, you can earn 4X miles at supermarkets from now until July 2020.
Finally, American Express granted a three month extension to new cardholders so they can meet their spending threshold and claim their welcome bonuses.
Chase launched a limited-time bonus category for groceries on over 20 of its travel credit cards and a few of its hotel cards. If you have an eligible Chase card, you may lock in 3 to 5 points or miles for every dollar you spend at the grocery store (online and pick up orders are included) from now until June 30th.
Through the end of May, you can also earn 5x rewards on up to $500 in DoorDash or Tock purchases, as long as you use a Chase Sapphire or Freedom to make them.
Citi is giving new cardholders who applied for their cards any time between December 1st 2019 and May 31st 2020 three extra months to meet their spending requirement so they can cash in on their signup bonuses. In addition, if you have a Citi Prestige card, you can apply your $250 annual travel credit to purchases at grocery stores and restaurants.
Capital One has made credit card changes to its Venture and VentureOne cards. If you are a Venture or VentureOne cardholder, you can earn and redeem miles for restaurant takeout, delivery, and streaming service purchases.
How to manage credit card debt
All of these benefits aren’t a guarantee that you will save money or manage your debt. If you’re struggling with credit card debt during the pandemic, there are several additional strategies you can use to help manage debt wisely:
- Look into relief programs: In addition to benefits and rewards changes, many credit card companies are offering financial relief to cardholders who have been affected by coronavirus. Don’t be afraid to call up your credit card company to find out if you’re eligible or any type of assistance. They may reduce your interest rate, defer your payments, or waive your late fees.
- Pick a side gig: If you’re short on cash because you’ve lost your job or are working less hours, consider a side gig to help you pay off your credit card debt. Mowing the lawn for a few neighbors or offering freelance design services to local businesses may be just what you need to keep your debt in check.
- Prioritize minimum payments, or more: In a perfect world, you’d pay your entire credit card balance in full every month. If you’re facing financial hardship, however, this may not be an option. So try to make your minimum payments and keep your account in good standing. Just remember that you will accrue interest charges on any amount you don’t pay off so paying more than the minimum is ideal.
- Say no to impulse spending: It can be tempting to use your credit card on random purchases on Amazon, especially if you’re at home with more time on your hands. Since impulse spending can dig you deeper into debt, do your best to avoid it at all costs.
By taking advantage of these tips and understanding your credit card changes, you can reduce (and maybe even eliminate) your credit card debt in these difficult financial times.
Download our free guide to manage debt during the crisis
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