8 ways I've used limited-time credit card benefits and credits to keep pandemic boredom at bay
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- Please note: while the offers mentioned below are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
- Credit card issuers have rolled out temporary credits during the pandemic and more ways to use existing ones.
- You can use many of these credits to alleviate stay-at-home boredom.
- Sharpen your chef skills, start a fitness regimen, or improve your home — without spending a dime.
- Read Insider’s guide to the best current credit card offers.
My collection of travel credit cards has served me extremely well over the years, scoring me hotel room upgrades, lounge access, tons of free food and drink at airports across the world, and so much more. But if there’s one thing I never suspected my travel cards would be good for, it’s having fun at home.
Luckily, credit card issuers have risen to the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to show us their products can help do exactly that. To keep customers happy — and paying their annual fees — they’ve made points and perks easier to earn, and rewards and credits more flexible to use.
Pandemic-friendly perks to relieve quarantine boredom
I, for one, am not complaining; after nearly a year in quarantine, I can proudly say I’ve yet to get too bored or run out of things to do in my 700-square-foot apartment, and I have my credit cards to thank — at least in part.
Here’s a rundown of credits I’ve used (or plan to use) to help keep things lively at home.
Chase Sapphire Reserve DoorDash credit
I was never into food delivery pre-pandemic, but that all changed when going out to restaurants ceased to be an option — then receiving up to $60 per year in DoorDash credits for 2020 and 2021 from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® started looking pretty good.
Quick tip: Chase Sapphire Reserve® (and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card) cardholders can get lower service fees and free delivery on orders of $12 or more when they activate a complimentary year of DoorDash DashPass membership. Just add your card to the DoorDash app and click to add the offer by December 31, 2021.
Since $60 is enough to make a dent in a nice delivery meal, consider changing things up by doing something on the fancy side. I’ve broken out my nice clothes, entertaining flatware, and mood lighting for dinners at home, and it really does make you feel (a little bit) like you’re dining out for a special occasion.
Amex Platinum streaming credit (no longer available)
Amex was quick to jump on the temporary credit idea, rolling out a $20 monthly streaming credit on The Platinum Card® from American Express all the way back in May 2020. I quickly moved over my Spotify subscription before realizing I had enough left per month to give Disney Plus a try, too.
The next months were filled with gems including The Mighty Ducks, Fantasia, and that Taylor Swift studio session from the woods, but I barely scratched the surface on what the platform has to offer. While the credit is no longer active — Amex ended it at the end of 2020 — I’ve now moved my subscription over to my Chase Freedom Flex℠ so that I can earn 5% cash back on streaming through the end of March as part of the Chase Freedom rotating quarterly category bonuses (cardholders earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined category spending per quarter, then 1%).
And if you have the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, you can use your miles to cancel out eligible streaming charges through the end of April).
Chase Sapphire Reserve travel-turned-grocery credit
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has always offered a $300 travel credit, but when it became clear that that might be tough for customers to use, the bank opened up an option to use it toward grocery and gas purchases.
I blew through the credit at the grocery store getting ingredients to prepare for a series of global food weekends. Thanks to Chase, we’ve made rösti potatoes and fondue for Swiss Weekend, pad see ew and mango sticky rice for Thai weekend, garlic soup and fruit dumplings for Czech weekend and beyond. I highly recommend giving these themed weekends a try if you’re in need of a little armchair travel!
American Express Uber Cash credits
Holders of the Amex Platinum and, as of recently, the American Express® Gold Card have access to up to $200 or $120 in Uber Cash credits per year, respectively, but if you’re not planning on going anywhere, you can use the credits on Uber Eats.
They’re broken down by month, though, meaning Platinum Card members get up to $15 per month (except in December, when they get up to $35) and Amex Gold Card holders get up to $10 per month. While that’s not enough to cover most meals once fees are tacked on, it is enough to cover a Starbucks delivery, and while ordering Starbucks is one of the laziest things I have ever done, it’s also always a highlight of the month.
Quick tip: Platinum Card, Amex Gold Card, and American Express® Green Card holders can save on delivery fees and get discounts by activating a free year of Uber Eats Pass by December 31, 2021.
I reserve my credits for my most dreaded or dullest work-from-home days, and having a sugar-filled, seasonally appropriate coffee drink show up outside my door never fails to bring a little excitement to the morning.
Amex Platinum Saks credit
If you’ve spent as much time in your home as I have over the past year and haven’t tried to redecorate every square inch of your living space, you have more self-control than I do, and I applaud you. If you’re in my camp, though, know that the Amex Platinum Card offers up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credit per year — up to $50 between January and June, and up to $50 between July and December — and that Saks has a home décor section.
Chase Peloton credit
My favorite quarantine purchase has easily been my Peloton bike, which arrived last May, so I was particularly excited when Chase in October introduced Peloton credits for Sapphire cardholders (up to $120 per year for Chase Sapphire Reserve®cardholders and up to $60 per year for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders).
Taking spin classes has been a great way to both combat feelings of stir craziness and do something with friends and family that doesn’t involve a Zoom room, and this is coming from someone who used to hate fitness more than almost anything on earth. If you’re not ready to drop a couple of grand on a bike or treadmill, though, fear not: You can still use the credit on a Peloton Digital subscription, which will give you access to thousands of on-demand workouts that require little or no equipment.
Amex Platinum PayPal credit
With the new year, the Amex Platinum Card unveiled a new perk: up to $30 per month in PayPal credits through June 2021 (translation: $30 per month in nearly anything you could want, what with PayPal being accepted at millions of retailers).
I’ve so far used my credits on a reed diffuser and dry shampoo, but there are tons of ways to use them for at-home entertainment. One option? Masterclass, an online course platform where you can learn from some of the world’s top experts in their fields. Another favorite of mine is Airbnb Experiences, where locals from around the world can guide you on virtual tours of their home cities.
Amex Platinum Home Depot and Best Buy offers
Amex has not been messing around lately when it comes to Amex Offers, serving up $50 credits to Home Depot and Best Buy for Amex Platinum Card members, among other merchants.
I’m planning to use my Home Depot credit to buy my first toolkit and actually hang stuff on my walls that’s been collecting dust for ages, since changing up the scenery at this point can only be a good thing. The Best Buy credit may be destined to become a combo panini press-waffle iron, because a new kitchen appliance is pretty much as exciting as things get around here!
Carly Helfand is a points and miles blogger and coach who’s been using points to travel to 52 cities in every calendar year since 2011. She’s also a full-time financial journalist who got her start in the business reporting world while earning her master’s at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
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