As we move into the final month of the year (seriously, where has 2017 gone?!), credit card companies are upping their promotion game in order to capture their share of consumer spending over the holiday season.
American Express launched a promotion on their new Cobalt Card this morning. If you're opted in to email offers, you'll have received word about this in your inbox, but if not, it's published on the Amex website as well.
You'll earn 10 Membership Rewards Select points per dollar spent at grocery stores, restaurants, and food delivery services during the month of December, on the first $2,000 of eligible spending. After $2,000, you'll continue to earn 5 MR Select points per dollar spent, as usual.
As a reminder, MR Select points cannot be transferred to airline partners, but can be used for Amex's Pay With Points or Fixed Points Travel redemption schemes. Of course, the best way to use MR Select points is to transfer them to Starwood Preferred Guest at a 2:1 ratio, since hotel partner transfers are still on the table.
If you crunch the numbers, you'll see that the promotion allows you to earn 5 Starpoints per dollar spent on "eats and drinks" on $2,000 worth of spending. First of all, that's an insane earning rate, given the incredible variety of ways to use Starpoints. If you max out the $2,000 of eligible spending, that's an instant 10,000 Starpoints right there.
Even if you would have put that spending on your Cobalt Card anyway, that's an incremental 10,000 MR Select points, or 5,000 Starpoints that you'll earn for doing nothing. It doesn't get much better than that in terms of offsetting the cost of your holiday eating and drinking!
Keep in mind that the definition of "groceries, dining, and food delivery services" turns out to be a bit wider than you might initially think. For example, buying chocolate at Lindt retail stores counts under the 5x multiplier (and therefore the 10x promotional multiplier), it's a good bet that several of you will be shopping there to pick out some easy presents over the course of the month! Reloading your Starbucks Card or Tim Card also counts. Even a few establishments that are decidedly better categorized as "convenience stores" somehow fall under "groceries"!
Keep an eye on this FlyerTalk thread to see what else counts, or perhaps contribute your own data points.
Don't Have the Cobalt Card?
If you don't have the Cobalt Card yet, it's worth thinking about whether or not it makes sense for you. Everyone who's reading this blog loves travel, so you're sure to get a benefit out of the 2x multiplier on travel, transit, and gas purchases. On top of that, if you spend a not-insignificant portion of your disposable income on "eats and drinks" (whether that's eating in or going out), the 5x multiplier (and this promotional 10x multiplier) can definitely be a game-changer.
Even better, I recently came across another welcome offer for the Cobalt that I hadn't seen before. You can get a $100 statement credit after you make a purchase of $100 or more on Ticketmaster! This is ON TOP of the usual bonus 30,000 MR Select points split out over 12 months after spending $500 per month, plus 10,000 MR Select points when you apply before January 31, 2018 and spend $3,000 within the first three months.
This is an outstanding offer, and definitely trumps the $50 Great Canadian Rebates offer if you ever plan to buy tickets for concerts, shows, sporting events, etc. Even if you don't ever spend money on Ticketmaster, you can avail of the statement credit by buying a ticket for a popular concert and reselling it on StubHub. The $100 statement credit should compensate you well for your time.
You can access that offer at the below link (not a referral link), and I've updated my Cobalt Card rundown to reflect this great offer as well.
Amex changed the game when they introduced the Cobalt, and they continue to give us great reasons to keep the card top-of-wallet. Take advantage of the promotional 10x earning rate while it lasts in December (seriously, that's a multiplier one could only have dreamed of before Cobalt came along), and enjoy the fruits of your labour as you prepare for that (hopefully points-funded) holiday trip!
(tip of the hat to PointsNerd for the promotion and adawg02 on Reddit for the Ticketmaster offer)