Chase Bonuses Travel and Dining Spend. But What Counts as Travel and Dining?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Sapphire Reserve Card offers 100,000 points after $4000 spend within 3 months as a signup bonus. It earns 3 points per dollar on travel and dining. It comes with a $300 travel credit each year, and a Priority Pass Select card with unlimited visits and guests. The card’s annual fee is $450.

I’ve long been a proponent of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It offers 50,000 points after $4000 spend within 3 months as a signup bonus. It earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining. The card’s annual fee is $0 the first year then $95.

The signup bonuses are great. The cards are worth it. They offer great ongoing earning with double or triple points in key spending categories. But what counts for earning double and triple points?

Travel: airfare (doesn’t have to be purchased directly from the airline — can be purchased from online travel agencies and travel agents, and not limited to US airlines); car rentals (and remember both cards offer primary collision); hotels; Airbnb; timeshares (but most people doesn’t buy these, and if you’re going to do it on the aftermarket); cruises; trains; buses; subway; taxis and ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft; parking; tolls including EZpass. Gas does not earn as travel.

Bonus points for airline purchases — foreign and domestic

Dining: You earn bonus points for spend at restaurants, fast food establishments, coffee shops, and bars. Dan’s Deals confirms that effective August 30 “Bakeries, Caterers, & Dairy product stores” no longer count as dining for earning spend bonuses.

Nam Prik Ong, Northern Thai Chili

Chase doesn’t pick which merchants to award double or triple points with. Each merchant has a business code attached to their credit card processing account. If the business code shows up as a hotel, it’s going to earn based on hotels even if it isn’t named Sheraton or Homewood Suites. It’s always exciting to find anomalies, for instance banks that treated rent payment service Radpad as though it was a hotel.

I’m not sure what dollar volume is involved in excluding bakeries, caterers, and perhaps Baskin Robbins from double or triple points depending on the product. Introducing Sapphire Reserve, which offers not just double but triple points on dining, certainly involved extensive data analytics and cost exercises and excluding some items from the overall category will save them some money.

How much this matters to you depends on how often you’re paying caterers… that aren’t billing, for instance, as hotels.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Very peculiar. There are vending units in our office, and they accept credit cards. Purchases there count as dining, since my CSP got double points.

  2. Chase likely makes stores like Baskin Robbins Ice Cream only good for 1x because their revenue protection staff fear customers will game the system and buy loads of Vanilla gift cards.

  3. For me, these two questions will answer which mid-level status is better.

    1. Does anyone know how many total Marriott branded properties are excluded?

    2. As a Hilton Gold, what % of the time do you get an upgrade which qualifies you for breakfast?

  4. In Sept. 14 article you indicate airfare does not have to be purchased directly from the airline to qualify for 3X “travel” points and Airbnb also qualifies as travel.
    Chase “Rewards Category FAQs” document states:
    1. Merchants who are travel agencies or discount travel sites are travel “merchants,” but only airline tickets purchased directly from the airline qualify (airline tickets purchased through travel agencies, discount travel sites, etc. do not qualify).
    2. Websites or owners that rent vacation properties (isn’t this Airbnb?) doe not qualify as travel merchants.
    3. Hotel reservations “not booked directly with the hotel will not qualify. Hotels booked through travel agencies, discount travel sites (isn’t this Priceline,, Booking, com), tour operators or part of travel package do not qualify.
    Do you need a follow-up article in light of these restrictions from Chase?

  5. Terry, Airbnb is not considered a VRBO. For whatever reason it is it classified under travel agency, thus 3x points on CSR. As I can personally attest, I just booked an Airbnb in Ireland and my statement indicated the triple points.
    As to the other two…I’ve got nothing. Would like to see the answer, however.

  6. Terry is also not totally correct regarding Airlines. Most travel agencies process airfare payments as if directly purchased from the airline. Thus the charge shows up as an airline charge and not a travel agency charge.

  7. John:
    By stating “travel agencies,” do you mean brick and mortar agencies or on-line agencies like Expedia, Orbitz, etc?

  8. By stating travel agencies, do you mean brick and mortar walk-in agencies or on-line agencies like Expedia, Orbitz, etc?

  9. I just came back from a trip that was organized and booked through a travel agent with an airfare billed through another vendor/flight aggregator. In case of the flight charge, Chase gave me triple points right away – I did not book directly with the airline(s) so I guess that clarifies one thing. Travel agent charge was a bit more complicated – their MCC was not travel related so initially I didn’t get extra points. But as this was happenning they were already in the process of changing their code. I guess their customers, including myself, express their disappointment. Once that happened, they voided my initial charge, re-charged the trip and Chase gave me the bonus points. Not without a couple of emails but it was worth the hassle.

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