Here’s which purchases count as travel with the Chase Sapphire cards

by | May 8, 2020 | Cards | 1 comment

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve has received plenty of attention since its debut back in 2016 – that’s in no small part due to the 3x points it earns on travel and dining purchases worldwide. Although it earns 2x on these same purchases, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card remains a top pick, especially for those new to the award travel game. The great thing about this is that Chase has a very generous definition of what counts as travel.

How Chase Defines Travel

We’ve established that earning 2x and 3x points on travel and dining, respectively, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve is pretty impressive. But how do you know if a given purchase qualifies? While the dining half of the equation is relatively straightforward — all restaurants and even some bars that don’t serve food should earn bonus points, as should delivery services such as Seamless — on the surface it’s less clear what counts as a travel purchase. Luckily, the answer is pretty much everything.

Here’s how “travel” is defined, according to Chase’s website

Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

Compared to other credit cards’ bonus categories, this one is extremely generous. While cards such as the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express offer bonus points for airfare purchases made directly with the airline, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards let you earn a bonus on virtually every trip-related charge — from hotels and airfare to cruises, tolls and even parking fees. This includes Uber and Airbnb purchases as well.

Purchases that don’t count as “travel”, according to Chase’s website

The following purchases do not apply toward the 2x or 3x bonus categories on these cards, but none of them should be a huge surprise or disappointment:

Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, websites or owners that rent vacation properties, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, tourist attractions, merchants within airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of points or miles does not qualify in this category.

If you’re ever unsure of whether a given purchase counts as travel, it could be worth making a small charge and checking to see whether it earns any bonus points on your online Chase account. Additionally, if you feel like a travel purchase should have earned bonus points but didn’t, you can always try calling and taking it up with a phone representative. Even if you don’t get the outcome you’re looking for, you’ll at least get some clarity on how certain charges are coded, and can plan future spending accordingly.

Bottom Line

To recap, here are purchases that Chase counts as travel:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Timeshares
  • Campgrounds
  • Car rental agencies
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agencies
  • Discount travel sites
  • Passenger trains
  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Limousines
  • Ferries
  • Toll bridges and highways
  • Parking lots and garages

And here are travel-related purchases that Chase DOES NOT count as travel:

  • Real estate agents
  • Websites or owners that rent vacation properties
  • In-flight goods and services
  • On-board cruise line goods and services
  • Sightseeing activities
  • Tourist attractions
  • Merchants within airports
  • Merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling
  • The purchasing of points or miles

Holders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred have plenty of opportunities to earn 3x or 2x points respectively, on travel. Based on TPG valuations, that means you could be getting a return of up to 6% on these purchases, and you can put your points to use with some great travel partners. On top of that, these Chase cards have among the most generous travel and purchase protections on the market, making either card worth having.

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