There could be many reasons why you might not be working on earning a credit card welcome bonus right now. Maybe you’re trying to get below 5/24, or you’re letting your credit report cool off a little bit before opening some new cards.

Whatever the reason, you should still try to take advantage of credit card bonus categories. That’s why we’ve decided to compile the best bonus category options currently available in the market on a quarterly basis.

While some cards have permanent bonus categories, others change from time to time which has been especially true this year. We hope this guide will make choosing the best card to make a purchase just a little bit easier for you.

Groceries

For the fourth quarter of 2021, there are quite a few options to earn increased points on groceries. Many issuers are offering increased bonuses on grocery purchases as many people are staying at home rather than traveling.

The best cards offering bonus points on grocery purchases are below:

With its recent updates, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great option if you want to earn Ultimate Rewards on your grocery purchases and you tend to buy your groceries online.

The newly launched Citi Custom Cash Card has the opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back on your first $500 spent at grocery stores, so long as it is your top category of the month. Given groceries are often one of the biggest line items in a family’s budget, it can be easy to get the full value of this card at grocery stores.

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Flights

Travel is starting to pick up which may have you thinking of booking a flight sometime soon. You should be sure to earn the most points possible on any cash tickets you’re purchasing.

The best cards offering bonus points for flights from October through December 2021 are below:

Although both the Amex Platinum and the Citi Prestige Card earn 5X points on flights, the Amex Platinum should be your preferred option because it provides trip delay insurance.

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card is a newcomer to the list, but should be on your radar. Unlike its big brother, it earns 4X points on all travel regardless of if you book through the bank’s travel portal or not. Keep in mind, U.S. bank doesn’t have any transfer partners, so you’ll be limited to redeeming points directly through their travel portal.

Chase’s revamping of the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred give some new bonus opportunities.

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Hotels

While there are exceptions, you’ll want to focus on earning transferable points when booking hotels in most cases. Here are your best options with Amex, Chase, and Citi:

If you’re looking to pay cash for your hotel stay, the Citi Prestige should be on your radar. Twice a year you can get your 4th night free on a paid hotel stay booked through ThankYou.com.

To earn the most points possible on paid hotel stays, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® should be your go to. You’ll earn 10X Ultimate Rewards points on hotels booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Another option is the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card. You’ll earn 5X points on hotels booked through the Altitude Reserve Center with your card, but there are no transfer partners with U.S. Bank. In general, you should prioritize the Amex Platinum or one of either the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Freedom Flex℠ over the Altitude Reserve.

If you’re staying at a chain hotel, you may get some bigger benefits booking with the hotel’s co-branded credit card. The Hilton Aspire Card will earn 14X Hilton points at Hilton properties while The World of Hyatt Credit Card will earn 4X Hyatt points at Hyatt properties.

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Cruises

For cruisers, you’ll want to book using a card that earns point bonuses on cruises. Co-branded cruise cards aren’t typically the best options. Instead, use a card that earns flexible points.

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Rental Cars

When renting a car, you should consider more than just the total amount of points you’re getting. Some cards offer rental car insurance when you book with them, but they may not offer the most points. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card provides primary insurance coverage while many of its peers do not.

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Restaurants

Dining is a very popular bonus category across many cards. When there’s a competitive bonus category, the bonus points available add up quickly.

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Rideshare

Rideshares can be tricky. Some banks consider rideshares as travel while others don’t. Other cards have bonuses for specific rideshare companies.

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Food Delivery

For food delivery, some cards offer unique credits in addition to bonus points. Balancing your earnings and credits to offset the costs is the best way to save and earn.

Unfortunately, the Citi Prestige no longer gets $5 back on all Postmates orders over $25. Earning 5X points is still a good bonus rate for food delivery, even without the discount.

Meanwhile, the Amex Gold Card has a $10 per month credit that you can use with Grubhub and Seamless. The Sapphire Reserve currently provides a DoorDash DashPass membership which includes free delivery from participating restaurants. Amex cardmembers with a Platinum, Gold, or Green card can get a free Uber Eats Pass membership for 12 months.

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Gas Stations

You might not be commuting as much right now if you’re working from home, but you should still try to get as many points as possible when filling up the tank.

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Mobile Pay

Mobile pay is becoming increasingly popular, especially as people are trying to reduce contact as much as possible. As the popularity of mobile pay services increases, so does its popularity as a bonus category.

  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve – 3X on Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, LG Pay
  • Apple Card – 3% on Apple Pay transactions at Uber, UberEats, T-Mobile, Exxon, Mobil, Nike, Walgreens, and 2% back on all other Apple Pay transactions
  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card – 1.8% cashback on mobile payments for the first year with your card

Although the Apple Card and Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card are technically two of the best options for mobile pay, we don’t generally recommend them. Many cards will earn bonus points on their respective categories even if you pay with mobile pay. So if you’re dining out, look to use the best restaurant card instead of an Apple Card or the Cash Wise Visa.

Entertainment

Entertainment can be a broad category, but there are a few cards available this quarter that specify all entertainment as a bonus category.

  • Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card – 4% cash back
  • Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card – 3% cash back
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Streaming Services

For many people, streaming services have replaced traditional cable and satellite TV. Although it may be a hassle to change all your billing information, using one of the following cards will get you the most back on streaming services this quarter.

Quarterly Bonus Categories (July through September 2021)

Some of our favorite cards include bonus categories that change quarterly. Below are two of our favorite cards and their quarterly bonuses for October through December.

  • Chase Freedom (not available to new applicants) – 5% cash back on purchases at WalMart and with PayPal
  • Chase Freedom Flex℠– 5% cash back on purchases at WalMart and with PayPal
  • Discover It Cash Back Credit Card – 5% at amazon.com, walmart.com and target.com (up to $1,500)

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of great cards out there for every bonus category this quarter. Missing a category you’d like to see included in the future? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to include it next quarter.