The way merchants are classified varies by credit card issuer. Each bank has its idiosyncrasies that people have exploited to generate points and miles at an accelerated rate. For example, Chase used to classify Card Cash as an office supply store, meaning Chase Ink Plus cardholders could earn 5 points per $1 spent on gift card purchases. Wells Fargo classifies Walmart as a grocery store. During the brief period when I had a Wells Fargo cash back card, I was able to earn 5% cash back by purchasing Visa gift cards at Walmart. The strangest merchant categorization I’ve seen to date has got to be Discover’s travel classification.
A few weeks ago when my nephew was born, my younger sister went to the mall to buy some gifts. I gave her the Discover It Miles card, which I’ve been using to generate cash back through giftcards.com purchases. I knew she’d put quite a dent on the card and went online to check the damage. After verifying the charges, I checked the Travel Redemption page. I had used my sister’s Discover card to cover some small hotel charges and wanted to redeem miles to cover the charges. To my surprise, the hotel charge did not appear but a $21.50 charge from the Disney store did.
I went back to the transaction section, found the $21.50 Disney Store charge and clicked on it for details. It turns out Discover codes The Disney Store as a Disney Resort, which is categorized as a travel merchant. So you could use your Discover It Miles to off-set purchases made at The Disney Store. Just as you would with any other travel charge. It also means if the Discover It Credit Card’s rotating 5% cash back category bonus includes travel, you can earn 5% cash back on Disney Store purchases.
Now I have no idea how to exploit this for maximum miles (I doubt the Disney Store carries PIN-enabled Visa gift cards) and it’s been many years since I’ve stepped into a Disney Store, but if someone out there has ideas about maximizing this bonus, it might be useful information. Maybe around the holidays it can come in handy if you’re a reseller and manage to buy in-demand toys and resell them for a profit.
Discover does allow cardholders to convert their miles to cash back via bank deposits at the same rate as travel redemptions. So this information isn’t going to be super useful for point redemptions. It may, however, come in handy for those with a Discover It card during quarters when the 5% cash back bonus includes travel merchants.
What are some of the strangest merchant categorizations you’ve come across on your credit card statements?
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