The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the way American Express cards reward travelers.

By Paul Brady
Updated June 06, 2020
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American Express is shaking up the way it rewards consumers, as millions of card holders are staying closer to home, deferring future trips, and missing out on many of the travel benefits that the cards typically confer.

Along with partners including Delta Air Lines, Hilton, and Marriott, American Express is adding benefits for consumers who have shifted their spending from travel to other categories like groceries and computer gear. (The moves come as consumer spending on the whole was down a record 7.5 percent in March, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.)

Starting on May 1, American Express will offer bonus points of up to 12 per dollar spent on groceries and statement credits for things like takeout and delivery, subscriptions to streaming services, and work-from-home equipment. The moves impact a variety of American Express offerings across the company’s portfolio, with offers varying by the individual card. (Read on for the complete card-by-card breakdown, below.) Co-branded cards like those from Delta, Hilton, and Marriott will also see the new rewards.

“As most of the nation has been and remains under stay at home orders unable to travel and earn points, there is growing desire among members looking forward to traveling when stay at home orders are lifted,” a Marriott spokesperson said in an email to Travel + Leisure. “The offer recognizes the change in spending habits, difficulty in traveling right now, and desire of so many of us to vacation again in the future.”

Hilton echoed those sentiments. "We have seen grocery store spend increase exponentially and know it remains an important area of spend for cardmembers at home," said Mark Weinstein, Hilton’s senior vice president and global head of customer engagement, loyalty, and partnerships. "By boosting our points accelerator at supermarkets and supporting the restaurants we love through takeout, we’re providing extra value both now and into the future."

Most of these new rewards are set to run through most of the summer, though the particulars vary by specific card. Some benefits, including credits toward status in hotel loyalty programs, will run through the end of the year. “We know our members may be at home today, but they’re still thinking of a future time when we’ll all be able to travel again," Weinstein said.

All the new rewards coming to American Express cards

Here are the specific changes coming to a variety of cards, according to the company.

  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve, Platinum, Gold, and Blue Consumer Card Members will now earn 4X miles at U.S. supermarkets (May through July 2020).
  • Marriott Bonvoy and Brilliant Consumer Card Members will now earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $7,500 in eligible purchases (May through July 2020).
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Consumer Card Members’ eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, will now qualify toward the $300 Marriott Bonvoy Statement Credit benefit (June through August 2020).
  • Hilton Surpass and Aspire Consumer Card Members will now earn 12X Hilton Honors at U.S. supermarkets (May through July 2020). Bonus Points earned through eligible purchases on all Hilton American Express Cards, that post to the Card Member’s Hilton Honors account between May 1 through December 31, will be considered Base Points and will count towards Elite tier qualification and Lifetime Diamond Status.
  • Hilton Aspire Consumer Card Members’ eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, will now qualify toward the $250 Hilton resort credit benefit (June through August 2020).
  • Platinum Consumer Card Members will receive up to $320 in statement credits when they use their Platinum Card on select streaming and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers (up to $20 per month on each, from May through December 2020).
  • Business Platinum Card Members will receive up to $320 in statement credits on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping (up to $20 per month on each, from May through December 2020).
  • Green Consumer Card Members will receive up to $80 in statement credits when they use their Green Card to pay for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers (up to $10 per month, from May through December 2020).
  • Business Platinum Card Members will receive up to $200 in additional statement credits for U.S. purchases with Dell ($100 in additional statement credits from May 1 through June 30, 2020, and up to $100 in additional statement credits between July 1 and December 31, 2020), in addition to up to $320 in statement credits on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping (up to $20 per month on each, from May through December 2020).