Two credit cards from ABOC are updating their incentives in the new year.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, new 5X bonus categories and longer introductory offers will apply for:
Here’s a look at what’s changing.
New 5X bonus categories for 2020
In early 2019, ABOC revamped the rewards program for both of these cards. They now earn 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined spending per quarter in rotating bonus categories. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar.
Here are the 5X bonus categories for 2019 and 2020:
ABOC bonus rewards categories for 2019 and 2020
Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)
• Dining. • Grocery. • Pharmacy.
• Recurring payments (including utilities, cell phone plans, cable, insurance payments, streaming services and subscription services).
Q2 (April 1 – June 30)
• Home improvement (including warehouse and wholesale club purchases).
• Dining. • Groceries. • Transportation expenses: Rideshare services, gas and mass transit.
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)
• Travel purchases: Airfare, cruises, car rentals, hotels and travel agency services.
• Dining. • Entertainment (including movies and theme parks). • Travel purchases: Airfare, cruises, car rentals, hotels, timeshares and travel agency services. • Transportation expenses: Gas, tolls, rideshare services and mass transit.
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)
• Automotive purchases (including services, repairs and parts).
• Holiday shopping (including superstores, department stores, electronics stores, Costco.com and Amazon.com).
What it means for cardholders
The 2020 calendar includes new, useful and broad bonus categories. Recurring payments, in particular, covers a lot of ground, from keeping your lights on to keeping up with your favorite TV shows. It even includes Amazon Prime subscriptions. Still, these are all typically one-time or once-a-month payments, meaning it may be difficult to max out the $1,500 quarterly spending eligible for 5X rewards.
That shouldn't be as much of an issue for the rest of the year. The calendar covers major line-item spending for many families: from dining and gas (which both show up in the same quarter twice, back to back) to groceries and entertainment.
The Q4 holiday shopping category includes major retailers such as:
Walmart and Walmart.com.
Target and Target.com.
Gone, however, are 5X bonus points on home improvement spending, pharmacy purchases and car repairs, all of which were unique fits for highly specific spending.
Things to keep in mind about ABOC cards
The ABOC cards work similarly to other rotating-bonus-category cards, such as the Chase Freedom®, the Discover it® Cash Back and the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card — with a few key differences:
Unlike those other 5X cards, the ABOC cards don't require you to activate or opt into your bonus categories every quarter. As long as you register once on ABOCRewards.com, you're automatically eligible for the 5X bonus every quarter going forward.
The ABOC cards aren't ideal cash-back credit card options. They earn points (not cash back) that are worth one cent each when redeemed for travel. Cash back is a redemption option, but at a point value of less than a penny apiece — a worse rate than the other 5X cards listed above.