Even as travel plans and restaurant dining wither amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still buying a lot of wine to drink at home.
“Consumers have spent much more on wine for home consumption,” says Jim Trezise, president of the trade association WineAmerica, compared with the same time period last year. That includes purchases online, in grocery and liquor stores and takeout at restaurants, he adds.
Enter the Grand Reserve World Mastercard. Issued by Celtic Bank and uncorked on Aug. 4, 2020, the card pours out rich rewards on spending with hundreds of wine partners. But it also earns bonus points on shopping at general wineries, wine clubs and wine stores. In October 2020, the card added bonus rewards at restaurants, bars and liquor stores.
The sleek metallic card comes with a $149 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. Here's else what to know:
Grand Reserve is a wine loyalty program, and its new credit card pairs well with oenophiles. As of October 2020, it offers:
5 points per $1 spent at more than 450 Grand Reserve partners, which includes a network of wineries, wine clubs and wine stores.
3 points per $1 at wineries, wine stores and liquor stores.
3 points per $1 at restaurants and bard (including takeout)
2 points per $1 at all other merchants.
An extra 2 points per $1 at your top qualifying wine merchant each month (for a total of up to 7 points per dollar, if your top merchant is a Grand Reserve partner).
Points range in value from 0.5 to 0.9 cents each, depending on how you choose to redeem them. Redemption options start as low as 750 points and include rewards from the Grand Reserve catalog, which features a wide array of wine-related items, from books to decanters to wine-tasting experiences.
Cardholders also have access to things like exclusive events and a free wine magazine subscription, as well as discounts and upgrades at eligible wineries via a complimentary "Priority Wine Pass membership." (During the pandemic, virtual tastings are available.)
There's also a sign-up bonus: New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points if they spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of opening the card. Consumers who'd signed up early on the waitlist for the card can earn an additional 10,000 bonus points once they are approved. (Current Grand Reserve members also earn 10,000 bonus points when approved for the card.)
There's no foreign transaction fee, ideal for wine tastings and experiences abroad.
Getting your money’s worth
With the Grand Reserve World Mastercard, earning and redeeming rewards revolves around wine, which means the card lacks the flexibility of more general rewards cards, such as cash-back cards. And overall, point values are lower than the industry standard of 1 cent per point.
But wine lovers looking for a fun way to spice up their hobby will find plenty to enjoy in the rewards catalog. For example, if you're someone who spends $200 a month on wine, and you make your purchases through the Grand Reserve network, you will earn 1,000 points a month. (This doesn't include the extra 2 points per dollar you'd earn at your No. 1 merchant that month.) After three months, you could cash in those points for a wine journal and a corkscrew (retail value: about $15), or you could save up your points and get a set of two Yeti wine tumblers after 10 months (retail value: about $50).
The catalog also includes bigger-ticket items, which tend to offer greater redemption value: The VinGardeValise Grande, designed for transporting wine, goes for 44,000 points in the catalog and retails for $349, which means each point is worth about 0.8 cent for that redemption option.
Given the annual fee, you’ll want to be sure your wine spending and points-earning will outweigh that cost. With points worth between 0.5 and 0.9 cent each, that means you must spend at least $3,311 at Grand Reserve partners (where each dollar spent earns 5 points each) or $5,519 at any winery, wine club or wine store (where each dollar spent earns 3 points each) each year to break even on the annual fee. Someone who purchases a nice Chardonnay a few times a week could easily achieve that level of spending.
It might not be the most efficient way to earn and spend rewards if your priority is stretching your budget, but it would certainly be an enjoyable way to do so.