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July typically marks that sweet spot in the middle of the year when you celebrate Independence Day and maybe take that summer vacation. Depending on where you live, these events may look different this year, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perhaps you’ll have to wear a mask, pack hand sanitizer and keep your distance from others, but that doesn't preclude you from firing up the grill, lighting some fireworks or finding a change of scenery.
And your credit card can still return value for your purchases this month.
Make the most of limited-time offers
Credit card issuers continue adjusting their offerings to fit changes in household spending as a result of COVID-19. Here are some fresh offers that might be lurking in your wallet:
AmEx cards are offering incentives for shopping with small businesses: Through Sept. 20, 2020, eligible American Express cardholders can earn a $5 statement credit on purchases of at least $10 made at participating small businesses. (You can earn the credit up to 10 times, on 10 separate transactions). To qualify, you must enroll online by July 26, 2020. Terms apply. So consider shopping local this month when you can.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card has a new statement credit: Through Dec. 31, 2020, cardholders can receive up to $50 in statement credit toward grocery store, dining and takeout purchases. That’s a decent deal that you can apply to your Fourth of July barbecue.
Capital One Savor cards are rewarding spending on popular streaming services: Through Sept. 30, 2020, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card will earn bonus rewards on eligible streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney+. Families stuck indoors may find this helpful.
Chase Sapphire cards are offering new limited-time bonus rewards: From July 1 through Sept. 30, 2020, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® will earn bonus points on Instacart orders, at gas stations, and on select streaming services. Instacart is good for grocery delivery, and if you've pared back air travel in favor of a road trip, the new bonus on gas may also be helpful.
Activate bonus rewards categories
In Q3 2020, the Discover it® Cash Back will earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at restaurants and via PayPal. All other purchases earn 1%. Activation is required. Many online merchants accept PayPal, and online dining orders generally also count toward the bonus.
The Chase Freedom® has different but similarly helpful bonus categories. In Q3 2020, it will earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases at Amazon.com and Whole Foods (1% back on all other purchases). Again, activation is required. Amazon sells essentially everything, so it can be an easy category to maximize.
Take inventory of your credit cards
Use this month to do a midyear check-in of your plastic. Pruning a cluttered wallet can feel good, especially if you're ditching little-used cards with expensive annual fees. But be mindful of the risks. If the account has been open for a while and/or has a large credit limit, shuttering it could ding your credit scores temporarily.
Instead of closing the account outright, you could consider upgrading or downgrading your credit card to another one from the same issuer, but with better features or no annual fee. This is known as a "product change," but before you request one, make sure you have a handle on all of your credit card's benefits and that you won't miss out on any of them by making such a switch.
In general, try to keep your open credit cards active to avoid having them closed by the issuer for lack of use. One way to accomplish this is to designate a seldom-used card as your autopay option each month for cell phone bills, utilities, Netflix, etc. This way, you can keep it active while still letting it sit in your sock drawer.
Information related to the Chase Freedom® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.