Do you have a rewards credit card that earns bonus points (or cash back rewards) on streaming services? Figuring out which services qualify can be confusing – but no more! Here is everything you need to know about streaming services and credit cards, including what banks/ issuers allow what streaming servcies:
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How Do Banks Classify Purchases?
Many rewards credit cards offer enhanced earnings in select categories. These categories are defined by what is known as an MCC – a Merchant Category Code.
A merchant category code is a four-digit number used to classify a business by the type of goods or services it provides. An MCC is a denomination that all merchants need in order to operate, whether they provide goods or services if they accept credit cards in exchange for their products.
This code can denote anything from “Eating Places” to “Drug Stores and Pharmacies,” “Fast Food Restaurants” to “Sporting Goods Stores.” The MCC is assigned to a business by the credit card processing networks when the business in question begins to accept credit cards as a form of payment and is often used by card issuers to classify the types of purchases cardholders make.
What Counts as a Streaming Service?
According to PC Magazine, a streaming service is “an online provider of entertainment (music, movies, etc.) that delivers the content via an Internet connection to the subscriber’s computer, TV, or mobile device.” Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music are high-profile examples of streaming services used by millions of Americans.
Many streaming platforms qualify as a “streaming service” through all banks (think Netflix, Hulu, Apple Music, etc.), while others are only allowed by select issuers.
Here is how each of the major credit card issuers classifies a streaming service:
American Express provides a generous selection of eligible streaming services, including live TV, music, radio, and more:
|Amazon Music||Fubo TV||Luminary||Paramount+||Spotify|
|Apple TV/ Music||HBO Max||MLB.tv||Peacock||Sticher|
|Audible||Standalone HBO||NBA League Pass||Prime Video||Tidal|
|DirecTV Stream||Hulu||Netflix||Showtime||YouTube Premium|
|Disney+||iHeartRadio||NHL.tv||Sling TV||YouTube Music|
|ESPN+||Kindle Unlimited||Pandora||SiriusXM||YouTube TV|
Some American Express personal cards come with statement credits for streaming and other digital entertainment purchases. The Platinum Card from American Express, for example, provides up to $240 annual digital entertainment statement credit for select providers ($20 monthly statement credits).
Citibank also provides a helpful list of the streaming services that count towards the 5% back categories with the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. Those 5% back categories include fitness clubs, travel (including select local transit), gas, groceries, and yes, streaming. Keep in mind that the 5% bonus categories are limited to $500 spent every billing period, and any rewards earned after that threshold will be 1% back. All other purchases with the card earn unlimited 1% cash back, with no caps on that earning.
Here is the list of eligible streaming services according to Citi:
|Amazon Music||Fubo TV||MLB.tv||Prime Video|
|Apple Music||HBO Max||NBA League Pass||Showtime|
|Apple TV+||YouTube (Music/TV)||Netflix||Sling TV|
For those seeking a credit card that offers unlimited rewards, a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card may make more sense. Every purchase with the card earns 2% back in total. This 2% back works out as follows: 1% back when you make an eligible purchase with the card, and an additional 1% back when you pay off the corresponding balance. There is no limit to the amount of cash back earned.
Chase has a robust selection of credit cards that provide everyday value, with streaming services being one of the most popular categories. Select Chase cards, such as the Sapphire Preferred, earn impressive rewards on streaming (3X in the case of the Preferred).
Here is the current list of eligible streaming services for JP Morgan Chase:
|Apple Music||HBO Max||Showtime||YouTube TV|
Special, Limited-Time streaming Bonus
Chase often provides special savings for select cardmembers, with the bank’s proprietary Freedom credit cards often enjoying significant value through these promotions. For example, through June 30, 2022, Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex cardmembers can receive 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Select Streaming Services purchases.
Keep in mind that only subscription services paid for with the listed selected merchants will quality for this offer: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, Sirius XM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube TV, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock, or Showtime.
Related Article: Chase Month of More
Like Chase, Citi, and Amex, Capital One also features credit cards that are ideal for streaming. The bank’s Savor line of credit cards are excellent at this purpose, providing up to 4% cash back on eligible streaming subscriptions.
Here is the list of Capital One’s eligible streaming services:
|Apple TV/ Music||FuboTV||SiriusXM|
|Bandcamp||HBO Now||Sling TV|
Keep in mind that Some services, such as Prime Video, AT&T TV and Verizon FIOS On Demand, are excluded, as well as audiobook subscription services and fitness programming.
U.S. Bank offers streaming services as a bonus category on several credit cards, with the most prominent being the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature®. That card earns 5% back on two select categories you choose, 2% back on one “everyday” category a user selects, and 1% back on all other purchases.
Other cards that offer streaming points are the full line-up of the Altitude credit cards:
- Altitude Reserve: 3X points on mobile wallet purchases (not streaming, but a great way to get around the issue)
- Altitude Go: 2X points on streaming, plus a $15 annual streaming statement credit
- Altitude Connect: 2X points on streaming
Here is what U.S. Bank classifies as a streaming service:
|Disney+||Vudu||Google Play Music|
|Netflix||Apple Music||Slacker Radio|
|Sling TV||YouTube Music||Spotify|
Are There Other Options for Earning Rewards on Streaming with Your Credit Card?
While the above-mentioned credit cards and issuers prioritize streaming services as a bonus category, there are other ways to improve your rewards earning when it comes to streaming. Unlimited cash back credit cards are a great way to maximize your savings – regardless of what you spend your money on.
Here is a quick list of some of the leading unlimited cash back credit cards:
Remember, this list of unlimited cash back credit cards is not exhaustive. There are dozens of other competitive offers from regional banks and credit unions.