Travel and credit card promos for 2021

We’re starting to see information dribbling out about new promotions from the credit card issuers for COVID-19 part 2.

Updated 2021-02-01 9:20am – Amex Business cell phone reward, Uber Cash/Eats Pass for Amex Gold active
Updated 2021-01-04 1:30pm – BizPlat bonus Membership Rewards points, incoming Uber benefit for Gold

If rsts11travel helps you out, consider helping us out. See our support page for referrals, or send us a virtual coffee.

Credit card links in this post are not referrals, and we don’t get a cent if you use these links. See below if you’re looking to support us with a credit card referral.

As you may recall, several premium cards made adjustments to their bonus and promotional offers in 2020 since travel rewards were harder to earn and redeem. American Express offered $20 each toward streaming services and mobile phone services per month on their personal Platinum card, and $20 each toward shipping and mobile phone services on the business Platinum card, from May through December. They also added bonus travel and Dell credits. Chase expanded their points earning and travel credit redemption categories on the Chase Sapphire Reserve among other cards. And some cards offered a partial credit toward the $400+ annual fees.

We’ll track the new (or renewed) offerings here, for those of you who can’t travel yet, and for those who can. Where possible, we’ll share primary sources as well, so you can review the full details. And we’ll also include quarterly bonus cash back categories as we see them.

American Express

American Express is offering a $30/month Paypal rebate on the personal Platinum charge card for the first six months of the year. This looks to be useful for any online retailers accepting Paypal, as well as eBay purchases paying with Paypal.

It looks like the Business Platinum charge card. has 4 bonus Membership Rewards (MR) points per dollar spent on each of several categories, up to 80,000 bonus MR points each. Your bonus categories include:

  • Shipping services (i.e. Fedex, USPS, UPS)
  • Gas
  • Advertising
  • Wireless services
  • Office supplies

Check your Amex Offers section to add these to your card if you’re eligible. Not everyone will be able to max these categories (at $20,000 spend per category), but every little bit helps.

Many people are seeing a $15/month rebate on wireless phone services on one of their business cards as of February 1. Check your Amex Offers in the app or on the website. This may be on Business Platinum or another Business charge or credit card; ours appeared on the Amex Delta Skymiles business credit card. This is available through the end of the year, for a total benefit of $165. Takes a nice bite out of the $195 annual fee on this card.

Also fresh on February 1 are the Amex Gold Uber benefits, which will replace the airline fee credit after this year. This may be a bit complicated:

  • Current cardmembers still get the $100 airline fee credit; it goes away on December 31, 2021.
  • The $120 dining credit ($10/mo) is still there for Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed, Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris, and Shake Shack.
  • A new $120 Uber Cash offer begins February 1. You get $10 in Uber Cash (usable for Uber rides or Uber Eats) on the first of each month. Like the Platinum $15/mo benefit, it comes around each month and must be used that month. Unlike the Platinum benefit, there’s no December bonus.
  • You can also get a 12 month subscription to Eats Pass for free by adding your Gold card to your Uber Eats wallet. If you already have another Eats Pass promo, it will be interesting to see if this offer will replace it when it expires.

Not pandemic-related, but the Saks Fifth Avenue $50 credit resets for January-June 2021 on personal Platinum cards, and the Dell $100 credit for the same period on business Platinum cards also resets. Check for Amex Offers with either brand to get even more out of these purchases, and make sure you’re signed up for Dell Rewards to get a few extra bucks on top of it all.

There may be other benefits that pop up in the Amex Offers section of their website and mobile app. Be sure to check these from time to time, as they may come and go, and vary from card to card and member to member.

Juicy Amex Offers seen on January 4 include $50 back on $50 or more spent at Home Depot, Best Buy, and Home Chef meal service, the former two being available for two uses each. There is also a $50 back on $250 for Instacart, again usable twice–and it can be multiple transactions, so you don’t need to buy a new fridge to qualify, although Home Depot and Best Buy could help you with that expense too. These were on our personal Platinum, but your mileage may vary of course.

Chase

Chase Freedom has 5% cash back on wholesale clubs, internet/cable/phone, and streaming services, up to $1500 in spend for January-March (up to $75 in cash back for these categories). This is the traditional cash back offer, not a pandemic special offer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve continue to offer pandemic bonus points on grocery store purchases through April 30, 2021 (2x for CSP, 3x for CSR). There are other benefits for Doordash, Peloton, and Lyft, as well as expanded “Pay Yourself Back” options to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points. See this link for the current offerings and terms.

The Chase promotion on Lyft can be particularly profitable. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you get 10 points per dollar spent, as well as the Lyft Pink benefits including 15% off, and rebates from the $300 annual travel credit while it lasts. Spending $100 in Lyft rides would come to $85 charged to your card, 850 points (which are worth $12.75 or more), and the $85 can be rebated if you have remaining travel credit. So you get paid over $12 for those rides.

Discover

Discover has 5% cash back on grocery stores, Walgreens, and CVS, up to $1500 in spend for January -March(up to $75 in cash back for these categories). This is the traditional cash back offer, not a pandemic special offer.

If you redeem for gift cards, be sure to check the bonus cash on those. You get at least 5% “bonus cash” for any gift card from the Discover cashback redemption program, but some cards offer 20-30% extra.

That’s all for now

Found anything we missed? Need a referral for any of the cards mentioned? Contact us through the form below or put a comment at the bottom and we’ll see what we can do.

Last updated February 1, 2021

Celebrating two years of rsts11travel

Two years ago, on December 31, 2016, we launched rsts11travel. For a couple of days the posts were a category on rsts11.com, before the new domain and blog were set up.

Two years and almost 50 posts later, the blog is chugging along and drawing pretty good readership. Some posts strike more of an immediate chord, but others keep drawing your eyes two years later. We definitely appreciate you sharing our posts and tweets wherever they show up, whether you follow us here, on Twitter, on Facebook, or by following our primary writer Robert.

Note that sometimes we throw quick notes up on Twitter or Facebook that never turn into posts here. Sometimes there’s a quick social media promotion from a travel provider, or a blog post from one of the bigger travel bloggers that we want to point you at. So it’s not just post updates, and we try to keep those channels high value/low noise.

Since this is an entirely self-funded blog (except for the occasional work trip that inspires a post), we use affiliate programs to help with the costs of items and events we review. Using the links in our posts and sidebars, like this generic travel search or a more specific like the Anker Powerstrip Pad for travel power extension (including USB-C Power Delivery!) that we just got in this past weekend, brings us a few bucks a month without costing you any more.


Speaking of affiliate programs and shameless plugs, we kept acquiring new carry-on style luggage this year. You may find the Solo Duane 15.6 hybrid bag useful, even though we haven’t reviewed it on the site yet.

Solo Duane 15.6 Inch Laptop Hybrid Briefcase, Converts to Backpack

It holds a chunky 15.6″ laptop (like the Lenovo Thinkpad P50) and an iPad Pro plus the chargers and accessories. Of course you can put a smaller laptop in, like an XPS 13 or XPS 15, or a Macbook of any size made in the last 9 years. Additionally, it works as a messenger/crossbody style bag, a standard laptop “briefcase” bag with handles, or even–get this–a backpack.

Buy it through our Amazon link and we get a little bit of a commission to help with the next item to review. And at $30, or $25 with a current Solo holiday coupon on Amazon, it’s an impressive value.


A couple of weeks ago, we reviewed 2018’s most viewed posts on Twitter. Not surprisingly, three of the top five were from our first week. Somewhat surprisingly, the most viewed post in 2018 was a “quick” update on Caesars Entertainment changes to their Total Rewards program.

(Follow @rsts11travel on Twitter or rsts11 travel on Facebook to get the latest updates, or just follow this blog on WordPress.com.)

Some of our goals for this year are to try out the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas (which replaced the Mandarin Oriental through a management change in late August 2018), cover some more local travel (parks and beaches in California, for example), provide some more newbie help on credit card and travel rewards optimization, and of course keep up with the latest changes in loyalty programs and benefits.

Quick Deal: Toddy Cold Brew Coffeemaker for $18 at Amazon

Update: This deal has expired (long ago), but it’s still a great device and a reasonable deal at the typical $30-40 price. We’re leaving the post up since the details of the Toddy brewer are still valid.

This is more for ground travel, or staying at home reading rsts11travel (or maybe on long hotel stays), but Amazon has the Toddy cold brew coffeemaker on sale today for under $18 (usually $30-35 in our experience over the last few years).

The Toddy design and method have been around since 1964, and we’ve used it for about 20 years ourselves. It has nothing to do with the alcoholic beverage you probably thought of at first, although you can make coffee cocktails with it if you like.

If you don’t trust the coffee on the way, fill up a plastic water bottle with concentrate, and just add water on the road for smooth low-acid coffee. Or drink it concentrated, and drive straight through to Hong Kong. [Editor’s Note: Don’t do that.]

How does it work?

Take a pound of coarse ground coffee (or half a pound of tea leaves), about 9 cups of cold filtered water, and 18-36 hours on the counter and you get concentrated beverage that lasts two weeks in the fridge.

There are smaller recipes if you want to make less concentrate, and (perhaps due to spillage) Toddy recommends the smaller batch with 12oz coffee/7c water.

If you’re on the road, most retail coffee shops that sell beans will grind them for you. Or you can put a couple of bags of beans into the Toddy hopper in your suitcase, and bring your faves with you. You may find a 2 liter soda bottle acquired on site to be a safer option than the glass carafe for travel.

We’ve used these on and off for over a decade at home, and odds are, your favorite coffee shop uses the commercial version for your favorite iced and blended coffee and tea drinks. They used to be sold in the coffee shops inside Borders Books stores, but now the accessories may be a bit harder to find in local stores (check Bed Bath and Beyond, or order from toddycafe or Amazon: Stoppers and Felt Filters).

The felt mesh filters should be replaced after 12 uses or 3 months. Stoppers are more likely to get lost than worn out, but it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of spares either way. They now even have a paper filter to simplify cleanup and extend the life of the felt mesh filters.

Check it out!

[Note: Our new “Deals” category will unilaterally promote deals we find for things we use and recommend. These will usually (but not always) feature affiliate links, which means we’ll get a small commission if you purchase through those links, but your price should be unaffected. These are not paid placement, and are not requested or endorsed by the manufacturer or the marketplace involved.]