I’ve spoke at length about how much I love Chase credit cards. Everyone finds value in different areas, but no matter what your travel goals are you will find value with Chase.
The benefits include:
- Ultimate Rewards are the first flexible rewards I’ve earned as an adult from credit cards
- It is incredibly easy to gain Ultimate Rewards with the Chase portfolio of cards (of which I am pretty much stocked up on) — through bonus spend or incredibly generous sign-up bonuses
- Chase’s 13 travel partners allow for some really valuable points redemptions
- There are a ton of non-spending benefits that each card provides
Chase’s flagship card, the Sapphire Reserve, is what I think really brought Chase a ton of their good publicity. While they no longer are offering the 100,000 points sign-up bonus, the card still provides 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining.
What I want to touch on in this post is that exactly — the travel rewards category. And more specifically, what chase considers travel.
Sometimes this game makes you go, huh?
I’ve read many blogs about this same exact topic. And in all honesty, while anything Chase interests me, I didn’t want to harp on the topic any more. There are far more knowledgeable people that can give way better insight.
But then I had an experience with this exact topic and figured I should share. Because that’s what I aim to do here — share what I’ve learned, especially in hopes that it will save others some stress.
So let’s set the stage — I finally embarked on my journey north. I moved from Baton Rouge, LA to Washington, DC. A very big change of scenery, but my dream home.
Anyways, the one thing I was looking forward to was the possibility of earning a large amount of points. Because moving ain’t cheap!
Our plan was to rent a U-Haul or similar truck — but came to find out that Budget had the cheapest options across the board. As many of you know, Budget is more popularly known as being a car rental agency. Which I thought was an incredible opportunity to earn some bonus Ultimate Reward points. Unfortunately, that was not the case..
The fine print is where you really need to focus
In general, Chase is extremely generous when it comes to the bonus travel rewards category. While American Express restricts travel to bookings made through an airline directly, Chase’s “travel” category includes the following — according to Chase:
In short, there are a ton of ways to earn 3x the points in the travel category. This includes parking at the airport, Uber or other ride-sharing services, tolls, and of course all the more assumed categories.
But there is one area that you may have already noticed, as it applies to my specific scenario here:
“Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example…merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling”
So, at first glance, this sounds like it could apply to me. I think the obvious companies that fall in this category are the likes of U-Haul or Penske, but in my situation, Budget does rent trucks for hauling, but they also rent normal rental cars. So it seems a bit contradictory — is Budget a truck rental/hauling company, or a rental car company?
How I came to conclude my dilemma
This is obviously a question faced by many as it falls as a FAQ directly on Chase’s website. The “car rental category” is spelled out in the following way:
And while this doesn’t necessarily answer my question any better, I figured it was worth putting on here. Chase very clearly draws the line between truck rentals and car rentals. But what about Budget — who rents both?
Without getting too technical, all merchants who accept credit cards are assigned some kind of code that determines where purchases made by its customers fall, in terms of rewards categories. Make a purchase at a restaurant, that purchase will automatically trigger the “dining” category. This idea is explained here:
If you stalk your points earning like me, you’ll learn this can be a real hassle. Certain businesses are pretty obviously one category, but due to “lack of technology,” or a pending update from the credit card company, it is just not possible to earn in a certain category.
And what I have learned is that a lot of companies have different “sectors” of their business, that fall into different codes. And that is the exact thing that happened here.
Budget Truck Rentals and Budget Rental Cars essentially operate as two totally different companies. And while this probably raises way more questions than answers, as it does for me, the important part is that these 2 “different” merchants each have a different code for Visa. And most importantly, a different classification for their spending.
I actually have noticed this more in the short time that I’ve looked into it. Hertz has a whole business that rents out construction equipment — so if you happen to be renting a tractor through Hertz, as one does, don’t expect 3x the points for travel!
While this stinks, and seems like a true wasted opportunity — could I have paid online and got bonus points with Chase Freedom, or maybe, does this count as shipping with the Ink Preferred? I think learning from my mistakes and being able to share them with the world is almost better!