Many rewards programs allow us to link a credit or debit card and use the card at select retailers to get extra points, miles, or cash back. Dining programs are a known example. By linking a credit card to a given dining program, the user racks up rewards with each purchase.
In this post, we’ll round up the many different card-linked rewards programs. Further, we’ll try to clarify which of these programs conflict other programs, forcing us to choose one, and which programs can ‘stack,’ allowing us to reap rewards from two or more programs concurrently.
Of course, dozens of stores that have their own rewards programs, like the Starbucks stars reward program, Dunkin Donuts Perks program, Best Buy rewards program, and hundreds more. This post will focus on card-linked multi-store rewards programs where you input a credit or debit card and get rewards based on card usage at various stores.
- 1 Rewards Network (Dining)
- 2 RCLON
- 3 Empyr (Figg)
- 4 Dosh App
- 5 Acorns Investing
- 6 JetBlue TrueBlue Shopping
- 7 Ceasars Rewards
- 8 Drop App
- 9 Groupon+ (Dining)
- 10 Pei
- 11 Hooch
- 12 Upromise
- 13 Thanks Again (Airports)
- 14 Shell Fuel Rewards
- 15 Shopyourway
- 16 Shopkick
- 17 Business Card Programs
- 18 Bank Programs
- 19 Stacking these Programs
- 20 Wrap Up
Rewards Network (Dining)
Rewards Network is the biggest card-linked rewards program. They work specifically with restaurants, eateries, and other food providers. Rewards Network runs most of the big dining programs that you’ll hear about.
Eligible cards include Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover credit or debit card.
Since all these dining programs are run by the same provider, you can only have a given card linked to one program. Linking a card to a second program automatically unlinks it from the first one.
Note, these programs often come with a signup bonus, e.g. earn 2,500 miles for signing up and making a $25 purchase at a partner restaurant within 30 days, so check around before signing up (examples).
Here are Rewards Network partners:
- United MileagePlus Dining – earns 3 miles per dollar; 5 miles per dollar after 12 transactions (.5 miles per dollar without opting in for emails)
- Alaska Mileage Plan Dining – earns 3 miles per dollar; 5 miles per dollar after 12 transactions (.5 miles per dollar without opting in for emails)
- Delta Skymiles Dining – earns 3 miles per dollar; 5 miles per dollar after 12 transactions (.5 miles per dollar without opting in for emails)
- Free Spirit Dining – earns 3 miles per dollar; 5 miles per dollar after 12 transactions (.5 miles per dollar without opting in for emails)
- American AAdvantage – earns 3 miles per dollar; 5 miles per dollar after 12 transactions (1 mile per dollar without opting in for emails)
- Southwest RapidRewards Dining – active members earn 3 points per dollar; also 300 points bonus after each 1,000 points earned; requires opting in with email; Southwest Dining points do count toward Companion Pass
- JetBlue TrueBlue Dining – earns 3 points per dollar
- Marriott ‘Eat Around Town’ – earns 4 points per dollar (our original post here)
- IHG Rewards Club Dining – earns 5 points per dollar; 8 points per dollar after 12 transactions (1 point per dollar without opting in for emails)
- Hilton HHonors Dining – earns 5 points per dollar; 8 points per dollar after 12 transactions (2 points per dollar without opting in for emails)
Cash Back Partners
- Neighborhood Nosh (formerly iDine) – 5% back after opting in for email, 10% after spending $750 in the year; payments are made in the form of an Amex gift card (our original post)
- Upromise Dining – 2.5% cash back in your Upromise account
- Rakuten/Ebates – earns 5% cash back on all restaurants; if you have the points version of Ebates, you’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards per dollar (our original post)
- Citi Merchant Offers – this apparently runs on Rewards Network, has dining and all kinds of other shopping deals
- Shell Fuel Rewards – 10¢ off per gallon at Shell for each $50 of cumulative dining spend
- Club O Dining Rewards – 5% back toward future Overstock purchases
- Caesars Rewards Dining – 1 reward credit per $1 spent.
RCLON is Rakuten Card Linked Offer Network who runs a number of card-link programs. Oddly, my experience has been that it works to add the same card to both Rakuten and United, for now I assume rewards will post for both (see also this report).
Rakuten offers in-store cash back at various merchants, not limited to restaurants. See current offers here. Link a card, then add a specific offer to the card. Re-add the offer after using it before using again.
Visa, Mastercard, or Amex. (Mastercard was added in November 2018.)
Google Pay has cashback offers for many major retailers. You need to activate each offer before using Visa, Mastercard, and AmEx cards are eligible. The Google Pay rewards system runs on the Rakuten Card Link Offer Network.
United offers in-store mileage earning at various merchants. See current offers here. It works the same as the Ebates program where you save each offer separately.
Alaska Mileage Plan
Alaska offers in-store mileage earning at various merchants as well. See current offers here. It works the same as the Ebates program where you save each offer separately.
Swagbucks and MyPoints offer in-store rewards/cashback at select retailers. Runs on RCLON. See current offers Swagbucks offers here and MyPoints offers here. Must save each offer separately.
SimplyMiles (American Airlines)
American Airlines has their SimplyMiles program which allows you to link your Mastercards and earn American Airlines miles for purchases, e.g. 2x per dollar at a certain retailer, or 1,000 bonus miles with $300 spend at a certain retailer. (Our Original Post)
Currently, they only support Mastercard. Also important: only American Airlines cardholders from either their Citi card or Barclay card are able to join this program. Those who are eligible, can add any Mastercard, even cards unrelated to the airline and unrelated to Citi/Barclay.
They’ve recently added a disclaimer that rewards can not be earned if the card is on one of the Rewards Network providers program. Unclear why that would be, but for some reason Empyr no longer stacks with Rewards Network.
Swagbucks Local is a Dining program and it runs on Empyr.
This is different than the the Swagbucks/MyPoints cashback card-link program (that runs on RCLON as mentioned above) which is for ordinary retailers.
SoFi Money offers cashback at various retailers which runs on Empyr. You can only enroll their own SoFi Money debit card in the program.
Mogl Dining offers 10% – 30% cash back at eligible restaurants. Each offer requires activation.
HawaiianMiles Marketplace allows earning Hawaiian miles with purchases at select stores by linking a card. Currently available stores include Lowe’s, Whole Foods, and Gap brands. Simply enroll the card once and earn miles when shopping at participating retailers.
HawaiianMiles is part of the Empyr network.
The Payce cashback program offers cashback at many top retailers with a card-link program. They allow Visa, Mastercard, and Amex. The Amex cards run on Empyr while the Visa and Mastercards run on Affinity Solutions.
Capital One Shopping
Capital One has a shopping portal which has some local offers run on Empyr. (ht to FM)
The Dosh app offers cash back at restaurants using a linked card and perhaps other retailers too. Visa, Mastercard and Amex.
Note: Dosh has gone back and forth between asking for your card number to verifying with Plaid (which requires account login information, not just the card number). They used to run on Empyr, but various data points indicate that Dosh now stacks with Empyr. According to FM, Dosh’s dining partners run through Empyr while their other card-link offers run on a separate program.
Acorns is an investment app where you link your credit cards and bank accounts, and the system automatically invests for you. They have a Found Money feature which gives you cash back toward investments at select retailers. At the time of this writing, Jet.com, Dollar Shave, and HotelTonight are a few available options, but these change constantly.
Acorns uses Plaid for their Found Money offers, and apparently no longer uses Empyr. (Note: many Acorns offers are similar to a shopping portal where you don’t need a linked card, just a click-through.)
JetBlue TrueBlue Shopping
Ceasars Rewards offers a card link program for in-store purchases. I’m seeing Lowe’s, Gap, Rover, Sun Basket and a bunch more options at the time of this writing.
The Drop app allows you to earns up to 2% back on purchases from top retailers by linking your credit and debit cards including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Uber, Lyft, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and many more. Full list here.
Works with Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover credit and debit cards.
Groupon also has a card link program which seems to be for dining/eateries only called Groupon+ (formerly Groupon dining). Visa & Mastercard only. Note, with Groupon cash back you do have to register first for each restaurant before using it. Then you’ll have 30 days to use.
Upromise offers in-store cash back at various merchants, not specifically restaurants. See current offers here. The best offers are for Upromise cardholders only, but there are lots of offers in select areas for use with any card.
All in-store offers seem to be Visa and Mastercard only.
As noted above, Upromise also has a dining program as part of the Rewards Network. I assume these are two separate systems used by Upromise: the Rewards Network for dining, and some other network for other in-store offers.
Thanks Again (Airports)
Thanks Again offers rewards to shop, dine, and park at over 100 airport locations. You earn 1 point per dollar, and rewards can be redeemed for various redemptions through their system.
Visa, Mastercard, and Amex.
Shell Fuel Rewards
Shell’s Fuel Rewards program offers the ability to earn discounts on gas by spending with a linked card at various non-food retailers as well. (This is besides the restaurant offerings by Shell Fuel Rewards which are run as part of Rewards Network, mentioned above.)
At the time of this writing, they’re offering 5¢ discount per gallon for each $50 spent at Clarks or Score Big.
Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Amex. Max 5 cards from each network can be connected.
Aside from the Shopyourway dining program, mentioned above (which is part of the Rewards Network), Shopyourway also has a few merchants which earn bonus points by linking a card.
Current partners include 1800flowers, FTD, and a few others.
Visa and Mastercard only.
Shopkick is a rewards site with various opportunities to earn rewards which can be redeemed for gift cards. One way to earn kicks is by linking a Visa or Mastercard and shopping at partner retailers.
List of partners here.
Business Card Programs
Visa and MasterCard have special programs for their business credit cards which offers discounts at select merchants frequented by business customers.
- Visa Savings Edge – Visa is partnered with various hotels, car rentals, gas, restaurants, and more to give you a discount of between 1% – 12% via a statement credit. Our review here.
- Mastercard Easy Savings – Mastercard is partnered with various hotels, and other retailers to give you a discount of between 1% – 25% via a statement credit. Our review here.
American Express used to offer a similar Amex OPEN program which has been discontinued.
There are many bank rewards programs tied to the card. First, of course, being ordinary points program that so many rewards credit cards have, like Citi’s ThankYou program, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, and Amex’s Membership Rewards.
Aside from points programs, there are many store-specific offers which give you bonuses at particular stores:
- Amex Offers offers a statement credit (or bonus points) for spending at particular merchants.
- Bank of America also has their Bank Amerideals program with some good offers.
- Chase has their Chase Offers.
- Many other banks also have similar offers, and many of them even share the same back-end as Chase and Bank of America which use Cardlytics.
- Citi launched a Citi Merchant Offers program as well which apparently runs on Rewards Network.
With regards to these offers, the bank has access to your account activity, and they can easily issue a credit for a given amount.
Bank offers won’t usually conflict with other rewards programs outlined in this post. For example, if there’s an Amex Offer to get $5 off $25 at a restaurant which also participates in one of the dining programs, you’ll get both the $5 statement credit and the dining points for the purchase. Any credit card rewards and bonus categories will stack on top of that.
Stacking these Programs
A big question always is: which of these programs stack? Can I add my card to all of these and earn multiple rewards per shopping trip?
- As clarified in this post, many of the popular dining programs run through the Rewards Network, and these programs are mutually exclusive.
- MOGL, Yelp, and Coupons.com all run on a single platform called Empyr, but they don’t stack with Rewards Network programs for some reason. (Others say they still do stack.)
- Others note Dosh and Acorns apparently stacking.
- Uber and Trim both run on Visa Trial Pay.
- Pei, Dosh, and Drop all stack as they run on different platforms.
- Dosh stacks with Empyr.
You should be able to find overlapping opportunities to get double or triple rewards with a single restaurant visit. For example, it might be possible to get card-link rewards from Rewards Network, Ebates, Thanks Again, and Uber Offers all from a single charge at a restaurant. That could be quite lucrative! More likely, you won’t be able to find a single restaurant that participates in all those programs, but in theory that should be possible.
It might be that some of the other programs overlap as well as we haven’t been able to clarify the back-end power to each of these programs. Please let us know if the comments your thoughts and experiences with stacking these programs.
In all cases, Bank Programs and Business Card Programs will stack with any of these other rewards programs.
Another interesting note is that most of these programs track based on your credit/debit card number while a few track based on your bank login. In that case, it’s likely you can double dip.
Using card-link programs is another way to boost your points balances or to get cash back on your purchases.
Not all programs work the same with regards to enrollment. Some of these (Ebates, Uber, etc.) need you to opt in for each specific offer, and even opt back in for a second use. Yet others (Dining Network programs, etc.) require that you simply enroll your card and automatically get rewarded. These offers are much better set-and-forget: just enroll your go-to credit card (e.g. Sapphire card for bonus restaurant points), and you’ll get points rolling in whenever you spent money at a qualifying restaurant without even thinking.
Also note the difference in card acceptance: some programs work on all four major card networks while others work on select networks. And always look out for signup or referral bonuses before signing up.
I’ve listed all the card-linked programs that come to mind. Without a doubt, there are more programs I’m not aware of or that slipped my mind. Please fill in what’s missing in the comments.