When Citi launched the AT&T Access More credit card offering 3x ThankYou points for online purchases, there was a huge question mark written all over the card: what will count as an online purchase to earn bonus rewards?
Here’s the official wording of the offer: ‘Earn 3X points on purchases at AT&T and at retail and travel websites.’ And some additional details:
Retail websites are websites that sell goods directly to the consumer through an online website and include department store websites, specialty store websites, warehouse store websites and boutique websites. Travel websites are websites that allow you to book travel and include online travel agencies, hotel websites and airline websites.
Many people wondered about using the card as a means of manufacturing spend, but to me, it sounded great just for regular online shopping. I do many thousands per month in online shopping, and most of it goes on a 2% cashback credit card. ThankYou Points are worth a minimum of 1¢ each when redeeming for gift cards or mortgage payments. Even if you who have too many ThankYou Points to redeem for travel at higher values, we should all be able to get a 3% value from the 3x rewards. To increase my online rewards from 2% to 3% would be a nice accomplishment.
The purpose here not to attempt a complete list, just to give a feel for what does work and what doesn’t to earn 3x rewards, and to add some of my personal experiences with the card.
What Does Work?
Update: As of 7/22/17, Citi made a change to exclude gift card purchases as well as rent and real estate from earning 3x. These experiments may not still hold true.
Merchants I had success earning 3x:
- Staples.com (MerchandiseSTATIONARY, OFFICE SUPPLIES AND PRINTING)
- Target.com (MerchandiseDISCOUNT STORE)
- Target.com paid with Paypal (DISCOUNT STORE)
- Lastcall.com (MENS / LADIES CLOTHING STORE)
- Neimanmarcus.com paid with Paypal (MerchandiseDEPARTMENT STORE)
- Livingsocial.com (BUYING/SHOPPING SERVICES CLUBS)
- Cardcash paid with Paypal (ServicesCOMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS)
- Gyft paid with Paypal (ServicesCOMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS)
- Swappable.com (ServicesCOMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS)
- Visiondirect.com paid with Paypal (MerchandiseMISCELLANEOUS / SPECIALTY RETAIL STORES)
- Groupon (ServicesREAL ESTATE AGENTS,BROKERS,MANAGERS)
- Ebags.com paid via Paypal (MerchandiseMISC APPAREL / ACCESSORY STORE) Note: without Paypal will not work, reportedly
- Seashells (roundup app) appears to earn 3x
- Egifter (with Paypal)
What Doesn’t Work?
Merchants that did not earn me 3x:
- Cardpool.com (MerchandiseMISCELLANEOUS / SPECIALTY RETAIL STORES)
- Gyft direct payment, no Paypal (ServicesBUSINESS SERVICES,NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSED)
- Shop.com (MerchandiseDIRECT SELLING ESTABLISHMNT/DOOR TO DOOR)
- Starbucks E-gift card (ServicesBUSINESS SERVICES,NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSED)
- Venmo (P2P payment)
- Paypal person2person payment
- Seashells (discounted gift card site)
- BJ’s Checks online order
- Cashstar (Best Buy e-gift card)
- Plastiq payment for federal taxes (others have had success with some Plastiq payments)
As you can see, with regards to Gyft, only when paying through Paypal did it earn 3x, not when paying directly on the site. This is because Gyft direct purchases come up as ‘Miscellaneous Business Services’ (MCC 7399) and is not eligible; Gyft via Paypal comes up as ‘COMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS’ which did work.
Even more interesing is that Visiondirect.com worked and Cardpool did not, despite both of them coming through as “MerchandiseMISCELLANEOUS / SPECIALTY RETAIL STORES.” Apparently, there’s a more detailed merchant-category-code (MCC) which is the real decider, and the description doesn’t mean much.
Earning 3x on eBay?
I tested out purchases at my favorite eBay sellers 🙂 and all four now earn 3x with ATT:
- Giftcardmall (ServicesCOMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS) – earns 3x (paid with Paypal)
- Cardency (MerchandiseMISCELLANEOUS / SPECIALTY RETAIL STORES) – earns 3x (paid with Paypal)
- SVM Earns 3x (since they changed their category coding in March 2017)
- Paypal Digital Gifts (ServicesCOMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS) – earns 3x (always needs to be paid with Paypal)
- Nationalgiftcard – earns 3x
Where I remained utterly stumped was regarding earning 3x on purchases made on eBay from the Giftcardmall seller. I spent a lot of money at that merchant, and it clearly had been getting 3x rewards on previous statements. However, on my December statement, most of the Giftcardmall/eBay purchases did not earn 3x, whereas one $330 purchase did. I had a long back-and-forth with Citi over this issue and it was more-or-less confirmed that the $330 purchase did earn 3x and the others did not.
Via secure message, the rep explained that the Giftcardmall purchases on the December statement were coming up as card-not-present transactions. It seems that some online purchases don’t show up as regular online purchases, instead showing up as card-not-present, similar to a merchant who would key in your card number for a phone order.
Your online retail and travel category bonus is only available for eligible category purchases billed as online purchases. Purchases billed by the merchant as Card Not Present transactions are not eligible for the category bonus.
In other words, the category coding of Giftcardmall/eBay does earn 3x, it’s the card-not-present that’s hindering the 3x.
But why did some Giftcardmall/eBay purchases merit 3x and some not? It dawned on me that this is due to the new eBay checkout system. All my past Giftcardmall/eBay purchases were paid through Paypal, yet the recent ones were mostly paid directly on eBay. Looking through my records, it became apparent that the single $330 purchase that did earn 3x was when I went through Paypal (it was paid partially with a gift card which requires using Paypal) while all the other recent ones were paid directly on eBay.
Observations and Summary
- Not everything coded as Services in invalidated from earning 3x. Conversely, not everything coded as Merchandise does earn 3x.
- Seems like “ServicesCOMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS” will earn 3x.
- Gyft with Paypal and without is coded differently, causing Paypal transactions to earn 3x and non-Paypal transactions not to. Interesting to keep in mind that Paypal can change things.
- Major retailers seem to be working to earn 3x both with Paypal and without.
- eBay purchased paid directly on eBay – no Paypal login – probably will not receive 3x (that’s the case with Giftcardmall/eBay, and it may be the case with all direct eBay purchases); purchases made through Paypal will depend on the seller, and some will earn 3x.
- For reasons that aren’t clear, some online merchants come through as card-not-present, and that invalidates the bonus points.
The ATT Access More card is a compelling product for someone who does lots of online shopping. Assuming $10,000+ in annual spend, there is a bonus of 10,000 points which will counteract the $95 annual fee. And it comes with $650 toward a new phone to boot – a bonus that even those who don’t intend on keeping the product may find interesting for resale. (Bonus fact: you can sell it without having to ever open the box.)
The key here is to use the card primarily for the 3x category as you’ll do better on other cards for regular 1x earn. It’s tricky figuring out what will score 3x, and it’s worth testing out the merchants you shop at often. The major retailers will probably work for the most part. Aside from that, don’t assume you’ll be getting the 3x unless you verified.
Note regarding clarifying what earned 3x: the chat reps don’t know what receives 3x and what doesn’t; some will admit they don’t know while others will think they do. Send a secure message and they’ll forward it to the rewards department, and you’ll get the correct info.