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A Behind-the-Screens Look at Streaming Service Credit Card Rewards, From Numbers to Tips

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Four in 10 Americans with streaming service subscriptions spend $50 or more a month on them, according to a 2022 LendingTree survey, and credit card issuers have taken notice. Various issuers offer extra rewards for streaming spending like they’ve long done for travel, dining and grocery purchases.

A new LendingTree report shows that streaming superusers can earn more than $100 a year by picking the right card, though most Americans will take home far less. And earning those rewards may not be as straightforward as you might like, with earnings caps, caveats and exclusions limiting how lucrative these cards are likely to be.

This report — in which we reviewed more than 200 new card offers from more than 50 issuers — breaks down what you need to know to get the biggest rewards bang for your buck.

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Key findings

  • We found 32 credit cards that offer rewards for streaming services spending. But seven of them only offer rewards under certain conditions, such as streaming being one of your top spending categories during a given period.
  • With the right credit card, big spenders can earn more than $100 a year on streaming service spending. The vast majority will earn far less, but finding a card that rewards you for this type of spending can be a nice boost for your overall earning. Still, it certainly shouldn’t be the centerpiece of your rewards strategy in most cases.
  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has the highest streaming earnings rate among those we analyzed. Cardholders can earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. Meanwhile, the BMO Cash Back Credit Card offers 5% cash back on eligible streaming, cable TV and satellite services. A few other cards also offer 5% cash back, but only under certain conditions or at certain times of the year.
  • Caveats abound with streaming service rewards. As with many types of rewards, earning streaming services rewards isn’t always straightforward. For example, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card lets you earn unlimited 4% cash back on popular streaming services, so not every service is included.
  • Most of the credit cards that offer extra rewards for streaming service spending don’t come with annual fees. 20 of these 32 cards we analyzed never have an annual fee. Another — the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

To see rates & fees for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express please click here.

Streaming services are big business, and card issuers have noticed

Is there anyone who doesn’t spend money on at least one streaming service? Whether you’re talking about video or music, there’s something for most any taste and any budget.

Most of us aren’t settling for one service, though. As of our June 2022 survey, consumers paid for an average of three streaming services, whether video or music. And 40% of those with streaming subscriptions spend $50 or more a month on them, including roughly 12% who spend $100 or more a month. In all, according to J.D. Power in November 2022, the average monthly household spend among subscribers is $54 — adding up to $648 for the year.

When compared to other household expenses, that may seem like small potatoes. However, those are only averages. Many Americans spend far more than that, and card issuers have taken notice.

We found 32 credit cards that offer some type of reward for streaming service spending. Seven of those cards only offer rewards under certain conditions — such as if you opt into a bonus category, if it’s one of your top one or two spending categories in a given period or if an issuer lists it as their featured bonus category for a certain period — but that still leaves big streamers a lot of options.

The megabanks that dominate the credit card space are more likely than their smaller competitors to offer these types of rewards. Those offerings can vary widely, making it important to shop around for the best deal.

Issuers offering as much as 6% cash back on streaming purchases

The most common offers for streaming services are 2% or 3% cash back or 2x or 3x points and miles. However, some cards offer more than that.

The highest earnings rate we found was on the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

Highlight: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express lets you earn 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), 1% Cash Back on other purchases. Terms apply.

Also: Get $7 back each month after using your Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to spend $12.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription to the Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. Enrollment required. The card, however, has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Multiple other cards potentially offer 5% back on streaming, including:

  • BMO Cash Back Credit Card: Earn 5% cash back on streaming, cable TV and satellite services; 3% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, up to $2,500 in gas and grocery purchases each calendar quarter; and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases. These streaming services include but aren’t limited to: Netflix, Paramount+, Hulu, Apple Music, CBS All Access, Disney+, AT&T TV NOW, ESPN+, HBO Max, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube TV and Tidal.
  • Citi Custom Cash® Card: Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Most cardholders, though, won’t have streaming purchases as their top eligible spend category.
  • U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card: Earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose. 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Center. 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations and EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants. 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • Three Discover cards could potentially offer 5% back on streaming services by including it as one of its featured categories for a quarter. That was last done in the first quarter of 2023. Of note, though, you have to enroll to earn the 5% cash back in the quarterly rotating categories. After the quarterly maximum of $1,500 in spending, you earn 1% cash back in the category.

The right credit card can be rewarding for big streaming spenders

While our 2022 LendingTree survey looked at ranges on streaming spending, we noted earlier that, according to J.D. Power, households spend an average of $54 on streaming services monthly. That equals nearly $650 a year.

If you’re only earning 1% on streaming spending, that means you can earn $6.50 in rewards for your efforts. Even at 5% or 6%, you’re still only earning $32.50 or $39, respectively, in rewards in a year for your streaming spending. It’s not nothing, but it’s likely not worth putting much effort toward either.

However, these cards aren’t for average streamers. They’re for folks who subscribe to multiple video and music streamers at a time, and maybe even opt for the ad-free versions of those services. With the proliferation of video and music streaming services in the past decade, Americans have seemingly limitless options, and many of us are choosing to pay for a lot of them. For those folks, the rewards on these cards can be worth the effort.

Consider this example: A person who subscribes to the following…

  • Netflix premium: $19.99 a month ($239.88 a year)
  • Disney bundle premium (Hulu without Live TV, Disney+, ESPN+): $19.99 ($239.88)
  • Max ultimate ad-free: $19.99 ($239.88)
  • Apple TV: $6.99 ($83.88)
  • Paramount+ premium: $9.99 ($119.88)
  • Spotify premium family: $15.99 ($191.88)
  • Sirius XM platinum: $23.99 ($287.88)
  • Sling TV orange and blue packages: $55 ($660)

That person who subscribes to eight streaming services (more than double the average of three, per the prior LendingTree study) pays $2,063 a year for those services. If your card gives you 5% or 6% back on that spending, you can earn $103 and $124 cash back a year on that spending. Compare that to the $41 you’d get with a 2% card and the difference becomes clear.

Of course, as with any card, the total value of the card depends on other factors as well, including how much you spend in other categories that the card rewards and whether the card has an annual fee. (By the way, most of these streaming rewards cards don’t have an annual fee, though the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a notable exception, with a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.) However, when you zoom in on just the value of the streaming rewards, it’s clear there’s value to be had for those for whom streaming services take up a significant chunk of their monthly spend.

Caveats abound when it comes to streaming service rewards

With any credit card rewards program, the devil is in the details (as the saying goes). It’s no different with streaming rewards. Our examination of these cards found minimum spending requirements, exclusions, deadlines and other nuances that are important to understand before you apply.

For example:

  • Capital One’s website says the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card offers rewards on “popular streaming services.” A frequently asked questions section on the same page lays out what counts as streaming: “Streaming purchases made from eligible music and video streaming services, including Netflix®, Hulu® and Disney+. 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.”
  • The U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card offers 2X points on streaming services. Plus, a $30 credit for annual streaming purchases like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify®, Apple Music, Disney+, HBO Max & more. But you only get the $30 statement credit after you’ve made 11 consecutive months of streaming purchases on the card.
  • American Express has two cards that only reward streaming spending in the form of statement credits. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the The Platinum Card® from American Express at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required. Meanwhile, with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Get $7 back each month after using your Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express to spend $9.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription to The Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Enrollment required.

Shopping around is crucial, as is knowing yourself

People looking for rewards for streaming service spending have more choices than ever, but those options can vary widely — from earnings rates and bonus credits to annual fees and APRs. That makes it so important to shop around and compare many of the different cards. If you don’t, you may be leaving money on the table, and that’s the last thing any of us want to do.

Just know that it won’t always be easy to find all the information you’re looking for with these cards. For example, you may have to click around several times to find out whether that streaming subscription you just ordered is among those that your card issuer deems eligible for rewards earnings.

However, before you apply for one of these cards, it’s also vital that you figure out some things about yourself. That’s true with any credit card, and streaming rewards cards are no exception. For example, you need to understand what you spend on regularly, what you want to get from the card, how much effort you’re willing to put into maximizing your rewards and whether you’re willing to pay. Knowing your answer to these questions will help get you to the right card for you.

Methodology

LendingTree reviewed more than 200 cards from more than 50 issuers, including banks and credit unions, to find those that offered extra rewards for streaming service spending. We reviewed basic terms and conditions, including APRs and annual fees, and evaluated the cards’ rewards programs. All offers were reviewed online on financial institutions’ public websites. Credit card offer data is accurate as of June 9, 2023.

To see rates & fees for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express please click here.

The information related to the BMO Cash Back Credit Card, Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card has been independently collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

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