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Credit Card Spending Categories
October 7, 2015
12:49 pm
fulanomengano
Toronto, ON
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Does anyone has a link or file detailing the categories assigned to different stores by the credit card companies? E.g.

  • What companies are considered entertainment?
  • Are Walmart purchases considered groceries?
  • What about Canadian Tire, Amazon, etc.?
  • Forgive me if it's a duplicate topic, I searched on the forums but couldn't find the answer.

    fm

    October 7, 2015
    1:47 pm
    Loonie
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    This can be difficult to determine.

    From what I have learned thus far, it seems that Visa and MasterCard (and probably Amex) use the same "Merchant Code Category" 4-digit numbering systems, both in the US and Canada.

    Store employees tend not to know the answer to this question.

    Here are some sites where numbers can be found for the categories but this will not necessarily tell you which companies fall into which categories.
    http://dr.scotiabank.com/ca/en.....t_2012.pdf

    http://www.irs.gov/irb/2004-31...../ar17.html

    http://125plan.com/ResourceCen.....yCodes.pdf

    I think the problem is in figuring out who actually knows the answer in regards to any given business.

    I predict a lot of complaints about people not getting the credits they expected until the industry finds some way of keeping us better informed.

    I suggest that, as this phenomenon of rewards-by-category becomes more popular, that members report what they are learning from the rewards listed on their own bills, until we figure out a more reliable source. This might be a good thread for this purpose.

    October 7, 2015
    2:05 pm
    fulanomengano
    Toronto, ON
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    Thanks loonie!

    I guess I have a reason to be confused then. I applied for the Tangerine MC (that thread was what brought me to this site) and if approved I will ask them directly. Being that they make you decide which categories you want for the 2% rewards, they SHOULD provide a definitive answer. I hope that's the case, but based on my experience with financial institutions in this country it sounds more like wishful thinking.

    FM

    October 7, 2015
    4:03 pm
    ertyu
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    I recall one of my category based cards provided a non-complete list of most business in the bonus categories they offered. I think it was a PDF file buried on their website and I think it was MBNA or perhaps Scotia. I also recall another card showing an icon for the bonus categories on the statements but only on the paper version and not on the online listings.

    It certainly is a pain to figure out what goes into what category, especially beforehand, especially with store-in-a-store places or merchants that fit into many categories.

    October 7, 2015
    7:25 pm
    Loonie
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    Please keep us informed on what you learn when you ask Tangerine about this, FM.

    ertyu - Was the list you had the same one that is listed above for Scotia in this thread? I forget who posted that originally, but I have been collecting any posts related to this question.

    This confusion makes a good case for a simple X%-on-everything card. None of them are free though unless you accept 1.25% or less. I'm looking for 2% across-the-board, no fees, and I don't care about Forex since Amazon Visa's offer on that is still the best one IMO.

    October 8, 2015
    8:41 am
    ertyu
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    Loonie said
    ertyu - Was the list you had the same one that is listed above for Scotia in this thread? I forget who posted that originally, but I have been collecting any posts related to this question.

    The Scotia link isn't working for me. The list was something like
    Category Gas: Esso, Petro Canada, Shell...
    Category Grocery: Safeway, Sobeys, Superstore...
    It contain a list of names of stores in the categories, it wasn't exhaustive and there were some footnotes and exceptions.

    October 8, 2015
    9:36 am
    Norman1
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    fulanomengano said

    Does anyone has a link or file detailing the categories assigned to different stores by the credit card companies? E.g.

  • What companies are considered entertainment?
  • Are Walmart purchases considered groceries?
  • What about Canadian Tire, Amazon, etc.?
  • Forgive me if it's a duplicate topic, I searched on the forums but couldn't find the answer.

    fm

    There was a previous discussion about credit card Merchant Category Codes (MCC) in the forum discussion RBC new fee schedule and cash back Visa.

    Walmart purchases are category 5310 (Discount Stores) in the regular Walmart stores and category 5411 (Grocery Stores, Supermarkets) in the Walmart Superstores. I don't know what the category would be for purchases in their Walmart Tire & Lube Express service centres.

    I found that the exact category of a purchase can vary depending on the credit card terminal used at a merchant's location. Charges at one gas station were 5541 (Service Stations) when paying at the cashier inside. Charges at the same gas station were 5542 (Automated Fuel Dispensers) when paying at the pump.

    Oddly, my last Amazon.ca purchase showed up in category 4816 (Computer Network/Information Services). sf-confused

    October 8, 2015
    11:48 am
    fulanomengano
    Toronto, ON
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    Norman1 said
    There was a previous discussion about credit card Merchant Category Codes (MCC) in the forum discussion RBC new fee schedule and cash back Visa.

    Thanks Norman. At the end it seems it is not very clear (maybe purposely) and trial and error will be the way to go :-).

    FM

    October 8, 2015
    11:49 am
    fulanomengano
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    Norman1 said
    Oddly, my last Amazon.ca purchase showed up in category 4816 (Computer Network/Information Services). sf-confused

    How did you find out the exact category? Does it show in your statement?

    FM

    October 8, 2015
    10:06 pm
    Norman1
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    fulanomengano said
    Thanks Norman. At the end it seems it is not very clear (maybe purposely) and trial and error will be the way to go :-).

    VISA in the U.S. has a central database of the MCC of U.S. merchants that accept VISA:

     VISA Supplier Locator

    However, VISA Canada and MasterCard Canada may not have such a database. I think the merchant category is assigned by the credit card acquirer that the merchant deals directly with. Consequently, the info may be not be in one place.

    fulanomengano said

    How did you find out the exact category? Does it show in your statement?

    President's Choice Financial MasterCard shows the merchant category, such as Automated Fuel Dispensers, of each transaction on their cardholder website. The actual numeric MCC code, such as 5542, is one of the fields when one downloads the transactions in TSV (tab-separated values) format.

    I haven't look into other credit cards to see if the merchant category is available to cardholders. For sure, the credit card issuer has the MCC of each transaction, especially if they use the MCC to decide the reward rate.

    October 9, 2015
    12:15 am
    Loonie
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    It would make life easier if card issuers such as Tangerine, which has a new issue, has the most categories, and, in general, has had pretty good communications in the past, would at least tell us which code numbers qualify for which categories. For example, is Automatic Fuel Dispenser the same as Gas for our purposes (as it should be)? That would be a start, at least. But we should also be able to know if Canadian Tire, for example, is Auto Parts or Tires or "Home Improvement." (per Tang) - I think they sell at least as much of the latter as the former.

    As Norman says, we have visited this issue before and not found any one reliable accessible and comprehensive source. If they are going to continue to offer segmented rewards, they need to tell us how we can reliably get them. That only makes good business sense.

    Perhaps, when the Tangerine statements start rolling out, we will see something useful on them - or at least be able to give them feedback that we need more information, before they roll out the cards to the general public.

    Until they solve this one, they are going to be getting a lot of phone calls from confused and/or annoyed cardholders.

    I vote for a logo with a number in the centre of it and a category name printed on it, to be posted on doors and cash registers of businesses and on websites. They can do it if they want to, just as they have security logos and notices about the Scanning Code of Practice. OR just give us all a fair overall return without dickering around with categories. The way they are setting it up now, people will be motivated to spread their business around.

    October 13, 2015
    12:27 pm
    fulanomengano
    Toronto, ON
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    Loonie said

    It would make life easier if card issuers such as Tangerine, which has a new issue, has the most categories, and, in general, has had pretty good communications in the past, would at least tell us which code numbers qualify for which categories. For example, is Automatic Fuel Dispenser the same as Gas for our purposes (as it should be)? That would be a start, at least. But we should also be able to know if Canadian Tire, for example, is Auto Parts or Tires or "Home Improvement." (per Tang) - I think they sell at least as much of the latter as the former.

    As Norman says, we have visited this issue before and not found any one reliable accessible and comprehensive source. If they are going to continue to offer segmented rewards, they need to tell us how we can reliably get them. That only makes good business sense.

    Perhaps, when the Tangerine statements start rolling out, we will see something useful on them - or at least be able to give them feedback that we need more information, before they roll out the cards to the general public.

    Until they solve this one, they are going to be getting a lot of phone calls from confused and/or annoyed cardholders.

    I vote for a logo with a number in the centre of it and a category name printed on it, to be posted on doors and cash registers of businesses and on websites. They can do it if they want to, just as they have security logos and notices about the Scanning Code of Practice. OR just give us all a fair overall return without dickering around with categories. The way they are setting it up now, people will be motivated to spread their business around.

    I found something https://www.tangerine.ca/en/legal/credit-card-cardholder-agreement/index.html. Not exactly what I was looking for, but at least a big step towards transparency.

    October 13, 2015
    12:57 pm
    fulanomengano
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    I found something https://www.tangerine.ca/en/legal/credit-card-cardholder-agreement/index.html. Not exactly what I was looking for, but at least a big step towards transparency.

    Looking with more detail I found:

  • Fast food places (5814) qualifiy as restaurants
  • Groceries stores (5411) are not listed, but under grocery they have category 5144 which I didn't find listed in any MCC list, maybe it's a typo
  • Both type of fuel stores are listed
  • Please write your comments in the forum.