How can I find out how my credit card company classifies merchants?
October 11, 2010 2:53 PM   Subscribe

My credit card gives me 5% cash back for buying from "electronics stores, grocery stores and department stores". How do I know what stores fall into those categories?

My card company says that it doesn't choose the categories for a merchant, but that each merchant reports its own classification. How can I find out what categories a merchant falls into? Is there an easier way than calling every store and asking them?
posted by d(-_-)b to Shopping (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I must be missing something about your question. Grocery stores are typically classified, ahem, as grocery stores when their credit card merchant accounts are set up, etc.

Are you asking about the exact classification code, it's unlikely that even managers would know it. It's safe to assume that purchases from actual electronic stores will appear as electronics store charges on your account (you don't get to see that info on statements, but it's there).
posted by halogen at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2010

For some banks, your statement shows this. It might be in your annual statement (or year-end summary) if you have one and it's not in the your monthly statements.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 3:24 PM on October 11, 2010

Why not call your credit card company directly? They may have a partnership with select stores.
posted by Anima Mundi at 3:39 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

My credit union appears to have gotten this from their new online payments provider - it shows up on my account with each posted payment. I'm betting there's a database somewhere, because it knows some stores (Chipotle, IKEA, Wal-Mart) and not others (mostly local establishments.)

Out of curiosity, did you call VISA/whoever or did you call a bank? I have a feeling it's VISA/American Express/etc. that keeps the info (since they have the relationships with the merchants) and some banks/intermediaries use the info and some don't bother.
posted by SMPA at 3:39 PM on October 11, 2010

The rewards website for my credit card lists the vendors you get bonus points from. Check the fine print links on your credit card's website and see if you find anything like that. It might be called "our partners" or something similar.
posted by phunniemee at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2010

If your card states that "all department stores", etc. get extra rewards this month (as opposed to what phunniemee is referring to), that will be determined by the merchant category code like I stated above.

If you are looking for a list of all officially categorized as such department stores, etc. in your geographical area, you might be out of luck – I don't think such lists exist.
posted by halogen at 3:55 PM on October 11, 2010

Chase Freedom card, right?

Quick answer: you don't know unless (1) someone else bought something there then called Chase to confirm that it's an included in a category or not, or (2) you make the call after you make the purchase.

You can find many such reports on

Details on this period's promotion:

An old list of grocery stores and department stores:

Grocery stores
Assi Plaza
Columbus Asia Market (Huaxin)
EE Mart (Virginia)
Food Lion
Fred Meyer
Fresh Market
Garden Fresh Market
Giant (Ahold)
Gordon Food Services (GFS)
Grocery Outlet
Harris Teeter
HEB (HEB counts for me at College Station, #541)
Joe Caputo & Sons
Kroger operates as Kroger's, City Market, Dillons, Gerbes, Hilander, Jay C, King Soopers, Owen's, Pay Less, Scott's, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Ralphs, QFC, Smith's, Foods Co in various parts of the country. (edited by JW)
Lotte Plaza
Lowes Foods
Market Basket
Price Chopper
Ranch 99
Stop and Shop
Super 88
Super EE Mart/Freshworld (Virginia)
Super Fresh
Trader Joe's
Weis Markets/Kings
Whole Foods

BJ Wholesale
Columbus Sunrise Asian Super Market
Lindt Chocolate
Super Target

Department stores
Carson Pirie Scott Furniture Gallery
Filene's Basement
JcPenney (both in-store and online)
Kohl's & ( ...)
Nordstrom Rack
Saks Fifth Avenue
Sears Hardware
Sports Basement
Urban Behavior
While House Black Market

Many (all?) boutique mall stores (Ann Taylor, Guess, etc).
Altrec (online)
Bebe Outlet
Bed Bath and Beyond
Charlotte Russe
Finish Line
Forever 21
Fry's (Online)
J Crew
Joann Fabric
Lands End (online)
Linens N Things
Lord & Taylor
Newegg (Online)
Old Navy
Rack Room Shoes
Ross Dress For Less
SuperMediaStore (Online)
Victoria's Secret (online)
posted by unclezeb at 4:36 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the answers so far. halogen and unclezeb have the right idea, though my card is Citi Dividend World :-). The card's deal is "all electronics stores" are 5% cash back. So for example, I'm pretty sure NewEgg counts as an electronics store. Does Apple count? How about Amazon? Walmart? Does it matter whether I buy a TV on NewEgg or a chair?

I realize that most stores can be categorized with common sense, but I'd like to be able to check my guesses, especially if a store sells many different kinds of things. Ideally, I'd like to have this information before I buy something, not after I get my statement.

It looks like MCC codes might be what I'm after. Is there really no way of getting a list of what store uses what codes?
posted by d(-_-)b at 6:01 PM on October 11, 2010

Here's a list (scroll down) of some consumer electronics stores – Newegg counts, Apple doesn't.
posted by halogen at 8:46 PM on October 11, 2010

And it shouldn't matter WHAT you buy, just WHO sells it. The code is for the merchant, not the item. So buying electronics from Amazon, Walmart, etc., won't count.
posted by SuperNova at 8:50 PM on October 11, 2010

Does every merchant that accepts credit cards have exactly one MCC, or is it possible to have more than one?

Does anyone know what Amazon's MCC/category is? In halogen's list, it's under "Books". Does that mean they are listed as "5942 - Book Stores"?
posted by d(-_-)b at 1:52 PM on October 12, 2010

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