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Stream Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and maximize rewards

Binging a new show while social distancing? Here's how you can maximize rewards with streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu by using the right credit card.

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Streaming services have their time to shine right now with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that is keeping most Americans at home. Services like Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu are all competing for customers' attention and some services are offering bundles that can allow you to get multiple services at a lower rate.

In addition to taking advantage of bundle offers, you can maximize savings by using a rewards credit card that offers up to 6% cash back on eligible streaming services. These cards are a great way to save on multiple streaming services while you enjoy TV and movies.

Below, CNBC Select reviews how you can maximize rewards on streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu, and movie rental purchases with the right credit card.

Best for streaming services and movie rentals

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
On American Express's secure site
  • Rewards

    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, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases on your new card within the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    12.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

  • High 6% cash back at U.S. supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit
  • A year of no interest on new purchases and balance transfers

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • 2.7% fee on purchases made abroad
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $679
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,397

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

There's a clear winner when it comes to earning the most rewards on streaming services and movie rentals — the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Cardholders earn an industry-leading 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, which include everything from TV services to movie rentals and music streaming.

Eligible services include:

  • Amazon Music Unlimited
  • Apple Music
  • Apple TV+
  • AT&T Now
  • Audible
  • CBS All Access
  • Disney+
  • ESPN+
  • Fubo TV
  • HBO Now
  • Hulu
  • iHeartRadio
  • Kindle Unlimited
  • Luminary
  • MLB.TV
  • NBA League Pass
  • Netflix
  • NHL.TV
  • Pandora
  • Prime Video
  • Showtime
  • Sling TV
  • SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite
  • Spotify
  • Stitcher
  • YouTube Music Premium
  • YouTube Premium
  • YouTube TV

Amex's website disclaims that subscriptions bundled with another product or service or billed by a third party may not be eligible for 6% cash back. (Learn more about how credit card issuers classify purchases for bonus rewards.)

If you decide to rent a movie with an eligible streaming service, such as Amazon Prime Video, this would also qualify to earn 6% cash back, an Amex customer service representative confirmed.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card does come with a $95 annual fee, but if you spend roughly $1,583 a year at U.S. supermarkets and/or on streaming subscriptions, you can offset this cost (see rates and fees). That's because both categories earn 6% cash back. But take note — the 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets applies only up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

Best for no annual fee

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
On U.S. Bank's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on two categories you choose quarterly (on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter, then 1%); 2% cash back on one everyday category; 1% cash back on everything else

  • Welcome bonus

    $150 after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable*

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2% to 3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

*See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • High 5% cash back on select entertainment purchases, when you activate bonus categories
  • Low spending required to earn a good welcome bonus

Cons

  • 5% cash back is limited to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Activation is required to earn 5% cash back
  • 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $478
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,790

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

If you want to earn generous rewards on streaming services without an annual fee, consider the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® card. Cardholders can choose to earn 5% cash back on two bonus categories each quarter on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases, then 1%.

You can choose to earn up to 5% cash back on TV, internet and streaming services, which is one category.

Eligible services include:

  • Charter
  • Comcast
  • DIRECTV
  • DISH Network
  • Time Warner Cable
  • Disney+
  • FandangoNOW
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Sling TV
  • Vudu
  • YouTube
  • Amazon Music
  • Apple Music
  • Google Play Music
  • Pandora
  • SiriusXM
  • Slacker Radio
  • Spotify

U.S. Bank's website warns that purchases made using a third-party service, such as PayPal, Google Play, Amazon and iTunes Store, may not qualify for the up to 5% cash back.

In addition to the streaming-related category, you can select a second category, such as fast food, home utilities, cell phone providers and more. Cardholders also get 2% cash back on one everyday category, such as grocery stores or gas stations, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cardholders can update their preferences every quarter, so you can change categories based on your needs.

Best for Amazon Prime enthusiasts

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; 1% back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval

  • Annual fee

    $0 (but Prime membership is required)

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.74% to 23.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval, with no spending requirements
  • 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • Prime membership is required
  • The 5% back on groceries only applies to groceries bought on Amazon.com or at Whole Foods Market
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $510
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,272

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

If you're a loyal Amazon customer, you can benefit from using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. All Amazon purchases earn 5% cash back, which includes your Amazon Prime membership. Prime members receive a Prime Video subscription at no extra cost. And when you rent movies that aren't available for free through Prime Video, you still earn 5% cash back.

This card is also a great option for Whole Foods Market grocery shoppers, since those purchases also earn a robust 5% cash back. This card also offers a $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval as a one-time bonus.

Keep in mind that while there is no annual fee for this card, an active Prime membership is required. Current costs are $119 for an annual membership or $12.99 for a monthly membership. If you don't want to pay for Prime, you can opt for the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, which doesn't require a Prime membership and still offers 3% cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods.

Other ways to enjoy movies at home

Streaming services aside, many movie theaters across the country are closing. To keep Americans from missing out on seeing highly-anticipated new releases, companies like Universal are releasing new movies through video-on-demand services starting this week.

Universal is making a number of recently released movies available to watch at home, starting with "The Invisible Man," "The Hunt" and "Emma," starting this Friday, March 20, with a suggested price of $19.99. And Universal's upcoming "Trolls World Tour" will be available both online and in theaters on April 10.

If you take advantage of these movie rental opportunities, you can benefit from charging roughly $20 per film to a cash-back credit card.

Maximize rewards with streaming services and movie rentals with these cards

If you're stuck in self-isolation and want to earn the most rewards possible in your at-home theater, choose from one of the best credit cards for streaming. Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Category Winner Best for no annual fee Best for Amazon Prime enthusiasts
Credit cardBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressU.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® CardU.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® CardAmazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature CardAmazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Rewards6% 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, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases5% cash back on two categories you choose quarterly (on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter, then 1%); 2% cash back on one everyday category; 1% cash back on everything else5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; 1% back on all other purchases
Annual fee$95$0$0 (but Prime membership is required)
See below for our methodologyLearn MoreOn American Express's secure siteLearn MoreOn U.S. Bank's secure siteLearn MoreInformation about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.


Information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.