Good morning everyone, happy Thursday and happy Q3! Since the Chase Freedom Credit Card and Discover It Credit Card both offer 5% cash back (or 5x Chase Ultimate Reward Points) for restaurants this quarter (July 1 – September 30), I thought it would be fun to see if there were any merchants that coded as restaurants, but might have an MS angle too. I first wrote about the Visa Supplier Locator website in December 2013 (How are Merchants Classified? Use the Visa Supplier Locator to Find Out!). Luckily, not much has changed on the website during the last 3.5 years, so that post is still relevant.
Let me step back a minute and explain what the Visa Supplier Locator is and does. Every merchant has 1 or more MCC (merchant categorization codes) that tells the credit card company what type of merchant they are (grocery store, restaurant, charity, hotel, etc.). Without the MCC, it would be impossible to categorize transactions and award bonus points based on certain categories. The Visa Supplier Locator allows you to search for merchants that use a certain MCC or determine what MCC a merchant uses.
In my 5% cash back restaurant example, I wanted to see which merchants have restaurant MCCs. Some of the merchants might surprise you. On the Visa Supplier Locator website, I selected “RESTAURANTS / BARS – 5812” and “RESTAURANTS / BARS – 5814” from the MCC dropdown menu. Then I entered my zip code, proved I wasn’t a robot, and clicked the Search button. I ran multiple searches with different zip codes because each results page only showed 50 merchants.
95% of the merchants that showed up were real restaurants, but the following merchants came up as restaurants too, even though they are not real restaurants. The simplest explanation is that one section of the business is related to restaurants (some Barnes & Noble stores have Starbucks inside, some IKEAs have food courts with delicious Swedish meatballs for sale, and some Nordstrom stores have Nordstrom Cafes). Based on which register you check out with, you might be able to trigger the 5% cash back restaurant category.
This is 100% YMMV (your mileage may vary), since you will need to try multiple registers and multiple stores and see if any of the transactions code as restaurants. Also, the above is only true of Visa credit card. The other credit card networks may use a similar or different MCC, but there is no easy way to search other networks, so the Visa Supplier Locator is the next best thing. If you have any questions about MCCs, please leave comment below. Have a great day everyone.