Important Information About Rewards Spending Categories for Sallie Mae® Credit Card Accounts

Merchants who accept Mastercard® credit cards are assigned a merchant code which is determined by the merchant or its processor in accordance with Mastercard procedures based on the kinds of products and services they primarily sell. We have placed certain merchant codes into categories for purposes of making rewards offers to you. Sallie Mae has no control over the codes assigned to merchants. Some purchases may not fall into the category where you might expect them to appear. Additionally, purchases made through mobile/wireless technology (including, but not limited to digital wallets, wireless card readers, and third party payment accounts) may not be eligible for rewards offers, depending on whether the technology is set up to reflect the merchant code associated with the primary retail items sold by the merchant.

Below are the rewards spending categories for Sallie Mae credit card accounts. Each category includes examples of the types of merchants that generally fall into that category, but there may also be other types of merchants in a category that are not listed below. Choose a category to learn more.*


Merchants in the automotive category include those that rent vehicles for the purpose of driver and passenger transportation, towing services, automotive parts, service or repair shops, automotive dealers, passenger railways, limousine and taxicab services, and motorcycle shops and dealers. Vehicle rentals not booked through or directly with the rental agency (e.g. car rentals purchased through a travel agency) will not qualify.


Dining merchants include restaurants whose primary business is eat-in or take-out dining, including fast food restaurants, caterers, bars and taverns. Merchants that sell food and drinks within another establishment such as a hotel, theme park, concert venue, sports stadium and grocery store may not be included in this category, unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a dining category.


Merchants in the entertainment category include movie theaters, theaters or stadiums that provide live entertainment, private and public golf courses, amusement parks, country clubs, ticketing agencies, campgrounds and health and fitness membership clubs.


Gas merchants include those whose primary business is to sell automotive gasoline that can be paid for either at the pump or inside the station. These merchants may also sell convenience items or other goods or services. Gas purchases at supercenters, wholesale or warehouse clubs, discount stores, or other locations that sell gasoline are not included in this category unless the merchant uses a gas station merchant code.

Grocery and Drug Stores

Merchants in the grocery and drug stores category include supermarkets, drug stores, liquor stores, and merchants that specialize in selling prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, supplements, various health-related items, cosmetics, toiletries, greeting cards, and various household items such as cleaning supplies and packaged foods and drinks. Larger stores that sell a wide variety of goods and groceries, such as warehouse clubs and discount stores, are generally not included in this category.


Merchants in the healthcare category include those who provide services from health professionals to maintain, improve, or prevent illness and injury. Merchants in this category typically include hospitals, ambulance services, doctor’s offices, nursing and personal care facilities, dental and orthodontic care, and veterinary services.

Home Improvement

Merchants in the home improvement category include hardware stores that specialize in selling a variety of home improvement supplies. It also includes a variety of contractors, including those that provide electrical, AC/heating, plumbing, and carpentry services. Florists are also included in this category.

Personal Services

Merchants in the personal services category provide services such as landscaping, specialty cleaning, laundry services, childcare, and barber or beauty shops. This category does not include business-related services such as legal services, tax preparation, or insurance sales.

Professional Services

Merchants in the professional services category include subscription telecommunication services, certain third party online payment services, and professions that typically require training or professional licenses like attorneys, accountants, consultants, and real estate agents. This category also includes certain vacation rent-by-owner style web sites and pet food and supplies retailers.

Retail Outlets and Stores

Merchants in the retail outlets and stores category include online and physical stores that sell apparel, home furnishings, furniture, electronics, cosmetics, houseware, and major household appliances. It also includes digital goods or content, electronic stores, sports apparel and sporting goods stores, office and school supplies stores, and merchants that typically sell or rent men’s and women’s clothing and/or shoes. Supercenters such as wholesale clubs or discount stores are not included in this category.

Schools and Government

Merchants in the schools and government category include elementary or secondary schools, colleges, universities, professional and vocational schools. This category also includes postal services, tax payments, and fines. Travel

The travel category includes purchases made directly with airlines, hotels and motels, timeshares, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, bridge and road tolls, and parking lots and garages. Merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services (e.g. sightseeing activities and tourist attractions) are not included in this category but may be included in the Entertainment category.


Merchants in the utilities category include utility companies that provide electricity, household gas or heating oil, and water. This category may also include certain merchants that offer television programming or radio programming on a subscription or fee basis.

Wholesale Clubs

These merchants operate supercenters, warehouse clubs or discount stores, usually selling a wide variety of merchandise, in which customers may buy large, wholesale quantities of the store’s products including groceries, furniture, household goods and merchandise, electronics, appliances, and auto supplies. These merchants may or may not have membership requirements. Purchases with stand-alone merchants or affiliates operating within wholesale clubs (such as cell phone, travel, and home improvement purchases), either in-store or online, may not be included in this category.

footnote *Category descriptions are not all-inclusive and are only intended to provide general descriptions. We reserve the right to change or eliminate existing categories or create new categories from time to time in our sole discretion.