For credit cards that give different amounts of cash back based on the category:

How can I go about figuring out how my purchase from some particular merchant will be categorized before I make a purchase from that merchant? Is there an easy way (ideally online)?

Note: I thought this was obvious, but I am not asking how credit card companies (or merchants) determine the purchase categories. That's I'm asking if there is any way for me to figure them out before making a purchase. So -- no, the duplicate isn't a duplicate...


1 Answer 1


Not clear what you're asking. Are you trying to figure out their SIC/NAISC classification? That tells you the business category they fall into, but there's no simple, instant way to find that out. Much also depends on how the credit card issuer has classified them and how they arrived at that information.

They may have a different means of classifying merchants, so you might try to call your bank and ask them, if they're able/willing to tell you. That'll give you a starting point to figure it out, anyway.

  • 2
    I'm not asking anything technical or tricky (I don't even know what SIC and NAISC mean). I'm just asking, if my credit card gives (say) 2% on restaurants, and I want to buy food at some random place that offers food, how can I know (before buying anything) whether that merchant will be categorized as "restaurant" or not? For all I know they could be categorized as "fast food", or "specialty store", or something else, depending on the merchant. Is there a realistic way figure it out? (By "realistic" I mean, like, asking the company CEO is theoretically possible, but not realistic...)
    – user541686
    Oct 17, 2016 at 3:23
  • SIC stands for "Standard Industry Classification", and it is the normal way to group businesses, based on their primary business activity. It wouldn't make sense for anyone to reinvent the wheel by coming up with their own classification system, so it's probable that's what the banks use for their rewards programs. I don't know if there's a good way to do what you're asking other than to use common sense. Oct 17, 2016 at 11:18

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