Over the past year, I have racked up over 290,000 airline and credit card reward miles and should likely have close to 400,000 by the end of this year. I am saving them up for a multi-continent, multi-week trip sometime in the next two years, or perhaps as a cash-back security blanket. I’ll admit, its a bit addicting to watch them accumulate, bringing back that nostalgia of saving up for something with your piggy bank.
There’s a bit of an art form to maximizing your credit card miles, and I’m going to go through a few ways that I have used to accumulate what I have so far.
First things first. The new card sign-on bonus is the quickest way to get a ton of free airline miles from the get-go. Many credit cards offer anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 bonus points for new cardmembers. While different cards value points in different ways, that could be anywhere from $200 to $750 in free reward travel.
There’s a caveat though – most of these new cardmember bonuses can only be achieved after meeting the minimum spending limit – which can range from $500 to $4,000 depending on the card and the promotion. My personal favorite is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers a 50,000 new member bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months. If you would like a link for this card bonus, please send me an email.
Here are some tips for how to best handle the minimum spending limit:
- Line the new card enrollment up with spending on necessary expenses. For example, if you knew you had a large car repair coming (that you were planning to pay in cash), or several large utility or seasonal bills, use the credit card, and then pay off the balance immediately. Try to coordinate when these expenses would fall into a three month window.
- Call your mobile phone company, and see if you can pay a year’s bill in advance. If the card you sign up for has 0% interest, you will not lose out on any money this way.
- As a last resort, use an App such as Venmo, and a person you trust, and transfer them money using your card. This will incur a 3% fee from Venmo, however, this is often quite worth it. For example – if you needed to spend another $2,000 in a one month period to meet the minimum spend, you could do the Venmo transaction. This would cost you $60 in fees. However, if it meant that you were able to get the 50,000 point bonus, you would effectively be paying a $60 fee for $500 worth of airfare. And you don’t rack up a credit card bill with reckless purchases that you may not need.
- For example, the Chase Sapphire Card has a 50,000 sign on bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
- You use your Ven
mo account, and link your credit card.
- Send your significant other the $3,000. This will cost you 3%, or $90, which goes to Venmo and the credit card company. This keeps everyone happy.
- In a few days, have them send the money back, and cash it out to your debit card or bank account.
- Pay off your credit card.
- And now, you’ll get a huge discount on airfare. Rather than think of it as wasting 3% on a Venmo credit card fee, think of it as buying $660 worth of airfare for a cool $90.
- Email me, and I’ll set you up with a referral code for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Next, another great way to maximize your point earning is to stay on top of the occasional promotional offers that cards often have, such as extra bonus points at certain stores. These are some of the ways that I have racked up additional points this year:
- Online flower shop 30 bonus point per dollar promotion. I was already going to buy my mother flowers, and this purchase netted a whopping 1,500 points from a $50 purchase.
- Best Buy – 4 bonus points per dollar promotion. I was already going to buy camera gear, and this made the purchase that much sweeter.
- 5,000 point bonus for adding an additional user on an account. Since I trust my mother, and I sometimes have her make purchases for me anyways, I added her as another user, and got a quick 5,000 points.
- Tax Prep – during tax season, if you use a tax prep service, there are almost always bonus point offers, as these companies are clawing for a piece of the busy season market. Last year I got 18 bonus points per dollar with H&R Block.
- Referring a Friend – if you find a card that you like, many have a referral bonus where you can earn an easy 10,000 point bonus when you sign up someone else for the card.
In addition to the card bonus offers, there are other ways, in the real world, that you can use to get extra points. Here are just a few of methods that I have used:
- Going out to dinner with a group? If everyone has brought cash, offer to put the meal on your card. Not only will you reap the points, you’ll walk away with cash, which saves you trips to the ATM. Also, most cards have double to triple points at dining establishments, so you get even more points with this trick
- Does your work reimburse you for expenses that you incur on your personal card? If so, make sure to use a rewards card for these purchases. Of course, check with your company’ policy before doing so.
- Use a rent paying service that allows you to use your credit card towards your rent. Make sure to evaluate a good service, and make sure the reward-to-fee ratio is right for your needs. Rent often makes up one’s biggest expense in a year, and paying your rent with a credit card and get you a ton of rewards points. If you have a car payment, you can do this as well.
- Set up all of your bills on AutoPay with your credit card, if there is no fee to pay with a credit card. These recurring expenses can add up quickly, and help you collect a good baseline of points every year.
- Have a significant other in need of a new credit card? Having them sign up through the link that Chase (and other rewards cards) gives you can net you up to 10,000 points (that’s about $125 in airfare) for each person that signs up. You can do this up to 5 times per year!
That’s it for now! I will be posting some more tips, tricks and methods soon! As always, please practice safe credit use and only spend what you know you can pay off in a single month. Feel free to get in touch if you have in questions!