Credit card rewards - why not take advantage?

Discussion in 'Business, Investing & Finance' started by oxrageous, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. oxrageous

    oxrageous It's Good to be King
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    My wife and I discovered years ago that we could rack up a ton of points on credit cards just with the monthly expenses. So we looked around until we found a Mastercard that had the greatest rewards program I had ever seen. This is it, in case anyone else is interested:

    Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® | Barclays US

    So we each have a card for the same account and put everything we possible can on it: groceries, gas, cable bill, water bill, etc etc. At the end of the month, it's a hefty bill - and also a lot of travel points. The bill gets paid in full, so there's never any interest.

    By the end of the year, there's 4 figures in travel credits sitting on that account that can go towards anything travel related - plane tickets, hotels, rental cars, etc. We just save up enough and then take a free vacation. I also like the protection that credit card purchases come with.

    So many people aren't doing this, and when I ask them why not they have no answer. I think some of them think they won't be disciplined enough to pay off the bill every month.
     
    • g8r.tom

      g8r.tom Well-Known Member
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      that
       
      • bradgator2

        bradgator2 All I really want is a wavelength
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        EVERY purchase we make is through our rewards card, which is the Amex SPG. All bills are also automatically charged to it. They just recently merged with Marriot, so it covers all of the Sheraton, Marriot, Westin, etc, etc. The resort we are staying on in Marathon next week is 100% paid for through points.

        I also have a Amazon Visa. We are big Amazon shoppers, so all those purchases are through that. Cant beat another 5% off.

        Back in the day when I lived in Oregon and was flying alot, we had the Southwest Visa. I actually set it up to charge my monthly mortgage payment. Now, the fees are too high on that to offset the points earned.

        I'll work these points from every angle possible.
         
      • divits

        divits A Muffin of the Studly Variety
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        We do this all the time. Everything we can possibly charge we do. In fact, we just bought a new car with our credit card and make sure we pay them off every month. My wife still travels a lot and uses her card to book flights and all her other expenses. It adds up quickly. So in addition to the thousands we get back every year we also have lots and lots of hotel points and airline miles. We took a trip last year to Seattle, Vancouver and Whistler and all of our hotels and flights were paid with points and miles. I honestly can't remember the last time we paid for a hotel room. And we use the points to help out our kids for flights and rooms too. Those things add up to thousands and thousands of dollars a year.

        My dad is really funny about this stuff. Since he's in his 90s he really doesn't care too much if it affects his credit rating so he signs up for new cards that offer incentives up to $500 if you spend a certain amount in a certain time period. Usually $3000 within three months. He actually has a stack of credit cards each labeled with what they are to be used for. For example, if one gets 4% back on gas and another gets 4% on groceries etc.. He has a spread sheet he uses and figured out he made around $2500 last year doing this.
         
        • -THE DUDE-

          -THE DUDE- This is the year!!!

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          I travel a ton for work so I started playing the points game quite awhile ago and have been using the Barclays card for about 5 years...best card I own. I don’t switch up cards too often just to get sign on points as it’s just not that worth it. We use the Barclays for every single purchase we possibly can except my hotel stays which I have a Hilton American Express card for. I fly enough I earn all the airline miles I need, card for extra hotel points, and then Barclays can be used on anything travel related. I like to keep my points diversified and haven’t paid for a vacation in years.
           
          • GatorInGeorgia

            GatorInGeorgia Senior Member
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            I’ve traveled for most of my working career and have racked up a ton of points. I play the game and try to max out the points per category depending on the card like divits’ dad does (pay for gas with the card that gives most points for that category, groceries with a different card giving most points back, etc). I’ve also done really well with hotel points, too. Hilton properties were my go to place to stay and I racked up a boatload of Hilton Honors Rewards points. They would give double bonus points each night if you are a top level member (Diamond), something like a 75% added point bonus for Gold members, etc., along with other bonuses like choosing points instead of the free breakfast. I would combine that by paying for the stay with a Citibank (Amex now) MC or Visa and get another 10 points per dollar spent from the CC company. They almost always had a promotion going where you’d get an extra 1,000 or so points for every paid stay starting with your second stay over a let’s say 2 month time frame. All in, when I had reached Diamond status, I’d be getting upwards of 8,000 Hilton points PER NIGHT. I went to NYC during the holidays a few years ago and stayed 6 nights in the Broadway/Times Square area and used points to pay for the entire hotel stay. I have the Marriott rewards program and a Marriott branded CC as a backup so I’ve racked up some good point there, too.

            I use a Discover card but only for their 5% cash back program that rotates each quarter. Other than that, I find their cash back rewards program to be really crummy. I’ve heard great things about the Barclays card Ox mentioned and a few other cards, too. I’ve done well playing the game of getting opening a new card and spending the $3,000 in 3 months to get the 50,000/75,000/etc. intro bonus. I’m probably going to take my daughter to Europe in a year or two and pay for all travel and hotels with points. I could probably pull off two weeks at a Hilton branded hotel and still have points to spare.

            Edit: forgot to mention that when staying in the same town 2 nights or more, I’d switch hotels each night within the same brand, maybe going from a Doubletree to a Hilton Garden Inn. Sometimes the hotels are literally next door to each other. That would count as 2 separate stays which gets you to Silver/Gold/Diamond status that much faster. It’s not much more than a very slight inconvenience and was well worth the extra bonuses that you’d end up with.
             
            #6 GatorInGeorgia, Mar 15, 2019
            Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
          • g8r.tom

            g8r.tom Well-Known Member
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            He made 2500. But it cost him time and effort. So it wasn't free. I get that he is retired and in his 90s. Maybe he enjoys it, so there is an entertainment value for him.
             
          • oxrageous

            oxrageous It's Good to be King
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            The Barclay card gives you $700 in travel credits if you spend $5,000 in the first 90 days.

            You also get 5% points back when you spend points. And you get 2 points on every purchase, no matter what it is. So you get 2.1% back in points on every purchase. You put $5,000 a month on the card (and we often do), that's $105 in travel credits. By the end of the year you're well over a grand.
             
            • bradgator2

              bradgator2 All I really want is a wavelength
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              I'll also calculate the rewards conversion when using the hotel points to pay. Sometimes, that hotel simply has a fantastic deal for whatever reason. If you use points, you may only be getting 1% or even 0.5% "cash back" worth. In that case, I'll simply use the card as normal and keep the points for later.
               
              • Detroitgator

                Detroitgator General Factotum
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                When you book flights/hotels with Barclays, is it straight up dollar for dollar? What I’m asking is, with my Chase rewards card (which I like, but always looking for “better”), when I booked my wife and daughters plane tix to NY next week, their web booking shows me all flights and converts my points to dollars (I was pleasantly stunned at the dollars) and allows me to book ANY flight I want on all airlines. Also, the Delta tickets were same exact price as on Delta’s website.
                 
              • no1g8r

                no1g8r Well-Known Member
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                A couple of years ago I signed up for Chase Sapphire Reserve card. It is pricey to sign up, but is a great card for people who travel. While the card cost $450/year, they automatically give you $300 in credit towards travel-related expenses. In addition to flights, hotels, car rental, etc, this also includes taxis, parking fees and tolls. On top of that, the card comes with a Priority Pass membership that gets you and up to 2 guests into airport lounges worldwide, including a $30 credit at some airport restaurants. New cardholders get 50,000 bonus points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which is worth $500 in normal charges. But the card also converts points at 1.5x per point for travel services (flights/hotels/car rentals), so a $600 flight will only cost $400 in points (40,000 points). Also, every 5 years they pay up to $100 for a Global Entry or Pre-check membership, which covers the cost for one person.

                The card earns 3 points per dollar on travel related expenses and dining, and 1 point on everything else.

                I also have the Chase Freedom card, is a zero-fee points card that has 5x bonus categories that change every 3 months. This quarter the bonus points are on gasoline and drug store purchases, so it's pretty easy to rack up extra points this way

                Finally, I have the Chase Freedom Plus card, which gives 1.5x points on all purchases. I use this for anything that isn't a bonus on the other two cards.

                I am a fanatic about not letting balances on my credit cards get too high, so I literally pay them off in full EVERY WEEK. This forces me to review charges and make sure nothing funny is going on, but also makes sure that nothing is getting out of hand, balance-wise.

                I'm fortunate that I get employee rates at hotels with one of the largest hotel companies in the world, so I don't end up using my points for that. In big cities we visit I generally use public transportation, but when I do book car rentals, I usually do this without points.

                That leaves all of my points available for airfare. We travel a good bit, visiting my daughter 3-4 times per year, flying her home (or somewhere) 3-4 times per year, and usually take a domestic vacation a couple of times per year, and an international vacation every 1-2 years. We are able to pay for almost all of those flights with points.

                That particular 3-card combination works great for getting us the most bang for our buck. The points across all three cards can be pooled and transferred in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, so could be used as a cash-back card or as a rewards card, as the user wishes. To me this is an advantage over other programs that make you choose between cash back or rewards.

                As an aside, for folks who are looking for the best all-around cash-back card, the Citi Double Cash card gives you 2 points per dollar on all charges. It is the card that we gave my daughter to use, and racks up cash back surprisingly quickly.
                 
              • -THE DUDE-

                -THE DUDE- This is the year!!!

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                No the Barclays works as statement credit so you book the flight through the airline or booking site or whatever you use and pay for it with the Barclays card. Then you use your points as a statement credit to take money off the plane tickets and then you get 5% back on the points you spent to pay off that amount. It's easier because you don't have to go through their system and deal with any blackouts or whatever...and you get points for your purchase. Does that make sense?
                 
                • -THE DUDE-

                  -THE DUDE- This is the year!!!

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                  I do this all the time as a way to make Diamond status faster and usually end up with 50-60 nights per year so by the middle of the year it's usually not a problem and i can then stay multiple nights in the same city but until i hit 30 i move around and like you said sometimes right next door. Once in Dallas i stayed 4 nights in 4 different hotels on the same damn street all right next door to each other.

                  Kind of the same philosophy i use with flying...i fly on American and segments are the fastest way to status so i'll usually at least have 1 connection per every time and if i have some spare time or need segments i'll put some more in just to rack up the numbers. Flying out of Indy i pretty much have to connect anyway since we aren't a hub but still find it the easiest path if flying only domestic.
                   
                • oxrageous

                  oxrageous It's Good to be King
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                  Yes, it will automatically list all eligible travel expenses that you have made on your card. You can then credit some or all of them from your bill with your points.
                   
                  • Detroitgator

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                    Got it, thanks. I'll look at it. With my Chase card, there are no blackouts of any kind. It converts my reward points to straight up dollars and then you book direct through a link from the Chase website (and again, the price of the Delta tickets through Chase portal was within $3 of the same ticket on Delta's website). Unlike my Delta and Hilton points (I have AMEX for both), I don't get raped on the "points to dollars" conversion... for the longest time, I didn't even pay attention to the Chase "points" accruing and when I went to book plane tickets for wife and daughter, I had around $9,000 straight up dollars to spend on any tickets I wanted.
                     
                    • no1g8r

                      no1g8r Well-Known Member
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                      If you've already accumulated that many points, grab the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It's $0 for the first year, and when you spend $4k in 3 months, you get a 50,000 point bonus. And with this card, each point used for travel is worth 1.25 points, so your $9,000 worth of points would buy $11,250 worth of travel, plus another $625 in travel from the bonus points.
                       
                    • Bernardo de la Paz

                      Bernardo de la Paz No Talent Ass Clown
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                      I'm almost identical to @GatorInGeorgia on how I use my cards.

                      I'll add that it's not just about maximizing the accumulation of points, but also maximizing the redemption.

                      With airline miles, upgrading from coach to business on international flights is by far the best value.
                       
                      • FireFoley

                        FireFoley Senior Member
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                        This is a good topic and I admit I have never been one to take advantage of these things. As OX correctly points out, if managed properly they can be very worthwhile. I have racked up a ton of points on AMEX that just sit there and maybe one day I will use them. I always tended to pay cash for everything except for larger or internet purchases. I think you guys so rightly said that many people will spend more than they should or on stuff they do not need just to get the rewards. In the long run that is not good thinking, but again this is America.
                         
                      • -THE DUDE-

                        -THE DUDE- This is the year!!!

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                        This method is only for responsible people...if you can't manage your spending or pay the card off every month it is not for you. I've been doing this for years now and have only ever missed 1 payment and that was just brain fart and i forgot...but immediately called customer service and they waived all fees because i had years of perfect payments. If you can be responsible there is no down side. All the idiots that can't handle it make it up to the credit card companies for those of us that cash in.
                         
                        • Politigator

                          Politigator L-boy's Cousin

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                          Good topic and good new forum. Kudos to ox for opening it.

                          I find this site extremely useful for credit card rewards chasing.

                          Credit Cards - Doctor Of Credit

                          I've collected ongoing rewards for years, but for two years I've actually gotten into sign on bonus chasing. I've probably brought in around $6000 in credit card bonuses and bank bonuses, and that is over and above ongoing spending rewards.

                          When I'm not doing that, I use

                          -Fidelity 2% cash back on everything no annual fee
                          -Capital one savor 4% back on dining and entertainment (normally a $95 fee but I got a no fee one grandfathered)
                          -Amex blue cash rewards 6% on groceries 3% gas. $95 annual fee. I may phase this out because we are usually going to Walmart pick up for groceries and amex card only covers conventional grocery stores.
                          -boa cash rewards - 3% back on gas, or whatever category of choice. That can be parlayed up to 5.25% of you have $100k with BOA/Merrill (we don't)
                          - chase ink business cash- 5% back on phone and internet, no fee, but is a business card.
                           

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