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If you read this site, or especially Frequent Miler’s blog, with any regularity you have likely already heard of using gift cards to really maximize points earnings. There are lots of ways to do that, but for the purposes of this “quick and easy” Saturday morning post, I’m going to focus solely on using the Visa/MasterCard/Amex branded gift cards for everyday purchases. I recently noticed a neat feature that I am probably the last person out there to notice, but I wanted to share it in case I am actually the second to last person on earth to discover it, and it can potentially help someone else. 😉
Application Link: Chase Ink Bold
About once a month I head to a local Office Depot to purchase a $500 Visa or MasterCard gift card with my New Ink Bold card. I don’t purchase more than that as I have no desire to send Chase any “red flags” on my account. I am pretty conservative with Chase as I would hate to do anything to permanently tick the off. I may up the monthly amount to $1000 in the future, but $500 is good for now. I balance that with lots of other types of purchases on the account, but the majority of the purchases like my cell phone bill, cable bill, hotel expenses, or gas do fall in a 5x or 2x bonus category. I purchase these gift cards monthly because all purchases at office supply stores with the New Ink Bold pay out at a rate of 5x Ultimate Reward points per dollar. I then use my Visa gift card at retailers where I would otherwise just be earning 1x for purchases. I specifically purchase the Visa or MasterCard brand gift cards most of the time as they are accepted virtually everywhere, and I don’t want the added hassle of not being able to use the Amex branded card. This is important since some of the places where I like to often use the cards are smaller retailers who don’t all take Amex.
For example, today I was finishing up using a $500 gift card that I purchased at the beginning of the month. I got a pedicure at a small nail salon, and since none of my other rewards credit cards would give me anything other than 1x at the salon, I paid with the Visa gift card. Right on the receipt it displayed the $85.92 I had remaining on the card. That is so incredibly handy it isn’t even funny, so I wanted to make sure that others aware of that handy feature. I have noticed that before, but have not posted about that it until today. It is so much easier for a gift card like that to be useful in my day to day life when I know exactly how much is remaining.
I then headed to Target to purchase some odds and ends we “needed” and when the amount came to $85.66. I knew the total would be roughly for the balance I had remaining on the card, but since I had just learned my balance at the nail salon a few minutes earlier, I knew for sure that my gift card could cover the entire transaction with 26 cents to spare.
So, instead of earning 105 Ultimate Reward points today for my $105 worth of errands, I earned 525 Ultimate Reward points that will likely eventually be transferred on a 1:1 basis to either United or Hyatt. Points add up some much quicker when you can add a multiplier into the mix. Knowing the exact amount remaining on the gift card without having to call a 1-800 number or look your account up online is so fantastic, and makes earning 5x by strategically using gift cards very simple – even for a busy family.
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