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I often get asked how my family earns the majority of our miles and points. The truth is there is no one answer as we do a little bit of everything to earn. However, one of the most reliable ways we earn points is via strategic use of credit cards, specifically being diligent about making use of the bonus categories that our various cards offer. Ending up with 2,000 points after spending $2,000 at a one point to one dollar ratio is nice, but being able to earn as many as 10,000 points with that $2,000 spent thanks to up to a 5x bonus is obviously much nicer. That isn’t always possible, but sometimes it is thanks to the Ultimate Rewards triple threat that my family both uses and recommends.
I’m focusing on Ultimate Rewards in this post as it is so easy to have a trio of cards that works in harmony to earn the same type of valuable currency. As you may know, Ultimate Reward points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to United, Hyatt, British Airways, Marriott, Southwest, IHG Rewards, and more. They are some of my very favorite types of points out there.
The three cards we have that work together in perfect harmony to earn this valuable currency are:
Ink Plus® Business Card
This card comes with a 50,000 point Ultimate Reward bonus after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. It also earns 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, on cellular phone expenses, landlines, internet, and cable TV services. In addition, it earns 2X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually at gas stations and for hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred awards a 40,000 point bonus when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You can get an additional 5,000 bonus points on top of that if you add an authorized user and make a purchase with that card in the first 3 months. This card awards 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 3x on dining during “First Fridays”. It also has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 in subsequent years.
Note: This offer is not currently available. To see other offers, please visit the “Top Credit Cards” page.
This card has no annual fee and awards 10,000 bonus points after you spend $500 in the first three months. This is marketed as “cash back”, but if you also have one of the cards listed above or the Ink Bold® Business Card then you can transfer the points earned by the Freedom to hotel and airline partners. This card is amazing because it awards 5x on rotating quarterly bonus categories, so it is easy to pick up 5x on some everyday charges. The 2014 calendar includes:
- January 1 – March 31, 2014: Gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks
- April 1 – June 30, 2014: Restaurants and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores
- July 1 – September 30, 2014: Gas stations and Kohl’s
- October 1 – December 31, 2014: Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department stores
There is a $1,500 cap on the 5x bonus per quarter. If you also have a Chase Checking account you get a 10% bonus on the points earned by the Freedom card each year.
Make These Cards Work Together:
Those are the basics on each of the individual cards, but the trick is to make them work together so you can turn your family’s everyday expenses into a points earning machine. Here are some of the bonus categories we use from these cards on a regular basis.
Cell phone = 5x on Ink Plus or Ink Bold
Cable TV = 5x on Ink Plus or Ink Bold
Internet – 5x on Ink Plus or Ink Bold
Office Supply Store – 5x on Ink Plus or Ink Bold (lots of stuff sold at office supply stores in addition to pens and paper)
Dining = 2x on Sapphire Preferred unless it is a 5x bonus category on Freedom
Travel = 2x on Sapphire Preferred
Gas = 2x on Ink Plus or Ink Bold
Then of course we hit the 5x quarterly bonus on the Freedom in addition to all the above categories. Counting our recurring bills like internet, TV, and cell phones that we have set to auto pay on our Ink, plus dining charges, travel charges, and more, we are earning thousand and thousands of Ultimate Reward points each month by not even really trying very hard. Add to that the points we earn by doing our online shopping through the Ultimate Rewards portal and clearing 10,000 Ultimate Reward points a month thanks to bonus categories often isn’t out of reach just by being strategic about what cards we use to pay for various everyday expenses.
Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links. As always, thanks for your support.