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It’s no secret that we like to earn as many miles and points as possible by maximizing everyday purchases we were going to make anyway. This takes the form of leveraging category bonuses on our rewards credit cards, doing our online shopping via shopping portals, and using cash or checks as infrequently as possible.
Normally this means we know to put dining on a card that earns 2x points (or 5x right now with the Freedom), or we put gas on a card that earns 3x, or groceries on a card that earns 4.5x, etc. However, sometimes knowing what card to use and how to maximize the purchase isn’t quite as straight-forward.
Check out this post for some ways to maximize everyday bonus categories (and expected an updated list very soon).
A strange, but good example of a large expense that didn’t fit into an obvious bonus category is actually the birth of our second daughter. We lucked out with a rocking insurance plan with my State of Texas job back when C was born 5 1/2 years ago. At that time we only paid a couple hundred dollars total out of pocket for her birth and subsequent life-flight/NICU experience, and were spoiled into thinking that was somewhat “normal”, but things are very different this time.
This time not only did we owe my doctor several hundred dollars every.single.month I was pregnant in “pre-payments” toward the birth and the prenatal care itself, but we then owed a nice four digit number to the hospital before delivery as an estimated pre-payment for their services. This doesn’t even count the money we owe to the doula, the chiropractor (which trust me was essential), or of course on all the baby gear that needed replacing after 5 years. Sadly there isn’t a credit card that pays out a category bonus on medical care (though someone should come up with that), so we had to get creative.
The simplest solution to maximizing big payments like those (especially the one to the hospital or the pricier baby gear) is to time the payments with meeting a minimum spending requirement on a new credit card. We did that with some of the expenses via a new rewards credit card or two, but that wasn’t all we did.
We also found this was the perfect way to utilize the $200 Visa gift cards and similar that we could purchase for 5x points at places like office supply stores or even Bed, Bath, and Beyond using some various rewards credit cards and their associated category bonuses at those types of stores. I don’t like to use gift cards for purchases where I might want some purchase protection type coverage down the line, but that sort of thing doesn’t really apply to paying for medical bills like these. Do keep in mind there is a fee for purchasing gift cards, so make sure you will be getting more than that amount in value from the points (which we easily will do).
Sure, the hospital thought we were a little nuts paying a chunk of the bill with gift cards, but that’s okay. I think it is a little nuts that we have to pay just shy of eleventy billion dollars for what will very hopefully be a totally normal birth, so at least this way we are earning as many miles and points as possible as we welcome our second traveler into the world.
Lord knows we are going to need them as a family of four travelers! With the estimated medical bills paid and the miles earned, now the final countdown for her arrival really begins…
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.