Earning 5x Miles on the Birth of Our Second Baby

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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). 

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Little C and me 5 years ago

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). 

$200 gift card = 1,000 points

$200 gift card = 1,000 points

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…

 

 

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Comments

  1. More than this article, I want you to know that I appreciated the link to what your daughter went through. My son spent 4 1/2 months in the NICU due to prematurity (born at 27 weeks). The NICU is a very scary place, and you see things there that will haunt you until the day you die. It’s always nice to see someone who can really appreciate the intensity of such an event. Best of luck to you and your family – and keep up the great work on your blog. 🙂

    • Steven, thanks and very big hugs to you guys for going through the roller coaster that must have accompanied a birth at 27 weeks. The NICU is a very intense place that I hope we don’t have to visit again…though of course I’m thankful it is there just in case. While we were lucky that our stay was brief and with a good ending, that whole experience was not the way I would have scripted our entry into parenthood, and likely a very big reason why we weren’t ready to go back down this road for 5 years. Fingers crossed we have a much more boring tale to tell this time around.

  2. Did you literally pay the hospital with tons of $200 Visa GCs? Why not load them to Bluebird/Serve/Redcard and then pay with that card?

  3. why would you need to prepay a delivery? what do you think the hospital would do if you showed up in labor?

    not medical advice

      • If you have a big hospital/medical bill for giving birth, it is nice that they give you the option of spreading out the payments. I would not want to be surprised by a big bill. “Congratulations on your new child! And here is your bill.”

  4. Many blessings on your new arrival!! I LOVE that ya’ll paid the hospital with gift cards. 🙂

    I also had a traumatic start with my first born (preeclampsia at 34 weeks and I almost had a stroke during delivery) And if I hadn’t accidentally gotten pregnant 6 months later (surprise! Baby brother!) I know it would have been very hard to purposefully try again for another. I’ll pray that this time around it’s smooth sailings for you all!!

  5. Glad you were able to get so many bonus points paying for the birth! It killed me that we were unable to pay any of it with credit card for our sons birth in April. I had to pay the whole thing in cash – painful, from a points perspective. 🙂 but thankful that everything had gone smoothly with the birth.

  6. Wow, great post! I never thought about that and have been incurring a lot of medical expenses. I might have to try that out, thanks!

  7. Ugh, I’m so thankful I live in a country (Taiwan) with national health care, where I was able to give birth at the provider of my choice for less than US$400 out of pocket. Co-pays for my prenatal checkups were $5-8 a visit (specific checkups get an extra subsidy).

    Glad you are making the most of it, though!

  8. Thank you, Summer, for this very clear post. We’ve just started grappling with the same kinds of questions, and your insight is very helpful. Just yesterday, I bought $400 VCGs at Staples to get the $20 rebate, and these VGCs could be used for prenatal expenses. I planned to see if I could load to Redbird, but you’re right: why add the extra step? A few reasons to pay with Redbird, though: you avoid awkwardness of using multiple gift cards especially when they have low balances, and if your doctor accepts CCs you can double-dip for even more points. Wishing you all the best, Summer!

  9. “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).”
    Summer, I too have some non bonus medical expenses. I have the Ink, and Freedom with their 5x bonus spend. Other than purchasing the gc’s at a Staples or Gas Station is there another strategy you would use? Just wanting to make the most out of the spend.

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