Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
I’ve been writing a bit more recently about actually using our miles and points rather than on how we are earning them. However, since our wallet strategies are always evolving, I thought I would run through the rewards credit cards are using the most right now, why we are using them, and how many points per dollar they are adding to our balances. I don’t always have the absolutely most rewarding card out there for every single type of purchase, but we are currently earning several miles and points per dollar for a great many of our expenses, so I’m pretty happy with our overall current strategy.
Getting Money Back on Holiday Shopping
A large portion of our holiday-related shopping has been done on one of our Citi cards, most often my Citi ThankYou Premier card, as I have become absolutely hooked on the Citi Price Rewind offerings. We have been getting a very nice amount of money spent on retail purchases back thanks to the Citi Price Rewind site as it (or I) find items that were purchased on a Citi card within the last 60 days on sale. Even Black Friday sales were eligible for price matching, so it has been a fun week to get money back on prior purchases.
The Chase Freedom is awarding 5x points per dollar this quarter (subject to registration and quarterly max) at department stores and Walmart.com, so I have used it for some of those purchases when I don’t anticipate needing to use the price protection benefit. That card does offer price protection benefits, but it isn’t nearly as simple to use as the Citi Price Rewind website, so even for some department store purchases that could be earning 5x, I am passing on the extra points from the Freedom in favor of the 1x from the Citi ThankYou Premier. For me, saving money > earning extra points 99 times out of a 100.
We are also keeping a close eye on the Amex Offers from our various American Express cards as some of those offers have been putting money back in our pockets.
Earning Bonuses on Everyday Spending
My usual go-to cards for everyday non-bonused spending are the United Club Card or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card. I like the United Club card because it awards me 1.5x United miles per dollar spent and I like the SPG Amex because I value the points it earns higher than any other type of point, so even at 1x points per dollar, it is giving us more than two cents in value per dollar spent.
However, I have recently added my AAdvantage Aviator Red Barclaycard to the everyday spending mix because of a targeted promotion I was sent that awards 3x bonus miles for every $1 spent, up to 10,000 bonus miles. That means that card is awarding me 4x AAdvantage miles per dollar on everyday charges instead of the regular 1x.
Josh is putting his United MileagePlus Card to regular use for smaller transactions as he was given a fantastic targeted offer that will award him 7,500 bonus United miles for making 30 purchases of any amount on the card between October 1 – December 31, 2018.
Meeting Minimum Spending Requirements
My husband got the Delta Gold Amex before the temporarily increased bonus for that card ended a little while back, so he is putting some of his spending on that card right now so that he can earn the (now expired) 60,000 mile sign-up bonus with a cumulative $3,000 in spending. Now that I think of it, we need to be sure he has a Delta charge soon to earn the $50 statement credit.
Earning 3x on Travel and Dining Out
The Chase Sapphire Reserve still reigns supreme at my house when it comes to booking travel and eating out since it awards 3x Ultimate Reward points per dollar spent in those categories and has solid built-in travel protection benefits. I’m very excited we will have access to our 2018 Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credits in the very near future.
Earning 3x on Gas
My Citi ThankYou Premier Card awards 3x points on gas purchases, so that card is at the top of my wallet when we fill up the cars. I’ve become more and more a fan of Citi ThankYou points in recent months with the addition of transfer partners such as LifeMiles that can be used to fly United and other Star Alliance partners at very solid award rates.
10x Points at Walmart
While I haven’t made any Walmart purchases recently, I do have some planned before the holidays are over, and I intend to use one of my Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for those charges as they will award a total of 10x points, up to $325 per eligible card, for Walmart.com purchases made using Chase Pay from 11/15/2017 – 12/14/2017.
5x on Gift Cards, Autopay Bills, and More
While it is no longer the new kid on the block, I still use the Ink Plus card for several of our autopay monthly bills such as cell phone, internet, and satellite TV charges since it awards 5x points per dollar in those categories, up to a certain yearly max.
I also use my Ink Plus at office supply stores like Staples.com or in our local Office Depot to get gift cards to places like Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Amazon.com so that I can essentially earn 5x points per dollar at those retailers, again up to a certain yearly max.
Gone are the days where earning 1x mile per dollar makes sense most of the time. If you find that you are often using a credit card that is awarding just one mile or point per dollar spent, then it is probably time for a wallet upgrade. At that rate, you would likely do better with a flat 2% cash back credit card, but if you are willing to use a little more strategy you can rack up 3x, 4x, 5x, or even 10x miles or points per dollar on many charges just like my family is doing with our various rewards credit cards.
I’d love to hear about your current credit card strategy!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.