How to Maximize Points Earnings on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Terrific Tuesday, etc…

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow and that can mean only eight things: parades, football, turkey, family, giving thanks, having a belly ache, taking a nap, and shopping.  I very much love all of those things, but since this is a miles and points blog, I will focus on the last one.  Specifically, how to make sure you are earning as many points as possible while taking advantage of all the great sales that will be going on this week.  I know I am ready to do some serious shopping and simultaneously some serious point earning.  In fact, I already started by taking advantage of the 20x Ultimate Rewards points deal yesterday!

Here are some more tips to make sure you are getting the most out of purchases you were going to make anyway:

  • Use a good miles or points earning credit card.  This is a very basic, but it is essential.  Make sure you are not only using a miles or points earning credit card, but that you are using the best one possible.  I saw a huge sign in the mall today reminding me that the Chase Freedom® Visa is awarding 5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points if you also have a Chase Sapphire® Preferred Card or Ink Bold(SM) with Ultimate Rewards to link it with) at department stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and/or for charitable donations through December 31st.  This is valid on the first $1,500 in those categories, so that card is a great choice for those types of purchases if you happen to have it.  If you don’t have that card, I would use the card on which you are working toward meeting a minimum spending requirement, if applicable.  Otherwise, just use the card that provides the most valuable points for you.  If you don’t have a miles and points card you are happy with, I would recommend one of the above mentioned ones or check out my Top 5 Family Credit Card deals.  If you apply now, you will still have plenty of time to use it for holiday shopping this year. 

  • Stay away from the crowds and shop online whenever possible so that you can go through shopping portals to score the maximum number of points possible.  There are some “door buster” deals that are only available in the store, but unless you plan on camping out, you probably won’t get in on most of those in-store only deals anyway.  I will be heading to a Premium Outlet Mall at 12AM tomorrow to get some outlet mall priced killer deals on Cole Haan shoes, Joe’s Jeans, and other items that are normally outside of my budget, but the rest of my toy, clothing, and electronic shopping will be done online through portals.  Remember that Best Buy is offering 10x points online on Black Friday.  My parents are hoping to get a $1000 TV from Best Buy on that day which will net them over 11,000 Ultimate Reward points.
  • While we are on the topic of Ultimate Rewards, try to plan purchases for retailers that are offering one-day point bonuses on the day the bonus is being offered.  You can get a schedule of the November Ultimate Reward bonus points dates here.  To give you a head start, Toys R Us is offering 10x points through the UR portal on Thanksgiving Day!!
  • Remember to take advantage of Small Business Saturday this coming Saturday.  You must first register all of your American Express cards – remember to register each authorized user card as well. You then can shop at a local small business on Saturday and receive a $25 credit on each registered Amex card for purchases of $25 and up.  We plan to buy $25 gift cards on each card at a local restaurant to use towards catering for Little C’s upcoming birthday party.  Because her b-day is right before Christmas and I am not cooking for both events!  I will be using my Platinum Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Card , and Citibank American Express cards. Counting the authorized users, I have seven registered Amex cards. That is $175 in free money!  What makes that even sweeter is that the restaurant participates in the United Dining program, so I will also be earning 5 miles per dollar from the dining program for those purchases!  Talk about a deal on top of a deal.  Read more about Small Business Saturday here.
  • Keep an eye on your incoming emails.  I am sure you are already getting bombarded with emails from your favorite (and not so favorite) retailers talking about sales.  Read them!  You may find a great coupon code or discount that can help you bring a great price down even lower.  Sometimes you must choose between a great coupon and going through a shopping portal.  Make sure to weigh the value of each carefully and then do what makes the most sense in your situation.  You can always try to apply coupon codes through shopping portals, but some retailers don’t award points if you use coupon codes (at least according to the terms and conditions).
  • Don’t forget about travel deals.  Airlines, hotels, and other travel-related businesses like to get in on the shopping epidemic that takes over this week, so keep an eye on blogs, message boards, and your email account for travel deals as well.  Deals We Like has already started compiling some of this week’s great travel deals.
  • Always check Amazon.  Last year I scored some amazing deals from during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday week.  No taxes and free shipping made them the best all around deals for many items I wanted last year.  If you do shop Amazon, remember to use the Hawaiian Airlines shopping portal since they are the only one left that awards miles for shopping online at Amazon.
  • Be creative when deciding where to purchase gift cards.  One idea is your grocery store.  If you have the American Express(R) Premier Rewards Gold Card you will earn 2x points at grocery stores, so you are effectively earning double points on those gift cards.  My local grocery store is also awarding 4x fuel points for gift card purchases, so that is another double win!  Another idea is to purchase Sears gift card at 6x points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.  If you can wait until 12/9, there will be a one-day 10x points at Sears via the UR portal.  You can reportedly then use those gift cards at Kmart (they are owned by the same people) to purchase gift cards for other stores such as restaurants, gas stations, hotels, Southwest Airlines, etc….  You can learn even more about Sears gift cards from the Frequent Miler.
  • Have fun.  Deal hunting, like point hunting, really can be fun.  If you find what you decide is a great deal, snag it and don’t look back.  (unless of course there is a price-match clause at your retailer of choice, in which case continue to price match!)

In addition to sticking to my set shopping budget, those are the main guidelines I am going to follow this week.  Do you have any ideas that I missed?  If so, please share them!

Here is Little C having a blast at the mall carousel today while I did some pre-Black Friday scouting (yep, I’m that crazy).  There is something at the mall for everyone!

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  1. Are you sure the registered users on Amex cards get the $25 credit for Small Business Saturday? They are all one account, right?

    Tried that last year, and the one main account was charged $25.00 twice for two separate $25.00 purchases with only 1 $25.00 credit applied . . . .

  2. Your blog was so good before you got “known” in this small travel blog universe, but now I find many of the posts to be annoying. It feels like it’s less strong content and more fluff.

  3. What merchant category code do the online merchants use? For example, is a Macy’s purchase via UR coded as a Department Store when using my Freedom Card?

  4. Erik…I wondered the same thing, but I have an email from Amex verifying that each authorized user is their separate card, so they will get the $25 credit if they use their card. I’m in the same boat as Mommy…$175 to use…gonna be finding some gas stations to fill cars up with gas and eat some good food at mom and pop places.

  5. @Mark, that was the case until about a week ago. Sadly, Gary is correct that there is a new company running the mileage mall and they do not have a relationship with Amazon.

    @Gary, thanks!

    @Erik, based on what I have read for this year and the experience from others last year that is the case. The only exception would be for cards like the Citi Amex where there isn’t a separate account for authorized users, but “real” Amex accounts have separate numbers on each card and those should each work (if registered).

    @Frank, sorry to hear some recent posts haven’t been as helpful for you as older posts. I have always written about what seems relevant for points and miles collecting families, but I’m sure not every post will ever be relevant for everyone. Feel free to shoot me an email at if you want to share some topics you would like to see more/less of. Thanks!

    @Carl, I don’t yet have a freedom card, so I can’t tell you with 100% certainty, but it certainly should be coded that way in my opinion. Maybe someone else can weigh in with their experience with that!

    @Ryan, thanks for sharing that info!

  6. Mommypoints, I think you’ve really stepped it up in the last 2 months with some useful blog posts. Keep up the good work and happy thanksgiving!

  7. So, authorised users are different to additional card holders (on AMEX accounts)? For example, my wife is an additional card holder on my AMEX PRG account – if she uses her PRG (linked to my account), will my account also receive a $25 statement credit for her $25 purchase?

    This is potentially lucrative as I have 5 additional card holders on each of my AMEX Plat & AMEX PRG accounts.

  8. I am not too sharp on these daily bonuses I bought a pair of shoes at one day after the 20 points per dollar spent.

    I was able to snatch a Acer Iconia A100 at Best Buy for $189 but forgot to even link it to the Chase Site. I was worry it would be gone soon….which it was shortly after I bought it.

    Nothing at bestbuy for me to buy for the daily bonus.

  9. @HikerT, GoodGuy, and Bluto, thanks so much for your support.

    @Simon, my understanding is that each additional user/cardholder (ie has a physical card with their name and a unique number on the card) is eligible if you register each card.

    @Sil, oh no! Glad to hear you got your $189 Acer before they sold out though!

  10. When making your restaurant gift card purchases…and using your amex small business sat credit…

    A…make sure they are on your rewards network lists
    B…If you don’t have a reward network card..the 25$ will help you get the initial post for all the different programs
    C…try to find a restaurant which will give you a bonus certificate with your buy 25 get 5$ bonus card

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