Credit Card Rewards & Points General Thread

This summer I decided to finally take the credit card rewards and points game seriously, so have been learnin’ up on all sorts of credit, travel, and other tactics.

I thought it might be time to start posting some info I’ve found useful.

Way back in 2017 I wrote in excruciating detail about some Disney Visa and Barclay Arrival tactics I was using for a trip back then.

I did very well: I turned what should have been a $3700 WDW trip into about $1,000 out of pocket.

But since then, I only kind of sort of half-assed using rewards.
This year I started working towards the full-ass.

By the Spring, we had about 7,000 Amex Rewards from general spend on my wife’s ancient Amex gold card from circa 1998. That, it turns out, had TERRIBLE rewards.

So, I ramped up things using tactics from commute time binge listening to the Frequent Miler podcasts all the way back to episode 1. Also read through many of the usual sources: The Points Guy, Doctor of Credit, Danny the Deal Guru et al.

By the time we get to early January, I expect to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 760K points in a couple of different programs, plus a Southwest Companion Pass. And about $700 in Disney Rewards. (That last one is over time and not accelerated this year.)
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We’ve already taken advantage of some nice travel perks using my Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Preferred, including a stay at The Lodge at Spruce Peak which, after taking into account annual travel credits, dining credits et al cost us about $100 for what should have been a $600 stay.
(And I’m not including the value of the suite upgrade we received to an upper mountain view with fireplace and balcony, or late check out time.)

My ̶e̶v̶i̶l̶ grand plan is to put together enough points for us to be able to take more quick aspirational domestic trips, as well as larger ones back to WDW. Also, I hope to take some even larger ones over to Ireland and Czech Republic to visit the old family towns and cousins I haven’t seen in a long time.

I’ll add some updates below… but first… visit the second post below for NEW SPREADSHEET TIME.

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I’ve been hustling the sign-up bonuses in 2022. I’ve gotten $1500 in sign-up cash back. I’m still using the Disney Visa as my main card. However, once I use the points balance from there I am considering moving over to an airline card for more flexibility.

(I do wish Universal still did a partnership with AMEX! I really wanted that buy your AP with AMEX save $50)

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In addition to my slacking on earning credit card rewards over the years, I also learned that I was leaving some money on the table when using my cards.

Have you ever looked at the offers on your Amex and Chase (or other) cards? There are a LOT of them -

Most credit card-linked deals fall way outside what I would actually spend money on.
I have little use for BUXOM cosmetics, Floof delivery and…

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Well, the deals that I do find enticing are ones that I would already normally spend money on - Im sure not looking to spend money to save money. But, there are enough of those and I have enough different credit cards that it has become a little difficult to keep track.

Was that Exxon spend $30 get $5 back on my Disney Visa or my Ink Cash?

So, I created a relatively simple Google Sheet to keep track of the deals I want to remember and where I can also mark them as used etc. Now I can just call that sheet up on my phone when I’m at the gas station, grocery, or Floof HQ and see which card I need to use.

In another sheet I’ve kept track of the cash back deals I have used since June- and I’ve earned over $120 so far! Not too bad for a little extra effort.

So, if you act now - you too can have a spreadsheet card-linked tracker spreadsheet.
I’ve shared the basic template with some sample data right here.

It is protected, so you can’t make changes to the template - BUT all you have to do is open it, click on File…Copy and then make a copy in your own Google Drive. Then you can use it as you wish. :slight_smile:

Below is a quick how-to on using the sheet.

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Cool!

As I get time I’m going to share some more specific tactics and cards I used.
In general, experts say the best play (for travel rewards use especially) is to earn in transferable currencies like Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

I found the free 10x Travel Course was an exellent primer on many of the tactics and thought processes. They also have a good “best cards” list to use as reference.

(Note for others reading this in the future: ALL of those travel bloggers and sites use affiliate links and make money off of people applying for cards using them. But 10x and Frequent Miler etc seem to me to do it right: they tell people to use referrals from their own friends and family or find the best public links - but use their affiliate links if possible to support their efforts. Seems fair.)

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Good for you! I was a master churner for years, but took a few years off (because they were all on to me…)

In 2016 I had over $2500 in free credit card rewards and that was the WDW trip where we ate like kings with ADRs for most every meal -which was NOT our norm. (We are normally lunch-packers).

We are currently doing some mild churning for household items (yawn-ish).

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Ahh great plans! I do this too. DH and I both have Chase cards and use the points for hotels and Southwest points for flights. I also transfer Chase to Southwest/Marriott etc as needed or use the portal. I was able to get a 100 point bonus when I signed up for my Chase card. I also have a Southwest card if that wasn’t clear.

DH is self employed so we charge a lot for that plus all of our utilities and other bills if possible and pay off every month. I/we currently have enough points for the trip to Italy that I’m planning (hotels plus flights) and we’d just need to pay for food and incidentals. Our (sadly cancelled) 2020 Hawaii trip was also on points except for a DVC stay that we lost. Thankfully we got the points returned to our account.

I used Chase/Marriott points for a Dolphin stay and we’ve used them for UOR stays as well.

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Oooh, Italy. :orange_heart:

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DD25 may be there (Rome) for an extended time this spring/summer so I’m hoping it’s the nudge we need to finally get there! We would also visit other locations there besides Rome depending on how much time we can take.

Frankly, though I, like you have lots of big-trip overseas dreams as well as domestic travel. :star_struck:
If only I had won that big Powerball lol. Instead, I use cc churning.

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I also have my eye in the other direction on the Hyatt Andaz Maui resort. I’m going to try ramping up the Chase UR to cover a suite there in 2024.

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That sounds wonderful! I’m tentatively planning for a re-do of our Hawaii trip in 2025 for our 30th anniversary. Probably will not do Aulani, but instead a few days on Oahu on points for DH to see Pearl Harbor and off to Maui (Westin Maui on Marriott Bonvoy points.)

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Ah, credit card signup bonuses. Those were the days… I’m semi-retired from the game, but I did just get an Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred Mastercard w/30k bonus points, issued by First National of Omaha. Not nearly as good as the 80k when BoA was issuing them, but still worth $600 to me @2+ cents/point, bc I like Amtrak sleeper car travel.

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Nice! I’d love to do a cross country train trip one of these days.

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Chase has some nice new card designs!

Love this one:

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There’s a really neat Maleficent one too, as well as a 100 Mickey and Minnie one. I would paste those if my machine would cooperate.

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Ooh, I didn’t see that one you pasted - my wife would like that.
I’m thinking of getting that 100 Mickey & Minnie one myself. :slight_smile:

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Mine expires this year. I may go ahead and change mine. However, I love my Sorcerer Mickey card!

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