Pre Trip Report or How I Embraced Credit Card Rewards and Learned to Love Them

I’ve run out of cards to churn. I’ve been at it since 2005 and went gangbusters the last two years.

Yes, this time we waited until the next day (I also had to temporarily unfreeze her credit reports before applying.)
In the past, I once called to cancel my card, hung up the phone, opened a new browser tab and applied for a new card with her referral.

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Unless they’ve changed it recently (I don’t think they have) the $100 referral comes on a rewards card.
I liked the old days when the sign on bonus came via rewards too, instead of the current statement credit. But, we just use Disney math and mentally apply that credit to a trip later. :wink:

That’s too bad.
I believe the Barclay card I used above allows you to get the sign on multiple times if you haven’t tried it, or it had been awhile…

Just churned Barclays for airfare in May and DH wasn’t approved six months ago. I should look it up again. :+1:

Do you mean the arrival+? Haven’t they stopped offering it?

Argh, did they? I meant to get another one this year but kept putting it off. :frowning:

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Me too! My mom and I got one, but when we were ready to get one for my husband they were gone :sob:

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I love that card because I can actually use it towards staying onsite. Do you know of any others?

I don’t, have to get back on my research. My original plan for a trip this year was to swap out both my wife and my Disney Visa, then get us both Barclaycard Arrivals again, followed by a pair of Chase Sapphires and maybe an Ink for me (to try to combine those Chase points together.)

We ended up just doing a short mostly resort stay, so I pushed off of all of that until now, hoping for a full trip net year.

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I’ve exhausted Sapphire, Capital One, and Barclay this year.

I usually visit the points guy to stay on top of them.

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I believe Sapphire you can only use to book with partner hotels, but what about Capital One? Does it work like Barclays or Chase?

My notes here say I redeemed my Chase Sapphire for Lowe’s gift cards, my Citi Premier for Carnival Cruise line gift cards, my Capital One Savor toward my rental house, the Barclay for airfare, and the other Citi Premier I didn’t write down! Probably more Carnival Cruise based on the dates.

Obviously the Lowes wasn’t toward a trip, but it put fake hard wood in my DDs’ bedroom. :wink:


Yes! The chase Sapphire Reserve is a much more lucrative card than the Disney Visa.

Sign up bonus was 100,000 points when I signed up, but it’s still 50,000 points now, which equates to at least $750 in value (possibly more if transferred to and used wisely through Southwest or United for flights).

(It does have a high annual fee ($450) but is immediately offset by $300 travel credit, so for an effective $150 you get $750 in sign up bonus!) Plus, I put all my out of pocket Disney expenses on this card, earning 3 ultimate rewards per dollar. I always redeem my Ultimate rewards points for flights, where each point is worth at 1.5 cents through Chase’s travel portal. Often times, you can get even more value out of each point by transferring to a partner airline, where you can get 2 cents or more in value out of each point. That means I effectively earn at least 4.5 cents back per dollar spent! IMO, it’s a much better return than putting the spend on the Disney Visa.

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Certainly true.

But I do like to point out that getting $300 in return on a $500 spend with the Disney Visa is a quick high return and no harm done holding it with no annual fee just in case a discount or in-park perk works for you.

We’ve used some other cards for our main rewards generators over time. Since we haven’t flown, high fee cards like Reserve haven’t worked for use mathematically, but I have them in my checklist for to try out when we have a big trip planned. Hoping to take the kids to visit cousins in Prague and around Ireland one of these days, that’ll surely do it! :wink:


Having the Reserve is a part of the strategy that I’ve used. The usefulness of it really comes when you pair it with the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards.

Both of those have $0 annual fee and come with a $200 signup bonus (or 20,000 points). If you have the Reserve, you can transfer those points to your Ultimate Rewards account, where they’re actually worth $300 in airfare. So, if you sign up for both Freedom cards on top of the Reserve, that’s another $600 in bonuses for no annual fee.

My real strategy is to put all my spend on one of these three cards (Reserve, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited).

  • Reserve earns 3 points per dollar on Travel and Dining (for 4.5% return when valuing each point at 1.5 cents)
  • Freedom earns 5 points per dollar on rotating categories (for whopping 7.5% return). Sometimes the category is wholesale clubs, like BJ’s which often already sells Disney cards at 8% off. When the stars align, and I’m earning 5 points per dollar plus 8% off, I stock up big time!
  • Freedom unlimited earns 1.5 points on all transactions (for 2.25% return). I’ll put all my non-bonus category spending on here.

The trick is, you need a Sapphire card (Reserve or Preferred) to have access to the Ultimate Rewards program. That’s the main reason to have this card as part of this trio of cards strategy for me.

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Great info, thanks!

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It sounds like such a great card (Sapphire), and we do have the Freedom and whatever the middle category is, but I can’t justify it until they start offering more direct Disney deals again. We have hundreds of thousands of air miles (my dad traveled internationally for work and really racked them up) so it doesn’t offer us benefit there. Yes, we can use the Chase points for a rental car, but that’s not enough to justify the higher priced card at this point. If they bring back the ability to get Disney tickets again, I’m all over it.


I’m impressed with the level of work you all have your cards doing for you! I typically get my money and move on. We rarely fly, and I prefer rental houses to hotels. I do much better just getting statement credits.

WTG @JJT @terp05 @kerrilux


Super quick update to say the Chase Disney Rewards tactics still working as usual in 2021.

This year was the first time I did a cancel/reapply and got the Premier card - the $300 bonus, $100 referral (using my wife’s card link), and 2x rewards opportunities for the Premier easily made the $49 annual fee and extra spend requirement worth it. At the end of the year I’ll just likely call in and ask to be downgraded to the regular card before next year’s fee kicks in.

I don’t know about you, but these days a $1,000 spend over 3 months is chicken feed for us.
(Thanks 2007 Honda Pilot timing belt and radiator!)

Between the rewards we racked up over the last year on my wife’s old Disney Visa, plus the referral and bonus, we done good.

For reference, still is the case that the $100 referral shows up as redeemable rewards on the referrer’s Rewards account, the $300 is a statement credit that automagically applies to the new cardholder account once you hit the spend.

We recently cashed out my wife’s rewards for our upcoming trip (woohoo!) and in the next month we’ll be cancelling my wife’s card and using the refer/reapply technique for her and get us another $400 to start working on next year’s possible trip. :slight_smile: