While you can get boosts to your points and miles balances through sign up bonuses, we get a significant portion of our balances through everyday spending. Earning miles while buying groceries or gasoline is not most exciting part of this game but it is important to try and get the most out of your purchases. Paying attention to little things like this will help you build up with a nice stash of miles.
American Express Everyday Preferred
We use the American Express Everyday Preferred to build our balance of Membership Rewards points (Membership Rewards is the name for the flexible reward points earned with American Express cards). There are 14 different airline and hotel programs to which you can transfer Membership Rewards points. Knowing what you can do with your points is important to get the most value from them. A very good description of the ways to use Membership Rewards points can be found at Travel Codex’s website, here.
I collect Membership Rewards because I find them to be very versatile. For example, for one of our trips, we transferred Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan (Air Canada’s program, which partners with United Airlines) and booked flights on United to New Jersey for Sharon’s birthday. Now, United doesn’t partner with American Express but there are many ways to use miles creatively, like we did using Aeroplan, if you are familiar with the different program partners.
I love this card because it gives a great return on most of our regular spending categories. It earns 3x points on supermarket spending (up to $6,000 each year) as well as 2x points on gas stations. It also rewards you for using it for “everyday” purchases. So if you use the card 30 or more times per billing period, you get a 50% points bonus on all points earned (that’s on both regular spending and the bonuses!). So at the end of the day, if you meet the 30 transaction threshold you will earn 1.5x points for all purchases, 3x points at gas stations, and 4.5x points for supermarket purchases.
Some things to remember about the bonus categories are that big box places like Target or Walmart don’t count as supermarkets and Warehouse Clubs like Sam’s Club and BJ’s don’t count for supermarket OR fuel purchases. Purchases made outside the U.S. also don’t count for the bonus categories. If you use this card internationally you will pay an international fee, so it’s best to leave this card home when traveling outside the U.S.
This card doesn’t have a huge sign up bonus. You can get 20,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of having the card. There is also a $95 annual fee, that is not waived. As I mentioned above, we do have this card so American Express will give us 10,000 points referral bonus if you sign up with our link.
Since Sharon will not take the time to remember which card to use for each category and she will not allow me to leave sticky notes on the cards in her wallet, I gladly give her this card for all her purchases. She does most of the supermarket shopping for the house so we are earning a bunch of points from that category. By using this card for her other everyday purchases, along with our other monthly subscription charges (i.e. Spotify, newspapers, etc.) it helps us meet the 30 transactions we need so we can earn.1.5x on everything we buy.
So big sign up bonuses are nice and give you a quick thrill but slow and steady earning without any extra effort is nice too.
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