It’s now the second half of 2019. Besides being a good time to look at how we’re doing on our New Year’s Resolutions (I’ve joined a gym but I’m not going as much as I’d like), it’s as good of a time as any to look at our points and miles situation.
Some bloggers are looking at their progression on qualifying for status with airlines or hotels (Ben from One Mile at a Time wrote about his progression, and congrats to him for figuring out it doesn’t pay to be loyal). Since I couldn’t care less how many nights I’ve stayed at a hotel chain or how many miles I’ve flown with an airline, what can I look at?
After sign up bonuses for credit cards, ongoing spend is the next most important way I accumulate points and miles. Looking into where I’m putting that spend and if it fits the plan I have for our points earning is a smart thing to do.
Thanks to Quicken and some scrap paper, here’s a breakdown of our spending for the first six months of 2019.
1. American Express Everyday Preferred (19%)
It’s no surprise to me that the AMEX Everyday Preferred took the top spot for our spending. For part of the year, it was the card holding the top spot in Sharon’s wallet. It’s also the card I try to use for all of our grocery store spending until we max out the 3x points bonus on the first $6,000. Since we get a 50% bonus points for every month we hit 30 transactions, I used this card to pay our and my dad’s taxes and made sure we got the 50% bonus that statement period. Earning 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar for that expense was worth the fee we had to pay for using a credit card.
American Express must be loving us. The Bonvoy Brilliant card took second place for the first part of 2019, mainly because we needed to reach the $5,000 spending requirement to get the 100,000 point bonus for upgrading our card. I didn’t take the card out of Sharon’s wallet fast enough once we hit the threshold so we spent a little more than I would have liked on the card, but 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are worth it.
3. World of Hyatt Visa by Chase (16%)
The World of Hyatt card is up towards the top of the spending list is because I was still trying to reach the minimum spend to reach the $6,000 requirement to get the full sign up bonus. I’m still using the card and might actually hit the $15,000 spend required to get an additional free night at a category 1-4 hotel. That will totally depend on how many other new cards I sign up for this year.
4. Citi Prestige (15%)
The Citi Prestige makes the list because of the great return it gets on dining expenses (5x), the coverage it gives for theater tickets and the great travel coverage it provides. However, most of those coverages are going away in September and I imagine most of my spending will be leaving this card as well at that point.
5. Barclaycard Arrival+ (8%)
Part of my spending on the Arrival+ in 2019 was to meet the $5,000 spending requirement to get the sign-up bonus. Since then, the card has been where we are putting our non-bonused spending as we can earn 2% back when redeeming the points for travel expenses. I’ve used the points for a free night in Fort Lauderdale and for an overpriced flight to New York.
6. Ink Cash (4%)
I put our monthly charges for cable and internet along with our Sirius XM and Spotify subscriptions on the Ink Cash to earn 5% back. This is a truly George Foreman Grill way to earn miles. Set it and forget it.
7. Chase Sapphire Reserve (3.6%)
For a card that I love as much as the Sapphire Reserve, I was really surprised to see that it’s as low as it is on the list. But when I think about it, it’s not that shocking. Up until now, the Citi Prestige was a better card to use at restaurants earning 5x Thank You points. The Sapphire Reserve was only good for rental cars and when I was paying for meals and Sharon wasn’t there. I can see this card’s wallet share going up once the Citi Prestige is no longer the go-to card for travel expenses after all the insurance coverages go away.
8. Ink Preferred (2.5%)
I use the Ink Preferred to pay for our cell phone bill because of its excellent insurance coverage. I could earn more points with the Ink Cash but I value the coverage more than the points. It’s also the card I use to pay some of the expenses for YMMY since I can earn 3x points on advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
9. Other (15%)
The rest of our spending was spread out over all of our other cards. That spending was used to meet some AMEX offers, targeted bonus offers, quarterly bonus categories and to get additional points for specific categories like toll expenses and theme park tickets.
Looking at our spending traits for six months makes it easier to see that the majority of our spending is to meet minimum spending requirements for new card sign up bonuses. After that, the rest of the spending is for non-bonused categories or recurring spending that I’m already maximizing earning on.
For the rest of the discretionary spending on travel or dining, that’s really a small percent of the spending we make. For all the worries I have about whether to use the Citi Prestige, Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred, it’s small change to what we spend on groceries, utilities and gas every month.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary