No matter if it’s planned or unplanned, no one likes being faced with a large bill that you need to pay. It could be something you know is coming, like your tax payment. You could also be planning some renovations that’ll cost a pretty penny. There are also unplanned expenses like car repairs or emergency medical bills. Needless to say, there is any number of these things that you’ll need to pay. One thing you want to happen is that they’ll accept a credit card for the amount due.
Hopefully, you’ll have enough money stashed away to pay these bills. You don’t want to carry a balance on your card and pay the interest charges. However, if you can put the charge on a card, you can earn a bunch of points and miles for these expenses, if you’re prepared.
Here are some of the ways you use large expenses to your advantage to maximize travel rewards.
The best way to take advantage of a large expense is by using it to meet a credit card sign up bonus. This is particularly true for cards with higher spending thresholds in the range of $5,000 to $10,000 in the first three months.
Obviously, the easiest way to make this work to your advantage is for those instances where you know the expense is coming. For example, if you’re going to renovate your kitchen and need to buy all new appliances. If you sign up for a new card in advance, you could possibly meet the spending and get the signup bonus just on those purchases.
This is a great way to pick up some extra miles you didn’t think you’d be able to earn or you could even sign up for a card you normally wouldn’t have if the requirement would normally be higher than you’re comfortable with.
Extra Spending Bonuses
Several cards offer an extra bonus if you spend over a certain amount on a card in a year. Here are some of the offers:
- World of Hyatt card – One free night certificate at a Category 1-4 hotel after $15,000 spend in your cardmember year
- Radisson Rewards card – Free night at any U.S. property after each $10,000 annual spend up to three free nights for spending over $30,000
- British Airways Visa – Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll earn a Travel Together companion ticket good for two years
- Aadvantage Aviator Red card – Earn $99 + tax domestic companion certificate with $20K membership year spend
- Hilton Honors Surpass card – Free weekend night after $15,000 spend in a calendar year and Diamond elite status with $40,000 calendar year spend
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card – Earn Gold status when you spend $35,000 each year
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card – Earn Platinum Elite status with $75,000 calendar year spend
- Delta American Express cards – Spend $25,000 across all Delta cards to get a waiver of the Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirement for up to Platinum status. $250,000 spending required to waive the requirement for Diamond status
You Could Always Call For A Retention Offer
OK, say you have a card with an annual fee that’s coming due. You can call the bank and say that you’re thinking of getting rid of the card (even if you really aren’t) so you can see if there are any retention offers available. You might just get an offer for some bonus miles or annual fee waiver if you spend a certain amount on the card.
Couldn’t hurt to try.
Maximize points for everyday spending
Maybe you didn’t know this expense was happening and you don’t have any cards where you’re meeting a minimum spending requirement or ones that give a bonus for reaching a spending threshold.
At least put the charge on a card that earns a decent return on everyday spending.
- The Citi Double Cash earns 2% cashback on all transactions
- The Fidelity Rewards Visa also earns 2% cashback
- The American Express Everyday Preferred earns 1.5 Membership Rewards per dollar if you make over 30 transactions per month
- The American Express Blue Business Plus earns 2 Membership Rewards per dollar on the first $60,000 spent on the card per year
- The Barclay Arrival+ earns 2x points on each dollar spent which can be redeemed to pay for travel expenses made to the card
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards for every dollar spent on the card
When dealing with small businesses, you’ll occasionally get told they’ll give you a discount if you pay with cash or check. This usually runs from 2-4%, which presumably is the fee they have to pay to the bank to process the charge transaction. Should you still pay with your card? If you’re getting a signup bonus, you bet you should. If you’re earning 50,000 points for spending $5,000 then you’re earning 10 points per dollar. Even if those points are only worth 1 cent each, you’re earning 3-5x more than you’re paying.
Now if you’re using the spending to reach an extra bonus or to pass a threshold for status, the value of that status might be worth the extra money. That depends on what you’re getting and how much it’s worth to you. If you’re only earning 1.5 to 3 points per dollar, Your Mileage May Vary as to if this is a good deal. If you are trying to build your AMEX or Chase point balances for a reward, the value of additional points will be more than the face value if these points are what you need for your reward. If you’re just adding to your balance, it might not be a good deal and saving money now might be the better choice.
Whatever the reason you need to make a big purchase, there’s not any reason you can’t try to earn the most amount of points for the transaction. Whether it’s by meeting a signup bonus, hitting a spending threshold, fulfilling a retention offer or just getting a good return for everyday spending, you should always maximize your return on your expenses. Even more so for large one-time purchases.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary