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Update: Some of the promotions discussed in this post are no longer available. Check out the list of current/active promotions and put them to work with the strategy discussed in this post.
Think you can't earn big points without huge spending? In these uncertain times, I'm looking for every opportunity to save or earn points. Not only that, but I'm looking to do it from the comfort of my home.
By taking advantage of multiple offers and stacking opportunities, I recently earned 9,700 points in one day purchasing items we needed or will use in the future.
Even better, I didn't need an arsenal of credit cards to pull this off. All of these purchases were placed on my American Express® Gold Card card. Although I earned just 1X on all purchases—except for grocery store purchases—Amex Offers turned these everyday expenses into points multipliers. Here's how I did it.
Earning Bonus Points Paying My Cable Bill
Normally I use the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card to cover cable/internet/cellular bills and earn 5% cashback (which I then convert into 5X Ultimate Rewards points). However, a new offer for 500 American Express Membership Rewards showed up in my Amex Gold account. While most Amex Offers are only available once, you can apply this offer up to four times.
Since my cable/internet bill has gotten out of control, I split the bill and paid it in two separate payments.
Out-of-Pocket Spend: $227
Total Earning: 1,227 Membership Rewards points (227 from 1X card earnings + 1,000 bonus)
Earning Bonus on Amazon Purchases
Seeing as the family needed new gear and we enjoy our Nikes, I looked to Amazon to stack offers. We took advantage of two separate offers. The first offer let us use 1 Membership Reward point to save $50 off Amazon purchases. I purchased $250 worth of Nike GCs for $200 and 1 Membership Reward point:
Like most others right now, we are purchasing more items at Amazon. I typically purchase Amazon gift cards at an office supply store to earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards. But why bother when you can do it from home with another Amex Offer? After adding 5X bonus to the base card earning, you can end up with either 6X/7X points depending on which card you've been targeted for.
Again, this offer was targeted on my Amex Gold card, but some have reported receiving it on the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express which earns 2x points on the first $50,000 of purchases each year (1X points on purchases after that)!
The best part is that we were able to use this offer to buy $200 in Amazon gift cards to use in the future.
Out-of-Pocket Spend: $400
Total Earning: 2,400 Membership Rewards points (400 from 1X card earnings + 2,000 bonus)
Earning Bonus Points on Giftcards
There are plenty of credit cards that earn bonus points on restaurant spend. Some of the cards earning the highest multiples in this category include the Citi Prestige® Card (5X ThankYou points), American Express® Gold Card (4X Membership Rewards points), Chase Sapphire Reserve® (3X Ultimate Rewards points), and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (4X Marriott points on purchases at restaurants worldwide).
However, sometimes gift cards are available for some of your favorite restaurant chains that can earn higher multiples. We love Buffalo Wild Wings, and there just happens to be an Amex Offer for Happy Cards.
Happy Cards can be redeemed at several retailers/chains in a specific category. I chose a Happy Dining Card which can be used at The Cheesecake Factory, Red Lobster, McCormick and Schmick's, Cracker Barrel, PF Chang's, or Buffalo Wild Wings! The Amex Offer gave me the option to purchase $100 or more and earn 1,500 bonus points. So, I purchased exactly $100. Now instead of earning 3X, 4X, or 5X, I'm earning 16X!
Out-of-Pocket Spend: $100
Total Earning: 1,600 Membership Rewards points (100 from 1X card earnings + 1,500 bonus)
Double-Dipping Using a Shopping Portal
When it was time to buy our gear from Nike, we knew better than to go straight to Nike's website. Instead, we bought the gift card to use with an increased portal payout through Rakuten for 12X/13X for purchases at Nike (12X on desktop/13X on mobile).
Even though the screenshot shows “Cash Back”, I was able to earn Amex Membership Rewards points instead. Early in 2019 Rakuten (formerly Ebates) changed the game when they started letting members earn American Express Membership Rewards points on purchases.
I applied my $250 in Nike gift cards toward the purchase. The total rang up to $351 after $26 in tax. Rakuten counts the purchase before tax, so I earned 12X points on $325 in purchases. I put the remaining $101 on my Amex Gold to earning 101 more points.
(Side note: I use a VPN and have run into issues collecting shopping portal points using mobile, so I gave up potentially earning 325 more points by using a desktop. However, I ensured that I'd earn those points without a fight, so I opted for less points in exchange for simplicity.)
If you haven't signed up yet for Rakuten, now is a great time to do so thanks to the limited-time increase in welcome and referral bonuses.
Out-of-Pocket Spend: $101
Total Earning: 4,001 Membership Rewards points (101 from 1X card earnings + 3,900 bonus)
Earning Bonus Points at Grocery Stores
Among the top credit cards for groceries, the Amex Gold card is cherished by many members of the Award Travel 101 community for earning 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
That earning rate can potentially be bested by Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card. Although the card earns 3X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1X), you can get 50% bonus points by making 30 transactions on the card in a statement period. If you meet that threshold, it supercharges the grocery store earning rate to 4.5X. But since I haven't placed 30 transactions on the Amex EveryDay Preferred this month, I opted for the Amex Gold card to maximize my earnings.
Out-of-Pocket Spend: $118
Total Earning: 472 Membership Rewards points (from 4X card earnings)
In total, I spent $946 out-of-pocket plus 1 Membership Rewards point to earn a total of 9,700 Membership Rewards points. And I still have $200 in Amazon gift cards towards future purchases.
Looking at the average, that's over 10X points per dollar spent out-of-pocket. Considering that my average redemption rate when using Membership Rewards is just over three cents per point, I see this as netting around $300 toward future travels.
Years ago, this spending would have been placed on my only credit card—which earned a measly 1% cashback for a return of $9.96 on $996 of spending. (After all, these purchases would have amounted to $996 had I not saved $50 by using 1 Membership Rewards point.) I've certainly missed out on opportunities in the past, but I love learning new ways to supplement my travel habits. What are some of the ways your habits have changed since you started in this hobby?
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