Most of my family’s miles and points come from sign-up bonuses from new credit cards (see this post for more details). However, paying attention to which card to use on big purchases also pays off with some sizable chunks of miles and points.
The big purchase
My family is going on a Disney Cruise over spring break. Our window to book excursions and onboard activities is coming up this week. So, it’s time to pay off our cruise so that we can start booking activities.
We have the remaining cruise balance (~$4000) in a savings account. The plan is to pay off the cruise on a credit card, and then take the money from savings to pay off the credit card.
Maximizing miles and points
I know a lot of families have one credit card, the one they’ve always used. They gradually accumulate miles, earning 1X miles/points on most purchases. But, using that same credit card for spending might not be the best way to accumulate more miles and points.
For example, if my only credit card was the Citi AAdvantage card that earns American Airlines miles, this purchase of $4000 would earn 4000 miles. It’s nothing earth-shattering, and I can’t book a flight with 4000 miles. But at least I’m earning miles and points on spending that I can afford to pay off every month.
However, this is when it pays to have multiple credit cards with different earning structures.
Normally, we use my husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve card for travel expenses since it earns 3X points on travel. So, this purchase would give us 12,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s enough to transfer to Southwest Airlines for a flight or transfer to Hyatt for a free hotel night. Woohoo! (Chase Sapphire Reserve currently has an 80k bonus ending soon–see this post).
But, we can do better! I own the small business Chase Ink card. This card earns 5X points at office supply stores. Office Depot and Staples both carry Disney gift cards. So, this weekend, I headed to both stores. Through multiple transactions, I was able to purchase enough gift cards to pay off the cruise.
By using my Chase Ink card, I earned 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s enough for one night at Andaz Costa Rica resort! (Chase Ink Business Cash currently has a 90k bonus–see this post for more info!)
My family travels several times a year thanks to miles and points from credit cards. Taking a few moments before big purchases to use the best credit card can be very rewarding.
See my Travel Hacking 101 post as well as current credit card offers here.