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Kitces on Credit Card Rewards

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  • #16
    Originally posted by bovie View Post

    We definitely play the points game around my house, but the best I can get my wife to do is "use the pink AmEx for everything."
    That's our default card for ladies . We eat out a lot. Gold card does wonders for travel

    Yes, our best experience with bonus hotel was at Hawaii. Hilton certs at wailea and got upgraded to presidential suite for four nights all on points and certs. That was insane. Flew on bonus points and added three nights at Hyatt on points up north. Only cost was the rental car as using points is not efficient for that

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    • #17
      My cards: Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Blue Cash Everyday Preferred, Citi Premier, Discover it, and some other random cards.

      Fiance's cards: Same as above plus 2nd Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Hyatt and Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer.

      Yes, we play the credit card game. Very minimal effort required. Apply for card online, use that card for 1-3 months, meet minimum spend, collect sign on bonus, apply for next card.

      We have not paid for a hotel or plane ticket in years. 80% of the benefit is in the sign on bonus, 20% of the benefit is in the daily spending.

      Simple example of a great card: Apply for Citi Premier, pay $95 annual fee, spend 4k, get $800 in cash refund on purchases, downgrade card to citi double cash after year one to not have to pay another annual fee. Profit $705+. Effort minimal. Happy to send referral links to anyone interested

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      • #18
        Me: Chase freedom, freedom unlimited, freedom flex, sapphire reserve, discover it

        Wife: doublecash for just about everything. Amazon prime card for Amazon for Amazon purchases… wish I could convince her to also use the card for Whole Foods purchases, but considering the fights we had when trying to convince her to try anything other than the doublecash, the 3% difference is not worth me sleeping on the proverbial couch again

        i am thinking of open cards under my wife’s name and handling the cc game directly. We do enough online purchases where racking up the minimum spend for the bonuses is very doable.

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        • #19
          I’ve done the points game with Chase Freedom and CSP when they had their 100k point SUB. If you’re not interested in churning, you can get multiple Bank of America Cash Rewards cards in different flavors that provide 5.25% on travel, dining, online shopping, and gas and 2.62% on all spending with their Premium Rewards card ($95 annual fee but $100 airline credit is easy to use which makes it a net +$5). You have to have 100k in assets with BoA or Merrill Lynch but the Merrill Edge platform is no-fee and seems to work for me. This works for me though because I get 5.25% back on rent which adds up every month.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by IMinMS View Post
            I’ve done the points game with Chase Freedom and CSP when they had their 100k point SUB. If you’re not interested in churning, you can get multiple Bank of America Cash Rewards cards in different flavors that provide 5.25% on travel, dining, online shopping, and gas and 2.62% on all spending with their Premium Rewards card ($95 annual fee but $100 airline credit is easy to use which makes it a net +$5). You have to have 100k in assets with BoA or Merrill Lynch but the Merrill Edge platform is no-fee and seems to work for me. This works for me though because I get 5.25% back on rent which adds up every month.
            - Your rent is counted as online shopping?
            - I thought the online shopping was limited to $2500 per quarter.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by IMinMS View Post
              I’ve done the points game with Chase Freedom and CSP when they had their 100k point SUB. If you’re not interested in churning, you can get multiple Bank of America Cash Rewards cards in different flavors that provide 5.25% on travel, dining, online shopping, and gas and 2.62% on all spending with their Premium Rewards card ($95 annual fee but $100 airline credit is easy to use which makes it a net +$5). You have to have 100k in assets with BoA or Merrill Lynch but the Merrill Edge platform is no-fee and seems to work for me. This works for me though because I get 5.25% back on rent which adds up every month.
              do you find it worth using cash rewards card for travel like flights, rental cars, or hotels? get more back but lose travel or rental insurances.
              “. . . And the LORD spake, saying “First shalt thou take out the Holy 401k. Then shalt thou save to 20%, no more, no less. 20% shall be the number thou shalt save, and the number of the saving shall be 20%. 25% shalt thou not save, neither save thou 15%, excepting that thou then proceed to 20%. 30% is right out . . .””

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              • #22
                Originally posted by blippi View Post

                do you find it worth using cash rewards card for travel like flights, rental cars, or hotels? get more back but lose travel or rental insurances.
                These are two reasons why we don't rental cars -- also we have university discount too which really makes point redemption hard for rentals.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by IMinMS View Post
                  I’ve done the points game with Chase Freedom and CSP when they had their 100k point SUB. If you’re not interested in churning, you can get multiple Bank of America Cash Rewards cards in different flavors that provide 5.25% on travel, dining, online shopping, and gas and 2.62% on all spending with their Premium Rewards card ($95 annual fee but $100 airline credit is easy to use which makes it a net +$5). You have to have 100k in assets with BoA or Merrill Lynch but the Merrill Edge platform is no-fee and seems to work for me. This works for me though because I get 5.25% back on rent which adds up every month.
                  I have the similar BoA premium rewards card for most uses. Not interested in churning cards or points. Have amazon card for Amazon and a gas card but mostly the others don't get used now. Nice on the rent! I don't think many ppl can put rent on a cc

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                  • #24
                    I can put my rent on a credit card, which is super slick. I only get charged $3 per transaction. I don’t use my BoA cash rewards for the aforementioned $2500 per quarter limit. But super helpful for churning.

                    Aside from taxes and rent, I feel like I rarely get less than 5% back for anything these days between using freedom 5% (groceries) and BoA for online shopping. I suppose gas is probably the biggest hole in my rewards system.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Lithium View Post

                      - Your rent is counted as online shopping?
                      - I thought the online shopping was limited to $2500 per quarter.
                      I’m a new attending 1.5 years out so still renting an apartment but it actually codes as both travel and online shopping when I pay through PayPal Key (which treats it as a debit card so it’s only a $3.95 flat fee instead of a percentage). Apartment rent is $1900 so the rewards differential comes out to about $100/month which isn’t huge but considering the minimal effort, is easy money. I have 3 BoA cards and rotate throughout the quarter and then my gas, dining, and travel spend combined with my rental generally hits the $2500 quarterly max so I put the rest on the Premium Rewards. I have a Chase Freedom and Discover It that I’ve had for ages which can come in handy with their 5% quarterly bonus (usually grocery, gas, or PayPal). I recognize this is of relatively minor benefit but I’m an optimizer (as I suspect most on this blog are given the focus on minor differences in ER) and this is relatively low effort.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by blippi View Post

                        do you find it worth using cash rewards card for travel like flights, rental cars, or hotels? get more back but lose travel or rental insurances.
                        I use the Premium Rewards card for rental cars given the car rental insurance benefit. I generally book hotels through Hotwire/Priceline close to travel time (within 1 month of travel) so the cash rewards card works because those are generally non-refundable anyway and I’m usually confident that I’m going to actually take the trip. Maybe I’ve been fortunate not to ever need to cancel though and haven’t appreciated the risk before. Premium Rewards at 3.5% back on Travel comes with various insurance benefits and still has a good percentage back though if you’re enrolled in BoA Platinum Honors.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by IMinMS View Post

                          I’m a new attending 1.5 years out so still renting an apartment but it actually codes as both travel and online shopping when I pay through PayPal Key (which treats it as a debit card so it’s only a $3.95 flat fee instead of a percentage). Apartment rent is $1900 so the rewards differential comes out to about $100/month which isn’t huge but considering the minimal effort, is easy money. I have 3 BoA cards and rotate throughout the quarter and then my gas, dining, and travel spend combined with my rental generally hits the $2500 quarterly max so I put the rest on the Premium Rewards. I have a Chase Freedom and Discover It that I’ve had for ages which can come in handy with their 5% quarterly bonus (usually grocery, gas, or PayPal). I recognize this is of relatively minor benefit but I’m an optimizer (as I suspect most on this blog are given the focus on minor differences in ER) and this is relatively low effort.
                          Very nice system. I need to get the BoA premium card once I have burned through 5/24. Oh and I'm 7.5 years out of training and still paying rent and optimizing, so don't expect your habits to die anytime soon #residentforever .

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                          • #28
                            I don't play this game. I would do it for the right amount of money but there is no way I am going to keep unlocking my credit reports. If I lost no money, the hassle alone of one breech would make the whole proposition a major losing effort

                            But Kitces writes for financial planners. I agree that some clients might want their planners to be able to discuss credit cards, including rewards and bonuses.

                            Many who play this game do it as a hobby. It would not make sense to hire someone to pursue your hobby for you. The profits likely would be wiped out by the fees if one hired a planner for that. If it were included in fees one is already paying, then I could see giving it a try, assuming no concerns about security.

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                            • #29
                              regarding original post, what % of folks using financial planners would have issues with responsible credit card spending, such that if they were incentivized by points they spend more frivolously than they can afford? maybe credit card advice shouldn’t be a topic for all.
                              “. . . And the LORD spake, saying “First shalt thou take out the Holy 401k. Then shalt thou save to 20%, no more, no less. 20% shall be the number thou shalt save, and the number of the saving shall be 20%. 25% shalt thou not save, neither save thou 15%, excepting that thou then proceed to 20%. 30% is right out . . .””

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                              • #30
                                I use cc points for international travel and lodging. I have a friend who has a lot of experience doing this. (think he has 5-6 million points) If you don't travel, just do cash back. Chase saffire is great for buying gift cards at Staples. And churning is the name of the game.

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