How We Plan to Use Large Upcoming Expenses to Maximize Our Travel Rewards

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As we wrap up the final minimum spend on our first travel rewards card, my wife and I have been planning out our next steps.

The first credit card we opened was the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card where we are closing in on hitting our $4,000 worth of spending in the first 90 days. There was a time a few weeks ago that we were concerned about meeting this spend … but we received our car insurance bill last week which will get us to our target.

Within the next week, we will have hit the minimum spend on our first card with about 2 weeks remaining in our 90 day window. At that time, we will move all of our normal spending (automated payments included) over to our second travel rewards card … which is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card opened up in my wife’s name. That card was opened last week and should be coming in the mail any day now.

Eventually, we would like to build up enough points to take our family on a free (or as close to it as possible) trip to Hawaii. That trip is about 2 to 3 years away … so our strategy is to build up as many points (Chase Ultimate Rewards® right now) as possible.

Our goal is to document the strategy and steps we are using to first build up our travel rewards portfolio … and then redeem our points for a trip to Hawaii.

Spending on our 2nd Card

The spending requirement on our 2nd travel rewards card is $4,000 in the first 90 days. So … starting next week, we will use this new card for almost all of our expenses.

The good news is that this card is in my wife’s name and she does most of the grocery spending. So we won’t have to worry about hitting our spending limit. Plus, we can easily switch all of our automated payments over using the new card (i.e. Netflix, Internet, Cell Phones, etc.).

Also, with Christmas coming up and a planned trip to take our family to Disney … there will be more spending over the next 2 months. As I mentioned last week, we are planning to buy our tickets to Disney using one of our travel rewards cards.

I expect we will hit our spending limit on this 2nd card after about 2 months … and then we can decide on opening up our 4th card.

Here are a few items we plan to pay for with our latest Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • *90% of our grocery budget
  • 50% of our gas spending
  • 100% of our Christmas spending
  • purchase of Disney and Universal tickets
  • automated spending – cell phones, internet, netflix, hulu, gas bill, etc.

* Note – I will try and setup Apple Pay with this card for any grocery spending (10%) that I do. My wife does most of our grocery spending which helps having this card in her name this time.

Once we hit our spending target with the 2nd card, we should have approximately 118,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points.

Paying for Large Expenses on our 3rd Card

Once we got our car insurance bill in the mail earlier this week … I knew that we could easily hit our minimum spend on our first card. And with a plan in place already for our second card (in my wife’s name) … our next strategy switched to opening up a 3rd travel rewards card.

Based on the Chase Gauntlet (first coined by the ChooseFI site) … we are skipping cards #3 and #4 (for now) and moving right to card #5 – which is the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM card.

Here are a few deails on the card –

  • Minimum Spend – $5,000 in 3 months
  • Bonus – 80,000 Ultimate Rewards® points
  • Annual Fee – $95

Technically this is a credit card for a business, but I had no problems opening the card and getting approved. The rules for having a business credit card are not the same as legally setting up a business. The point is that you don’t necessarily have to have a legal business entity setup to get approved for this card. The application process is a little more involved, but still fairly simple to complete.

The Ink Business Preferred card has an awesome bonus of 80,000 points. It does have a $95 annual fee, which is not waived … but that is more than worth it considering the 80K bonus points.

One of the other considerations we had before opening this card was the higher minimum spend of $5,000 (compared to $4,000 on our other cards). But with several large expenses coming up … that won’t be an issue.

For example, one of my favorite life hacks is managing our own escrow account. Each year we pay close to $5,000 for our property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Well guess what … those 2 payments (which are coming up) will get us 95% of our spending on this new card!

  • property taxes – $3,800 (paid by Dec. 31)
  • homeowners insurance – $900 (paid by Feb. 10)

So we will take advantage of these large upcoming expenses to maximize our travel rewards spending.

I would like to point out that by charging our property taxes, we will be charged with a convenience fee. However, just like with the $95 annual fee that comes with our new card, we can more than make up that difference with the 80,000 bonus points.

Building our Travel Rewards Portfolio

Once we finish up our spending on our 3rd travel rewards card, sometime in late January (2018) … we should have been able to build up a nice start to our travel rewards portfolio.

I would estimate we will have built up over 200,000 Ultimate Rewards® points in that time. That is unbelievable! At a minimum, that is $2,000+ in cash back if we redeemed them for 1 cent each. However, redeeming these points for travel will be more valuable.

  • Card #1 – 54,000+ points
  • Card #2 – 54,000+ points
  • Card #3 – 85,000+ points
  • Bonus – 10,000 points

Estimated Points by February 2018 – 203,000

The first 2 cards we opened have 50,000 bonus points we expect to earn, plus 4,000 points earned on each for the $4,000 worth of spending. The 3rd card has a bonus of 80,000 points, plus 5,000 points earned for spending $5,000. In addition, I should be earning another 10,000 points for referring my wife to open up her first card.

Out of all this spending, we will incur the $95 annual fee on card #3 and the convenience charge for paying our property taxes. I plan to detail all of these scenarios in future posts.

And as always, stay up to date on our process for earning FREE Travel on our Travel Rewards page.

Do you use large expenses to help hit minimum spending requirements on travel rewards cards? Other than property taxes and insurance (homeowners & car), what other large expenses do you charge?

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