How We Plan to Maximize Our Travel Rewards Spending

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Since opening up our first travel rewards credit card over a month ago, I have come to realize we may have a harder time hitting our spending targets than previously thought.

As our first step in earning travel rewards, I opened the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in my name only. If we spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening the card, we will earn 50,000 Bonus Ultimate Rewards® points.

At a minimum … those bonus points are the equivalent to at least $625 in free travel! Plus we will earn another 4,000 points from our initial $4,000 worth of spending. Not a bad deal at all … just for putting our normal spending on this card.

But that is part of the problem … our normal spending has recently decreased. Partly because we are trying to be more frugal and spend less!

We Are Not on Track for Spending $4,000

As I write this, we are on day 49 in our 90 day window to spend $4,000. At last check, we have spent less than half of our required $4,000 … coming in at just $1,968.88. Yikes!

Are we in trouble of not hitting our target? I don’t think so, but I need to re-figure how we can maximize our spending the next 41 days.

One thing we are not willing to do is going on a spending spree … just to hit our target. That would certainly be counter productive.

Ways We Currently Spend on our Card

When I first opened up our new card, I took an inventory of all our recurring payments that could be made by credit card. I wrote down our login/password information for each account, along with the due date of each bill and the average amount from past months.

I then logged into the accounts that could be changed with little hassle to use our new card. Note – I know some travel rewards bloggers don’t necessarily recommend this … but I felt we needed to maximize our spending to make this work.

We have been charging the following recurring expenses on our new card … since we opened it –

  • Internet/Phone
  • Cell Phone
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • CBS All Access
  • Gas Utility Bill
  • Water/Sewer Utility Bill (not automated)

The only two recurring charges that we didn’t switch over to the new card, were payments for my daughter’s gymnastics and dance classes. Those would have required old school changes of filling out paper and too much effort. Sorry … I am lazy when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Unfortunately, this list of monthly expenses cannot be paid with a credit card – mortgage, both vehicle payments, and our electric utility bill.

Besides our recurring monthly payments, we have also been using our card to pay for the following –

  • Food – about half of our food
  • Amazon – we do a bunch of our spending on Amazon and now use this card
  • Gas – about 3/4 of the gas for our cars
  • Haircut – after 6 months of not getting one, I finally broke down

Since this card is under my name only (so that my wife can open up the card next) … we haven’t found a good way for her to maximize our spending on this card. She purchases about half of our food and a quarter of our gas spend … and can’t use the card. Most of the time, she does her shopping while I am at work … so I don’t have the option of being there to use the card.

We have been looking into using Apple Pay to hack around this problem … so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

How We Plan to Maximize Our Spending

Now that we are behind on hitting our $4,000 target for spending in 90 days, we need to have a plan. We don’t want to lose out on those very valuable 50,000 bonus travel points. And we definitely don’t want to spend more … just to spend.

So we came up with the following plan of action –

Charge $250 of expenses for a sports team I coach
I coach a travel sports team for one of my son’s. The team has it’s own checking account setup with a debit card used to pay for various things. We have about $250 worth of upcoming expenses coming due soon. My plan is to charge these expenses to my credit card and then reimburse myself from the teams checking account. Is this ethical? Personally, I don’t think it is that big of a deal … especially for the fact that I volunteer hours and hours (and hours) of my time for the team.

Pay for upcoming weekend trip
Speaking of that travel team, we have a pre-planned upcoming out of town weekend trip in a couple of weeks. You bet I will be charging the entire trip (hotel and food) to my card.

Car Insurance Payment
Our car insurance is setup to be paid twice per year. Well guess what? The next 6-month payment is coming up due sometime in January.

We haven’t received our bill yet, but I will be certain to call and prepay if at all possible. This will help cover over $500 worth of spend on a charge we were going to pay for regardless.

If we can’t prepay, then we will wait and put this charge on our next travel rewards card.

Prepay for Upcoming Vacation
We have a family vacation planned for over Christmas this year. I was hoping to pay for these expenses on our next card we plan to open up. However … if we need more spend on our current card, then we will try and prepay a portion of this trip.

Just trying to maximize our travel rewards spend here.

Buy Amazon Gift Cards – Last Resort
I recently calculated that we spent about $1,000 over the past 12 months on Amazon. We do a lot of online shopping now because of the convenience and low prices.

We even started buying a lot of our food from Amazon.

As a last resort, we are prepared to buy Amazon gift cards to hit our $4,000 spend target. Hopefully it doesn’t come to this … as I would hate to prepay for anything like this. But if we need another $100 or $200 of spend … then we know these gift cards will get used up.

Our Next Travel Rewards Cards

As we are learning the process of building a travel rewards portfolio of points … we have had to adapt some of our spending.

Initially, we thought that hitting $4,000 in 3 months of spending would have been simple. But since we are trying to reduce our spending and save more money … we don’t spend as much as we did just a couple of months ago. So we need to adapt in order to maximize our travel rewards earning potential.

Which brings me to our next step in building our portfolio of rewards points … opening up our next card.

In about a month … my wife will be opening her Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in order to earn another 50,000 bonus points (+4,000 spend points).

This time however, we have a hack that will hit the $4,000 spend almost immediately … which is paying for our annual property taxes. Our current tax bill (due December 31st) is just over $3,900+. Boom! Add on another grocery bill and we will hit our spend target very quickly.

Then the next question will be what card to open next … so stay tuned!

One Last Note – My wife and I have been responsible with our credit card spending for over a decade. We try and put all of our possible spending on our credit cards in order to earn rewards. In the past those were regular cash back rewards, but now we are focused on the more lucrative travel rewards. We pay off our balance each and every month. Never have a late payment and NEVER pay any interest. Our advice to you is that if you are not responsible about using credit cards … please don’t use them. Earning travel rewards is just not worth it.

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