9 Months of Building a Travel Rewards Portfolio of Miles and Points

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Well it has been a long time since I posted a travel rewards update. Our most recent post came when we finished up the spending on my Marriott Business card (which we call card #5). That card earned us over 78,000 Marriott Rewards points … which puts the potential value at $703.95 by using a $0.009 per point redemption value calculated on The Points Guy.

Now with that card nicely tucked away in the safe at home, we finished up our minimum spending requirements on 2 additional cards over the past couple of weeks. The first came from card #6, which was the Capital One Venture card opened by my wife. At last check, that card has earned almost 59,000 Miles towards future free travel.

The other was #8, which is the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card opened by me. This card earned us over 28,000 Starpoints that can eventually be used for free hotel rooms.

By finishing up the minimum spending on these, we have now successful earned travel rewards from 8 different cards in the past 9 months. That frequency of opening a card every month won’t last … but has certainly allowed us to build up a good foundation of travel rewards and miles.

Here is a quick recap of cards #6 and #8 and how we earned our sign-up bonus.

Travel Rewards Card #6

The 6th card we opened up was the Capital One Venture Rewards card in my wife’s name. This personal card (counts against 5/24) had a minimum spending requirement of $3,000 within the first 3 months.

Based on our normal spending … hitting that spend was not a problem at all. We earned our bonus miles on day 83 (out of 90) with this card.

How Did We Spend on Card #6?

When ended up blowing way past our spending requirement on this card … by paying for $4,428.43 worth of charges in the past 3 months. You may be wondering why? During that time, we had hit the minimum spending requirements on all of our other cards … and since the Capital One Venture card pays 2 Miles per dollar … this seemed like the logical choice for now.

Most of our spending came from groceries, gas, and clothing … but we did have some other categories highlighted below –

  • Medical and Dental Expenses – $182.00
  • Utility Expenses – $972.16
  • Equipment for Sports Team – $366.41
  • Groceries, Gas, and Clothing – $2,907.86

Most of the medical and dental expenses were co-pays for the family. The utility expenses included – Hulu, Netflix, Internet & Phone, Cell Phones, Water, and Gas. That isn’t too bad for 3 months worth of utility expenses.

The $366.41 charge for sporting goods equipment was from a travel sports team I coach. The team raised funds to buy some new equipment and in order to pay for it … we needed to use a credit card. Since the team doesn’t have a credit card, we took advantage of earning some extra rewards and paid off the balance with funds from the team.

Note – Paying for recurring utility expenses is a great way to help hit your minimum spending requirements. I keep a spreadsheet with account login information and spend 10 minutes updating these accounts anytime we start a new card.

Points Recap for Card #6
The Capital One cards make it easy to figure out how the points are earned. Every dollar spent is worth 2 Miles. Add in our 50,000 bonus Miles earned for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and we have earned 58,956 Miles on this card.

  • Regular Spending (2 miles/$1 spent) – 8,956 Miles
  • Sign-Up Bonus – 50,000 Miles

Total Miles Earned = 58,956

Calculating how much these mile are worth is simple. Each mile is worth $0.01 if redeemed for a travel expense charged on the card. So this card can be used for $589.56 in travel expenses charged on the card.

Future Mile Value = $589.56

Travel Rewards Card #8

The 8th card we opened was the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card in my name. This is another personal card with a minimum spending requirement of $3,000 within the first 3 months.

Even with the other card opened (Capital One Venture), we were able to use a few tricks to hit our minimum spending requirement on this card.

How Did We Spend on Card #8?

It only took 48 days to earn the 25,000 point bonus on this card. We spent a total of $3,385.86 in about 2 months using this card.

One thing that helped a bunch was over $1,400 of charges from the travel sports team that I coach. I have mentioned this before, but the travel team does not have it’s own credit card … just a checking account. I manage the funds for the team and use one of our cards to pay for expenses and then reimburse these charges with funds from the teams checking account.

In addition to the travel sports team expenses, about half of the remaining charges came from normal monthly spending on things like food and gas. Here is a breakdown of where our expenses came from –

  • Dental Work – $250.00
  • Business Expenses – $202.00
  • Travel Team Expenses – $1,428.00
  • Groceries, Gas, and Clothing – $1,505.86

Last month I had to get some dental work done which wasn’t fully covered by insurance … so I added $250 of charges for that. Then I had to pay for my LLC’s license to be renewed for this year … which was another $200+ worth of charges.

Note – If you haven’t noticed by now … we charge everything and anything we can. The only exceptions are – mortgage, car payments, electric bill, and checks we have to write. That’s it!

Points Recap for Card #8
The breakdown of the total Starpoints we earned (28,385) is very simple. We got a 25,000 point bonus for hitting our minimum spending requirements and another 3,000+ points for our spending.

  • Regular Spending (1 point/$1 spent) – 3,385 points
  • Sign-Up Bonus – 25,000 points

Total Starpoints = 28,385

According to The Points Guy website, Starpoints are worth about $0.027 each. That is a great redemption value … if we can eventually redeem those for that I will be happy.

Based on this redemption value, our 28,385 points would be worth $766.40 of future travel expenses for hotel stays.

Future Point Value = $766.40

What’s Up Next for Travel Rewards

In the past 9 months, my wife and I have opened and hit the minimum spending requirements on 8 different cards. Using estimated point valuations (from The Points Guy), these points and miles could be worth just over $9,300 of future travel. Of course, these points are worth nothing if we never redeem them … but we hope to change that this summer.

Here is a list of cards we have earned sign-up bonuses on in the past 9 months in the order they were opened –

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – personal card for me
  2. Chase Ink Business Preferred – business card for me
  3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – personal card for my wife
  4. Chase Ink Business Preferred – business card for my wife
  5. Chase Marriott Preferred Business – business card for me
  6. CapitalOne Venture Rewards – personal card for my wife
  7. CapitalOne Spark Miles – business card for me
  8. American Express Starwood Preferred Guest – personal card for me

And in just the past week, my wife received her next card (Chase Marriott Preferred Business) in the mail. This card is good for 75,000 Marriott Rewards points on the sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

This will be the only after card we have for a while as we let things settle down a bit. Once that card is finished, we will likely continue to use either our CapitalOne cards or go back to our Sapphire Preferred cards.

We also hope to finally use some of our points for a couple upcoming trips we have this summer.

But the ultimate use of our miles and points will eventually come when we plan our trip to Hawaii for our family of 5. We plan to visit the tropical paradise in the next 2 to 3 years and hope to use as many points as possible.

To follow our journey of earning free travel, check out our Travel Rewards page.

Are you building your travel rewards portfolio? Would love to hear your comments and experience!

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