The start of 2015 means re-evaluating our points and miles strategy.
Currently, I have enough points to take my wife and myself anywhere in the world (Awesome feeling!). I don’t like to keep accruing points if I don’t have a plan for them, because there is a possibility of devaluation. I would hate to have a boat load of points only to realize they are worthless. With our work schedules, we should get 2 vacations this year and possibly a couple of extended weekend trips (fingers crossed). We are taking a cruise in March and have redeemed our points for that trip, so we are planning our vacation for this fall/winter. So many possibilities! 🙂
My usual game plan is to wait for a large bonus before I apply for a credit card. I don’t follow a 91-day application cycle, but there are many people who do. Who knows what big bonuses will come along this year and when they do come along, I’ll be ready!! So far this year, we have already applied for 1 credit card.
I had my wife apply for the Barclay US Airways card since the 50,000 miles bonus is awesome and the card will be gone in the near future. I couldn’t pass up this bonus. Right after she got the card, Barclay started a promotion to refer a friend, where we would receive 10k miles for every friend that was approved, up to 5 people. So for the $89 fee, we received 100k miles!! That’s a lot of travel!
My Current Point Breakdown:
|US Airways – My account||~43k|
|US Airways- Kristin’s Account||~100k|
|IHG Reward Points||~ 58k + Free night certificate|
|Total:||~ 452k points/ miles|
Since we fly coach and travel only a couple times a year, this is more than enough for us.
My Strategy for 2015:
Until the next big bonus comes along, I am going to keep accruing Ultimate Rewards, but start earning more cash back. Although points and miles can be more valuable, having no plan for them is a terrible idea. Also earning more cash back will help pay for the things points can’t pay for: taxes and fees, food, souvenirs, and other miscellaneous cost. It also allows me more flexibility when booking hotel rooms (looking forward to trying AirBNB).
I will accrue roughly 22,500 Ultimate Reward points by paying bills with my Ink Plus and using my Chase Sapphire Preferred for all dining/travel. I will also use the Dining Rewards Program to double dip and earn Southwest miles as well.
My wife and I drive a lot for work, so we will use a few cards to maximize our earnings. For Q1 we will earn 5% with the DiscoverIT, Q3 we will earn 5% (5 Ultimate Reward Points) with the Chase Freedom and Q2 and Q4 we will use the Cash Reward card earning 3.3%. This year we will earn at least 4.15% on gas purchases.
For our groceries, we will use the American Express Blue Cash Preferred. Earning 6% back on groceries is tough to beat.
I’ll be using our Citi Double Cash for all other non-bonus purchases and to load my Serve card. Earning no less than 2% on any transaction is pretty good in my opinion.
My current cards that earn cash back:
- Citi Double Cash
- Bank of American Cash Back Rewards
- American Express Blue Cash Preferred (AMEX BCP)
Potential Cash Back earnings for 2015:
|Credit Card||Earning Rate||Categories||Amount Spent||Cash Back Earned|
|Citi Double Cash||2%||Loading Serve & Non-bonus categories||$ 1200 minimum||$240 +|
|BoA Cash Back Rewards||3.3 %||Gas Station||$3,000||$99|
|DiscoverIT||5%||Q1- Gas||$1500||$75 + $150 bonus|
|Chase Freedom||5 Ultimate Rewards (5%)||Q3- gas||$1500||$75 (7500 Ultimate Reward Points|
**This doesn’t include any cash back I’ll earn from cash back portals or AMEX offers. Since I do all my shopping online, I would expect to earn hundreds of dollars more**
While my strategy might not be ideal for some, for us it works. There is no right or wrong way to play this game as long as you do what you think is best for you. If the right point/mile card comes along with a big bonus, I will shift my strategy. Until then it will be more earning cash back.
What is your strategy for 2015? What big bonuses do you hope come along?