Vacations are my absolute favorite way to spend my money. If I had to choose between fabulous clothes every season, a new car, or a vacation every year, I’d pick the vacation hands down. Vacations are even better when you can get them for free or almost free. After getting most of our summer vacation paid for by credit card rewards, I’m pretty opposed to spending money from my own pocket if I can continue to get travel for free, but man, sometimes it takes work to be a big time credit card churner. I’m not sure if I have what it takes.
Chase Ink Business Card
I recently applied for the Chase Ink Bold charge card for Eyes on the Dollar. This card is for businesses, and I thought I would see if my humble blog could qualify for it’s own card. I refuse to lie and make up a business, although I know lots of people probably do this to get specific reward cards. I’m not entirely sure that the credit card companies mind, but I am a by the rules girl, so I can’t lie. I did get approved, probably more because of my credit score than blog income, but regardless, I now have the card.
The reason I wanted this card was because of a 60,000 point bonus promotion that came after spending $5000 within three months. That’s worth $750 in travel or $600 cash! Now, I know that I would have no trouble spending $5000 if I used this card in my optometry practice, but I wanted to keep this one separate. I would normall try to avoid spending this much in credit card charges, but I knew we had some big expenses that had to be paid.
Bonus Points for Paying Bills
We just got the bill for our emergency room visit in April.That one was a 4 figure zinger. We had to get new tires for our truck. I also decided to get our airline tickets to visit my family at Christmas. Those are crazy expensive, but it’s an expense we have chosen to have. My mother goes into a depression if we don’t make it sometime during the holidays.
Anyway, I figured with all those things coming up plus other routine expenses, it was a good time to get some extra points for paying the bills. I honestly don’t pay as much attention to bonus points categories with reward cards as I should, but the bells and whistles went off in my head when we were at Office Depot recently. We don’t tend to shop there because there isn’t one in our hometown, but Jim had to get some things for work, and you get 5x points for purchases at office supply stores if you use the Chase Ink.
Office Supply Store Bonus Bonanza!
While Jim was picking out his stuff, I saw that Office Depot carried Southwest Airlines gift cards. I had already priced out tickets for Christmas on Southwest, but hadn’t purchased them. Could I buy enough gift cards to cover the expense and get 5x points instead of the standard 2x points for travel?
I needed $1000 in gift cards, so I asked what the daily limit for purchase was. The clerk told me $10,000. We’re good to go! The cards only came in $50 or $100 denominations. I picked up 10 of the $100 cards and went to pay.
It Seemed Like a Good Plan
Well, it was a good plan, but the gift cards kept locking up the cash register. Luckily, I had a patient clerk who kept trying different ways to make it work. We finally had to split it into three transactions, and the register would not accept my 10th card, so I had to get two $50 ones instead. My check out took about 30 minutes and made a few customers in line a bit antsy, but oh well, got my 5000 points!
That evening I sat down to book out tickets before the price went up, only to find that you are only able to use four different forms of payment for each reservation. I ended up having to book two separate round trip tickets for myself and daughter and two one way reservations for Jim to use all the gift cards. That took about two hours to figure out and get finished. We are all ticketed on the same flights, we just have different confirmation numbers.
Are Bonus Points Worth the Extra Time?
Was the extra time worth 3000 extra bonus points? Right now, I would say no. It was extremely frustrating, and I certainly had better things I could have done with my time. However, if I am trying to get a free room on a fun vacation and those 3000 points put me over the top, I’ll probably change my mind.
As a disclaimer, I have to remind you not to get carried away by the chance for bonus points. If you spend money on things you don’t need, it’s never a good deal. If you can’t pay off your balance in full every month, it’s a terrible deal. While it made me throw up in my mouth a little to pay the hospital over $1000 for an hour of time, it was money I already had saved and knew had to be paid, so why not get some extra points?
If you want to be a big time player in the credit card churning business, you have to think about how to maximize your points. That doesn’t mean spending extra money, but it might mean buying gift cards at the office supply store to get bonus points on something you needed to buy anyway. It does mean extra time. It means not always using the easiest means to make a purchase. I’m not sure if I have what it takes, but I really like free vacations, so I’m sure there is a balance in there somewhere.
What is the craziest way you’ve ever earned reward points? Have you ever locked up a cash register?