Maximizing your credit card spend

One of the best way of earning more than one point per dollar spent on your credit card is to be aware of the bonus categories.  Most credit cards offer you more points on certain items.

The Chase Sapphire, one of my favorite cards and that of many others, offers 2x spending at restaurants and for travel.  In addition to the 2x earnings, this card also gives you a 7% bonus on all the points you have earned so actual the return on points is 2.14%.

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you only have the Chase Freedom card, you will then earn cash back BUT, and this is important, if you have the Chase Sapphire, the Chase Ink, the Chase Bold then the Chase Freedom card becomes a different type of credit card.  This card has different bonus categories every quarter throughout the year and you can earn up to 1500 points per quarter.  The first quarter of 2013, you could earn 5x earnings on gas station, drugstores and Starbucks.  The second quarter, it is 5 x at earnings on purchases made at Lowes, restaurants and movie theaters. You then need to have the Chase Sapphire, the Chase Ink, or the Chase Bold and then transfer the points that you earned with the Freedom (which are Ultimate Reward Points) into one of the other cards.  Confusing, slightly but it works.   If you do not have one of those credit cards, then you will be receiving a 5% cash back.

Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom

I just mentioned  the Ultimate Reward points that you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Freedom card and Chase’s business card.  The points you earn with these cards are called Ultimate Reward Points.  What is so great about UR points is that you have 5 airline transfer partners and 5 hotel/travel partners to transfer your points to .  The airlines that you can transfer your UR into are United (and therefore Star Alliance), Korean Air, Southwest, British Airways (and then you can book American Airlines through the BA site) and Virgin Atlantic.  These transfer over at a 1:1 ratio.  The other transfer partners are Amtrak, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton and Priority Club (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and a few other hotels in their club), again at a 1:1 ration.

American Express has a co-branded card with Hilton hotels and with this card you will earn 5 x points on purchases made at gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets.

American Express Hilton Honors card
American Express Hilton            Honors card

The point of this is to know what each of your credit card’s bonus categories are and to try to use them to maximize your point earning ability.

Questions anyone?


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