January 10, 2016

I made $2469 and 3 Hotel nights in Credit Card Rewards Total for 2015

We did pretty good on our credit card rewards this year.   Total rewards were $2469 and enough points at IHG for 3 hotel nights.

Here is the list of cards, rewards and spending :

bonus total spend
Amex blue $200 $215 $1,370
Usbank Cash+ $100 $139 $1,226
Fidelity $384 $19,178
SallieMae $773 $24,271
Costco $49 $5,033
Citi Premier $500 $550 $3,452
Chase freedom $218 $2,812
Chase IHG 3 nights $1,024
Discover $141 $3,308
$2,469 $61,674

In total I got 4% back on the spending on our cards.     Plus the 3 nights of hotel points is worth a good $300 to $600 which we'll use eventually.

I signed up for 3 cards in April.    Amex Blue Cash, US Bank Cash+ and Chase IHG
Then later on in June I got a Citi ThankYou Premier card with 50k bonus points.

Amex had a $200 bonus and US Bank was $100.   The IHG card gave me enough points for 3 hotel nights.   The Citi ThankYou Premier card got me $550 worth of gift cards.    I could have hung on to the ThankYou points and gotten about $687 in value if I'd used them for travel.  But we don't have any travel plans and I'm going to want to cancel that card soon since its got a $95 annual fee.  So I decided to just cash out and not worry.

In April my fico was 837 and its now at 825.   It hit a low of 812 in June.   I certainly took a ding on the score short term after signing up for the 4 new cards but it recovered.   And any score over 800 is still very good, so its not as if it hurt me.

I tried my best to maximize 5% categories on the cards.    We use Salliemae for its 5% at Amazon, grocery & gas.   But those categories max at $750, 250 and 250 of spending respectively each month.   Other than that I used the US Bank Cash+ for its cell phone 5% category.    The Chase Freedom, Discover and Citi Dividend cards all have rotating 5% promotional categories each quarter.   I didn't get a ton off those in general.  However in Q4 Chase had 10% back on Amazon so I maximized that one.

With $61,674 total spending I could have gotten $1233 if we'd just used the 2% cash back Fidelity Amex.   So the extra work of juggling cards and signing up for bonuses more than doubled our rewards.  

We did spend a lot.    $61k is a lot of money to put on credit cards and most people aren't going to be spending that much.    On the other hand the best return was on the new card bonuses and you don't need to spend a ton to qualify for those.   If you spend more like $1000 a month you could have signed up for the same cards I did and ended up making around $1000 total rewards and bonuses.

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