AirlinesAMEX Gold CardAMEX Green CardAMEX Hilton AspireAMEX PlatinumBarclay Uber VisaBoA Alaska Air VisaChase Hyatt VisaChase Sapphire ReserveCredit Cards

2019 Rewards in Review

Another Year Gone Now completing our third full year of credit card reward management, the hobby continues to be a lucrative one for us. As always, the tricks to success are as follows: Always pay your balance in full each month and never carry debt on your cards month to monthUse cards that provide the highest rewards on spending you do alreadyTake advantage of sign up bonuses and promotions throughout the year 7X Return on Investment By budgeting $206/month for travel, and using it to pay for the annual fees on our credit cards in 2019, our monthly vacation budget became worth seven-times that: $1,459/month. From an annual standpoint, we redeemed rewards valued at over $17,511 in 2019! AMEX Membership Rewards (above) are earned by the AMEX Platinum, Gold and Green car...

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AMEX PlatinumBoA Alaska Air VisaChase Hyatt VisaChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningGasSupermarketsTravelUpgrades

2018 Rewards in Review

Another Year Gone 2018 was a wild year for us with big changes including the relocation of my wife who is now working in Nashville completing a postdoctoral appointment while I have remained in Seattle. As a result of our anticipated increase in travel, we increased our monthly spending for annual fees this year to an average monthly budget of $187. With that, we not only supported a bicoastal living arrangement but even fit in some personal vacations as well, all thanks to our reward points. As in previous years, I meticulously tracked every dollar in and out with regard to credit card annual fees and reward redemptions in 2018 and I'm pleased to say we more than quintupled our budget by using the appropriate mix of cards and redemptions over the last twelve months. 5X Return on Investme

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AMEX PlatinumBarclay Uber VisaBoA Alaska Air VisaChase Hyatt VisaChase IHG MasterCardCredit CardsDiningFree NightsTravelUpgrades

2017 Rewards in Review

Annual Fees In 2017, we spent almost $800 on annual fees for five credit cards. That number may seem staggering, but we used the rewards associated with those cards to redeem nearly $6,000 in travel! Often times, cards that carry an annual fee also carry several benefits that, when used appropriately, can make for quite the lucrative hobby. By budgeting $66.50/month for travel (used entirely on annual fees), our monthly vacation budget became worth $497.48/month thanks to the reward redemption and associated benefits.   Return on Investment We tracked every dollar spent and earned through this process using Mint, and as you will see from the charts, we netted $5,171.78 in 2017. The largest return was from our AMEX Platinum Card which originated a whopping 36 redemption this year; but th...

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AMEX PlatinumChase Hyatt VisaChase IHG MasterCardDiningFree NightsGasGlobal EntryHiltonInsuranceLoungesMarriottPerksRideshare AppsSheratonTravelTSA PreCheckUpgradesWestin

What’s in my wallet?

If you know me, you know I appreciate The Art And Science Of Rewards Credit Card Churning and the value it produces when done well. But having been asked a few times recently, I wanted to take a brief moment to advocate for the cards I have kept (or plan to keep) despite their annual fees; one of the biggest scare-factors of credit cards for novice users. Today, I’ll tell you about three of the credit cards I keep, how I justify the fees each year, and why you should consider one or more of them. Card The American Express Platinum Card Annual Fee $550 Welcome Offer 60,000 points worth $1,200 in travel Perks 10% back on travel*, $200 airline credit, $200 Uber credit, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PRE✓, Boingo Internet Preferred Plan, airport lounge access inc

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Alaska AirlinesCancunChase Hyatt VisaCredit CardsHyattHyatt Zilara CancunUpgrades

Enhancing a Trip with Plastic

Next week, we depart for a week-long stay in Cancun, Mexico! In late 2014, Alaska Airlines added nonstop flights to Cancun from Seattle; making it one of the more luxurious itineraries available. We also couldn't pass up the opportunity to stay at one of Hyatt's newer properties in the area which opened around the same time. This trip took some planning, but we were each able to secure our airfare for just the cost of the fees ($75.00) after redeeming 60,000 miles in exchange for roundtrip, nonstop, First Class tickets! These same pair of tickets would have cost us nearly $2,500 otherwise. As for the miles, they're easily attainable through Alaska's 25,000 mile bonus upon approval. For the bold: We had some luck explaining to the bank our desire to separate&n...

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One-Week Honeymoon in Maui for under $175.00

When my wife Brianna married me, she knew about my obsession with points and miles acquisition. My plan to fund the honeymoon trip to Maui became clear when she saw we only had $175 budgeted for the trip’s hotel and airfare. Despite her knowing about the wild world of points, she still asked: How will we stay 6 nights in Maui for only $175?? Generally speaking, I had this strategy: Brianna and I would each acquire two airline credit cards (each with a bonus equivalent to a one-way ticket); and 1-2 hotel cards incentivizing new cardholders with free nights. When deciding which cards to pursue, we considered which airlines best met our needs, and whether there were specific hotels in Maui that we particularly wished to stay at. For us, we were traveling from Seattle and it was important to ...

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