Spending money does not require a rocket scientist. In fact, all you need is a badly behaved teenager. Maximizing your rewards for every day spending is more of a science. There are so many credit cards, debit cards and products out there marketing their earning potential, cash back or "miles you can actually use" (rolls eyes) that it's easy to get lost.
There are cards you get solely for the bonus, there are cards you get for the benefits and there is the third rare combination of cards you get for the continued benefits and healthy initial bonus. My wife and I do our every day spending between four cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Amex Premier Rewards Gold, Chase Freedom and Amex Platinum. These cards are our go to's and real keepers. Each serves a unique purpose in our spending habits and they all equate to points we can transfer to partners at will and leverage to the fullest. When we book travel we book on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Amex Premier Rewards Gold. The Premier Rewards Gold offers 3x points on travel booked directly with airlines, 2x points at the gas pump and 2x points at the supermarket. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on all travel, 2x points dining out and 3x points on dining out every first Friday of the month. We use the Chase Freedom for its rotating 5x categories which change every quarter. This summer from July to September gas stations will be a 5x category, meaning I get 5 points for every dollar at the pump. Since I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I can transfer all my Freedom Points into Ultimate Rewards, making them transferrable to partners. Finally, the Amex Platinum is an excellent choice for benefits while shopping or traveling with very friendly buyer protection, not to mention 2x points on most travel purchases.
If you know how to maximize miles, a 50,000 mile card sign up is hard to pass up. Earn and burn cards are worth it once or twice a year (and then cancel the next year). On most airlines I can turn that bonus into a flight valued at a minimum of $2,000 dollars. Take for example the British Airways card, which gives you 50,000 miles for $2,000 spending in the first three months. I don't spend any money I wouldn't otherwise spend and I come out with at least $2,000 worth of free flights. Currently, I can use those 50,000 miles to go anywhere under 3,000 miles in one direction round trip in business class on a plethora of airlines, not just British Airways. Tickets for flights of that nature in business class run thousands of dollars and I know how to unlock that value. Once I've met my bonus, I see no reason to continue spending on that particular card because their miles are worth little and earning 1 mile per most transactions would take a hell of a lot of spending. Spend elsewhere.
Don't overdose. Keep it as simple as you can, work out the best card for your every day consumer habits. We happen to travel, dine out and get gasoline frequently, so we have cards that fit that lifestyle. If you have different needs there are likely different cards which will suit you better. The most important thing for maximizing points and miles is to get better than 2 cents per point when you redeem them, and currently this can only be done through programs that allow you to transfer points directly to airlines or hotel partners. Don't miss out.
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