a group of credit cards
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Saying to someone that their dream trip is only 100,000 miles away may sound like an eternity to most, but what if you were earning 2-5x faster? That sound a whole lot better. One very simple trick to earn more miles than ever before is to pay attention to category spending bonuses, especially on lucrative cards with no annual fee. Here’s everything you need to know to take your earning to new levels!

a group of credit cards

Ok, So What’s Category Bonus Spending In A Nutshell?

If you have a rewards earning credit card, let’s assume everything, yes, everything you buy will earn one mile per dollar, pound, yen (etc) spent. Category bonus spending is when you earn at an elevated rate, between 1.5 to 10x for each purchase, depending on what shopping category the purchase falls into. Think supermarket, dining out, travel, retail, etc as main categories. So for example, with Card A you might get 2x points on travel purchases, whereas Card B gives you 3x points on travel purchases and card C offers just a measly 1x…

a bottle and glass on a table

How Do I Know Which Card To Use And When?

That’s on you, but we’ll highlight a few examples! Knowing the finer details of your cards is one of the most overlooked areas in travel, as is carrying a couple cards which fulfill different needs, especially when no annual fee is involved on any additional cards you need to maximize your earning. For starters, try to get a card that earns you a multiple of points on travel. Try to also grab a card that highlights your other main areas of spending. For many, supermarkets are a great place to start.

Amex Everyday (No Annual Fee): 2X Points at US Supermarkets. Double that of any other card and you get a 20% bonus on the points earned each month if you swipe more than 20 times.

Chase Freedom (No Annual Fee): 5X Points on rotating categories every three months. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred you can convert the cash back points (which you’d be stuck with otherwise) into transferrable points you can move to airlines or hotels.

Amex Blue Cash Business (No Annual Fee): 10X Points On Dining. On it’s own this card would stick you with 10X cash back, which is nice, but if you also have an Amex Platinum, Gold or Everyday card which earns Membership Rewards points, you can combine your 10X points from this card into the pot of transferrable points you can move to airlines and hotels.

an airplane at an airport

Some Great Real World Examples?

Ok, so let’s say I have an Amex Gold, A Chase Sapphire Preferred and A Chase Freedom. When I book airline tickets direct with an airline I’ll book with the Amex Gold because it earns 3x points. The Chase Freedom rotates 5x earning categories every three months, meaning they change what you earn 5x points on every few months so this quarter it may be restaurants and next quarter it might be Amazon purchases. If I make an amazon purchase or restaurant this quarter (just an example) I’ll use that card, and since the Sapphire Preferred is 2x points on dining out, I’ll plop that down for any dinner checks.

a man and woman in an airplane

An Important Reminder Before You Go…

We always advocate for people to do all their spending on credit cards. Use it just like you would a debit card, never buying things you can’t afford and paying in full each month. If you follow those guidelines and maximize category bonuses, just by doing some basic research you’ll find yourself with more points than ever with minimal effort, no debt and no fees to pay. Enjoy the rewards and go somewhere incredible!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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