Greg’s level incomes technique

Shortly after Nick and I recorded our newest podcast, Citi’s superior rewards program, it occurred to me that I ought to have defined how Citi’s card line-up suits into my total level incomes technique.  At a excessive degree, it goes principally like this: I earn Citi ThankYou factors from common everyday spend and I earn most different factors (Chase Final Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, lodge factors, airline miles, and so on.) from welcome bonuses, retention bonuses, refer-a-friend bonuses, and miscellaneous promotions.  Paradoxically, incomes journey rewards from precise journey is such a small share of my level earnings that it’s principally irrelevant.

Point Earning. Image shows chart projecting growth into the future.

Welcome Bonuses

Factors earned from new-card bonuses dominate my level incomes technique.  I handle the cardboard sign-up course of for myself, my spouse, and our grownup son.  There are actually hundreds of thousands of factors obtainable by welcome bonuses at any given time (over 8 million on our Greatest Presents web page ultimately depend!).  And although many playing cards have restrictions on whether or not you will get them once more (or how lengthy you must wait earlier than you possibly can), I discover that there are at all times nice gives we are able to join.

To satisfy the minimal spend necessities for these gives, I don’t use these playing cards for my day-to-day spend.  I discover it too troublesome to maintain observe of that spend.  As a substitute, I exploit these new playing cards to pay occasional massive payments, together with taxes, and I exploit numerous different methods for growing bank card spend.

Retention Bonuses

When you contact your card issuer to cancel a card, it’s frequent for them to attempt to preserve your enterprise by retention gives.  Presents usually come within the type of both money again (usually to match the annual charge), lump-sum factors (often with a certain quantity of spend required), or bonus factors for spend.  After the agent provides me particulars a few retention provide, if any, I at all times ask if there are another gives obtainable.  It’s quite common for the pc system to serve up plenty of gives that you would be able to select from they usually usually provide very totally different worth.  Moreover, if I’ve different playing cards with the identical issuer, I’ll ask the retention specialist to examine these different playing cards for retention gives.  It’s frequent for me to stroll away with two or three retention gives from a single cellphone name.

Refer-A-Good friend Presents

When working along with a member of the family or good friend, it’s doable to earn many extra factors by refer-a-friend gives.  Amex permits you to earn factors on one card sort even when referring somebody to a totally totally different card (particulars right here).  Your good friend earns the usual welcome bonus and also you earn a referral bonus.  Equally Chase typically permits this inside card households.  For instance, when you’ve got a Southwest card, you possibly can refer buddies to that Southwest card or a special one.  Or, when you’ve got a Chase Ink enterprise card you possibly can refer buddies to that Ink card or to a special one.  Just lately, for instance, every of the three of us in my household have been permitted for the Ink Enterprise Most popular card after referring one another in a round-robin means.  Because of this, we are able to every qualify for 100K factors from the welcome bonus AND 40K factors from the refer-a-friend bonus.  That’s a complete of 420,000 bonus factors for our household!  Learn extra about this right here: 3 Inks permitted once more – 420K factors “within the bag”.

Miscellaneous Promotions & Class Bonus Spend

Now and again, a rewards program gives an enormous point-earning promotion that’s too good to disregard.  These vary from big portal bonuses to large lodge or airline promos.  When the deal is nice sufficient (just like the time when Marriott provided 40K factors for any 4-night Properties & Villas reserving with no minimal spend required), I’ll bounce on it.

Moreover, now that I’ve the Bilt card, I’ll benefit from their month-to-month Hire Day promos the place they provide double rewards for spend, with a max of 10K bonus factors.  After I’m not assembly minimal spend on new playing cards, I’ll await Hire Day to pay large payments, purchase reward playing cards at my favourite eating places, and pre-pay for some deliberate journey.  Sadly, I can’t use my Curve card’s Go Again in Time characteristic to maximise my Hire Day spend since Bilt doesn’t award factors for purchases that undergo Curve.

Lastly, I continuously benefit from the truth that the Chase Ink card earns 5x for workplace provide purchases on as much as $25K cardmember 12 months spend.  Staples and Workplace Depot continuously have gross sales on Visa and Mastercard reward playing cards in order that the activation charge is waived.  Moreover, it’s simple to earn 5x by shopping for service provider reward playing cards in-store, or on-line at or Quill.

Day to Day Spend

That is the place Citi is available in.  I’ve the outdated no-longer-available Citi Status card which gives 5x for eating and airfare, and 3x for lodges and cruises.  I even have many fee-free Citi playing cards which I exploit to pump-up my earnings on on a regular basis spend:

  • Citi Status: I exploit this card primarily to earn 5x for eating.
  • Citi Customized Money: I’ve a number of Customized Money playing cards and I exploit these to earn 5x at grocery shops on as much as $500 spend per billing cycle, per card.
  • Citi Double Money: That is my “all over the place else” card because it earns 2x all over the place.
  • Citi Rewards+: I don’t spend cash on this card. I preserve this card as a result of it provides me a 10% rebate after I redeem factors (even these earned on different Citi playing cards) with a max of 10K factors rebated annually.

I additionally use these non-Citi playing cards:

  • Wyndham Enterprise Earner card: I exploit this to earn 8x at fuel stations.
  • US Financial institution Altitude Reserve: I exploit this card solely in Apple Pay so as to earn 3x for cell pockets funds.
  • Bilt: With the intention to earn Bilt factors from spend, it’s essential to make at the least 5 transactions per 30 days with the cardboard.  My strategy is to make use of the Bilt card for small eating purchases (to earn 3x) however proceed to make use of the Status card for bigger purchases (to earn 5x).  On the primary of every month, although, I’ll use the Bilt card for all purchases since they double rewards for “Hire Day” on as much as 10K bonus factors.

With the intention to handle all of my Citi playing cards, I exploit the Curve card as my go-to card for nearly all spend.  Curve “fronts” my Credit cards.  That’s, I exploit the Curve card for purchases and behind the scenes Curve sends these expenses to my different bank cards.  With Curve, I’ve arrange guidelines to ship eating spend to my Status card (5x), grocery spend to my Customized Money card (5x), and to default to my Double Money all over the place else (2x).  This strategy has a couple of superior advantages:

  1. When touring internationally, I don’t incur overseas transaction charges although the Double Money and Customized Money playing cards would in any other case cost these charges if I used them immediately.  Sadly, the Curve card works solely sporadically internationally.  In some international locations it really works completely, and in different international locations it really works typically, and in some international locations it doesn’t work in any respect (I’m you Macao!).
  2. After I exceed $500 spend on the Customized Money card in a billing cycle, I can (and do) use Curve’s “Go Again in Time” characteristic to maneuver the surplus spend to a different Customized Money card.

Sadly, Bilt doesn’t earn factors from spend that goes by the Curve card.  So, as an alternative, I preserve the Bilt card in my pockets for after I wish to use that card.

Wrap Up

I earn the overwhelming majority of my factors from welcome bonuses and refer-a-friend gives.  Amex and Chase dominate each of these classes.  However in terms of earnings from each day spend, that’s the place Citi shines.

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