Friday, November 9, 2012

reward me!

Today, I discovered the beauty of credit card rewards.

Not to say that I never used them in the past. On the contrary, I have always redeemed my rewards; However, it's usually in the form of a Starbucks gift card. On a few occasions, I've redeemed my points for gift cards that I used as a birthday/holiday/wedding shower gift. I've never redeem them for cash rewards, in stark contrast to the Hubs, who only redeems his points for cash back.

Today, while I was scheduling my online payments for the months, I decided to check out what kind of options were out there for my points. Picture me maniacally rubbing my hands together while thinking of all the cool stuff I can get. Then picture someone sticking a needle in my bubble.

For all the money I spend, I have next to nothing in rewards! Boo. Cue the violins, please.

In my (limited) experience, American Express has always been a bit stingy with their reward points (or perhaps I just don't have the right card to accumulate them). I had a little more than 4,000, which bought me nothing of note in their online store. Instead, I used 3,333 of those points to pay off an "everyday charge" (a $20 reload on my Starbucks card). So I'm left with about 700 points which I will probably never use and won't accumulate anymore because I never break out the AmEx. Moving right along.

I also never use my Discover card, so that had a whopping 313 points on it (or $3.13 in U.S. currency). Oh yeah, I'm a big spender.

Our joint Chase card looked promising though. After all, we did just put $1,800 on it after repairing the Hubs' car, so I should have gotten 1,800 points, right? Wrong. Well, not totally, but the statement hasn't closed with that transaction yet. As of today, I had about 4,000 points, which gets you more than American Express, but not much.

I contemplated redeeming some points for an iTunes gift card, but I couldn't think of any paid apps that the Hubs' or I wanted recently so I nixed that idea.

As I was purusing the Ultimate Rewards site, I saw you could "Shop the Ultimate Rewards Mall" and earn more points. More points? Okay! So pretty much, you're online shopping, but when you use the Chase card they give you an extra amount per dollar. I ended up buying two things I knew I was going to have to get anyway: a gift for my mother-in-law (whose birthday is next week) and heartworm medicine for my mom's dog. I can't tell you all what I got my MIL until she receives it, but I got 7 extra points per dollar for what I spent. 8 points per dollar! Awesome.

Then I received 6 extra points per dollar at 1800 Pet Meds. So 7 points x the $60 I spent on heartworm medicine = 420 points on that purchase! Awesomely Awesome.

Understandably, this could get a bit out of control, given that I can pretty much justify any purchase, ever. But I'm exercising a little thing called self-controlled. At least for the rest of today. Once I know my MIL received her purchase, I'll pay that charge (under $50, no biggie). And the next time I see my mom, she'll pay me for the heartworm meds, so that can get paid off right away too. Maybe by next month, I'll have enough points to trade in for a nice Christmas gift for someone!

What reward program do you use? Do you prefer the cash back or a gift card to "treat yo'self"? (as Tom Haverford would say)


  1. I have a 'points' reward credit card. Every few months I get myself $100 gift card to Amazon. You've gotta wait for that $100 level, not the $50 level. It's so silly doing all this waiting.

    BUT. Waiting is good. Especially for this justifying-buying-all-the-things. Sleeping on purchases usually works out well :)

  2. I'm a big fan of my Capital One Visa. It's just basically 1% back in rewards points (one point per dollar spent, and 5000 points gets you a $50 gift card, or 10,000 points gets you a $100 gift card), but I put enough stuff on it (and pay it off) that it's worth it.

    We also finally got a Lowe's card when we had our fence installed over the summer. I kick myself when I think of how much money we could have saved if we'd gotten one right before we bought the house, because they give you 5% off on every purchase (except if you do special financing). My plan is to use it for all future Lowe's purchases, and just pay off the balance of each transaction immediately.