Several months ago, I swapped out my Citi Thank You Premier card for a Citi Forward card. There was no substantial sign-up bonus to be had for the Forward card and I was not using my Premier card to book flights, so I didn’t try to get a new bonus. I just asked Citi to swap them out for me. It took two months, but am I glad I made the swap.
One of our big category spends is dining and the Forward card pays five points per dollar spent in this category. Last month I paid for a dinner for eight in Hawaii and paid in advance for $500 of dining at a local restaurant here on Hilton Head island. My total spend was $1,342 in the bonus category and I earned a whopping 7,000 Thank You points. Now, I won’t spend that much every month on dining, but this is a bonus category I can really score with.
Between my sign-up bonuses for the Premier card, Preferred card, and spending on the Forward card, I’ve racked up 93,997 Thank You points. That’s almost a $1,000 of gift cards or maybe more in airfare? (I’ve got to double check that feature,) And I still have a 25,000 point second bonus for $5,000 in spend once my Preferred card is in its second six months of activation.
The point of my post is to remind you to look closely at your spending patterns and don’t get locked down to one or two general category cards. Imagine a truck driver, paying for his own gas, not using a card that bonus-ed the heck out of gasoline purchases. He’d be crazy not to carry a card that offered the biggest bonus for gas. I think it is the Hilton Surpass card, but it may be the Citi Preferred card as well.
It is early in the year and time to take a look at your particular spending pattern. Do you have a big time category you are not taking advantage of?
If you care to comment on big category bonuses you are aware of and using, help your fellow travel crazy buddies by posting them in the comments section for all to see.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49