Now that the fury is over RE the Vanilla Reload at Office Depot, we can all get back down to business of maximizing our credit card spend using some age old techniques with new twists for the current market.
The Holy Grail has always been being able to get a cash equivalent product with a credit card. Through the years we’ve added to that bonus category purchases of cash equivalents with credit cards. The INK/Vanilla twist was nice, but certainly unsustainable in a market of travel crazies that is 20 times bigger than when I started in this game.
For you old timers, remember these winners:
- Buying money orders with credit and debit card at the US Post Office.
- Buying American Express Travelers checks with your credit card at the American Express Travel agencies.
- The US Mint with credit cards and no shipping costs
- And my personal favorite, buying money orders from a grocery store with a credit card. It usually required finding a friendly clerk in a small grocery chain that did not have a companywide policy. I made more on this deal than the Bluebird could ever have netted me. We also had the Citi Thank You point redemption’s for 90K points, at any priced business class ticket, from the US to India. Smile you old timers. We really crushed them with that one at up to 12 points per dollar, when combined with the miles you drove on your car and your Citi Drivers Edge credit card. I didn’t pay for an airline ticket off that winner for five full years.
So now, in the present, we have a new cash equivalent we can buy with our credit cards. We can buy prepaid cards at stores that categorize the spending in bonus categories.
- Drug stores: Hilton Amex or Surpass
Reserveat 6 points per dollar.
- Grocery stores: the Blue Cash Preferred card. and 6% cash back.
- Gas stations (where you can earn 2 points per dollar): Ink Bold or Plus
- Office supply stores (at 5 points per dollar): Ink Bold or Plus
Some still hold out hope of finding Vanilla Reloads they can buy with bonus category cards and then load their Bluebirds so they can pay their bills with the Bluebird bill pay system. I have not been lucky to date finding stores that offer bonus categories and that opportunity. If they exist, be assured I’ll find them. You should be looking in your location as well.
Keep in mind that the card issuers make the rules on their credit cards and their bonus categories. There is no reason to feel guilty about buying a prepaid card with your credit card and earning bonus points for doing so. We didn’t make the rules. They did and can limit their exposure by putting yearly caps on as some have already done. We just need to play within the house rules and not draw attention to our activity.
For now, I’m happy earning the bonus points on prepaid cards. If I run into a tight spot meeting my minimum spend on new credit cards, I’ve got an out and answer now, as long as I can carry the float until I can unload the prepaid cards.
This Thanksgiving, I’ll be grateful for the increases we have been offered in category bonuses, smiling at the bonanza of points we got for awhile with Vanilla and reminiscing over some of our past windfalls from years gone by.
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes the game is postponed on account of rain or a new set of rules.
For today’s Deal of the Day American Airlines AAdvantage® has provided 2500 AAdvantage® miles for the best deals, fares, promotions, anything related to American Airlines, their oneworld partners or AAdvantage® partners. Add it to the comments section of this post or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post (with your first name, last initial, and home airport) to be eligible to win.
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