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Old 01-08-2021, 08:48 AM   #41
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I'm not really playing the CC games right now. A few years ago, I was hitting it pretty hard with manufactured spending and signup bonuses, and took home over $17,000 worth of points and cash back in one year.


Manufactured spending is how to really move the needle with the points game, from what Iíve read. Would you share how you did it? I understand some people buy money orders but that method has been regulated.
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:00 AM   #42
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I got some good sign-up bonuses at the beginning of 2020 by putting travel on some new cards. I utilized the bonuses. Then I got reimbursed for travel due to the pandemic, so had negative balances. And just got done closing the cards to avoid the annual fee (waived the first year). They didn't try to claw-back the rewards.

I'm reporting no dollar figures, because my choice of accounting methodology doesn't make it easy; I don't keep a separate asset account for each card's points. And the kickbacks get allocated to the original spend category. So, for example, if that month's card was used primarily for travel, then the kickback would just be used to reduce the travel total for the month. Those kickbacks don't look much different than, say, a payment, so hard to write a report that pulls them out for reporting. I might be able to do it, but lack motivation.

I've asked this question before, a long time ago, if people keep an asset account for points. Seems like a lot of work. With our 2% Fidelity cards, when the kickback arrives, I just ping-pong it back as a payment against the card using Fidelity bill-pay back to Elan.

One last comment...on the 6% groceries Amex, I did an analysis (kind of a PITA), and determined it was no better than 2% on the Fidelity card for us because of the $95 annual fee and the fact that our groceries often come from places not considered "grocery stores" in the eyes of Amex. So dumped that card, along with it's annual fee.
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:18 AM   #43
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I got some good sign-up bonuses at the beginning of 2020 by putting travel on some new cards. I utilized the bonuses. Then I got reimbursed for travel due to the pandemic, so had negative balances. And just got done closing the cards to avoid the annual fee (waived the first year). They didn't try to claw-back the rewards.

I'm reporting no dollar figures, because my choice of accounting methodology doesn't make it easy; I don't keep a separate asset account for each card's points. And the kickbacks get allocated to the original spend category. So, for example, if that month's card was used primarily for travel, then the kickback would just be used to reduce the travel total for the month. Those kickbacks don't look much different than, say, a payment, so hard to write a report that pulls them out for reporting. I might be able to do it, but lack motivation.

I've asked this question before, a long time ago, if people keep an asset account for points. Seems like a lot of work. With our 2% Fidelity cards, when the kickback arrives, I just ping-pong it back as a payment against the card using Fidelity bill-pay back to Elan.

One last comment...on the 6% groceries Amex, I did an analysis (kind of a PITA), and determined it was no better than 2% on the Fidelity card for us because of the $95 annual fee and the fact that our groceries often come from places not considered "grocery stores" in the eyes of Amex. So dumped that card, along with it's annual fee.
I use Award Wallet to keep track of how many points I have in all of the various travel/awards programs. Once a year I plug those points/miles into a spreadsheet and value them based on a couple of different websites. I've got a little over 2 million points/miles accumulated valued around $20K. Hopefully I'll be able to draw down some of these later this year.

I don't do manufactured spending, but do take advantage of bonuses for opening new CC's. About 10-15 years ago it was much easier to churn accounts for bonus points, but the CC companies caught on and nixed a lot of the opportunities. Now days I might do 2 or 3 a year.
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:56 AM   #44
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...
I've asked this question before, a long time ago, if people keep an asset account for points. Seems like a lot of work. With our 2% Fidelity cards, when the kickback arrives, I just ping-pong it back as a payment against the card using Fidelity bill-pay back to Elan.

...
What I do is simply have a column for my CC rewards in my spreadsheet.
So when I make use of points for something (airline ticket, payment to CC account, buy gift cards). I just stick it in the spreadsheet, whatever the value is.
Since I do redeeming of points when looking at my accounts via my computer, it's no effort to open the spreadsheet and record it.
(this is one of those things I don't track in my spending tracker app).

In the case of buying for example an airline ticket, I would put the value in both travel category and my CC reward category, as travel is an expenditure and the other is simply wanting to know how I'm doing reward wise.

When I'm feeling lazy, I spread out my redemption of rewards so that there is just one per month, so I don't have to add them together in the column.

It would be harder for me to give an exact $$ value per CC as I just mix them together for redemptions in the spreadsheet.
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Old 01-08-2021, 11:02 AM   #45
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...
I don't do manufactured spending, but do take advantage of bonuses for opening new CC's. About 10-15 years ago it was much easier to churn accounts for bonus points, but the CC companies caught on and nixed a lot of the opportunities. Now days I might do 2 or 3 a year.
Same here, no manufactured spending.
Just didn't feel it was worth the effort and the risk of buying a scammed/number recorded gift card.
I know some folks do it great, others have told me the story of buying a $500 gift card and the money disappeared.

I'm happy just getting 1 or 2 new CC per year with big bonuses and not doing any special spending
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:25 AM   #46
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One last comment...on the 6% groceries Amex, I did an analysis (kind of a PITA), and determined it was no better than 2% on the Fidelity card for us because of the $95 annual fee and the fact that our groceries often come from places not considered "grocery stores" in the eyes of Amex. So dumped that card, along with it's annual fee.


Thanks, I wondered about this. During Covid Iíve gotten addicted to the convenience of drive up groceries and donít intend to return to the old way. However, those purchases flow through Instacart, so I doubt Iím getting grocery points.
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:18 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by sengsational View Post
One last comment...on the 6% groceries Amex, I did an analysis (kind of a PITA), and determined it was no better than 2% on the Fidelity card for us because of the $95 annual fee and the fact that our groceries often come from places not considered "grocery stores" in the eyes of Amex. So dumped that card, along with it's annual fee.
Yes, it’s good to do the analysis and see if it’s worth it. Amex provides an annual report - you can see what your rewards were, spending, etc.

We do spend a lot on groceries, even outside Costco, so it works for us.

This year I’ve also been getting back 6% for streaming type purchases - music, video, even books. I guess Amex Blue will continue this as long as the pandemic is limiting people traveling.

Also got $30 back on one of my wine.com orders. Just luck to stumble across that offer.

I’m willing to put up with he card for now, because the rewards are paying off. But if that changes I’ll drop it.

Quicken helps me track. I use Cash Rewards as a category, it shows up as a credit in my spending report, and I can easily look at it by account.
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:35 AM   #48
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Thanks, I wondered about this. During Covid Iíve gotten addicted to the convenience of drive up groceries and donít intend to return to the old way. However, those purchases flow through Instacart, so I doubt Iím getting grocery points.
We have used Instacart and it is classified as "Groceries" on our BOA rewards card.
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:01 AM   #49
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We have used Instacart and it is classified as "Groceries" on our BOA rewards card.
Amex does the same.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:27 AM   #50
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Doesn’t Instacart charge so much extra that it blows away any CC rewards?
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:52 AM   #51
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My main credit cards are with Navy Federal. Their Amex gives 3 points for every dollar spent on groceries or in restaurants. As our eating out cratered in 2020, our grocery bills more than doubled. In 2020, I was able to redeem 100,000 points for $1,000 cash. That would come to about $33,333 spent. I also have a Navy Federal Visa that provides 2 points per dollar spent on anything we buy with it. That netted $500 in cash, or $50K spent on anything and everything. For gas purchases, I use the Penfed Visa card, which nets us 5 points per dollar. 2020 did not involve as much travel by car as in the past. Can't redeem for cash, but can exchange points for Amazon credit. They are not as generous as Navy - a $100 credit will cost 11,760 points, but I have done $400 worth in 2020.

Not counting any small cards, that comes to $1,900 in cash back. I remember in the old days when we clipped rebate coupons and then mailed them in with proof of purchase. For a few years I kept a log of the dozens and dozens of $1, $2, $3 and other small denomination rebates I put in for. Each cost a postage stamp, which was probably about 15 cents then, with rates going up every year. I think our highest yearly total was about $200, which, 40 years ago wasn't bad for the level of effort.

Now, when my wife gets contact lenses, not only do we get credit card points, but a rebate from the company for as much as $30 - no stamp required - online rebate form.

Forgot about our annual Costco rebate (don't have their credit card), but we do spend enough there (mostly delivered products these days) to easily cover our membership.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:53 AM   #52
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Doesnít Instacart charge so much extra that it blows away any CC rewards?
Personally, I don't equate the two; 6% cash back is better than 2%, no matter the charge.

I have only used Insta a couple of times to avoid the masses of people at Costco but certainly wouldn't use it as my primary way of getting groceries.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:53 AM   #53
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Doesn’t Instacart charge so much extra that it blows away any CC rewards?
It does where we live - we do curbside pickup at no charge. We have no cards that provide 6% cash back.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:57 AM   #54
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Doesnít Instacart charge so much extra that it blows away any CC rewards?
We only use it very infrequently, but otherwise yes the charges are way too much to justify for us.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:59 AM   #55
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..

Forgot about our annual Costco rebate (don't have their credit card), but we do spend enough there (mostly delivered products these days) to easily cover our membership.
I have Costco and Sam's membership.
For delivery items I've noticed Costco charges extra on each item and then sometimes wants a delivery fee.

Sam's charges the store price and free delivery on lots of things for the plus members, and free delivery on a few things for regular membership.
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:14 PM   #56
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Costco is a PITA with their same day, 2 day and regular delivery categories. Items that include delivery are more expensive than buying them instore. They are one category. The next is items that don't include delivery and there is a $75 minimum for those. Then we have 2 day, which has items that might or might not need delivery in two days - but they have a separate $75 minimum, which is separate from all other categories. And last comes same day delivery, which is generally for perishables and has both a minimum and delivery charges. What bothers me most, is that many of the items in 2 day make absolutely no sense - such as non perishables and copier paper, but not toilet paper. Oh, well.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:38 PM   #57
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Doesnít Instacart charge so much extra that it blows away any CC rewards?
When we were using Instacart the upcharges were tiny for deliveries from Aldi. The service charges were very reasonable also.....I don't think their business model is viable unless they jack up the service charges. I dropped the $10/mo subscription but they keep sending $60 free grocery coupons.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:47 PM   #58
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$1250 ish
Our credit card rewards were around $1050 in 2020 and that includes some pretty aggressive usage. 50% of that is Fidelity Visa ($530)and the rest is Amazon/Chase($168), Paypal Mastercard ($203, Penfed for gas ($72), Target Redcard ($48), and Lowes (?)

I got $200 bonus for opening a Penfed checking account.
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:35 PM   #59
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We have used Instacart and it is classified as "Groceries" on our BOA rewards card.


Thanks. I see that my Amex Delta card does the same now that I checked. Double points for groceries.
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Old 01-12-2021, 05:12 AM   #60
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Ms G and I make a game of CC rewards, but rarely open a new card for bonuses. We ended up with $1580 this year, Citi Costco did most of the heavy lifting.
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