This year, I’ve probably done more manufactured spending than ever. Even back in the day when I could walk across the street from my office to CVS and buy $5,000 worth of Vanilla Reloads per day, I don’t think I reached the numbers I’m pulling in now that it’s gotten more difficult. On a daily basis, I do a minimum of $2,500 – $7,500 in online gift card orders and if I feel up to it, I pick up another $9,500 at my local mall. Usually I don’t go to my local mall unless I have enough gift cards to justify going on a money order run. Some of you have asked me which credit cards I use for all these gift card purchases and it’s usually a set of cards that either belong to me or that I’m an authorized user on, which I keep rotating:
Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
A few weeks ago, Howie decided to throw some shade my way by calling the Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard “the worst 2% cash back card.” That’s ridiculous – the Barclay Arrival Plus card happens to be the best 2.1% cash back card out there. Sure, you have to spend at least $89,000 per year just to cover the $89 annual fee but for most of us that’s a drop in the bucket. But I get it – for people who are used to earning their miles the lazy way (i.e. via credit card churning), $89k is just too high. 😜
Despite the fact that Barclays increased minimum travel redemptions to $100, I was still able to redeem 8,900 points for the $89 annual fee this year. My dad and brother each have their own Arrival Plus cards, on which I’m an authorized user. Thanks to generous spending limits, I’m able to get good use out of all three cards.
Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card
You gotta love Fidelity. About four years ago, they had this awesome deal where they offered upwards of 50,000 airline miles for opening a brokerage account. The best part? You could open two accounts, which is how I pulled in a combine 100,000 worth of AAdvantage and Delta Skymiles for myself and three family members. I closed one of those accounts but the other is where I store the 2% cash back I earn from the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card. The card has no annual fee and earns a flat 2% cash back on all spending. So why am I holding onto my Arrival Plus card? I try not to put all of my spending on a single card, so having this card to fall back on means I can spread large amounts of spend across multiple cards while earning a minimum of 2% cash back.
Discover it Miles Card
I’m loving the Discover it Miles Card for several reasons. Never mind that it has no sign-up bonus – it has no annual fee and earns the equivalent of 3% cash back during the first year! Granted, it initially pays out just 1.5% and the remaining half gets deposited after the first year, but it all adds up to 3%. Did I mention the card has no annual fee, yet offers $30 worth of annual in-flight wifi credits? As someone who is too cheap to pay $450 in annual fees on the Amex Platinum card, which offers free unlimited Boingo wifi, this little benefit from the Discover it Miles Card is a perfect fit.
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
At a recent meet-up, a reader took a very casual approach to the whole Amex Financial Review thing – in his view, it’s not a big deal you should welcome it because once it happens, it won’t happen again. I don’t want it to happen in the first place, so I’m trying to be cool with the amount of spend I put on the two Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cards I’ve been entrusted with. I put a good amount of normal spending on these cards, I regularly take advantage of Amex Offers, and on occasion I use these cards for online gift card orders or if all other payment forms get rejected at my local mall, I pull one of these cards out and they never let me down.
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Credit Card
The Bank of America Alaska Airlines Credit Card is bugging me these days because 1.) The spending limit is just $3,000 and 2.) when I try to use it at my local mall, I get an error message that may be related to the chip. I know, that’s an easy problem to solve, but for now I stick to using the card for online orders. Alaska miles are very valuable and being able to earn them very cheaply through online gift card purchases is a plus. It’s also nice to be able to top off my Alaska Mileage Plan account (assuming I don’t have an immediate use for them) without having to transfer 20,000 Starpoints to maximize the transfer bonus.
Citi Platinum AAdvantage Card
The Citi Platinum AAdvantage card drove me crazy in my Vanilla Reload buying days because it got almost always declined, even when I’d call ahead and let them know I was making a large purchase. Nowadays, the fraud alerts have decreased and I’m able to get more use out of this card – as a backup when all other payment forms decline for large gift card purchases.
I’m seriously lacking in hotel credit cards since I parted ways with my Club Carlson Visa, so I may pick up a Hilton card, mainly to maintain Hilton Diamond status. I’ve also been meaning to get my hands on a Freedom Unlimited card. I hear they’re not enforcing the 5/24 rule to encourage applications and I’d love a card that earns me 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points with no fuss.
That’s pretty much it in terms of credit cards I’m using to earn points and miles at the moment. Which credit cards are you currently focused on?
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