How to Take Advantage of Credit Card Bonus Categories to Earn Millions of Points and Miles

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Credit-Cards-In-Gold-Colors

We’ve all seen this – companies like American Express and Chase offering dozens and dozens of credit cards, each with a different rewards system. Earn 2 bonus points on travel! Get 3% cash back at restaurants! Receive 5 miles for buying groceries! Being a shrewd ninja, you try to maximize your earning potential as much as possible.

Maybe you even have a bunch of credit cards, using specific ones that gives you the best rewards for a certain category. It gets pretty complicated juggling all your cards and remembering which earns what. But… what if I tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way?

The next level

There are advance ninjas out there earning millions of points and miles every month. This isn’t new. A small group of people who understand how the system works have been doing it for years. I’m one of them.

In the last three months alone, I’ve earned almost 1,000,000 points with American Express and Chase:

Chase Ultimate Rewards balance
American Express Membership Rewards balance

The secret is to let your brain get a little creative and think outside of the box. A popular option for many is manufactured spending, but if you want to do it organically, here’s an example to get your creative juices flowing.

One card that rules them all

I have a credit card that normally earns 1 point for every dollar I spend, but it gives me 5 points for purchases at “office supply stores” like Staples and Office Depot. At first glance, it doesn’t sound too exciting. I mean, how much can people spend at Staples?!? I’m not a teacher, there’s only a limited amount of Five Star notebooks and Bic pens I need in life.

Well, it just so happens that most of these stores have a section of racks that sells gift cards. Remember, ANYTHING you buy at office supply stores qualifies for the 5 bonus points. Gift cards are included as well.

Gift card rack at Staples

Have a Netflix subscription? Instead of paying Netflix directly and earning only 1 point per dollar, I can buy a Netflix gift card and pay my own account off, earning 5 points instead. Need to fill up your car with gas? Don’t do it at the gas station! Buy a Shell gift card and use it to pay next time you need to refill your tank. Flying somewhere? Buy a Southwest gift card to pay for your next flight home!

You get the picture. All of this really adds up over time. Still, this may not earn you the millions of points you’re craving. Let’s increase our ninja brain power up another level!

VISA and Mastercard gift cards

You may have noticed that these stores also sell Visa and Mastercard-branded gift cards. They work exactly like cash. So why not buy them, earn the bonus points, and use the Visa/Mastercard gift cards for everyday purchases?

Visa gift cards at Staples

Here’s the general steps:

  1. Go to an office supply store
  2. Buy a $500 Visa/Mastercard gift card, earning 2,500 points ($500 x 5 bonus points per dollar)
  3. Use the $500 Visa/Mastercard gift card everywhere you would have normally spent with your credit card
  4. Once the gift card is used up, go to the office supply store and repeat steps above
Chase bonus points earned at office supply stores

Ninjas-in-training, this strategy essentially gives you a permanent bonus anywhere you shop! You might as well throw out your credit card’s earning structure out the window. Although the card I’m using above is not available for new sign-ups, there are many credit cards out there that have bonus categories, so the underlying technique is the same:

  • Use a credit card that gives bonus cash/points/miles for certain categories (e.g. office supply stores, supermarkets, gas stations)
  • Find out if those categories have something you can take advantage of
  • Earn rewards a lot faster than you normally would
  • KA-CHING – enjoy your ninja lifestyle

The Bottom Line

Some ninjas have scaled this to size or mixed this up with a little manufactured spending. There are top-tier ninjas out there who generate millions of points every month. Others do it to gain a few more thousand than they would otherwise. A lot of people are also somewhere in between.

What other creative ways have you thought of?

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