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How I Made $4,220 FREE in Just 2 Hours from Credit Card Points Redemptions

I made $1,110 per hour, or $4,220 total for 2 cumulative hours of credit card points redemption. I want to share with you how and the nitty-gritty details in this article.

I am super excited to write this post because I couldn’t believe how much extra money I made from credit card points redemption when I sat down to tally the total last week.

Companies of all kinds offer of all types of credit card perks these days. Whatever you are into, traveling, shopping, eating, and even FREE CASH, chances are there is a credit card company willing and able to give you exactly that.

I mean who would turn down extra money? Especially when it is free!  Most people use credit cards anyway.  Most people also have ongoing bills to pay on a month to month basis anyway, so why not earn some extra cash in the process of doing what you do anyway?

Breakdown of My Credit Card Points Redemption Activity

AMEX American Airlines – 75,000 miles ($750 monetary value)

AMEX American Airlines – 75,000 miles ($750 monetary value)

My Citi Premiere Thank You 250 – $250

My Wife’s Citi Premiere Thank You – $250

My Chase Southwest Card – Free Ticket ($250 monetary value)

My Wife’s Chase Southwest Card – Free Ticket ($250 monetary value)

My AMEX Starwood Card – 10,000 points ($250 monetary value

My Wife’s AMEX Starwood Card – 10,000 points ($250 monetary value

My Chase Saphire Card – $500 Cash back

My Wife’s Chase Saphire – $500 Cash back

Miscellaneous – $220 (I’ll explain below)

GRAND TOTAL: $4,220

Cumulative Time Investment: 2 Hours (application, activation, modification of online bill pay records, award claim / credit card points transfers, deactivation)

Hourly Income: $1,110 (Wonder if I need to claim for income tax purposes?)

What we missed out on which I would do anything to claw back on:

100,000 Miles Chase British Airways Giveaway ($1,000 monetary value)

Note: These credit card points promotions may or may not be active as of this post. The estimated monetary values for the non monetary redemptions are ultra conservative. True cash value may be mush more than disclosed.

How I Responsibly Abused These Credit Card Points Programs

Working hard to establish good credit pays off. Having good credit and not needing it pays off even more.  This is an important point because doing what I did would’ve hurt me had I needed an auto or mortgage loan at the time I was abusing these credit card points programs.

The liberty to royally abuse at will is yet another benefit of being debt free. Stated better, money saved is money earned, and though the dynamics between saving and earning are different, the bottom line impact is the same.

This is why I pursue these credit card points promotions. The personal finance beast in me brought about this craze. The numbers junkie in me is looking at pure ROI. How much can I benefit and what do I have to give up to get it? Sure, it’s not passive income, but it’s a darn good effective hourly wage.

Each time a credit card points promotion that intrigued me came up, I signed up for it, met the minimum spending requirement (typically you have to spend a total of X dollars within the first Y months of getting it). Each time I met the requirement, I signed up my wife for the same credit card. Not sure if our different last names helped the process of getting approved?

Each time we both met the criteria for a particular credit card points promotion, we moved on to the next one.  We simply rotated from one to another one at a time, thereby avoiding the chance of rejection due to excessive credit limit or capacity outstanding. I know because I eventually got rejected from the biggest credit card points promotion program. I missed out on 100,000 miles from British Airways. Nooooooooo!

What to Keep in Mind When Playing the Credit Card Points Promotion Game

In my experience, there are three key things you have to keep in mind if you want to capitalize on similar promotional credit card points programs.  I will go over each briefly.

Annual Fees – Some of the credit cards I signed up for had annual fees while others did not. For the most part I don’t believe in paying annual fees on credit cards. That said, the ones that had them were waived for the first year. Knowing that I’d meet the spending minimum in less than a year, I knew I wouldn’t be paying annual fees.

Credit card companies are fighting for the best customers.  Because of this, they will try to keep your business when you get around to canceling your credit card (after you have met the minimum and redeemed your credit card points). When this happens, you need to be respectful but very firm. You need to close the account and move on to the next one.

There are some exceptions to this. Often times credit card companies will try to keep you buy extending you additional perks such as an $85 credit when you use your credit card for at least three more transactions.  This happened to me.  The $220 miscellaneous that you see above is a composition of two $85 credits with American Express and one $50 credit with Citi I believe.

Credit Score Impact – I mentioned above that this won’t work when you plan to borrow money or utilize your credit.  When you open and close all sorts of credit cards on an ongoing basis, there will be a short term negative impact on your credit score resulting from the inquiries. However, this should normalize relatively quickly. This game is definitely not for everyone, especially when you are close to a big ticket purchase on credit.

To demonstrate the impact of a temporary hit on your credit, I was denied the grand daddy of all credit card points promotions, the 100,000 miles British Airways giveaway.  I guess Chase figured out what I was up to and slammed the door on my face. Oh well…

Discipline and Organization– Finally, discipline and organization is important because as you pile on the promotions, things can get scattered and somewhat overwhelming.  I always maintained a spreadsheet that detailed the credit card points program I was signed up for, as well as various milestones such as spend limit, date I met the limit, award request, award receipt, account closure etc.

Each time I updated the spreadsheet, I emailed myself a fresh copy and deleted the older one. In addition to a master spreadsheet, I religiously set calendar reminders online as well as on my phone to ensure critical milestones were met on time.

Concluding Thoughts

Sounds fun and dandy doesn’t it? Not if you own a business and take credit cards for customer payments.  The business side of this equation is dark. As a small business owner who takes credit card payments, I get to see the other side of this game.

If you are wondering how credit card companies are able to fund such an expensive campaign, don’t wonder anymore because they are not. It is the business who swipes the customer’s credit card who is paying up da wazooo.

A business that swipes a high credit card perks card as form of customer payment also pays higher credit card fees for that transaction. Ever wonder why some stores don’t accept American Express or Discover? Those credit card companies have some of the most lavish credit card points programs out there, therefore resulting in higher fees for the merchant.

There are some new regulations around the corner that give retailers a choice when it comes to accepting credit cards by essentially allowing them to discriminate what credit card to accept. But think about this for a moment.  Would a retailer really exercise the right to discriminate at the expense of a lost sale? Likely not, I know I won’t. Gotta love how the double edged sword works here.

But as a consumer, fret not, there are a ton more credit card points programs on my target list and I am inching closer to each and every one of them.

Note: I am not advocating you do this for yourself, nor am I disseminating any advice. This article is a recollection of my personal experience with credit card points redemption programs. Each one of us decides what’s best for us.

Readers: Have you royally abused credit card points programs like I do? What are your thoughts on this method to make extra money?

 

Here are my additional thoughts on earning credit card points for doing what you already do anyway.

Here is a Business Idea: If you are developer who can come up with an application where a user inputs all their personal information once and have the application interface with various vendor bill pay systems, then there might be an opportunity here for you. There are many individuals like me who like to take advantage of credit card promotions. How about enabling them to change their credit card payment information to all the vendors they pay online much easier than having to go into each account manually and making the change? I’d happily pay $25 for this application. Something to think about? I’d be happy to discuss further if you are interested…

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25 Responses to “How I Made $4,220 FREE in Just 2 Hours from Credit Card Points Redemptions”

  1. SLee says:

    (Wonder if I need to claim for income tax purposes?)

    Chase once sent me a 1099 for some rewards cash they gave me.

    • Sunil says:

      can you share some details on what kind of rewards, how much and how far back? I have yet to receive anything in years of doing this now

      • SLee says:

        Now that I think about it, I think it was a 2-3 years ago — maybe 2009 tax season — and it was for a $100 reward I got for opening a checking account. That’s not *exactly* the same as credit card rewards, but it’s pretty similar. That’s the only time that’s happened, though. I haven’t received any 1099’s from them since then, even though I have earned more rewards from Chase.

  2. Rafael says:

    Hi dude,
    Send me an email to discuss the app, I’m a developer and I`m interested in your idea

  3. lenin says:

    loved the title, responsibly abused, brill, i must remember that one, seriously though, it was a agood idea to rotate from one to another is a greata idea, yes i think it helped with your wife having a differnt name when you signed her up as well

  4. I recently read that rewards are not treated by the IRS as income, but rather as refunds or discounts.

  5. Hal says:

    No, you don’t have to claim the rewards as income. Credit card rewards are treated as purchase rebates for tax purposes, making them non-taxable. However, if the rewards were earned off of a checking or savings account it would be considered interest income and fully taxable.

    And yes, I rape and pillage the card companies on a regular basis for signup bonuses and reward points. The biggest thing is keeping track of them all and making sure you meet whatever minimum purchase requirement the offer may have. Otherwise, it is easy money!

    • Sunil says:

      good addition Hal. I didn’t know about the checking account legality. I am glad I don’t chase those, as it’s all about bang for buck for me. too much hassle getting binded into checking account arrangements and such

      • Hal says:

        I do the checking account bonuses as well. Even if it is taxed, it is still worthwhile to me. Usually you open the account with $100, send a “direct deposit” to the account each month (either through payroll at your work or as an ACH transfer from ING or another bank account), and then close the account after six months. Most can be done online so it is a nice bonus for very little work.

        • Sunil says:

          I agree Hal, although the issue here is that if one has their personal finance “funnel” set up in an “automated” way, there can be several and severe interruptions by changing up their main checking account. for example, my main checking account is the top of my funnel, to which several relationships to other accounts are established, automating my entire finance process. that said, one can always direct deposit income from other streams of income when taking advantage of free checking offers.

  6. Im not really using credit card. I just hear that when you used it for paying stuff there’s certain charge. And didn’t bother myself to apply. Good to know that there’s some rewards on using them. Thanks

    • Sunil says:

      most credit cards do not charge when used (in the US at least). however, if you do not pay your balance off in full each month, you pay interest (it’s like a loan)

  7. Mike (CreditCardForum) says:

    Sunil, hope you applied for a few thru CreditCardForum, because then you would have made me a lot of money too :p Believe it or not I actually haven’t applied for any new cards since we last spoke, b/c I can’t have any more credit inquiries since, God willing, I’ll be buying a place soon.

    p.s. I’m surprised the Hyatt wasn’t on your list, the offer is easily worth $1,000+ if you redeem at their high end properties: http://creditcardforum.com/blog/hyatt-credit-card/

    • Sunil says:

      you got it Mike. Hyatt was NOT on my list because it is ON my list now 😉 I am attending a four day wedding in NYC this summer and redeeming all the good stuff I earned. but more importantly, how is CC forum doing? please update us

  8. julythomas says:

    you definitely will get results – I can tell already from your comment that you have the right focus. Even though online it’s easy to remain anonymous, strong relationships still count and those who realize that will do well,

  9. Im not really using credit card. I just hear that when you used it for paying stuff there’s certain charge. And didn’t bother myself to apply. Good to know that there’s some rewards on using them. Thank you for sharing this information.

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