October 22nd, 2012
For years the mint sold dollar coins at face value and allowed you pay with a credit card. I ordered well into the 6 figures and deposited them into my checking account before the mint finally sent me a letter to take it easy.
Since they stopped selling coins via credit card that left Amazon Payments as a good source for free credit card spending to meet spending thresholds, but that’s limited to $1,000 per month.
Along comes Bluebird from American Express. A card with practically no fees that allows you to send a check to anyone to pay a bill or even to pay off your credit card.
While it can be funded via debit card at Walmart for free the real beauty is that it can be funded with Vanilla Reload cards.
You can buy a Vanilla Reload card at Office Depot stores (except in NYC) with a credit card. There is a $3.95 fee to load $500.
-If you have a Chase Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash card you earn 5 points per dollar spent at office supply stores. So a $500 Vanilla Reload card purchase earns you 2,500 miles for a $3.95 fee, or 0.158 cents per mile. You can earn 5 points per dollar on the Bold/Plus cards on $50,000 of annual spending and on the Classic-Cash cards on $25,000 of annual spending.
If you spent $24,000 over the course of a year ($2,000/month) you would earn 120,000 miles, enough to fly in business class round-trip to Israel. The fees for the cards would total $189.60.
-Or on a Chase Freedom Exclusives card for example and you would earn 560 miles, or 0.7 cents per point, still a great deal for miles.
-On a Starwood card you would earn 500 Starpoints or 0.79 cents per Starpoint. Of course if you then transfer Starpoints to miles at a 25% bonus that means the miles were bought at an effective rate of 0.632 cents per mile.
-Or of course you can just use this to meet a spending threshold for a signup bonus. The Ink Bold and Plus cards give 50,000 bonus points for spending $10,000 in 3 months, so spending $10,000 at Office Depot on a new card would earn a total of 100,000 miles. The Ink Classic and Cash cards give 25,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months. Read more about applying for business cards in this post.
You can use the Vanilla Reload card to fund your Bluebird card from the Vanilla Reload site and use Bluebird to pay off your credit card bill. You can also use it to pay any other bills you may have like your mortgage, rent, or utilities, which may raise less of a flag then paying a credit card bill.
It all seems simple enough, I wonder how long it will take for them to plug the loophole?
Beware that Chase won’t exactly be pleased if you run out and max out your Ink card at an office supply store, so take it easy with this aspect and don’t spend too much in one shot. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya’