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Maximizing AMEX And Chase Bonus Spending And Redemption Categories

AMEX and Chase have come out swinging with points that are worth more when you have their premium cards.

The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN now offers a 50% rebate when you redeem coach airfare with your choice of a domestic airline and a 50% rebate when you redeem for business or first class airfare with any airline on amextravel.com. Be sure you are logged in to redeem points. People have had success chatting to change the airline of their choice as well, but YMMV (your mileage may vary).

If there’s a $100 airline ticket you want to book it will cost 10,000 points and you’ll get 5,000 points back. That means your points are effectively worth 2 cents each as a fixed rate redemption. And unlike with mileage tickets, you will also earn miles for these tickets. AMEX also offers insider fares that can make your points be worth even more than 2 cents each towards paid airfare, but we’ll ignore those fares for the purpose of this post. Of course the caveat here is that you have to have the full amount of points available in your account and then you must wait for the points rebate.

This post doesn’t account for AMEX bonus points for spending at small businesses.

-The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you redeem points for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and select travel activities at a fixed rate redemption value of 1.5 cents each from the Ultimate Rewards site. There’s no waiting around for a rebate or selecting an airline, but the maximum value is 1.5 cents each.

Both of these cards also offer the ability to transfer points into real airline miles where your points can be worth far more or far less, depending on what you use them for. Miles can be worth 0.5 cents or 50 cents each depending on the exact redemption. But for determining value in this post we’ll assume a baseline of 1.5 cents each for Chase and 2 cents each for AMEX based on the fixed redemption options that the Sapphire Reserve and Business Platinum cards offer. That’s not entirely fair as the Chase redemption option offers far more flexibility, but for this post we’ll just compare the maximum potential fixed rate value even if it requires jumping through some hoops.

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers.

Of course the real trick is maximizing spending categories and then using those points with the premium cards. This post assumes that you will have a Sapphire Reserve or AMEX Business Platinum in order to maximize the fixed rate redemption value.

On Chase Ultimate Rewards cards that means:

-Everyday purchases on Chase Freedom Unlimited where every purchase earns 1.5 points per dollar. You can transfer those points to Sapphire Reserve, making the effective rebate at least 2.25% everywhere thanks to the 1.5 cents per point value.
The Freedom Unlimited card offers 15,000 points for spending $500 in 3 months and another 2,500 points for opening an additional user card. It has no annual fee and a 3% foreign exchange fee.

-Travel purchases on the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3 points per dollar making the effective rebate at least 4.5% thanks to the 1.5 cents per point value. This category includes airfare, car rentals, hotels, Airbnb, campgrounds, cruises, trains, buses, subways, Uber, Lyft, taxis, limos, ferries, bridges, tolls, E-ZPass, parking, and more.
The Sapphire Reserve card offers 100,000 points for spending $4,000 in 3 months. It has a $450 annual fee and no foreign exchange fees. It comes with a $300 automatic travel credit every calendar year, a Priority Pass lounge membership with unlimited free guests, and Global Entry/Pre-Check membership.

-Dining purchases on the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3 points per dollar making the effective rebate at least 4.5% thanks to the 1.5 cents per point value. This category includes Restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, bars, and lounges.

-Office Supply purchases (including gift cards sold at office supply stores to stores like Amazon) on Ink Plus or Ink Cash cards to earn 5 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 7.5% thanks to the 1.5 cents per point value.
The Ink Plus card offers 60,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months. It has a $95 annual fee and no foreign exchange fees. You can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $50,000 in spending per year.
The Ink Cash card offers 30,000 points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. It has no annual fee and a 3% foreign exchange fee. You can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $25,000 in spending per year.

-Telecom, Cable, and internet service on Ink Plus or Ink Cash cards to earn 5 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 7.5% thanks to the 1.5 cents per point value.

-Gas on Ink Plus or Ink Cash cards to earn 2 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 3% thanks to the 1.5 cents per point value.

-Rotating category purchases on Freedom to earn 5 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 7.5% thanks to the 1.5 cents per point value. In 2016 these categories included Q1: Gas stations and local commuter transportation. Q2: Grocery stores and Wholesale clubs like BJs, Costco, and Sams Club. Q3: Restaurants and Wholesale clubs. Q4: Department stores, Drug stores, Wholesale clubs.
The Freedom card offers 15,000 points for spending $500 in 3 months and another 2,500 points for opening an additional user card. It has no annual fee and a 3% foreign exchange fee.

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers.


On AMEX Membership Rewards cards that means:

-Everyday purchases on AMEX Everyday Preferred where every purchase earns at least 1.5 points per dollar if you make at least 30 transactions per month. You can transfer those points to the Business Platinum card, making the effective rebate at least 3% everywhere thanks to the 2 cents per point value.
The AMEX Everyday Preferred card offers 15,000 points for spending $1,000 in 3 months. It has a $95 annual fee and a 2.7% foreign exchange fee.

-Everyday purchases on AMEX Everyday card (if you want to avoid paying additional annual fees) where every purchase earns at least 1.2 points per dollar if you make at least 20 transactions per month. That’s an effective rebate at least 2.4% thanks to the 2 cents per point value.
The AMEX Everyday card offers 10,000 points for spending $1,000 in 3 months. It has no annual fee and a 2.7% foreign exchange fee.

-Everyday purchases on AMEX Blue for Business card (if you want to avoid paying minimum transactions per month) where every purchase earns at least 1.3 points per dollar after a 30% annual points dividend. That’s an effective rebate at least 2.6% thanks to the 2 cents per point value.
The AMEX Blue for Business card offers 10,000 points for spending $1 in 3 months. It has no annual fee and a 2.7% foreign exchange fee.

-Large everyday purchases of $5,000 or more on the Business Platinum card to earn 1.5 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 3% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is capped at 1,000,000 points per year.
It has a $450 annual fee and no foreign exchange fees. It offers a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year that can also be used for gift cards purchased for stores like Amazon via United MileagePlusX. It offers a 50% rebate when you redeem coach airfare with your choice of an airline and a 50% rebate when you redeem for business or first class airfare with any airline on amextravel.com. It provides 10 annual GoGo in-flight WiFi passes, Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood Gold elite status, Centurion lounge access, Delta lounge access, Airspace lounge access, Priority Pass lounge access, Global Entry/Pre-Check membership. Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi, and Lost item protection.

-Airfare purchases on the Platinum card to earn 5 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 10% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is not capped.
The AMEX Platinum card offers 40,000 points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. It has a $450 annual fee and no foreign exchange fees. It offers a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year that can also be used for gift cards purchased for stores like Amazon via United MileagePlusX. It provides Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood Gold elite status, Centurion lounge access, Delta lounge access, Airspace lounge access, Priority Pass lounge access, Global Entry/Pre-Check membership. Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi, and Lost item protection. You can also add 3 additional cardholders for a flat $175 fee ($58.33/year each) which each include elite benefits, lounge access benefits, and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.

-Airfare purchases on the Premier Rewards Gold card to earn 3 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 6% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is not capped.
The Premier Rewards Gold card offers 25,000 points for spending $2,000 in 3 months. It has a $195 annual fee which is waived for the first year and no foreign exchange fees. It offers a $100 airline fee credit per calendar year that can also be used for gift cards purchased for stores like Amazon via United MileagePlusX.

-Shipping on AMEX Business Gold to earn 3 points per dollar as your preferred category or 2 points per dollar otherwise. That’s an effective rebate at least 6% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is capped at $100,000 per year.  If you spend on Fedex you can also get a 5% rebate, for a total of 11% back.
The AMEX Business Gold card offers 50,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months for a limited time only. It offers 3 points per dollar in the category of your choice and 2 pints per dollar on other categories. It has a $175 annual fee which is waived for the first year and no foreign exchange fees.

-Groceries on AMEX Everyday Preferred to earn 4.5 points per dollar with 30 total transactions/month. That’s an effective rebate at least 9% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is capped at $6,000 in spending per year.

-Groceries on AMEX Premier Rewards Gold to earn 2 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 4% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is not capped.

-Gas on AMEX Business Gold to earn 3 points per dollar as your preferred category or 2 points per dollar otherwise. That’s an effective rebate at least 6% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is capped at $100,000 per year.

-Gas on AMEX Everyday Preferred to earn 3 points per dollar with 30 total transactions/month. That’s an effective rebate at least 6% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is not capped.

-Gas on AMEX Premier Rewards Gold to earn 2 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 4% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is not capped.

-Restaurants on AMEX Premier Rewards Gold to earn 2 points per dollar. That’s an effective rebate at least 4% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is not capped.

-Uber on AMEX Everyday Preferred to earn 2.5 points per dollar with 30 total transactions/month. That’s an effective rebate at least 5% thanks to the 2 cents per point value.

-Advertising on AMEX Business Gold to earn 3 points per dollar as your preferred category or 2 points per dollar otherwise. That’s an effective rebate at least 6% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is capped at $100,000 per year.

-Computer hardware, software, and cloud computing on AMEX Business Gold to earn 3 points per dollar as your preferred category or 2 points per dollar otherwise. That’s an effective rebate at least 6% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is capped at $100,000 per year. If you spend on HP you can also get a 5% rebate, for a total of 11% back.

-Car rentals on AMEX Blue for Business to earn 1.3 points per dollar plus 5% cash back if you rent with Hertz. That’s an effective rebate at least 2.6% (or 7.6% for Hertz) thanks to the 2 cents per point value.

Summary:

CategoryAMEXChase  
Advertising-6% Business Gold-2.25% Freedom Unlimited
Airfare-10% Platinum
-6% Premier Rewards Gold

-4.5% Sapphire Reserve
Car rentals-2.6-7.6% Blue for Business-4.5% Sapphire Reserve
Everyday Purchases-3% Everyday Preferred-2.25% Freedom Unlimited
Gas -6% Everyday Preferred
-6% Business Gold
-4% Premier Rewards Gold
-7.5% Freedom during rotating category.
-3% Ink Plus
-3% Ink Cash
Groceries -9% Everyday Preferred
-4% Premier Rewards Gold
-7.5% Freedom during rotating category.
-2.25% Freedom Unlimited
Hotels-3% Everyday Preferred-4.5% Sapphire Reserve
Restaurants-4% Premier Rewards Gold-7.5% Freedom during rotating category.
-4.5% Sapphire Reserve
Rotating categoriesN/A-7.5% Freedom
Office Supplies-3% Everyday Preferred-7.5% Ink Plus
-7.5% Ink Cash
Telecom-3% Everyday Preferred-7.5% Ink Plus
-7.5% Ink Cash
Uber-5% Everyday Preferred-7.5% Freedom during rotating category.
-4.5% Sapphire Reserve
Shipping-6-11% Business Gold-2.25% Freedom Unlimited
Computer Hardware/Software-6-11% Business Gold-2.25% Freedom Unlimited

Do you maximize your spending? Have another strategy you use? Hit the comments!

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10 Responses to “Maximizing AMEX And Chase Bonus Spending And Redemption Categories”

  1. Jew Says:
    1

    wow thank you Dan!

    ReplyReply
  2. Moshe Says:
    2

    hi dan,

    getting the 5% discount is not only limited to the amex business gold card. it is available on other amex cards as well. i am not sure all the cards that this benefit is available but i know at least the starwood business card has rebated me 5% back on fedex.

    thanks for everything and good yom tov!

    ReplyReply
  3. Dan Says:
    3

    @Jew:
    My pleasure.

    @Moshe:
    Correct, all AMEX business cards qualify for Open Savings:
    https://www.americanexpress.com/opensavings/

    However the AMEX Business Gold also awards 2 or 3 points per dollar for shipping, making it the best card for shipping spending.

    ReplyReply
  4. elie Says:
    4

    I think Amex is winning here

    ReplyReply
  5. Elie Says:
    5

    Btw thank you dan! truly in-depth fascinating article

    ReplyReply
  6. Sheldon Says:
    6

    Stop & Shop now allowed to buy gift cards with credit card

    ReplyReply
  7. Tony Says:
    7

    Hey Dan, I have a blue sky card which I do not use and I wanted to change to a blue cash everyday and they told me they did not have to option to change it. Any advice?

    ReplyReply
  8. B Says:
    8

    Are these numbers from AMEX/Chase specific to holding a portfolio of cards (more than one)? It would be good to mention that in the title. What the suggestions of the cards you have to hold from each of the vendors. For Chase, it looks like you’re recommending CSR, Freedom and/or Freedom Unlimited, and Chase Ink Plus/Cash. For AMEX it seems like Platinum, Business Platinum, PRG and BGR and other non fee cards. It would be a good to also do an explanation of cost for each of the card ‘portfolio’ that you carry. For the Chase portfolio, it would be $450, while for the AMEX it would be $1000+.

    There is an amount of spend that you need to do to actually be able to benefit for each of these cards. But it’s very YMMV. So the table itself, shows the “best case” scenario given a certain amount of spending you do and certain cards that you have to have in your wallet.

    Say, for shipping, for example. It will cost me $175 to have the BGR. The $175 is offset by perhaps AMEX offers etc, but what’s most important, is that if you don’t do that much shipping, you need to spend $195 to get into the category of that 6-11%. In addition to the BGR, you will also need a Business Platinum at which costs $450. That type of description is kind of valuable for your percentages.

    ReplyReply
  9. Yoko Says:
    9

    What is the best card to use at Home Depot?

    ReplyReply
  10. CD Says:
    10

    I was wondering the same thing. How is the effective rebate 9% for groceries?

    > Groceries on AMEX Everyday Preferred to earn 4.5 points per dollar with 30 total transactions/month. That’s an effective rebate at least 9% thanks to the 2 cents per point value. This benefit is capped at $6,000 in spending per year.

    On same paragraphs, it’s mentioned that you need to transfer the points to another card, but the points transferring was stated in this groceries paragraph.

    ReplyReply

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