Sunday Reader Question: Does Buying Miles and Points Count As a Travel Expense?

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TPG reader Alvaro asks:

“Are buying points from US Airways (with current promotion) considered travel? I know it’s not airfare but should I purchase them with my Sapphire Preferred so they fall under the travel category?”

It would be great if travel category spending bonuses like the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s 2x bonus were eligible on mileage purchases.

Great question – especially since so many credit cards these days give bonuses for travel/airfare like the 3x points you get with the Amex Premier Rewards card, and the Sapphire Preferred 2x points as Alvaro mentions. So it would be great to get those bonuses in addition to a great deal like the recent 100% US Airways bonus. However, in general buying miles and points will not count as a travel purchase since most are actually sold via third party sites like Delta is the main exception and I have had my mileage purchases count towards travel and even the Amex Platinum $200 yearly fee rebate.

However, it never hurts to ask when trying to get the point bonus. Both Amex and Chase have great customer service and from time to time when my category bonuses don’t post correctly I call and they will manually give me the extra points. While I wouldn’t bank on this for mileage purchases, it never hurts to ask!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named a 'Best Credit Card' for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Sleek metal card design
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • $0 foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security and wider acceptance when used at a chip card reader
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value — that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
  • Travel confidently with premium Travel Protection Benefits, including Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Trip Delay Reimbursement and more
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Balance Transfer Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 See Terms Excellent Credit