Video SRQ: What Credit Cards are Best for Big Spenders ($100k+)?

by on April 14, 2013 · 23 comments

in Credit Cards, Reader Success Stories, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Laura sent in a question via my Facebook page this week about how to strategize some big annual credit card spending.

“What credit cards do you recommend for someone who spends over $100,000 a year on credit? Should I get a bunch of cards or stick with the top 3?”

You might not think this question applies to many people, but the thing is, you don’t have to be rich and spending extravagantly to rack up $100,000 or more on credit card spending every year. Many small business owners do so many times over each year simply in the course of doing business, so keep an eye on your spending and see if you’re getting anywhere near this mark.

Apart from that, if you’ve been taking advantage of American Express’s Bluebird card and loading it up with Vanilla Reloads you’ve purchased at CVS using a points-earning credit card then paying your bills such as utilities and mortgage with it or even withdrawing cash, remember you can load up to $5,000 a month in Vanilla Reloads on your Bluebird, so right there you are getting up to about $60,000 in potential spending. So there are lots of ways that you can reach the $100,000 spending level without actually buying anything you don’t need.


When you spend $100,000 annually on the JP Morgan Chase Palladium card you’ll earn 35,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

That said, there are a few points-earning credit cards out there specifically geared toward high spenders, and many of them are for those who have significant private banking funds with major banks.

The JP Morgan Chase Palladium card earns 35,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $100,000 annually. That’s not so bad given that I value those points at about 2 cents apiece. So I’d say that bonus is worth just about $700. However, the card does have a $595 annual fee, so much of that value is canceled out right there. You can get a card such as the Sapphire Preferred with a much lower annual fee ($95 waived the first year) and earn a 7% annual points dividend and 2X category spending bonuses on travel and dining, potentially earning a ton of bonus points right there.

The Morgan Stanley Platinum Amex currently offers a bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $1,000 spent within 3 months and offers a $500 credit when you spend $100,000 annually, though that’s not actually a huge reward at all given the spending required and the fact that the card carries a $450 annual fee (although you get all the perks of an Amex Platinum card).

The Goldman Sachs Private Banking American Express, which does not currently offer a sign-up bonus, awards cardholders with 40,000 Amex Membership Rewards points annually when they spend $100,000 per calendar year, though it does carry a $450 annual fee. You’ve also got to be banking a fair amount of funds with Goldman in order to even qualify for this piece of plastic.

Personally, I wouldn’t focus on just one card – you should always consider diversifying your points strategy and there are a lot of credit cards out there that offer calendar year spending bonuses.

I spend a lot on my cards every year. I always go for the 15,000-point bonus I get on my Amex Premier Rewards Gold card for spending $30,000 in a calendar year – plus I earn 3X points on airfare and 2X on gas and groceries so I can really maximize this card to up my Amex point balance.

Earn elite status

The Delta Reserve card awards bonuses of elite-qualifying MQM’s.

Other cards will award you with elite status, such as the Delta Reserve card, which has a sign-up bonus of 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) upon your first purchase with the Card and SkyClub access, and when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year you can earn a Miles Boost of 15,000 MQM’s. Spend $60,000 in that same year and you can earn an additional 15,000 MQM’s. Those 30,000 MQM’s are not only for Medallion status but can be used as redeemable miles as well. So you’re getting a potential total of 40,000 MQM’s from this single card, which is more than enough for Silver Medallion status and almost all the way to Gold without even stepping on a plane.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card offers cardholders a free weekend night when spending $10,000 in a calendar year and Hilton Diamond status for spending $40,000 in a calendar year.

I would mix and match if I were you so that you can rack up a few different bonuses of credit card points, airline miles and hotel points so that when you get ready to redeem some awards you’ve got a nice diverse points portfolio from which to draw. Here are a few of the other cards out there with great spending bonuses that you can consider:

British Airways Visa Signature Card: Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa Signature card, you will earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years when you redeem for a flight on British Airways.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: Earn a Miles Boost of 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles when you reach $25,000 in eligible purchases during a calendar year. Earn an additional Miles Boost of 10,000 MQMs when you reach $50,000 in eligible purchases the same calendar year.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card: Earn 10,000 bonus redeemable miles each calendar year you spend at least $25,000 on your card.

United Club Card: Although it doesn’t offer a spending threshold bonus, this card earns 1.5 United miles (the most valuable frequent flyer miles in my opinion) per $1, so spending $100,000 = 150,000 United miles, worth about $3,000 by my estimate since I value United miles at about 2 cents apiece.

Citi Executive American Airlines AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard: Earn 10,000 elite-qualifying miles when you spend $40,000 in a calendar year.
Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Visa Signature: Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount every year when you spend $30,000.
US Airways MasterCard: Earn 10,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles after hitting $25,000 in spending each year.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases. Get up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points annually.

Virgin America Visa: Cardmembers that have an annual fee will earn 10,000 status points (provided the annual fee has been paid) and Virgin America Visa cardholders not paying an annual fee will earn 5,000 status points when the spend $25,000 within a calendar year.
Virgin Atlantic American Express: Earn 15,000 bonus miles on every cardmembership anniversary upon spending $25,000 annually (redeem miles for a Virgin Atlantic Economy reward ticket and get a second reward ticket for half the miles). One tier point per $2,500 in purchases (maximum of 2 per month).

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card: Spend $30,000 in a calendar year and receive complimentary SPG Gold status.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn 1 elite night credit for every $3,000 spent. There is no limit to the number of elite nights that you can earn.
Fairmont Visa Signature: Earn one free night every anniversary with $12,000 in annual spending.
American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card: Enjoy an automatic upgrade to HHonors Diamond Elite status when your total eligible spend reaches $40,000 or more during a calendar year.
Hyatt Credit Card: When you spend the following amounts in a calendar year, Hyatt will award you with credits towards Diamond status: $20,000 annually = 2 stay / 5 night credits 
or $40,000 annually = an additional 3 stay / 5 night credits, so up to 10 night credits per year by spending $40,000.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card: Gold status every year you spend $10,000 or more on the card.

US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature: Earn 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each year when you spend $24,000 in net purchases per cardmember year.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jim Williams

    As you said, I pump well over 100K points per year, when I remember to run business expenses over the cards.

    About the BLUEBIRD…I can no longer buy Vanilla Reloads at Walgreens, and you mentioned CVS. Of course there are no CVS stores near me. Is there any other way to take advantage of Bluebird?

  • stldoc

    I don’t think you mentioned the southwest companion pass which could be attained solely with credit card spend at that level and could be a huge value. I made my grandmother a user on my card and get to companion pass status yearly mainly on credit card spend. It’s a huge value for everyone in the family given all the points we amass over the year.

  • stldoc

    I don’t think you mentioned the southwest companion pass which could be attained solely with credit card spend at that level and could be a huge value. I made my grandmother a user on my card and get to companion pass status yearly mainly on credit card spend. It’s a huge value for everyone in the family given all the points we amass over the year.

  • Thanh

    I have a question: Is the 10k Preferred Qualifying Miles earned after $25k in spending on US Air card are also redeemable miles? Meaning it’ll be a total of 35k redeemable miles assuming $25k of non-bonus category spending?

  • Jim

    I spend over $100k on my card each month. I currently use the AMEX Plum card which gives me 2% cash back. I previously used the AMEX Platinum card which of course gives me rewards points. Any suggestions if there are any better solutions?

  • Guesty McGuesterson

    Even in the Washington, DC area, where there are plenty of Walgreens and CVS locations to choose from, I’d say less than one-third of them actually carry the Vanilla reload cards that can be used for the AmEx Bluebird. And to make it worse, each location seems to have its own set of rules regarding method of payment, daily limits, etc. But still, being able to charge the $5k per month towards miles and elite status, is a gift horse I shouldn’t look in the mouth, so I won’t complain (too much) about dealing with the inconsistencies.

  • Charles Clarke

    Buy debit cards with a credit card at places where you can get a good enough reward bonus to outweigh the fee. Go to Walmart and load them into your Bluebird. You can then use to pay other bills. In a way, you are buying the reward bonuses with the activation fees and time.

  • jivepicnic

    No, you don’t get an additional 10k redeemable miles. All that they do once you’ve spent $25k is give you 10k preferred miles. Your redeemable miles remain the same. (I qualified for this bonus in 2012.)

  • Link overload

    Dang…how many affiliate links did you get in this post?

  • AirplanePeanuts

    I split between Chase INK and Starwood. Eventually I plan to put it all on Starwood.

  • disqust101

    He could have squeezed in a dozen more if he were trying…

  • disqust101

    ??? The best cards out there are the Chase Ink products – and they’re not even mentioned? Hmmmph. And with 4 different flavors, could have four more affiliate links to pimp…

  • Scott

    I wrote a comment that respectfully indicated my disappointment with the number of affiliate links and it was, apparently, not approved.

  • Link whore

    LOL just glancing this post, and I see more than 20 affiliant links. Damn whore much?

  • Points Surfer

    Hi Points Guy,

    Quick question – how come in your most recent churn you decided to go for the Mercedes-Benz Amex Platinum instead of the Morgan Stanley version? Both carry the same sign up bonus with the same spending requirements. However the Mercedes version carries a slightly higher annual fee, which makes me conclude that the Morgan Stanley version would be best for a churn.

    Am I missing something here?

  • Kyle

    Uh oh. TPG finally started moderating comments because people are getting annoyed with the increased credit card push.

  • thepointsguy

    I don’t approve comments- they post instantly. The only comments I delete are ones with foul language / spam or that are harassing. If your comment didn’t post disqus may have flagged it as spam

  • thepointsguy

    I take a criticism.. The fact is that this site is run on advertising /affiliate links and that won’t change. I list many links that are not affiliate and my main goal is to help people get the best available public offer. If you ever have a link to a better public offer please post and ill update the post with it

  • thepointsguy

    Many of these aren’t even affiliate links. The post is about credit cards so naturally there will be links. If you don’t want to read about credit cards I recommend reading other posts that may be of more interest to you

  • Pingback: Video SRQ: What Credit Cards are Best for Big Spenders ($100k+ … | Supreme Credit Cards()

  • ocscorpio

    Jeez…damned if you do, damned if you don’t. TPG is offering quite a lot of useful information on this site at no cost to those of us who benefit from it. So he has affiliate links that help him with the upkeep of the site and to compensate him for his time, and you guys whine about it?

    No one is forcing you to signup for credit cards. If you don’t like that TPG like every other blog and website out there uses ad money to fund the site, then stop visiting the site, and maybe get off the internet altogether.

  • Willie The Shake Speare

    This is an example of a very bad blog post. And I am not even referring to the affiliate links.
    Instead of presenting close to 20+ cards for supposedly high spenders (most of which are pretty bad), I would suggest splitting the $100K spending into chunks of $3-$5K, and get bonus miles for cards that:
    A. Offer high sign-up bonuses,
    B. Have no annual fees.
    I think blogs such as these are literally littered with such offers, and if you manage to pocket 30-75K points per such sign-on bonus, you can potentially end up with 25 ( = 100K / 4K) x 30 – 75 K points, or 750K to 1.7 MM points.
    Yes, it might be an effort to open 25 cards per year, but good things don’t come easy.

  • chris

    Hi. I’m looking for a rewards credit card but I don’t know if I should go with a airline miles card or a cash back card. I spend about $100,000 per month on my credit card and don’t want a card that is going to limit my rewards by cutting me off once I reach a cap. I do plan on doing quite a bit of traveling but like the idea of cash back too so either is fine. So, whether it be airline miles or cash back I want the rewards to be unlimited. About $60,000 per month I spend on Amazon out of that $100K. I need to ensure the credit card does not have a cap for the number of transactions I make either as I make about 100 transactions a day. The company is a C Corp so I would prefer to have a business card. I don’t want any blackout dates on travel if i go with an airlines card and I’d like to avoid foreign transaction fees. Would you please point me in the right direction as to which card might be best for me? Thank you

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