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It’s already December! And that means that tomorrow is the last first Friday of the month for earning 3X points per $1 on dining when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire cards at restaurants, where they would normally only earn 2-2.14X points per $1. The bonus works at any restaurant you’d normally earn 2X points at – so internationally as well as within the US.
Although the promotion is part of Chase Sapphire’s partnership with OpenTable, you don’t actually have to book through OpenTable in order to earn the 3X points, it can be at any restaurant. However, by booking through OpenTable, you have a chance to triple dip with OpenTable Rewards and earn an additional 1% back in the form of future dining credit. If you do a little research and use OpenTable to book a restaurant in your airline’s dining rewards network and then pay with your Sapphire or Sapphire Preferred, this could be a really lucrative promotion and a great way to maximize earning points on dining.
Even if you’re not going to eat out on Friday, there are still ways to earn 3X points, including buying gift cards or certificates to restaurants you know you’ll be eating at in the future. A lot of restaurants sell gift cards or certificates directly, so this is a good way to make sure you’re earning those bonus points on future dines.
Regarding those gift cards, remember, you’ve got to make the purchase directly at a merchant that’s coded as a restaurant on your statement, so don’t go into an office supply store, drugstore or gas station to buy them and think you’ll be getting the 3X earning ratio with your Sapphire or Sapphire Preferred.
That said, if you have the Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you can buy restaurant gift cards at office supply stores for 5X points per $1 every day, so keep that in mind since I’d rather get 5X points than 3X, and you get that earning rate every day. Buying directly from restaurants is just a strategy for those folks who just have the Sapphire or Sapphire Preferred cards. If you have both of these cards, use your Sapphire Preferred since it awards you with a 7% annual points dividend on all points earned – base and bonus – so you’re really earning 3.21 points per dollar on dining using it.
Another thing to note: Ultimate Rewards points earned on the Sapphire card can be used towards cash back or redeemed for travel at 1 cent apiece. However, if you have the Sapphire Preferred or either the Ink Bold or Ink Plus cards and your Ultimate Rewards accounts are all linked, you can redeem those points at a rate of 1.25 cents each for travel using pay with points – or potentially much more lucratively, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to one of the program’s travel transfer partners including: British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Ritz-Carlton and Amtrak.
By dining out or buying restaurant gift cards/certificates on a first Friday, you’re potentially earning 3 United miles or Hyatt points for example, which I value at about 2 cents each, so you’re getting a 6% return on your dollar. Not only that, but if your card is linked to your airline or hotel program’s dining rewards network and you dine out at a participating restaurant, you’re earning a potential 3-5 miles per dollar on top of that bringing your miles-earning up to a potential 8 miles per dollar.
So if you triple dip – find a restaurant that’s part of your dining rewards network, use OpenTable to make the reservation and then pay using your Sapphire or Sapphire Preferred – you can turn First Fridays into a really lucrative way to maximize earning points on dining.
Apart from gift cards, if you are actually dining out, just remember that your transaction must take place prior to midnight in the time zone where the restaurant is, so be sure to get the check by then.
If your statement comes and you don’t see the 3X points, call Chase and they should be able to manually add the points to your balance.
And in the meantime, check out my post on Maximizing Dining Spend – An Updated List of Current Dining Program Bonuses