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I get a ton of e-mail from readers asking for advice on how to maximize their points earning, whether it’s for personal use, business or both. This week, we’re featuring a new Points Intervention series where I help individuals and small-business owners get their awards earning on track.
Intervention: Carissa Reiniger Episode 3
This week I’m working with Carissa Reiniger, a small-business owner who hasn’t been using points and miles to her advantage. Yesterday we talked about maximizing her frequent business travel with American Airlines to accrue more miles in her AAdvantage account and start enjoying the benefits of Platinum Executive status.
Now that I’m on the scene, Carissa’s AAdvantage account will certainly be in better shape. But she’s still missing the other vital piece of the points and miles puzzle: a transferable points program.
Use Credit Cards
What to Look For in a Credit Card
My number one tip for Carissa and any business traveler is to get a business credit card that gives you flexible and transferable points. That means the card has multiple hotel or airline transfer partners, so you won’t be limiting yourself to putting all your points and miles in one airline’s basket.
While Carissa flies American and its partners most often, I’ve advised her not to get a credit card that only earns AAdvantage miles, because then she’d be limiting her redemption opportunities. Also, if American ever devalues its miles — meaning it jacks up the number of miles needed to redeem a travel reward — then she’d really be at a disadvantage.
Based on Carissa’s travel and spending patterns, and knowing she’s just starting out on her points and miles journey, I recommended three programs to earn points in.
This is one of my favorites programs because there are 20 different transfer partners including hotels and airlines. I just recently signed up for the Enhanced Business Gold Rewards card which has five different bonus categories that you can choose from to earn 3 points per dollar. I spend a lot on Google and Facebook ads for my business, so I chose advertising as my category to earn 3 points per dollar on the first $100,000 in purchases each year. That means that if I take full advantage, I’ll get 300,000 points, which is enough for three round-trip business-class tickets to Europe. The return on that spend is huge.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program has 11 different transfer partners that you can get a ton of great value from like United, British Airways and Singapore Airlines. The Ink Plus card is a top pick for earning Ultimate Rewards points because you’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent on all office supplies, internet, phone and cable TV services. Note that you can get a lot more than office supplies at office-supply stores; you can buy food, merchandise and gift cards to use at other retail stores and even Southwest Airlines, getting 5 points for every dollar all the way. Carissa will be planning her next Staples run a little bit more carefully, I suspect.
The Starwood Preferred Guest program gives you a couple different options for redeeming your points, some of my favorites being Cash & Points, SPG Moments and the ability to transfer to 30 airline partners, including American Airlines. The SPG Moments program allows you to use your points for concerts, sporting events and other VIP adventures. At Madison Square Garden, Starwood has a special suite where you can redeem points for Knicks and Rangers games — you can’t beat sitting rink-side at a Rangers game for a cost of zero dollars out of pocket. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card is a great way to give your Starpoints balance a boost since it has a current sign up offer of 25,000 points – 10,000 after first purchase and an additional 15,000 points after $5,000 spent within the first 6 months.
Tune in tomorrow when I tell Carissa about the differences between personal and business credit cards. And if you or your small business needs a Points Intervention, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which credit card points reward programs do you use — and why?