Credit Card Chronicles: The Student Blogger Who Makes $40,000 a Year
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Welcome to TPG's "Credit Card Chronicles," where we're asking our readers to anonymously submit a week's worth of their expenses — and what credit card they used to purchase them — to help us help you have a better idea of how to maximize your everyday spending.
All "chronicles" will be reviewed by a TPG points and miles pro who will give you their tricks, tips and advice to help you make the most out of your purchases. Their suggestions are italicized under the reader's submission.
Want to submit a Credit Card Chronicle of your own? Join the TPG Lounge for all the info you'll need.
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Rent: $1,350 a month
Credit Cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, American Express Green Card, Amex EveryDay® Card from American Express, Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, JetBlue Plus Card, Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, Citi Costco
Annual Fees: $1,109
- $50: I went to the grocery store and paid using my Amex PRG.
- Not a bad choice! Both the Premier Rewards Gold Amex and the Amex EveryDay earn you 2x points at US supermarkets (with the EveryDay it's capped at $6,000 per year, then you'll earn 1x), but with the EveryDay you might want to ensure you make 20 purchases in a billing period to get the 20% points bonus.
- $15: I purchased lunch using my Amex PRG again.
- Good choice! You earned 2x Membership Rewards points by using the PRG.
- $15: Another day, another $15 lunch. I paid using my Amex PRG.
- Again, solid pick. You could also earn 2x points on restaurants with the Ritz-Carlton Card or 2x points on restaurants with the JetBlue Plus Card, but according to our valuations Amex points are the most valuable of these three currencies.
- $30: I needed to get some dry cleaning done, and I used my Amex Business Gold to pay for it.
- Dry cleaning isn't a bonus category on any rewards cards, so earning 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar (equal to a 1.9% return) is not a bad way to go. You'd earn the same with the Amex EveryDay, though, and would be working toward the 20% points bonus for making 20 purchases in a billing period.
- $30: I paid for my meals throughout the day with my Amex PRG.
- Good choice, once again, though if you can stomach the high annual fee you might want to add the Chase Sapphire Reserve to your wallet. It earns you 3x points on dining (and travel), which equals a 6.3% return based on our valuations. Plus, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a great selection of travel partners, including British Airways and Hyatt.
- $20: I really needed a haircut, and paid for the treatment with my Delta Gold.
- Haircuts aren't a bonus category (sadly!), so you didn't miss out much by using the Delta Amex. You could technically get a higher return by using a card that earns transferrable Amex points like the EveryDay or PRG, but if you want more Delta miles, by all means go for it!
- $20: More treatments at the waxing center, and once again used my Delta Gold.
- Ditto with above — not a bad choice considering it's a non-bonus purchase. However, you could better maximize non-bonus spending with a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which earns you 1.5% cash back on every purchase, and you can redeem the cash back as Ultimate Rewards points if you also have a UR-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
- $40: Was in need of a Target haul, and paid for all my purchases using my Delta Gold card.
- Short of getting the Target credit card, which earns you 5% back on purchases at the store, or the Freedom Unlimited for 1.5%/1.5x back, this wasn't a bad choice.
- $5: Picked up a coffee to start the day. I paid for it with my Amex PRG card.
- Solid choice!
- $15: Lunch cost me another $15 today, and I used my Amex PRG again.
- You clearly know what you're doing when it comes to maximizing dining purchases with the cards in your wallet.
- $25: A great dinner to end the week. I used my Amex PRG to pay for it.
- $30: Drinks! It's Friday, after all. I paid using my Amex PRG.
- Just keep in mind that not all bars code as restaurants, though hopefully you earned 2x points in this case.
- $40: Back at the grocery store. Paid for them with my Amex PRG once again.
- 2x points on groceries is not bad at all.
- $30: My meals throughout the day cost me $30, and I put the spend on my Amex PRG.
- (2x) points for consistency!
- $30: Very similar to Saturday. I paid for my meals for the day with my Amex PRG once again.
- Weekly total spent: $395
- Food and drink: $285
- Transportation: $0
- Entertainment: $40
- Travel: $0
- Clothes and Beauty: $70
- Total points earned: 600 Amex Membership Rewards points, 80 SkyMiles
- Total points missed: N/A