How I’m earning 5x to 21x on everything I’m buying right now

Dec 10, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Christmas is coming, but it’s pretty different from holidays past.

We Zoomed with Santa instead of seeing him in person; we didn’t take our planned trip to New York City to see the festive holiday decor; we won’t be attending annual holiday parties; and we canceled our end-of-year gathering with our extended family.

But though many holiday traditions are on pause this year, we still have two young kids in the house. So, there will be cookies waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve and presents under the tree on Christmas morning, even if the pile is smaller than usual.

Credit card issuers desperately want people to swipe their cards when buying flocked trees and wreaths, takeout dinners, toy purchases, wrapping paper, Amazon orders and more. To incentivize you to choose their card over all the others in your wallet, there are many bonus point incentives available right now — more than I’ve ever seen before.

From presents to pecans to Paypal, I’m earning at least 5x points per dollar on almost everything I’m buying. Here’s how.

Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.

Get 5x miles at the grocery store

There have been many temporary ways to earn bonus points at the grocery store this year, but right now I’m getting 5x miles per dollar spent at the grocery store (or on Instacart orders) with my United credit card.

Many Chase credit cards have increased earning rates at grocery stores through the end of the year, though you may need to register for the promotion. The 5x earning rate with my United card is valid until Dec. 31, 2020, on up to $1,500 in purchases each month. Like with most of the offers mentioned here today, you’ll need to register for that promotion if you have an eligible Chase card.

Related: The best credit cards for groceries

Earn 5x to 9x points on Amazon

I’m a huge fan of supporting small businesses, as they need all the help they can get this year. But the truth is, there are also plenty of brown Amazon boxes arriving at my doorstep on an almost daily basis right now.

Luckily, when you do turn to Amazon, there are at least 26 ways to earn bonus points and save cash on your orders if you have the right credit cards. I’ve used many of those offers, but the ones currently serving as my workhorses are:

Screenshot courtesy of American Express
  • 9x total points per dollar spent at Amazon on my husband’s Platinum Card® from American Express, on up to $375, with a lucrative Amex Offer.
  • 5x points per dollar spent on Amazon until Dec. 31, 2020 (on up to $1,500 monthly combined at grocery stores and Amazon) on my United Club Infinite Card.
  • 5x points per dollar spent on Amazon until Dec. 31, 2020 (on up to $1,500 monthly combined at grocery stores and Amazon) on my World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Score 5x to 10x points on food orders

(Photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images)

Truth: We’ve ordered too much food delivery this year, but at least we are earning lots of points on those purchases, right?

In addition to all the normal ways to earn points when eating out or ordering takeout, there are a couple of new offers that are available now:

Get 6x points at Target and Walmart

(Photo by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy)

Three cheers for curbside “Target run and done” service where you order online and they place it in your trunk without you stepping foot out of your car.

Both Target and Walmart are often excluded from many bonus points promotions, but that’s not the case for many Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card members with this lucrative Amex Offer.

You can earn 6x bonus Marriott Bonvoy points (for a total of 8 points) on each dollar spent on purchases at Walmart, Target and Amazon, up to $3,500 in total spending through Dec. 27, 2020.

On top of that, the same card has an Amex Offer that awards 10,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $1,000 on the card by Dec. 24, 2020. That’s effectively another 10x points on that $1,000 in spending — and it’s valid anywhere.

Related: 12 best ways to spend Marriott points across the U.S. 

Earn 5x to 10x points on travel

Staycationing at the Westin Woodlands near my house (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

It will surprise absolutely no one to hear that travel has taken a hit this year.

There are promotions that make it so lucrative to travel that I’m considering a “mattress run” (hotel stays I don’t really need) just to earn top-tier Hyatt Globalist status that will be valid until early 2023.

But, on top of all that, some credit cards are offering their own incentives to get the travel dollars you’re spending. Here are a few that caught my eye:

  • Earn 10 total points per $1 spent on up to $3,500 in purchases at Marriott Bonvoy properties from Nov. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020. This offer can be found on the Chase-issued Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.
  • Earn 5x miles on eligible Delta purchases on multiple Delta cobranded credit cards. Not only are the mileage-earnings rates increased, but also the cards are awarding bonus-redeemable and Delta elite-qualifying miles for every $1,000 charged to the card.

Rack up 5x on all Paypal charges

I loved this promotion so much that I’ve just about maxed it out now, but using the Chase Freedom (no longer available to new applicants) or Chase Freedom Flex to earn 5x points on anything you can purchase using Paypal (which could be pretty much everything), has been so helpful this holiday shopping season.

From reloading my Starbucks account to placing online Home Depot orders and ordering off Etsy, I’ve used Paypal in almost every corner of the shopping world since the 5x bonus started on Oct. 1. The 5x bonus is valid on up to $1,500 spent this quarter in the combined bonus categories of both Paypal and Walmart.

Earn 10x to 21x miles on everything else

Staycationing at the Westin Woodlands near my house (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Last, but far from least, I’ve also been racking up 10x to 21x American Airlines miles per dollar spent on a variety of purchases, depending on how you want to count.

Last month, Barclays sent out targeted offers to various cardholders that award not only up 10x miles per dollar spent on charges (up to 10,000 total bonus miles), but in cases like mine, an additional 50,000 bonus miles upon hitting $3,000 in spending on the card from Nov. 10, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2021.

If I spent exactly $3,000 in that timeframe on my AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard (and I plan to), I’d earn at least 3,000 miles at the regular 1x rate, 10,000 bonus miles on the first $1,000 spend and another 50,000 bonus miles upon hitting $3,000.

That comes to 63,000 miles earned at an all-in rate of 21 miles per dollar. I’ll happily put those miles to use for another lie-flat seat to Europe when travel returns to something resembling normal.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage 

Don’t forget shopping portals

On top of choosing the right card for your purchase, remember to also start your online purchases by going through a travel rewards or cash-back shopping site, such as Rakuten.

I’ve been getting 10x points per dollar spent or more on top of what my card earns by making purchases online when the cash back or mileage payouts are highest from those sites.

If you’re new to the concept, here’s a guide to earning lots of points and miles for your online purchases regardless of which cards you have. A great place to quickly compare different online shopping site rates is to check out Cashback Monitor.

Bottom line

I know it can be confusing to remember which card to use for what type of purchase. That’s especially true when there are so many temporary offers that affect which card is most rewarding in various situations.

But the diligence can pay off. I’m likely going to come out of the last quarter of the year earning more than 100,000 points and miles on just my regular spending, with no new card accounts added to my portfolio. At a rate of 1 or 2 points per dollar, I wouldn’t get anywhere near that number with my level of spending, but when I’m earning 5, 10 and even 21 miles per dollar, it all adds up very quickly during this most expensive wonderful time of the year.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.