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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – United Explorer Card
Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Anthony, who used a credit card sign-up bonus and shopping portal to maximize a big purchase:
My wife and I purchased a house last year. Our plan was to replace each of the major appliances one at a time each Black Friday. We were already set on purchasing the new refrigerator this year when out of nowhere, our dryer broke. We didn’t want to get a dryer without the matching washing machine, so we were suddenly in the market for a new refrigerator, washer and dryer.
As an avid TPG reader, I know the value of taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses when making a big purchase. Knowing we should take the opportunity to earn some miles, I had my wife apply for the new United Explorer Card with a bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months [Editor’s Note: The current offer through Jan. 8, 2019 is up to 65,000 miles; earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open plus an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first six months your account is open.]
We took advantage of a pre-Black Friday sale at Home Depot, which offered $150 off when purchasing three appliances together. Our $3,200 purchase was enough by itself to meet the spending requirement for our new card, but we wanted to maximize our earnings, so we bought online and clicked through the United MileagePlus shopping portal. The portal gave us 1 mile per dollar, plus a promotion for 5,000 bonus miles after spending $1,500 or more, for a total of 8,200 miles.
All in all, our new appliance purchase will net us 61,400 United miles. On top of that, my wife will get reimbursed for her Global Entry application fee. We could have done even better by buying Home Depot gift cards through the United MileagePlus X app (returning 1 mile per dollar plus a 25% bonus for being a MileagePlus credit card holder). But we decided to forego that so we could take advantage of the extended warranty coverage on our appliances that the credit card offers.
Shopping portals are an easy way to boost your earnings for online purchases, and they can be especially lucrative during the holiday shopping season. Portals commonly run promotions like increased payouts and spending bonuses, so you can get an even better return on larger purchases like Anthony did.
The portal you use doesn’t have to match your credit card, so check which one offers the most rewards before you buy. For example, Anthony could have earned 3 Avios per dollar on Home Depot purchases through the British Airways Avios eStore, while still meeting the spending requirement for the sign-up bonus on his wife’s United card. In general, I’d value those 9,600 Avios higher than the 8,200 United miles he earned through United MileagePlus Shopping.
Maximizing a purchase doesn’t always boil down to how many points or miles you earn. Anthony and his wife could have earned an extra 4,000 miles by purchasing gift cards through the MileagePlus X app, but I agree with their assessment that an additional year of warranty protection on all three appliances is more valuable. Make sure you account for benefits like extended warranty, purchase protection and price protection when you’re deciding which payment method to use.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Anthony a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Featured image via Shutterstock.
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
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