How I Missed Out on 150,000 Points — Reader Mistake Story

May 1, 2019

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Alex, who neglected a lucrative payment option for years:

For the last four years I’ve been living in an apartment and paying my rent by check.  Last month, I asked if there was any chance I could pay the rent with a credit card, and they said yes! What’s more, they said there wouldn’t be any fee for paying with a credit card. 

Rent for my apartment gets charged though a local hotel, and I was able to earn 3 points per dollar by paying with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. My rent is $1,050 per month, so in those four years I’ve made over $50,000 in rent payments. That means I’ve missed out on over 150,000 Ultimate Rewards points. I always say “It never hurts to ask.” In this case, though, I asked four years late.

Housing is among the largest monthly expenditures for many households, so paying your rent or mortgage with a credit card is a way to earn a lot of extra rewards. When you can make payments with no added fee like Alex did, it’s an easy win even if your spending doesn’t qualify for a bonus category. However, rent and mortgage payments typically do incur a fee, and in that case you have to evaluate whether the points you’ll earn outweigh the additional cost. You can also use a credit card to pay for other major expenses like taxes and tuition, and I encourage you to research your options for all of them.

The greater lesson here is to not overlook opportunities staring you in the face. Paying rent with a credit card won’t be viable for everyone, but other tactics will. Perhaps you could boost your earnings by crediting flights to an airline partner, or registering for a hotel promotion before an upcoming stay, or timing a major purchase with a shopping portal bonus. Approach your purchases with a maximization mindset (especially the big ones), and ask yourself how you can leverage each dollar spent to pad your loyalty accounts. If you don’t earn something, you’ll probably learn something; the biggest mistake is to not even try.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Alex a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Dan Gold / Unsplash.

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