How I Accumulated 150,000 Credit Card Points in 2020

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I tend to accumulate credit card points with travel credit cards because, as someone who travels often, they are worth more to me than cash back. Even with the pandemic suspending travel for now, I still find it useful to store these points for future travel.

Knowing that travel is so uncertain at the moment, I decided it was best to focus on getting flexible travel points rather than a specific hotel chain or airline. I picked two of the most popular travel rewards programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards®.

On the one hand, I had already been earning points with both programs for a few years. Plus, points are pretty easy to rack up in both programs thanks to the long list of credit cards (with lucrative sign-up bonuses) that earn them. Both of these programs allow me to redeem my points for a variety of travel purchases or transfer them to a long list of airline and hotel partners.

Even though I’ve slowed down my credit card usage this year, haven’t spent as much on bonus categories like travel, and opted out of the big sign-up bonuses I would normally do, I still managed to rack up 150,000 credit card points in 2020.

The three credit cards I used to earn 150,000 credit card points

I earned a total of 62,000 Ultimate Rewards® points and 88,000 Membership Rewards® points, all with three credit cards. Here is a breakdown of what I won.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: 40,000 Ultimate Rewards® points. These points were all earned through regular spending. It’s the main credit card I use, and 3x points on DoorDash dining and delivery has helped me earn more this year.
  • Hunt Unlimited Freedom®: 22,000 Ultimate Rewards® points. I recently opened this card and most of the points were earned through a sign up bonus. You can earn $200 if you spend $500 in the first three months, and since I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, I can convert that $200 into 20,000 Ultimate Rewards® points for added value.
  • American Express® Gold Business Card: 88,000 Membership Rewards® points. I won the sign-up bonus on this card at the start of the year, which was 50,000 points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Then I earned the remaining 38,000 points through my regular spending.

My Ultimate Rewards® points are worth $0.015 each with the 50% travel redemption bonus offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Membership Rewards® points are worth at least $0.01 each when redeemed for a trip.

In total, my 150,000 credit card points are worth at least $1,810 in travel expenses. If I take advantage of the transfer partners offered by both programs, I could easily earn over $2,000 from these points. I would say that’s a big win, considering the minimal effort I had to put in and the fact that my expenses have changed so much this year.

How to Develop a Credit Card Points Strategy for 2021

If you want to rack up rewards, now is a good time to start developing a credit card strategy for the next year.

The first thing you’ll want to decide is what kind of rewards you want to earn: cash back, generic points, or brand-specific points or miles. I went with generic points because I like to redeem my rewards for travel, but wanted some flexibility in how I use them. If you’re loyal to a specific airline or hotel and plan to spend money with them in 2021, you might want to opt for a airline credit card or hotel credit card. Finally, if you don’t want travel rewards at all, a credit card with cash back might be the best option.

Once you’ve decided on the type of rewards card you want, you should have an idea of ​​your top spending categories. Choose a card that rewards the categories in which you spend the most money. Before the pandemic, I was spending a lot on travel and dining, so the Chase Sapphire Reserve® was my mainstay. Just make sure that if the card has an annual fee, the rewards and benefits you’ll earn will outweigh that cost.

Definitely worth keeping an eye on best sign up bonuses and promotional offers. Rewards credit cards often run promotions that offer a high, limited-time sign-up bonus, and they may target you with one of them. If you get one and think the card benefits are valuable, it’s worth applying. Just make sure you spend enough each month to earn the sign-up bonus.

If you’re really hoping to rack up rewards, consider applying for multiple credit cards throughout the year — ideally, get a sign-up bonus each time. You can then rotate these cards depending on which one will earn you the most points on a given purchase.

Just make sure you don’t apply for too many credit cards at once, as this can affect your credit. I try to space my credit card applications at least three months apart, but most of the time I wait six months between applications.

With the right strategy, you could earn thousands of credit card points next year.