How we plan to make over $1,500 this year through simple credit card hacking.
Minimalism has had such a positive influence in my life, so I figured why not adopt a more minimalist approach to my credit card hacking as well. Could I still reap the benefits of credit card hacking without putting in all of the time and effort? The answer is yes. Credit card hacking can be easy.
I have been a pretty steady credit card rewards hacker for past four or five years. Actually, it coincided with our move away from a budget and toward more mindful spending and consumerism. When we switched from the all-cash system, I started looking for credit cards that offered bonuses and had a strong rewards program.
We have been fortunate to use our credit card points and miles to travel to Cancun, San Diego, and to visit my parents in Florida a few times.
For each of these trips we paid very little, if anything, for flights and hotels.
Credit Card Hacking Burnout
This past September, I got tired of tracking every credit card so closely. I lost the motivation to follow my spreadsheet to be sure I met each minimum spend threshold. I was sick of navigating which card was best for the grocery store compared to which was best for gas. And on top of that, both Ashley and I were at our 5/24 limit with Chase credit cards and had been denied for one other credit card. This all led me in a new direction.
Easy Credit Card Hacking with Discover It
We both applied for the Discover It Card. The card has no annual fee and offers some great bonuses, especially in the first year.
The card has four rotating bonus categories, each lasting 3 months. Each rotating category offers 5% cash back for those three months up to a total of $75. The categories rotate, but the past few years they have been: Grocery stores, gas stations and Uber/Lyft, restaurants, and Amazon.
Additionally, Discover It offers 1% on all other purchases throughout the year. And the best part? Discover doubles your cash back in the first year!
Our plan was to spend up to the limit to ensure that we got the most cash back on groceries, gas, and Amazon. Obviously, groceries and gas are necessities, so there was no hesitation there. We use Amazon for a ton of our other purchases, both for the convenience and price, so reaching the spending limit there wasn’t an issue either.
Restaurants are the one category where we won’t max out, simply because we don’t want to spend that much money. The other three categories can be maxed out without us spending extra money, restaurants would be a different story.
The great thing about the Discover It rewards program is that you can use gift cards to reach your limit. We have been able to purchase gift cards to reach our spending limits each category cycle and ensure that we got the full bonus. This way we weren’t spending wastefully. The gift cards for groceries and gas will last for months and months.
So, let’s do the math. For each category, if we spend $1500 we will get $75 cash back plus that will be doubled at the end of the year.
- Groceries – Dave $75, Ashley $75
- Gas – Dave $75, Ashley $75
- Restaurants – Dave $10, Ashley $10
- Amazon –
Dave$75, Ashley $75
- Other Purchases – Dave $150, Ashley $150
- Grand Total – Dave $385, Ashley $385 = $770 x 2 (1st yr. bonus) = $1540
That’s right, $1,540 cash back in one year without much effort at all! There are a few rewards cards that might give more back in travel rewards, but we’ve really enjoyed the fact that we could simply use one card and we hardly had to keep track of anything.
What’s Next For Us?
After the 12 months are up on both of our cards, we plan to go back to a more aggressive form of credit card hacking. By that point, we will have just about every card available to us and we won’t have to worry about the Chase 5/24 rule or any other possible rejections. We will go back to looking for cards that have big sign-up bonuses and we will filter through cards more frequently.
As for the Discover It Card, we may hang onto it since there is no annual fee, or we could cancel it so we can reapply again in a few years for double cash back.
Not For Everyone
I would strongly recommend credit card hacking to anyone who can pay their bills within that month. It is a fantastic way to save money on travel, lodging, or to even to get cash back rewards.
However, it’s not for everyone. First, and most importantly, do not attempt to reach spending limits if you don’t have the means to pay off the credit cards each month. The whole idea of making money off of credit card rewards is thrown out the window if you are paying back just as much or more in interest. Also, if you are unwilling or know you might be unable to keep track of the spending requirements, spend by dates, or cancellation dates before being charged an annual fee, you may want to think twice. Credit card hacking should be about making, not costing, money.
If you are interested in giving serious travel hacking a go, there are a wealth of resources available. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Travel Miles 101
- The Points Guy
- Young and the Invested – Blog Post
- Josh Overmyer – Blog Post
Fioneers– Blog Post
- Millionaire Mob – Blog Post
- Debt and Cupcakes – Blog Post
- Tread Lightly, Retire Early – Blog Post
- Physician on FIRE – Blog Post
What about you? What are some of your easy credit card hacking tips?
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