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A new year, a new strategy with my Vanilla Reload purchases. I typically like to purchase a total of $5,000 in Vanilla Reloads a month. This covers my rent, electricity, and some other odds and ends – I pay this off by loading it onto my American Express Bluebird card and then unload the money by writing checks from the account (that are currently free!) Although Vanilla Reloads are difficult to find in NYC, I am somehow able to purchase the 10 I need each month and load each of them with the maximum amount of $500. While this costs me an additional $39.50 I get much greater value out of the points/miles earned! I also have a strategy to which credit card I am using at any given time.
Quick synopsis for those of you new to the Vanilla Reload/Bluebird game: At CVS you can purchase Vanilla Reloads in $500 increments, pay with a credit card, earn your credit card points, load the funds online onto your American Express Bluebird card, and then write a check against the funds in your accounts.
How I will be maximizing my Vanilla Reload purchases and the credit cards I will be using. I’ve outlined my strategy pretty much for the entire 2014 calendar year. For the most part there are very specific reasons for which credit card I’ll use.
- January: Southwest Airlines credit card. I purchased $10,000 to get my Southwest Airlines companion pass which I wrote more about a few weeks ago (my strategy for getting the Southwest Airlines companion pass)
- February: AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard. I just applied for this card (related blog post) and need to spend $10,000 on the card within the first three months. I will be able to do this easily with VR purchases throughout February and March.
- March: AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard. Will need to continue meeting my minimum spend requirements.
- April: InterContinental Hotels Group credit card + Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. I am planning on applying for both the IHG and Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard in the beginning part of the year. I will also have Mr. Deals apply for the IHG card as well. The IHG card has a minimum spend requirement of $2,000 (related blog post) and the Barclarycard Arrival World Mastercard (related blog post) has a $1,000 minimum spend requirement. In just the month of April I’ll be able to meet the minimum spend requirement on three card just by purchasing Vanilla Reload cards!
- May: Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. I currently have a ton of points and miles, so wouldn’t mind some cash to use on other travel related purchases where points and miles are not available or not worth it. $5,000 on this card equates to $111 which easily makes up for the $39.50 spent.
- June: Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. Again, I am still trying to increase my point balance on this card. I like to be able to use these types of points on car rentals.
- July: Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. For the third month in a row which will give me a total of $333 where I only spent $118.50 to earn this. The difference will pretty much cover the cost of a week long car rental (which we typically need during our Florida vacations).
- August: Citi Hilton Reserve credit card. This Summer I will be applying for this card as I want to get the two free weekend nights (the current sign up bonus) as I will be planning a trip to Europe next Summer (I know, thinking far in advance, but it will be our 5 year anniversary!). The minimum spend requirement on this card is $2,500. But, with this card if you spend $10,000 in your cardmembership year you get an additional free weekend Hilton night to use.
- September: Citi Hilton Reserve credit card. To continue to earn the free Hilton night.
- October: Starwood credit card, Chase Ultimate Rewards card, or Barclaycard Arrival Mastercard. Whenever I do not have a specific card to use, I always use my SPG or Chase Ultimate Rewards earning credit card. Now that I will have the Barclaycard Arrival Mastercard I will add that to the mix. As of right now I am not sure what points I will need. Typically, SPG is my go to as I always can use these points either at Starwood hotels or transfer them to airline miles, giving me more flexibility. I never get less than 2 cents per mile when redeeming so it is better than the Barclaycard Arrival, but sometimes I prefer the hard cash right back in my pocket.
- November: Probably will be saved to meeting the minimum spend on a credit card TBD!
- December: Saving it for meeting minimum spend. If not, will have to see where I am low on points!
I am actually pretty impressed myself that I just planned for the entire year. Of course, some of this might get shifted based on an awesome credit card signup offers (which I can only hope for!)
This posts details out “Which credit card to use for Vanilla Reload purchases,” and highlights the perks you get when meeting a certain spend threshold on the card. With spending X amount you can earn hotel status, qualifying miles towards airline status, free nights, companion tickets, etc.