Leveraging Your Routine Spending Into Points: Back to School Edition

Leveraging Your Routine Spending Into Points: Back to School Edition

Back2School

If you have driven past any mall or big box retailer over the past couple of weeks, you have seen the “back to school” signs plastered on storefront windows trying to grab your attention and inviting you to walk in. It’s the time of the year when parents will be restocking school supplies for kids and undergrad and grad students will be looking for the best deals on laptops and textbooks. This time of the year is pretty important for retailers and they know consumers have more choices than ever. In the realm of the points and miles world, this is also a time of the year where you can benefit greatly. If you plan on doing a majority of your shopping on Amazon, you can read in-depth how you can accumulate JetBlue miles by clicking here.  For other retailers where you might consider shopping online, I highly recommend using www.cashbackmonitor.com

This website shows you how many airline miles or hotel points you will earn by routing yourself through that airline’s or hotel’s online mall.  It’s pretty straight forward and you can find a detailed example below.  I have posted some screenshots for the online Apple store as an example:

This is the homepage of http://www.cashbackmonitor.com. The most popular retailers are listed on the front page. If you don’t see yours, search for it on the search tab

CashBackMonitor1

 

If you wanted to purchase something online from the Apple Store, this is how many miles/points/cashback different airlines/hotels/cashback portals are offering if you route yourself to the Apple Store via their own shopping mall. Keep in mind, it doesn’t cost you a dime to sign up for these frequent flier programs. At this particular time, United is offering 6 miles per dollar if you make a purchase on Apple.com by clicking through their link. This is the highest among any of the shopping portals. Let’s use that as an example.

CashBackMonitor2

 

When you click on United’s link, this is the page you land on. But wait, not only would you get 6 United MileagePlus miles per dollar for your Apple purchase, United is also offering a back- to-school bonus depending on your level of spending. That $1,300 Macbook Pro would earn you 10,800 United MileagePlus Miles –> ($1,300 x 6 miles) + 3,000 bonus miles for getting the 3,000 mile back-to-school bonus offered by United for spending $600. 12.5k United MileagePlus miles gets you a saver award one way in economy. In addition to that, Apple is offering free Beats headphones if you purchase an iPad or Macbook Pro for college (presumably with a student ID).

UnitedBack2School
Simply click on the “shop now” icon and you are directed to Apple’s website.

 

If you were going to shop for school supplies online at Walmart.com, this is how much you would earn through each portal:

CashbackmonitorWalmart

 

For you undergrad and grad students reading this, popular online textbook retailers such as Textbooks.com and Alibris.com are also listed on cashbackmonitor.com.  If you’re purchasing from Amazon, remember to route yourself via JetBlue. You are simply walking away from an easy opportunity to earn miles if you don’t. And remember, you can use this website to help you earn miles for your routine online shopping no matter the time of the year.

SOME VERY IMPORTANT TIPS BEFORE USING ANY PORTALS TO MAKE A PURCHASE

  1. Make sure your cookies are enabled. If they’re not, the airline or hotel rewards program can’t track your purchase and you might not get credited for them.
  2. Sign up for that particular airline’s frequent flier program PRIOR to shopping (it’s free and takes a minute).
  3. Make sure you are logged-in to the airline’s frequent flier program prior to clicking on the retailers website. Most portals will make you sign in prior to routing you to that retailer.

 

Unlocking Value with Chase Ultimate Rewards: Part II

Unlocking Value with Chase Ultimate Rewards: Part II

Chase Ultimate Rewards

In an earlier post (you can read it here ), I went over the benefits of having the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) or the higher end Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) when paired with the Chase Freedom and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited. You are getting the same rewards currency (Ultimate Rewards Points) and you can combine the points into a single pot. When you combine them into the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve account, you now have the ability to transfer to airline and hotel partners. You can also use the points to book straight from Chase. In this post, I’ll demonstrate when you’re better off using the points to book straight from Chase and when you are better off using a transfer partner.

Ultimate-Rewards-Transfer-Partners
A list of all the transfer partners for Chase Ultimate Rewards

For this example, we’ll do a round trip from Chicago (ORD) to Honolulu (HNL) from October 2nd-October 9th.  United is the only airline that flies this route non-stop from Chicago. If you’re sitting on 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points and assuming you have the CSR or CSP, these are your options:

  1. Book the trip with cash and avoid points altogether. This will cost you $913.40 per person

UnitedCash

 2. Book the trip straight from Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this will cost 60,893 points per person. (Your redemption is 1.5 cents of value per 1 point). If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, this will cost you ~73,000 points per person (Your redemption is 1.2 cents of value per 1 point).

3.Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to United’s MileagePlus frequent flier program on a 1:1 basis.

This redemption is only 45,000 United Miles per person. This is obviously the clear winner. By avoiding Chase and booking this trip via United MileagePlus, you saved yourself 15.9k -28k Ultimate Rewards points. The savings can now be used towards a future trip.

Here is an example when it is more advantageous to book from Chase’s portal rather than transferring the points into MileagePlus.

For this example, we’ll use a round trip itinerary from NYC (LGA) to Chicago (ORD) from October 17th-24th. Assuming we have sufficient Chase points, here are our options.

1.Book the trip with cash.  This would cost $99 on American Airlines (that’s actually a really good deal paying with cash).

AALGA2ORD

2. Use the Chase portal to book with Ultimate Rewards Points. Since we’re using Chase’s portal, we can use the points on any airline that’s listed. For this trip, American Airlines happens to be the cheapest redemption since they happen to have the cheapest airfare for this itinerary. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (pictured below), 6,560 Ultimate Rewards points is all it takes for a round trip ticket. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you would still get an amazing round trip redemption of 7,872 points per person. Also keep in mind, when you use Ultimate Rewards points to make a redemption, these flights are eligible to earn miles. Just add in your American Advantage frequent flier number and you would earn miles for this trip. It’s free to sign up so you have nothing to lose.

LGA2ORDChaseORD2LGAChase

3. Transfer the points into a Chase transfer partner such as United

For this itinerary, It would require us to transfer 25,000 points from Chase to United to book this trip via MileagePlus miles. Among the three options, this would be the worst. Booking with Chase we’re getting 1.5 cents of value per 1 point. With this redemption, you are only getting 0.4 cents per point. Unless you have elite status with United and you’re confident you’re going to get upgraded to first class, this is a redemption you should avoid. It will end up saving you ~18k+ UR points that you can use for something of greater value.

So, the take home message when redeeming UR points is check the redemption rates on Chase’s transfer partners as well as Chase’s portal itself. By doing so, you might save yourself hundreds of dollars in points.