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- My family asked me for help finding good travel credit cards they could open to earn points on an expensive kitchen remodel.
- I recommended that each of them open two Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
- Factoring in the sign-up bonuses, this would earn them a total of 333,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $18,000 in spending.
- This translates to more than $4,000 in travel rewards that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, tours, transportation, and even cruises.
- See Business Insider’s list of the best rewards credit cards.
I’ve collected credit card rewards for a while now, and my family and friends have all seen me travel in style for little to nothing thanks to my stack of credit card points. They often ask me for advice on which travel credit cards to sign up for, and recently, I came up with one of my best credit card plans yet: I helped my aunts earn over $4,000 in travel rewards on a house remodel.
We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.
Why I recommended Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards
I usually ask people a little bit about their travel habits and preferences to figure out which rewards program might suit them best — which hotels brands they prefer, whether they tend to travel abroad or domestic, which airlines fly the routes they plan to take, and more.
Most of the time, I end up recommending Chase’s Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards. Ultimate Rewards are my favorite points, as they’ve helped me save thousands of dollars on travel. I love them for their value — they’re automatically worth at least 1.25 to 1.5 cents each for travel booked through Chase if you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve — and their flexibility.
You can redeem these points at the stated rate through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for flights, hotels, and even tours, activities, rental cars, and cruises. You can also transfer them to 13 different airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 rate.
Credit card rewards fiends often find award redemptions that squeeze 3 to 4 cents each out of their points, but I also think this rewards program is ideal for rewards newbies because of its versatile redemption options. Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards also offer excellent perks and travel protections, so they’re worth keeping around for years to come.
Choosing the best Chase credit cards
My aunt told me they would probably spend around $15,000 to $20,000 on the remodel, which would include the kitchen and a part of the house that’s her home office. This is enough spending to earn at least four credit card sign-up bonuses if split up between four different cards. However, it’s not a good idea to apply for four credit cards in quick succession, as this can damage your credit score.
Thankfully, her and her partner both have good credit, so they could split up the job and each apply for two credit cards. Since the remodel is in an area that includes her home office, I considered both personal and business credit cards, and came up with the following credit cards:
Deciding between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Each person would have to decide between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a higher rewards rate and VIP perks like airport lounge access and travel credits, but at a steep $550 annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of only $95, and it actually has a higher sign-up bonus than the Reserve: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, vs. 50,000 points with the same minimum spending requirement on the more premium Reserve card.
That being said, if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you get 1.5 cents per point on travel redemptions you make through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, whereas the Chase Sapphire Preferred only gets you 1.25 cents per point.
In this plan, having the Chase Sapphire Reserve would increase the value of my aunt’s points by $250 for every 100,000 points they earn. This is true even if only one of them has the Chase Sapphire Reserve, because you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points between accounts for free.
It might make more sense for one person to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the inflated point value, but there are a couple of other factors.
For one, my aunt didn’t want to commit to a travel credit card with such a high annual fee because she doesn’t travel enough to continue getting lots of value out of it for years to come. In the end, they decided on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Earn 60,000 points: Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred »
The strategy that’s earning them $4,000+ in travel rewards
The plan would go like this:
1. Person A opens the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after they spend $4,000 in the first three months
2. Person A refers person B to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Person B opens the card using the referral link.
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after they spend $4,000 in the first three months
Refer-a-friend bonus: 15,000 points
3. Person A opens the Ink Business Preferred card.
Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points after they spend $5,000 in the first three months
4. Person A refers person B to the Chase Ink Business Preferred. Person B opens the card using the referral link.
Sign-up bonus: 80,000 after they spend $5,000 in the first three months
Refer-a-friend bonus: 20,000 points
The plan requires $18,000 in spending within the months, although if you don’t have a purchase that big coming up, you could break it up over the time span of a year as well, completing each step every three months.
My aunts stand to earn 280,000 Ultimate Rewards points in sign-up bonuses, another 35,000 in referral bonuses, and 18,000 points for the spending they’ll put on the four cards. Altogether, that’s 333,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which will get them at least $4,162.50 in travel spending.
This is an incredible value for an action as simple as applying for a couple of credit cards. Of course, if they didn’t already have the money on hand to pay their credit cards off completely before the due date, none of those points would be worth it. Credit card rewards are never worth spending more than you can afford and ending up in debt. But since they were already planning on spending this money to complete the kitchen remodel, this was a great way to maximize their rewards.
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