How to Piggyback and Recycle Credit Card Points

78 Comments

cc2.jpg
Freedom or folly? (Photo codestr)

I almost never use cash for travel or electronics. How?

There are two simple methods for leveraging credit card point systems to cover both business and personal expenses: piggybacking and recycling.

The former is strategic expensing, whereas the latter is arbitraging cash (or equivalents) and credit (or equivalents) to mass produce points.

I use piggybacking exclusively, but I’ve heard some incredible stories about recycling. Do your homework before using either.

Piggybacking is particularly effective for those who have followed the muse development in the 4HWW, which provide templates for automated sources of income that are low maintenance but can be expensive in one or both of two tactical areas: manufacturing and advertising.

Regardless of where your expenses come from, shop for providers/suppliers that are willing to accept credit cards as payment, and negotiate this upfront. Here’s one approach: “Rather than trying to negotiate you down on pricing [only after you’ve negotiated up what they offer you for the same price to get a better yield per dollar], I just ask that you accept payment by credit card. If you can do that, we’ll choose you over Competitor X.”

This is yet another example of a “firm offer,” and not a question, that puts you in a stronger negotiating position.

“Piggybacking” is so named because it is the use of credit cards to pay for inevitable expenses, not the use of credit cards to actively accumulate points by buying things otherwise unnecessary.

The value of any reward point system is awful — generally one cent for every dollar spent. Focus on increasing your cash-flow and the commensurate increases in normal expenses you can then pay for using select high-yield credit cards. The points then simply “piggyback” your expenses, and the full balance of all cards is paid off at the end of each month. Don’t focus on points instead of profits, just as an addition.

I recommend getting two business credit cards, always separate from your personal credit cards, with at least two separate processing companies: American Express and MasterCard/VISA.

Sign up for all of your credit cards within 48 hours to minimize the negative effect these inquiries will have on your credit score. I currently use two cards for accumulating points, which I apply primarily to travel (assume 35,000 points/dollars-spent for a domestic roundtrip and 50-75,000 points/dollars-spent for an international roundtrip):

American Express Business Platinum Card
:

The Platinum card offers several excellent benefits to the would-be lifestyle designer, and I wrote an article about specific features that can get you a near immediate 300-400% return on investment.

AMEX also provides the most flexible point system, as their points can be transferred to the greatest number of other programs, such as Southwest Airlines Rewards and the OnePass Alliance (of which Continental, below, is a member airline).

The primary deficit of most airline-affiliated credit cards is their inflexibility: if you own an American Airlines card, your points can only be used on American Airlines tickets, and that is it. Screw those guys, as they will happily screw you by expiring your points and imposing related jerkiness.

AMEX, by contrast, is not only flexible but has a catalog of over 20,000 worthwhile products (including iPods and assorted electronics) for purchase directly via their website. I use this card to pay for all online pay-per-click advertising (Google, Overture/Yahoo, etc.), which in turn pays for all of my domestic travel and consumer electronics purchases. My current point balance at the time of this writing is 197,486 points.

Chase Continental Airlines Business Card:

Many businesses will not accept AMEX for payment due to its high discount (processing) rate, hence the need for a MC/VISA card. This particular Chase card is sponsored by Continental Airlines but points are applicable to the OnePass Alliance, which comprises nearly 20 airlines. It is critical that you attempt to get a card with no blackout or restricted dates that are reserved only for paying customers.

I was given 15,000 points upon signing, which left me with 35,000 points to acquire before any free international flights. I use this card to cover a minimum of $20,000 per month in manufacturing and $5,000 per month of print advertising, for an average of 6,250 points acquired per week.

This means I can get a free first-class roundtrip ticket to Japan or Brazil every eight weeks or so, particularly if I sweet talk a OnePass operator into helping me drop the miles needed, which can be done with a few sentences of playful begging. Call back until you get an operator willing to help.

One can also combine the AMEX points when needed and boost the points using recycling for an international roundtrip every four to six weeks, without any real effort other than normal business expenses (of course put on autopay) and a little well-placed charisma. My current point balance on the Continental card is 78,265 points.

Recycling Points

Recycling and related arbitrage allows you to legally move cash from credit cards to cash-like instruments and back to credit cards, without significant fees but with all the benefits of point accumulation. There are many methods at your disposal, but the least time-intensive I’ve heard of involves a simple 1-2-3 process:

1. Set your credit card cash advance limits to $0. You don’t want any nasty surprises if the processors or banks change their policies, and cash advances are an expensive way to learn. If they ask you why, just tell them you want to protect your account against identity theft.

2. Purchase gift cards that can be used as MC/VISA debit cards. An example of such a card is the AllAccess Card. “CharterOne Mastercard Gift Cards” used to be the cult favorite, but I couldn’t find them.

3. Use the gift card to purchase a Walmart or postal money order, which is then deposited back in your bank account to pay off your credit card balance and finalize the points. There is a nominal cost per 1,000 points associated with this ($1.25 or so per $1,000 money order with the USPS), but it is a useful tactic if you don’t have the requisite cash-flow or have a deficit of a few thousand points for your desired reward.

Alternatively, you can replace steps 1 and 2 by simply purchasing traveler’s checks at a AAA agency, which is often commission-free, and then redepositing them into your bank account to pay the credit card balance. The rules and restrictions for the cards change often, so the payoff may vary, but you shouldn’t get hurt in the attempt, assuming that you have a $0 cash advance limit and pay off your balance in full at the end of each month. Again, do your homework, as things change often.

Also… play nice and tell your dear accountant about your plans so his head doesn’t explode trying to figure out what the hell is going on with your cash-flow.

Last but not least…

If you are still a few thousand points behind par and need to inflate your rewards account quickly to get an international ticket, AMEX is often happy to provide a boost in exchange for spreading the wealth.

Call AMEX and tell them that you would like to get gold cards for your family and employees (even if you have none, they don’t check). The last time I used this, I received 2,500 per referral for a maximum of five people, or 12,500 points. I signed up the three members of my family and two of my best friends, whose cards were then mailed to me, at which point I simply cut them up and tossed them in the garbage.

Each card cost me $35 each, a total of $175, but it also pushed me over the threshold and allowed me to get a $1,000+ roundtrip ticket to Brazil for nothing but points.

This last tactic is needlessly expensive if you are not on a deadline of some type, but I was rushing for a pre-Christmas relaxation trip to warmer climates in 2004. If you are similarly short on time, this can put you on a plane where you wouldn’t have enough points otherwise.

Happy arbitraging :)

Related links:

Platinum Card Finally Gets Me
New Year, New You: How to Travel the World with (or without) Kids in 2008
“Chapter 14: Mini-Retirements: Embracing the Mobile Lifestyle” in The 4-Hour Workweek

Posted on: January 3, 2008.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

78 comments on “How to Piggyback and Recycle Credit Card Points

  1. What AMEX business card did you use & like using before switching to the Platinum? Why did you choose your previous card it?

    thanks!

    Like

  2. Some of these tricks are pretty clever! I, too, have the Continental Mastercard and I use it for everything. EVERYTHING. And when I need to book travel for work, I try to use OnePass airlines to get the miles AND points for paying with the card.

    You make a good point: it’s crucial that you use these cards for necessary expenses you would be paying anyway, rather than searching for new things to buy. The latter makes the whole endeavor worthless.

    Like

  3. Isn’t getting credit cards in other people’s names gonna screw with their credit? Or worse, isn’t this fraud? Just curious.

    ###

    Hi Rob,

    I can see how this would be a bit confusing. You’re not getting cards with their names that you would use yourself — you are getting additional cards for your business/account that those people would each use. So, let’s assume your brother would like a card but has bad credit or whatever: you get him a card on your account, but it has his name so he can use it. You are responsible for paying for all of his charges.

    Hope that helps!

    Tim

    Like

  4. I’ve been using a relatively simple technique to double my points. Most daily expenses are put on my AMEX. Chase offers a debit card which acrues points like any other credit card. I simply pay off my AMEX each month with my debit card on-line and I get points on my Chase account in addition to the standard points on my AMEX.

    Like

  5. NIce!!!!!!!….. I have been doing this the last 2 years with much success. Another good bank that seems really generous on credit lines is Wells Fargo. When I opened my account they gave me a 5k credit line and within 8 months I had them raise the limit to 10k and then to 20K. This was important for me b/c I was ordering large sums of materials(for the concrete business) and it really helped out. I have no personal relationship with Wells Fargo other than business. They give you airline miles for any airline. 25,000 points gives up $500 in a domestic flight and 50,000 points gives you $1000 in any international destination. I thought I would tell everyone about these options. My flight to Buenos Aires in Feb is thus being paid by Wells Fargo(SWEET!!!!) Other options, this one is good for those who are contractors: Home Depot gives a credit card with 0 payments and 0% interest for 12 months. This can be helpful if you put the money into a money market account(Fidelity offers an account that you don’t pay taxes on the interest) Anyhow, this blog is so true. This is a real smart to make the credit card companies pay for your travel and help your credit ratings.

    Tim, thanks again I look forward to some awesome blogs in 08,

    Jose

    Like

  6. In New Zealand, Amex does “turbo” points, so you get 2 points for every dollar spent. I got this before I went on a work trip to Russia – cha-ching, $20K NZ and 40,000 points in 2 weeks :)

    Worth it for $40 NZ (around $30 US) per year :)

    Like

  7. here’s a way to make money using credit cards with any effort…

    I called up citibank to cancel my card but they convinced me to stay by giving me a balance transfer up to $20,000 at 0% apr for 12 months. I only had a debt of $1000 on my bank of america credit card so instead of transfering $1000 into my checking account to pay off my credit card. I transfered $20,000 into my checking account and paid off the $1000 debt and transfered $19000 into my ING orange savings account which gives me around 4.5% interest. I set a calendar reminder to pay off the $20,000 in a year before the deal expires and now “my free” money is making money for me without me doing anything. Awesome! As long as I don’t spend the money, I can easily “return” the money after it’s been sitting in my account making interest (remember it’s compound interest) for me. I even talked it over with the citibank representative to make sure it was okay. He was impressed and told me he was going to try that too! haha

    Like

  8. Great Post! I’ve been doing this for a while and landed on the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX. A recommendation from a great article I read in Conde Nast Traveler. You get 1 Starwood point for every dollar, but you can then transfer Starwood points to airlines, hotels, etc at pretty good rates. For most airlines, you get an additional 5,000 points for every 20,000 you transfer.
    See Link

    https://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/account/starpoints/redeem/index.html

    Like

  9. As far as your mail stuff goes–I saw a bit on CNBC 2 mos. ago how a processing center will scan your mail and you no longer have to physically take delivery–only the stuff you want or something like that. You may want to add that to your arsenal instead of all that forwarding stuff.

    mase

    Like

  10. Tim,

    I also heard in my Real Estate circles about using the AMEX Blue Cash to get 5% cash back on purchases. They would use those same negotiating tactics to get their limit raised as high as $100K then start the recycling game. There are a million ways to win the game of life!

    (interesting note: Isn’t it ironic how Chase associates “Freedom” with credit card debt! LOL!)

    Also Jose, thanks for all the great comments recently!

    This Blog revs me up everyday! What a rockin Community!

    Kudos

    Nate

    Like

  11. I don’t know if anyone did this, but Google Checkout was offering 0% merchant processing last year. It looked possible to send yourself a Google Invoice, pay it with your miles card and the money would be deposited back into your checking account fee free. Your money did a lap through your accounts and as long as you paid your full balance at the end of the month, you incurred no costs. With cards offering double miles, the points could add up fast.

    Like

  12. Almost forgot to add, You can also piggy back credit. In essence if you get a credit with your name on it under someone who has had great credit for years you get all the credit that had been gained with that card. This is probably best for married couples trying to bump each others credit score up. This is completely legal is one of the main things that those credit repair companies recommend. You can also negotiate the interest rate. When you tell banks that you are looking at different banks to see who has the best deal they tend to start giving deals.

    Great Days,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    Like

  13. The other great thing in New Zealand is that Air New Zealand’s Airpoints converts directly into dollars instead of points. With no blackouts you just accumulate Aipoints dollars which can be used on any flight and any seat at face value $400 flight = $400 Airpoints Dollars. We have all of our bills set to automatically get paid via the Airpoints Amex card (1.5% rewards) and also pay for all groceries with Amex and Flybys (which also adds to the points pool).

    As Tim points out the key thing is not to spend money just to earn points but to be smart about how you pay for your normal expenses.

    Like

  14. Tim,

    You second suggestion says: “2. Purchase gift cards that can be used as MC/VISA debit cards.”

    I checked USPS website and here’s what they accept for moneyorders: Purchase with cash, debit card, or traveler’s check

    will this AllAcess giftcard qualify as a debitcard?

    I could not find any info about getting money orders from walmart. Can I buy Money orders with Credit Card ?

    I have samsclub discover credit card that gives 2% money back on all purchases …up to 1 Million dollars per year. How can I maximize that.

    I own a convenience store, and If I can use my creditcard to purchase money orders and pay my vendors those money orders, I would be all set.

    Like

  15. Another trick to get a few more miles is to keep trying to cancel your card. Every time I call to cancel my Chase United card they offer me something new. Sometimes it’s only 1000 miles, other times it’s a free companion ticket. One of these days I’ll actually cancel it!

    Like

  16. In addition to my AMEX I have a Northwest Worldpoints MasterCard which allows you to accumulate 10 points for every dollar spent at qualifying restaurants. I use Yelp.com to find the best restaurants on the list and end up earning 10X the points for meals at premier restaurants that I would normally eat at anyways! I was able to accrue 60,000 points in a little over 4 months!

    Like

  17. Incredible information and great posts! Who knew?

    It would be nice to see this topic/information continued and expanded as a separate section. If this were all in one place, I would check back periodically to see what the new ‘games’ are.

    Thanks – Matt

    Like

  18. Tim,

    Isn’t time to get a jet at your own? One that you can cruise around the world, what’s about?

    I guess it would come ok if you would not miss socializing in the commercial flights, you know, that neighbor seat… otherwise, happy counting…

    For me it is great math, and I already took my notes (electronically – no pads like that pile of yours)…

    KISS ;-)

    Beleza Pura

    Lou

    Like

  19. “You’re not getting cards with their names that you would use yourself — you are getting additional cards for your business/account that those people would each use.”

    Thanks Tim, that does clear it up.

    Like

  20. Tim,

    As you instructed, I’m using your comments box to contact you.

    I’ve got a little business proposal I’d like to run by you. We have a new book coming out in June and we want to lay the groundwork to turn that book into a New York Times bestseller.

    What we’d like to do is hire you as a consultant on the project. The ideas you dream up are nothing short of brilliant…, exactly the kind of mindset needed to make something like this happen. It’d be completely up to you how much you would be involved, and we’d certainly compensate you nicely for your time. I’d love to talk with you more about it.

    Can you email me a phone number I can reach you at?

    By the way — have you ever been out to the Pacific Northwest on your travels — anywhere near Ashland Oregon? If not, know that you’ll have a tour guide extraordinaire if you’d like to give it a whirl sometime.

    Take it easy, and I hope we talk soon.

    Best,

    Tim
    ###

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for the comment, and I appreciate the question. Unfortunately, I’m not doing any consulting at the moment. If that changes, I will certainly get in touch and help out.

    Please search “New York Times bestseller” on this blog for some tips that might help. Good luck!

    Tim

    Like

  21. Hi Tim,

    I just got finished listening to your audiobook and bought the print copy so I could start my muse business!

    I wanted to try a bit of recycling so I called AmEx today and they would not set my credit card cash advance limit to $0. They would only lower my available credit to decrease the cash advance limit. How does buying gift cards put you at risk with regards to cash advances?

    Cheers!
    Candice

    Like

  22. Tim – do you have any strategies for getting approval for the AMEX business platinum? I have 0 debt, and an annual gross in the six figures, but my business is so new I don’t have much of a credit history, other than my personal one (which has been up and down). I applied tonight, so we will see how it goes through.

    Thanks so much, keep up the good work!

    Like

  23. Tim, you’re great and everything but for an 18 year old like me, that was wholly confusing. I don’t understand half the terms you’re throwing out there. As far as building credit, I’ve done it the old fashioned way: bought everything on the credit card, then paid the full balance at the end of the month.

    Like

  24. Rocking it!!!!!!! That is what I think of this blog. Something I just thought to add while I am enjoying a glass of red wine. Pick 3 banks(credit card cos.) and interview them, see the pros and cons for the 3 and choose the one that best fits your financial needs. You can do this using a simple excel format. I might add you might also want to mitigate and see the short term and long term pros/cons!

    Buenas Noche de Tejas,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    Like

  25. Tao,

    I was 18 not tooo long ago. Look at my #14 comment on this blog. If you have a family member who is close to you then this may be an option for you. Also, as you make your payments on time you can convince these banks to raise your credit limits. I did this in less than 9 months, from 5K-20K. Sometimes it is just a matter of trial and error. Furthermore, in a nutshell, leverage yourself so that all your(or at least most of your expenses) are put on some sort of credit card. This can really help you to gain that credit that you want.

    Jose

    Like

  26. I’ve read the credit bureaus are changing their policy, if they haven’t already, in regards to using seasoned credit lines. I believe the new policy is essentially that the person’s credit your piggybacking has no effect whatsoever on your personal credit rating.

    Like

  27. Hey Tim,

    Have you ever blogged something like your top 10 exotic “NR” destinations, you know like places most people never seem to consider for whatever reason but which has the greatest value to the American dollar?

    If not, I think that would make for a great post.

    Mark

    Like

  28. Hey Tim,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading what you have to say about a number of topics on this blog! I’m reading three books simultaneously at the moment, but your book is in queue for purchase. Rest assured.

    That being said, I believe my view of credit cards is different from yours. I am currently following the plan Dave Ramsey devised, that promotes the power of using cash for most everything and expresses the dangers that come inherent with credit cards. I currently only have 1 debit card, and have never owned or used a credit card for anything, so you can logically derive from that my credit score is 0. I plan on finding a mortgage service that does manual underwriting.

    Both your plan and have shown and proven prowess. I suppose my question for you is this: How do you approach the very real possibility of interest rate changes on your credit card balances? Why is it worth this risk even for the most disciplined individual? What are things that come to mind that has caused the biggest rejoice to the way you work your finances with your credit cards? The biggest regret?

    I apologize for my inquisitive nature. I only wish to see your way of thinking. Thanks!

    ###

    Hi Wes!

    The short answer is that I never carry a balance. I pay off all of my cards each month. Hope that helps :)

    Tim

    Like

  29. I am not aware of them changing their policies but you can contact Lexington law firm online and they could tell you. Its free to call so you might consider this option.

    Siempre,

    Jose

    Like

  30. “Recycling and related arbitrage allows you to legally move cash from credit cards to cash-like instruments and back to credit cards, without significant fees but with all the benefits of point accumulation.”

    Check your credit card contracts carefully. I believe that they generally are aware of this technique and consider it abusive. I have no idea if it is illegal but I suspect that as part of your contract with the CC company you agree not to behave in this way.

    Like

  31. Great post. I have begun traveling back and forth to Australia and the OneWorld Alliance is great, but I need a lot more miles for unrestricted first class tickets (long way from NY to Sydney), so a recycling/piggy backing I will go.

    It’s all been great stuff and the book was my number one gift to give this holiday. As I posted in another comment, look me up if you are coming to NY and want a cool BJJ school to drop into (out of the city, that is)

    Cheers,
    Neil

    Like

  32. Wow! There are many ways to rack up points that I’ve never even thought of. Your hacks are creative, but they seem a little time consuming. Yes, it may be worth to go through these hassles for a $1,000 trip, but only if you really need to get away.

    I guess I prefer a more simple approach like buying groceries and other necessities. When the points add up I cash them in for a VISA card and buy more groceries. I guess that’s why I am where I am. I don’t take big risks, small calculations are all I can afford. I’m just content with where I am and I don’t need to work the system to make my life more exciting.

    Like

  33. Jose – Tao is correct. Do a search for “Fico08 Piggybacking” to understand the new changes that are being made this spring. There are some doubts if it will actually happen, but Fair Isaac is currently planning to make it so that “authorized users” do not get score benefits.

    Like

  34. Is there a way to transfer a large amount of money($20k, $50k, etc) from your credit card and then to your bank account without a large fee (<1%)?

    Like

  35. It makes me giggle to think that I could buy a Visa gift card with my AmEx and use the proceeds to pay back my AmEx bill. But just like casinos, the house will change the rules if they’re getting hustled. And in the USA, you’d better watch out that you don’t end up on the FBI watch list for money laundering.

    Like

  36. Which has better benefits: AMEX Platinum or Platinum for Small Business?

    I started my own business and do not have any employees. Is there a reason I should go with the Small Business card over the regular Platinum? I couldn’t find any major differences on the website. Does anyone know of the pros/cons for each card and which would be best for my situation?

    Thank You!

    Like

  37. Aaron,

    Here is my experience with business cards, you can usually get better rates and more miles per dollar spent on a personal credit card. I have a few personal credit cards and opted to close my business cards b/c they did not give me as many airmiles and had higher interest rates, lastly not to mention the credit lines tend to be lower. Hope this helps

    Cheers,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    Like

  38. After years of no credit card because of my inability to manage my own budget, I’m finally looking at getting back into the game. I’m scared about loosing control again, but I am hopeful that because of the last several years I’ve toiled to pay off unnecessary debit I’ll have more restraint. One of my best friends does this, which I think I will do: she writes all her credit card purchases in her check book register, then when it’s time to pay off her credit card she knows she has enough because she’s already subtracted them from her ballance. She just writes the check for the amount.
    Thanks again!
    -Suz.

    Like

  39. Unfortunately in Australia the MC/Visa Gift Card can’t be used to purchase “cash or cash equivalents” which is what a money order is. I rang Australia Post and they confirmed their outlets won’t accept either credit cards or Visa gift cards as payment for money orders.

    I was a legend at work for 10 minutes, Tim, until I checked with Australia Post!
    Frodo

    Like

  40. once again, love the unique advice!

    Like others have mentioned, I tried canceling an MBNA platinum and they offered me a $25k 1.9% advance rate for a year.

    gee whiz, they’re so pushy. I reluctantly took it!

    Like

  41. I recently watched a program on CNBC about American Airlines. A portion of this show was in regards to their rewards program. They interviewed the CEO and were asking him how the rewards program benefits them as a company. He basically said they make large profits from it as they are able to sell the miles to credit card companies for a decent sum of money and that mixed in with the number of miles that go unspent comes big profits. With that being said that asked him how much it costs them when someone does book a seat with their miles and he said literally just pennies. You might be able to use this to your advantage (no pun intended) if you were just short a few thousand miles, with a little sweet talking they might add some miles to your account, due to the low cost to them.

    I’m getting ready to be deployed to Afghanistan… Do you think the government has a frequent flyers reward program?

    Cheers,

    Jon

    Like

  42. I did some research on travelers cheques and gift cards in the US. I spent way too much time on this, but it was fun anyway. The short of it is that AAA doesn’t sell travelers’ cheques anymore. Travelex does, but they only accept cash. One place I’ve checked doesn’t accept credit cards for gift card purchases. I did find a money order place, though, that will accept debit cards. I remain in search, though, of a place that I can purchase gift cards with a credit card.

    Like

  43. As Josh said, AAA has discontinued traveler’s checks. They now have a reloadable debit card of their own, on which you can load up to $9999. They charge a $4.95 fee for AAA members. However, they said the credit card companies will only allow the transaction to go through if you have a high enough cash advance availability, and if you do you will inevitably be charged the cash advance fee (typically 3% max $75).
    Also, the AllAccess card has a maximum value of $250, and you’re paying at least $3 for the card. So, if you wants to gain 10K points on a credit card, you will be purchasing 40 AllAccess card at a total cost of $120.
    I hate to be a spoiler. Hopefully I’m missing some loopholes that make this profitable and keep us one step ahead of the man.

    Like

  44. Tim, I have just began studying your book and philosophy and am very happy I found it!

    As to this topic, I would like to clarify a couple of things. Onepass is Continental Airlines’ frequent flier program. The alliance is called Skyteam, which is comprised of many airlines, including Continental, Delta, and Northwest in the USA. You can use Continental frequent flier miles to get tickets on other Skyteam member airlines. Continental is known to be stingy for reward availability compared to other airlines.

    But I would like to think that you used the Continental card as just an example. It would be better for one to have the credit card of the airline that one flies the most often. Personally, I use United, so I have the United Platinum card.

    To answer a previous poster’s question, the primary difference between personal and business credit cards is that business credit cards are not displayed on your personal credit report. So you can run up the balances on these cards and it won’t negatively affect your personal credit score. However, if you default on the biz card, it will show up on your personal credit report.

    And of course since it is a business credit card, it is much easier to keep your personal and business expenses separate for tax purposes.

    For everything you ever wanted to know about frequent flier miles, check out http://www.flyertalk.com. For credit, check out http://www.creditboards.com

    –Frekwentflier

    ###

    Thank you for the clarification, Frekwentflier!

    Tim

    Like

  45. As a WalMart employee, I can tell you that all gift cards (Except WalMart gift cards, which cannot be loaded via Credit Cards) have to be run as Credit in WalMart. To purchase a money order, you cannot use Credit, The computer system will only allow the use of Debit or Cash. Since Gift Cards never run as Debit… I don’t how well the Recycling idea would work. More than once I have had customers try to use credit at multiple locations including the USPS and local grocery stores, but they don’t accept credit for money orders either.

    I love the idea, just can’t think of a way around this.

    Also, first visit to the blog and love it! Thanks for all the info! Especially useful for someone who would love to escape Walmart…

    Like

  46. hi everybody,

    I also did a little research for places selling gift cards which I can use to buy money order for my monthly rent. All Access has a limit of $250. Any other suggestions on how to pay off my rent with credit card. My rental office accepts only money orders and cashier/certfed checks.

    Thanks
    Bhupesh

    Like

  47. Hi there!
    That was a fascinating article! It is going to take me a little while to wrap my head around all those concepts.

    Here’s my question: If you have a large spending limit on your credit card, how do you take advantage of that to get points and be able to pay off your credit card balance each month (assuming you have less in your checking account then in you CC spending limit)?

    Thanks!

    Like

  48. Tim,
    This is my first time here and it’s really interesting on some of the ideas on how to accumulate points. I’ve been searching for a new cc and want to get rid of my United card because their flight choices from the DC area are very limited. I have a corporate AMEX for work but never use it as I want to accumulate points w/ my Visa. My question is what should I get a Platinum AMEX (that would make 2 AMEX cards for me) and then a another Visa/MC card, perhaps a the Continental?
    I’m a rookie at this so any advice from you veterans would be much appreciated!
    Thanks!

    Like

  49. Did anyone ever figure out how to convert gift cards back to cash-like instruments? As stated above and as I have personally experienced, I have yet to have heard about a MC/VISA gift/debit card that can be used to purchase money orders or travelers’ checks.

    Like

  50. I was totally oblivious about recycling credit card points – it all makes sense to me, it just didn’t cross my mind earlier. Do you mind if I copy some of the content from this article and give you credit for it?
    Thanks,
    Mike

    Like

  51. Hello…

    Does anyone know which debit card allows one to load cash with the American Express Blue Sky card? I have the Western Union, AccountNow and Ready Debit cards. It seems as though they only allow cash, direct deposit or dropping by some money cashing place. One of them allows Paypal but I don’t trust that service and plus they charge very high fees sending money.

    Thanks in advance.

    Like

  52. Hi Tim, Another great post. I thought your idea of applying for all your cards within a very short time is a particuarly good one so you get your applications through before any impact from the other applications shows up on your credit reports. Not sure what the banks would think of this but I think it’s a great concept!

    Like

  53. Hi Tim, Great article and tips for getting more and more points. I do a heap of PPC marketing and use an AMEX card for all my payments. Its great as with AMEX, unlike most reward programs, the points are uncapped and dont expire. In Australia most cards have tough limits on yearly point totals which then mean that they are basically useless for getting heaps of points. It pays to review the conditions of the rewards card before you sign up to see what points limitations may be available. I dont only book tickets for myself but for family and friends as well. I love not paying for flights, spending on something I had to anyway. Then as you mention there are online stores where you can convert the points into household purchases that you would otherwise have to pay for. Go rewards!

    Like

  54. TIm,

    I realize I am a little late to the party but better late than never. Does the 3-step process still work??

    I have contacted my credit card company (Bankofamerica, power rewards card) and they have told me there is no way they can change my cash advance limit because it is the same thing as my credit line. Are they BS*ing me? Do I need a new credit card? They also have told me that money orders and traveler’s checks count as cash advances. Would the method still work if I did it all on the same day? I know I’ve asked a few too many questions, but a break down of the 1-2-3 method is required.

    Thank you very much for your timely response (quoted you!),
    Jake

    Like

  55. Does he ever answer the question of which cards can be purchased with credit cards? Seems like he just runs over that little point and I’ve seen question after question about it but nooooo answer. I’ve spent too much time here already.

    Like

  56. Since reading the 4HWW i’ve become a huge advocate of using rewards points to contribute towards my muses. Card companies are increasingly allowing points for cash redemption which really gives more freedom to use points for what you want.

    Like

  57. Are there any suggestions for which Amex card to get for someone who wants start accumulating points for daily purchases and bills but not an owner of a muse? I’ve been looking at the different cards and would love some input on which has the best bang for the buck. Thanks!

    Like

  58. Here’s another way to get points without spending a cent. First, make sure you check that what you purchase is able to be returned and fully refundable. I discovered this by accident after purchasing an expensive item on credit card, only to receive the same item shortly thereafter as a gift. I went back to the store, returned the item I had bought and they refunded the money back onto my credit card. However they did not deduct the points I had earned for the purchase. This happended a few years ago so I’m not sure if it still works.

    Like

  59. Gathering rewards through debit cards is even better – all the points (Ok generally not as generous as credit cards) but none of the risk of hefty interest.

    @ Ben – man, that’s a bit of a tough way to play. Poor merchant wouldn’t get their fees back even!!

    Like

  60. AAA no longer sells traveler’s cheques, verified by them. I don’t believe anyone will allow you buy them via credit card, similar to money orders.

    Like

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