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My 2022 Final Tally: Over $35,000 In Earnings Plus A Stash Of Points

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End of Year Checklist: Temporary Credit Card Perks to Use or Lose

4th Quarter

Can you believe the end of 2022 is here? I know I can’t! It was an exhausting year for me and I am looking forward to a fresh start in 2023 myself. I wanted to update you on my goals from 2022 and see if I was able to finish off the year strong. If you remember at the end of Q3 I ended up pushing the goal posts out a bit on my yearly goals.

The new goals were:

  • $30,000 in earnings
  • 600K+ of Membership Rewards
  • 250K+ of Ultimate Rewards

My Balances At The End Of The Third Quarter

Here is where everything stood at the end of Q3:

Alright, let’s get into the numbers for the 4th quarter.

Bank Bonuses

Like pretty much every other year, I completely gave up on Bank Bonuses. I didn’t earn any this quarter, although I did start up the Membership Rewards business accounts. Those bonuses should hit sometime in early February.

For whatever reason I always start off a year strong with bank account bonuses and then they drop off a cliff as the year progresses. They do tend to take more hoops than welcome offers and they can take forever to post. I guess I just get bored of them you could say.

Total – $0

Image of credit cards in a wallet as we discuss what happens to your status benefits if you close a credit card

Welcome Offers / Upgrade Offers

The welcome offers were not a big fat zero though. They once again had a large focus on no lifetime language Amex offers.

  • Amex Business Gold – 90,000 Membership Rewards
    • No lifetime language offer
  • Spark Cash Travel Elite – 250,000 Capital One Rewards
    • This offer has since been pulled for a refresh and relaunch
  • Bank of America Travel Business – 30,000 travel eraser points
    • Standard public offer
  • Bank of America Business Cards – $750 X2
    • Targeted offer for $750 after $5000 in spend for me and my wife for a total of 4 cards on the year.
  • Amex Platinum Business Card – 150,000 Membership Rewards X2
    • No lifetime language offer for myself and my wife.
  • Fifth Third Cash Card – $200
    • Targeted welcome offer mailer

American Express was once again very rewarding for us. I did end up cashing out a large chunk of the points for our numbers, around 150,000 points at 1.1 cents with the Charles Schwab Platinum. I cashed out an additional 150,000 points to cover the cards’ annual fees from this list too. I was able to turn the Spark points into cash as well.

Total – $6,150 & 90K MR points

Authorized User / Pay Over Time Offers

We did have a few Authorized User offers this quarter:

  • Amex Business Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards
    • It was a part of my wife’s welcome offer
  • Discover – $25 X 2
    • They targeted accounts for a $25 bonus after 1 charge.

Total – 10K MR points & $50

Regular Spend

I did better in this area then most quarters because I ran out of other stuff towards the end of the year. Because of that I focused on maxing out high earning cards. This also includes the minimum spend from the welcome offers above.

  • Blue Cash Preferred – $265 X 2
    • We each grabbed one of these for the grocery spend. We maxed it out and I subtracted the $95 fee from the $360 earnings ($6,000 X 6%)
  • Disney Card – $150
  • Amex Business Gold – 40,000 Membership Rewards
    • We were able to do the entire $10,000 in spend in a 4X earning category
  • Spark Travel Elite – 100,000 points
    • From the massive $50,000 in spend
  • Bank of America Travel Business – $55
    • From the minimum spend at 1.5X earning plus a little extra
  • Hilton Business Amex Offer – $270
    • Was able to hit the $15K free night spend and earn an additional $270 with the offer
  • Bank of America Business Custom Cash – $525
    • Had some fun with the 3% back category on the card and this included the minimum spend from the cards.
  • Amex Business Platinum – 30,000 Membership Rewards
    • Minimum spend earnings for the two cards
  • Fifth Third Cash Card – $355
    • This card gave a surprising 5%+ back at gas stations the first 3 months as a part of the welcome offer.
  • Ink+ – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards
    • From 5% back categories
  • Freedom Cards X 3 – 22,500 Ultimate Rewards
    • 4th quarter 5% back category earning

Total: $2,885 / 70,000 Membership Rewards / 72,500 Ultimate Rewards

Retention / Upgrade Offers

There was nothing on this front in the fourth quarter.

Refer A Friend Bonuses

I was able to grab a few of these again this quarter. These were from a friend in the game and one from a spousal referral.

  • Blue Cash Preferred – 25,000 Membership Rewards Points
  • Ink+ Referral – 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points

Total – 25K MR & 20K UR

miles to memories recap

Shopping Portals / Swagbucks / Odds & Ends

I had a lot of things fall into this category this quarter but they were mostly smaller plays.

  • Meijer gift card deals – $150
  • PayPal Bitcoin Offer – $22.56
  • Swagbucks Acorns – $80
  • PayPal Payment App – $10
  • Rakuten – $86.77
  • Target RedCard Welcome Offer – $80
  • Target Circle Deal – $20
  • Meijer Mastercard GC promo – $20
  • Kohl’s Chase Offer – $60
  • Grocery Chase Offer – $10
  • Office Max Chase Offer – $22
  • Quill Chase Offer – $16
  • Lowe’s Amex Offer – $90

Chase & Amex Offers were very good this quarter.

Total – $667.33


There are of course costs associated with earning these points and cash back so let’s break that down.

Annual Fees

I already covered the annual fees above by cashing out points, but not including them in my calculations. The only one not included was the Spark Cash Elite card and I have to account for $95 of the $395 annual fee after the $300 travel credit.

Total Cost – $95

Acquisition / Liquidation Costs

There were some costs associated with acquiring these points and cash as well. I was able to get a lot of it via 3rd party gift card reselling at no cost, or a profit, but some came with fees and liquidation costs. I was able to keep these costs around $600 because of some lower cost gift card options available to me.

Total Cost – $600

Final Tally

So what does this all add up to? I focused a lot more on cashback this quarter and cashed out a chunk of points for annual fees / cash back.

  • $9057.33 in cash back or cash out (after subtracting costs)
  • 195,000 Membership Rewards
  • 95,000 Ultimate Rewards

My Point Balances Going Into Quarter 4

  • 200,000 Ultimate Rewards
  • 470,000 Membership Rewards

My Point Balances Going At The End Of Quarter 4

  • 150,000 Ultimate Rewards
  • 350,000 Membership Rewards

Wait, I had bigger balances than this and earned quite a bit this quarter, so what happened? Travel happened! My wife’s birthday trip killed my Ultimate Rewards account for our Polaris flight and Lufthansa took out a chunk of my Membership Rewards balance.

Then I decided to book my 40th birthday trip this month too for next year. That gutted the rest of my Membership Rewards balance. Luckily, I’ll have another Amex Gold Business bonus post soon plus the bank bonus offers should post soon. Those things should put me back above 500K early in 2023. The Ultimate Rewards balance is gonna be a work in progress for a while though.

Travel Hacking Savings 4th Quarter Results: Final Thoughts

As you can see above, I fell short on my points balance goals. That should be partially corrected in early next year at least. Growing my balances even more will likely be my focus in 2023. I would like to get those on more solid ground now and focus a bit less on cash back. Especially with my travel schedule picking up quite a bit at the end of this year and into next year.

As for the cash totals, that ended up at $35,962.40 when it was all said and done. That is a staggering number, and more than double what I initially set out to do.  I know many people out there do that in a few months but this is the first time I focused so much on earning cash back. I have to say that I am pretty happy with my final results. It showed me what is possible if I put the effort in.

Having said that, I am looking forward to backing off quite a bit next year. This year wore me down to the bone. I think my cash back goals will be maxing out two Roth IRAs or something in that ballpark next year. My main focus will be on getting some screw you level points so I don’t need to chase saver awards all over the place going forward. I think they will be a lot harder to find in the future anyway. Plus, you all know how I hate searching for flights!

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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