How Points Are Putting a New Roof Over Our Heads

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I periodically mention that my wife and I are in the rewards hobby, and redeeming for travel is just part of our overall strategy.  In my view, consumers have been conditioned to view “free travel” as a primary goal.  This is natural, as we’ve collected currencies originating in travel spheres – hotel chains, airlines, rental car companies, etc.  Not coincidentally, some think of bank point currencies as travel rewards.  Sure, Ultimate Rewards and ThankYou points can be used for travel.  But just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should.  I’m a fan of cashing out to meet our priority goals, travel-related and otherwise.  Here’s how we’re using points from card welcome offers to meet our latest need beyond travel.

So We’re Buying A Roof…

We’ve been in our house several years, and the roof on our home has been around much longer.  We need a new roof – it’s not a surprise, and the time has come.  Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed more time for everything since reaching financial independence, but I’m self-aware enough to know that this is not a DIY job.

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Like any other project I’m unwilling to take on myself, finding a trustworthy, competent service provider is the biggest challenge.  Luckily, we have a reliable roofer, based on our prior research and a few small jobs he’s done for us in the past.  And compared to other contractors, the price is right.  Installing a new roof will cost us $7,150.

We could’ve pulled money out of our traditional savings or investments for this job.  But, of course, my love for this hobby and what it enables can be brought to bear, instead.

Our “Free” Roof

We’re using cash back from card welcome offers to pay for our new roof.  I’ll now step through how we’re completely covering it (pun intended) with points.

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Amex Business Platinum x2

My summer was bookended by two Amex Business Platinum offers with no lifetime language.  Each offer was for 160k Membership Rewards points with $15k spend in the first three months of card membership.  Taking into account everyday earning to meet this spend, I earned 175k points at a minimum (without considering any bonus category earning).  Incorporating the 1.1 cent per point Schwab cashout value, that’s $1,925 in gross rewards.  Minus the $695 annual fee, that’s $1,230 in net rewards.  The total net rewards on the two offers is $2,460.

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Capital One Spark Cash Plus

I obtained a $1.2k welcome offer on the Spark Cash Plus for spending $50k within six months.  I earned another 2% cash back for the $50k spend.  That’s $2.2k in gross rewards.  Taking into the $150 annual fee, that’s $2,050 in net rewards.

Bank of America Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard

Bank of America targeted me for a $750 bonus on $5k spend within the first three months.  I also received 1.5% cash back on all purchases (I didn’t bother with the Preferred Rewards program).  That’s $825 net rewards on this $0 annual fee card.

Source: Navy Federal Credit Union.

Navy Federal More Rewards Amex

I was targeted for a 30k point welcome offer after spending $3k in the first three months of holding this Navy Federal card.  I earned at the everyday 1x rate on this spend via Serve online loads.  Points are worth 1 cent each.  Total net rewards from this welcome offer is $330.

And a Splash of Ultimate Rewards

While not from a welcome offer, our Chase Ultimate Rewards earning and redemption has been even more lucrative.  Chase, while kind of boring, is still providing us undeniably solid rewards.  We’ve earned plenty over the summer with a variety of personal and business cards, and we cashed them all out via Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature at 1.5 cents per point with my wife’s Sapphire Reserve.  We only needed a fraction of what we cashed out to cover the rest of our roof.  Specifically, we used 99k Ultimate Rewards points for the remaining $1,485 needed.

Putting It All Together

  • Amex Business Platinum:        $2,460
  • Capital One Spark Cash Plus:  $2,050
  • BoA Unlimited Cash Rewards:    $825
  • Navy Federal Amex:                  $330
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards:        $1,485
  • Total                                     $7,150

Conclusion

I doubt it’s ever a pleasure to buy a new roof, but using rewards to cover the job has made it much more palatable.  I’m also looking forward to other cost savings based on this work.  I’ve enjoyed leveraging credit card benefits for everyday goods and services, and covering necessary purchases with points is just one option.  Travel’s great, but I’m not defined by it.  We used our rewards for a near term goal without jeopardizing future travel-related ones.  It’s just another reminder that hobbyists can flexibly use rewards for their changing needs.  We’ll continue to do so, and I encourage you to, as well.

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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10 COMMENTS

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10 COMMENTS

  1. How do you account for taxes when you cash out points? Cashing out points for cash is usually a taxable event – especially so on business cards. Businesses are supposed to reduce cost basis when they cash out.

  2. Hi Benjy,
    Fascinating approach. However, I have to agree with James. What the heck do you spend soooo much money on? Holy cow! This seems like a LOT of spend just to save a little.
    Let me see if I get this right…
    2 Amex Plats = $30,000 spend
    Spark Biz = $15,000 spend
    Navy Federal = $3,000 spend
    So you have nearly $50,000 put on four new cards, that all to be repaid in three or six months (which appears you are able to do, congrats on that!)… in order to NOT pay a new roof costing only $7150??
    Why not put the new roof on the highest earning card you have, subtract your bonus and your cost
    would be much closer to $6000. OR get a new card (or two) with required spend around that $7k and have the cost be even lower with the bonus/es? Then you could say you got a $7100 roof for $6000 (or less) AND was able to keep $40,000 in your pocket!”
    We all have our own stradegies here, but I would much prefer to spend $7k to save $50k, than spend $50k to save $7. (and the fact I could NEVER pay off that much anyway has nothing to do with it) ; )
    Thanks Benjy!

    • Abc007,
      Historically, I’ve found use for most Pay Yourself Back categories, but dining is currently my favorite one.

    • Agreed we replaced ours this summer. New roof plus new gutters $21k. Great warranty but still lots $ and that’s because it went up from 2021 price due to product cost increasing. It’s horrible. Me the contractors put in the contacts if supply price increases they will increase too. It’s only fair but man does it hurt. This supply demand for supply needs to get in check!!

  3. That’s cheap for a new roof!
    Anyways, well done. I look at this hobby as a way to reduce travel costs and save hard earned money (tax free).

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