My Favorite Strategies For More Rewards Without More Spend
Hobbyists, especially active ones, focus on increasing spend to amass large points and miles balances. Realistically, though, many individuals do not have the option of spending more. Fortunately, plenty of strategies exist to earn considerable rewards without increasing spend at all. Indeed, there are too many to list in one article, and that’s a good thing! Today, I’ll focus on my favorite options for increasing rewards balances without increasing spend. Most often, my favorites involve easy rewards acquisition regardless of the amount. Even a little something is better than the zero alternative. Here we go!
I love card referral bonuses. While many banks offer them, Amex is the most active here, at least currently. I’ve amassed $2,875 so far this year in referral bonuses from Amex. I’m in two player mode with my wife, but solo players can easily rack up solid rewards via referral bonuses. Chase, Citi, and Discover are just a few of the other banks who periodically offer referral bonuses. Sure, for those who haven’t done referrals, it may feel like you are “selling” someone else on a product. Luckily, in these situations, the others are gaining even bigger rewards from applying, presuming they are responsible with their credit. Consider exploring referral bonuses with your friends and family who have already showed interest in the credit card rewards hobby.
Portal Rewards Without More Spend
While portals have taken a hit lately, many options still exist for obtaining additional rewards simply by clicking through a portal to complete your normal shopping. While the Amex Membership Rewards version of Rakuten is my favorite portal, so many options are out there. Rakuten seems to track the most quickly and reliably, in my experience. Topcashback frequently offers bonus cash back for meeting a small amount of spend. Both of these portals also offer bonuses for referring others.
Don’t ignore airline portals. They periodically hold substantial promo periods where you can earn a few thousand miles for a few hundred dollars in spend at a variety of retailers. And, in addition to shopping for your necessary stuff, gift card purchases trigger these rewards in some cases. Experiment and see what works for you!
Easy Credit Card Plays
Obviously, using your credit cards for your normal spend in the bonus categories is a no-brainer. Ryan S recently wrote a great reference article on credit card bonus categories. Personally, I like getting even further into the minutiae of different credit cards’ earning capabilities. My current favorite play here is with the Citi Rewards+ card. With the card’s Round Up feature, any purchase is rounded up to the next 10 ThankYou points. I therefore put all small purchases on the Rewards+. I described here how I am putting all transactions under certain small dollar amounts on the Rewards+ this year. Sure, it’s a small amount of extra rewards, but it requires no significant extra effort or spend. Many online merchants allow payments from multiple cards, and I easily add the Rewards+ to charge a small amount.
I’ve described my love for Amex Offers and fuel points previously. They are great options for obtaining additional rewards on normal spend.
Retention and Spending Offers
During card renewal time, you can call credit card companies to hopefully obtain retention offers. Often, this is free money, an annual fee waiver, or bonus points for spend. The spend requirements for meeting these bonuses can be remarkably low, sometimes less than was required for the original welcome offer. You can simply refocus your normal spend on the card to obtain the bonus. Simply call the credit card company, mention you are considering cancelling the card, and query what other offers are available. Increasingly, you can do so via chat from your online account, as well.
Additionally, you can call your card issuer any time to see if you have any spending offers available on your account. Terms can be similar to retention offers. Citi has been great in giving me spending offers – I even inadvertently fall into them sometimes. Like asking out the prom queen or king, the worst that can happen is that the bank says “no.” Why not try?
You can easily get free rewards or cash with the seemingly bottomless pit of apps. My favorite currently is the Cash app that gives a substantial percentage back in generous categories and everyday merchants. How does 10% off grocery store spend sound? What about 15% off Home Depot? Dosh, Shopkick, and Ibotta are other solid options. There are simply too many to list here, so dive in!
Requiring a bit more time and effort, bank account bonuses can likewise provide a higher level of rewards. So many are available continuously with mostly-straightforward requirements. If anything, it takes considerable time whittling down all of the options to the several that are worth your attention. While every individual’s situation is different, I particularly consider bonuses which post quickly and involve accounts with no monthly fees (or avoidable ones) as the best. Also, I go after bonuses with banks where I want to establish a relationship in order to possibly obtain a credit card in the future. DDG lists great current options here.
Don’t Forget Rewards on “Free” Spend
I recently described in (too much) detail all of the different everyday rewards available to many of us in the hobby. Many involve “free” spend where you put actual spend on the card and the bank then issues a credit. You can earn portal rewards on this spend! Here are just a few examples:
- I recently earned 750 miles from the American Airlines shopping portal on a $20 Sling TV subscription which is eligible for $20 back with the current Amex Platinum streaming credit.
- Rakuten offers Membership Rewards on Grubhub spend currently, and Uber Eats in the past. I most often use my Amex Gold card dining credits with Grubhub and Platinum card credits with Uber Eats.
- I go through the Rakuten portal for all Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy/etc spend when I use my Banana Republic Visa card reward certificates to obtain more points. YMMV, of course.
Rewards Without More Spend – Conclusion
These are just a few viable options that we have for obtaining more rewards without increasing spend. Even better, you can routinely stack multiple of these options for even more rewards. I’m constantly looking for new options for more rewards on existing spend. The options are seemingly limitless – it’s just a matter of how much time you want to spend experimenting. As with anything in this hobby, have fun! What are your favorite plays for increasing rewards without spending more? Why?