How I Crushed $25,000 In Earnings Ahead Of Schedule: My 3rd Quarter Miles & Points Results

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Travel Hacking Savings: 3rd Quarter Results

Happy Halloween everyone! Sorry I was a bit delayed getting my 3rd quarter results out. For those that are finding this series for the first time I had set a goal for the year to earn $15,000 using our miles and points tips and tricks during 2022. I did so well in the first quarter, earning almost $14,000, that I decided to increase my goal after my second quarter results. Now I am trying to reach $25,000 in earnings and 600K+ of Membership Rewards and 250K+ of Ultimate Rewards by the end of the year. Let’s see how I am progressing!

End Of Quarter 2 Balances

Here is how I was sitting after my 2nd quarter results:

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Bank Bonuses

Up first is bank bonuses. I have dropped off quite a bit this year since the first few months, as is normal for me. I find bank bonuses to be a bit tedious so I always start with a fury and then get bored of them by the summer. Having said that, I was able to grab a couple of good ones in the 3rd quarter.

  • US Bank Business Checking Account – $500 X 2

This was a targeted mailer my wife and I got from US Bank. We are both business credit card holders with them so I am guessing that is why we were targeted.

Total – $1000

Welcome Offers / Upgrade Offers

We were able to hit the welcome offer game pretty hard this quarter. We had some bigger expenses and some reselling opportunities so I took full advantage.

  • Blue Business Cash – $500 
    • No lifetime language targeted offer.
  • Amex Business Platinum – 150,000 Membership Rewards
    • No lifetime language targeted offer.
  • Wells Fargo Business -$300
  • Wife’s Amex Business Platinum – 150,000 Membership Rewards
    • No lifetime language targeted offer.
  • Bank of America Business Cards – $750 X2
    • Targeted offer for $750 after $5000 in spend for me and my wife
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards – $500
  • Bank of America Product Change Offer – $200
  • Amex Business Gold – 90,000 Membership Rewards
    • No lifetime language targeted offer

I did end up cashing out all of the Membership Rewards from welcome offers this quarter. I did that at 1.1 cents per point with our Charles Schwab Platinum cards.

Total – $7,290

Authorized User / Pay Over Time Offers

We didn’t get a ton of movement here this quarter. Only one offer on my wife’s account that we cashed out as well at 1.1 cents per point.

Total – $220

Regular Spend

Since we had so many welcome offers we were able to get a decent chunk of money and points from that minimum spend as well. We also hit up Citi and Chase for some spend per usual this quarter.

  • Blue Business Cash – $300
    • $15K minimum spend
  • Business Platinum X2 – 30,000 Membership Rewards
    • $15K minimum spend X2
  • Wells Fargo Business – $45
    • $3K minimum spend
  • Citi Premier & Double Cash Spend – $500 cash out 
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards – $48
    • $3K minimum spend
  • Bank of America Business Cards – $470
    • Combined $10K in minimum spend on the 1.5% back card and the 3% back card.
  • Bank of America Cash Rewards – $25
    • $1000 of minimum spend for the product change offer.
  • Discover Cards (2X 5% cards) – $60
    • I got lazy and just sent a PayPal back and forth which came with fees that ate into the $150 cash back.
  • Chase Freedom Cards (X3) – 22,500 Ultimate Rewards Points
    • 3rd quarter 5% back spend
  • Chase Ink Plus – 20,000 Ultimate Rewards
  • Amex Business Gold – 35,000 Membership Rewards
    • From the $10K minimum spend. We were able to do most of it in the 4X earning categories.

Total – $1448 cash, 65,000 Membership Rewards & 42,500 Ultimate Rewards

Retention / Upgrade Offers

This was nothing on this front in the third quarter.

Using Points And Miles As A Digital Nomad - Life On The Road Ch. 2

Refer A Friend Bonuses

I was able to grab a few of these again this quarter. Two were for my wife and myself referring each other to Amex cards without a welcome offer attached. We cashed out the Membership Rewards points for these as well.

  • Chase Freedom Flex – 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Discover – $100 for 2 referrals from a buddy’s website
  • Amex spouse referrals – 40,000 Membership Rewards

Total – $540 & 10,000 Ultimate Rewards

Shopping Portals / Swagbucks / Odds & Ends

This section was pretty lucrative this quarter because of some profitable Meijer deals that I was able to take advantage of at a profit. This allowed me to drum up a lot of spend while grabbing reselling items too.

  • Choice Hotel booking for my sister – $100
  • Target RedCard Offer (X2) – $160
  • Retail Me Not shopping portal – $68.52
    • This portal has the most interesting tracking I have to say.
  • Quill Chase Offer – $5.50
  • Various Meijer gift card promos – $820
  • Rakuten – $15.52

Total – $1169.54

Costs

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

Annual Fees

In the first quarter I took advantage of no annual fee cards or ones that had a huge positive value the first year outweighing the annual fee. That was mostly the case again this quarter. The Bank of America Premium Rewards gives me $200 in gift cards the first year and the Business Platinum cards are heavily positive for me the first year.

  • Business Gold Amex – $295 (no credits to offset this annual fee)

Total Cost – $295

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 also able to take advantage of some new avenues that had reduced fees / costs. That kept my out of pocket cost to around $700 in total for all of the spend required.

Total Cost – $700

Final Tally

So what does this all add up to? I focused a lot more on cashback / cashing out points this quarter vs the 2nd quarter.

  • $11,667.54 in cash
  • 410,000 Membership Rewards
  • 65,000 Ultimate Rewards

This haul came with a cost of $995 in acquisition fees and annual fees. That leaves me with a net profit of $10,672.54.

My Point Balances Going Into Quarter 3

  • 160,000 Ultimate Rewards
  • 440,000 Membership Reward

My Point Balances Going Into Quarter 4

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

I had to use some of my Membership Rewards for some flight bookings and Ultimate Rewards for Hyatt stays so they are a little lower than they could have been. Partially thanks to a delayed points transfer.

Travel Hacking Savings 3rd Quarter Results: Final Thoughts

If you combine what I earned in the 3rd quarter with what I had after the 2nd quarter I am sitting on $26,905.07 in profit. That smashes my new goal with still 3 months left in the year. Okay, let’s up the anti to $30,000!

This of course doesn’t include any tax implications which some of the items, like bank bonuses, will have to deal with that. It also doesn’t include my time involved which wasn’t a small matter. I would estimate I averaged around $50 an hour all things considered. That may be worth it for some and not for others.

On the points front I am lagging a bit there. I think I’ll make the Ultimate Rewards goal no problem but the Membership Rewards may miss the cut off by a bit. I have a few Amex no lifetime language offers I plan on grabbing before the year is out, they expire 12/31, but I likely won’t complete the offers by the end of the year. That is because a lot of my focus is on the Capital One Spark Travel Elite card and its massive $50K spending requirement. That has taken over a lot of the 4th quarter so far but I some other things mixed in.

How have you been progressing with your goals this year? Let me know in the comments.

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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18 COMMENTS

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Very impressive, Mark! Can you please share a bit more on this: “Targeted offer for $750 after $5000 in spend for me and my wife”? Thank you.

  2. Mark, very impressive! I am probably 1/4 of your rate lol! I have upped my referrals, hotel free nights and bank bonus game, but still way behind you! The business side definitely helps and I don’t have as much there. congrats!

    • I was probably in that range a few years back when all I needed was points for travel but once I dipped into cash back more I found myself more motivated. A change the pandemic probably brought on and all of my surplus miles and points from cancellations etc.

  3. Well done Mark!! Just curious, are you willing to share your secrets to reach all those new credit card minimum spend requirements? That is the limiting factor for many of us. Thanks.

    • A chunk of it is business spend from travel, meet ups and getting to plan and pay for them. Then I do some 3rd part gift card reselling, some buyers club stuff and rebate programs for a large chunk of the spend.

  4. That is some impressive stats, Mark. You’re far more adventurous on this stuff than me. I see them Meijer offers on line but being out here in NW WA state,, well, those don’t help here much. Pretty limited area for some of the stuff we all want to do. Good on you for showing how it is done,, too.

    • Yeah unfortunately Meijer is only in a few states in the Midwest. It has been pretty valuable over the years but I think each area has their own thing that is similar in value and area specific.

    • I’m just making popcorn now, waiting for that retired gambler guy losing his mind over on Benjy’s Post to come in and lose it all over again! Haha!

      • Carl I Googled your name, do not ask me why, because it was there I guess. And you Sir, are one Bad Badass. Wow! Sir, you have balls.

      • Agreed regarding Retired Gambler.

        A grandfather takes his young grandson to a MLB game. Someone hits a home run. The ball flies into the grandstands and everyone goes for the ball. The grandson emerges from the dog pile with the ball in hand, holds it up for everyone to see, and the crowd cheers. The boy returns to his seat beaming and the grandfather says to him, “When I was your age, if I couldn’t catch the ball, I didn’t deserve it.”

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