Travel Hacking Savings: 2nd Quarter Results
Can you believe it is July already? The time seems to be flying by these summer months. It feels like just yesterday the kids were in school, but that was over a month ago. Since the calendar has flipped to July it is also time to update my travel hacking savings and share my 2nd quarter results. Could I top the first quarter’s nearly $14,000 in earnings? Have I already surpassed my yearly goal I had set out to accomplish back in January? What are my points balances looking like these days, are they still sad and tiny? And how much did all of this cost me? All of these questions will be answered and more.
I will go through this section by section and give a breakdown of where everything came from.
In the first quarter I earned $1,600 from 5 bank bonuses. I didn’t get to 5 this quarter but my total numbers were improved overall.
- Fifth Third Bank Bonus (looks like it is improved to $375 now) – $300 X 2
- Flagstar Bank (targeted mailer) – $250
- Wells Fargo Business Checking (this one took some effort) – $1500
Welcome Offers / Upgrade Offers
I didn’t hit these as hard as in quarter one. And this time around I focused more on padding my accounts versus earning cash. There are still 3-4 bonuses I should finish early in July that just missed posting on this quarter. Well, except for that really annoying Wells Fargo card, that will take until September now to post. Last quarter I earned over $8000 in this category. I didn’t cash out the points this time around so the numbers are quite a bit smaller.
- Altitude Connect – The remaining 5,000 points posted from the Olympic Medals sign up – $50
- Business Gold Amex No Lifetime Language Offer – 90,000 Membership Rewards
- Wife’s Business Gold Amex No Lifetime Language Offer – 90,000 Membership Rewards
Total: $50 & 180,000 Membership Rewards
Authorized User / Pay Over Time Offers
In the first quarter I took advantage of four of these offers for over $600 in value. It was not as plentiful this time around and I held onto the points too. I didn’t include my Hilton Honors fiasco in these numbers either.
- Pay Over Time offer on my wife’s Platinum card – 20,000 Membership Rewards
- Wife’s Amex Business Gold authorized user offer – 10,000 Membership Rewards
- My Amex Business Platinum authorized user offer – 10,000 Membership Rewards
Total: 40,000 Membership Rewards
This is a conglomerate of earnings from regular spend or spend towards the welcome offers. It shows the bigger areas but I didn’t break down every single card. I focused on cash earning offers or transferrable currencies for this section. Last quarter I earned over $1400 from this section only. This time around the focus was more on racking up points.
- Discover 5% earning – $75 X 2
- Amex Gold Grocery (4X Earning) – 75,000 Membership Rewards
- Amex Gold Business minimum spending – 30,000 Membership Rewards (X 2)
- Chase Ink Plus – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards from 5X earning
- Chase Freedom Flex – 15,000 Ultimate Rewards from pharmacy spend
Total: $150, 135,000 Membership Rewards & 65,000 Ultimate Rewards
Retention / Upgrade Offers
We had a couple of retention / upgrade offers in the second quarter too.
- Amex Green to Amex Gold upgrade offer (unlocked 4X grocery above too) – 15,000 Membership Rewards
- Charles Schwab Platinum retention offer – 40,000 Membership Rewards
Total: 55,000 Membership Rewards
Refer A Friend Bonuses
I was able to take advantage of some refer a friend bonuses from friends and family. Plus, I had some help from a friend’s site where we split some Discover referrals. This account for over $1,100 in the first quarter.
- 3 Cardless referrals for $300
- Discover referrals for a total of $350 after splits
Shopping Portals / Swagbucks / Odds & Ends
This is the catchall section for things. Last quarter I had earned over $900 here.
- CLEAR Uber offer (discounted value) – $150 (was able to do it for $75 X 3 and use Platinum credits to cover the cost of CLEAR)
- Rakuten Portal payout – $27.84
- Top Cashback Portal – $10.81
- Home Depot Gift Card Reselling Profit – $20
- McCormick Settlement – $5.68
- Dosh Payout – $27.72
- Quill Chase Offer profit – $55
- Friend’s Hotel Booking – $1025
I had a buddy that needed some hotel rooms for a Packers football game and a trip to Seattle. Prices were high for those trips and he asked for help. I was able to slash the cost of the room for him and burn some Hilton points in the process. He gave me the reduced rate in cash.
There are of course costs associated with earning these points and cash back so let’s break that down.
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 wasn’t the case this time around so it added some cost I need to account for.
- Business Gold Amex – $295 X 2 (no credits to offset this annual fee)
- Charles Schwab Platinum – $250 (credits offset a chunk of the $595 annual fee but not entirely since there is no double dip of the airline incidental credit outside of the first year)
- Amex Gold Card – $150 (I discounted the $250 annual fee after the dining and Uber credits)
Total Cost – $990
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. The total was around $450 to acquire these points on top of the annual fees.
Total Cost – $450
So what does this all add up to? Not a huge amount of cash but a lot of points it looks like.
- $4522.05 in cash
- 410,000 Membership Rewards
- 65,000 Ultimate Rewards
These earnings had a cost of $1,440 which drops my profit down to $3082.05 and then the points. I could have cashed out the Membership Rewards with our Charles Schwab Platinum cards at 1.1 cents each for an additional $4,510 but decided to sit on them for now.
My Point Balances Going Into Quarter 2
- 100,000 Ultimate Rewards
- 30,000 Membership Rewards
My Point Balances Going Into Quarter 3
- 160,000 Ultimate Rewards
- 440,000 Membership Rewards
Travel Hacking Savings 2nd Quarter Results: Final Thoughts
All in all, the quarter was a productive one even if it didn’t reach quarter one’s level. I knew the drop off was coming with the kids out of school for a third of it. That, plus heading out of town most weekends limits what I can do, so I expect the third quarter to be somewhat similar.
If you add the $3,082.05 I earned in quarter 2 to the $13,149.48 in profit from the first quarter that gives me a running total of $16,231.53. I have already surpassed my $15,000 yearly goal and still have half the year to go. I also have replenished my points stash some with 160K Ultimate Rewards and 465K Membership Rewards points.
While I am starting to feel the exhaustion set it I still want to finish the year strong. So my new yearly goal is $25,000 in profit when it is all said. Plus I would like to have 600K+ of Membership Rewards and 250K+ of Ultimate Rewards sitting in my accounts. Let’s see if I can do it!
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