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Any time I have to make a major purchase, my first thought is usually: “How can I get some credit card rewards out of this?”
After all, credit card points have helped me travel the world and stay in luxury hotels for next to nothing. If I have to make a dent in my bank account, I might as well get a free flight out of it.
I could simply pay with my favorite travel credit card and earn points that way. However, if I really want to boost my travel rewards, going after a lucrative credit card sign-up bonus is the best way. The best bonuses typically require at least a few thousand dollars in spending, so I only go after them when I have a big purchase coming up.
Knowing I had some major expenses I’d finally be able to cover thanks to my stimulus check, I decided to find a new credit card that would meet my ongoing needs while offering me the chance to earn a hefty welcome bonus. The card I chose got me a $750 bonus, which I then turned into $1,125 in travel spending. Here’s how.
Using my stimulus to earn a $750 bonus
13.24%–19.24% variable APR
Good to Excellent
$750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is my favorite travel rewards program. Not only does it offer high-value, flexible points, but Chase credit cards also come with excellent earning rates and a slew of useful benefits.
I already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards. There’s only one card left that I’ve never had that’s offering a big, limited-time welcome bonus: the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card.
This card gets you an unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases, making it a great everyday card for small-business owners and freelancers. Right now, you can earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
The spending requirement was a stretch for me. However, my stimulus check helped me get there. I used the card to pay some larger expenses I’d been putting off and then paid off the balance with my stimulus check. If it weren’t for those expenses, I probably would’ve pre-paid my bills for a couple of months instead. That way, I’d be using my stimulus check to earn a welcome bonus and get ahead financially.
How I turned a $750 bonus into $1,125 in travel spending
With only one week to spare, I hit the minimum spending requirement and earned the $750 welcome bonus. The bonus is actually awarded in the form of 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth 1 cent each toward cash back when you only have the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card.
However, because I have an annual-fee Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card (the Chase Sapphire Reserve®), I can transfer the points from the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card to my Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
This is more valuable to me, as someone who likes to travel. As a Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholder, my points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards — so 75,000 points are actually worth $1,125. If I choose to transfer them to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners, I could get even more value.
I even earned another 11,250 points for the $7,500 I spent to get the bonus, since I earn 1.5 points per dollar with the card. That leaves me with a total of 86,250 Ultimate Rewards points. This is worth $1,293.75 in travel spending — more than enough for a couple of free flights.
This pairing of the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of my new favorite credit card power duos. If you don’t want a business credit card, pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a similar effect. The popular Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is another lucrative combo that gets you an effective cash back rate of 7.5% on rotating bonus categories.
By pairing up complementary rewards credit cards and going after the best sign-up bonuses, I’ve been able to accumulate hundreds of thousands of credit card points. I make sure to pay off my balance in full every month so I don’t end up paying interest. If a credit card has an annual fee, I do the math to ensure the rewards and benefits I’ll earn outweigh it.
Finally, I make sure to set up automatic bill payments so I never miss a credit card payment. This has helped me travel more and spend less, all while avoiding the potential pitfalls of owning multiple credit cards.
Elizabeth Aldrich is a finance writer specializing in credit cards and loans, retirement planning, investing, economics, and small business. She’s an avid credit card points collector and perpetual traveler.