Since then, we’ve used Southwest Rapid Rewards points accumulated from credit card bonus and spending and points earned my husband’s revenue bookings to pay for their flights. We will be able to do this 1-2 more times before we’ll need to transfer points from Chase or use the cash rate. Right now, his account has most of the points, and my account and my kids’ accounts are in the 900-1,800 each point range. Not enough for a flight anywhere.
As Rapid Rewards expire after 24 months with no new activity, I wanted to keep their points active in case we can use some in the future. Now, I’m looking at ways we can top off their accounts to be able to redeem them for a flight at some point. Here are some ideas:
- Use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal to keep all accounts active. I was able to do this by purchasing a $2 Restaurant.com egift certificate through each of their portals and earning a few points for the transaction. This reset the expiration clock by 24 months. Purchases on iTunes are also a possibility for you Apple users.
- Use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal for purchases from other retailers, including bonus offers. I can prioritize one account until we have enough for a plane ticket and then move on to another. Or, I could rotate through the accounts.
- Link their account to the Rapid Rewards Dining site. I have yet to earn points this way.
- I can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to the Southwest account in increments of 1,000, but only to authorized user’s accounts. You must have a premium Chase card to do this (Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and certain business cards). Note that you can also earn points from shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, so it might make more sense to do your shopping there, unless the offer via Southwest is much better. So, I wouldn’t be able to transfer points to my kids’ accounts, but if I were listed as an authorized user on my husband’s (or vice versa) then we could do that.
- Purchase a revenue (cash) booking for the child, rather than a booking on points. I don’t know why I’d do that rather than use points, though. Maybe if there were some offer/incentive to do so.
- Purchase points from Southwest via Points.com. Right now, you can get a 40% points bonus when you buy a minimum of 5,000 points (so, 7,000 points for $137.50). Not worth it for my purposes, but it’s an option anyway. Note that the transaction wouldn’t likely code as “travel” for credit card category bonus spending, since the transaction is processed through Points.com rather than Southwest.
I think for right now, I will just make sure to use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal to keep all accounts active, and I will focus on the account with the highest balance for those Rapid Rewards shopping portal transactions, as long as shopping through another portal isn’t a better deal. Eventually, perhaps there will be enough for a cheap one-way ticket. Or eventually, we’ll book a cash booking and earn more points on their accounts.
Honestly, with the points-earning bonanza I’ve been on lately, it’s hard to say when we’ll be oh, you know, paying for a flight next. :D
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I have used cash back portals for years for my online shopping, and I’m sure you have, too. My usual go-to has been Ebates, but sometimes it isn’t the best value. Other times, the retailer isn’t an option at all with Ebates. It can be time-consuming to compare multiple portals to weigh the best deal for your purchase. I have two suggestions:
- Pick one rewards portal and stick with it. If you can get a deal through there, great, if not, move on with your life. It also simplifies your follow-ups to make sure your points are properly awarded. Easier to follow up with 1-2 portals rather than a slew.
- Use a site that quickly compares all of your options.
I’m using Cash Back Monitor and I’m pleased with the results. I have the bookmarklet pinned in my browser and I use that before making a purchase. What’s neat about this one is it has a customizable monitor. You can add up to 8 of your favorite cash back/points back portals and quickly see the best option among choices you’re likely to use. It has a “best rate history” to get a sense of deals in the past, which is helpful for knowing if you’re getting a standard deal or a great deal.
I have added Ebates, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott, Southwest, American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, and Swagbucks. My preference is either Ebates or Chase, unless there is a standout bonus for the other options.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Some portals have restrictions on which coupons you may use. For instance, Chase and Southwest both often have verbiage like “Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount codes that are not found on this site.” Be sure to read the terms for each offer. If you don’t have a coupon code or it is listed on the portal directly, cool, use it. If not, you might not get the rewards points and you might consider using a portal without restrictions for that purchase.
- You sometimes have to follow up with a portal to make sure points are properly credited. Kind of a pain.
- This doesn’t show AmEx Offers or other credit card offers of the sort. For instance, I logged in to my American Express account and saw an AmEx Offer for $10 off a $50 purchase at eBags when I used my AmEx card. That offer isn’t visible in these portals, so you just have to keep an eye out for exclusive deals. You might be able to stack such offers, say Ebates to eBags + an activated AmEx offer.
- A point doesn’t always = a point. Eight percent back on a $100 Chase Ultimate Rewards purchase might be worth way more than $8 to me, depending on how I redeem it, since there are a variety of redemption possibilities. It depends on how you value a point. You can even assign value to points within the Cash Back Monitor interface (so, if you are getting $0.025 value for every Chase point, you can adjust that; if you are getting $0.007 per Marriott, put that in just to see it in those terms). I haven’t fiddled with assigning value within the interface, myself.
One last trick, if you’re looking for a certain item but aren’t sure which retailer might be the best deal: You can try the Marriott portal, Shop My Way. I used it recently when I was trying to find options on Smartwool socks. I typed in the search terms, clicked “search products” and I could see various prices at retailers and the points back for each.
Use cash or points back portals to maximize your online purchases. Use coupon codes when applicable of course (while weighing in whether that code negates your points back), and pay with a rewards credit card to rack up the savings.