Spreading the love

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I was just working on yet another post about more ways to leverage the Chase Ink cards when I realized that I haven’t been giving attention to other cards.  So, before I go back to writing about the awesomeness of the Ink Bold (and the Ink Cash and Ink Classic), let’s look at a few other cards that can be leveraged for their bonus categories.

Note that this is not about cards with great sign-up bonuses, that information can be found here.  And, it’s not about cards that have great built-in perks (but that would be a good future post…).  Instead, this is a quick look at cards that are, like the Ink cards, amenable to creative spend strategies for earning extra points, cash, or perks.

You can learn more about the following cards on my Preparing for Miles page (which can be found at the top of every page on my site when viewed through a non-mobile browser).

Chase Freedom

The Freedom card has terrific rotating categories that give 5X for spend. The only down side is that you’re limited to $1500 of 5X spend each quarter.  Here are this year’s categories:


  • Grocery stores: In addition to earning 5X through regular grocery store spend, earn 5X on other purchases by buying gift cards at the grocery store
  • Other categories: Double dip by enrolling in other rewards programs (iDine, airline programs, etc.).  At department stores such as Best Buy and Kohl’s you should be able to buy gift cards as well.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Sapphire Preferred gives an annual 7% bonus on top of all Ultimate Rewards points earned that year. This is particularly lucrative when there are very large Ultimate Rewards Mall bonus opportunities. For example, it was briefly possible to double dip at Magazines.com (buy a gift card and then use the gift card) to earn 60 points per dollar. By logging into the mall each time with my Sapphire Preferred account, I earned more than 4X extra thanks to the annual dividend!

American Express Business cards

Most American Express cards come in two versions: a personal version and a small business version.  When you opt for the small business version, you usually get the exact same card benefits, but with the addition of OPEN Savings:


My favorite use of OPEN Savings is to visit my local OfficeMax and purchase at least $100 worth of gift cards with an Amex business card.  This way, I get 5% back posted to my account.  I’ve also made good use of the Barnes & Noble 5% back in the past when I was able to stack that with 10X bonus points from the Ultimate Rewards Mall (it has since dropped to 2X).

Amex Hilton HHonors and Hilton HHonors Surpass cards

Both give 6X for grocery, drug store, and other categories.  Grocery stores and drug stores tend to have great gift card selections.  6X everywhere!

Amex Blue Cash Preferred

6% cash back at grocery stores!  You know what to do!


In addition to rotating 5X categories, Discover has one of the best available cash back portals.


The PerkStreet Financial Debit MasterCard gives 1% back on all purchases, 2% back at Walmart and Amazon, and 5% back in rotating categories.  The interesting thing here is that it is a debit card which sometimes has lower fees (for paying taxes, for example).

What else?

I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface here.  Do you have other favorite cards for creative spending?

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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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18 Comments on "Spreading the love"

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Question, I recently got the Chase freedom and I need to book short haul flights and hotels for a trip in January 2013 to Vietnam. It says in your chart that for the last quarter, for 5x points in travel and hotel, you can activate by september 15. Can you start charging your Chase Freedom on September 16 to get the 5x points or do all your expenses have to happen during the quarter (October to December)?


Mariana: you do have to wait until October to get the 5X points.


One category I never see is drugstores. Do you know of any card that has bonuses for drugstores (riteaid and such)?


Don’t forget the Thank You card now offers 5x points on ALL purchases for the first 6 months.


With the Discover card, you can send $3,000 to your spouse via their website to PayPal ($1,000 per month for three months) with no fees to burn through your 0.25% cash back period.


@D, the Hilton Surpass Amex offers 6pts/$ for drugstores.


Do you know of any airlines or reward malls that still partner with Amazon?


@carwag25 . thanks 🙂 Just a shame it is a HH card – hopefully Chase with UR (or Amex with MR) will do something with drugstores in the future

User Name

@Randall – Hawaiian Airlines is currently the only one that has Amazon in its mall, I believe.


Randall: Yes, as User Name said, you can go through the Hawaiian Airlines portal. Read this post to see other ways to earn miles at Amazon.com

Dave: I’m not sure what you mean. Discover allows you to send money to others for free?

Dana: Thanks. I need to read up about the Thank You card

Daniel G

Discover messenger allows you to send money with your discover card fee free. The other person recives the funds via paypal. MI don’t remember how much the monthly limits are though.


Yes, what Daniel G said. I can send up to $400 per day and $1,000 per month, although I think the limits may vary from person to person. If you have a Discover card registered online, you just click on “Send Money” and enter the e-mail address of a person registered on PayPal. There are no fees for this, as far as I can tell, and the payments are treated like purchases, so you earn 0.25% on the first $3,000 and %1 on everything thereafter.


Dave and Daniel G: Thanks for the great info! It sounds like Discover has something similar to Amazon Payments, but just for their own card holders.


Dave and Daniel G: I clicked the “send money” tab on Discover web, it says I am not eligible. What is the requirement to be eligible to use this service? Thanks for the inf.


Thanks a ton for so much useful information.

I’ve a question about the AMEX/VISA gift cards’ availability at OfficeMax.

All I could find were GCs worth no more than $200. Could you tell me where you were able to find the $500 GCs, please?


@FM, Thanks for a quick response.

I’ve AMEX Bus Gold Card with OPEN. AFAIK, it offers 5% cashback only at Officemax. I checked out my local Officemax yesterday and the maximum value they’ve is $200 (with a fee of $6.95).

Do you know if this card offers 5% cashback at Office Depot too? Please let me know.

Thanks in advance for your inputs.


Srini: Only OfficeMax. Also, that option is going away as of mid June 🙁