Spreading the love

Note: American Express is a Frequent Miler advertiser. Please see our Advertiser Disclosure.

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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