In the US, we celebrate Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June. With the holiday comes the need to buy gifts for the parents in our lives. But did you know that you can often earn points when shopping for gifts? To maximize your points or cash back earnings, we recommend the following three strategies.
1. Buy gift cards at grocery stores:
We reviewed buying gift cards in a previous post. With the Chase Freedom and Discover It both offering 5% on grocery store purchases in the Q2 2018, it’s a good time to take advantage of gift cards. If you’re looking to get someone a gift card, this should be your first stop. Also, if you have the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card, then you’re earning 6% cash back at grocery stores all year round.
Another tip for buying gift cards is to consider getting them for restaurants that you may be visiting. For example, if you happen to be going to Macaroni Grill for Mother’s or Father’s day, then you could get a gift card to pay for part or all of the meal. You’ll have to guess the amount, but it’s an easy way to maximize your points and cash back.
2. Redeem American Express offers:
If you log into your American Express account, you’ll see offers listed at the bottom of your homepage. These range for restaurants, stores, and services like flower deliveries. This is a special feature of American Express that I don’t hear much about, but is really valuable. You can easily recoup your annual fee by just taking advantage of these deals.
Keep in mind that offers are personalized, so you may have slightly different merchants listed based on your location, spending habits, and card.
3. Use an airline, hotel, or credit card shopping portal:
It seems like every travel brand and credit card now has their own online shopping portal where you can earn extra points or miles. This is also a great way to earn a lot of points, especially if you double dip on both the shopping portal and any extra points you might earn by just using your credit card.
Managing all the programs and bonus amounts can be difficult, so I recommend using a search site. These sites can show you the exact reward amounts for programs when shopping with a specific merchant. Two sites that I use and recommend are EV Reward and Cashback Monitor. To use these sites, all you have to do is enter where you plan to shop, and the site then shows you which program gives you the best bonus.
- Don’t overdo it: This is especially the case for gift cards. If you normally spend $50 a week on groceries, but then spend $200 on a visit buying gift cards, it’s likely that your card will get flagged. Issuers may mark your card for fraud, suspicious spending, or financial review. Just be careful how much you are spending and the total amounts per visit. The issuers frown upon manufactured spending, so exercise caution and avoid going overboard with your spending.
- Keep your receipts: I bought a couple of gift cards a few years ago, and when I gave them away, I was told that the cards had been drained. After tons of phone calls and research, it appeared that someone used the card after it was activated. Luckily, I had the receipts, so I was able to get it resolved. However, it was a process and definitely made me cautious about keeping receipts when buying gift cards.
How do you maximize your points and miles during Mothers and Father Day? Please share your tricks in the comment section below.