If you’ve gotten your spouse or travel partner fully on board with miles and points and applying for the best travel credit cards while leveraging each for its category bonuses, congratulations. Not everyone is willing to remember which card to use for which kind of purchase or to change their credit card application and spend patterns, which can sometimes lead to a little friction between the gung-ho miles and points earner and the reluctant partner or spouse. So what are the options?
1. Organize Your Partner’s Credit Card Applications and Spend to Meet Minimum Spend for Bonuses
This will only work if your spouse or partner is willing to apply for new credit cards, but just doesn’t want to deal with figuring out which card to use for what. In this case, you can map out the cards you’d like him or her to apply for, taking into account the minimum spend needed to earn bonuses, and have your partner use one or two cards at a time to earn the bonuses, so that s/he never has to think about which card to use for what.
That said, if there are a few major expense items coming up and they’re in major bonus categories, such as airfare or hotels, you’ll probably want to work with your partner to ensure those are on the right cards, such as the Chase Freedom for 5X until end of this year, or the Sapphire Preferred for 2.14X or, in the case of airfare, the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold for 3X.
In terms of applications to apply for this month, in December, consider the Ink Bold or Ink Plus, since minimum spend will be increasing from the current $5000 around end of December or early January (see Ink Plus and Ink Bold Minimum Spend to Increase and FAQ); also consider the Mercedes Benz Platinum AMEX if you can utilize the $200 airline incidentals credit both before the end of the year and again in 2013, since that would cover $400 of the hefty $475 fee.
Whom it's for: The partner who is willing to use 1-2 cards that you ask him/her to, but doesn't want more than 1-2 credit cards in their wallet, and doesn't want to think about which card to use when.
2. Agree on the Two or Three Cards Your Partner Is Willing to Regularly Use for the Relevant Categories
If your partner isn’t willing to apply for a bunch of new cards but is willing to remember the bonus categories for two or three cards, then here’s what I’d recommend:
- Sapphire Preferred for all dining and travel spend, except airfare: 2.14X points
- AMEX Premier Rewards Gold for all airfare spend for 3X and all grocery spend for 2X
- Chase Freedom for all other spend, with Exclusives bonuses (aim to maximize the 5X categories yourself) or the SPG AMEX for all other spend, since it gets a 25% bonus when you transfer points to airline partners
Whom it's for: The partner who will remember the category bonuses for 2-3 cards, but doesn't want more cards than that.
3. Split Financial Responsibilities So You Pay as Many Major Expenses As Possible
If you’re already responsible for paying the rent or mortgage, booking airfare and hotels for trips, paying for major household appliances and furniture, etc. then it works in your favor from the perspective of maximizing the miles and points you can earn.
But if your spouse or partner currently pays for major purchases and doesn’t use a miles or points earning credit card or could be getting significantly more points, for example by going through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, you may want to see if you could take over that responsibility. The key thing is to present it as taking some of the load of his or her plate and having fewer things to worry about, not as any kind of criticism on which card is being used.
Whom it's for: The partner who is happy to have you take responsibility for more of the bills and spend, so s/he has fewer things to worry about.
4. Give Your Partner Gift Cards Purchased with the Ink Bold or Ink Plus to Earn 5X
I’m only suggesting this if you know your partner won’t alter his or her spend patterns just because you give them a gift card, i.e. s/he won’t spend more by having a gift card to a specific store instead of regular credit card or cash. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Amazon (Office Max) See 5X Points for All Amazon Spend
- Bloomingdales (Office Depot, Staples)
- Gap (includes Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime) (Office Depot, Staples)
- Home Depot (Office Max, Staples)
- iTunes (Office Max, Office Depot, Staples)
- Macy’s (Office Max, Office Depot, Staples)
- Panera (Office Max, Office Depot, Staples)
- Sephora (Office Max, Office Depot, Staples)
- Starbucks (Office Max, Office Depot, Staples)
While for some of these you may be able to get better bonuses going through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, if your partner insists on shopping in-store, at least you’ll be getting 5X.
To get the 5X points, make sure you purchase these gift cards at an office supply store with:
Ink Bold: 5X points on office supply store spend
Ink Plus: 5X points on office supply store spend
Whom it's for: The partner who has significant spend at Amazon and other retailers which you can buy gift cards for using your Ink Bold or Ink Plus.
5. Persuade Your Partner to Earn More Miles and Points After an Amazing Trip
Few things are as persuasive, at least to someone who enjoys luxury travel, as an incredible romantic or family vacation with international first class flights made possible by your miles and points obsession. Chances are she or he will want to fly that way again, and will be somewhat amenable to earning more miles and points via credit cards and bonus category spend, as long as s/he can reassure themselves that their credit score will be fine and their financial boundaries are being respected. In other words, don’t push your partner into applying for more cards than s/he is ok with or that s/he (or you, if you’ve agreed to do it) can pay off and manage.
If you have a spouse or travel partner whose reluctant about credit cards, what's worked well for you?
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