Earn Tons of Ultimate Rewards Points: Buying Gift Cards [For places you already spend $] = Free Travel!

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Free Travel is always my goal for my family. We use various strategies to get points and miles to make our travel cheap or free. Our main strategies for getting points and status include:

  • Maximizing credit card sign ups
  • Registering for bonuses at hotels, airlines, etc.
  • Tracking deals [I follow a lot of travel related blogs]
  • Purchasing gift cards 

I want to talk about my new strategy of purchasing gift cards to increase Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These are really valuable points because they offer an opportunity to transfer points to many of my favorite travel partners [Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt]. This is not a new strategy – people have been doing this for a long time. I just clued in and I want to share how you too can maximize points without changing your spending habits.

If you have a Chase credit card that gives you bonus points for purchasing in certain categories I suggest that you take a minute and learn how to ‘bank’ a lot of points quickly my maximizing the categories. I do this by using my Chase Ink Plus card to earn Ultimate Rewards points. The Ink Plus offers 5 times the points on purchases at office supply stores.

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How To Earn Ultimate Rewards Points

We don’t do a lot of shopping at office supply stores so at first glance this does not seem very interesting, but this is actually where it gets interesting. You can purchase gift cards for things you use already at any office supply store and the purchase is considered an office supply. For my family we shop at Whole Foods and Amazon a lot, so those seemed like low hanging fruit and this is where I started.

I went to our local office supply store and purchased $500 worth of Whole Foods cards. I easily spend this amount each month. For the $500 of Whole Foods gift cards I purchased with my Chase Ink Plus card, I received 2,500 Ultimate Rewards points. This is where some math comes into play to get my excited to continue to add an additional step to my shopping.

Here’s the math on adding one step to my grocery shopping: 30,000 UR points/year

$500/mo. x 5 points/$ = 2,500 UR points/month

2,500 UR points/mo. x 12 mo/yr = 30,000 UR points/year

Without adding any additional spending, I just made 30k very valuable travel points I can use on airlines or hotels. Ultimate Rewards points can be instantly transferred to Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Hyatt, and many more travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. Learn how 30,000 UR points can just about take a family of 4 on two round trips from Denver to Seattle AND Denver to San Diego on Southwest Airlines – read my post on how you can maximize travel using Southwest points. 

If you have questions about how to use this strategy get ahold of me – Email Amanda


Family Travel: Paris over Christmas for under $500 on United

Want to go to Europe? United Airlines is offering fares for under $500 to Paris from Denver over the holidays. Paris for Christmas anyone? If you’ve been thinking about going to France this may be the time to make it happen.

Here is a search from December 19th to the 28th. You can find different dates around the same time that work. Go to the search on Momondo to find these deals. Click here for the Momondo site. Let it load fully to see the deal. Then you can change dates and times to get the flight you prefer.






If you have an Epic ski pass [Vail Resorts] you can ski at some European ski areas for free this winter. This includes France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Get the scoop on skiing Europe on your Epic pass here.

Will your family be heading to Europe this winter?

My Family Scored 4 Round Trip Tickets for Under $150!

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What summer isn’t complete [when you live in landlocked Colorado] without spending time in the ocean? So my family of four decided to head to San Diego for a week of surfing. And we are doing it for around $50 [total of fees paid for all tickets] plus a $95 annual fee, so a total cost of $145. How? We signed up for a credit card through Southwest Airlines, spent $2,000 on the card and viola – we are heading to surf this summer! My favorite part is that we have lots of flexibility in our itinerary – just in case something changes – and there aren’t tons of extra fees like we would pay with other low cost airlines. Flexibility and No Extra Fees = Awesome!

I value these tickets at around $200/piece so I would say we got approximately $800 of value out of one single credit card sign up. Is this the best credit card perk I have ever received? No. But it is up there. Southwest points are really valuable!

I decided to get the Southwest card after I flew to Phoenix for a soccer tournament and realized what a great option they are. Their prices were good. The points they charge are usually reasonable compared to the general market. And the most important part to me and my family – Southwest tickets are ultra flexible. As long as you cancel or change your ticket within 10 Minutes of departure time there are no fees involved on Southwest. No fees – they just redeposit your points or refund your dollars. On United we would pay a $150 change fee each or over $100 to put our points back in our account if we were not taking that same route in the future. Flexibility rocks for Family Travel! 

One trick on Southwest – book your tickets as early as possible. I’ve found tickets for as low 5,500 points to travel Denver to Seattle or 7,000 points Denver to San Diego. Round trip for under 15,000 points – I’m in – but reserve them early! 

Do you like flying Southwest? Any tips or tricks for getting the most out of flying Southwest?


Free Money! Thanks, American Express!


Want to travel for free or cheap? Want to save your family cash on a regular basis? I have the points and miles bug and I hope that sharing this info will help others save money & open up travel opportunities you never knew existed. My family has been doing it. Your family can too! Today I will start by looking at what you may have in your wallet already – An American Express Cards

Save today on things you already spend money on!

If you have an American Express card you can be saving money by simply Tweeting codes they send out. Seriously – Amex sends out codes, you use them, then you purchase items where you normally would and you get cash back. Here is how it works!

Step 1: You have sync your American Express card with your Twitter account. You can simply create a Twitter account just for this purpose. How to sync your Amex account with Twitter. It is really easy to do – don’t get intimidated! Once you sync your card and Tweet, then when you spend on your Amex you get a statement credit.

Step 2: Figure out what you already spend money on that they promote. Here are some current deals which are outlined in a Dan’s Deals post here. Tweet these codes before you spend money.

Whole Foods: Tweet #AmexWFM, spend $75 at Whole Foods on your Amex and get $10 back

Sam’s Club: Tweet #AmexSamsClub, spend $20 and get a $20 statement credit. I went online and ordered a $50 gift card for a teacher gift and got $20 on my statement immediately. I think of it as free money.

Pharmaca: Tweet #AmexPharmaca, spend $40 and get $10 back. I just purchased a gift card for $40 and immediately got the notice that I would earn a statement credit.

Home Depot: Tweet #AmexHomeDepot, spend $75 and get $15 back. I love supporting McGuckins, but sometimes there are things I can only get at Home Depot.

Other shopping options you may like:

  • The Container Store: #AmexTCS $15 off $100
  • Sur la Table: #AmexSurLaTable – $10 off $50

Step 3: Spend at these locations with your synced Amex card and you will get an almost immediate email from Amex acknowledging that you spend on a synced card. Next you will see a statement credit for the amount mentioned. I don’t advocate spending just to save money! Make sure you are particular about what you spend on.

Sync Many Amex Cards

Don’t forget you have to sync your Amex card before you spend. A trick is that you can sync as many Amex cards as you have. So if you and your spouse both have a card you can sync, tweet and spend with both cards. I did that at Pharmaca and got $20 back on a total of $80 spent because I used 2 Amex cards.

I find this a fun game! I have saved hundreds of dollars this way. It is just a small part of cracking the miles and points game that I am playing. But every bit counts!

Do you use points and miles? Do you engage in saving small amounts in other creative ways with credit cards? I would love to hear about how your family is cracking the points and miles game!