How to Safely Hack Credit Card Rewards

A few weeks ago I purchased my ski season pass. A season pass ain't no small purchase. But snowboarding is one of those innate things my soul pulls me toward. So I consciously fit it in my lifestyle cost, and happily make the purchase.

You're going to come across a few large purchases every year. As long as you understand your lifestyle cost and know they fit within it, then you should go make them happen! 

But let's not be a consumer clown about it. Let's pull out some hidden green.

How can you take advantage of these larger purchases that come up within your life-style cost? 

For this pass, I had to purchase it new. I couldn't run a magical If This Than That query, and have every less-expensive pass on Craigslist and EBay sent right to my inbox.

Craigslist/eBay is where I always look first. Hands down the best way to pull in the most hidden green from your larger purchases.

But since I couldn't take that route, it was time to do a little credit card hacking. 

So I looked up credit card rewards online, and started opening up those seemingly bull-shit credit card offers in the mail.

I don't do this often. I'd say twice a year. 

But when I have a large purchase that already fits within my conscious life-style cost these rewards can be awesome to take advantage of.

A week went by and I opened an American Express Gold Card offer that read, "Spend $1,000 in 3 months and receive 50,000 pts."

Since I track my money with mint.com, I know my life-style spends about $1,800 in 3 months. So I saw that offer was $800 less than my life-style spending! Awesome. A nice safety-margin for my existing life-style cost.  

But I am a skeptic when it comes to credit card offers, so I went through and read every line of the agreement. This took me like 10 minutes.

A red flag I saw was a $175 yearly fee. But the offer cancelled it for the first year. The fee only started when I hit my 1-year date. And after reading further, there wasn't a clause stating I could not cancel during the first year. Awesome.

Now what about those points? 

I had never done this with points reward before. I had only done cards with cash bonus.

I read how the card's points work online and in the terms of service. One point is equivalent to .5-1 cent depending on what reward is redeemed. Travel is what I want to use them for, and I noticed there were 16 airlines participating in this rewards program. Lots of destinations!

And the points will be applied to my account within 3-4 weeks after hitting the $1,000 limit. 

Everything seemed perfect from my 20 minutes of research. But I'm not trying to get screwed. So I made a quick call to Amex, and after confirming everything was correct I signed up online and got the card in the mail a few days later.

A week after, I headed up to Tahoe and very happily reaped some hidden green as I purchased my ski season pass.

You interested in doing this too? Awesome. Here's a list I hope you check off every time before you start:

1. I have ZERO un-paid debt
2. I ALWAYS pay off my credit card bill in full each month
3. I recognize the offer fits WELL WITHIN my life-style cost
4. I understand the ENTIRE offer. 

If you check off this checklist then there's no reason not to hack it! I hope this helps!


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