Double dip to maximize your credit card rewards

Written by
Satta Sarmah-hightower
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards. Please note: Any balance transfer savings vary depending upon account usage and payment behavior.

CardRatings.com Monthly Newsletter February 2008Gigantic welcome bonuses, strategic spending in specific categories or using your credit card for everyday purchases aren’t the only way to rack up rewards.

Savvy consumers use another strategy to maximize bonuses: double dipping.

Credit card double dipping can take several forms, from using a rewards card to book travel with your preferred airline and amassing miles or points through its frequent flyer program to making purchases through your credit card company’s online shopping portal in addition to getting credit card rewards.

If you haven’t yet mastered double dipping or aren’t sure how to employ this strategy, here are some helpful tips.

How do you double your credit card points?

Double dipping with airlines

For beginners, the easiest way to double dip is to use your rewards card to make purchases with airlines, hotels or other brands where you’re a loyalty rewards member.

The CardName discontinued, for example, currently offers a 60,000-point signup bonus – the equivalent of $750 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. Your points are worth 25% more you redeem them through the portal. This structure alone lets you maximize rewards. However, when you book a flight through Chase’s portal your points are treated as cash, so you also earn rewards through the airline if you’re enrolled in its loyalty program.

Let’s say you’re a Southwest Rapid Rewards member and book through Chase’s portal. You’ll earn Rapid Rewards points for the flight, based on Southwest’s reward structure of anywhere from six to 12 points per $1 based on the fare type. The one caveat here is that each airline has its own rules and may limit the amount of points you earn for flights purchased through a credit card partner’s site, since most of these fares are already deeply discounted (with Southwest, these points also don’t qualify for what you need to earn the Companion Pass benefit).

To double dip miles effectively with CardName, you’ll need to decide whether it’s cheaper to book your ticket and if you’ll earn more points by buying directly from the airline compared to the cost of the ticket and corresponding points you’d earn through Chase’s portal. United Airlines, for example, has the right to exclude certain flights, fares or programs from earning miles in its MileagePlus program, so tickets booked through Chase’s portal may not always qualify or may only earn partial points. Points for these tickets also don’t qualify for United’s Premier benefits. In this case, you may get more value when you transfer points to your preferred airline, since Chase has a 1:1 points transfer program with several major carriers, including Southwest, United and Virgin Atlantic.

The CardName discontinued works in a similar way. It gives cardholders 1.5 times the miles for every dollar they spend, matches all the rewards a cardmember earns in their first year and allows them to redeem rewards for cash or a statement credit for their travel purchases (Bank of America also uses a statement credit, so this is also an option with the CardName, for instance). With this redemption structure, both cards essentially reimburse you for purchases you’ve already made while allowing you to earn additional miles when you use them to book with your favorite airline – another way to double dip on credit card rewards.

Double dipping with online shopping portals

Chances are your credit card company or preferred airline has an online shopping portal. These portals are gold when it comes to double dipping.

Shop through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® portal and earn more points for purchases you then can redeem later for travel, gift cards or cash. Buy products from merchants like Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s, Lenovo and Overstock in Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Shopping portal and earn anywhere from two to four points per dollar for your spending.

Standalone rewards sites also let you double dip. Some websites and apps, such as Rakuten, lets users earn rewards on purchases made through the app at dozens of retailers. If you use a rewards card to pay for those purchases, you can earn even more. For example, say Rakuten is offering 5% cash back on purchases made at Walgreens, and you have the CardName card which earns 3% cash back on drugstore purchases. If you use that card to pay for your purchase, you’re essentially earning 8% back – 5% back from the app, and 3% back from your card. If you made a $100 purchase, that’s $3 back for just using your credit card, or $8 back for using both your card and utilizing the app. That’s more than a 50% increase in rewards! 

Double dipping with dining rewards programs

This same approach works with dining rewards programs as well. Similar to earning rewards when you travel with your favorite airline or stay at your preferred hotel, numerous airline and hotel loyalty programs also offer rewards to their patrons for dining out. To earn points, just make sure you’re signed up for the corresponding hotel or airline loyalty program. For instance, if you’re going to join the AAdvantage Dining℠ program, be sure to first sign up for American Airline’s frequent flyer program, AAdvantage. Once you’ve signed up for the dining rewards program, link your credit card, then, every time you make a purchase at a participating restaurant, you will automatically receive points or miles. 

Here’s where double dipping comes in: Using a credit card such as the CardName (which awards two miles per dollar spent on dining) when making a purchase through the AAdvantage Dining℠ program (which awards up to five miles per dollar spent on eligible dining purchases) could result in as many as seven miles earned per dollar spent. Like with the online shopping example used above, that’s more than a 50% increase in rewards earned, thanks to a little strategizing. (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser)

Double dipping is part art, part science, but doing your research and capitalizing on your own loyalty to a brand – whether it be an airline or hotel – can help you maximize rewards across programs.

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Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

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