How to Earn Points While in Isolation

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This is a very unique and unprecedented time for most people around the world. People are practicing social distancing, some countries and cities have instituted mandatory quarantine, schools are closed, airlines have mostly halted their flights, and the market is in a freefall. Right now there is a lot of uncertainty. But there are a few things I am confident in:

  • The human race will come through the other side of this tunnel stronger and more knowledgeable
  • People will want to get out of their homes once this is all over
Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

So what should you be doing during this time of self-isolation? This can be the perfect opportunity to accumulate rewards to plan for that next trip when this is all over. There will likely be plenty of award availability for anyone looking ahead. If you’re new to the landscape, this is the perfect time to read some other articles and blogs. There’s plenty of time to organize your finances or consolidate your portfolio. One Mile At A Time thinks that the time to get a new card is now. This is a great way to distract yourself from the craziness outside and dreaming of that perfect post-COVID vacation.

How to earn points right now?

Think about things you want to do or accomplish during this time at home. Your grocery bills will be higher than normal. Your spending at restaurants and bars will be less (I hope). But you might start to use more delivery services. Maybe you stop taking Ubers and Lyfts and decide to get a bike for runs to the grocery store. Have you been putting off smaller home improvement projects? This is the perfect time for a DYI project. Is it time to upgrade to that 4K TV to binge all your streaming shows? Consider where your biggest expenses are going to be and plan for them with the right card.

What are the best cards for your spend?

Chase Freedom – No annual fee – $200 bonus

This card has rotating categories per quarter that earn 5% cash back (up to $1500 spend). For April-June, these categories are grocery stores, gym memberships, and fitness club purchases. Although you might not be going to the gym, some clubs are offering online classes you can do at home.

Photo by nrd on Unsplash

What’s great about this card is that these points can be transferred to Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase Sapphire or Ink), which greatly increases their value. With some quick math, you can earn up to 22,500 Chase UR points (15000 bonus + 1500×5 spend) which are worth $450 according to The Points Guy valuations. Even if you already have the card, make sure to use it in the coming months for those grocery deliveries and quick trips to the store.

Chase Freedom Unlimited – No Annual Fee – $200 bonus

For all other purchases, this is the best card to earn Chase UR points. Every purchase gets 1.5x cash back which can then be transferred to Chase UR just like the card above. Both this card and the Freedom above are offering three months of DashPass, which is DoorDash’s subscription service.

Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve

Chase UR points are the best rewards currency in my opinion. You can’t go wrong accumulating these points. The Reserve is a premium card with great benefits but a high annual fee ($550). It earns 3x points for restaurant spend. The Preferred is a great starter card with a really good sign-up bonus (60K). It has a $95 annual fee and earns 2x points for restaurant spend. This should include most food delivery services like Seamless and Doordash (but not Postmates). Both of these cards are offering DashPass for a year with additional benefits for the Reserve.

Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

Please note that Chase has a 5/24 rule on new card applications.

Citi Double Cash – No Annual Fee

This the best cash-back card for uncategorized spend earning 2% for all purchases. And now that you can transfer these to Citi ThankYou Points, they are even more valuable. Unfortunately, there is no sign-up bonus. I would recommend this card if you are accumulating ThankYou Points (worth 1.7 cents according to TPG).

AMEX Blue Cash Preferred – $95 Annual Fee – $250 bonus

You’ll be glad to have this card if you’re trapped inside your home for the foreseeable future. You can earn 6% cash back at grocery stores (up to $6000 in purchases in one year) and streaming services. All that Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo, Amazon Prime, Disney+, etc. do add up. If you max out the grocery spend only, you’ll earn $360 ($6000 x 0.06) cash back which easily covers the annual fee. The no annual fee Blue Cash Everyday card earns 3% cash back on groceries.

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

Capital One Savor – $95 Annual Fee waived 1st year – $300 bonus

You might not be going to dine at a restaurant, but most establishments will be available for delivery. Since this is their livelihood, I would trust them to be extra careful with their handling and preparation. While supporting your local businesses, you can get 4% cash back. This should even include food delivery services such as Postmates, Seamless, Caviar, and the like. You’ll also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores with this card.

Amazon Prime Rewards (eligibility requirements) – No Annual Fee – $70 Amazon gift card bonus

There’s no excuse to not get that Instapot. You are stuck cooking your own meals and you can get 5% back on all your Amazon purchases. You can also get 5% cash back at Whole Foods. Only some Prime members will be eligible for this card. The standard Amazon Rewards card earns 3% on purchases on Amazon.com and Whole Foods.

To Summarize…

Don’t let the quarantine damper your wanderlust. This is a great time to earn points and plan for that next trip. There will likely be plenty of availability and deals as airlines try to recover once the dust settles. There are some great options for getting a new card or for you to finally get started travel hacking. If you need help, I’ve recently launched a consultation package to guide you through the process.