I am not a shopper. I am especially not a Black Friday shopper. A few years ago I waited in line at Best Buy at 4am in zero degree weather to get a deal on a projector only to find that they were all sold out. That was the last time I’ve Black-Friday shopped in earnest. I later found a comparable projector online for a better price. In fact, more often than not, I find buying online infinitely easier and cost effective.
I have, however, anxiously participated in the American Express Small Business Saturday promotion, where American Express kindly offers reimbursements for purchases at local businesses. In years past, when you registered a card and then spend at least $25, they made a one-time $25 reimbursement to your account. This year it shrank to $10, but considering that I have six (6) American Express cards, it made for $60 in free spending on Saturday.
Because I’m such a cheap bugger, I have a hard time spending money impromptu, so my strategy is generally to get giftcards that I can use later, so on Saturday I got $30 in ten-dollar giftcards at a local bookstore, $20 to a restaurant, and $10 to a bakery.
Being aware of the offers that are out there gave me the exhilarating experience of shopping with someone else’s money… but wait, it gets even better.
Now, I’ve registered my 6 American Express cards with this Amazon.com promotion to get $25 back on a $75 purchase. Then I went and bought 6 $75 giftcards – one with each card. In the end I have $450 in Amazon.com Giftcards that I paid $300 for. Amazon giftcards are as good as cash for me, considering how much I prefer to buy online.
Overall, I’ve hauled in $210 on two little promotions, expanding my free-travel addiction to include benefits that will help me feel less-guilty about making some selfish purchases.
Bottom line here is that there are peripheral benefits to being a consummate gatherer of free travel credit cards. Even so, the $210 pales in comparison to the value of frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. I’ve calculated the value of some of my travel redemptions to be more than $2100/card. It’s a very rough calculation, but if I add up all the benefits we’ve gathered between my wife and I applying for 34 credit cards in the past 3 years, I’d estimate that we’ve accumulated more than $22,000 in travel benefits. Kind of makes the $210 seem small.
Take a look at our Best Travel Credit Cards page to see our compilation of the best offers out there at the moment.