Max Performing: The $20,000 Kitchen Upgrade

This “series” (as I don’t have the mental capacity to write it all in one post) is like the Olympics of couponing. What began seven years ago as a way to save a couple bucks on tires when I was (ironically) $20,000 in credit card debt now becomes an attempt to get about $4,000 worth of goodies for free after spending around $13,000 on the wanted luxury kitchen appliances, plus $3,500 worth of airfare just for fun. Don’t try this at home. Oh, and I apologize for the super short post but tomorrow is tax-filing day and I’m behind on the paperwork…


Part I – Introduction, Outline and Numbers


A brave friend of mine has trusted me to figure this one out and I don’t take that lightly! I was provided with the new kitchen’s floorplan and set to figuring out what appliances would fit in each space. I was stunned with the 48″ slot for the range. A four foot stove? What could that be? I plugged in the allocated model number and it turns out it’s an $8,000 (on the low end!) professional range. Holy cow. At this point, I realized we had a big project to work out.

The Big Picture

My intent is to get as much as possible for free in addition to the $13,000 worth of kitchen appliances (that’s their sale price!) For fun, we’ll also accumulate $3,500 worth of airfare. My goal is to get a ‘free’ washer and dryer out of the gig. (What’s with the quotes? I’ll be shuffling around Sears Shop Your Way Rewards credits in doing my math, so please be patient and it’ll all come together.)

Three Part Process

This is a significant undertaking, so I have broken it into three parts:

Part I is the introduction, where I will also tally the numbers.

Part II is achieving loyalty status.

Part III is max performing loyalty status.

Each part will be broken into day by day steps to make this manageable for me, the author, and for you, the reader. Check back often for updates. Without further ado…

Part II – Achieving Loyalty Status

Day By Day Steps

Day One: Aquire Discounted Gift Cards for Washer + Dryer

Day Two: Purchase Dryer

Day Three: Purchase Washer

Day Four: Complete Shop Your Way Platinum Requirements

How I Made $69 in Less Time Than it Took to Write This Post

The world of e-commerce is vast. All you have to do is find an item here and there that is on sale. Hopefully, you can make that sale even better by earning (or redeeming) some form of store loyalty credit, adding a great portal bonus, and paying with a discounted gift card. Please the Rules of Engagement if you aren’t clear on that process. What does this have to do with your wedding? Not a whole lot, unless you, like everyone else on the planet, could use a couple extra bucks, have a father or other men in your life that will be gift recipients, or you opened credit cards to get a free honeymoon and need to meet the spend minimum.

Here is today’s example of making $69 in a matter of minutes (even if it took an hour, isn’t that pretty good?):

Sears is selling an impact wrench (I don’t even know what that is) for 50% off. I’ve added it to my Best Deals catalog. (Hint hint: you should really add me as your personal shopper so you don’t miss out on these offers…there are other great products in that catalog that you can make some money on, too!) Add in tax and my total was $132.80.


Turns out Amazon sells this product for just under the normal retail – $237.49. It is ranked around the 250,000 mark in Home Improvement, which is good enough for me. The fees look to be around 15%, but for the sake of argument…I’ll call it $40 if I sell the item for $200. I should be able to sell it for $225 and the fees will be less than that, but let’s stick with easy numbers and plenty of margin.

A quick scan through the Sears Deals Center shows a nice $10 back in Shop Your Way Rewards on $100 in tools. Free points!

Ebates is offering 6% cashback (and you should totally be using Ebates and referring people to it while they’re offering a $50 bonus! Yes, that last link helps sort out the details.) Fantastic. 6% on $125 is $7.50. Don’t calculate on tax.

Icing on the cake here…I have a small stash of Sears gift cards that I received in exchange for Discover cash back. $20 worth of Discover cash gets me $25 worth of Sears credit – so $80 worth of Discover cash gets me $100 worth of Sears credit. Not bad, right? On a $125 purchase, I am saving $20 + $5 = $25 (there’s some common core math for you…20% of $100 = $20. 20% of $25 = $5. $20 + $5 = $25.)

  • If you don’t maintain a stash of Sears gift cards…well, you can reload a gift card from the Sears site (which you navigate to by way of Ebates) – you’ll still get the 6% back. In this case, then, instead of a $25 savings, you’ll get a $7.50 savings. Be sure to call Sears right away to get them to process the reload transaction at 888-396-5299.)

Final Tally:

Purchase Price: – $132.80

Amazon Expected Sales Price: $200

Amazon Worst-Case Fees: – $40

Sears SYWR: $10 (hey, they’re also giving me $1 for accepting a one-day slower delivery…fine by me)

Ebates Cashback: $7.50

Gift Card Discount: $25

= -$132.80 + 200 – 40 + 10 + 7.50 + 25 = $69.70 (note that this will be $52.20 if you go through Ebates)

Heck, I think I’ll buy two…

What does this have to do with wedding planning?

As with many of my posts, here’s the list of reasons this is relevant:

  1. You opened a credit card and need to meet a spend threshold to earn a sign up bonus. Do not spend money for the sake of this bonus – spend what you need to spend…and make up the difference on creative “manufactured spend” like this.
  2. You need a couple bucks to cover this that and the next thing. Dear reader…wouldn’t an extra $69 cover at least an elaborate mani/pedi? YES! How about your rehearsal dinner dress? A gift for a member of your wedding party? This is money in your pocket to spend on whatever expenses aren’t yet covered. Else, use it to pay down your debt!
  3. You need gifts for the men in your life – your dad, brother, fiance, groomsmen, etc etc etc…
  4. You need gifts for a couple in your life – engagement party, wedding gift, etc etc etc…
  5. You happen to need this thing yourself.

Does this help?

Are you interested in becoming an Amazon Seller? Does this example motivate you to find great deals of your own? Please leave a comment or send a message if you need guidance!

How to Get $100 Worth of Free Wedding Stationary at Staples

When all is said and done, it’s amazing how many pieces of paper your wedding will consume! Here’s a list:

  • Save the Date Notestyping-vintage-technology-keyboard
  • Invitations
  • Menus
  • RSVPs
  • Seating Placeholders
  • Return labels
  • Ceremony Programs
  • Thank You Cards
  • Photo Prints

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get even one of those at a discount?

Staples Premier = 10% Back in Rewards!

If you reach Staples Plus status, you’ll get a $25 in-store copy and print voucher. Once you make it to Staples Premier status, you’ll get an additional $50.

Screenshot (174)

Certainly, $1,000 is a long way to go to get $75 for free! Keep in mind you’ll get $10 on your way to Plus (2% back on $500) and another $15 on your way to Premier (3% back on the next $500.) Ultimately, on $1,000, that would be $75 + 10 + 15 = $100, or a full 10% back.

How the heck do I spend $1,000 at Staples?

Run Errands for Other Organizations

Your expenses will add up quickly if you’re a small business owner, teacher, etc. The goal is to spend as little as possible out of pocket to maximize your rewards. Here’s an idea – maybe you are involved with a non profit or other volunteer organization that needs supplies. Think about church leaflets, fundraising flyers, and so on. They may let you take care of the purchase and refund you later; if you use your reward number, those expenses will count toward your total.

Purchase Other Stationary at Staples

There are so many great places to purchase wedding stationary, you’ll have to really do some price shopping to make sure this is the best deal. If it is, let’s assume you purchase 100 invitations for $2 each – you’ve already spent 20% ($200 of $1,000) of your total. Don’t forget the envelopes! Be sure to follow the steps below to maximize your savings.

Maximize Rebate Offers

Keep an eye on Staples Easy Rebates! They are easy! It seems like every week includes a free paper offer. Find this week’s offers here. If you can get one free $5 ream of paper each week (usually the offer say “limit 4”) that’s going to be $250 ($5 * 50) in one year. There are often great resale opportunities when Staples offers 20% back in Rewards or 15% off, for example. They even price match 110%. Look for Keurig machines, routers, and other low weight, high price items. I’ve spent $1,000 in a day at Staples just on resale purchases! My Amazon store was happy.

Maximize Your Savings at Staples With These Steps

1. Extend your $75 with Coupons

It’s common to find 15 and 20% off coupons. Use these with your Copy & Print vouchers – just have them type in the code at the bottom.


2a. Use Chase Ink for an Additional 5%

This business card offers a 5% bonus on office supply stores. Don’t have one? Consider using my referral link; you’ll get 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months, which is redeemable for at least $600. $1,000 at Staples will earn you 5,000 points, worth at least $50.

2b. Pay with Discover Deals Gift Cards to Save Up to 30%

Redeem your Discover Cashback for $25 gift cards with a limit of 5 per order.

For every $100, you can get $20 off! That’s 20%! Now, your $1,000 in purchases only cost $800.

You’ll still get $100 back in rewards – $100 back on $800 is 12.5%.

When you consider your $200 savings ($20 * 10) plus $100 in rewards, this is like paying $700 for $1,000 worth of Staples merchandise, or a 30% discount without using any coupons! staplesdiscover


3. Don’t forget the portals!

While you’re on your way to $1,000, ensure you make your purchases through a portal!

My Experience

I was unable to apply my $50 to an online order for in store pickup, so plan on spending time at the store finalizing your design. My $50 (plus $4 out of pocket for taxes) was enough for a 24×36″ photo print, a wonderful custom return address stamp (if you aren’t having your envelopes printed, this will save you a lot of work!) and 500 business cards – which I can’t wait to pick up! You can have quite the variety of products printed at your store – stop in and chat with them or call to ask.


How will you spend your Staples Copy & Print Reward?

Which stationary item are you most excited to get for free with your reward?


Sears Shop Your Way: Earning VIP Status

Why does this matters to engaged couples or newlyweds?

Choose your registry shops wisely! If you’re in the market for products carried at multiple vendors (Sears, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s…) do you research and see if there are extra benefits at a given store. There is no harm in asking for gift cards and priority-shopping based on what you receive. Plus, this allows you to accumulate the benefits – your family and friends will probably get a kick out of your creativity!

If you’re buying appliances or outfitting a new home, read on to learn how our household earned VIP Status at Sears – you can, too. It’s a benefit that comes along for free, so use it or lose it!

Shop Your Way VIP Status

Since we aren’t homeowners, we don’t run into a lot of large expenses at Sears/Kmart (or other home improvement stores, for that matter.) It’s a good thing! But, it makes it really hard to reach the VIP tiers in their Shop Your Way Program. From the Shop Your Way site:

“To reach each level, there is a minimum annual spend.

  • VIP Silver: $2,500.00 annual spend
  • VIP Gold: $5,000.00 annual spend
  • VIP Platinum: $10,000.00 annual spend

(Just so you know we define “annual spend” as Total Qualified Spending between January and December of a calendar year. Basically, it’s everything you spend on qualified purchases for the whole year).”

Reaching a $2,500 spend threshold seemed unattainable, given the scarcity of resale opportunities; Sears offers “Surprise Points” and discount coupons in their Deal Center, but the rules are convoluted and I usually give up my search. The folks over at SlickDeals have discussed the program at length in this thread, if you’d like more information.

However, our newest residence was lacking a washer and dryer. I ended up buying a more expensive set than I ever anticipated without a lot of sale shopping (gasp!) – but I anticipate getting around 20% back via the Discover Deals portal (purchased gift cards and received 5% back, which will double in a few months per last year’s awesome promotion…then redeemed gift cards again for 5% back which, too, will double. Should.) I’m starting to see the 5% earnings roll in, but I’m not going to hold my breath. We needed the darn things and we needed them right away.

After that, in mid-March, I started to think about accumulating another $1,000 in spend to reach the VIP Silver Status. Much like the Southwest Companion Pass, the status is valid for the remainder of the year plus the entire following year. Also from their site:

“You will be in your VIP level until December 31 of the following year, unless you advance to a higher level. VIP levels get reviewed every week, so in case you qualify for an upgrade, we’ll be checking. Also keep in mind, once you achieve VIP status, at the beginning of each subsequent calendar year your Total Qualified Spend will reset to zero and you will need to achieve the minimum spend requirements to re-qualify for VIP status the following year.”

So, even though I missed out on Quarter 1, I’d still be eligible for 7 of the 8 possible quarters. I’ll pretty much chase after any challenge that’s in front of me. As luck would have it, Sears is wrapping up their April Black Friday promotion (what?) tomorrow – I happened to find an item that I could sell on Amazon for a small profit, plus earned a handful of points to apply toward more household items we actually need (outfitting three bathrooms instead of one, for example, means more shelving and organizers.) While I won’t tell you exactly what I purchased, the Black Friday list isn’t too long! Even better, I put $1,000 on my shiny new American Express business card (it even says “Unveiled Savings” on it!) I’ll be 35,000 SPG points richer in no time!


Tonight, my balance says I’ve spent $2,612 of the required $2,500 to reach Silver VIP Status. I hope – expect – it will update tomorrow:silver

How do you check your VIP Status?

Click this link or the VIP tab as shown below (start at, click Rewards, and the box for VIP.)


What are the benefits?

Each quarter, VIPs get a “choice benefit” (among other benefits you can find here, such as two $4.99 oil changes w/tire rotations per year.) Some are “free,” such as the watches you see in the photo below. Others are 100% back in points – so the $200 set of pots and pans will earn 200,000 Shop Your Way Rewards points.


I’ll probably select the NutriBullet or the Keurig. I’ve sold these on Amazon in the past and know they move quickly. I might only get a fraction of the cash I spend, but it’s worth it. Here’s an easy example:

In doing so, I’ll put $125 on my credit card (inching toward that SPG bonus!) I’ll come out at least $25 ahead. I’ll also get $125 toward my Gold Status (only $2,375 to go…) I’ll probably buy via Discover or another portal, earning me at least 5% back (another $6.25.)

If you’ve got gift cards that really were gifts, this is a great way to turn them into more cash than you started with!

Are you in the market for any of the items shown? Do you have VIP status?

I would be happy to sell you any of the items listed for the same amount I’d get from Amazon.

Leave a comment or email me!

Up to $75 Worth of Free Food!

It appears that LivingSocial is rolling out a “portal” of their own called Restaurants Plus – but, unlike the online version, all you have to do is register your card and remember to use it at participating stores.

The current offer is valid in Atlanta, DC, and San Francisco only – though I am looking into whether or not that is actually true. Here’s the summary:

Restaurants Plus

You can participate once per day through Jan 3 for up to $15 cash back, which is a total of $75 in free food. I would expect that you can simply purchase a $15 gift card every day and redeem it all at once or when convenient. That’s what I’d do if I was in a participating city!

An Easy $75 Worth of Credit Card Spend – and Free Miles!

This is my favorite type of offer. You’ll spend $15 and they’ll give you $15 back. That’s a manufactured-spend dream! This spend should trigger miles, cash back, or whatever promotion you’re working on. If you’re trying to meet a spend minimum (such as spend $500, get $100 back on Chase Freedom) this will count toward that as well!

Will you use this offer?

If you have a bachelor or bachelorette, bridal shower, or any other activities coming up and any of these restaurants are potential venues, it might be worth trying to stock up on gift cards to see if the promotion comes through! Or, maybe you could use the gift cards as welcome gifts to your out-of-town guests.

Leave a comment if you’re able to participate. I’d love to hear how it works and how you’re using the credit!

$150 worth of Free Stuff (after rewards) for you, $100 For Me


It would be pretty cool if you took advantage of this offer.

First, I’ll tell you what’s in it for you:

Sears (via Shop Your Way Rewards, or SYWR) is offering up to 100% back “in points” on a handful of items. Here are the item numbers I found at the moment – you can also get 50% back on one electronic item (I’m buying an Amazon tablet) but that’s another conversation…get one for you or as a gift:

Portable Battery Chargers for Smartphones/Tablets:

  • Item #05738687000
  • Item #05739378000
  • Item #05739377000
  • Item #05749743000

Wireless Mouse

  • Item #00351048000

DSLR Shoulder Bag

  •  Item #00349767000

Prices range from $14-$36 per item.

If you join Ebates via my referral code, you’ll get 3% back on your Sears purchase plus a $5 credit or $10 gift card (you’ll see the details when you click through to sign up.)

This means you can get about $150 worth of stuff, 3% + $5 back via Ebates, and the entire $150 back in the form of Shop Your Way Rewards for use on a future purchase. If there is a Kmart nearby, you can use your rewards there for household items – food, toiletries, etc.

When you’re checking out, just be careful to note the number of points it says you will be receiving. 1,000 points = $1, so if you’re buying the $28 DSLR bag, make sure it adds up to 28,000 or so points! Ensure that you don’t accidentally apply any points in your account, or you won’t earn any more.

Below is the screen shot of my total. I’ll be paying $333.43 and receiving the equivalent of $250 back in points. I intend on selling one of the items for $100 (it’s worth well over that, but I don’t really care) and I’m also getting a $40 bonus via the eAwards promo I’ll mention in a moment. On top of that, I’ll trigger a United bonus worth 1200 miles. I haven’t decided what to do with the other items I’m getting for “nothing.” Told you it was good!

Screenshot (99)

Then, what’s in it for me:

Beyond the stacked deals, I owe a full disclosure as to the Ebates references! Ebates is running a promotion where three referrals that result in $25+ purchases = an $85 bonus. Quite nice! So, pick one (or more) of the $25+ items (I like the camera bag!) and they’ll reward me handsomely! Thanks!

If you just want loyalty miles:

If you’re frantically collecting mileage points, United Mileage Plus is offering a bonus of 300 points when you spend $100, and 1200 on $300, so you could trigger that by stocking up on these “freebies.”

Which card should you use?

Pay with either the card you’re trying to meet a spend minimum on OR your Discover  card, which is offering 5% back at department stores…doubled to 10% for those of us in the promotion. That could be quite lucrative!

Earn more with the eAward Promotion

Use your credit card to take advantage of the “buy $50, get a $10 eAward card” promotion. I purchased two $100 e-gift cards, received a $40 bonus, and spent around $300 on merchandise I plan to get “for free.” There does not appear to be a particular link for this; just start at (via a portal!) and find the link down on the bottom left. Yes, you will generally earn points for BUYING a gift card and also for REDEEMING a gift card, therefore doubling your rewards!

So, which gift are you getting yourself?

$145 Manufacturing Spend at Tiger Direct – Free Stuff, Free Points

Here’s the shopping list for current in-stock, free after rebate products at Tiger Direct. Most of these deals end today, so act fast! Also note that some of the items have quantity 2 – go for it!

You’ll want to check out with a Visa card via Visa Checkout for $25 off $100.

If you’re an ibotta user, click through the app to get a link sent to your email; that’ll be an extra $10 back. Yes, that link is my referral code (here it is again!) – I’ll get a couple dollars if you sign up through me, and you’ll get a couple dollars, too!

Screenshot (90)

Screenshot (91)


Total price is $144, less $25 via Visa Checkout, which is $119. You’ll also get $10 through ibotta, so on a $119 purchase you will “profit” $35 (Visa + ibotta), get the 119 in credit card points, and have a stack of stuff to gift/sell on ebay/craigslist etc.

When you check out, TigerDirect is nice enough to give you a list of links to the rebate you qualify for. You’ll have to spend probably around an hour on those forms and will have to pay for a handful of stamps. Be careful not to miss any UPC codes, signatures, or deadlines.

2,000 IHG Rewards Points with your Dinner Date

The IHG Rewards Club Dining program is well worth joining with their current generous promotion: spend $30 within 30 days, get 2,000 points. It’s worth pointing out that this is a whole 66 points per dollar! Wow!


This offer is only available to new members. Simply join before the 12/30/2015 deadline and spend $30 at a participating restaurant within 30 days. Don’t forget to complete the review; it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, and in past experience most of these programs send a reminder.

If you aren’t planning a night out (and hey, if you’re pinching pennies, I understand!) you should be able to buy a $30 gift card and qualify for the bonus – save the gift card for a special occassion. Other options are to find places like The Wine Steward (in Hampstead, NH) or WineNot (in Nashua, NH) and pick up gifts for the holidays, wedding events, and so on.

Don’t rush to join until you know you’re going to be splurging; I definitely should have held off another few days to hit up WineNot, but instead it looks like we’ll be visiting the Biergarten before our pals’ wedding in a few weeks!

Where are you going to go to get your 2,000 points?

22 Kitchen Appliances for ~$2.49 Each!

EDIT: The rebate forms are out and restrict us to 5 ITEMS per HOUSEHOLD per OFFER. However, an extra 15% and great holiday portal bonuses make this an outstanding buy. Check here for the details.

One of my favorite annual sales is Kohl’s Black Friday. It takes into account all of the fun ways to save…sale prices, rebates, store loyalty credit, and manufactured spend…plus, portal points if we’re lucky! This is an awesome opportunity to stock up on 22 brand new kitchen appliances, regularly $20-$40 at 95% off, or grab gifts for the holidays/wedding showers/registries/wedding party gifts…the list goes on!

You can find the Black Friday ad here. This offer will be available in-store and online; online quantities tend to sell out pretty quickly, so stay tuned to find out exactly when the deal goes live (midnight central time?) or get to the store and grab a shopping cart!

Take a look below for newspaper clippings of my favorite deals:



Each of these items is eligible for either a $10 or $12 rebate ($12 on the first set, $10 on the two subsequent.) You’ll be able to find them by going to and searching “rebates.” They’re valid only on Thurs-Fri, Nov 26-27. In years past, a shopper could get five rebates per product. That’s a total of 110 rebates!

Because you’ll be mailing in a lot of UPC codes with a lot of money at stake, I recommend printing a label (my preference is and insuring it up to the value of your rebates. I don’t even want to think about that important envelope getting lost in the mail. Be sure to stop by the post office and get a receipt for dropping off your package in case they lose it, or you’ll have no claim!

Loyalty Credit – Kohl’s Cash

To make it better, Kohl’s has a once-a-year $15 Kohl’s Cash on $50 purchase offer. The cash triggers at 96% of the $50, or $48…so don’t worry that you’re missing it by a couple pennies!

Loyalty Credit – Yes2You Rewards

On top of Kohl’s Cash, you’ll earn one Yes2You Rewards point for each dollar spent; at 100 points, Kohl’s will issue a $5 reward. In other words, it’s a 5% credit issued on each $100 spent. I didn’t actually include this in the calculations below; consider it a little bonus for your hard work.

Portal Points

If we’re able to order online, we can plan on at least two points per dollar at the airline or hotel company of our choice.

Manufactured Spent

If your friends are interested, you could sell them appliances for just a few dollars. They’ll get an amazing deal, and you get to spend money on your credit card for points! For example, you might spend $20 on a given product that, after all the rebates, only cost you $2.50. That’s a good deal for something you want to keep, and a great deal if you have someone to sell it to for $2-3! Who wouldn’t spend $3 for a Crockpot?

Let’s Add It Up

I’ll do the math for one of each item, and then multiply it by five – although it’s extremely unlikely anyone will be able to pick up all the items before they sell out. I would encourage you to do a little advance planning and work out the numbers – increments of $50 are important to maximizing the Kohl’s Cash returns. Here’s how it goes:

First Group: $19.99 each, $12 Rebate, 5 Items

  • Buy one of each, total $19.99 * 5 = $99.95
    • Submit $12 rebate per item = $60
    • Earn two $15 Kohl’s Cash credits = $30
    • Earn $5 Yes2You Rewards per $100 = $5

Second Group: $19.99 each, $10 Rebate, 10 Items

  • Buy one of each, total $19.99 * 10 = $199.90
    • Submit $10 rebate per item = $100
    • Earn four $15 Kohl’s Cash credits = $60
    • Earn $5 Yes2You Rewards per $100 = $10

Third Group: $14.99 each, $10 Rebate, 7 Items

  • Buy one of each, total $14.99 * 7 = $104.93
    • Submit $10 rebate per item = $70
    • Earn two $15 Kohl’s Cash credits = $30
    • Earn $5 Yes2You Rewards per $100 = $5


  • Cost: $99.95 + 199.90 + 104.93 = $404.78
  • Rebates earned: $60 + 100 + 70 = $230
  • Kohl’s Cash earned: $120
  • Earn $5 Yes2You Rewards per $100 = $20, not counted in math
    • $404.78 – 230 – 120 = $54.78
    • Price each: $54.78/22 = $2.49
      • Doesn’t include tax!
      • Price is “after rewards,” so you’ll still have Kohl’s Cash and Yes2You to redeem.

If you’re able to get five units per item, here’s the math:

  • Cost: $99.95*5 + 199.90*5 + 104.93*5 = $2023.90
  • Rebates earned: $60*5 + 100*5 + 70*5 = $1150
  • Kohl’s Cash earned: $600
  • Yes2You earned: $100, not counted in math
    • $2023.90 – 1150 – 600 = $273.90
    • Price each: $273.90/(22*5) = $2.49
      • Doesn’t include tax!
      • Price is “after rewards,” so you’ll still have Kohl’s Cash and Yes2You to redeem.

Will you take advantage of this deal?

I know this is an opportunity to spend $2,000 on a credit card of my choosing, earn at least 4,000 points to the program of my choosing, get an extra $100 bonus in Yes2You Rewards for whatever I want to spend them on, and give great gifts at awesome prices. Some of these items retail for $40, so a price of $2.49 is around 95% off! You might be wondering how I’ll spend that $600 in Kohl’s Cash; haven’t decided! I’m an Amazon reseller, so I usually find a few products to buy at Kohl’s and sell online. If you’re not into that, maybe you have some regular Christmas shopping to do. Think through whether or not you can make good use of that $600 in Kohl’s Cash; else, you’ve lost that money and need to incorporate it into the price of each appliance.

I’m interested in your thoughts! Leave a comment if you’ll be shopping the Kohl’s Black Friday deal!

The Southwest Companion Pass: Two Years of Buy One, Get One Free Airfare

Every single travel blogger has written about this, so I’ll point you here, here, and here if this post is incomplete.

How It Works

  1. Sign up for not one, but two new credits cards at the exact same time (open two browser windows and hit “Submit” at the same time).
  2. Meet the spend limits and earn 50,000 points per card.
  3. On your way to the spend limit ($2,000 per card), earn an additional 4,000 points, or one point per dollar.
  4. Pay additional wedding and living expenses for a maximum total of $6,000, thereby earning an additional 6,000 points.

Add it up: 50,000 + 50,000 + 4,000 + 6,000 = 110,000

In other words, of the 110,000 points you need for the companion pass, 100,000 come from credit card sign up bonuses.

The Companion Pass

Once you hit 110,000 miles in a calendar year OR travel blahbity blah number of segments (something like one segment every three days…who does that?) you’ll earn the coveted Companion Pass. With it, you can designate a travel companion (and may change this companion two or three times per year) who will get a free ticket (YES! Just pay the $10 security fee or whatever it is these days!). The pass is valid for the remainder of the current year and the entire following year, so you may want to hit that 110,000 mark in January to maximize the amount of time you have to use it.

Note that points generally post just after your billing statement closes, not after a purchase is made. So, if your statement closes Dec 15, your points will post in December. Points through Rapid Rewards Shopping (more on that later) could post the next day. Be careful!

Booking A Free Companion Ticket

You add the companion after you book your flight from your Itinerary page. There’s a great guide here.

How do I apply for the right credit cards?

Please know that both cards have to go in the same name (you can’t get one and have your fiance(e) get the other – use the same name and Rapid Rewards number on both cards).

If Chase wants to know why you’re asking for two cards, that’s an easy answer! You are planning a wedding and want to separate those expenses from your daily expenses.

My suggestion is to get the Plus and Premier cards. Yes, $69 and 99/yr fee. It’s worth it (and you’re going to cancel once you get the Companion Pass anyway, so you only have to deal with the fees once). If those links happen to give you trouble, hit up (why not Google?) and scour the internet until you find both links. It’s incredibly important that you sign up for both on the same day, else you will not be able to get the two bonuses…and you will make it almost impossible to reach the Companion Pass target of 110,000 without a LOT of work.

10,000 points?! 

Yes. Proceed with caution! If you only get one point per dollar, that means $10,000 in expenses! If you miss a payment or carry a balance, you’ll very quickly wipe out the benefits this card has to offer. I am an advocate for NO debt. If you aren’t able to pay off these expenses, you’ll need to do the math and determine whether the interest payments make sense. I can’t decide that for you – my blanket answer is always no. Keep reading, though, to learn how to spend as close to $4,000 as possible in order to get 10,000 points…and, even better, how to do so without spending money you weren’t already planning to.

Here are a few ideas as to how you can hit those spend limits – which is effectively $4,000 to get the bonuses and as little as possible beyond that to get the Companion Pass.

Many of these require that you pay for something with your card, only to have a family member or friend pay you back. In normal circumstances, maybe that would make you uncomfortable. But, if you tell them what you’re doing, I suspect you’ll have their support (and envy!).

  1. Pay your venue deposit. They may request a check, but you should ask about charging it. If they require a 3% fee to run a credit card, that is your decision. Personally, if I have a $10,000 expense, 3% of that would be $300. I’d be done the spend requirements and that might be worth saving the trouble. Just be aware of how that affects when your points (and, therefore, Companion Pass) are going to post. And, do you have the cash to pay off the balance immediately?
  2. Pay off your wedding dress. If mom and dad are paying, are you comfortable asking them to let you charge it? If they understand your really smart plan for the next two years of travel, they’re more likely to say yes.
  3. Buy all of your bridesmaids’ dresses and cover the initial tux rental. Yep, insurance, too. 🙂 This could easily be a $500 expense, and they’re going to pay you back.
  4. BYOB! Does your venue allow you to provide the alcohol? More on that in a future post.
  5. Pay for your florist/coordinator/transportation/photographer/decorator/hair stylist in advance (or, at least the deposit since you may want to have some leverage in case of trouble).
  6. Buy American Express gift cards ($2,000 will run you less than $15 in fees) and hang on to that card until you need to spend it. In other words, convert your cash to gift cards via the credit cards for points.
  7. Buy your thank-you stationary or, if you want to use photographs and can’t order now, buy gift cards to where ever you intend to purchase.
  8. Pay normal living expenses, such as your rent, via Redcard or Amazon payments – especially if your landlord is hip.
  9. Buy all of those other thank you gifts (bridesmaids, parents, etc) in advance.
  10. I won’t recommend paying for your hotel, because I think that should be done via rewards, but you’re going to have to eat, drink, and entertain yourself on your trip. Buy gift cards to the restaurants you intend to visit or find out what gift cards the pool bar accepts…and stock up in advance!
  11. Stock up on other gift cards you know you’ll use, such as gas cards and grocery store cards.

Reducing the $10,000 to $4,000

You’ll have to spend $4,000 no matter what, because you have to meet the $2,000 requirement on each card. But, there are some clever ways to get the additional 6,000 points.

Remember that our goal is to spend $4,000 and earn 10,000 points (you got 100,000 from the bonuses and need 10,000 more for the Companion Pass). Hypothetically, if you spend $4,000 and earned three points per dollar, that would be 12,000 points, right?

Enter Shopping Portals.

Rapids Rewards Shopping is your gateway to more points for fewer dollars. Today, for example, you can get 6 points per dollar at Macy’s. That means if you spend $1,000, you’ll get 6,000 of those 10,000 points. Your remaining $3,000 in spend (to hit the two $2,000 limits) will earn you at least another 3,000 points…and it’s almost done! 110,000 points! (No, I don’t think you’re going to spend $1,000 at Macy’s…but what if you find your bridesmaids’ dresses? Tuxes? Gown? Mother of the bride dress? Be creative!)

Here is a snapshot of the current highest earning options from the portal. Anyone up for a year of DirecTV? Might be worth it!

Screenshot (44)

Reducing $4,000 to Nada

I post regularly about how you can buy stuff and get all of your money back, so just keep an eye on the blog. A few weeks ago, it was $44 worth of paper at Staples that you ended up profiting $10+ on. While I’m unlikely to strike gold and find $10,000 worth of free stuff, every little bit helps. Talk to your family and friends and see if they support the charge and pay back idea. Weddings are one of the most expensive events in a lifetime – get the absolute most you can in free travel and rewards!

Wait, what?

I’ve been doing this for a long time, so there’s a good chance I’ve left out a vital detail that seems obvious to me. Please leave your questions and comments so that I can improve on this entry!