If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you should definitely know by now that I am a huge fan of sign-up bonuses. I have written about credit card sign-up bonuses, bank account sign-up bonuses, and also about free vacations that I’ve been able to obtain using the bonuses themselves. If you’re completely unfamiliar with these bonuses, I’d suggest starting with credit card bonuses as they as usually the easiest. I wrote about the basics of credit card bonuses in the past which should give you some background and information on how it all works.
I have spent the past 27 months (starting April 2015) aggressively pursuing sign-up bonuses to assist on my path to financial independence and to earn some free vacations and weekend trips. Since beginning I’ve kept a close record of everything I’ve signed up for including: bonus amount, spending requirement, how long the account has to be open, how to avoid fees on the account, date approved, and date closed. I transposed some of this information into an Excel document in order better visualize the pertinent information and to determine how much I had actually earned from these bonuses. The results were ridiculous and really surprised me!
Let’s go ahead and look at a couple of screen shots of the spread sheet and then I’ll discuss some of the specifics.
In total this is: 27 new credit cards and 23 new bank accounts opened in the past 27 months!
So from the totals at the bottom, you can see that in cash bonuses I made $5,800 plus a $650 cell phone credit which I also count as cash, which equals a total of $6,450. I included three credit card referral bonuses ($50) on the spreadsheet, but since those don’t actually count as sign-up bonuses, I’ll subtract them out. So that equals $6,300 total in cash earned. This is with fees that I paid already being subtracted out. You can also see that I earned a total of 915,000 miles/points and 4 free hotel nights. The $6,300 in cash shown here is obviously quite a bit less than the $11,000+ number I stated in the title, so where did the extra $5,000 come from? The extra money came from selling my Chase, Citi, and AMEX points for cash. This is not the ideal situation for most people as the cash value is significantly less than the value I could get for these points if redeemed for travel. The reason I did this is that my primary goal is reaching financial independence as soon as possible, and there is no way that I would have used all of those points on travel in the next several years. I’d rather have the cash now and earn more points for travel later that I will use primarily after financial independence in two years. Here is how much I got for the points after all fees:
- 250,000 Membership Rewards Points (AMEX): $3,262.45
- 97,000 Thank You Points (Citi): $1,106.64
- 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (Chase): $1,116.35
- Total: $5,485.44
Now adding the $5,485 to the $6,300 earned in cash bonuses mentioned above, I end up with a staggering total of $11,785 in cash! You may notice that the amount of points I sold are actually more than the amount I got from the sign-up bonuses and the reason is that I earned additional points on the cards while meeting the spending requirements.
If that isn’t awesome enough, I’ve also used some of the airline and hotel miles as well as the 4 free hotel nights for some great stays including:
- 1 night in a suite at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston.
- 1 night at the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York.
- 2 nights at the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Jamaica. (We got an additional 2 nights from Whitney transferring some of her Chase UR points to Hyatt.)
- 2 nights at the all-inclusive Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay in Jamaica.
- 2 Round trip flights from Charlotte, NC to Montego Bay, Jamaica on Southwest.
- 2 Round trip tickets from Charlotte, NC to Aruba on American Airlines. (Scheduled for December this year!)
- And many weekend trips where we spent a night in various (not as memorable) hotels using Hyatt, IHG, or Hilton points.
When all is said and done, it is safe to say that I’ve gotten/will get well over $25,000 in value from all of these sign-up bonuses. That’s over $10,000/year of additional TAX FREE income. How amazing is that??
If you haven’t started pursuing sign-up bonuses, I strongly encourage you do so ASAP. These bonuses can lead to serious value even if you don’t go as extreme as I have over the past two years. Feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments in the comments section below or the “contact me” section above! Thanks for reading!
***I want to give a huge shout out to the Doctor of Credit blog which played a major role for me in finding all of these bonuses. That is the site where I recommend that everyone start!