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My Overall Points-Earning Strategy for 2021 (Until Something Changes…)

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Many of us switched up our points/miles earning strategies last year. COVID-19 forced a lot of people to reduce spending. I started using cards that were cashback friendly. That meant my Chase Ultimate Rewards cards and got more of a workout than most of my other cards.

During the course of a few months, I redeemed points for statement credit more than I ever had my entire life up to that point. But when it came down to saving money and taking care of my family, that obviously took precedence over travel.

I’m cautiously optimistic my family and I will be in planes and hotels sometime in the fall — if not sooner. So we’re excited to earn and burn this year!

My general plan for 2021 is below. As we all know from 2020, a lot can change very quickly.

Plus, I won’t be at all surprised if credit card issuers shake things up this year and crank up some earnings or alter benefits.

Also, please keep in mind that promotions such as Amex Offers, Chase offers, Chase Freedom Flex‘s quarterly 5% bonuses, etc., occasionally give us incentives to temporarily charge certain purchases to certain cards.

Grocery Store Shopping: Our Blue Cash Preferred from American Express earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in annual spending. Once we hit that figure later in the year, I’ll likely switch to my American Express Gold Card. That awards 4X at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in annual spending.

Food delivery from an Italian restaurant.

Dining/Food Delivery: For most of my restaurant and food delivery service purchases, I use my Chase Sapphire Reserve. It earns 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards on dining. I can then redeem those for travel with a 50% bonus when booking through Chase. Each dollar effectively earns 4.5X URs.

Cell Phone and Cable (Internet and TV): Chase Ink Cash. Earns 5X Ultimate Rewards points on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on Internet, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year.

Cars and gas pumps are seen at a Shell gas station in Los Angeles, California.

Gas: The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit givers gas and groceries right now. Once that’s gone, I’ll move back to my usual gas card: Costco Anywhere VisaBusiness Card by Citi (learn about small business cards here.)

Streaming Services: The Blue Cash Preferred from American Express earns 6% cash back on select US streaming services. All of ours (Netflix, Hulu-Disney+-ESPN+ bundle, HBO Max) qualify.

Exit rows 26 are seen on a Delta Air Lines Airbus A321 prior to retrofit.

Travel: If I hold a hotel chain’s co-branded card, I’ll use that for my stay. Airfare will likely go on the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3X on travel — plus great trip protection benefits) or Chase Freedom Flex (5X when booking travel through Chase). It just depends on the given situation.

Pretty much all other travel (parking, tolls, rideshare, etc) else goes on my Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Everything Else: Most of my 1X purchases (Amazon, income taxes, mechanic, etc) will end up on the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card until I reach the first $30,000 threshold and receive 18,750 bonus MQM (a special deal for 2021). After that, I’ll likely switch to the Business Platinum Card from American Express because of the 35% Pay with Points rebate or Chase Ink Unlimited (1.5X on all purchases). I may occasionally toss some dining purchases on my Reserve just to accelerate my spending goal.

Why Not More Delta Amex Spend?

Because I prefer cash back and flexible, transferable points (Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards) that’s where I put most of my spending. Those can be redeemed to help my family and business save money.

Not to mention, the Delta Reserve cards are disappointing when it comes to everyday spending.

How Does My Strategy Stack Up Against Yours?

Please share your plans in the below Comments section!

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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3 Comments

  1. SkyTeamFlyer Reply

    Hey Chris, I am not showing 3X on Gas purchases on CSR. Is that promo back?
    I don’t play the CC game like you do, but I generally get 3% cash back on gas on my BoA Cash CC which is the only thing I put on this card, until CSR ends the 3% grocery benefit, then I get 2% on groceries on my BoA card too. If CSR is doing 3% on gas, then I count that as 4.5% as I can redeem it through the Chase portal for +50% more.

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