How the masters do it: Dan Eleff doesn’t play for the Cleveland Indians. Nevertheless, one night last spring the avid fan found himself sprinting to steal second base at Progressive Field between innings, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that he purchased with miles. “It was absolutely incredible,” he says.
How’d he get the 25,000 miles necessary? In part by juicing the returns in his cards’ 5% cash-back categories by buying MasterCard and Visa gift cards at those types of retailers. Imagine, for example, that you have Chase Ink Plus Business, which gives you five points for every $1 spent at office-supply stores; by buying a $500 Visa gift card at Staples, you’d lock in 2,500 miles, quintuple what you’d earn with a typical 1% cash-back card. Then you could use the gift card for any purchases for which you couldn’t otherwise earn 5% rewards.
How you can too: Haven’t yet hit the spending cap on a 5% cash-back category on a card and don’t expect you’ll be able to? Find a store in the category that sells gift cards and buy up to the limit. Want to go all in? Shop for a card that offers 5% in a category you don’t spend in at all and stock up on gift cards up to the cap. Use these cards for purchases that you can’t get more than 2% for otherwise.