How to Maximize Miles on Home Improvement Projects

Ok. Ok.  I’ve got some vested interest in this post as I’m going to be buying some home improvement supplies in the near future and selfishly wanted to know how to maximize those purchases.  However, I can guarantee that you’ll benefit from my research if you also plan on doing some home improvement.

Strategy For Ink, Plus, or Classic Card Holders

This only works for Ink, Plus, or Classic card holders because you’ll get 5x per dollar spent at office supply stores.  If you don’t have one of these cards you can apply here.

Step One: Purchase your gift card at an office supply store.

Pick up a Lowes Gift Card up to $500 at your local office supply store.

Your $500 purchase will earn 2,500 Ultimate Rewards.

The other option is to buy a Do It Yourself Home Improvement card from Office Depot.  Again you can load up to $500, but the nice feature of this card is that it can be used at all the retailers listed on this website.  This includes Home Depot, Harbor Freight, Lowes, Sears, Ace and many more.  This is probably a better option if you want the flexibility of spending your dollars at different retailers.

Step Two: Order your products online

Here’s how many points you can get at some of the retailers listed above:

  • Ace = 3x
  • Lowes = 5x
  • Home Depot = 3x
  • Sears = 4x

Let’s say that a person bough a Lowes gift card at an office store and then ordered their items online through the Ultimate Rewards website they would now be up to 10 points per dollar spent. 

Possible Step 3: Order Sears physical gift cards and pay with your Do It Yourself Home Improvement card.

I haven’t tested this lately, but last time I bought physical gift cards through Sears.com (not electronic ones) after accessing the site through UltimateRewards.com I got the bonus for buying the gift cards.  Once you get your gift cards you go, once again, through the Ultimate Rewards website and buy your actual products.

You’d end up with about 13 point per dollar spent if you were shopping for Sears items.

Warning: If your Ink card should have some spending on it other than just office supply stores.  Balance this approach.

Home Improvement Strategy for Freedom Card Holders

If you don’t have a Chase Freedom card you can apply for one here.  Otherwise, you can also call and downgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom card (no annual fee).

Between April and June 2013 Chase Freedom card holders can get up to 5% cash back at Lowes, restaurants, and movie theaters.  This is limited up to $1,500 worth of spending so you max bonus is 7,500.

If you’re a Chase Freedom card holder you can go through the Ultimate Reward mall and get an extra 5x per dollar on top of your Freedom 5x for a total of 10x per dollar.

General Strategy: Purchase Discounted Gift Cards

Gift Card Granny lists Lowes cards up to 7% off.

You’ll need to decide if you’d rather get 7% off a $500 gift card or get 5x per dollar (assuming you have an Ink, Plus, or Classic card).

The 7% savings is $35 for a total cost of $465.  With the Ultimate Rewards points (2,500) could be more valuable depending on how you use them.

Other Viable Options to Maximize Home Improvement Earnings

Some Citi ThankYou card holders have received a limited time promotion offering 5x per dollar spent on groceries, gas, restaurants, drugstores, and commuter expenses.  This offer is limited to a $500 spent (2,500 points).  You should be able to access your favorite Hardware store via Ultimate Rewards to get bonus points from there and then use your eligible Citi card.  Obviously, this is a targeted offers so if you didn’t receive the offer you won’t be eligible.

Discover is offering a 5% cash back on all home improvement purchases from April – June 2013.

Conclusion:

You should be able to get at least 5x off your home improvement purchases.  You can increase that to at least 13 x per dollar.

Another tip: If you visit the post office and get a change of address package you’ll find a coupon for 10-20% off your next Lowes purchase.  Also, you can search online to find more coupons.  Here’s Lowes offering of 10% off up to a $5,000 purchase.

If you use a 10% off coupon and apply the other strategies that should represent at least a 17-20 % savings.

Comments

  1. Charles says

    Craig,
    I am interested in getting a Chase Freedom MasterCard for my wife. She currently has the Chase Freedom Visa. She had the Chase Sapphire Preferred last year and we closed it. I am thinking of two options : 1) Apply for a Chase Sapphire Visa (not Preferred), then convert to Freedom MC later or 2) Apply for Freedom MC directly. I have read that some people have been successful with 1st option, but I am not sure about the waiting period to convert or downgrade to CF MC. With a Chase Sapphire Preferred, you need to have had this card for a year before downgrading. What do you think about these options and maybe there is another option? Thanks for your input.
    Charles

    • says

      Charles,
      Did she have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa or MasterCard? The sign up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is certainly more than the Chase Sapphire (unless you already had the Visa).
      I don’t think there is a timeframe for how long you must wait to downgrade to a Freedom. Both the Freedom and Chase Sapphire (not Preferred) offer 10,000 points for signing up so I don’t see any reason to get the Chase Sapphire first.
      Remember, that points earn with a Freedom card – without an Ultimate Rewards eligible card cannot be transfered to mileage and hotel programs.

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