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My Best Points Earning Experience

Today, I would like to share my best, one time, points earning experience ever, which occurred about 10 years ago. When it happened, I did not think much of it, but in hindsight, 10 years later, I still haven’t topped it, now it feels more impressive when I think about it. This one time transaction can be duplicated even today (which I will share below) and it’s not even a loophole, so no harm done to anyone.

The Credit Card

Back when the Capital One IHG Rewards Club World MasterCard was still around. They had the following features:

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 sign up bonus points after your first purchase
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points for every $10,000 you spend (no limit on how many times you can earn the 5,000 bonus points)
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at any hotel within the IHG family of hotels
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 on all other purchases
  • Receive Platinum Elite status with IHG Rewards guaranteed for the life of the credit card account

Unfortunately this credit card has since been discontinued, but there are similar options that I will discuss later in the post.

The Points Earning Experience

Back in the day, my, now wife, were getting married about we chose an IHG hotel as the venue and restaurant. The final hotel bill was slightly over $20,000. We knew ahead of time how much it would approximately cost, so we signed up for the Capital One IHG Rewards Club World MasterCard before making the payment.

The $20,000 in spending allowed us to earn the follow (cross reference the highlights of the credit card mentioned above):

  • 60,000 points = sign up bonus after the first purchase
  • 10,000 points = 2 x 5,000 bonus points for spending $10,000 twice
  • 100,000 points = 5 x $20,000

Grant total: 170,000 points minus the $120 annual fee.

Back in the day, IHG Rewards still had the Pointsbreak program when we were able to book hotel rooms for as low as 5,000 points per night. I primarily focused on redeem points for 5,000 points per night, so the 170,000 points ended up converting into 34 free hotel rooms (170,000 / 5,000 = 34). Granted we did not book 34 days in a row, the points were redeemed over time.

Hotel rooms are more expensive nowadays. But let’s say conservatively, back in the day, if each hotel room at worth $100 per night, then 34 x 100 is $3,400 in value for $20,000 in spending. That’s approximately a 17% return.

How to do it today?

Fast forward 10 years, if I were to get married today, how could I do it?

There are two credit cards that can potentially also accrue a similar amount of bonus points in one wedding transaction. Consider the two following credit cards:

  • American Express Cobalt Card earns 5x the points on eligible restaurant purchases.
  • Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card earns 5x the points on Marriott purchases.

The Cobalt will be a little tricker because of the monthly $2,500 spending limit to qualify for the 5x bonus. If possible, I would suggest paying the restaurant in advance in monthly instalments leading up to the wedding day. So the earlier the wedding is planned out, the more instalments can be made. For example, with inflation, my $20,000 wedding bill probably looks more like $30,000 today. So if I were to book the venue 1 year in advance (like I did back then), I would arrange with the venue to pay $2,500 instalments per month leading up to the wedding day, 12 (months) x 2,500 (spending limit for multiplier bonus) x 5 (points per dollar) = 150,000 bonus points. Add the sign up bonus (fluctuates depending on the promotional offer period) to get my grand total.

The Marriott card would actually be my preference though. So I would have to pick a different venue than with IHG. The $30,000 x 5 (multiplier bonus) also gives me 150,000 bonus points. The two reasons I would pick the Marriott card instead if because it gives a more generous sign up bonus, which can easily push the grand total to 200,000 points. Furthermore, after spending $30,000 in a calendar year, cardholders are upgraded to Gold Status with Marriott Bonvoy. That’s a nice touch, because now I get to spend the 200,000 points as a Gold member. We booked our honeymoon well after our wedding day, so it would have worked out too! 


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