Reader Requests: What can Big Spenders ($30,000 to $2 million+) get from spending on credit cards?

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I often get asked what are the best credit cards for folks who can spend large amounts of money on credit cards.

Big Spenders are folks who can pay lots – tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, & millions of dollars – of reimbursable or business expenses with their credit cards and can get lots of benefits such as:

  • Elite status without flying or staying in hotels
  • Companion passes
  • Cash Back
  • Bonus airline miles and hotel points (in addition to the miles and points for regular spending) for award stays later on
  • Inching their way towards lifetime elite status with Marriott or Delta

What matters to you?

As always, you have to determine your needs and find out what you value most.  The only wrong answer is NOT having a clear sense of what you want with the hundreds of thousands of dollars which you can spend on a credit card.

  • Do you want to fly internationally or domestically?
  • Do you care if you sit in First Class or Coach?
  • Do you want to earn elite status in hotels and airlines?
  • Do you want to earn as many redeemable miles and points as possible for future award travel?
  • Do you want points or miles with just one airline or hotel?
  • Do  you want to earn points which can be transferred to different programs?
  • Do you want Cash back or Lifetime elite status?

Decide what is most important to you and then use the list below to get there!  For example, if you want free flights (& you have a friend or partner to take along) within the US, your best option is likely going after the Southwest Companion pass.

In this series of posts, I will NOT list cards which give you extra points for spending in certain categories (e.g. gas, groceries etc.), but will cover that in a separate post later on.

So let’s see what you can get for spending on a credit card.  Please remember that many of these cards are NOT good choices if you are NOT a big spender in search of a specific goal.

Over the next few days, we’ll see how Big Spenders can use credit cards for:

  • 1.   Sign-up Bonuses
  • 2.   Cash Back
  • 3.   Domestic US Flights
  • 4.   Bonus Miles & Points
  • 5.   Transferable Points
  • 6.  Hotel elite status
  • 7.  Airline elite status
  • 8.  International Companion Passes
  • 9.  Lifetime  Elite Status

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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54 responses to “Reader Requests: What can Big Spenders ($30,000 to $2 million+) get from spending on credit cards?

  1. Haha I needed this article months ago. Oh well so far my biggest mistakes were spending 30k on Amex spg recvd gold and I’m half done with the avios companion pass. Also completed spends for ink bold,Amex spg biz,,citi AA x2,chase saph,freedom, AAx4 mom and dad,citi typ premier, Amex Hilton all done in 6months. Next month will be my 3q churn.

    TYVM Darius for all your help

  2. Haha, I’m in the middle of researching this very thing! I’m curious to see your findings.

    @Aznprzn, I think the SPG AmEx is great for 1x business spend (when you just have to put $10K+ on one transaction and can’t use a Visa gift card you got at 5x). SPG points are valuable and when you earn them tens of thousands at a time, you can get 1.25 miles/$ in many programs not associated with Chase/AmEx. But let’s see what Daraius has found … 😀

  3. I also will look forward to this series. I think I want to earn maximum points on American airlines as I am Platinum there – but also like the idea of a good transfer to airlines when I need some top offs for a different airline. I have done the 30k spend each year with Brit Air for their 2 for 1 voucher (and will have 2 good for next 2 years soon), but may want to drop that as it is not good for Asia or South America – and the fees are very high when using a voucher. Thanks for any info you can send.

  4. Good post Daraius.
    I’m fairly active in some forums, and when folks come in asking what credit card they should get, I always start with that same list of questions. I’ve crafted a few examples based on something like 100k in spending that nets a TON of extra benefits.
    If someone’s not in the credit card AOR game for signup bonuses, this is a good second choice. Much better than doing all the spend on one card IMO.

  5. Oh good! Looking for some alternatives to the British Airlines companion ticket, too.

  6. Looking forward to learning more and pick up some tips/leads as I currently process all spending (about $20k monthly) through a regular Plat Amex with no specific program affiliation. This has worked for me as I then transfer the pts to united or whomever I am booking award tavel with. I have a sinking feeling that I am leaving many rewards / perks on the table. Any ideas on the best (most rewarding) program to start up with?

  7. Like Daraius said, it really depends on your goal. For me, flying First Class to from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific is my ultimate goal. I have redeemed the required number of points to upgrade my Economy to Business for the flight this September.

    This goal is points-oriented. Thus, I have to spend accordingly to maximize the points. Recently, American Express lets me transfer from Membership Rewards to Asia Miles on a 1:1 radio. My major spending is my mortgage and I am able to charge it with my Premier Rewards (despite a service fee). That’s 1500 (points) a month. I am also aware that I get 15,000 bonus points for spending 30,000 dollars which I have a decent chance to making.

    In short, know what you want to achieve it with the least amount of money. Enjoy!

  8. I have $60,000 to $80,000 spend per month. I first racked up Delta points and now am almost at 1,000,000 SPG points. My problem is that with limited travel, mostly personal I can not achieve status with hotels that amounts to anything. Pointers here would be helpful.

  9. If you charge your $1,500 mortgage each month for 2.9%, aren’t you just buying 1500 points/miles for $43.50, or 2.9 cents each? That doesn’t seem to make sense unless you need to meet a sign-on promotional spend for a new card.

  10. Pointasaurus,

    If I were in your shoes, the first thing I would do is get the HHonors Surpass card. Spend $40K in a calendar year and get HHonors Diamond. Great benefits.

  11. @Pointasaurus- the next thing I would do is get the hyatt card or united club card which will give me indefinite platinum hyatt status… If you also had hilton gold status from the surpass card you could always choose when to match hilton gold and get diamond status for 60days.. timing of that status match could make for an amazing nice vacation.. Just ask Daraius….

  12. I am looking for a business credit card and/or debit card that would give me miles for cashier’s check or money orders. This is the only way I can make purchases with a certain vendor for inventory. Currently, I don’t get any miles/points for this type of spending. Help please, preferable to use for international travel!

  13. @Ak,
    Yeah I totally agree,but I have the reverse problem I have way too much spend and not enough credit cards to meet the bonuses. I recieve a monthly bill from my state for payroll taxes totalling $1200 . My operating expenses is 15k to 20k a month and thankfully Free cash flow allows me to pay that. Another business guy a older fella say he recieves a bill for 10k in payroll taxes monthly he has always used the CO Onepass card for years. I cant imagine what kind of miles/points he would pull if he was a churner.

  14. @pointasaurus – I agree with Dean and nike fein. HHonors Diamond using the surpass with 40k spending is an easy one. In addition, Chase Marriott cards – 1 night elite credit for every 3,000 spent. $60k/month = 20 elite night credit per month. 75 nights gets you platinum, so you would have Marriott Platinum after 3 months (2 months with 80k spending/month).

    If you’re a Delta guy. Do you have Delta Business and Personal AMEX (Platinum or Reserve)? If so, you can get Gold status every year (you need 50k MQMs) without flying. If you have 2 Reserve cards, and spend 60k on each (120k total), you will get 60k MQMs (enough for gold, 15k mqms away from platinum). If you have one reserve and one platinum, you spend 60k on reserve, and 50k on Plat (110k total), you will get 50k MQMs (enough for Gold) . If you have two platinums, you spend 50k each (100k total) and get 40k MQMs (10k away from Gold).

    So 75k+40K+110k in spending (225k total – or around 4 months of spending for you), you could have the highest tier loyalty status at Marriott and Hilton, and you would have Gold status on Delta.
    Tack on 30k spend on British Airways for a companion pass, and 110k on the Chase SW card (a lot less if you can spend through the SW rewards mall), and you’ll have an annual companion pass for domestic airfare

    That’s 3 Chase, and 3 AMEX cards, and 365k (6 months for you) in spending for a lot of value in loyalty programs.

    Question for D or others – can you get a BA personal and BA business card? Then spend 30k on both, and get 2 BA companion passes / year?

  15. @kat leg – I have the opposite problem. I can’t find anyone that will sell me a cashier’s check/money order and charge it to a credit card as a purchase. that would be very nice. If you find that, most credit cards will give you points.

  16. Mike:

    I agree with your point for service fee. The reason that I do so is that I cannot meet the yearly 30,000 dollar requirement had I not charge my mortgage (18,000 can make a difference!). I would miss out of 15,000 bonus points. Also, I can get points for any expenses. Why not put everything into the card?

  17. Im a bit lazy and [email protected], but does anyone know of a site with low fees that I can car payments using a credit card?

  18. Always be aware that some cards impose a maximum number of miles or points per year. And be aware of whether this is calendar year or year of membership.

    • @Aznprzn @Jill P – Stay tuned! With high spending, you can get the sign-up bonus on new cards, but also additional points for hitting certain spending targets or perks such as elite status or Companion Passes.

      @AK – The SPG card is good for high spending, but I also like the Untied Club Card for 1.5 miles per $1 spent.

      @SAPMAN – The AMEX SPG card is the best bet for transfers to AA since you earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent when you transfer in increments of 20,000 points.

      – I agree – much better to reap the benefits from different cards with high spending.

      @Pete – The best program really depends on what your goals! BTW, you can’t transfer AMEX Membership rewards points to United, but can book United flights through ANA or Aeroplan. You also get a 15,000 point bonus when you spend $30K a year on an AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card and effectively earn 1.5 points per $1 spent for the 1st $30K.

      @Jon Chan – Flying Cathay in First is a great goal!

      @Pointasaurus – $40 K a year on the Hilton AMEX Surpass card will get you top tier Diamond status with Hilton with access to free internet, free breakfast and a good shot at suite upgrades. You could also get Marriott status, but may not be as beneficial as Hilton status.

      @Dean @mike fein @steve – Thanks for helping out!

      @kat leg – You used to be able to charge money orders to a credit card, but not any more.

      @Steve – I don’t believe Chase has a British Airways business card.

      @Gary Steiger – Good points to consider!

  19. Thanks D. I know some of the chase cards do have business counterparts. I wasn’t sure about the BA card. That answers that question.

  20. @Million Mile Secrets – I agree with the United Club 1.5 miles/$ card, but with all the Chase bonuses and Freedom/Ink/Sapphire Preferred multiple pts/$ offers, I’m swimming in United miles while all my other accounts are getting neglected! :p

  21. @kat leg

    I don’t know if you jumped on the SunTrust Delta Checking deal. If you did, you can use the Delta Check card to buy money orders at any USPS and get points too!

  22. @Frank
    No, I missed the last Sun Trust deal as I was on vacation. And I’ve noticed that Delta requires a ton on sky miles for flights to Europe. Seems a bit out of reach for 3 to travel for us. But I’m still looking at it as an option if nothing else will work. You guys know of any other debit card deal for miles?

  23. I assume a lot of the advice would be equally applicable, but could you point out when strategies are especially lucrative for one-time big spenders? e.g. Weddings or other events that are not part of a repetitive spend pattern.

  24. One factor I’d weigh in is diversifying my holdings in these pseudo-currencies to hedge against a higher-than-predicted devaluation. Maybe switch cards quarterly or use cards based on spend category (like how many people split between Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and SPG Amex) which results in sizable balances in multiple accounts. Here in MSP everyone seems to use either the US Banks FlexPerks (the old Northwest WorldPerks) or a Delta Amex. It seems reasonable to a point, but I wouldn’t want all of my point earnings to make it into just one of those baskets.

  25. Does anyone know if there is a limit on how many miles you can earn with the chase sapphire per year? As i currently use this for most of my spending that about 18-20k per month. is there a better card then this to use?

    • @AK – That’s fair…and it never hurts to diversify the points and miles stash.

      @Frank – I could buy USPS money orders, but the points didn’t post to my Delta account.

      @DBest – It really depends on what your goal is. After reading this series of posts, you should be able to decide for your self. If you’re talking about $30 to $40K in spending, my favorite options would be the British Airways Companion pass for $30K or Hilton Diamond status for $40K a year.

      @Matt MSP – I completely agree with you. There’s no point hoarding these currencies and they always will devalue.

      @cshia – There is no limit on the amount of points you can earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. But if you’re transferring them to United, you may be better off with the United Club card which offers 1.5 miles per $1 spent (versus 1 mile per $1 spent with the Chase Sapphire Preferred).

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  38. So I’ve been doing the credit card sign up game for some time now with my personal credit and I started a business this year that has grown very fast. I buy and resell electronics. Recently I started buying more of my inventory off eBay and through PayPal. These expenses alone have added up to over 25k this month alone and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. I currently have both chase ink cards and an American Airlines business card. I am curious as to what card is going to give me the biggest bang for my spending. Currently just accumulating a ton of ultimate points. I can’t really decide which card is best. For my personal credit it’s not a big deal doing sign up bonuses but its kind of difficult to toggle tons of business credit cards because of record keeping issues. So I’m looking for a solid card to just use all the time. Debating capital one 2% Hilton card and Starwood card. Would like to get buddy pass for southwest but I am better off waiting until 50k bonus comes back and getting that to post in January. Any thoughts would be great. Thanks.

  39. So what is the verdict here: Do you get Delta points when you use the SunTrust Delta Checking card to buy USPS money orders?
    Frank says yes. Darius says no.

  40. The website says you won’t get Delta points for money orders, but how would the bank know that you bought a money order instead of stamps?

    “Cash advances, cash portion of a PIN POS sale with cash back, ATM transactions, payments for stored-value cards, wire transfers, money transfers, money orders, cashier checks, quasi cash, traveler’s cheques, purchase of monetary instruments or a PIN POS/signature transaction that contains either in whole or part of one or more of the previously excluded transaction types do not qualify.”

  41. I am in a very similar situation to Joey. I juggled several cards, usually different variations of Chase cards. I met their caps with ease.

    My revenues are fairly large. I have found the Cap1 Spark Business card at a full 2% cash back is best for me. You can’t beat cash, especially at a full 2% anywhere you use the card with a relatively small $59 annual fee. There are some tricks folks use to maximize their travel rewards with other cards. I don’t travel (once a year). I do have a AMEX SPG card for the hotel rewards when I do. Pretty slick for their free hotels (no occ tax either), totally free. Cat 1 and 2 hotels are very limited however.

    Chase UR cannot be beat for car rentals in my experience. Their travel portal is awesome for rental cars, and if you have an annual fee Chase card you get a 20% bump in point redemption.

    Anyone know how to beat 2% cash back on everything, anytime or am getting greedy? 🙂

    Awesome Blog BTW!

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