Tim Foolery

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My Bluebird Spend Strategy

I love Bluebird by American Express. It easily allows you to rack up points/miles at a minimum cost.  With the electronic bill pay feature you can pay your mortgage or a student loan and earn travel points (if you load your Bluebird via credit card).

Which card I use to fill up my Bluebird is based solely on what current promotions are available during a given month.  Last year my US Airways card offered double miles at pharmacies (I buy my Vanilla Reloads at CVS) sometime over the summer (maxing out with $5,000 spend). This was a no-brainer for me.  If a lucrative special promotion is at play, that’s my second choice.  What is my first choice for Reload spend?  Meeting Credit Card minimum spend.

When you sign up for a new credit card you often get a sign up bonus if you meet a certain spend threshold in a finite period (usually a couple months). I always focus on meeting minimum spend before anything else.  I don’t play the credit card churning game (signing up for credit cards every few months just for the lucrative sign up bonuses then cancelling before the next annual fee comes do) like many of my other points/miles enthusiasts do.

I did however just get the CitiAdvantage World Elite card which offers 100k American AAdvantage Miles after $10k in spend in 3 months.  Utilizing Reloads and Bluebird, I can easily meet this requirement.

What do I do if I don’t have any minimum spend requirements or special bonus opportunities? I usually will just use a card that provides a nice return on a flexible point currency – either Chase Ultimate Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guests Points. Both of these points can be transferred to various other programs (Chase can transfer to United, Hyatt, Marriott or others and SPG can be transferred to a multitude of airlines too – or used to stay at their hotels).

More often than not I find myself using my SPG AmEx to reload my Bluebird.

So, my strategy for Q1/2014 is as follows:

January – SPG AmEx (no promotions, nothing else pressing, just a standard point filling month)
February & March – New CitiAAdvantage World Elite card (to meet minimum spend and bank 100k bonus miles-plus the 10k miles earned from the actual spend)

What will Q2/2014 bring? If nothing new pops up, I will revert back to my SPG AmEx.

Do you use Bluebird? Do you plan out your spend in advance or do you just go with it?