2017 Rewards in Review

By budgeting $66.50/month for travel…our monthly vacation budget became worth $497.48/month.

Annual Fees

In 2017, we spent almost $800 on annual fees for five credit cards. That number may seem staggering, but we used the rewards associated with those cards to redeem nearly $6,000 in travel! Often times, cards that carry an annual fee also carry several benefits that, when used appropriately, can make for quite the lucrative hobby. By budgeting $66.50/month for travel (used entirely on annual fees), our monthly vacation budget became worth $497.48/month thanks to the reward redemption and associated benefits.

spend by card pie
Note: The annual fees associated with the Alaska Air and Citi HHonors credit cards were paid in 2016, but some of the rewards were redeemed in 2017.

Return on Investment

We tracked every dollar spent and earned through this process using Mint, and as you will see from the charts, we netted $5,171.78 in 2017. The largest return was from our AMEX Platinum Card which originated a whopping 36 redemption this year; but that’s no surprise when you consider the list of benefits. A close second was the return from our combined Alaska Cards where we not only used companion fares, but redeemed miles as well.

Note: Our trip to Tokyo that we took last April was funded in 2016 using points so those are not reflected in the analysis above.

Trip Summary

Here’s a look at some of the ways we put these points to work:

Three Trips to Las Vegas
Tokyo, Japan
Hyatt Olive 8 – Seattle
A Private Island – New Jersey
New Year’s at the Needle – Seattle
50 Free Uber Rides
Victoria, British Columbia – 2018
Peoria, AZ – MLB Spring Training – 2018
South Beach – Miami – 2018

Where will you go in 2018?

No matter how you plan it, you’re sure to come out ahead when you strategically manage your point and mile redemption. Use signup bonuses to skyrocket you to a top-level redemption, and ensure you’re using the correct cards on your daily spending so you never miss out on a point – don’t be afraid to label your cards to keep yourself organized!

Happy New Year!