Scare up rewards miles, cash back on Halloween expenses

Summer Hull
Personal Finance Writer
Summer Hull writes the weekly "Get to the Points" column for

Get to the Points

My daughters are currently 2 and 7 years old, making Halloween a much-anticipated event in our house.

In fact, both daughters have already picked out and ordered their Halloween costumes, since they were both dead set on one particular style that we didn’t want to see sell out. While these Pottery Barn Kids “Woodland Fox” and “Toddler Super Girl” costumes were splurges that will almost certainly tick us over the approximately $83 per family national average in Halloween spending, they are just the beginning of a long line of holiday-related purchases that will earn my family thousands of miles and points we will use for future vacations.

In fact, I think that Halloween is not only a super fun day for families in its own rite, but it is also the perfect time to hone your miles- and points-earning strategies so you are prepared when the really expensive winter holidays roll around.

Even if your own personal Halloween spending doesn’t put much of a dent in country’s annual $8.4 billion spend on Halloween costumes and candy, these tips will hold up beyond even after the October’s tricks and treats are through.

Earn airline miles on online costume orders and more
This isn’t a new ‘trick,’ but it is one that can be easily forgotten or skipped in the rush to get purchases checked off your to-do lists. However, once you get in the habit of checking out what’s available via an airline or reward card’s online shopping portal before going to your usual online shopping outlets, you’ll be glad you did.

Before I purchased my girls’ Halloween costumes online from Pottery Barn Kids, I first visited to see which online shopping portal was offering the best payout at that particular online store. The winner for this purchase was the British Airways’ eStore, which was awarding 4 points per dollar spent. This means that a $100 purchase would rack up 400 British Airways points plus whatever points you earn by paying with a rewards credit card of choice.

Sometimes the payouts you find can go as high as 10 to 20 miles per dollar, so while 400 British Airways Avios aren’t going to be life-altering by themselves, getting in the habit of making all of your online purchases in this manner will likely result in thousands or tens of thousands of ‘free’ miles earned over the course of a year.

In addition to Pottery Barn Kids, some popular Halloween retailers you will find in lots of the airline and other online shopping portals, such as  Southwest Rapid Rewards ShoppingUnited MileagePlus Shopping and Shop With Chase, include: Target, Walmart, Costume Super Center, and to a lesser extent, Spirit Halloween.

Earn bonus points on in-store candy purchases
Earning miles or cash back for Halloween supplies isn’t limited to online purchases with your rewards cards as there are lots of ways to earn bonus points or extra cash back in stores, too. One easy way to accomplish this is to simply use a credit card that earns a category bonus where you plan to shop.

For example, if you want to purchase Halloween candy (along with your everyday items) at a grocery store, then pay for those items with a rewards credit card that pays out a bonus at grocery stores, such as the AmEx Everyday card or the AmEx Blue Cash Preferred card.*

I earn 3 Amex Membership Reward points per dollar spent at grocery stores (up to the first $6,000 annually) with my AmEx EveryDay Preferred card,* and then I get an additional 50 percent bonus on all of those points earned that month if I have 30 transactions in my billing cycle. This means I can earn 4.5x fully transferable Membership Reward points on every dollar I spend on Halloween candy and more at the grocery store!

Don’t forget to set price alerts
Finally, seasonal items such as Halloween costumes and decor frequently go on sale rather quickly, or at least by the time Nov. 1 arrives. An easy and effective way to save money while still earning miles and points is to pay for these purchases with a Citibank credit card such as the Citi ThankYou Premier card and then register your purchase with the online Citi Price Rewind tracker. As long as you register your purchase within 60 days, the tracker will hunt online for a lower price for those 60 days. If a lower price is found in that time frame, then you can get an automatic statement credit on your Citi credit card for the difference.

These are three of the core money saving and miles and points earning strategies we use for our own Halloween purchases and beyond!

*The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers.

See related: Tips for football fans on maximizing hotel rewards points

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Updated: 01-23-2019