With spring well on its way, you may be wondering how you can turn expensive home projects into airline miles, hotel points or cash back. Consider these strategies as you make your summer vacation plans.
Springtime brings green lawns, brightly-colored perennials and all kinds of household chores.
Many homeowners refresh their outdoor spaces to prepare for summer barbecues and warm weather relaxation. Common projects include general organization, of course, but also gritty, backbreaking work like staining and painting decks and fences, power-washing and landscaping.
Each of these projects can be expensive – even if you take on the bulk of the work yourself. The good news is you can leverage some of your extra spending for perks and rewards.
All that’s required is spending intentionally and having a plan in place to take full advantage. Oh, and it helps to have a rewards credit card or two – or at least a willingness to sign up for one.
How to turn your spring projects into a summer getaway
Turn your spending into a big sign-up bonus
While there are crafty ways to score more rewards using credit cards you already have, the most lucrative spring spending strategy is leveraging big upcoming expenses to score a huge sign-up bonus.
Puneet Hans of Virginia, a 64-year-old who hosts a travel-themed Facebook group called “Zig Zag Traveler,” is using this strategy when it comes to sprucing up his home for summer.
Hans signed up for the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard to earn a slush fund of airline miles for a major roof repair and a paint job for the interior of his home. Hans says he is currently doing some yard work and clean-up that will yield him even more airline miles in the coming months.
The end result: Hans is using his growing stash of American AAdvantage miles for two one-way tickets from Richmond, Virginia, to Yerevan, Armenia, this summer, with a stopover in Dublin, Ireland.
See related: Best cards for home improvement
CPA and founder of Money Done Right Logan Allec used a similar strategy a few years ago when he turned spring expenses from some of his rental properties into a big welcome bonus.
Allec used time between tenants to replace some galvanized piping and perform basic upkeep and repairs. The total cost of his project was $2,500, which he put on a Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card he had just applied for.
The card’s offer when he applied was: Spend $2,000 within three months of account opening and earn 125,000 Hilton Honors points. (This offer has since expired.)
“This improvement to my rental property allowed me to qualify for this welcome bonus all in one shot,” he said.
Earn an airline companion pass
Some airlines make it possible to earn a companion pass that lets one person fly for free, though the terms of these offers vary.
Earning the British Airways companion pass requires you to have the British Airways Visa Signature Card and spend $30,000 on it within a calendar year, for example.
To score Alaska Airlines famous companion fare, you must also have one of the airline’s co-branded credit cards, including the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card or Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card. You automatically receive the companion pass on your account anniversary each year from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22).
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most popular options, and you can earn it by completing 110 qualifying one-way flights or earning 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points within a calendar year. The pass is good for the remainder of the year you earn it and the following year.
John Schmoll of Omaha, Nebraska, says he is currently turning a bathroom modeling project into a year full of travel via this pass. Schmoll’s wife Nicole signed up for the personal and business versions of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card and put $16,000 on both cards to earn 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points and the Southwest Companion Pass through the end of 2020.
The couple is also putting an additional $12,000 in remodeling expenses on their Chase Sapphire Reserve card to beef up their balance of Chase Ultimate Rewards. They plan to use their points to take the family to Hawaii on Southwest Airlines once the new routes are available.
Benefit from major component replacements
Spring is perfect for landscaping and cleaning out the garage, but it’s also a time when projects envisioned in winter come together. Projects that are difficult to complete when it’s cold out are popular for early spring – examples include a new driveway, a roof replacement, new windows or even a new HVAC system.
Financial advisor Ryan Inman of San Diego replaced an air conditioner in an out-of-state rental property he owns last spring, just in time for sizzling summer weather. Inman says he shopped around to find a vendor who would let him use a credit card without a fee.
The air conditioning unit wound up costing $4,800, which Inman leveraged to sign up for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. This single purchase pushed him incredibly close to earning the 80,000-point sign-up bonus (spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months). The Inman family plans to use to their points to book airfare to Iceland in 2020. (This bonus offer has since expired.)
See related: Should you use your tax refund to score a sign-up bonus and book a summer trip?
Don’t forget about shopping portals
One final strategy for spring rewards is leaning on shopping portals to get more bang for your buck. If you plan to buy some of your home upgrade materials or landscaping goods online, you can use rewards program shopping portals to earn more points on every purchase you make.
The type of rewards to go after should depend on the programs you use and the rewards cards you have. As an example, the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal frequently offers 2X points or more on purchases made through the portal at popular home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
The American AAdvantage shopping portal also includes home improvement stores like Home Depot and The Container Store while letting you rack up American AAdvantage miles for every purchase you make.
Also remember that, no matter which portal you use, the points you earn are in addition to any rewards you’ll earn by paying with a credit card.