Living with credit, Rewards, Shopping, Travel

He put a vehicle on his credit card to get the points

Jeff Herman

Chris Mixter, who put his new Odyssey on his credit card to get 45,000 miles for an upcoming trip, says he’d do things differently now.

“It’s not something I would recommend,” the IT consultant in Virginia now says. “Savvy mileage folks know that it’s more than it’s worth in hassle.”

There’s an easier way to net 50,000, 70,000 or sometimes 100,000 points, Mixter notes. Just open a rewards card and meet the minimum spend to earn that big reward.

Mixter, though, is enjoying the ride of his new vehicle and his 15 weeks or so of fame. “I love it!” he says of the 2018 Honda Odyssey. “It beats driving my 10-year-old Volvo.”

How he did it
Mixter and his wife were at the beach when he suggested “having a little fun” – purchasing a new vehicle and scoring the points to cover a trip to Italy to mark their 10-year anniversary and his 40th birthday. “She just rolled her eyes,” Mixter says.

This wouldn’t be the first time Mixter had used purchases to fund vacations. That’s how they paid for their honeymoon in Aruba and two family trips to Disney World. This, however, would be his biggest purchase to get a points prize.

With his wife’s blessing, if not her enthusiasm for Mixter’s plan, he then set about making his wild idea a reality.

The odyssey of purchasing his Odyssey on plastic involved:

– Finding a dealer who would let him pay for the vehicle with his United MileagePlus Explorer card (the fifth dealer he called agreed to let him charge all of the purchase price).

“I think they were willing because it was a 2018 car, and I wasn’t getting any discounts,” Mixter told Maria LaMagna for a MarketWatch story. The dealership also didn’t charge Mixter any additional fee for using a credit card, he said.

– Getting Chase to bump up his credit limit to allow him to charge that amount.

As Mixter discovered, it pays to ask. In fact, 89 percent of credit cardholders who asked for a higher limit ended up receiving one, a 2017 CreditCards.com survey found.

– Opening three 0 percent balance transfer cards to give him 14 months to pay off that $45,000 price tag before he starts paying interest. (The United MileagePlus Explorer card has a variable APR of 16.99-23.99 percent, depending on credit score.)

After Mixter put the Odyssey on his card, he realized he didn’t have the money on hand to cover that nut. He had sought but was unable to get a 0 percent loan from banks. The banks told him to get a loan from the dealership, but the dealer said he couldn’t do that because he charged the car price.

The balance transfer cards give Mixter breathing room to pay off the Odyssey’s cost. With most balance transfer cards, there is a balance transfer fee of 3 to 5 percent of the amount transferred. The IT consultant is confident he’ll pay off the balances transferred before he would start paying interest.

Lessons learned
The whole process of charging the cost of the vehicle and then scrambling to come up with a new payment plan has Mixter rethinking how he’ll use credit cards going forward – and thinking back at how his father used credit cards.

“My father paid for my college tuition with his Discover card,” Mixter says. Cash back the father earned paid for his son’s textbooks, Mixter says.

As a result, Mixter says he might “switch everything over to cash back.” With cash back, the rewards are more immediate.

Another thing Mixter has realized? “Having a good credit score is worth its weight in gold,” he says.

Charging the new vehicle’s price hasn’t torpedoed his credit, though.

“When I bought the Odyssey, my credit score was 820. I just checked, and my score is 780,” he says. “That’s a pretty minor ding.”

For now, Mixter is a hero at the office for the points haul he earned by charging his vehicle. He jokes that his co-workers are the kind of people who will fly somewhere – anywhere – as a year ends to keep their status in airline frequent-flyer programs.

His wild ideas to rake in points by putting big purchases on his credit cards draw fewer cheers at home. “My wife indulges my hobby,” Mixter says.

Has anything changed after he put a new vehicle on his charge card? “All my spending authority has been revoked by my spouse,” he says.

I want to tell your credit card success stories
If you have a credit card success story, email me at jeff.herman@creditcards.com or tweet me your tips at @HermanJeff. I want to share your stories, like I did Mixter’s odyssey of putting his Odyssey on his card. 

Maybe you saved a bundle after that car rental crash because of your credit card’s insurance, you paid for your trip to Antarctica with points, or you named your daughter Sapphire and Chase awarded you 100,000 points (hey, that would be a heck of a story, wouldn’t it?).

See related: Buying a car with a credit card is often an uphill fight, Buying a car? Don’t fall for the Patriot Act credit check scam

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