How to Earn Credit Card Bonus Points When You Buy or Refinance a House

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For most people, the single most expensive purchase they will ever make is a home. And since travel-rewards points are typically awarded according to the amount spent, it should come as no surprise that there are opportunities to earn big mileage bonuses when buying a home.

Some are offered by airline or hotel loyalty programs, in partnership with companies offering mortgages, realtor services, or moving. As an example, consider American Airlines' American Home Miles, through which AAdvantage members can earn miles for all aspects of buying and selling a home:

  • 5,000 miles for every $25,000 of a home's value bought or sold through the SIRVA realtor network
  • 1,250 miles for every $10,000 financed through SIRVA Mortgage
  • 5,000 miles for interstate moves by Allied or northAmerican
  • 25,000 bonus miles for using all three services

To put that into perspective, the total earnings for purchasing a $250,000 home, assuming a $200,000 mortgage, selling a $250,000 home, and using one of the moving partners, would be 155,000 miles.

Such rich bonuses aren't restricted to airline programs. There are similarly lucrative promotions from travel-rewards credit cards.

Generally speaking, mortgage payments can't be made with a credit card. Understandably, mortgage issuers simply aren't willing to have their profit margins eroded by the merchant fees associated with accepting credit card payments. But even without earning points for mortgage payments, there are opportunities for credit cardholders to earn points off their mortgages.

As an example, holders of the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can now earn up to 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points for securing a mortgage loan directly from Chase.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth around 1.5 cents apiece, so the 100,000-point bonus is worth $1,500 when redeemed for travel.

This is a limited-time offer; eligible loan applications must be submitted by August 8, 2017.

The Chase bonus is not the first such promotion from a card issuer, and it won't be the last. Capital One recently offered cardholders bonus miles for mortgages, and Wells Fargo offered its cardholders rebates for mortgages and home-equity loans.

With financial giants such as Citi, Bank of America, and Barclaycard also in the business of both mortgage lending and credit cards, it's a safe bet that some of these institutions will follow Chase's lead and use their own loyalty currencies to promote their mortgage services, either as limited-time bonus offers or as longer-term points-earning opportunities. (Disclosure: Citi is an Airfarewatchdog advertiser.)

Whether they come from an airline or a credit-card issuer, such incentives do carry a caveat: A bonus or rebate shouldn't be considered an overriding reason to commit to a mortgage that isn't otherwise the best deal available to you. Mortgages are typically long-term commitments, with profound financial ramifications. They're not to be taken lightly.

On the other hand, if all else is equal and the rewards are the difference-maker, they shouldn't be overlooked. Consider them a housewarming present.

Editor's Note: This content is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the aforementioned entities.

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