We Just Earned $1,000 For A Few Hours of Work

My wife and I each recently cashed our $500+ cashback checks from Chase Sapphire for a total of just over $1,000 for opening 2 credit cards and just a few hours of work.

In January my wife and I each applied for a Chase Sapphire Credit Card with 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus points promotion after you spent $3,000 on the card in 3 months. Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth $0.01 per point for cash rewards so 50,000 points are worth $500. It easy to request a rewards check via their web site or you can apply the points to travel purchases for further bonuses, but these days we are opting for cash as we don't have near term travel plans.(Note: The Chase Sapphire card is currently offering a 40,000 bonus promotion for new cardholders as of 4/1)

How to Increase Spend for Credit Card Offers
While our monthly expenses are a couple grand per month, its difficult for us to effectively target all our spend on the right credit cards to make sure we meet the spending requirements. We successfully used Amazon Payments to spend $1,000/mo on each credit card in round trip transactions. My wife would transfer $1,000 to me from her credit card and then I would do the same from my credit card. It worked out well with two of us doing it at the same time to effectively pass transfers back and forth. We also used Amazon Payments to help us earn 200,000 British Airways Miles on another credit card promotion for our transatlantic journey late last year.

Does It Damage Our Credit Score?
My wife was initially resistant to the idea as she was concerned about hurting her credit score. It took repeated attempts and a little negotiation on my part to convince her to try it with this rare opportunity. After all I have been taking advantage of credit card balance transfer and promotions for over a decade with no permanent impact to your credit score. Jonathan @ mymoneyblog had a nice summary of effects on credit score.

How Much Time Involved?
Here are some estimates of the time involved in this for each credit card promotion:
-20min to open the credit card online
-10min to perform two $500 transfers on Amazon Payments in Month 1
-10min to enroll account online and setup automatic payments
-10min to perform two $500 transfers on Amazon Payments in Month 2
-10min to perform two $500 transfers on Amazon Payments in Month 3
-30min to cancel the credit card before 1year anniversary to avoid annual fee
So it took about roughly 2 hours worth of work to earn each $500+ bonus, or effectively $250+/hr. I'm thinking this has to be close to some of the easiest money we have ever made or at least at a minimum one of the highest returns for time/life energy we've found.

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Comments (8)

Please let us know if/when you get a 1099 for this reward income and how that impact the net reward.

This strikes me as unethical. I recently signed up for a Chase Inc. no annual fee business card, with a 40,000 point bonus after placing a charge on the card within the first billing cycle. The card pays 5x points for bills from bundled cable and cell phone companies. Between my bundled cable and cell phone plan I charge $400 per month and will use the card exclusively for those charges, racking up 2,000 points per month or 24,000 points per year for those charges alone. In this case Chase benefits and I benefit. I would not have a problem with the machinations you went through to earn your cash back, but I do think it unethical to then cancel the card, without ever having used it in the manner that Chase intended. Shouldn't both parties to a transaction benefit?

I should mention that we put and continue to put charges on these cards as we "try" them out. The cash back checks are rebates from purchases.

I don't see it as unethical since we are using them and trying them out which is why the company is offering the promotion. They are banking that we either get enough value out of them to keep them or are too lazy to cancel them. I factor in the work to cancel them as part of the cost to earn the bonus, but we haven't actually cancelled them yet.

OK then - I interpreted your post. I don't really understand this Amazon payment system. It seemed to me that you were using it to transfer money between your two accounts, with a net effect of no borrowing and I further assumed that you then cancelled the cards immediately based on your last 30 minutes devoted to this project. If you are using the cards for actual purchases that Chase then charges the merchant for, then I don't see anything unethical. Sorry for my misinterpretation.

No worries - it wasn't very clear and I understand the concern. The opportunity was definitely an easy way to earn a cool $1k.

Can I do this as a single guy by myself? Am I just sending $1000/month from my credit card to my checking account and then paying it off right away? Does this not count as a cash advance?

Ha, that's pretty awesome. Why isn't everyone doing this yet? Seems like you can use Amazon Payments to max out pretty much any credit card/FF promotion you like, and this one happens to be particularly good. Thanks for putting this together.

I am not sure they will 1099 but I read amazon now reports payment info, over a threshold, to the IRS. So this would be taxable income. I am sure you could create an expense to cancel it, assuming the standard deduction is not greater, but by not reporting it you risk an audit..

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