Along with many others in 2020, I adopted a rescue dog. If I was going to be stuck quarantining at home alone, I wanted to have some company. What I didn’t realize was how expensive these fur babies can be. Luckily I was able to find a way to lessen the sticker shock – by stacking points and miles.

Nova Melted My Heart…And Almost Broke My Wallet

I’d never owned a dog before and didn’t have one growing up. While I was always the dedicated neighborhood dog sitter, I’d never stopped to realize just how much they cost! But, just look at her – she’s so cute! How could you NOT want to get her toys, high quality food and treats – not to mention monthly spa days, right?

When I picked Nova up from Chicago PAWS – an amazing no-kill shelter – she came with a few essentials. A toy or two, a crate and some starter food. I knew I needed a better leash, a bed, some training treats and a proper nametag. How convenient that there was a Petco located directly across the street?

Well, I think I dropped at least $300 on that first trip. Putting it on a credit card, I realized quickly that I was going to need to figure out how to maximize this new recurring monthly expenditure to help lessen the hit my wallet would be taking. Friends had recommended shopping at Chewy.com, but it didn’t take long for me to find the strategy that worked best for me.

Stacking Points & Miles with Shopping Portals

When I first adopted Nova, I had planned to take about 6 weeks off from traveling – due to a work project requiring me to be home (prior to launch). At the time I was fully expecting to hit the skies again, and didn’t realize that I’d be earning almost all my 2020 miles on the ground through shopping and not flying.

None of the cards in my wallet had any bonus categories for pet stores and the dog food selection at my local grocery store was non-existent. That meant that I was more than likely going to put this spend on a Capital One Quicksilver card, taking advantage of the 1.5% cashback offer.

That’s when I remembered to check out the various shopping portals. As a loyal (and at that time frequent) United Airlines Premier 1k member, their MileagePlus portal was the first I visited. Success! They had a 1 mile/$ offer. I also checked out the American Airlines AAdvantage Shopping Portal and saw that they were offering a 2 miles/$ offer. Even better! I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that all this spend would at least get me some miles.

But Wait…It Gets Better

I didn’t really want to earn on American Airlines. Mainly because I’d lost my Executive Platinum status and figured miles on an airline I had status with would be far better. Even if I was giving up 1 mile/$. That’s when I then went to check out United’s MileagePlusX app. Already a frequent user, earning a ton of miles from everyday spend at Starbucks, Chipotle, Domino’s etc – I was super stoked to see Petco gift cards earn 5 miles/$!!

Yes – gift cards. If you’re familiar with stacking points and miles, you know the power of buying gift cards. So, that set my strategy for the rest of the year. I’d load up on plenty of Petco gift cards to use them in person for grooming appointments and to purchase food/supplies online. So as to stack with the shopping portal. Now I’d be earning 6 miles/$ (and occasionally 7 miles/$ when they offered an additional shopping portal promo).

I did earn a few AA miles from some smaller purchases just to top off my balance so I could purchase a friend an award ticket when they had to travel for a family emergency. Other than that I kept my earning to United. Also, I used my pet spend to help me hit promos for both AA and United’s shopping portals, earning me 500 and 1,000 bonus miles respectfully.

Stacking Points & Programs

The best part? Petco offers a loyalty program too! Petco Pals Rewards awards you certificates in $5 increments based on your spend. On average I earn minimum of $5/ month which helps cover the price of tipping for when Nova gets groomed. They also offer occasional promos where you get bonus points to help you get those $5 awards quicker. With one specific 5x bonus promotion in August, I actually earned $25 in Petco Rewards. The staff at my local Petco couldn’t believe it!

While I would do anything for Nova (and spend whatever necessary) it was a bit difficult this summer after I was laid off from my job in June. I was trying to be conscious of spending while also ensuring I provided for my pup. While I still don’t love how much I spend on her, it’s a bit less painful when I look back and realize I earned 13,000+ miles on United and about 700 miles on American!

What’s your go to strategy to maximize how many points and miles you can earn from monthly pet expenses?

The post How My Dog Earned Me 13,490 United MileagePlus Miles in 2020 was first published on Coworkaholic.

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