Don’t Go Camp Shopping Without Reading This First

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This picture was taken in 2011, the first year that my kids went to sleep away camp. This summer will be their 6th. We have done a lot of camp shopping over the years!

CAMP SHOPPING LIST

SUNSCREEN, BUG SPRAY, WATER BOTTLES, COOLERS, LUNCH BOXES, GOGGLES, TOWELS, BATTERIES, SPORTS EQUIPMENT…….

The list goes on and on noting what many of us must purchase each summer for camp.  Regardless if it’s sleep away camp, day camp, a specialized sports camp, or the local town or preschool camp, the months leading up to camp are filled with numerous trips to various stores and large outlays of $$$.  Think about where and how often you go camp shopping.

I know that the Target run is easy and convenient.  Believe me, I have done it in the past.  However, in my never-ending quest to accumulate more points and miles, (AS LONG AS THE PRICES ARE COMPARABLE) I try to strategize my camp shopping.

My methods are a lot more lucrative than the Target run, and even easier at times.  I often camp shop in the comfort of my own home using shopping portals and Amazon.  In other instances, my methods may require shopping in specific stores like supermarkets, drugstores and office supply stores.  In either case, I am keenly aware of what rewards I am trying to accumulate and how much I am earning as I shop.

Let’s first look at shopping portals.  Many loyalty programs have online shopping portals that offer a greater than 1:1 ratio of rewards to $1 spent.  The ratios are unique to each retailer.  For example, if you are a Chase Ultimate Rewards member, you can shop through the Ultimate Rewards site.  One place you can shop for camp sundries is Drugstore.com.  Currently you earn 4 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent for all of your Drugstore.com purchases.  On the other hand, if you go to Target for these same purchases and use most Chase cards, you will only earn 1 point per $1 spent.

Will your kids be going hiking or camping this summer at camp?  If so, they will likely need some gear.  Why not shop at Campmor through the Marriott Rewards site and earn 5 Marriott Rewards per $1 spent instead of just 1 point shopping at a store?

What about electronics, like headphones or portable speakers, that they may need for their bunk?  Shopping through United MileagePlus at Bose will earn you 2 United MileagePlus miles per $1 spent, rather than the one mile you earn store purchasing.

Please note, the above examples represent just a sampling of the portals, and only a few ideas of what you can purchase through them.  It may be worth your while to take a minute to think about the following:  1. what you need for camp and 2. what rewards you would like to accumulate as you spend.  You can then research whether that loyalty program has a shopping portal that offers what you need.  You can access a list of shopping portal links here on my site.  Keep in mind, you need to be a member of the loyalty program to use their shopping portal.

Moving on to Amazon…  many cards that you pay with on Amazon yield a 1:1 reward to $1 ratio.  However, if you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can earn 2x points on your Amazon purchases until July 31, 2016.   To enroll in the offer, you should login to your American Express account and check the offers at the bottom of the page.  I have been buying a ton of stuff on Amazon for camp (and not for camp), and have been racking in those Amex points.

If you prefer to shop in stores, you can also maximize rewards.  Certain cards offer bonus rewards at specific retailers.  However, I want to emphasize, that if you are partial to certain cards or rewards programs, continue using those cards.  The following suggestions are merely to inform you that earning extra rewards is an option.  You don’t want to wind up with a bunch of little balances containing different points/miles that you can’t use for anything.  It’s better to build up a big pot of the same rewards even if you are earning at a 1:1 ratio.

So on that note, lets assume you want to accumulate American Express Membership Rewards points, consider using one of these cards for camp sundries at a supermarket:

American Express Premier Rewards Gold card-2x points per $1 spent

American Express Everyday Credit Card-2x points per $1 spent

Amex Everyday Preferred card-3x points per $1 spent

Maybe you want to bulk up your Hilton HHonors points balance.  If you have certain Hilton HHonors cards, think about shopping for some camp items at a drug store or supermarket.  Let’s look at some of the cards:

Cards That Earn Bonus Hilton HHonors Points At Drugstores 

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card-3x points per $1 spent

Cards That Earn Bonus Hilton HHonors Points At Supermarkets

Hilton HHonors American Express-5x points per $1 spent

Hilton HHonors American Express Surpass-6x points per $1 spent

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card-3x points per $1 spent

Some other cards that offer bonus points at supermarkets that you may consider if you are in the market for IHG Rewards points or TrueBlue points are as follows:

Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card-2x points per $1 spent

Barclays Bank JetBlue cards-2x points per $1 spent

Knowing that camp shopping was going to be the topic of my next post, I actually went and did some field research at Staples.  I walked up and down the aisles and noted items that you may need for camp.  These items included water bottles, pens for writing letters, sharpies for labeling, stationary holders, fans, headphones, speakers and batteries.

Some business cards offer bonus points for shopping at Staples (aka an office supply store).  If you have one of the following business cards, and wish to accumulate the rewards attached to the card, consider buying some of your camp necessities at Staples.

Chase Ink Plus5X Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent at office supply stores

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card-2x Marriott Rewards points per $1 spent

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card-2x United MileagePlus miles per $1 spent.

Barclays Bank JetBlue Plus MasterCard-2x JetBlue TrueBlue points per $1 spent

Once again, I am only giving you ideas as to how to earn extra rewards.  Think about your individual spending habits and what your goals are in order to maximize your rewards.  You may love your cash back card, or you may consistently use a card that offers extra rewards on all purchases.  If this is the case, then Target may indeed be the best place for you.  It isn’t for me.  Please remind me of this post if you see me shopping there with 10 bottles of sunscreen in my cart.  :-)