Ever heard of a “credit card triple dip?” While it might take on several meanings, the one I’m referring to takes advantage of calendar-year benefits.
What Is a Credit Card Triple Dip?
In a nutshell, you can get up to three calendar year benefits while paying only a single annual fee.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a $300 annual travel credit. It’s possible to get this credit three times, for a value of $900 total, all while paying only one annual fee of $450.
The same is true of the $250 annual airline credit with Citi Prestige, which gives you a $250 credit per calendar year for all airline-related purchases, including airfare.
With Prestige, it’s possible to get $750 in credits while paying just one $450 annual fee.
There’s also the $200 airline credit with Amex Platinum, which can be triple dipped for a total value of $600, more than offsetting the $450 annual fee.
In all these instances, you can come out ahead, despite the massive annual fee tied to these prestigious credit cards.
You’ve only got a few more days left to pull this off. It might even be possible to still do this if you apply for a card today, assuming you can get a card expedited to you. We’re talking overnight shipping (or two-day) to ensure you can get the card, activate it, and make a charge to trigger the credit.
In fact, this would be ideal timing because it would allow you to get three credits without the second annual fee being charged. And even if it were charged, you’d likely have a 30-day grace period to get it refunded.
This might work for Amex Platinum, whose credit resets on January 1st, but not Citi Prestige and Chase Reserve, which reset after your December statement date.
My Chase Reserve December statement date was on December 23rd, so I’m now actually earning the $300 travel credit for 2017. In fact, I’ve already burnt through about $100 of it and it’s still December 2016.
I could potentially use all of 2017’s credit before it’s actually 2017. Weird.
The Credit Card Double Dip
Even if you aren’t able to pull off the triple dip, you can still easily do a double dip no matter when you apply for the aforementioned credit cards.
I mentioned this in a post about the Citi Prestige, where you can earn $500 to offset the $450 annual fee. It’s pretty easy. Just spend $250 in one calendar year and another $250 in the subsequent calendar year, before the annual fee is charged again.
This is perhaps easiest when you apply for a card late in the year. For example, if you get approved for one of these cards in say November, you can get the credit, then get the second credit a couple of months later, then enjoy the card until the annual fee comes up 9-10 months later.
At that point you can cancel the card and move on to something else.
As a result, I’m able to double dip in December 2016 (right this second) for my second $300 annual travel credit.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to triple dip because my annual fee will hit several months before 2017 ends.
Had I waited until late November or early December, it would have been feasible to triple dip, but all is not lost.
Some credit cards pro-rate the annual fee, so even if you let a few months go by, you can still triple dip and come out ahead.
Making Money By Paying Two Annual Fees
Take the Citi Prestige card…if you opened the card in November 2016 and got the $250 airline credit, you could get it again anytime in 2017. Then you’d be hit with the annual fee in November.
You could then get the airline credit again (a third time) in January 2018 and then cancel the card and receive a prorated refund.
If they only charge you for two months, you’d get $375 back. So even though you paid the annual fee a second time, you’d only pay $75 of it on the second go-around.
And if you got the $250 airline credit, you’d come out $175 ahead.
First annual fee: $450
Second annual: $75 ($375 refunded)
Three airline credits: $750 (credit)
Total: $225 in credits
So you could potentially triple dip and come out $225 ahead with Citi Prestige, even while paying two annual fees (one partial). In fact, it’d maybe in your interest if you applied late in the year to keep it and pay the second annual fee if you had an airline purchase that could trigger the credit.
The same isn’t true with other cards because they charge you the annual fee in full. They don’t pro-rate it. However, some credit card annual fees can be refunded with a grace period, such as 30 or 60 days.
This makes it possible to triple dip, even if you go over your time allotment and get charged a second annual fee.
But before you try to pull off a triple dip, do your homework and time it accordingly to avoid any mishaps. If you do mess up, you can always plead with the card issuer to offer a good faith refund.
Just make sure you use the card naturally, otherwise they might not want to do business with you in the future.