From vet bills to dog food: How to earn points, miles and cash-back rewards on pet expenses – The Points Guy

When maximizing points and miles for your family, there’s no reason to leave the furriest family members out of the fun.

Whether you have a points pup or a first-class feline, there are plenty of ways to turn those monthly orders for food, toys, pet supplies and more into your next vacation (we’re just not responsible for what your pets may do when they see your suitcase come out — again).

THE POINTS GUY

Maximize miles on pet food

One of the best shopping revolutions of the 21st century is having 40-pound bags of pet food delivered right to our doors thanks to online shopping (and strong delivery people). Luckily, when you order pet food and other supplies online, you can easily rack up the rewards just as you do with most other online purchases.

Shop through an online portal

The quickest way to spot how many miles per dollar you can earn for your online pet food order is to head to cashbackmonitor.com and look for the online shopping portal awarding the most points, miles or cash back per dollar where you want to shop. These rates can and do vary, so check each time, but a few current examples include:

  • Petco: 1 mile per dollar spent via American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus
  • Walmart: Up to 4 miles per dollar spent with American AAdvantage
  • Chewy: 1 mile per dollar spent on United MileagePlus, Alaska Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles, American AAdvantage and Southwest Rapid Rewards

Related: Guide to maximizing online shopping portals

Maximize cash back and 0% APR on pet purchases

Daisy Hernandez, TPG’s credit cards editor, makes monthly purchases for her two pups, Sonny, a Shiba-cattle dog mix, and Heidi, a Chihuahua mix. She also has a Chewy subscription that delivers food, flea and tick meds and treats to her door every six or so weeks. Since she has two fur babies, she often buys doubles of certain items, which can add up quickly.

To maximize her pet-related purchases, she’s made it a habit to check current offers on her Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve® cards to earn cash back and points every time she buys something.

On top of this, she also buys through Rakuten, a cash back shopping portal that offers solid reward rates. Over Christmas 2023, Rakuten featured a whopping 20% cash back on all purchases made with PetSmart. Therefore, she bought $80 worth of goodies for her pups and earned $16 in cash back.

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Unfortunately, emergencies can happen with your pets, and if you don’t have pet insurance, these can create massive vet bills. However, credit cards can play an important role here, as many offer introductory 0% APR on purchases for a period of time after opening.

Nick Ewen, TPG’s director of content, recently utilized this exact strategy with his dog, Winston, who underwent emergency surgery to remove a mass on his spleen.

“Winston is a part of our family, so there was no question that we would do everything we could to help him. However, rather than dipping into our savings to cover the expense of the procedure and his recovery (which is expected to be close to $5,000), I utilized my new Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which offers 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months (then a variable APR of 20.49%-29.24% applies). This allows me to fit a manageable monthly payment into my budget, and I’ll still earn valuable rewards in the process.”

Check the United MileagePlus X app

You can earn United miles by purchasing immediate electronic gift cards within the United MileagePlus X app. For example, if you are shopping at Petco and your total is $85.84, you can open up your app and immediately purchase a Petco gift card for that exact amount and earn bonus miles by paying at the register with your new gift card. This also works when paying for an order online.

In addition to Petco, you will often find bonus mile opportunities at pet-friendly shopping destinations such as Walmart, Sam’s Club and more within the app. Those with a United Airlines credit card, such as the United Explorer Card, get a 25% bonus on miles earned via the app.

THE POINTS GUY

Stack and save on Amazon

If you order your pet supplies via Amazon, there are lots of ways to stack earnings and save money. First, set your orders on an Amazon subscribe-and-save subscription for discounts on items like dog or cat food, treats and more.

Next, you’ll want to stock up on Amazon gift cards to truly maximize your earnings. You can buy Amazon gift cards at a U.S. supermarket with an American Express® Gold Card to earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on those purchases (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar thereafter).

Alternatively, you could use the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card to purchase Amazon gift cards at an office supply store to earn 5% cash back (on the first $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year). The Prime Visa card is also an option that offers 5% back on Amazon purchases.

Related: The best credit cards to use for Amazon purchases

Save money on pet supplies

In addition to earning miles or points, your rewards credit cards can help you save money on pet costs. Two main ways to save money thanks to your cards are via Amex Offers and Chase Offers. To check what offers are available on your cards, log in to your account and search the offers sections. To note, some offers are targeted.

Once you have added an offer to your card, you can then use your cards to automatically save money or earn bonus points. The exact pet-related offers come and go, but a current Amex offer includes getting a $45 statement credit when you spend $150 or more at Dr. Marty Pets. Previous offers TPG staffers have seen include:

  • Bark Box: 10% cash back (through Chase Offers)
  • Kriser’s Natural Pet: 10% cash back (through Chase Offers)

Best credit cards for pet costs

The average cost of owning a pet each year can easily cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, from vet visits and boarding to supplies and medication. It pays to use the right credit cards for pet costs. For charges like vet check-ups and grooming appointments that fall outside routine credit card bonus categories, a solid everyday credit card is probably your best choice for pet expenses. A few of our suggestions include:

For online purchases, a great choice might be the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, which awards 3% back on your choice of rotating categories, one of which is online shopping (up to $2,500 per quarter; then 1%).

Bottom line

The TPG Points Pups (or, at least, their “pawrents”) stack many of these opportunities to turn dog treats into beach retreats. Once your pups help earn all these points and miles, it’s only fair to explore how to take them along on your next vacation.

Points Pup on vacation. DANIELLE VITO/THE POINTS GUY

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