female dentist with assistant curing teeth of patient

A few weeks ago we found out my wife needed four expensive root canals totaling $7,000. Our insurance will only cover half and as a reimbursement meaning, we had to come up with the total amount and pay it all upfront.

If this had happened two or more years ago I would’ve had a total panic attack about coming up with that amount of money. Having more experience with this kind of thing I stopped and thought “how can I take advantage of this expense and use it as an opportunity instead?” Reframing is an important tool for me when I’m about to freak out. 

The Plan

I paused for a moment and in came my stroke of genius: I’d have Anne sign up for a new credit card. I’m sure some of you are puzzled by this but hear me out. Many credit cards offer what’s called a “sign-up bonus” (also referred to as a SUB). I recalled that I had heard the Chase Sapphire Preferred currently has an increased SUB of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Reward (UR) points when you spend $4,000. If you’re new to the world of credit card points this doesn’t mean much but to me, this means $600 back or $750 for travel. Chase Ultimate Reward points are typically worth .01 cents each but having the Chase Sapphire Preferred changes the cashout value to .0125 cents. This may not seem like much but when you’re talking trips that cost thousands of dollars it really adds up. Having Anne use my referral for the card also triggers a bonus of 15,000 for me for referring her (or $150 if I want to cash out the points). Finally, the expense itself will earn 4,000 points as well. 


Signing up for the Sapphire card was just the first layer of my plan to offset the dental work. A month ago Anne had also signed up for the Discover IT card. During the first year of having this card, it works like a double cashback card in its own way. On your anniversary with Discover, they match all of the points you earned during your first year. So we would put $3,000 of the $7,000 on the Discover card and earn a total of 6,000 Discover IT points. Discover IT points do not have a higher cash out at the moment so this is equivalent to $60.

After I add up all of the bonuses and earning points we will have 79,000 Chase UR points and 6,000 Discover IT points. If we do a straight cash out for these points we will have $850. This doesn’t erase the entire expense but it does make it a lot more bearable. 

Signing up for credit cards requires a good credit score and a high level of organization. I do not recommend using them if you don’t have the money to pay off what you charge on them. This is what I consider to be a qualifying event to use our emergency fund to pay back the balances we will accrue for my wife’s procedure. I use credit cards as a tool to leverage my expenses to earn my family free or cheap travel and cash. 

If you’d like to sign up for either card here are my referral links (please note that I will receive a bonus if you use my links):

Chase Sapphire Preferred (SUB amount changes all the time so pay attention when you sign up)

Discover IT

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