Posted by Chuck on August 18, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on August 18th, 2016 | by Chuck

15

How to Calculate your $50k Annual Spend on INK and OBC

Calculating your Spend

The INK Plus card from Chase offer 5x rewards on up to $50,000 of purchases made on utilities and at office supply stores. Other INK varieties offer the same reward level on up to $25,000. And the Amex Old Blue Cash (OBC) card offers 5% cash back on drugstore, grocery, and gas purchases up to $50,00 per year.

Both INK and OBC reset the $50k limit based on cardmember anniversary, not based on the calendar year.

Let’s take a look at how to check your bonus spend totals so that you’ll know how much bonus bandwidth remains for the year.

Chase INK

On the Chase INK cards, it’s fairly straightforward to see your totals:

Select ‘Go to Ultimate Rewards’ from your Chase login.

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Now select ‘More Ways to Earn.’

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Now you’ll see all your totals, including the total 4x bonus rewards earned during the current cardmember year. Divide by four to get your total bonus spend. Note that this number only goes up at statement close so you’ll have to add the recent activity to get the true total.

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In my case, I’ve earned 96,332, which means I spent $24,083 in bonused spend. I have $25,917 remaining until my card anniversary reset.

Use a similar approach to calculate the 2x gas station category on INK which also has a $50k cap.

Amex OBC

On OBC it’s a trickier to calculate the spend. There are a few methods to use, none being perfect.

Your OBC annual spend is based on twelve statement cycles from card opening, not the exact anniversary date. For more information on how Amex calculates the date of the reset, see Old Blue Cash: Calculating the Annual $6,500 Reset.

Now that you have the dates of your cardmember year, find the point where you crossed over the $6500 threshold. Then, we have to add up all bonus spend done from that date until today. (Most data points indicate that the initial $6500 does NOT use up bandwidth from the $50k limit.)

If you only use the card for bonused spend…

If all spend on the card is exclusively bonus spend, it’s easy to see your totals. There are a couple of ways to do this, the easiest being to look at the rewards information on your paper (or paperless) statement. Toward the end of the statement, it will break down your rewards and tell you your total annual spend, an all-inclusive figure of spend done in the current cardmember year.

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Note that this data is always one billing statement behind (e.g. on your August statement, you’ll see data of everything through your July statement), so you’ll have to add the 5% spend done on the most recent statement, plus the 5% spend done on your un-billed recent activity to reach your true total.

Now deduct $6500, as noted above, and you’ll have your total.

If you use the card for other stuff…

If you have other spend mixed in, using the printed statement or the internal Amex filters won’t do the trick. In this case, the easiest way to calculate your total is by downloading the transaction history and filtering it in a spreadsheet.

I just did this myself, and it was simpler than I had anticipated.

  1. First, within the Amex login, filter the activity to the dates of your cardmember year.
  2. Next, click Download (top-right); choose the All Transactions option; choose MS Excel or CVS, as you prefer.
  3. Open the spreadsheet and add a spreadsheet filter to the Description column. (In Google Sheets this is accomplished by highlighting the Description column, then Data > Filter.)
  4. Go through the transactions one-by-one and remove any non-bonus merchant. This step just took me a minute.

Now, just add up the Amount column and you’ll have your total.

In my case, I’m eleven months into the cardmember year and my total is:

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 8.50.56 PM

Doesn’t look like I’ll be getting to $50,000. 🙁

If you don’t want to go the spreadsheet route…

If you don’t want or know how to use spreadsheets, here are a few things that might help calculate your total:

  • Toward the end of each statement it breaks down the rewards of the previous month; e.g. on your August statement it shows the rewards of the June-July statement month.
  • Poke around in the Trend Summary and – depending on various factors – it might help you get a ballpark estimate.
  • If all the 5% spend is done on the primary card, filter out all AU transactions within the Amex login.

Hat tip to Freequentflyer for some of this info.



15 Responses to How to Calculate your $50k Annual Spend on INK and OBC

  1. Steve says:

    Chuck – Do you know if the 6K limit on blue cash preferred is based on card anniversary or calendar year?

  2. Jeremy says:

    What about the amount listed at the bottom of the statement (for OBC)?

  3. Greg Z says:

    Yeah, like Jeremy says, my OBC statement has a Total Qualified Spend This Reward Year in the Base Reward Dollars table on page 5. This is the same thing, right?

    • Chuck says:

      That figure is total spend – it includes non-bonus spend as well.

      Works if you only use the card for bonused spend (although it’s a month behind), but won’t help filtering out non-bonus spend.

  4. Radster says:

    You forgot to mention the need to filter out the initial $6,500 qualifying spend on the OBC.

    The most accurate way to track your total for the year is to sum up the 5% “Qualified Spend” amounts for each month as provided at the end of each statement. Just remember that the summary applies to the previous month.

    • Chuck says:

      True, I did forget to mention that. Let me add that.

      We mentioned the idea of adding up the statements, but it is quite laborious IMO since you have to download all the statements and add up 3 figures from each.

  5. barrytuneup says:

    didn’t know Ink give 5% on utilities. Did I miss this all these years?

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