Image courtesy United Miles
Like with any cashback-earning debit/credit card, it's important to note that a workaround to points earning is to purchase them, whether out of pocket or with cashback earnings directly. Points purchases are typically best done during promo periods or in more rare cases, in recurring annual subscriptions. Points uses can be maximized in many ways including but not limited to promo periods (1, 2, 3).
Some of the best points purchase options I've seen in recent memory include (point valuations typically at time of deal):
Some of the Best Past Viable Airline Points Limited Time Promos or Subscriptions Near or Below their TPG or other Valuation
In alphabetical order:
Alaskan Air (i.e. when sold for 1.85 cents per point) can be a good option (1.8 cents per point based on TPG valuations)
.42 cents per mile for American Airlines (TPG valuation of 1.68 cents per point) - the points "deal of the decade" some called it, & I agree.
1.1 cents per point for Avianca Lifemiles (TPG valuation of 1.7 cents per point)
1 cents per point for British Airways Avios with ongoing top tier subscription, and with 1:1 transfer ratio, Aer Lingus Avios, Iberia Avios, & Qatar Avios (TPG valuation of 1.5 cents per point)
1.25 cents per point for Etihad (TPG valuation of 1.4 cents per point)
.73 cents per point Finnair Miles (No TPG valuation - US to Europe, Dubai, or Israel can go for 45k in economy or 80k in business 1 way flying Finnair out of NYC, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, or Los Angeles with no fuel surcharges, so <$350 and <$650. On long-haul there's also 1 free stopover.)
1 cents per point for Frontier (TPG valuation of 1.1 cents per point)
Virgin Atlantic (if your account is based in the UK) for 1.09 cents per point when a 70% discount & purchasing with a UK account or 1.48 cents per point with a US based account (TPG valuation 1.5 cents per point)
Keep in mind that points valuations can change over time.
Some of the Best Past Viable Hotel Points Limited Time Promos or Subscriptions Near or Below their TPG or other Valuation
.49 cents per point for Choice Hotels (TPG valuation of .6 cents per point, but be sure to keep clicking on this one rapidly while it lasts because they sold out in under 1 hr in 2023 at a slightly higher cost per point and clicking once during Daily Getaways typically won't yield a purchase due to the system if someone else is looking to purchase at the same time)
.5 cents per point (regularly recurring promo) for Hilton (TPG valuation of .6 cents per point)
1.04 cents per point for Hyatt (TPG valuation of 1.7 cents per point, though very limited in supply so don't count on this one)
.5 cents per point (regularly recurring promo) for IHG (TPG valuation of .5 cents per point)- ideal when combined with the current and legacy annual fee incurring cards for 4th night free on points and stackable 10% rebate on points & used on stays with high-value per point. Using that method I recently got 2/3 off on an 8-night stay I booked.
.781 cents per point for Marriott (TPG valuation of .8 cents per point)
.35 cents per Radisson Reward (TPG valuation of .4 cents per point)
.93 cents per point for Wyndham Rewards (TPG valuation of 1.1 cents per point)
Hertz: Some of the Best Past Viable Car Rental Points Limited Time Promos or Subscriptions Near or Below their TPG or other Valuation
no TPG valuation but easy to get more value than that out of on non-peak dates. A standard reward on points for 1 day is 950 points, so $26.50. There are some additional fees involved, so for a $35/day rental it might not work out positively, but considering that it includes some very nice cars within the same category where I've redeemed for cars that would otherwise be hundreds per day (but not SUVs, vans, adrenaline collection, prestige collection, or specialty vehicles) in the same category even if they are cheaper than the nicer cars)
Keep in mind as well that Hyatt points (see hotel points) can also be used for one day rentals effectively at times, but it's only for 1 day rentals.
Viable Points Purchases with Amtrak
Amtrak is an often neglected points currency, but sometimes their points have been sold for just slightly above the TPG valuation (2.51 vs 2.5 cents per point), with me believing that the TPG points valuation is low (& that it should be closer to 2.8 or 2.9). Also, while typically their points have a low range of value, there is a slight exception in the form of Single Visit Station Lounge Passes (1500 points) when redeemed at Moynihan Trail Hall (especially if a large immediate family of 5+ getting a free meal or 2 at the lounge) since the cost of a day pass there is $50 (vs $37.65 w points purchased at this rate & to purchase a pass it would require a business class or higher fare). The outsized value is even more possible with One Class Upgrade 12 hr Coupons (2500 points). Of note is that the latter of these can provide lounge access if you are upgrading from Acela Business Class to Acela 1st Class. Also these 2500 points upgrades can be worth hundreds of dollars in redemption value. See the "Details of Companion Coupon (potential to save >$400 per coupon)" section of my giveaway article.
Choice Hotels - Examples Maximizing Hotel Points Purchases
.49 cents per point for Choice Hotels (TPG valuation of .6 cents per point but I think that's low and that buying Choice points when that low cost is underrated. I've seen these worth >21 cents per point in 1 example [while no longer in their portfolio, 3 bedroom suite stays in Aspen would go for 6k +$180 vs around $1500 if paid in cash per night] while the same valuation of .6 cents per point on TPG & it's extremely easy to get >.6 cents per point in value on these. For one that comes closer to that than others I've seen, check out multi-bedroom suites at Bluegreen Vacations Big Bear Village, Ascend Resort Collection if you can find availability, which can go for over a thousand per night in snow season itself. That said, the booking window is only 100 days out on points and you're restricted to using them for yourself and family on the reservation unless you're present while non-family stays in the same or separate rooms on the same reservation)