You Have to Read This Story About the Guy Who Put a Car on His Credit Card

Photo credit: Upsilon Andromedae, CC BY 2.0.

I am simultaneously impressed and horrified by this MarketWatch story about a man who put a $45,000 car on his credit card:

[Chris Mixter] wanted to put the entire purchase of a 2018 Honda Odyssey minivan on his United MileagePlus Explorer credit card, which he uses for almost every purchase he makes.

The card offers two United miles for every $1 spent on tickets purchased from United and one mile for every $1 spent on everything else. So, Mixter figured, he could get about 45,000 points for the purchase of the car, which would cost $45,000 including its extended warranty.

United miles are currently valued at 1.5 cents per mile, meaning Mixter would get about $675 to spend from the purchase.

Should we even pause to consider that he only got $675 in rewards from his $45,000 purchase? Part of me is thinking “Why didn’t you try to apply for a Chase Sapphire Reserve card? You could have gotten $750 worth of points by spending $4,000 in the first three months!” Mixter admits, in the article, that he didn’t maximize his points as well as he could have—but this is also a good example of exactly what credit card rewards are worth.

(Also, the Chase Sapphire Card has a $450 annual fee—compared to the United MileagePlus Explorer’s $95 fee—so I’d have to do some more math to figure out whether he would have come out ahead.)

The rest of the MarketWatch article details what you have to do to put a $45,000 purchase on your credit card, both from the credit card company’s end and from the car dealership’s end.

It also addresses how Mixter plans to pay the car off:

After panicking a bit, Mixter decided to open three 0% APR balance-transfer credit cards, and he shifted the balance from his United card to those cards. He’ll pay those off before he starts collecting interest on them, he said. He has 14 months when he can pay 0% interest on them.

The “panicking” is because this wasn’t Mixter’s first choice, in terms of methods of payment. But I won’t give the whole article away—read it yourself and then we can discuss whether this guy made a smart financial move, or a risky one.

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