Category Archive for 'Credit Cards'

Small Business Saturday FAQs: Your Questions Answered

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Just 4 days left until Small Business Saturday! Now is the last chance to apply for new primary or additional user cards, just be sure to call and request that they be expedited!

Happy shopping!

Originally posted on 11/17:

Related SBS posts:
-Are You Ready For Small Business Saturday? Where Will You Be Shopping? Plus A Roundup Of Fees For Additional User Cards.
-Get A Free Small Business Saturday Welcome Mat, Tote Bags, And Stickers For Your Business
-AMEX Small Business Saturday Will Return 11/29/14; 3x Better Than The 2013 Version!
-Small Business Saturday Registration Now Open!

Related credit card FAQ post:
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Q: What is Small Business Saturday and who is paying for it?
A: For the past 5 years on the Saturday after Black Friday AMEX has sponsored SBS. Every year the promo varies but this year you can use your card at a small business in the USA, up to 3 times for $10 or more per swipe, and you will be refunded the money by AMEX.  You must spend at least $10 per transaction to receive a refund.  You can make 3 swipes for every card that you have.

SBS is paid for by American Express and other corporate sponsors. Merchants get paid the full amount for purchases.

Q: How can AMEX afford to do this?
A: Even if 500,000 cards participate and maximize the promo, it only costs $15 million.  That’s a tiny drop in the bucket for a company worth $100 billion and SBS creates tons of positive PR for the company.  Additionally there are other corporate sponsors of SBS.

It also gets more costumers asking merchants to accept AMEX so that they can use their cards on SBS.

Q: How long does the refund take?
A: Typically it posts within a few days. Sometimes it falls in between the cracks and the refund can take up to 90 days per the terms.

Q: Can I use my American Express consumer card ?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I use my American Express business card ?
A: If it says business, yes.

Q: Can I use my American Express corporate card ?
A: If it says corporate, no.

Q: Can I use my American Express prepaid card ?
A: If it says Serve or Bluebird, yes.
If it says anything else, no.

Q: Can I use my American Express card if it’s issued by Citibank, Macy’s, or another bank?
A: Yes. However if the refund doesn’t process automatically for any reason it will be very tough to have it honored. Whereas cards that are actually issued by AMEX will be easy to get a manual refund on.

Q: Can I use primary and secondary cards from the same account?
A: If your cards have different accounts numbers on them, yes.
If your cards have the same accounts numbers on them, no.

It’s fairly simple, all AMEX issued secondary cards have their own account numbers and do qualify.  Secondary Bluebird and Serve cards also have their own account numbers and do qualify.
Secondary AMEX cards issued by other banks like Citi and Macy’s have the same account numbers, and therefore don’t qualify.

Q: How many secondary cards can I have?
A: Officially up to 99, but trying to add 99 cards to your account is a red flag and can trigger a financial review where you must submit your tax returns or else your accounts will be shut down.  Some people have been shut down adding fake names as secondary users on their account.

Serve and Bluebird cards allow a max of 4 secondary users per account.

Q: How many secondary cards can I add safely?
A: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. YMMV.

Q: Do I need to give a social to add an additional user?
A: To add it online, yes.
To add it over the phone you can say that you don’t have the information handy and most reps will allow you to open it.

Q: Can you add yourself as a secondary user on your own account?
A: Yes.

Q: What are the credit effects of secondary user cards?
A: The credit of the secondary user won’t affect the primary user.  However the secondary user can be affected positively or negatively by the account that they are added to, based on how the primary card is utilized.  Even if you don’t provide a social security number the credit bureaus may be able to link an account to one’s credit report.  You can always close a secondary card and have it removed from a report if desired.

Q: How old does an additional user have to be?
A: 15.

Q: Do you need to activate your additional user cards to use them?
A: Generally speaking, no.  However Serve and Bluebird cards do need to be activated.

Q: Do you need to add funds to your Serve and Bluebird cards to make purchases on SBS?
A: Prepaid cards need funds to make purchases.

Q: Where do I register for Small Business Saturday?
A: Here

Q: Is there any way to not have to manually fill out the form each time.
A: I used Autofill Forms for Firefox and it worked like a charm. You can create profiles of each of your users so that with one click it will fill in the name and email addresses.

Q: How do I know if I’m registered?
A: You should get an email confirmation.  You can also login to your AMEX account and look under “AMEX Offers for you” to check for confirmation in the “My Offers” tab.

Q: Will registration fill up?
A: Most years it doesn’t, but it did fill up completely on at least one occasion, so don’t procrastinate.

Q: Can I swipe 3 times in the same business?
A: Yes.
Depending on the processor used by the business, duplicate transaction of $10 may not be approved. If a duplicate $10 charge is rejected just try it again for $10.01 before resorting to calling the number on the back of the card.

Q: Can I make purchases online?
A: No.

Q: Do I need to swipe the card or can it be keyed in?
A: It can be keyed in or swiped.

Q: How do I know which businesses qualify?
A: The easiest way to know is if a business is on the small business map.

However just because a business isn’t on the map doesn’t mean it won’t work. As long as the business isn’t part of a major chain or processing mega sums of money it will still work. I’ve used it at stores not on the map in the past without issue, but realize there’s no guarantee.

Q: Will charities qualify?
A: If they’re on the map, sure.
If they’re not on the map, they will probably work anyway, but there’s no guarantee.

Q: Will I get an immediate email confirmation after swiping my card?
A: Technically you should. If you do then you’re good to go.
However often times AMEX gets backed up and doesn’t send out a confirmation, so don’t sweat it if you don’t get a confirmation email.

Q: Can I still add an additional user card for SBS.
A: Yes, turnaround time is about a week.

Q: Can I still participate if I don’t have an AMEX yet?
A: Sure.  You can apply for a card now and request for it to be sent to you overnight.  You can also apply for additional user cards at the time of the application.

Sample Consumer cards include:

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (10K Starpoints for spending $1 plus another 15K bonus Starpoints for spending $5K in 6 months. 25% point bonus for transfers to airlines in 20K increments. $65 annual fee waived for first year. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express (10K AMEX MR points plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months.  20% point bonus for making 20 transactions per month for an effective 2.4 points per dollar on groceries and Uber and 1.2 points per dollar elsewhere. No annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express (15K AMEX MR points plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months.  50% point bonus for making 30 transactions per month for an effective 4.5 points per dollar on groceries, 3 points per dollar on gas and Uber and 1.5 points per dollar elsewhere. $95 annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25K AMEX MR points for spending $2,000 in 3 months. 3 points per dollar on airfare and 2 points per dollar on gas and groceries. $175 annual fee waived for first year. 5 free additional cardholders are free, 6+ additional cards cost $35/year each.)
-Platinum Card® from American Express (40K AMEX MR points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. Free Starwood gold elite status for discounted paid and award stays. Free Centurion lounge access, Delta lounge access, Airspace lounge access, and Priority Club lounge access. $200 cash back in airline fee refunds per calendar year ($400 cash back in refunds during first cardmembership year). Free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.  Free insurance for any items bought on credit card and lost within 90 days. No foreign exchange fees. $450 annual fee. 3 additional cardholders for a flat $175 fee ($58.33/year each) which includes full lounge access and free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership. 4+ additional cards cost $175/year each)
-Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (30K Delta miles for spending $1,000 in 3 months. $50 cash back for making a purchase with Delta within 3 months. No foreign exchange fees. $95 annual fee waived for first year. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express ($50 cash back plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months. 3% cash back on groceries, 2% cash back on gas and department stores, no annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ($100 cash back plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months. 6% cash back on groceries, 3% cash back on gas and department stores, $75 annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express (3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back on travel and restaurants, no annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Chase United Mall Lounges Are Back

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Update: The mall lounges are now open.
Please write about your experience if you check one out or if you trade toys for airport club passes!

Originally posted on 11/11.
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For the holiday season Chase United cardholders can access lounges while shopping in malls in S. Francisco and Short Hills, NJ.

-NJ location: The Mall at Short Hills, located on the first floor next to Macy’s and adjacent to Guest Services. November 22 – December 24, 11:00 am until mall closing.
-SF location: The Westfield San Francisco Centre, Dome level near Bloomingdale’s. November 24 – December 24, 11:00 am until mall closing.

-The VIP Lounge is open to all Chase United Credit Card members and features complimentary gift-wrapping, coat and bag check, and snacks and beverages, including fresh baked goods, packaged snacks, soda, bottled water, and coffee, plus café-style seating and flat screen TVs.
-Football Sundays: Check out live game-day action every Sunday. All TVs in the VIP Lounge will be tuned to local and national pro football games on Sundays.
-Toys for Tots Tuesdays: Cardmembers may bring a new, unwrapped toy in its original packaging, on the following Tuesdays, December 2nd, December 9th and December 16th and you will receive one United Club pass. Bring two toys and receive two United Club passes. Minimum retail value of the toy must be $15.

-For entry, present your valid Chase United Credit Card and a valid ID.
-Each Cardmember may bring up to three guests.
-If you have recently applied for a United Card you may bring your application confirmation page to the lounge, and you will be granted access for the entire duration of the VIP Lounge.

It’s obviously not worth getting a United Explorer card for a mall lounge but there are some really nice perks of the card besides for the signup bonus (30K for spending $1,000 and 5K for adding an additional user):

-It is the only card that gives expanded award ticket availability. Cardholders have access to expanded saver coach award availability (XN class), last seat standard coach award availability (YN class), and last seat standard business/first class award availability (JN class). You can read about examples of expanded availability in this post. You can learn more about searching for those classes in expert mode in this post.

-As you have better access to saver coach awards you’ll also have better ability to do Plan B awards. Plan B allows you to redeem for saver business and first class awards when there’s only saver coach available. Based on DDF reports and my own experience people have better than 95% odds of being seated in business class on a Plan B redemption. Read more about Plan B in this post. No airline besides United offers a Plan B redemption.

-The United and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards are among the only cards that come with primary rental car CDW insurance. Almost every other card only has secondary coverage when you rent a car in your home country. This means that if you damage your rental vehicle you must file the claim with your own personal insurance policy first, and only if they won’t cover the damage will the credit card cover the damage. Even additional cardholders get primary coverage when they rent.

With primary rental car CDW insurance you will not have to file anything with your own insurance company. Chase will cover the entire bill for any damage to your rental car. Just be sure to decline the rental agency’s CDW coverage.  This primary coverage applies in every country in the world.

-The United Explorer card gives 2 free United Club passes every year for being a cardmember.

-The United Explorer card gives a 10K mileage bonus every year in which you spend $25K.  That means you’ll earn at least 1.4 miles per dollar spent everywhere if you spend $25K in a year. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $2.5K on United flights to get Silver status, $5K on United flights to get Gold status, and $7.5K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.

-Your miles will never expire as long as you are a United cardholder even if you don’t have any activity.

-A massive benefit for United elite members is that they can get free upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.

Plus United is the only airline that assigns elite benefits to people that you redeem awards for.  That means people you book for have access to benefits like Economy Plus, lounge access, and more.

Other card benefits:
-No foreign exchange fees
-Double miles on United purchases.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-First checked bag is free.

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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Chase Freedom Announces 2015 Q1 Bonus Categories, Where Will You Complete Your Freedom Q4 Bonus Spending?

Monday, November 17th, 2014

-Chase Freedom Visa-For a limited time only earn 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $500 in 3 months plus 2,500 points for adding an additional user and making a single purchase in 3 months.
There is no annual fee for Chase Freedom!
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2015 Q1:

Chase Freedom has just announced that the bonus categories for 2015 Q1 will be grocery stores, Starbucks, and movie theaters!

You’ll earn 5 points per dollar or 5.5 points per dollar if you have a Chase checking account.

The rest of 2015 has yet to be announced.

Activation for Q1 will begin 12/15/14.

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2014 Q4:

You can activate your Q4 Chase Freedom 5% categories and start spending today.

Although they are called “5% categories” you really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be cashed out for 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending you will earn at least 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points. If you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold card you can transfer Freedom points over to one of those cards and then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio into much more valuable airline miles (United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Singapore, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).  The $1,500 quarterly limit is per Freedom card, so if you’re like me and you have downgraded Sapphire Preferred cards into multiple Freedom cards then you can spend $1,500 on each Freedom card.

If you have a Chase checking account you will also earn a 10% bonus on all points earned.  That means you’ll earn a whopping 5.5 points per dollar in these categories or 8,250 points each quarter. Those points post iun February for the previous year.

1. You can shop from millions of items on Amazon.com

2. You can buy an Amazon.com email gift card or you can buy a physical Amazon.com gift card. Once you have the gift card code you can save it to your Amazon account via this link where it will never expire.

Or give an Amazon gift card as a holiday gift and you can be sure that the recipient will be able to get something they’ll love while you earn 5-5.5 points per dollar spent!

3. You can buy gift cards from Amazon for lots of other stores as well:

-American Eagle

-Express

-Forever 21

-Hollister

-Nordstrom

-Southwest

-Starbucks

-Whote Foods

-You can buy gift cards for clothing, shoes, and accessory stores on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for grocery, gourmet, and floral stores on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for restaurants and coffee shops on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for department stores on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for travel on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for books, music, and movie theaters on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for Home Improvement on Amazon.com

You can’t use Amazon gift cards to buy gift cards to other stores, but you can earn 5-5.5 points per dollar with Freedom!

4. You can shop for shoes and clothing on Zappos.com or you can buy a gift card from Zappos.

5. Shop at department stores such as:

-Bloomingdale’s

-BonTon

-JCPenney

-Kohl’s

-Lord & Taylor

-Macys

-Neiman Marcus

-Nordstrom

-Saks Fifth Avenue

-Saks Off 5th

-Sears

Find more valid department stores here.

Some stores like Kohl’s and Sears also sell gift cards to other stores.

Of course if you have an Ink Plus or Ink Cash card you will earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent all year round on telecom, cable, internet, as well as everything from office supply stores, which includes gift cards to other stores and prepaid cash cards that can be used anywhere.With the Bold/Plus cards that’s capped at $50,000 per year and with the Cash card that’s capped at $25,000 per year. Plus the Ink Visa cards earn 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar for $200+ purchases at Staples and other stores with Visa Savings Edge.  The cards also earn 2 points per dollar year-round at gas stations and either hotels (Bold/Plus) or dining (Cash).

But Freedom has the advantage of earning 5.5 points per dollar through 12/31/15 if you have a Chase checking account.

So, where will you use your Freedom card this quarter?

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Chase Freedom Signup Bonus Doubled For A Limited Time

Monday, November 17th, 2014

The Chase Freedom Visa now comes with a 20,000 point signup bonus for spending $500 within 3 months.. That bonus is marketed as $200 cash back as points can be used for cash back, though you would be wiser not to.  This is double the previous signup bonus and is available for a limited time only.

Additionally it also offers another 2,500 bonus points (marketed as $25 cash back) for adding a free additional user, for a total of 22,500 points.

Typically if you applied within the past 90 days Chase will match your bonus to the current bonus offer.

Chase Freedom is one of the best no annual fee cards.  It’s an easier card to get that most other Chase cards as it doesn’t require a Signature level $5,000 credit line. The real beauty of the card is in the quarterly 5% categories. Again, while they call it 5% cash back you’ll really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be worth much more than 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

The 2015 categories haven’t been released yet, but the 2014 categories were:
Q1: Gas stations, Movie theaters, Starbucks
Q2: Restaurants and Lowe’s.
Q3: Gas stations and Kohl’s.
Q4: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

I coined the term “Chase Trifecta” several years ago and this is one of the last times to take advantage of it.  It refers to having a Chase checking account, a Chase Freedom card, and your choice of either a Chase Sapphire Preferred card or a Chase Ink Plus Card,

Through 02/2016 Freedom card earns a 10% annual point dividend in February on all points earned during the previous calendar year if you have a Chase checking account.  That means you’ll earn an effective 5.5 points per dollar on purchases from the 5 point categories and you’ll earn an effective 1.1 points per dollar everywhere else.

Freedom alone can’t transfer points into much more lucrative airline/hotel/train currencies, but if you or your spouse has a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card then you can transfer points from Freedom to one of those cards and from there to your favorite travel currency.  You can read at the end of this post which currencies they can transfer to and why those points are much more valuable than just taking cash back.  The Freedom card can also keep your points alive for free if you do close one of those cards.

If you use those points for a trip worth where they are worth 2 cents each and then you’ll have effectively earned 10-11% back on those “5 point categories.” The sky is the limit of the value of airline miles as they aren’t tied to the cost of a ticket.
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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (Which has no fee for the first year for a limited time only, 50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal) ,the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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Sapphire Preferred Bonus Spend Threshold Climbing In Branch On Monday, Will Online Hurdle Go Up As Well?

Friday, November 14th, 2014

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is an excellent all-around card thanks to its generous double point categories that include airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.  On the first Friday of each month the dining/catering category is bumped up to triple points, great time to pay for bar mitzvah or wedding bills!

The card is made from metal and a real live human being answers the phone when you call customer service without having to navigate a phone-tree maze.

Currently you get 40,000 points for spending $3,000 on a new Sapphire Preferred card and you get another 5,000 points for adding a free additional user card and using it once.

Those points can go far.  Here are some awesome things you can do with Ultimate Rewards points.

The $95 annual fee is currently waived for the first year.

However, last week DDF user ah reported that,

 

“My banker just told me there’s plans of either a decrease of bonus points or higher min spend for the sapphire preferred in the near future.”

 

I called several Chase branches in various cities and confirmed that the minimum spend threshold to get the bonus will indeed be going up on Monday.

In-branch changes often go hand-in-hand with the online offers, so right now is a good time to get a Sapphire Preferred if you’re on the fence.

Why else should you have a Sapphire Preferred card besides the awesome signup bonus and bonus point categories?

-If you rent a car, the Sapphire Preferred is a must have.
In every country in the world you get primary rental car CDW insurance. Almost every other card only has secondary coverage when you rent a car in your home country. This means that if you damage your rental vehicle you must file the claim with your own personal insurance policy first, and only if they won’t cover the damage will the credit card cover the damage. Even additional cardholders get primary coverage when they rent.

Most credit cards also exclude countries like Israel from coverage, however all Chase cards cover you worldwide, including in Israel.  And they will give you a letter of coverage stating that you are covered in Israel so that you don’t have to argue at the rental car counter that your Chase Visa does give CDW coverage.

Plus you get double points on car rentals, meaning there is no better card out there for car rentals.

You are covered for almost all non-exotic rentals as long as the rental period is 31 days or less.

-Trip cancellation insurance is free.
Trip cancellation reimburses up to $10,000 per person, up to $20,000 per trip, and up to $40,000 per year if you need to cancel for injury, death, or sickness experienced by you, a traveling companion, or an immediate family member of you or your traveling companion. Other covered reasons include severe weather, military orders, terrorism, jury duty, home dwelling becoming inhabitable, quarantine, or financial insolvency of the travel agency or operator of your trip.

Other card benefits include:
-Price protection. Find a lower price in a store or online on a non-auction site within 90 days and get back up to $500 per item and $2,500 per year.
-Return protection. Return an item to a store that won’t take back an item for up to 90 days ($500/item, $1,000 per year)
-Purchase protection: 120 days of protection in case of damage of theft on items you buy ($500/item, $50K/account)
-Warranty protection: An extra year of warranty coverage on purchases ($10K/item, $50K/account)
-Lost Luggage Protection: If your checked or carry-on bags are lost you can be reimbursed by up to $3,000 per person.
-Trip Delay Protection: If you are delayed that either requires an overnight stay or is more than 12 hours you can be reimbursed for up to $500 in expenses per person.
-Baggage Delay Protection: If your bags are delayed by more than 6 hours you can reimbursed for up to $100 in expenses per person per day, for up to $500 per person.
-Travel Accident Insurance: Coverage if you are injured or killed on a trip.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card earns Ultimate Rewards points and has the ability to transfer points into miles.  It also gives you the ability to transfer points from fantastic cards no annual fee cards like Chase Freedom and Ink Cash into miles as well, as those cards can’t transfer points directly into miles without having the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card.

Points transfer at an equal ratio to:
-United (Star Alliance)
-Singapore (Star Alliance)
-British Airways (OneWorld)
-Korean (Skyteam)
-Southwest
-Virgin Atlantic
-Hyatt
-Marriott
-Ritz Carlton
-Priority Club
-Amtrak

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (Which has no fee for the first year for a limited time only, 50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points through 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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Are You Ready For Small Business Saturday? Where Will You Be Shopping? Plus A Roundup Of Fees For Additional User Cards.

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Less than 3 weeks remain until Small Business Saturday. There’s still time to get in on the action if you apply for new primary or secondary cards now!

Related post: AMEX Small Business Saturday Will Return 11/29/14!

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Small Business Saturday will fall out on 11/29 this year.
Terms can be found here.

For each AMEX card that you have you will be able to spend $10 up to 3 times at small businesses and get refunded by AMEX. That’s $30 of free spending per card.

Hit the comments to share where you’ll be shopping.

One of the best aspects of the promotion is that each additional user card that you have also qualifies for $30 of free spending.

The excellent Starwood card has a $65 annual fee after the first free year, but with just 1 free additional user card you can get $60 in free spending on Small Business Saturday.

Or the brand new and incredible Everyday Preferred card has a $95 annual fee, but with just 2 free additional user cards you can get $90 in free spending on Small Business Saturday.

Of course if you have more than that, the annual fee on the card actually becomes an annual refund…gotta love AMEX promotions!

You can have up to 99 additional user cards on a primary card. However adding a lot of additional user cards to an account is known to trigger a financial review.  A financial review is typically easy to pass as long as you have any income on the books, but you will need to be willing to have over your tax return to AMEX.

When you add additional user cards online you need to give a social security number, but when you add them over the phone you can just say that you don’t have the social security number handy.   Note that there is no credit check or hard pull for adding an additional user for you or for the added user.

Generally speaking there’s no need to activate additional user cards, they work in most cases even if you don’t activate them, though you may want to test that out before Small Business Saturday to confirm.

You can even add the primary cardholder as an additional user and you can add the same additional member multiple times to the same primary account!

There’s still time to signup for additional cards (and add additional users to each of those cards) to take advantage of Small Business Saturday.

Consumer cards include:

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (10K Starpoints for spending $1 plus another 15K bonus Starpoints for spending $5K in 6 months. 25% point bonus for transfers to airlines in 20K increments. $65 annual fee waived for first year. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express (10K AMEX MR points plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months.  20% point bonus for making 20 transactions per month for an effective 2.4 points per dollar on groceries and Uber and 1.2 points per dollar elsewhere. No annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express (15K AMEX MR points plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months.  50% point bonus for making 30 transactions per month for an effective 4.5 points per dollar on groceries, 3 points per dollar on gas and Uber and 1.5 points per dollar elsewhere. $95 annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25K AMEX MR points for spending $2,000 in 3 months. 3 points per dollar on airfare and 2 points per dollar on gas and groceries. $175 annual fee waived for first year. 5 free additional cardholders are free, 6+ additional cards cost $35/year each.)
-Platinum Card® from American Express (40K AMEX MR points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. Free Starwood gold elite status for discounted paid and award stays. Free Centurion lounge access, Delta lounge access, Airspace lounge access, and Priority Club lounge access. $200 cash back in airline fee refunds per calendar year ($400 cash back in refunds during first cardmembership year). Free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.  Free insurance for any items bought on credit card and lost within 90 days. No foreign exchange fees. $450 annual fee. 3 additional cardholders for a flat $175 fee ($58.33/year each) which includes full lounge access and free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership. 4+ additional cards cost $175/year each)
-Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (30K Delta miles for spending $1,000 in 3 months. $50 cash back for making a purchase with Delta within 3 months. No foreign exchange fees. $95 annual fee waived for first year. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express ($50 cash back plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months. 3% cash back on groceries, 2% cash back on gas and department stores, no annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ($100 cash back plus a free year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 in 3 months. 6% cash back on groceries, 3% cash back on gas and department stores, $75 annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)
-TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express (3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back on travel and restaurants, no annual fee. No fee for additional cardholders.)

Note that Serve cards also qualify for Small Business Saturday.  You can add 4 sub-accounts to your Serve card for free, for a total of $150 in free spending from Serve!

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Chase British Airways Visa Now Free For The First Year For A Limited Time Only!

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

-Want to learn more about the BA Avios program? Be sure to read the British Airways knowledgebase and the 22 Things To Keep In Mind When Using Avios for everything you NEED to know about the BA program and how to best search for BA award availability with tips (always book one-way awards!).  If you have a question about Avios it’s probably already been answered there!
-Click to view 94 Direct Avios Flights From Baltimore/Washington DC
-Click to view 29 Direct Avios Flights From Boston
-Click to view 126 Direct Avios Flights From Chicago
-Click to view 77 Direct Avios Flights From Los Angeles
-Click to view 120 Direct Avios Flights From Miami
-Click to view 102 Direct Avios Flights From NYC
-Click to view 123 Direct Avios Flights From Philadelphia
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Chase British Airways Visa Signature Linky

Signup bonus:
-50,000 British Airways (BA) Avios for spending $2,000 within 3 months.

-With this limited time offer the annual fee is waived on this card for the first year. It is $95 thereafter.  This is the first time this year that the fee has been waived for the first year on this card.

-You will earn 1.25 Avios per dollar spent everywhere and 2.5 Avios per dollar spent on BA tickets. There are no foreign transaction fees and the card includes a chip to use when abroad.

-BA Avios are awesome.  They effectively fill the gap that is left by the major programs like American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus.  The major programs provide a fantastic value for long-haul flights, especially for one-way flights, last-minute flights, stopover flights, or flights in business or first class.  But most programs are not great for short flights.

In 2011 BA launched the Avios program and for the past 3 years it has continued to provide an incredible value for short-haul flights.  I’ve booked dozens of short-haul tickets using Avios for travel on American.  A Cleveland-NYC ticket can cost $1,200 round-trip if you don’t stay for at least 3 days or if you book last-minute.  But BA allows me to use just 9,000 Avios for that same flight, a whopping value of over 13 cents per mile.  I can hop over to Chicago or NYC on a whim without any kind of mileage regret like I used to have in the pre-Avios days.
-50,000 Avios has gotten me flights that would have otherwise cost over $6,500. Or those same exact flights would run some 140K American miles not even accounting for the $75 expedite fees and $150 cancellation fees that American would charge with their own miles compared to $0 expedite and $5.60 cancellation when booking an American flight with Avios!

And how many other programs can say that they offer a flight to the Caribbean in coach for just 4,500 miles or in first class with 3 free checked bags for 9,000 miles?   A flight from the west coast to Hawaii on American, Alaska, or USAirways is just 12.5K Avios each way.

-Cardholders get 10% off paid BA tickets with promo code: CARDOFFERU

-You can earn a free companion award ticket every year that you spend $30K though it’s only valid for travel on BA or Open Skies.  The companion travels in the same class of service, so if you redeem Avios for a first class ticket your companion flies in first as well for 0 Avios but taxes and fees will be owed.

-Avoiding fuel surcharges:
-There are no fuel surcharges for travel on American or USAirways within the Western Hemisphere. Flights start at 4,500 Avios plus $5.60.
-Air Berlin flights still have no fuel surcharges systemwide and remain the cheapest way to get to Israel. They have flights to Israel from Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich for 10K Avios. Flights to several US cities cost just 20K Avios.

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-Niki flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. They fly from Israel to Vienna for 10K Avios.
-Aer Lingus flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. A flight from Boston to Dublin or Shannon is just 12,500 Avios. From there you can fly elsewhere within Europe without paying fuel surcharges.  Plus you can fly to Boston from cities like Buffalo, NYC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Washington DC for just 4.5K Avios. These flights can only be booked over the phone.
-Alaska flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide with flight starting at just 4,500 Avios. These flights can only be booked over the phone.
-LAN and TAM flights have no fuel surcharges systemwide. Some of their flights can only be booked over the phone.
-Flights within Australia, Europe, Japan, and many other countries and regions have little to no fuel surcharges.
-There are also no fuel surcharges for flying on Qantas within Australia.
-Fuel surcharges on award-winning carrier Cathay Pacific are also pretty low and you don’t even need to fly all the way to Hong Kong (though you should-great city with awesome kosher food, airport lounges with kosher food, and a business or first class flight you’ll never forget!) to get a taste of their awesome service, seat, pajamas, and amenities. They fly a daily 777 nonstop between JFK and Vancouver which I reviewed in this trip report.
-You can significantly cut the fuel surcharges when flying on Iberia by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios
-British Airways 5th Freedom Flights (flights that don’t depart from or arrive to the UK) have significantly lower fees. For example even though Singapore-Sydney is a longer flight than NYC-London the fees in first class on Singapore-Sydney are less than half of those from NYC-London.

Advantages of BA Avios over most traditional mileage programs:

-There are no expedite or close-in fees for last minute award ticket bookings with BA Avios.

-You can book one-way tickets for half of the miles of a round-trip!

-You can cancel tickets and redeposit miles for the lessor of $40 or the taxes you paid.  That means you pay just $5.60 for cancel a one-way domestic itinerary (and it’s part of the reason why I always book domestic flights as one-ways).

-British Airways only charges 10% extra miles for a lap child flying internationally, even when traveling on AA. AA and other domestic carriers charge a whopping 10% of the full fare, which can add up to be a small fortune.  When flying domestic you should just add the infant at the airport for free.

-It’s easy to top-off your BA Avios account thanks to their partnerships with all of the transferable points programs. You can transfer Starpoints to BA at a 20K:25K ratio with the built-in 25% transfer bonus or American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards to BA at a 1:1 ratio:

-With short-haul flights starting at just 4,500 Avios you can get a lot of free travel from your Avios.

Award bands include:
Band 1: Flights that are 1-650 miles cost 4,500 Avios.
Sample routes: LGA-Cleveland, LGA-Detroit, LGA-Montreal, LGA-Toronto, Miami-Cancun, Miami-Key West, Miami-Nassau, London-Paris, Melbourne-Sydney, Los Angeles-Las Vegas
Band 2: Flights that are 651-1,151 miles cost 7,500 Avios.
Sample routes: JFK-Bermuda, Los Angeles-Cabo San Lucas, LGA-Chicago, LGA-Miami, LGA-West Palm Beach, Philadelphia-Miami.
Band 3: Flights that are 1,151-2,000 miles cost 10,000 Avios.
Sample routes: JFK-S. Maarten, JFK-Cancun, JFK-S. Juan, Los Angeles-Chicago, Berlin-Tel Aviv, Hong Kong-Singapore
Band 4: Flights that are 2,001-3,000 miles cost 12,500 Avios.
Sample routes: Boston-Dublin, JFK-Los Angeles, JFK-Vancouver, Los Angeles-Maui, JFK-Costa Rica, Pittsburgh-Los Angeles
Band 5: Flights that are 3,001-4,000 miles cost 20,000 Avios.
Sample routes: NYC-London, NYC-Berlin, Chicago-Dublin, Dallas-Maui
Band 6: Flights that are 4,001-5,500 miles cost 25,000 Avios.
Sample routes: NYC-Buenos Aires, NYC-Rio de Janeiro, London-Johannesburg
Band 7: Flights that are 5,501-6,500 miles cost 30,000 Avios.
Sample route: NYC-Amman
Band 8: Flights that are 6,501-7,000 miles cost 35,000 Avios.
Sample route: S. Francisco-Hong Kong, JFK-Hong Kong
Band 9: Flights that are 7,001 miles or more cost 50,000 Avios.
Sample route: Los Angeles-Sydney, JFK-Sydney

Be sure to read the BA knowledgebase for tips and tricks to make some flights cheaper.

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points through 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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1 Year Of Amazon Prime Membership Now Included When Signing Up For Select AMEX Cards; Is The AMEX EveryDay Preferred Card The Best Bang For Your Buck?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

American Express is now offering a year of Amazon Prime when signing up and meeting the spend requirement for the following cards:

-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express: Get 10K Membership Rewards points plus 1 year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 within 3 months.

-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express Get 15K Membership Rewards points plus 1 year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 within 3 months.

-Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Get $50 cash back plus 1 year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 within 3 months.

-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Get $100 cash back plus 1 year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 within 3 months.

Once you complete the spend requirement you will get the regular signup bonus and a code via email for a year of Amazon Prime, a $99 value.
If you already have Amazon Prime the code will extend your Prime membership by a year.

All 4 cards offer 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.

All 4 cards also offer additional user cards with no annual fee.  Each additional user card that you have qualifies for $30 of spending on Small Business Saturday.

AMEX EveryDay Preferred:

I recently picked up the EveryDay Preferred card and love it. It’s an awesome card.
Both the EveryDay and the EveryDay Preferred card offer full Membership Rewards access, which means the ability to transfer points to lots of airlines programs.

The EveryDay Preferred card offers 3 points per dollar on up to $6,000 per year at grocery stores, and 2 points per dollar on gas and Uber.
But the killer aspect of the EveryDay Preferred is the whopping 50% bonus if you make 30 transactions per billing cycle.  That bumps up the 3 points categories to 4.5 points, the 2 point categories to 3 points, and everything else to 1.5 points per dollar spent.

You can easily track how many transactions you have on the AMEX site and at the end of the month you can just buy $0.50 Amazon gift cards in as many transactions as you need to get up to 30 for that month. Or just swipe to add a quarter to people’s parking meters. Share in the comments what you do to get to 30 transactions!

Note that if you return an item it doesn’t subtract the original transaction.

The EveryDay Preferred card has a $95 annual fee, but that’s low considering it’s the only card that gives 1.5 real airline miles per dollar everywhere. The only other card that does that is the United Club card which costs $395 per year.

AMEX EveryDay:

The EveryDay card is a no annual fee card.  It offers 2 points per dollar on groceries and Uber and a 20% point bonus for making 20 transactions per month.

Those earnings are probably outclassed by the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express which earns an effective 1.25 miles per dollar, but unlike the Starwood card the Everyday card has no annual fee, doesn’t require transfers in 20K increments to get the bonus, and points generally transfer instantly.

The unique thing about the Everyday card is that it’s the only no-annual fee card that can transfer points into real airline miles.

Blue Cash/Blue Card Preferred:
Blue Cash Preferred earns 6% cash back on groceries (up to $6,000 per year), 3% cash back on gas and department stores, 1% Cash Back on other purchases.

Blue Cash Everyday earns 3% cash back on groceries (up to $6,000 per year), 2% cash back on gas and department stores, 1% Cash Back on other purchases.

Amazon Prime offers free 2 day shipping, unlimited music streaming, free Prime Instant Video, early access for Amazon Lightning Deals and MyHabit.com, access to over over 500,000 free eBooks, and more. Join Amazon Mom with Prime (no extra cost) to get 20% off diapers and 15% off baby items on your registry.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Changes To Citicard Signup Bonuses

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Back in the good old days you were able to open several Citi American Airlines cards every month via 3BM and get the signup bonus for each one.  I was doing 3BMs when I started this blog in 2004 before the term MBM or 3BM existed.

Up until a few years ago those miles counted towards lifetime elite status, so I racked up millions of miles and lifetime Platinum status.

Then Citi started approving people for just 1 AA card every 18 months. Occasionally a link would surface on DDF that would grant approval without waiting 18 months, but that was the exception to the rule.

The $450/year AA executive card offering 100K miles earlier this year did not have an 18 month waiting period and I’m sure I’m not the only one who took that as a license to print a million AA miles in the first half of this year.

Until now there was one thing you could count on, if you were approved for a Citi card you would get the bonus.
That no longer appears to be the case.

DDF member ari2955 reports that he was approved for the AA executive card, completed the spending, and was denied the bonus.
Normally I’d be suspect and say to wait until the next statement generates but the app has added language that “American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles not available if you have had a Citi Executive® / AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard® opened or closed in the past 18 months.”

Now there is language like that on cards from other banks that isn’t enforced, but a Citicards employee who is also a DDF member confirmed that this change has been pushed through on the AA Executive card, the Citi Premier card, and the Citi Expedia card. Indeed all of those cards have the new language that if you have had a card, opened the card, or have closed the card within the past 18 months that there won’t be a bonus.

And he reports that Citi will be adding that language to other cards as well…

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Chase Ink Plus 70,000 Point Signup Bonus Ending This Sunday!

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Related posts:
-30 Awesome Things You Can You Do With 75K-95K Ultimate Rewards Points
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered

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Chase Ink Plus 70K Limited Time Offer Linky

Offer Details:

Spend $5,000 in 3 months on a new Chase Ink Plus card and get a whopping 70,000 point signup bonus. The Chase Ink Plus business cards is one of the best credit cards out there and this is the highest ever public online offer.  Some people have been able to get this offer in-branch, but now it’s available online for everyone.

It’s not difficult at all to get a value of 1.75 cents per point when using Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel by transferring them into airline miles or hotel points. That would make this signup bonus worth over $1,200!

You’ll also earn between 5,000 and 25,000 bonus points for the base spending depending on whether you spend in 1, 2, or 5 point per dollar categories.  So after spending $5,000 you’ll have between 75,000-95,000 Ultimate Rewards points at your disposal.

There is a $95 annual fee. There are no foreign exchange fees on the Ink Plus card. Insurance coverage on car rentals in every country outside of the US is primary on leisure or business rentals. Within the US coverage is primary for business rentals and secondary on leisure rentals.

Applying for a business card and the benefits of business card spending:

The Ink cards are business cards. But you may be already running a business that qualifies for a business card and there are several huge advantages that business cards have over consumer cards as you can read here.

For example if your name is Joe Smith and you sell items online, or if you have any other side business/hobby and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

If you’re like me and you run more than one business you can signup for multiple of the same card for each business to manage each businesses expenses separately.

A great thing about these business cards is that they don’t report your spending on your personal credit report.

On personal cards if you spend money on your card your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a few dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month.

On a business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score. Plus if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.

Lounge Club:

You’ll also getive 2 free lounge visits per user, even on free additional user cards. Here is a link to find valid lounges worldwide. Lounges include the Dan Lounge in Tel Aviv and the Art & Lounge in Newark which both have kosher food.

Cash back:

Ink cards are now all issued as Visa cards, so you can register them for Visa Savings Edge.

With that program you earn cash back on top of points.  You’ll earn 1% cash back at Staples on $200+ purchases, 1% cash back at Chevron, and Texaco, 2% cash back at TigerDirect, 4% cash back at Alamo and National, 5% cash back at Lenovo, Sony, and several hotel brands, etc.

Bonus points:

Ink cards offer 5 points per dollar on internet/cable service and telecom purchases, so that’s a nice rebate when you purchase a new cell phone and off your cable bill.

They also earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores. There are hundreds of gift cards sold by office supply stores.

-Upgrading at your local carrier’s store to an iPhone or Galaxy? 5 points per dollar.
-Buying gift cards for gas? 5 points per dollar plus you’ll pay the lower cash rates at the pump.
-Buying gift cards for Amazon, Gap, Groupon, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, TJMaxx, etc? 5 points per dollar.

Points plus cash back:

At Staples of course you would earn 5 points per dollar plus 1% cash back on $200+ purchases.

You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar for spending directly on gas and hotels (plus 1%-5% cash back with Visa Savings Edge)

Gift card uses:

Your local school or other charity will be more than happy to accept donations of Amazon gift cards for supplies or any other useful gift cards for chinese auctions, raffles, fundraisers, etc.

They will give you a tax deductible receipt for the full face value-the price you paid for the gift cards. And at the same time you’ll earn 5 points per dollar. So while doing good you can still get a nice chunk of points and you’ll save on your taxes.

You can buy $200 Visa gift cards (now sold online from Staples) that earn 1,000 points and can be used to pay bills with EvolveMoney, uploaded to Bluebird or used for cash back, bill pay, money orders, etc.

Or you can use Visa gift cards for everyday spending thereby getting 5 points per dollar on everything you buy anywhere via the Visa gift cards.  You can read how lucrative that can be in this post on where you should be using each of your cards.

Point Currency:

Chase Ultimate Rewards offer instant and fee-free transfers to top-notch mileage and points programs at a 1:1 ratio.

Transfer partners include:
-United (Star Alliance) is still an excellent currency, even after their devaluation earlier this year.  They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have short-haul awards for 10,000 miles, they allow for a stopover and an open-jaw so that you can really maximize a single award ticket into several free trips, and they have dozens of partners to fly on, most of which can be booked on their website.
-British Airways (OneWorld) is awesome for short-haul awards. Just 9,000 miles for a round-trip zone 1 or 15,000 miles for zone 2 short-haul award. The zone 3 award for 25,000 miles round-trip can also be a bargain, for example a flight between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between Boston and Ireland is just 25K miles round-trip with no fuel surcharges. Flights to Israel on Air Berlin are just 60,000 miles with no fuel surcharges. They allow one-way awards for half the mileage. There are no close-in or expedite fees. You can cancel an award for as little as $5.60. Infants are only charged 10% of the miles on international trips instead of 10% of the full fare like US carriers charge. Plus they don’t collect fuel surcharges on AA/USAirways within the western hemisphere, on Qantas within Australia, on Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well.
You can read more in the BA knowledgebase. And you can see 102 places you can go to nonstop from NYC with Avios.
-Korean (Skyteam) offers unbeatable first class availability (A380 First Class Trip Report here) and they also have true bargains on partner travel, just 30,000 miles to fly round-trip on Hawaiian or Alaska to Hawaii in coach or 60,000 miles in first. And it’s just 20,000 miles to fly to Alaska in coach or 40,000 miles in first. You can even get a free stopover on the way to or in Alaska! If you can find Delta saver availability you can fly to Hawaii round-trip for just 25,000 miles in coach or 45,000 miles in business.
-Singapore (Star Alliance) offers private walled-in first class suites that can only be booked with their miles. A suite one-way from JFK to Europe is 57,375 miles. Travel to the US48, Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, and Israel can all be had on the cheap. There are no close-in booking fees and changes and cancellations are very cheap. Fuel surcharges apply when flying on most airlines besides United. More info here.
-Southwest offers a value of about 1.7 cents per point towards award travel.  Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. You can also transfer points to Airtran for flat-rate awards like business class upgrades or free tickets at a flat rate instead of a rate that corresponds to the ticket price. From Airtran they can even be converted back into the old Southwest program that also offers flat rate awards.
-Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses with awards on Delta and Cyprus Air.  For example a round-trip from Tel Aviv to Cyprus is just 5,000 miles!
-Hyatt is a very powerful hotel currency. They have finally added a cash and points option that offers some excellent values and more importantly those stays earn points, elite stay credits, promo credits, and you can use suite upgrades on cash and point stays as well.  It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program, a $1,500/night villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives would run just 25,000 points or 12,500 points+$150.
You can also funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. I’ve never been on an Amtrak in my life, but some people have reported getting some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program.

The beauty of miles over points or cash-back:
The great thing about being able to transfer points into airlines or hotels are the incredible values you can attain.
-A coach ticket to Hawaii can cost $1,000 and a first class ticket to Hawaii can cost $3,000 but you can use 25K or 45K miles for that same ticket. If you were using Capital One points you would need 100,000-300,000 points per ticket.
-A last minute ticket or a ticket where you don’t stay for 3 nights from New York to Detroit costs $1,500 in coach but just 9,000 miles. That’s a value of 16.7 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per ticket.
-A first class ticket to Asia can cost $27,000 but you can use 135,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 20 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 2,700,000 points per ticket.
-A night at a Park Hyatt in Paris, Sydney, or the Maldives can run $1,500 with tax but you can use 25K-30K points for that room, a value of 5-6 cents per point. Or you can use less points and get even better values with cash and points. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per night.
And that’s all besides for the fact that getting a Capital One card costs a minimum of 3 credit pulls whereas you can get several Chase cards with just 1 credit pull.

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), and the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points through 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), and the Chase Ink Cash (which also has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas)

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Amazon Local Register: 1.75% Credit Card Processing

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Update: You can now get this for free with code: 6E94X85QY3
Plus you’ll get your first $10 in credit card processing for free! DEAD!

HT: the great, via DDF
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Originally posted on 08/13:

Amazon Local Register

Amazon is going to compete with Square and Paypal Here with their new Secure Card Reader that works iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, iPads, and Fire tablets.

The reader costs $10 and comes with $10 in free processing.
There are no monthly fees, chargeback fees, refund fee, foreign card fees, or contracts.

Signup by 10/31/14 and swiped card processing is just 1.75% until 01/01/16. Afterward it goes up to 2.5%.
Keyed-in cards are 2.75%.

If you already have a consumer Amazon Payments account then you’ll want to enroll with a new Amazon account.

I wouldn’t recommend swiping your own Barclay Arrival card all day to take advantage of the spread (2.22% profit vs. 1.75% cost) as swiping a card with your name on it on a machine with your name on it will get both your credit card and your register accounts closed.

But say you want to buy some gift cards to swipe on your register:
-A $200 Visa gift card at Staples costs $206.95 in-store or online.
-If you buy it on a Visa business card you get 1% cash back, dropping the cost of the card down to $204.88.
-If you swipe $200 on your register you’ll be charged $3.50 in fees, leaving you with $196.50.
-The total out of pocket fees are thus $3.50 (Amazon processing fee)+$4.88 (Gift card purchase fee)=$8.38.
-On a card like Ink Plus that earns 5 points per dollar at an office supply store you’ll have earned 1,035 miles for the purchase.
-Your cost per mile is about 0.8 cents each.
That’s like paying $36 for a short-haul flight with BA Avios, $456 for a Singapore suite, $480 to fly round-trip to Israel, $200 to fly round-trip to Hawaii, $120 per night at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar Bahamas, or $200 per night for the normally $1,500 per night Park Hyatt Maldives.

HT: ShlockDoc, via DDF

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Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

-Find more posts like this by clicking on the “Credit Card Posts” tab and find credit card offers in the “Credit Cards” tab above of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Parts of this post have been compiled from previous posts.

Do your eyes glaze over every time I make another post about miles and credit cards?
Perhaps you’re young and haven’t gotten involved in credit cards or building up your credit yet, or perhaps you’re just scared of getting involved with credit cards.

If it’s the latter, you have good instincts. The credit card points system is partially subsidized by the millions of Americans who fall into the trap of debt, buying things they can’t afford, and paying huge amounts of interest to the banks.

If you’re susceptible to that behavior, then don’t play the game. Cut up all your cards, pay for things in cash, and be happy not being in debt. Any gain from the points system will be obliterated by interest payments.

Otherwise though you’re leaving valuable cash and miles on the table.
The banks are willing to pay huge sums of money or miles for you to signup for a card and they offer great benefits for using the card.

When you pay with cash or a debit card you get none of that.
You also lose the fringe benefits that many credit cards provide like online dispute resolution, return protection, warranty extension, car rental insurance, trip insurance, etc.

When fraud happens on a credit card you are not responsible for it while it’s being investigated. On a debit card those funds are immediately taken out of your checking account and you have to fight to get them back.

The bottom line is when used responsibly, credit cards are an incredible tool.  I’ve used them responsibly for the past 12 years and thanks to them I have been able to fly around the world in first class on hundreds of flights and stay in 5 star resorts countless times.  The trips I’ve been been able to share with my wife and now with my kids have created indelible memories that we’ll share for a lifetime.

But understand that credit cards can be death traps to those who don’t have proper discipline.

Q: I’ve never had a credit card. How do I start building my credit?
A: Start by having someone in your household or a relative add you as an additional user onto their account. Be sure that the account has been open for a while and is used responsibly. If the card is maxed out it will only hurt you.

After a couple months you should get a nice credit boost from that. You can then start building your own credit history by applying for a store card like from Gap, Kohls, Macy’s, Target, etc. as those can be easier to get approved for than real credit cards. Use the store card for a couple months for a small purchase each month and then you can attempt to get a real credit card.

Still not having any luck? Get a secured card. A secured card functions as a debit card except that unlike a debit card it helps your credit score. A debit card doesn’t help your score at all. Most secured cards don’t offer miles but some like the USBank LAN Secured card at least offers something decent.

Discover bank offers cards like Discover it® and Discover it® for Students that have a great cash back program, no annual fees, and they are easier to get approved for than cards from banks like AMEX, Citi, and Chase.

Q: How is my credit score calculated?
A: Here is the makeup of your 850 point FICO score according to MyFico:

-Payment History: 35%.
Pay your bills on time and you should ace this category. The more accounts you have that you pay on time, the higher your score will be.

-Amounts owed: 30%
This measures your credit utilization ratio. The more money you spend, the higher your utilization ratio will be, which lowers your score. The more total credit you have available, the lower your utilization ratio will be, which raises your score. So the more accounts and credit you have, the better your score will be here.

Credit utilization ratio applies for each card you have individually (don’t use too much of your credit on any card) and across all of your cards collectively..

-Length of credit history: 15%
This takes into account your oldest account, the older the better. It also factors in the average age of your accounts.
It’s important to note that even if you close an account, it stays on your record for about 10 years after you cancel the card. So even if you close an account, you won’t hurt yourself in this category until 10 years down the line when the account falls off of your credit report. By that point you should have other older cards that will keep your average account age high enough not to adversely affect your score.

-New credit: 10%
This takes into account credit inquiries and new accounts, which can lower your score temporarily. These fall off your report after about 2 years and most banks only look at the number inquiries you have within the past 6 months.

In the short term you may see your score drop when you apply for a card due to this category and the average age of your accounts, but in the long run having more cards will raise your score, as they improve your payment history (35%) and credit utilization (30%) and eventually the age of your account, which continue to grow older even after you cancel the card.

-Types of credit used: 10%
This has little to do with the opening and closing of accounts but factors whether you have other accounts like retail accounts, auto loans, a mortgage, etc. The more varied your portfolio the higher your score.

Q: Isn’t it bad for your score to close a card?
A: I have a FICO in the 800s, among the best scores in the country.  Anything above 750 is basically considered to be a perfect score.  And I’ve closed hundreds of cards.

Understanding how your score works is key here. Again, the 2 primary factors making up 65% of your score are your payment history and the amount of money you owe. So always make sure to protect those.

A credit card continues to benefit the length of your credit history (the 3rd most important factor at 15% of your score) for 10 years after its been closed.

The only negative outcome of closing a card is losing the credit line, which can hurt your credit utilization. That can be avoided in several ways. Many banks allow you to move a line of credit onto a different card. Some banks may be more willing to approve you for another card contingent on moving part of line of credit from an older card onto a newer card. Or they may want to completely close out the older card and move the entire line onto the newer card.

Now you have to strike the right balance between your income and your total credit. You don’t want to have too much total credit. So don’t sweat it if you have to close a card, you can always get another to get your credit line back up to where it was and once again, there won’t be any negative affect from the closing the card.

Note that while you can close a card via secure message or chat without having to call up, typically if you call up, the retentions department may offer to waive the fee for another year or give you miles to keep the card.  Even if they don’t do that, many cards can be downgraded to a free version and you’ll get a refund of the annual fee.  Youtypically  have between 30 and 60 days from when an annual fee is billed to have it refunded if you close a card though some people have had success getting a fee refunded by cancelling a card for up to 6 months after being billed.

Q: Isn’t it really bad to close your first ever credit card?
A: Perhaps, but probably not.
It’s a good idea to start off with a no-annual fee card as one of your oldest cards so you don’t have to close it.  For example, Chase Freedom is an incredible no-fee card.
If you have one card which is wayyyy older than other cards then you will want to keep it open and that establishes your credit length.
However, if your oldest card is not that much older than the next card, it won’t make a big difference.

Either way it will take 10 years after closing your oldest card until it falls off your report. So even if your oldest card is 2 years older than your next card, in 10 years from now that won’t make a big difference.

Note that AMEX always reports every card you open as being opened in the year that you first got an AMEX card.  So if an AMEX was your first card then don’t sweat it!  Whenever you open a new AMEX card it will be as if that account was open from the date you opened your first ever AMEX card.

Q: Isn’t it bad for your score to open a card?
A: When you apply for a card a credit inquiry or hard pull is done on your report. At just 10% of your score, new credit is one of its smallest factors, so changes here are only worth a few points.  The negative effects of a hard pull lessen after a few months and most banks only care about the number of hard pulls from the past 3 or 6 months. After 2 years they fall off completely.

A new account will also temporarily lower the average age of your accounts, a subset of the 15% of the length of credit history category.  However that card will eventually improve your average age as it continues to help for that even if you close it for 10 years after you close it.

More importantly, when you get a new card, you get a new line of credit. 30% of your score is made up of amounts owed and credit utilization so the more credit you have, the better your score.

So the answer is that in the short-term your score may go down slightly, but longer-term your score will only go up.

Q: I got rejected for a card. Now what?

A: Once you apply for a card they have pulled your report.
So if you are denied be sure to call the bank to try to get approved. It can take several tries, but typically calling or writing via secure message on the bank’s site to reconsideration departments can turn a denial into an approval, especially if you are an existing customer.

Good strategies include:
-Proactively offering to shift credit lines around from other cards to get the new application approved.
-Proactively offering to close an older card you don’t use anymore and move over the credit line to get the new application approved.
-Explaining how you want the benefits the card provides. Items like free baggage and primary car rental insurance are good reasons to want a card, so learn about the unique benefits that each card has to offer besides for a killer signup bonus.
-The banks are afraid of people just applying for credit to rack up debts that they won’t pay. Your job is to explain why you are NOT one of those people and why you want the card.
-Explaining why you might want 2 versions of the same card. HSA spending should often be done on a dedicated card. Different business need different cards to keep expenses separately. Even the same business may want to track spending on different clients on separate cards.
-Explaining how you’ve never had a late payment or that you’re a loyal customer for x amount of years.
-Explaining your loyalty to the bank, eespeically if you habe a checking account with the bank.
-Be friendly! Ask the person how their day is going and they’ll be more likely to want to help you out. Reconsideration reps have all the power, so it’s up to you to become their friend. A DDF user who homebrews beer found out that the agent also makes his own beer. After talking beer strategies the card application was approved!

No luck over the phone or via secure message? If you have at least $10,000 in a Chase checking account your banker can send in a special reconsideration form requesting that you be approved.

Citi is also very good about approving cards if you write to them via snail mail: Mr. Ken Stork,
Office of the President, PO Box 6000, Sioux Falls, SD 57117

Q: Won’t I lose my points if I close a card?
A: Airline or hotel credit cards accumulate points in your airline or hotel loyalty account.
Those points remain there even if the card is no longer active, and are subject to the normal expiration dates that you can find in this post.
You will not instantly lose any earned Hyatt/Starwood/American/BA/Delta/Southwest/United/etc. points just for closing their credit card. Some representatives use scare tactics and say your points or tickets will be lost if you cancel the card but it’s just misinformation.  The only thing you will lose are points earned from spending since your last statement closed, so you may want to wait for your next statement to close before closing a card.

Proprietary credit card point programs (American Express Membership Rewards, Barclays Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards) do not expire as long as you keep at least one card open that is enrolled in their respective program.

If you want to close a Sapphire Preferred card you have several options to keep your points active.
1. Downgrade it to a regular Sapphire card. Your points will remain active but you or your spouse will need to have a card like Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus to actually transfer the points into miles.
2. Downgrade it to a Freedom card. Same issue as the Sapphire card has above.
3. Transfer the points to another Chase Ultimate Rewards card that you or your spouse has.
4. Transfer the points to an airline or hotel program.

Q: What do you do about annual fees?
A: On some cards those pay for themselves. Take the Starwood or Everyday Preferred cards where additional cardholders are free.
If you have 5 additional cardholders on either of those cards you’ll get $180 to spend at a small business in November.
And each of those cards are also eligible for other promotions that run all year long like last December’s 33.3% off at Amazon.

On cards from other banks they can be worthwhile for the benefits provided, but you can always cancel a card to get back the annual fee. You typically have 30-60 days to do so once you are billed for the fee. Many cards also allow you to downgrade to a free card to get the fee waived.

Many cards also don’t have a fee for the first year, or even if they do they come with a large signup bonus worth the fee several times over.

In short, they really are not a big deal.

Q: Are there any tricks to raise your credit score quickly?
A: There are a few.
1. Try to pay off your credit card bills before the statement prints. Once it prints the amount owed can severely hurt your score even if you pay it off on time.

You can request that all of your bills print on the 1st of a month so you know exactly when to pay them off.  I try to pay off everything but about $1, so that when I get the bill in the mail I have a $1 amount owed. That shows the card is still being used, but that it’s not being heavily utilized, which improves my score.
Even if it’s too much for you to do this try to at least keep your spending when the statement closes under 15% of the credit limit of your card.
Amounts owed makes up a whopping 30% of your score, so this is a quick and easy way to get a nice bump.

2. 10% of your score is made up by the types of credit you have used. Have cards from multiple banks and have other kinds of loans as well.
For example, even if you can afford to pay for a car in cash you should still finance it. First of all, you can usually get a nice instant rebate by financing and there’s typically no penalty to pay if off early. Second of all, once it’s paid off you’ll get a nice score boost.

3. Use business cards. Amounts owed on business cards from banks like AMEX and Chase aren’t reported on your personal credit report. So even if the statement closes with a large amount owed it won’t hurt your score like that would on a personal account.

Q: I don’t make my own income, how can I get a credit card?
A: As long as you live in the same household as someone who you can rely upon to provide from their income you can include all of that household income when reporting your income on a credit application.
Income isn’t listed on your credit report, it’s based on what you report.  And you should always report total household income as the more income on the application, the greater the odds of approval are.

Q: Why is my credit score different depending on where I check it?
A: There are thousands of sites offering to give you your credit score for free. They advertise heavily but their goal is to get your info with which they can sell ads and sell you other products. Their scores are called FAKOs and are basically meaningless. They look at your report and based on their own criteria make up a score on the spot. No creditor is ever going to use that score.
The only place where a consumer can buy their real FICO credit score is from MyFico. If you’re you’re getting your score elsewhere it’s a fake.  I can also look at your report and make up a score, but that doesn’t mean it has a basis in reality.

You should always keep tabs on all 3 of your reports by using annualcreditreport.com, the only government sanctioned credit report site. If there are mistakes there be sure to dispute them!  If there are hard pulls that shouldn’t be there or that should have fallen off your record by now dispute those as well.  Unfortunately that site only shows your report, it does not give you a credit score.

Checking your own credit report does not hurt your score.

There are 3 credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, so you will have a FICO score for all 3. Some banks, like Barclays and Discover, allow their cardholders to view one of those scores for free. You can view your FICO Transunion ’08 score if you have a Barclays card here.

Some cards will mail you your current FICO score after you apply for a card.

To make things more complicated there are different versions of FICO scores based on criteria set in ’98, ’04, or ’08, but that’s getting way beyond the scope of this article.

Q: 3BM? MBM? AOR? What in the world is everyone on DDF talking about?
A: DDF, or the DansDeals Forums is chock full of great info when it comes to credit cards.

In short though, a 3BM means using 3 web browsers, like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, Maxthon, etc, to apply for 3 different cards from the same bank, as close to each other as possible. An MBM just stands for multiple browser method. Personally I’ll fill out the application form on all 3 browsers and then hit submit on all of them within a few seconds. This way you can get 3 cards with just 1 credit pull. There’s no guarantee you’ll get accepted to all 3 or that you won’t get more pulls, but this increases the odds of getting multiple cards with 1 pull.

Of course it doesn’t have to be 3. I’ve had successful 12BMs. But that was really tough and I don’t advise you to try that at home unless you’re a trained professional ;)

If you’re new though, start with 1 and keep your life simple. It takes time to go from 0 to 60.

An “AOR” or app-o-rama is the process of using multiple 3BMs from multiple banks as quickly as possible, in order to get approved for more cards from more banks. People sometimes stagger their AORs every few months to get more approvals though that’s a tool to stay organized more than a rule to live by.

Note that when applying for a Capital One credit card you will get 3 hard credit pulls every time you apply for a card, making them one of the more hated banks out there.

Q: So Capital One checks all 3 bureaus, but where do the other banks check?
A: It generally varies based on your home state. This DDF thread tried to make sense of the madness.

If you’re in a state where one of your reports is getting hard hit you may want to freeze that report and have a bank check another more seldomly used report to increase the odds of getting approved for a card. More info on freezing from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Note that many banks won’t be willing to check a different report and you may have to try a few times to find a rep from other banks to do it as well.

Q: I want to buy a house, how will credit cards affect my mortgage?
A: Like I said before, opening a card causes a short-term point loss and a long-term point gain.
If you are buying a house within a few months, then take a break from applying for new cards.

Otherwise you shouldn’t have any problem explaining the mileage game to a mortgage officer in case they ask why you have so many lines of credit. In fact if you are using your credit wisely your score should be excellent even if you do open lots of credit cards, which will mean you’ll get the lowest possible interest rates.

Q: Do I qualify for a business card and why do I want one?
A: The benefits of a business card are twofold.
1. Spending on a business isn’t reported on your credit report, so even if you max out your cards and don’t pay them off early it won’t hurt you.
If you don’t pay your bills on time that will hurt you, but otherwise it’s just not reported.
2. When you close a business card it doesn’t affect you as the credit line and the age of the account was never reported either.

For example if your name is Joe Smith and you sell items online, or if you have any other side business/hobby and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” or “JS Sole Proprietorship” as the business name.

You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

If you’re like me and you run more than one business you can signup for multiple of the same card for each business to manage each businesses expenses separately.

Q: Do I want a card that earns miles or a card that earns cash back?
A: Age-old question. It boils down to how you redeem your points.
If you use them for round-trip coach tickets booked in advance then you may do better taking cash back and just buying your flights. Or find a card that allows you to use points for a paid flight.

If you book short-haul coach flights, flights to Canada, flights to Hawaii, one-way coach travel, last-minute coach travel, coach travel with a stopover, business class travel, or first class travel you will be better off with real miles.

Q: What card gives the most bang for the buck?

A: That all depends on what you’re after.

First off, read this article, “Where Should You Be Using Each Of Your Credit Cards?”

But it really depends which points you are trying to accumulate.

I wrote an article on “30 Awesome Things You Can You Do With 75K-95K Ultimate Rewards Points that you can get from opening a single credit card right now. That gives you an idea of how you can be using those points. In the future I’ll make an article like that for other point currencies.

Of course it’s always good to open different kinds of cards to hedge your bets so that you’ll have different kinds of points that can come in handy for different kinds of trips.

-If you want Starpoints: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Transfer options at a 20K:25K ratio include Alaska, American, ANA, British Airways, Delta, Flying Blue, LAN, Singapore, and USAirways.

-If you want American Express Membership Rewards points: The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express Earn between 1.5-4.5 points per dollar if you use your card 30 times that month. Transfer options include Air Canada, ANA, British Airways, Delta, El Al, Flying Blue, and Singapore.

-If you want American Express Membership Rewards points without an annual fee: The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express. Earn between 1.2-2.4 points per dollar if you use your card 20 times that month.

-If you spend heavily on airfare: American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a business card: Chase Ink Plus Transfer options include British Airways, Hyatt, Korean, Singapore, Southwest, and United. Earn up to 5 points per dollar spent and for a limited time, an unprecedented 70K signup bonus.

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a business card without an annual fee: Chase Ink Cash Earn up to 5 points per dollar spent, but you or a spouse will need a card like Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred to transfer points to miles.

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a consumer card: Chase Sapphire Preferred Earn up to 3 points per dollar spent.

-If you want Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a consumer card without an annual fee: Chase Freedom Earn up to 5.5 points per dollar spent, but you or a spouse will need a card like Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred to transfer points to miles.

-If you want points that can be used towards any paid travel without restrictions: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® Earn 2 points per dollar plus get 10% back every time you redeem for an effective 2.22% cash back towards all paid travel charged to your card.  Even if that travel is cancelled you still get the 2.22% back as cash.

-If you want to have airline cards for flight benefits such as waived checked baggage fees, flight discounts, and pre-boarding:
-Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
-Citi AA Mastercard
-Chase British Airways Visa Signature
-United MileagePlus Explorer card.
-The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®
-The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®

-If you want lounge access and many other travel benefits and statuses: Platinum Card® from American Express

-If you don’t care about points but would rather have 0% APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers with no fees: Chase Slate

Q: Any last tips?
A: Stay organized!
Make a spreadsheet with a list of all of your cards.
Include the date you applied for card, when you need to complete spending to get the signup bonus, what date of the month that your statement generates so you know when to pay it off early, what the annual fee is on subsequent years, etc.

Also include your mileage accounts, when the miles will expire, etc.

Because it’s very hard to stay ahead of the game if you don’t have a good handle on what you already have.
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Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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30 Awesome Things You Can You Do With 75K-95K Ultimate Rewards Points

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Related post: Chase Ink Plus: 70,000 Point Signup Bonus!
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For a limited time only, the Chase Ink Plus card is offering an unprecedented 70,000 point signup bonus online to the public.

If you have questions about the Ink Plus card you’ll probably find the answer in this post, so read it first!

The card earns between 1 to 5 points per dollar, so once you complete the $5,000 of required spending you’ll have between 75K and 95K points.

What can you do with that amount of points?

Hopefully you know they are most valuable when transferred to airline and hotel programs like United, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, and Amtrak. Chase points transfer to those programs at a 1:1 ratio.

You can redeem them directly for travel without transferring them to a mileage program, but that value will fall between just 1-1.25 cents per point.  You can do so much better transferring them to a miles program.

And sure you probably know that you can burn 75K United miles for 3 domestic coach tickets. But what’s the fun in that?

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I’m still not sure how it’s possible, but late next month I’ll turn 30 (and I’ll have been blogging here for an mind-boggling 10 years, go ahead and scroll through the site archives drop-down menu in the sidebar to see for yourself).  So I’ve compiled 30 great uses of your Ultimate Rewards points and present them to you in no particular order whatsoever:

1. Korean miles: Fly round-trip to Alaska for 20K miles and Hawaii for 25K miles.

You would have enough miles for 3 round-trips tickets to Hawaii in coach or 2 round-trips in first class.

Korean charges just 25,000 to fly Delta coach and 45,000 miles to fly Delta first class round-trip within “Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, and Puerto Rico.”

Of course you’ll have to find Delta saver award space, so search for that on Delta.com by searching for an award, opening the award calendar, and looking for dates in green.  Then call Korean to book and you can instantly transfer the points from Chase to Korean while you’re on the phone with them.

Can’t find Delta availability?

You can also fly round-trip to Hawaii on Alaska or Hawaiian for just 30K Korean miles in coach or 60K Korean miles in first class.  Hawaiian even flies nonstop from JFK to Honolulu.

Additionally you can fly round-trip on Alaska anywhere in the US or Canada, including Alaska, for just 20K Korean miles in coach or 40K Korean miles in first class.  You’re even allowed one free stopover when flying Alaska with Korean miles!

None of these flights have any fuel surcharges.

2. British Airways Avios: Up to 21 free short-haul one-way flights.

You would have more than enough for 21 free short-haul one-way flights using British Airways Avios. Those flights cost just 4.5K Avios each.
Avios have actually gotten more valuable since USAirways joined OneWorld as you can use them on all American and USAirways flights within the Western Hemisphere without any fuel surcharges.  Flights on Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Alaska, LAN, and TAM also have no fuel surcharges.

You can click here for all of the possible nonstop Avios flights you can take from Baltimore/DC, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, NYC, and Philadelphia.

A flight to the Caribbean can be had in coach for as little as 4,500 Avios, or in first class with 3 free checked bags for 9,000 Avios, that’s hard to beat!

Best of all? No close-in ticketing fees and it’s only $5.60 to cancel a flight and get back the miles as long as you cancel 24 hours in advance of the flight.

3. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United in a lie-flat business class bed from JFK to Los Angeles or San Francisco for 40K miles.

The 50K miles that United charges for this route is a pretty good deal.  But Singapore will book you on the same flight for just 40K miles.

Plus Singapore has no close-in booking fees, no phone booking fees, and they charge just $20 for a change and just $30 to cancel and redeposit your miles!

There are no fuel surcharges for using Singapore miles for United flights.

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4. Korean: 80K to fly one-way in Korean First Class Suites from Tel Aviv or the USA to or from Asia.

A Korean First Class Kosmo Sleeper Class Suite between North America and Asia or between Tel Aviv and Asia is just 80,000 miles one-way.

Korean has the best first class award availability in the industry.  They serve delicious Hermolis kosher meals out of Asia and have a open self-service bar with top-shelf drinks.

You can read my trip report on flying Korean here.

The fuel surcharge from the USA to South Korea is $150 each way. From Israel to South Korea it’s $190 each way.

IMG_4175a

 

5. Singapore: 57K to fly one-way in Singapore first class suites from JFK to Europe.

You can fly in Singapore suites class from JFK to Frankfurt for just 57,375 miles one-way with the 15% online booking discount that is applied after selecting a flight.  This is truly an aspirational award and Singapore service is second to none.  You’ll even have access to the Virgin Clubhouse in JFK with good kosher meals as well.

A $211 fuel surcharge applies.

You can read my trip report on flying Singapore to Paris here.

There are single and double suites available. This is the double:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Singapore: 74K to fly Singapore first class suites from LAX to Tokyo:

sq

 

 

 

 

 

The fuel surcharge makes up $160 of the fees.

LAX-Tokyo-Singapore would be 91,375 miles.

You can find other rates for Singapore first class in this post.

7. Korean: 60K miles round-trip from the USA to Tahiti on Air France

Air France flies nonstop from Los Angeles to Tahihi. You can fly it round-trip for just 60K Korean miles in coach or 90K in business and then explore the beautiful islands of Moorea and Bora Bora from your own private overwater bungalow which can be had for just 50K IHG points per night.  Sure, IHG points can be had from Chase, but you can get those for pretty cheap via this hack or wait for another sale like this one.

bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S. Regis Bora Bora.

8. British Airways Avios: 25K round-trip from the west coast to Hawaii.

You can fly from the west coast nonstop to Hawaii on AA, Alaska, or USAirways for just 25K Avios round-trip.

From Phoenix you can even use cash and points, it’s just 8,000 Avios plus $201 round-trip to any Hawaiian island!

Alaska flights must be booked over the phone.

There are no fuel surcharges.

9. British Airways Avios: 25K round-trip from Boston to Ireland on Aer Lingus.

You can fly nonstop on Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin or Shannon for just 25K Avios round-trip. Best of all there are no fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus.  Plus you can fly to Boston from cities like Buffalo, NYC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Washington DC for just 9K Avios.

Aer Lingus flights must be booked over the phone.

10. British Airways Avios: 60K round-trip JFK to Tel Aviv on Air Berlin.

60K round-trip plus $91 in fees. There are no fuel surcharges. Or use cash and points with as little as 20K Avios.

You can even make it work for Pesach:

ab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Hyatt points+cash awards.

The Hyatt award chart is great for high-end hotels.  It caps out at 30K points for real gems like the Park Hyatt Sydney, the Park Hyatt Paris, and the Park Hyatt Zurich that can go for $1,500 per night.  Other hotel chains charge double, triple, or quadruple that amount of points for their high-end properties and they’re not nearly as good as the Park Hyatt chain.

Park Hyatt Sydney

A real sweet spot for Hyatt points are cash and points for category 6 hotels. These include real gems like the Park Hyatt Maldives, Grand Hyatt Kauai, the Andaz Maui, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, and the Andaz 5th Avenue.

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Andaz Maui

The Park Hyatt Maldives can also go for $1,500 per night but it’s just 25K points or you can stretch your points even farther by using just 12,500 points plus $150 per night.  Best of all it’s considered a paid stay, so you qualify for promotions and can use suite upgrade certificates.

You can only book points+cash awards over the phone.

hyatt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also incredible uses for lower categories.

Category 3 hotels include the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach Honolulu, the Hyatt Place LaGuardia, the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, the Hyatt Palm Springs, CA.

You can stay in a category 4 property for just 15K points or 7.5K points+$100 in hotels like the Andaz Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica, the Park Hyatt Toronto, the Hyatt Regency Kowloon, Hong Kong, the Park Hyatt Seoul, the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, or the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar opening next June in Nassau, Bahamas.

hyatt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rendering of Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas.

Category 5 hotels include the Andaz West Hollywood in LA, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort an hour south of LA, the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort just north of San Diego, the Hyatt Regency Maui, the Hyatt Place NYC, and 2 of my favorite Hyatt hotels, the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, and the Park Hyatt Melbourne.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

12. United: 40K miles to fly one-way in Thai first class from Bangkok to Sydney

Want to get to the Park Hyatt Sydney and see the opera house from your bed?

When Mimi and I flew around the world in 2010 we started off in incredible Thailand and flew down under to tour Australia for a few weeks.

It’s just 40K miles for a 10 hour flight in Thai first class from Thailand to Australia. You’ll even get an hour long massage for free in the Bangkok first class lounge.

There are no fuel surcharges.

13. Korean: 75K miles to fly round-trip from Australia to New Zealand in an Emirates First Class A380…with a shower spa onboard.

While you’re down under, hop from Australia to New Zealand in gilded style on Emirates and brag about taking a shower 39,000 feet in the air:

 

Or take the ice bucket challenge onboard?

An A380 flight from the US to Dubai would run 210K Korean miles.  There are cheaper ways of doing that with miles from Alaska or JAL, though Chase doesn’t transfer to those currencies.

14. British Airways Avios: 10K each way from Tel Aviv to Vienna, Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich.

You can fly round-trip nonstop between those cities for just 20K Avios plus $68-80 tax. There are no fuel surcharges.

Or use cash and points from 8,000 Avios plus $228.

15. Southwest points for anything.
There are no aspirational awards with Southwest, but you will get a value of about 1.7 cents per point towards award travel.
Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. There are no fuel surcharges.

This flight from Akron, OH (~40 minutes from Cleveland) to NYC is just 7,162 miles round-trip.  And it can be cancelled at any time with no penalty!

WN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year you also get a free companion pass to bring someone with you for free for the remainder of the year and the following year as well which doubles the value of your points.  While transfers from Chase don’t count for companion pass, transfers from Hyatt do.

It takes 50K Hyatt points to get 30K Southwest points.

Points earned from the Southwest credit cards also count towards the 110K requirement.

16. Virgin Atlantic: 5,000 miles from Tel Aviv to Cyprus round-trip.

Virgin isn’t part of an alliance, but they do have nice rates on partners like Delta. Plus they charge just 5,000 miles from Tel Aviv to Cyprus on Cyprus Air.

17. Virgin Atlantic: Fly round-trip from USA to South America for 45K miles in coach or 90K miles in business class.

Virgin will book you on Delta to South America for much less than Delta charges their own members.  Of course you’ll first have to find Delta saver class availability as described above, but once you do you can go to fantastic Buenos Aires or breathtaking Iguazu Falls, Macchu Picchu, or Rio de Janeiro on the cheap.

There are no fuel surcharges.

18. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United between the US48 and Alaska for 25K miles in coach or 40K in business class.

United charges 35K miles to get to stunning Alaska in coach and 60K in business.  Transfer miles to Singapore and they’ll book those same flights for just 25K or 40K.

There are no fuel surcharges.

Never thought of going to Alaska?  Read Something Fishy’s epic trip report with his trademark stunning pictures and you’ll want to start planning a trip.


Photo credit, Something Fishy, Trip Report part 2.

19. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United between the US49 and Hawaii for 35K miles in coach or 60K in business class.

United charges 45K miles to get to the paradise also known as Hawaii in coach and 80K in business.  Transfer miles to Singapore and they’ll book those same flights for just 35K or 60K.

There are no fuel surcharges.

Need some inspiration for a Hawaii trip? This should keep you busy for a while:

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler:
-Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu
-Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii
-Part 3: Maui
-Part 4: Kauai

Trip reports:
-Trip Notes Kauai: Heaven On Earth (2014)
-Trip Notes: Maui No Ka ‘Oi (2014)
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
-
The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
-Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)

DDF forum threads:
-Hawaii Master Thread: General Questions And Which Island To Visit?
-Big Island Of Hawaii Master Thread
-Kauai Master Thread
-Maui Master Thread
-Oahu Master Thread

20. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United between the US and Israel for 75K miles in coach or 115K in business class.

Singapore charges fuel surcharges on most airlines, but not on United.  That means you can save 10K miles in coach or 25K miles in business by booking a United ticket to Israel with Singapore miles.

Note that if you want to travel on other airlines you may do better transferring to United, where fuel surcharges are never collected.

21. Marriott: Stay in the Ritz-Carlton Herzliya or the Renaissance Tel Aviv.

The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya is a luxury hotel that opened 10 months ago and has been getting rave reviews. It is a Ritz-Carlton tier 2 hotel which means that it’s 40,000 points per night or 160,000 points for a 5 night stay (32,000 points per night).

The Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel is a Marriott category 7 hotel that goes for 35,000 points per night or 140,000 points for a 5 night stay (28,000 points per night.)

22. United 10K short-haul awards.

United’s short-haul flights are well priced at just 10K miles each way. Best of all and unlike with British Airways, you are allowed to connect and exceed 700 miles as long as the origin and destination cities are within 700.

There are no fuel surcharges.

And if you’ve been to a DansDeals Seminar you know how to have all kinds of fun with that award!

23. Amtrak: Ride a scenic train for just 1,500 points in coach and 2,000 points in business.
Take a ride on select routes like Chicago-Detroit, Los Angeles-San Diego, Chicago-Milwaukee, Chicago-S. Louis, Portland, OR-Vancouver, BC, and Kansas City-S. Louis

24. Amtrak: Ride within the Northeast Corridor for just 4,000 points in coach and 8,000 points in Acela Express business.
Ride within the northeast (including Boston, NYC, Niagara Falls, Montreal, and Washington DC) for just 4,000 points in coach, 6,500 points in business class, 8,000 points in Acela Express business class, or 12,000 points in Acela Express first class.

On some routes that offers an incredible value for your points.

25. Amtrak: A private bedroom and bathroom with kosher meals for 12,500 points per adult.
Amtrak splits the country up into 3 zones. Cities that straddle a zone, like Atlanta, Denver, and Detroit, can count as whichever zone will be cheaper.

Here is the Amtrak award chart.

A coach ticket within one zone, say from NYC to Miami, is 5,500 points. Business is 6,500, a roomette is 15,000, and a bedroom is 25,000 points.
The bedroom rate is valid for 2 adults, so the effective price is 12,500 points per adult. There is a private bathroom and shower in the bedroom.

You can add a child age 2-12 into the bedroom for the cost of a coach ticket, or 5,500 more points.

Meals for all passengers, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, are included. You can even request complimentary kosher meals! Bedrooms have climate control, fresh towels and linens, bottled water, etc.

Want to go farther?
Take a 2 zone award (say NYC to Chicago) and the rate is 40,000 points for a bedroom (20K per adult). Add a child for the cost of a coach 3  zone award of 8,000 points.

Take a 3 zone award (Say NYC to Seattle) and the rate is 60,000 points for a bedroom (30K per adult). Add a child for the cost of a coach 3 zone award of 10,500 points.

Of course you can take a train from NYC to Miami or LA one-way in a bedroom, check that off your bucket list, and then just fly home one-way with British Airways or United miles.

Need more space? Redeem for 2 bedrooms and 2 adjoining bedrooms can be opened up into a suite.

Learn more about Amtrak Bedrooms here.

On to some more obscure stuff…

26. United: NYC to Israel and the Far East and back for 70K miles in coach or 110K in business.

Let’s keep this one on the down-low, shall we?

United allows for a free stopover.

Perhaps you noticed on the interactive award chart that it costs just 70K United miles to fly between the US and Japan?

But did you know that you can stopover in Tel Aviv on the way to Japan and just pay the 70K mileage rate for a ticket to Japan instead of the 85K mileage rate for a ticket between the USA and Tel Aviv.

Just use the Multiple destination award search to piece together awards like these:

tyo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach:

nrt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business:

nrt2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United never collects a fuel surcharge.

27. United: Tel Aviv to NYC to Israel and the Far East for 77.5K miles in coach or 145K in business:

This a one-way United award from Tel Aviv-Newark (42.5K) and a one-way award from Newark-Japan (35K). The fact that you can stop in Tel Aviv for as long as you want? That’s just your free stopover.  And nobody is making you go to Japan if you don’t want to go, but the Park Hyatt Tokyo looks like a pretty awesome base for a really neat city and country to explore.

picture120 067a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach:

tlv5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business:

nrt4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28. United: NYC to Tel Aviv to NYC with a flight to Hawaii several months later:

87.5K in coach:

hnl2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or fly back in a lie flat bed from Tel Aviv and in a lie-flat bed to Honolulu as well:

hnl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29. United: NYC to Tel Aviv to NYC with a flight to Los Angeles several months later:

85K in coach:

lax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or fly back in a lie flat bed from Tel Aviv and in a lie-flat bed to LA as well:

lax2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30. United: NYC to Honolulu to NYC with a flight to Miami several months later:

45K in coach:

mia1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

80K in lie-flat business class:

mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there are hundreds of other awesome redemptions out there. What’s your favorite?

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), and the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points through 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), and the Chase Ink Cash (which also has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas)

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American Express PRG And Delta Downgrades; A Possible Delta Workaround?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

1. Effective 01/01/15 the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card will no longer give a 15K point bonus for spending $30,000 in a year.  It will still give 3 points per dollar spent on airfare and 2 points per dollar spent on gas and groceries.

Annual spend threshold bonuses seem to be a dying breed.  One of the few remaining cards that have an annual spend threshold bonus is the Chase United Explorer card which gives a 10K point bonus for spending $25K in a year.

2. Effective 01/01/15 you will only be able to receive 250K Delta Skymiles per Delta account from Membership Rewards per calendar year.

Additionally you will only be able to spend out 250K points per Membership Rewards account to any number of Delta accounts.

This is a Delta imposed limitation.

In AMEX’s words,

“Beginning January 1, 2015, the maximum number of Membership Rewards® points you will be able to transfer out of a single Membership Rewards account to one or more SkyMiles accounts will be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year. Additionally, the maximum number of Membership Rewards points you will be able to transfer into a single SkyMiles account will also be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year.

You are able to transfer Membership Rewards points to a SkyMiles account without any annual limitations through December 31, 2014″


Workaround?  You are able to request that different American Express cards accumulate points in their own Membership Rewards account. It seems like that should function as a workaround to transferring out more points to Delta as AMEX clearly states that the 250K limit is just from a single Membership Rewards account. 
You can also freely transfer points between each of your Membership Rewards accounts so that each of your Membership Rewards eligible cards can transfer 250K points to Delta annually.

While your personal Delta account would only be able to receive 250K points per year, you can add a spouse or child as an additional user for example and transfer points to their Delta accounts. From there you can book award travel for anyone.

Delta is the only major US airline in the Membership Rewards program, so this is definitely a downgrade.  It’s worth noting that Delta will allow one-way awards starting 01/01/15, so that will help things a bit.

Either way Delta is one of the weaker partners in the Membership Rewards program and their miles are far less valuable than American or United miles.  Plus Membership Rewards charges a fee to transfer points to domestic programs like Delta.

Other international Membership Rewards partners offer a better value. For example:

-Air France can book one-way travel on Delta today and their rates are often less.  A round-trip to Israel is just 50K Air France miles and if you find Delta saver availability there are no fuel surcharges.

-A round-trip to Israel using Alitalia miles is just 80K in business class and fuel surcharges are relatively mild at about $300.

-British Airways Avios offers free travel starting at just 4,500 Avios.  Flights to Europe or Hawaii start at just 12.5K Avios each way with no fuel surcharges on select airlines.

-Air Canada has several award sweet spots. You need just 45K miles to fly to Europe each way in business class and many airlines have no fuel surcharges.

-El Al will soon be the only good way to book travel on El Al starting 11/01.

-ANA offers 38K round-trip tickets from NYC to London and 60K round-trip tickets to Israel with no fuel surcharges on United.  Or fly from NYC to the Caribbean or Central America for just 22K miles with no fuel surcharges.

-Singapore offers a private suite from JFK to Europe for just 57K miles. They also offer good rates to other destinations that United flies to with no fuel surcharges.

So there are plenty of other good options.  Frankly the move is a bit surprising.  AMEX pays cold hard cash for mileage transfers to Delta. A couple of years ago when AMEX points used to transfer to Continental, Delta ran significant point transfer bonuses to get people to send their points to Delta over Continental.

However this isn’t the first chink in the AMEX-Delta relationship.  Earlier this year Delta stopped allowing people who have the Platinum Card® from American Express to bring guests into their lounges. AMEX is responding to harsher airline lounge rules by opening their own network of premium airport Centurion lounges with free access for Platinum cardholders and their family/guests. Those currently can be found domestically in Dallas, Las Vegas, and NYC/LaGuardia. International locations include Buenes Aires, Delhi, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Sao Paulo.  Centurion lounges in Miami, San Francisco, and other domestic airports will open soon. Plus you can bring in your family/guests for free into Airspace lounges which can be found in Baltimore, Cleveland, NYC/JFK, and San Diego. The card also gives a Priorty Club lounge membership, a $200 annual airline fee credit, and SPG Gold status.

Of course you can still earn unlimited amounts of Delta miles on a card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. which is what Delta wants you to do (though I’m not sure why you would want to). However you would earn 25% more miles by spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and transferring points to Delta.  Unless a limit on Starwood transfers is in the cards as well?

Cards like The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express offer the ability to earn 20% or 50% more miles everywhere. And they can also each be assigned their own Membership Rewards account number, which should work to transfer more points out to Delta.  Note that the Everyday cards are credit cards and AMEX limits you to 4 credit cards per person.  Card like the Gold and Platinum are charge cards which don’t count towards that limit.

HT: miles, via DDF and Gary.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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ISIS Wallet To Rebrand As Softcard

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Update: Today is the final day for Verizon customers to get $20 back for spending $40 on Serve. You can spend on your physical Serve card at a store or online as long as the card is registered in your ISIS/Softcard app.

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Originally posted on 09/03:

In July I wrote about my long overdue journey from Bluebird to ISIS (click here to read more about the differences)

Of course over the past month we’ve read about the horrific beheadings perpetrated by the Islamic State which is also referred to as ISIS, so ISIS wallet has wisely decided to change their name to Softcard.

Regardless, ISIS with Serve has been amazing.
As a Verizon customer the signup bonuses are lucrative. $25 for signing up to ISIS with Serve, $20 off your first $40 Serve purchase, $1 back every time you use the ISIS wallet (up to $50/month through 2014), free coke from select coke machines, along with many other offers.

Similar offers are available with AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint customers can’t get ISIS.

Plus of course the Serve card is eligible for AMEX offers.
And you can add $1,500 in free monthly credit card funding to your Serve account without having to leave to comfort of your home.   That’s on top of $1,500 of debit card funding online and $5,000 of swiping gift cards in stores like WalMart and Family Dollar where you can add gift cards purchased that earned 5 points per dollar+1% cash back into your Serve account.

It’s all too lucrative to last.  But I’ll keep enjoying it while it does!

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Is This The End Of The Line For Ink Bold?

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

DDF user yakov116 first reported a few weeks ago that the Chase Ink Bold card was being discontinued based on what a manager in a Chase bank branch told him.

The card was still available in branches after that, but I just called around to a few branches that have Sunday hours in various cities and they all confirmed that the Ink Bold card is being phased out and is no longer available in-branch.

The Ink Plus card offers nearly identical incredible benefits and will continued to be offered.

But if you want to get an Ink Bold card this may be your last chance to get while it’s still being offered online.  The difference between Ink Plus and Ink Bold is that the Plus card is a credit card and the Bold card is a charge card.

Being a charge card, the Ink Bold offers a flexible spend limit that adjusts based on your usage.  You can also exceed that flexible line by a lot and still not have an issue running a charge through.

Sad to see another option go, but it seems like this may be the last chance to get a charge card from Chase.

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24,800 Points…And A Free Slurpee; Last Days To Finish Freedom Q3 Bonus Spending

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Update: Tuesday is the final day to finish bonus spending for Q3 on your Freedom card. 

You can register for Q4 spending now as well.

Click here to see which department stores qualify for 5 points per dollar in Q4. You’ll also earn 5 points per dollar at Amazon.com and Zappos.com.

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Originally posted on 09/09/14:

-Chase Freedom Visa-Earn 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $500 in 3 months plus 2,500 points for adding an additional user.
There is no annual fee for Chase Freedom!
—————————————————

I just got back from 7-Eleven where I picked up 9 OneVanilla cards and a slurpee.    Most 7-Eleven’s are categorized as gas stations even if they don’t sell gas, you can confirm each one on the Visa merchant categorization site if you have a Visa card.

$4,500 worth of cards cost me $4,544.55 spread across 3 of my Freedom cards. They had to bring rung up one at a time. When that was all done I reminded the clerk about my slurpee and he said that’s on the house :D

The purchase will earn 24,800 points and liquidating the cards won’t be hard at all.

We’re in the last month of Q3, so you have until the end of the month to earn 5 points per dollar spent at gas stations and Kohl’s.  Other gas stations and Kohl’s also sell gift cards good for other stores.

09/14 will be the last day to activate your Q3 Chase Freedom 5% categories. Although they are called “5% categories” you really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be cashed out for 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending you will earn at least 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points. If you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold card you can transfer Freedom points over to one of those cards and then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio into much more valuable airline miles (United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Singapore, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).  The $1,500 quarterly limit is per Freedom card.

Until 2016 if you have a Chase checking account you will also earn a 10% bonus on all points earned.  That means you’ll earn a whopping 5.5 points per dollar in these categories or 8,250 points each quarter. Those points post for the prevous year in February.

On 09/15 you’ll be able to register for Q4 which includes Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

Of course if you have an Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash card you will earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent all year round on telecom, cable, internet, as well as everything from office supply stores, which includes gift cards to other stores and prepaid cash cards that can be used anywhere.With the Bold/Plus cards that’s capped at $50,000 per year and with the Cash card that’s capped at $25,000 per year. Plus the Ink Visa cards earn 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar for $200+ purchases at Staples and other stores with Visa Savings Edge.  The cards also earn 2 points per dollar year-round at gas stations and either hotels (Bold/Plus) or dining (Cash).

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Chase United Explorer: 50,000 Miles For Spending $2,000 Plus 5,000 More Miles For Adding An Additional User

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Update: This 50K+5K increased bonus offer will expire at some point in middle of the day today, 09/02. Afterward the bonus will return to 30K+5K.
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Originally posted on 08/01:

Chase United Explorer Linky

This has long been a targeted offer but is now available publicly. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles for spending $2,000 within 3 months and an additional 5,000 miles for adding a free additional user card and making a purchase within 3 months.

Spend $2,000 on a new card and add an additional user and you’ll have 57,000 miles.

A short-haul United domestic award under 700 miles in distance is just 10,000 miles.  That’s a lot more than the BA 4.5K short-haul, but it allow for a longer distance and you are allowed to have connections for the same rate, something that BA doesn’t allow.

A round-trip ticket to 2 European or South American cities is just 60,000 miles round-trip thanks to a free stopover.  You’re even allowed a free open jaw on the same itinerary as a free stopover to really maximize your travel.

Best of all United never charges any fuel surcharges. Other airlines like American and USAirways collect massive fuel surcharges to fly on British Airways. Delta charges fuel surcharges to fly on some partners and if you originate in Europe and other regions. United will never collect a fuel surcharge and they have access to awards on 36 partner airlines which means better availability on more awards.

The United card is easily my favorite of all of the airline cards:

-It is the only card that gives expanded award ticket availability. Cardholders have access to expanded saver coach award availability (XN class), last seat standard coach award availability (YN class), and last seat standard business/first class award availability (JN class).

-You can read about examples of expanded availability in this post.
-You can learn more about searching for those classes in expert mode in this post.

-As you have better access to saver coach awards you’ll also have better ability to do Plan B awards. Plan B allows you to redeem for saver business and first class awards when there’s only saver coach available. Based on DDF reports and my own experience people have better than 95% odds of being seated in business class on a Plan B redemption.
-Read more about Plan B in this post.

No airline besides United offers a Plan B redemption.

-The United and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards are among the only cards that come with primary rental car CDW insurance. Almost every other card only has secondary coverage when you rent a car in your home country. This means that if you damage your rental vehicle you must file the claim with your own personal insurance policy first, and only if they won’t cover the damage will the credit card cover the damage. Even additional cardholders get primary coverage when they rent.

With primary rental car CDW insurance you will not have to file anything with your own insurance company. Chase will cover the entire bill for any damage to your rental car. Just be sure to decline the rental agency’s CDW coverage.  This primary coverage applies in every country in the world.

No airline card besides United offers primary CDW insurance.

-The United Explorer card gives 2 free United Club passes every year for being a cardmember.

-The United Explorer card gives a 10K mileage bonus every year in which you spend $25K.  That means you’ll earn at least 1.4 miles per dollar spent everywhere if you spend $25K in a year. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $2.5K on United flights to get Silver status, $5K on United flights to get Gold status, and $7.5K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.

-Your miles will never expire as long as you are a United cardholder even if you don’t have any activity.

-A massive benefit for United elite members is that they can get free upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.

Plus United is the only airline that assigns elite benefits to people that you redeem awards for.  That means people you book for have access to benefits like Economy Plus, lounge access, and more.

Last Friday morning I flew with my family from Los Angeles to Cleveland on 12.5K saver award tickets and all 4 of us were upgraded thanks to my elite status and having a United card!

Other card benefits:
-No foreign exchange fees
-Double miles on United purchases.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-First checked bag is free.

United has 36 partner airlines which means lots of award opportunities. However not all of them are currently bookable online, you’ll have to call (or use the Aeroplan or ANA sites) to get the full picture:

United partners that currently must be booked over the phone:
-Air India
-Brussels Airlines
-Cape Air
-Copa Airlines
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways
-LOT Polish
-Shenzhen
-Singapore

LOT and Brussels are excellent options for Israel flights with great award availability, but you usually won’t find those flights on United.com.

And here’s the list of partners currently bookable on United.com:
-Adria Airlines
-Aegean Airlines
-Aer Lingus
-Air Canada
-Air China
-Air New Zealand
-ANA
-Asiana Airlines
-Austrian Airlines
-Avianca Airlines
-Azul Brazilian Airlines
-Croatia Airlines
-Egyptair
-Ethiopian Airlines
-EVA Air
-Germanwings
-Hawaiian Airlines
-Island Air
-Lufthansa
-Scandinavian Airlines
-Shenzhen Airlines
-Silver Airways
-South African Airways
-Swiss International Airlines
-TAP Portugal
-THAI
-Turkish Airlines
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Other Chase consumer cards you can simultaneously include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), and the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and through 12/31/15, 10% bonus points if you have a Chase checking account increasing earnings up to 5.5 points per dollar).

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A Breakdown Of Airline Credit Cards And When To Use Them; 3 Signup Bonuses Ending Soon

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Related posts:
-Where Should You Be Using Each Of Your Credit Cards?
-Credit Cards For Dummies: 10 Frequently Asked Questions

-Find more posts like this by clicking on the “Credit Card Posts” tab and find credit card offers in the “Credit Cards” tab above of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Airline credit cards have great benefits and can have great signup bonuses that make them worth acquiring. However I cringe when I see people using them as you can usually do better spending on other cards.  Though there are exceptions.

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American’s cards are issued by Citibank. There is a standard Platinum level AA card and an Executive level AA card.
The Platinum level card offers 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 in 3 months and the Executive level card offers 50,000 miles for spending $5,000 3 months. The Executive was offering 100K for a while (and I netted a cool million miles thanks to that in the first half of this year) though that’s gone now. Once upon a time AA counted all miles, even credit card bonuses, towards lifetime elite status. Mimi and I got lifetime Platinum status that way, but those days are long gone.

The Platinum level card has no fee the first year and then a $95 fee.
The Executive level card has a $450 annual fee.

The Platinum level card offers group 1 boarding, a free checked bag just for having the card, and a 10% mileage rebate when you redeem up to 100K miles per year.
The Executive level card offers elite check-in, security, and boarding, a free checked bag, and an Admirals Club membership. Oddly it doesn’t offer the 10% rebate.

Both cards offer 1 mile per dollar and 2 miles per dollar for spending on AA tickets.
The Platinum level card offers a $100 AA flight discount for spending $30,000 per year.
The Executive card awards 10,000 elite qualifying miles for spending $40,000 per year.

If you want AA miles you’ll do better doing general spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express as 20,000 Starpoints can convert into 25,000 AA miles.

For AA flights you may want to spend on the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
You’ll get free baggage on AA flights even if you purchase the flights with another card as long as your AA mileage number that you supplied when you applied for the card is on your flight reservation.
You can use Royal Jordanian’s site to attach your AA mileage number to British Airways Avios bookings on AA flights.

The Premier Rewards Gold card gives 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare and while those points don’t transfer to American, they can transfer to partners like British Airways where a flight that American charges 17,500 miles for might cost only 4,500 with British Airways Avios.

The Sapphire Preferred card gives 2-2.14 points per dollar and also includes 10,000 of trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, $3,000 of lost luggage protection, $500 of trip delay protection, $100 per day of baggage delay protection, and travel accident insurance. Those points also can’t transfer to American, but they do transfer to partners like British Airways as well.

So when does it makes sense to spend on these cards?
-If you need those 10,000 elite miles to bump up to the next elite level.
-If you prefer getting 2 AA miles per dollar on AA flights as opposed to AMEX or Chase points.
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Delta’s cards are issued by American Express. There is a Gold Delta Card, a Platinum Delta Card, and a Reserve Delta Card.

On the Gold card you’ll also get a $50 statement credit for making a Delta purchase within 3 months of getting the card.
On the Platinum card you’ll get a $100 statement credit for making a Delta purchase within 3 months of getting the card.

The Platinum card awards you 15,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) for spending $1,000 within 3 months. It also awards 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 or more in purchases on your Card in a calendar year and an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 or more in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.

The Reserve card awards you 10,000 bonus MQMs for spending $1. It also awards 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 or more in purchases on your Card in a calendar year and an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after you spend $60,000 or more in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.

The Platinum and Reserve cards come with an annual domestic companion certificate for Delta flights.

The Reserve card comes with a Delta SkyClub membership.

The Gold card is free for the first year and is $95 afterward. The Platinum card is $195 per year and the first year is not waived on that card. The Reserve card is $450 per year and the first year is not waived on that card either.

All cards offer priority boarding and a free checked bag just for having the card.

All cards offer 1 mile per dollar and 2 miles per dollar for spending on Delta tickets.

If you want Delta miles you’ll do better doing general spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express as 20,000 Starpoints can convert into 25,000 Delta miles.

Or you can earn 1.5 miles per dollar (transferable to Delta) everywhere by making 30 transactions per month with The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express. Purchases like gas, Uber, and groceries will earn 3 or 4.5 miles per dollar.  The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express earns 1.2 miles per dollar (transferable to Delta) by making 20 transactions per month. Purchases like gas, Uber, and groceries will earn 2.4 or 3 miles per dollar.

For Delta flights you may want to spend on the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
You’ll get free baggage on Delta flights even if you purchase the flights with another card as long as your Delta mileage number that you supplied when you applied for the card is on your flight reservation.

The Premier Rewards Gold card gives 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare and those points can transfer to Delta.

The Sapphire Preferred card gives 2-2.14 points per dollar and also includes 10,000 of trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, $3,000 of lost luggage protection, $500 of trip delay protection, $100 per day of baggage delay protection, and travel accident insurance. Those points also can’t transfer to Delta, but they do transfer to partners like Korean as well.

Of course Delta miles can be notoriously hard to use (though some routes like flying in business class to Australia on Virgin Australia are tailor made for Delta miles) which will probably mean you would do best to spend on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, where you can earn 2.22% back on everything.

So when does it makes sense to spend on the Delta cards?
-If you’re gunning for the MQMs offered on the Platinum and Reserve level cards.
-If you spend $25K on Delta cards in a year you’ll also waive the requirement to spend a minimum amount on Delta flights to get elite status. You’ll still need to fly 25K/50K/75K/125K for status but you won’t also need to spend $2.5K/$5K/$7.5K/12.5K on Delta flights.

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United’s cards are issued by Chase. There is the United Explorer card and the United Club card (for the Club card just click on the Club card on the right-hand side of the page).

Until 09/02 only, the Explorer card offers 50,000 miles for spending $2,000 in 3 months plus 5,000 bonus miles for adding a free additional user. Sometime on 09/02 the Explorer card will return to a 30K bonus.

The Explorer card has no fee the first year and then a $95 fee.
The Club card has a $395 annual fee with a $100 statement credit the first year.

The Explorer card offers priority boarding, 2 free Club passes per year, and a free checked bag if you purchase your United ticket on the card.
The Club card offers elite check-in, security, and boarding, 2 free checked bags, waived last minute award expedite fees, and a United Club membership which allows you to access the secured part of the airport to visit the Club even when not flying.

Both cards offer expanded saver class award availability as well as last seat standard award availability which is extremely valuable.  Both cards also have free primary car rental insurance worldwide.  As long as you have either card your United miles will never expire.  Both cards also make elite members eligible for upgrades on award tickets.

The Explorer card offers 1 miles per dollar and 2 miles per dollar on United purchases. It also offers a 10,000 mile bonus for $25,000 in a year, bumping the potential earning to 1.4 miles per dollar everywhere if you can spend $25K in a year.
The Club card offers 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere and 2 miles per dollar on United purchases.

If you want United miles you’ll come out way ahead by using an Ink Plus or Ink Bold to buy $200 gift cards from Staples which earn 5 points per dollar plus 1% cash back via visasavingsedge.com and then use those gift cards to make your general purchases.  Or if you have Chase checking and a Freedom Visa you can earn 1.1 miles per dollar everywhere (though the 10% bonus is ending 12/31/15)

So when does it makes sense to spend on the United cards?

-For United flights you’ll want to use the cards in order to get free baggage.
-The Club card offers a respectable 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere and the Explorer card can make sense if you can spend $25K in a year.
-If you spend $25K on United cards in a year you’ll also waive the requirement to spend a minimum amount on United flights to get elite status. You’ll still need to fly 25K/50K/75K for status but you won’t also need to spend $2.5K/$5K/$7.5K on United flights. Note that you need to spend $10K for 1K status regardless of credit card spending.
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Barclays issues The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

This card will no longer be offered once the American and USAirways programs merge though an exact date is not yet known.

It offers 40,000 miles for spending $1 and the annual fee is $89.

The card offers a free checked bag just for having the card, priority boarding and a 5,000 mile discount on USAirways flights.

It earns 1 mile per dollar everywhere and 2 miles per dollar on USAirways flights.

For USAirways flights you may want to spend on the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
You’ll get free baggage on USAirways flights even if you purchase the flights with another card as long as your USAirways mileage number that you supplied when you applied for the card is on your flight reservation.

The Premier Rewards Gold card gives 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare and while those points don’t transfer to American, they can transfer to partners like British Airways where a flight that USAirways charges 35,000 miles for might cost only 9,000 with British Airways Avios.

The Sapphire Preferred card gives 2-2.14 points per dollar and also includes 10,000 of trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, $3,000 of lost luggage protection, $500 of trip delay protection, $100 per day of baggage delay protection, and travel accident insurance. Those points also can’t transfer to American, but they do transfer to partners like British Airways as well.

So when does it makes sense to spend on this card?
Pretty much only if you prefer getting 2 USAirways miles per dollar on USAirways flights as opposed to AMEX or Chase points.

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Chase issues the British Airways Visa Signature card.

It offers 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000 and the annual fee is $95.

It earns 1.25 Avios per dollar everywhere and 2.5 Avios per dollar on BA flights.

It also offers 10% off paid BA flights and awards a companion certificate if you spend $30K in a year that you can use when redeeming Avios for a BA flight in any class of service.

You can earn 1.5 miles per dollar (transferable to British Airways) everywhere by making 30 transactions per month with The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express. Purchases like gas, Uber, and groceries will earn 3 or 4.5 miles per dollar.  The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express earns 1.2 miles per dollar (transferable to Delta) by making 20 transactions per month. Purchases like gas, Uber, and groceries will earn 2.4 or 3 miles per dollar.  The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express allows you to convert 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 BA Avios.

If you don’t mind tinkering with gift cards, you’ll come out way ahead by using an Ink Plus or Ink Bold to buy $200 gift cards from Staples which earn 5 points per dollar plus 1% cash back via visasavingsedge.com and then use those gift cards to make your general purchases. Those points also transfer to British Airways.

For British Airways flights you may want to spend on the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The Premier Rewards Gold card gives 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare and those points transfer to British Airways.

The Sapphire Preferred card gives 2-2.14 points per dollar and also includes 10,000 of trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, $3,000 of lost luggage protection, $500 of trip delay protection, $100 per day of baggage delay protection, and travel accident insurance. Those points also transfer to British Airways.

So when does it makes sense to spend on this card?
If you have those other cards probably never unless you really want that companion certificate.

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Cards from revenue based programs like Southwest and JetBlue rarely makes sense for spending as you’ll do better earning 2.22% on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

Nor do those programs offer additional free baggage or other tangible benefits for cardholders.

An exception is that Southwest offers a free companion pass if you earn 110K miles on their cards in a calendar year which effectively doubles the value of their miles.  Though you’ll still do better earning Southwest points via transfers from other Chase that earn more miles per dollar spent.

JetBlue points will never be more valuable than the Arrival card, so using that card for spending isn’t worthwhile.

BOFA offers the Alaska Air card but you can transfer 20K Starpoints into 25K Alaska miles which means that you are better off spending on the Starwood card if you want Alaska miles.

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Where Should You Be Using Each Of Your Credit Cards?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

-Find more posts like this by clicking on the “Credit Card Posts” tab and find credit card offers in the “Credit Cards” tab above of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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People always ask me what credit card they should be using to get the most bang for their buck.  Unfortunately there is no best credit card, so the trick is to optimize your spending to earn the most possible rewards.

To figure that you need to calculate the value of a mile, another challenging topic.

You can value a mile by what they sell for on the grey market, but that’s not really fair because those miles are being resold by a broker to someone else at a higher valuation.  So there’s 1 grey market value for what a broker will pay (and even that will depend on the broker and the amount being sold) and there’s another grey market value if you actually know end users.  I know of folks who fly first class internationally just to make contacts with people who actually pay $30,000 to be in the pointy section of the plane.  Of course the airlines frown on all this and some aggressively shut accounts down for selling their miles.

A better way of valuing miles is according to what you use them for as that’s how they’re intended to be used.  The problem with that is the sky is the limit for that.  A last-minute British Airways award for a flight that costs $1,200 is just 9,000 Avios, a value of  over 13 cents per mile. You can fly in a private walled-in Singapore suite to Europe for 57,000 miles one-way. A Cathay Pacific first class flight to Asia on the best bed and seat in the sky is just 120,000 miles on a flight that would otherwise cost $28,000. That would mean your miles are worth more than 23 cents each.  I’ve had redemptions where my miles were worth over 50 cents each.

Of course someone else might redeem 25,000 miles for a $125 domestic ticket where their miles will only be worth half a cent each.

Finally having miles locked into a program is worth less than having points in a flexible currency.  Flexible currencies allow you to wait and see what is available for when you want to travel. And they are a hedge against devaluations.

Determine the value:
Value depends on what YOU will do with the points.

If you’re selling your miles to a broker, realize they need to turn a profit as the middleman, and that means you’ll probably lose between 0.1-0.4 cents off of these valuations depending on the broker and the amount you’re selling.  You’ll never do as well selling to a broker as you will selling directly to someone actually flying somewhere last minute coach or in business or first class or by just using the miles yourself.

I will give the values that I get when I use my points. Often I get several times that value, but let’s call their value the minimum level at which if I can’t attain that value I won’t burn the points. Feel free to plugin your own numbers as this is a highly personal exercise.

-Starwood Starpoints: 2.1 cents (Use for hotels or get a 25% points bonus when you transfer increments of 20K into 25K miles with dozens of airlines like ANA, Air Canada, Alaska, American, British Airways, Delta, Flying Blue, Singapore, and USAirways. Caveat: Transfers aren’t instant.)
-Chase Ultimate Rewards points: 1.75 cents (Transfer to hotels like Hyatt or airlines like British Airways, Singapore, Southwest, and United)
-American Express Membership Rewards points: 1.6 cents (Transfer to airlines like ANA, Air Canada, British Airways, Delta, El Al, Flying Blue, and Singapore. Caveat: No good hotel options and transfers to domestic program incur fees.)
-United miles: 1.7 cents
-American/USAirways miles: 1.7 cents
-British Airways Avios: 1.5 cents
-Delta miles: 1.4 cents
-Barclay Arrival gives 2.22% cash back.
-Fidelity gives 2% cash back
-Blue Cash gives 1-3% cash back
-Blue Cash Preferred gives 1-6% cash back
-Discover it gives 1-5% cash back

Let’s take a look at what you can earn for spending on 21 different cards:

Cards with transferable point currencies:
-Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 40K for spending $3K plus 5K for adding an additional user. Highlights: Signup bonus, double points for dining and travel.
-Chase Ink Plus Business Card
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 50K for spending $5K. Highlights: Signup bonus, double points for gas and hotels, quintuple points for office supplies and telecom, annual lounge passes.
-Chase Ink Bold Business Card
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 50K for spending $5K. Highlights: Signup bonus, double points for gas and hotels, quintuple points for office supplies and telecom, annual lounge passes.
-Chase Ink Cash Business Card
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 3%. Signup bonus: 20K for spending $3K. Highlights: Double points for gas and dining, quintuple points for office supplies and telecom, annual lounge passes.
-Chase Freedom Visa
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 3%. Signup bonus: 10K for spending $500. Highlights: Quintuple point rotating categories, 10% checking bonus (ending 12/31/15)
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Annual fee: Free then $65. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 25K for spending $5K. Highlight: 25% bonus for converting points into miles.
-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 10K for spending $1K. Highlights: The only free card that allows that allows direct mileage transfers, 1.2-2.4 points per dollar everywhere.
-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express
Annual fee: $95. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 15K for spending $1K. Highlights: 1.5-4.5 points per dollar everywhere.
-American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
Annual fee: Free then $175. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 25K for spending $2K. Highlights: Double points on gas and groceries, triple points on airfare, 15K bonus points for $30K annual spend.
-Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual fee: $450. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 40K for spending $3K. Highlights: Signup bonus, Centurion lounge access, Airspace lounge access, Delta lounge access, Priority Club worldwide lounge access, $200 annual airline fee refund, Starwood Gold Elite status, Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee refund.

Airline cards:
-Chase British Airways Visa Signature
Annual fee: $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 50K for spending $2K. Highlights: Signup bonus, 1.25 miles per dollar spent, 10% off BA flights, worldwide companion certificate on award tickets if you spend $30K/year.
-Chase United MileagePlus Explorer
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 50K for spending $2K plus 5K for adding an additional user. Highlights: Signup bonus, free checked bag, expanded saver and standard award availability, never-expiring miles, priority boarding, 2 annual club passes, elite upgrades on award tickets.
-Chase United MileagePlus Club (Click on Club card on the right of the page)
Annual fee: $395. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: $100. Highlights: United Club membership including security passes when not flying, 2 free checked bags, waived award last minute booking fees, premier baggage handling, security, and boarding, expanded saver and standard award availability, never-expiring miles, elite upgrades on award tickets.
-Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 50K for spending $1K plus $50 back for making a Delta purchase. Highlights: Signup bonus, free checked bag, priority boarding.
-Citi AA Mastercard
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: 3%. Signup bonus: 50K for spending $3K. Highlights: Signup bonus, priority boarding, free checked bag, 10% up to 10K award rebate.
-The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®
Annual fee: $89. Forex fee: 3%. Signup bonus: 40K for spending $1. Highlights: Signup bonus, priority boarding, free checked bag, 5K mileage discount on USAir flights

Cashback cards:
-Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
Annual fee: Free then $89 (fee is consistently waived by calling and asking). Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: $400 for spending $3K ($440 accounting for the 10% rebate). Highlights: Signup bonus, 2.22% cash back everywhere.
-Fidelity American Express
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 1%. Signup bonus: None. Highlight: 2% cash back everywhere.
-Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: $100 for spending $1K. Highlight: Up to 3% cash back.
-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Annual fee: $75. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: $150 for spending $1K. Highlight: Up to 6% cash back.
-Discover it®
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: None. Highlight: Up to 5% cash back.

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Now that we have a value set for each currency we can translate that into the rewards percentage you’ll get for various types of purchases.  Below are the numbers for regular purchases as well as several common categories where you earn more than everyday purchases.

Everyday purchase (Click here to see how many points are earned and how these calculations are made):
-Ink (general spending made via $200 gift cards bought from Staples at a cost of $6.95): 6.62%
-United Club: 2.55%
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (assuming you make 30 transaction per month): 2.4%
-Premier Rewards Gold (assuming you can spend exactly $30K per year) 2.4%
-United Explorer (assuming you spend exactly $25K per year): 2.38%
-Barclaycard Arrival: 2.22%
-Starwood: 2.1%
-Fidelity: 2%
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking: 1.93%
-AMEX EveryDay (assuming you make 20 transaction per month): 1.92%
-British Airways: 1.88%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 1.87%
-Ink: 1.75%
-Freedom without checking: 1.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 1.75%
-United Explorer (under $25K spend per year): 1.7%
-American/USAirways: 1.7%
-Premier Rewards Gold (under $30 spend per year): 1.6%
-AMEX Platinum: 1.6%
-Delta: 1.4%
-Blue Cash/Blue Cash Preferred: 1%
-Discover It: 1%

Amazon.com Purchase:
-Ink (via Amazon gift card bought from Staples): 9.75%
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking during promo quarter: 9.63%
-Chase Freedom without Chase checking during promo quarter: 8.75%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Airfare:
-Ink (For Southwest flights via Southwest gift cards bought from Staples): 9.75%
-Premier Rewards Gold (assuming you can spend exactly $30K in a year) 5.6%
-Premier Rewards Gold (under $30K spend/year) 4.8%
-United Explorer on United flights (assuming you can spend exactly $25K in a year): 4.08%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-British Airways on British Airways flights: 3.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-United Club on United flights: 3.4%
-United Explorer on United flights (under $25K spend/year): 3.4%
-American on American flights: 3.4%
-USAirways on USAirways flights: 3.4%
-Delta on Delta flights: 2.8%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Car Rental:
These cards have primary insurance coverage worldwide:
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-United Club: 2.55%
-United Explorer (assuming you can spend exactly $25K in a year): 2.38%
-United Explorer (under $25K spend/year): 1.7%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Hotel:
-Starwood at a Starwood hotel: 4.2%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-Ink Bold/Plus: 3.5%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Restaurant:
-Ink (For restaurant gift cards bought from Staples): 9.75%
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking during promo quarter: 9.63%
-Chase Freedom without Chase checking during promo quarter: 8.75%
-Sapphire Preferred on the first Friday of the month with 7% dividend: 5.62%
-Sapphire Preferred on the first Friday of the month without 7% dividend: 5.25%
-Discover it during promo quarter: 5%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-Ink Cash: 3.5%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Gas:
-Ink (via gas gift card bought from Staples): 9.75%
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking during promo quarter: 9.63%
-Chase Freedom without Chase checking during promo quarter: 8.75%
-Discover it during promo quarter: 5%
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (assuming you make 30 transaction per month): 4.8%
-Premier Rewards Gold (assuming you can spend exactly $30K in a year) 4%
-Ink: 3.4%
-Premier Rewards Gold (under $30K spend in a year) 3.2%
-Blue Cash Preferred: 3%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Groceries (Including gift cards):
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (assuming you make 30 transaction per month): 7.2%
-Blue Cash Preferred: 6%
-Premier Rewards Gold (assuming you can spend exactly $30K) 4%
-AMEX EveryDay (assuming you make 20 transaction per month): 3.84%
-Premier Rewards Gold (under $30K spend in a year) 3.2%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Staples purchases including gift cards:
-Ink: 9.75%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

-Internet/Phone/Cable bills:
-Ink: 8.75%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Department stores:
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking during promo quarter: 9.63%
-Chase Freedom without Chase checking during promo quarter: 8.75%
-Discover it during promo quarter: 5%
-Blue Cash Preferred: 3%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Uber:
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (assuming you make 30 transaction per month): 4.8%
-Premier Rewards Gold (assuming you can spend exactly $30K) 4%
-AMEX EveryDay (assuming you make 20 transaction per month): 3.84%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-Premier Rewards Gold (under $30K spend in a year) 3.2%
-AMEX Platinum: 3.2%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Things to bear in mind:

-If you might need return protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, or dispute resolution on an item you’ll probably want to use an American Express card as their protections are pain-free and amazing. If you have a problem with a merchant you can file an easy dispute online. If you buy a final sale item they will take it back without a fuss, or if it’s under $100 they’ll usually credit you without even needing you to send it back. If your computer breaks in the extended warranty year they will refund it.

-You can change how you value each mileage currency and that will change the results.  Above is a general guideline, but it’s highly variable based on how you use your miles.

-When buying gift cards for spending you will lose the protections that a credit card offers like dispute resolution. You also have to factor in the “pain” factor of getting the gift card and the fact that you can cash out the gift card at Walmart or other stores for free or for a nominal fee.

-Some of the bonuses have spending caps such as:
-Ink Bold/Ink Plus: $50K annual spend in quintuple and $50K annual spend in double point categories.
-Ink Cash: $25K annual spend in quintuple and $25K annual spend in double point categories.
-Freedom/Discover: $1,500 quarterly spend in quintuple point categories.
-Blue Cash/Blue Cash Preferred: $6K annual spend in grocery category.
-AMEX Everyday/Everyday Preferred: $6K annual spend in grocery category.

-The points from Freedom and Ink Cash can’t transfer directly into real miles. You or your spouse will need an active Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus when you want to make that transfer.

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Read the methodology and calculations behind the numbers in this post after the jump:

Click here to keep reading this post!

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Goodbye Chase Trifecta

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Years ago I called having a Chase Freedom card, a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and a Chase checking account the Chase Trifecta.

Back then by having all 3 you could
-Earn 10 points every time you used your Freedom card
-Earn a 10% bonus on Freedom base spending
-Earn 5 points per dollar in rotating Freedom categories.
-Earn 2.14 points per dollar on airfare, dining, car rentals, hotels, and more with Sapphire Preferred.
-Transfer the Freedom points to your Sapphire card to allow those points to be used for lucrative airline and hotel currencies.

I guess that was all too generous. The Freedom card first got rid of the 10+10% program (though some people still have it until today) though they actually improved the 10% by allowing it to count on bonus points. That made the quarterly rotating 5 point categories actually worth 5.5 points per dollar.
However now they announced the 10% will be going away altogether with the final annual bonus posting in 2016 for 2015 spending.  The same applies to Sapphire Preferred with the 7% annual bonus ending at the same time.

The good news is that the 10% language is still on the Freedom application, so you can apply now and still take advantage of that for 2014 and 2015 spending before its phased out.

I always thought it was a clever way to get people to bank with Chase, but the problem for Chase is that it was a hard benefit to communicate.

For now my old Ink Bold card still has its incredible exclusives benefits. Anyone care to guess when that will be phased out?

At any rate, Freedom and Sapphire remain a killer combo thanks to the 2 and 5 point bonus categories and Sapphire’s ability to transfer Freedom points to airlines and hotels (though Ink Plus and Ink Bold can do that as well). Come 2016 and it won’t be as lucrative as it once was.

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How Far Will The Chase Marriott 70K Offer Go For Hotels In Israel?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Update: The 70K Chase Marriott bonus is schedule to end at some point tomorrow.
DDF member SamKey wrote a nice trip report from a points stay at the Ritz-Carlton Herzliya that you can read here.

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Originally posted on 07/28:

Point hotels in Israel are hard to come by.

Not long ago Starwood had 13 properties that were all bargains with Starpoints. I stayed in many of them on a month-long trek across the holy land in August of 2007 spending just a couple thousand Starpoints per night to stay in Jerusalem, Haifa, Eilat, Tiberias, and the Dead Sea.  Now there’s just 1 left, the Sheraton Tel Aviv, and at 12K-16K points per night it’s not the bargain it once was.

It seems hotels don’t need to stay part of a loyalty program to fill up their rooms in Israel.  Hyatt had a Jerusalem hotel but now has nothing. Hilton has had several hotels in Jerusalem over the years that have come and gone. The David Citadel opened as the Hilton Jerusalem in 1998 but left Hilton in 2001.  It’s anyone’s guess as to how long the newly opened Waldorf Jerusalem will stay part of Hilton, but at 80K points per night it’s out of the budget of most folks.

Chase recently released a limited time offer on the Chase Marriott card for 70K bonus points for spending $2,000 in 3 months.  On top of that you’ll also get a free night at a category 1-4 hotel upon account approval.  You also get a free night at a category 1-5 hotel every year that you renew the card.

The $85 annual fee is waived for the first year.

The Marriott program is split into “categories” and “tiers.”

Marriott has 9 categories of hotels that range from 7,500 to 45,000 points per night or 6,000 to 40,000 points per night when they’re on PointSavers.

Marriott also has 5 tiers of Ritz Carlton hotels that range from 30,000 to 70,000 points per night or 20,000 to 60,000 points per night when they’re on PointSavers.

When you stay 4 nights you get the 5th night free.  You can browse hotels in each of those categories and tiers via the find button on this page. While there you can look at the additional free night you receive at signup besides for the bonus points at category 1-4 hotels.

You can also transfer points into miles here. The ratios aren’t great, but if you need some Southwest points for Companion pass status that can be worthwhile.

Marriott also offers miles+nights packages.

Israel has 2 Marriott hotels:
The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya is a luxury hotel that opened 7 months ago and has been getting rave reviews. It is a Ritz-Carlton tier 2 hotel which means that it’s 40,000 points per night or 160,000 points for a 5 night stay (32,000 points per night).

A standard room for a tourist from 08/10-08/15 is $2,750 or $550 per night.  Or you can use 160,000 points, a value of 1.72 cents per point.  The 70K signup bonus would be worth over $1,200 for a redemption at that value per point.

A standard room for non-tourists would run $3,245 for the 5 nights with VAT. Using points would yield a value of 2.03 cents per point.

Marriott allows free point transfers between spouses, so if 2 spouses both get a Marriott card and spend $2,000 on each they would have at least 144,000 points in one account and 2 free category 1-4 nights.  You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott, but in most cases there are better uses for Ultimate Rewards points.  After all you can buy increments of 1,000 points for $12.50 and Ultimate Rewards are worth more than that.  I’d rather buy the additional 16,000 points needed in that scenario for a 5 night stay for $200 than use 16,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

The Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel is a category 7 hotel that goes for 35,000 points per night or 140,000 points for a 5 night stay (28,000 points per night.)

A standard room for a tourist from 08/03-08/08 is $1,475 or $295 per night.  Or you can use 140,000 points, a value of 1.05 cents per point. The 70K signup bonus would be worth $735 for a redemption at that value per point.

A standard room for non-tourists would run $1,741 for the 5 nights with VAT. Using points would yield a value of 1.24 cents per point.

2 spouses each getting the Marriott card would have more than enough points for a 5 night stay at the Renaissance Tel Aviv and they would still have 2 more free nights at category 1-4 properties.
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Other Chase consumer cards you can simultaneously include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), Chase United Explorer (50K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories), .

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Centurion Lounge Now Open In Laguardia; Roundup Of Platinum Lounges And Card Benefits

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

The Centurion Lounge in LaGuarida opened this morning:

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Access is free for holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Originally these lounges were designed for free access only for Centurion cardholders, you know them as those black cards that cost a whopping $2,500 per year with a $7,500 initiation fee that used to give elite status on airline like Continental and USAirways but no longer do.

But once the Platinum card started losing airline lounge partners they opened the Centurion lounge up to Platinum cardholders for free as well. You can bring your spouse and kids into the lounge for free. Or you can bring in any 2 other people with you for free. People who have other AMEX cards can pay $50 per person to enter.

I went to take a peak at the LaGuardia Centurion lounge on Sunday though it wasn’t open yet.  It’s located in the central terminal before security, so it won’t be useful if you’re flying on Delta or USAirways which fly from different terminals.  There was little signage available to find it but I took the elevator near the United check=in counter up to the floor above the departure level and it was right on the left.

It’s located before security so that passengers departing from any of the 4 wings in the central terminal can access it without going through security twice.

The LaGuardia lounge is smaller than the Dallas and Vegas lounges and it doesn’t have as many amenities like showers and massages, but it’s still a nice addition to the airport.

It’s the 3rd Centurion lounge in the US after Dallas and Las Vegas. Miami and San Francisco are due for lounges next as the network expands. There are also Centurion lounges throughout Central and South America though those aren’t as luxurious as the US lounges.

-Airspace lounges:

Platinum cardholders also can access a growing Airspace lounge network. They now have locations in Baltimore, Cleveland, JFK (JetBlue terminal), and San Diego. You can also bring your spouse and kids into those lounges for free. Or you can bring in any 2 other people with you for free.

These are modern lounges with free premium coffee, bottled water, and self service soft drinks.  Additionally you and every guest also gets a gift card valid towards purchasing premium alcohol, local craft beers, cocktails, and meals.

-Platinum cardholders also get a free Priority Pass membership.

There are over 600 lounges worldwide that accept Priority Pass and you can access all of them for free.

For example:

-In Newark you can access the Art & Lounge.  That’s the same lounge that El Al provides for their business and first class passengers. It has exclusively kosher food and Israeli art.

-In Tel Aviv you can access the Dan lounge.

See the Priority Pass site for their complete list of lounges. Note that you can’t access United lounges with the Priority Pass membership that you get from the Platinum card.

You don’t get any free guests, but secondary Platinum cardholders can get their own free Priority pass membership.

-Delta Skyclubs:

Platinum cardholders can also access Delta Skyclubs, though they can no longer bring in free guests there.  However you can add 3 additional users onto a personal Platinum card for $175 ($58.33 per additional cardholder per year).  Secondary users do get full lounge access so they will have access to Delta and Priority Pass lounges for themselves and they will be able to guest others into Airspace and Centurion lounges.

The Platinum card has a hefty $450 annual fee.  Besides for the lounge access there are other benefits that take away from that sting.

-$200 per calendar year airline fee credit.

Every calendar year you can get a $200 airline fee refunds.  That means in your first cardmembership year you can get a $400 refund thanks to a $200 credit in 2014 and a $200 credit in 2015.

-TSA Pre Check or Global Entry Fee Refund

TSA Pre-Check makes flying pleasant again. Shorter lines, no need to remove your shoes, belt, jacket, or hat. You can keep your laptop and freedom baggie with liquids in your carry-on. And you go through a good old fashioned metal detector instead of assuming the position in a nude-o-scope.

It costs $85 for 5 years but you’ll get an $85 statement credit when you pay with a Platinum card. Additional cardholders get it free as well.

Or you can get Global Entry which includes TSA Pre-Check for free.  Normally Global Entry costs $100 and it also lets you bypass the customs line when returning from abroad. If you charge it on your Platinum card the fee will be refunded.

Additional cardholders qualify for a Global Entry fee refund as well.

-Starwood Gold Elite Status:

Platinum cardholders get Gold elite status for free.  That gets you free Wi-Fi or you can get a 250 point rebate every time you stay at a Starwood hotel-even if you are on an award stay!

It also gets you free upgrades and 4pm late checkout.

-Lost Item Protection:

If you buy something on your Platinum card up to $10,000 and lose it within 90 days of purchase it will be fully covered.  No other card I’m aware of offers lost item protection.  Many cards offer stolen item protection, but that requires a police report to be filed and often it has a cap of just $1,000.

-Car Rental Perks:

A 4 hour late return fee-free grace period at Hertz and fee-waived Gold Plus membership, National Executive guarantee upgrades and faster free award rentals, Avis free weekend certificate with 2 rentals, and more.

The card also comes with free checked baggage insurance and it has no foreign exchange fees.  And of course it comes with all of the amazing purchase protections that other American Express cards have as well.

So, is it all worthwhile? It’s not a great card for spending, frankly I value Starpoints earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express more than the Membership Rewards points from this card.  Even the less expensive American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card earns more Membership Rewards points than the Platinum card thanks to its bonus categories.

But the Platinum card does continue to have very unique benefits. I’ve laid most of them out for you and you’ll just have to decide for yourself if its worth it based on your own situation :D

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Reminder: Triple Points Per Dollar With Sapphire Preferred At Restaurants And Caterers Today

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Today and on every first Friday of every month you will earn triple points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card on all dining purchases. Normally you earn double points per dollar on airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.

If you opened your card before 07/20 you’ll also get a 7% annual dividend that means 3.21 points per dollar. For example if you spend $100 in any restaurant you’ll get 300 points on your next statement plus 21 additional points as part of your annual dividend.

Dining on the Sapphire Preferred card includes all sit-down restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, catering, bars, lounges, and more.

Don’t want to eat out today? Ask your favorite eatery if they sell gift cards or will allow you to have a credit balance in your name and lock bonus points by purchasing them today!

Need to pay a caterer? Do it today and pocket all those extra miles!

Are you outside of the USA? Not to worry, the Sapphire Preferred card does not charge any foreign transaction fees. (Which also makes it the best card for car rentals in every country in the world: Double points for car rentals, free primary CDW insurance with no deductible, and no foreign exchange fees).

Sapphire Preferred comes with a 40,000 point signup bonus and another 5,000 point bonus for opening a free additional user card. The $95 fee is waived for the first year. Having a Sapphire Preferred card allows you to transfers all of your Chase points (including points earned on Chase Freedom) to lucrative currencies like United (Star Alliance), Singapore (Star Alliance), British Airways (OneWorld), Korean (Skyteam), Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak.

Read more about the Sapphire card’s benefits in this post.

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Bye Bye Bluebird

Monday, July 28th, 2014

I finally did it. I closed my Bluebird. And I joined ISIS.

No, not that ISIS. And no, DansDeals hasn’t been hacked Domino’s Pizza style by Islamic terrorists (though I love the person that made the Ninja Turtle connection).

I got an NFC SIM card from Verizon (you can get one in-store or order one over the phone for free) which allowed me to finally signup for the (unfortunately named) ISIS wallet app.

The ISIS wallet is a method of paying for items via NFC technology.  You can add your credit card to it to make payments with your phone. And you can signup for an AMEX Serve prepaid card in the app.

If you have Verizon and signup for ISIS and apply for an AMEX Serve card in the app by 07/31 you’ll get $25.  MY $25 credit showed up within minutes of opening a Serve card in the ISIS app. If you have AT&T you’ll get $15.  If you have T-Mobile there is no signup bonus. If you have Sprint you’re out of luck, ISIS doesn’t work with Sprint.

iPhones don’t have NFC and will require a special NFC case that you can buy from your carrier to work with ISIS.

You will also get $1 back every time you buy something $1 or more with your Serve card via the ISIS wallet. That offer is valid up to 50 times per month until 12/31/14, so a potential $300 can be had like that.

Serve vs. Bluebird:

Serve is a prepaid card from AMEX that is awfully similar to Bluebird. So similar that AMEX only allows you to have one of them.  If you have a Bluebird card you’ll have to first have a zero balance and then call to have it closed before you can get a Serve card.

Both Bluebird and Serve can be loaded at Walmart with gift cards like the ones sold by Staples. The limits are the same, $2,500 per day and $5,000 of loading per month in-store.

But Serve can also be loaded at Family Dollar with $500 of Vanilla gift cards per day. Vanilla gift cards are sold at CVS with a credit card. Some 7-Eleven’s allow credit cards to buy Vanilla gift or debit cards as well and they qualify for 5.5 points per dollar with Chase Freedom this quarter.

And Serve can be loaded online directly with your credit card and debit card as long as your name is on them.  More on the limits for that below, but that’s easy free miles there!

Just like with Bluebird, loading gift cards online is a big no-no. You have to do that in stores.

Serve has a 2.7% foreign exchange fee. Bluebird has no foreign exchange fees.

Note that while Bluebird gives free checks that you can use to cash out your account balance, Serve has no checks. Instead you can pay off your bills and credit cards with your account balance.

However Serve allows you to withdraw cash ($750 per day and $2,000 per month) from a MoneyPass ATM for free. With Bluebird that would incur a $2 charge unless you have a direct deposit going to your Bluebird card.

You don’t need ISIS to signup for Serve but there are several advantage to doing that:
1. While Bluebird has no fees, Serve has a $1/month fee. That fee doesn’t apply if you live in NY, TX, or VT. It doesn’t apply if you have direct deposit. It doesn’t apply if you load $500 to it that month.
But for everyone else there’s also no fee for Serve as long as you keep a virtual Serve card in your ISIS wallet.

2. The regular Serve card allows you to load $200 per day online from a debit card and $200 per day online from a credit card. Those are both capped at $1,000 per month of loading.
However Serve with ISIS allows you to load $500 per day online from a debit card and $500 per day online from a credit card. Those are both capped at $1,500 per month of loading.
Don’t load Serve with an AMEX online as you won’t earn points for that.

I don’t have a physical Serve card yet, I just have the virtual card in my app now. It let me load $400 on the first day with my credit card and another $100 on the second day with a credit card. Once I activate my physical Serve card I’ll be able to load the full amounts.

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Sapphire Preferred Phasing Out 7% Annual Dividend, Adding Primary Rental Car CDW Insurance Worldwide

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is an excellent all-around card thanks to its generous double point categories that include airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.  On the first Friday of each month the dining/catering category is bumped up to triple points.  The card is made from metal and a real live human being answers the phone when you call customer service without having to navigate a phone-tree maze.

The card offers 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $3,000 in 3 months and an additional 5,000 points for adding a free additional user card. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.  There are no foreign exchange fees with Sapphire Preferred.

Unfortunately the 7% annual point dividend on top of all earning is being phased out.  Existing customers will still earn the 7% points dividend in February 2015 for 2014 purchases and one final time in February 2016 for 2015 purchases.

On the plus side though, effective today Chase is adding free primary car rental CDW insurance for every country in the world to the Sapphire Preferred card.  Almost every other credit card out there (besides for Chase United cards) only offers secondary coverage when you rent a car in your home country.

The difference between primary and secondary coverage is huge.  Secondary coverage requires that you file a damage claim with your own car insurance company and only if your personal car insurance denies the claim will the credit card pay out.  You would have to be crazy to file a claim with your personal insurance for a scratch on your rental car. With primary coverage the credit card will cover all damage done to your rental car and your personal car insurance will never have to find out-so you won’t have to file a claim with your personal car insurance and your premiums won’t go up.

Most credit cards also exclude countries like Israel from coverage, however all Chase cards cover you worldwide, including in Israel.  And they will give you a letter of coverage stating that you are covered in Israel so that you don’t have to argue at the rental car counter that your Chase Visa does give CDW coverage.

With primary worldwide coverage on top of 2 points per dollar for car rentals, there is no better card today to rent a car on than Sapphire Preferred.

Chase also announced that effective today trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance on the Sapphire Preferred card will go up from $5,000 per trip to $10,000.  Other card benefits include:
-Lost luggage protection ($3,000 per person)
-Trip delay protection ($500 per person for trips delayed by 12+ hours or that require an overnight stay)
-Baggage delay protection (If delayed 6+ hours: $100 per day per person up to 5 days)
-Travel accident insurance
-Price protection ($500 per item that drops in price within 90 days of purchase)
-Return protection ($500 per item for 90 days)
-Purchase protection ($500 per item damaged or stolen for 120 days)
-Extended warranty protection ($10,000 per item for an extra year on original warranties of 3 years or less)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card earns Ultimate Rewards points and has the ability to transfer points into miles.  It also gives you the ability to transfer points from fantastic cards like Chase Freedom and Ink Cash into miles as well, as those cards can’t transfer points directly into miles without having the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus card.

Points transfer at an equal ratio to:
-United (Star Alliance)
-Singapore (Star Alliance)
-British Airways (OneWorld)
-Korean (Skyteam)
-Southwest
-Virgin Atlantic
-Hyatt
-Marriott
-Ritz Carlton
-Priority Club
-Amtrak

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Reminder: Earn 3.21 Points Per Dollar With Sapphire Preferred At Restaurants And Caterers Today

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Today and on every first Friday of every month you will earn triple points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card on all dining purchases. Normally you earn 2.14 points per dollar on dining, airfare, hotel stays, timeshares, car rentals, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, etc.

Together with the 7% annual dividend that means 3.21 points per dollar. For example if you spend $100 in any restaurant you’ll get 300 points on your next statement plus 21 additional points as part of your annual dividend.

Dining on the Sapphire Preferred card includes all sit-down restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, catering, bars, lounges, and more.

Don’t want to eat out today? Ask your favorite eatery if they sell gift cards or will allow you to have a credit balance in your name and lock bonus points by purchasing them today!

Need to pay a caterer? Do it today and pocket the extra miles!

Are you outside of the USA? Not to worry, the Sapphire Preferred card does not charge any foreign transaction fees. (Which also makes it the best card for car rentals in Israel: 2.14 points per dollar, free primary CDW insurance with no deductible, and no foreign exchange fees).

Sapphire Preferred comes with a 40,000 point signup bonus and another 5,000 point bonus for opening a free additional user card. The $95 fee is waived for the first year. Having a Sapphire Preferred card allows you to transfers all of your Chase points(including points earned on Chase Freedom) to lucrative currencies like United (Star Alliance), Singapore (Star Alliance), British Airways (OneWorld), Korean (Skyteam), Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak.

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Last Day To Finish Freedom Q2 Spend And Last Day For Freedom Double Signup Bonus; Activate Q3 Categories Now

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

The Chase Freedom Visa has a 20,000 point signup bonus that will be going away midday Monday, 06/30. That bonus is marketed as $200 cash back as points can be used for cash back, though you would be wiser not to. Additionally it also offers another 2,500 bonus points (marketed as $25 cash back) for adding a free additional user.  You’ll have 23,000 points for opening a new card, adding an additional user, and spending $500.  That’s enough points for 5 free short-haul flights.

Chase Freedom is one of the best no annual fee cards.  It’s an easier card to get that most other Chase cards as it doesn’t require a Signature level $5,000 credit line. The real beauty of the card is in the quarterly 5% categories. Again, while they call it 5% cash back you’ll really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be worth much more than 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent). The $1,500 quarterly limit is per Freedom card.

If you have a Chase checking account you will also earn a 10% bonus on all points earned during 2014 on your January or February 2015 statement.  That means you’ll earn a whopping 5.5 points per dollar in these categories or 8,250 points each quarter plus 1.1 points per dollar elsewhere.

Tomorrow, 06/30, is also the last day to complete your Q2 5% category spending.

Freedom alone can’t transfer points into much more lucrative airline/hotel/train currencies, but if you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold then you can transfer points from Freedom to one of those cards and from there to your favorite travel currency.  You can read at the end of this post which currencies they can transfer to and why those points are much more valuable than just taking cash back.

The 5 point categories for the rest of 2014 are as follows:
Q2: Restaurants and Lowe’s.
Q3: Gas stations and Kohl’s.
Q4: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

So go out to eat from now until June 30th and you’ll earn a whopping 5-5.5 per dollar spent.  Buy a gift card from your favorite eatery tomorrow to lock in savings on future dining

Or buy gift cards from Lowe’s.  See this post for gift cards that they sell for all kinds of other stores where you’ll be able to earn 5 or 5.5 points per dollar.  You can buy gift cards for BP for example and best yet, you’ll pay the cash price at BP when using gift cards at the pump while you will have earned 5-5.5 points per dollar!

Of course if you have an Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash card you will earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent all year round on telecom, cable, internet, as well as everything from office supply stores, which includes gift cards to other stores and prepaid cash cards that can be used anywhere.With the Bold/Plus cards that’s capped at $50,000 per year and with the Cash card that’s capped at $25,000 per year. Plus the Ink Visa cards earn 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar for $200+ purchases at Staples and other stores with Visa Savings Edge.  The cards also earn 2 points per dollar year-round at gas stations and either hotels (Bold/Plus) or dining (Cash).

Q3 Activation now open:

Additionally you can click here to activate next quarter’s Chase Freedom 5% categories. After activation you’ll earn 5-5.5 points per dollar at Gas stations (including gift cards and everything sold in the convenience store) and Kohl’s.
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Other Chase consumer cards you can simultaneously include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), and the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), and the Chase Southwest (50K signup points scheduled to end tonight!).

The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold business cards both offer 50,000 signup points.  They offer 5 points per dollar on telecom, cable, and office supply stores, 2 points per dollar for gas and lodging, no foreign exchange fees, free lounge visits, and a waived annual fee for the first year. The Chase Ink Cash offers 20,000 signup points.

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Card Offers Ending Today And Tomorrow

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Don’t wait until after these offers are gone, they can disappear at any time.  Offers that expire on 06/30 can end mid-day, so grab them now if you want ‘em.

Scheduled to end after midnight tonight:

-Chase Southwest Premier Visa: Normally 25K bonus for spending $2K in 3 months, now 50K through 06/29.

Southwest allows you to book award tickets and cancel them for free and you still get 2 free bags.  Credit card points (and transfers from Hyatt via Ultimate Rewards) count towards companion pass status: Earn 110K in a year and bring along a companion for free whenever you fly on paid or award tickets until the end of the following calendar year. Annual fee: $99. More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/39279

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Scheduled to end at any time tomorrow:

-Chase Freedom Visa: Normally 10K bonus for spending $500 in 3 months, now 20K through 06/30. Plus get 2,500 more points for adding a free additional user

My favorite no annual fee card on the market.  Earn 5 points per dollar in rotating categories. If you have Chase checking that’s bumped to 5.5 points per dollar and 1.1 points per dollar elsewhere. More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/45449

-Barclays Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard: Normally 20K bonus for spending $5K in 3 months, now 50K through 06/30.

17K domestic first class awards, 35K Hawaii business awards, and much more.  $79 annual fee, but many people reporting success in getting this waived by asking an account specialist after opening the card. More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/43739

-Starwood Consumer AMEX: Normally 25K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months, now 30K through 06/30.

20K Starpoints transfers into 25K miles on dozens of airlines. Annual fee: $0 first year then $65. More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/45481

-Starwood Business AMEX: Normally 25K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months, now 30K through 06/30. Annual fee: $0 first year then $65. More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/45481

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Limited time offers that don’t have a published end date:

-Barclays US Airways Premier World MasterCard: Normally 30K bonus for spending $1, now 40K. This card is slated to be discontinued and no longer available for new signups at some point this year. $89 annual fee which may be able to be waived by asking an account specialist after opening the card.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/43739

-Citibank Executive American AAdvantage Card: Normally 50K bonus for spending $10K in 3 months, now 100K. Expiry unknown though the official landing page has been killed and only direct links to the application still work. Annual fee: $450.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/40107

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The American 100K Offer Is Not Gone, Roundup Of Expiring Credit Card Bonuses From AMEX, Barclays, Citi, And Chase

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Lots of wasted electronic ink out there today proclaiming the death of the AA 100K card offer.

While Citi may have killed the official landing page, I earned lifetime Platinum status on American back in the day by using direct application links that continue to work after a landing page is pulled.  And the direct 100K application page lives on for now:

-Citibank Executive American AAdvantage Card: Normally 50K bonus for spending $10K in 3 months, now 100K. Expiry unknown though the official landing page has been killed and only direct links to the application still work. Annual fee: $450.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/40107
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Other cards expiring soon:

-Barclays Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard: Normally 20K bonus for spending $5K in 3 months, now 50K through 06/30. $79 annual fee, many people reporting success in getting this waived by asking an account specialist after opening the card.

-Barclays US Airways Premier World MasterCard: Normally 30K bonus for spending $1, now 40K. This card is slated to be discontinued and no longer available for new signups at some point this year. $89 annual fee which may be able to be waived by asking an account specialist after opening the card.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/43739
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-Chase Freedom Visa: Normally 10K bonus for spending $500 in 3 months, now 20K through 06/30.. Plus get 2,500 more points for adding a free additional user.  Annual fee: Free.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/45449
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-Chase Southwest Premier Visa: Normally 25K bonus for spending $2K in 3 months, now 50K through 06/29.. Points count towards companion pass status. Annual fee: $99.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/39279
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-Starwood Consumer AMEX: Normally 25K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months, now 30K through 06/30. Annual fee: $0 first year then $65.

-Starwood Business AMEX: Normally 25K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months, now 30K through 06/30. Annual fee: $0 first year then $65.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/45481

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Chase Freedom Signup Bonus Doubled For A Limited Time

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Update:  This offer will end on June 30!

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The Chase Freedom Visa now comes with a 20,000 point signup bonus. That bonus is marketed as $200 cash back as points can be used for cash back, though you would be wiser not to.  This is double the previous signup bonus and is available for a limited time only.

Additionally it also offers another 2,500 bonus points (marketed as $25 cash back) for adding a free additional user.

DDF members are already reporting success getting matched from the 10K offer to the 20K offer by sending a secure message.  Typically if you applied within the past 90 days Chase will match your bonus to the current bonus offer.

Chase Freedom is one of the best no annual fee cards.  It’s an easier card to get that most other Chase cards as it doesn’t require a Signature level $5,000 credit line. The real beauty of the card is in the quarterly 5% categories. Again, while they call it 5% cash back you’ll really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be worth much more than 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

The 5 point categories for the rest of 2014 are as follows:
Q2: Restaurants and Lowe’s.
Q3: Gas stations and Kohl’s.
Q4: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

So go out to eat from now until June 30th and you’ll earn a whopping 5 per dollar spent.  Buy a gift card from your favorite eatery to lock in savings.

Or buy gift cards from Lowe’s.  See this post for gift cards that they sell for all kinds of other stores where you’ll be able to earn 5 or 5.5 points per dollar.

I coined the term “Chase Trifecta” several years ago and it still applies today.  It refers to having a Chase checking account, a Chase Freedom card, and your choice of either a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Chase Ink Plus Card, or Chase Ink Bold card.

The Freedom card earns a 10% annual point dividend every February on all points earned during the previous calendar year if you have a Chase checking account.  That means you’ll earn an effective 5.5 points per dollar on purchases from the 5 point categories and you’ll earn an effective 1.1 points per dollar everywhere else.

Freedom alone can’t transfer points into much more lucrative airline/hotel/train currencies, but if you or your spouse has a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold then you can transfer points from Freedom to one of those cards and from there to your favorite travel currency.  You can read at the end of this post which currencies they can transfer to and why those points are much more valuable than just taking cash back.

If you use those points for a trip worth where they are worth 2 cents each and then you’ll have effectively earned 10-11% back on those “5 point categories.”  My coach tickets to Kansas City this week were worth 3 cents each, which means I really get 16.5% back from purchases in “5 point categories” thanks to the Chase trifecta.
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Other Chase consumer cards you can simultaneously include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), and the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), and the Chase Southwest (50K signup points).

The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold business cards both offer 50,000 signup points.  They offer 5 points per dollar on telecom, cable, and office supply stores, 2 points per dollar for gas and lodging, no foreign exchange fees, free lounge visits, and a waived annual fee for the first year. The Chase Ink Cash offers 20,000 signup points.

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Last Days To Register For Freedom Q2 Bonus Spending

Friday, June 13th, 2014

The Chase Freedom Visa currently has a 20,000 point signup bonus. That bonus is marketed as $200 cash back as points can be used for cash back, though you would be wiser not to.  This is double the previous signup bonus and is available for a limited time only.

Additionally it also offers another 2,500 bonus points (marketed as $25 cash back) for adding a free additional user.  You’ll have 23,000 points for opening a new card, adding an additional user, and spending $500.  That’s enough points for 5 free short-haul flights.

Tomorrow, 06/14, is the last day to activate your Q2 Chase Freedom 5% categories. Although they are called “5% categories” you really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be cashed out for 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending you will earn at least 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points. If you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold card you can transfer Freedom points over to one of those cards and then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio into much more valuable airline miles (United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Singapore, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).  The $1,500 quarterly limit is per Freedom card.

If you have a Chase checking account you will also earn a 10% bonus on all points earned during 2014 on your January or February 2015 statement.  That means you’ll earn a whopping 5.5 points per dollar in these categories or 8,250 points each quarter.

The 5 point categories for the rest of 2014 are as follows:
Q2: Restaurants and Lowe’s.
Q3: Gas stations and Kohl’s.
Q4: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

So go out to eat from now until June 30th and you’ll earn a whopping 5-5.5 per dollar spent.  Buy a gift card from your favorite eatery to lock in savings.

Or buy gift cards from Lowe’s.  See this post for gift cards that they sell for all kinds of other stores where you’ll be able to earn 5 or 5.5 points per dollar.

Of course if you have an Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash card you will earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent all year round on telecom, cable, internet, as well as everything from office supply stores, which includes gift cards to other stores and prepaid cash cards that can be used anywhere.With the Bold/Plus cards that’s capped at $50,000 per year and with the Cash card that’s capped at $25,000 per year. Plus the Ink Visa cards earn 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar for $200+ purchases at Staples and other stores with Visa Savings Edge.  The cards also earn 2 points per dollar year-round at gas stations and either hotels (Bold/Plus) or dining (Cash).

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Buy Miles For Under A Penny A Piece With Giftly!

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Update: Giftly has been cancelling all gifts made today.

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Giftly allows you to send money to a friend for a 1% fee.

I sent my wife 2 gifts of $999 each with my United Club credit card for a $10 fee each time.
She then cashed them out right away. She sent one $999 gift directly to her paypal account (from where she’ll have it sent to her bank account) and another $999 gift to a credit card that she doesn’t normally use (from where she’ll request a refund check). Soon they will even support transfers to debit cards so that it will go directly to your checking account. It takes a few days to get the funds.

Probably a good idea to make the payment and then collect the gift from a different IP address.

If you’re trying to meet a spend threshold Giftly is a no-brainer, but even without that it’s a great deal.

For example if you have a Chase Freedom card and a Chase checking account, a $999 purchase+$10 fee will earn you 1,110 miles. That’s buying miles for .9 cents each.

If you have a Chase Sapphire card, a $999 purchase+$10 fee will earn you 1,080 miles. That’s buying miles for .93 cents each.

If you have a Barclaycard Arrival Plus a $999 purchase+$10 fee will earn you about $22.42 cash back.

With a United Club card (click on Club card on the right side) , a $999 purchase+$10 fee will earn you 1,514 miles. That’s buying miles for .66 cents each.

Of course you can “buy” miles for .47 cents with Visa gift cards at Staples, but that takes more effort to cash out.  With Giftly it goes directly to paypal  You can read examples of awards you can get when buying miles for .47 cents here, just run the numbers on your credit card to see the cost per mile and what those awards would cost you.

I don’t see any limits for Giftly, which means it probably won’t last long in its current form. Enjoy it while it lasts!

HT nate, via DDF

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Chase Freedom Earns More Than Sapphire Preferred At Restaurants On This “First Friday”

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Today and on every first Friday of every month you will earn triple points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card on all dining purchases. Normally you earn 2.14 points per dollar on dining, airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals.

Together with the 7% annual dividend that means 3.21 points per dollar. For example if you spend $100 in any restaurant you’ll get 300 points on your next statement plus 21 additional points as part of your annual dividend.

Dining on the Sapphire Preferred card includes all sit-down restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, catering, bars, lounges, and more.

However through June 30th you can earn 5 points per dollar when eating out with your Chase Freedom card, so if you aren’t going to max out the $1,500 in quarterly spending at Lowe’s you’ll be better off using Freedom at restaurants. That bonus is bumped up to 5.5 points per dollar if you have or will open a Chase checking account in 2014.

Don’t want to eat out today? Ask your favorite eatery if they sell gift cards or will allow you to have a credit balance in your name and lock bonus points by purchasing them today!

An exception will be if you are catering an event.  You’ll likely blow past the $1,500 limit on the Freedom bonus, but the Sapphire bonus has no limit, so consider putting $1,500 on Freedom and the remainder on Sapphire Preferred today to take advantage of the first friday bonus.

Another exception will be if you are located outside of the USA.   The Freedom card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, but the Sapphire Preferred card does not charge any foreign transaction fees.  (That also makes it the best card for car rentals when abroad: 2.14 points per dollar, free primary CDW insurance in every country in the world with no deductible, and no foreign use fees).

While Freedom points can’t be transferred into lucrative airline miles or hotel/train points that are worth far more than 1% cash back, if you or your spouse has a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus card you can transfer points from Freedom to one of those cards and from there to an airline, hotel, or train program.

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Final Day For Increased Signup Bonuses On Chase Ink Cards

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Update: DEAD!

Related: Ink Is Beautiful: 12 Reasons You Should Have A Chase Ink Card
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Originally posted on 05/01:

-Chase Ink Plus Credit Card 60K Limited Time Offer
-Chase Ink Bold Charge Card 60K Limited Time Offer
-Chase Ink Cash Credit Card 30K Limited Time Offer

The Chase Ink business cards are some of the best credit cards out there.

For a limited time only you can earn additional bonus points for signing up for them.
Last week the limited time increased bonus for these cards lasted just 1 week, though I don’t have any information on when it will end this year.

The bonus for the Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards is temporarily increased from 50,000 to 60,000 points for spending $5,000 within 3 months.
The bonus for the Ink Cash card is temporarily increased from 20,000 to 30,000 points (they advertise this as $300, but it comes in the form of 30,000 points which can be far more valuable than cash) for spending $3,000 within 3 months

Typically if you got a Chase card within the past couple months and the offer increases they will match the better offer for you. Just send a secure message to request that when logged in at Chase.com.

Here is a chart with the differences between these cards.

 Ink BoldInk PlusInk Cash
Signup Bonus50,00050,00020,000
Spend Threshold$5,000 in 3 months.$5,000 in 3 months.$3,000 in 3 months.
Type of cardCharge Card: Must be paid off in full every month.Credit Card: Can be paid back over time. Credit Card: Can be paid back over time.
Annual FeeNone for the first year, then $95None for the first year, then $95None
Points transfer into miles?YesYesNo, but they can be transferred if you or your spouse also has a Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Sapphire Preferred
Annual limit for 5 point per dollar categories$50,000 of spending.$50,000 of spending.$25,000 of spending.
Double point categoriesGas and HotelsGas and HotelsGas and Dining
Foreign Transaction Fee0%0%3%
APR for purchases and balance transfer.N/A15.24%0% intro APR for 12 months then 13.24%

As you can see, there’s no major difference between Ink Bold and Ink Plus other than charge versus credit.  One advantage of Ink Plus would be that you can shift credit lines to that card to get it approved and if you ever decide to close it, you’ll be able to shift the credit line elsewhere.

A great thing about these business cards is that they don’t report your spending on your personal credit report.

On personal cards if you spend money on your card your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a few dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month.

On a business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score. Plus if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.

On a card like Ink Cash with 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers for 12 months you can owe money without having any negative effect on your credit score.

Benefits on all Ink cards:

All Ink cards give 2 free lounge visits per user, even on free additional user cards. Here is a link to find valid lounges worldwide. Lounges include the Dan Lounge in Tel Aviv and the Art & Lounge in Newark which both have kosher food.

Ink cards are now all issued as Visa cards, so you can register them for Visa Savings Edge.

With that program you earn cash back on top of points.  You’ll earn 1% cash back at Staples, Chevron, and Texaco, 2% cash back at TigerDirect, 4% cash back at Alamo and National, 5% cash back at Lenovo, Sony, and several hotel brands, etc.

Plus all of the Ink cards offer 5 points per dollar on internet/cable service and telecom purchases, so that’s a nice rebate when you purchase a new cell phone and off your cable bill.

They also earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores. There are hundreds of gift cards sold by office supply stores.

-Upgrading at your local carrier’s store to an iPhone or Galaxy? 5 points per dollar.
-Buying gift cards for gas? 5 points per dollar plus you’ll pay the lower cash rates at the pump.
-Buying gift cards for Amazon, Gap, Groupon, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, TJMaxx, etc? 5 points per dollar.

At Staples of course you would earn 1% cash back plus 5 points per dollar.

Your local school or other charity will be more than happy to accept donations of Amazon gift cards for supplies or any other useful gift cards for chinese auctions, raffles, fundraisers, etc.

They will give you a tax deductible receipt for the full face value-the price you paid for the gift cards. And at the same time you’ll earn 5 points per dollar. So while doing good you can still get a nice chunk of points and you’ll save on your taxes.

You can buy $200 Visa gift cards (now sold online from Staples) that earn 1,000 points and can be used to pay bills with EvolveMoney, uploaded to Bluebird or used for cash back, bill pay, money orders, etc. Or you can use them for everyday spending thereby getting 5 points per dollat on everything you buy anywhere via the Visa gift cards.

The Bold and Plus cards offer 2 points per dollar for spending on gas and hotels (plus 1%-5% cash back with Visa Savings Edge)
The Cash card offers 2 points per per dollar for spending on gas (plus 1% cash back with Visa Savings Edgeand dining.

Point Currency:

Chase Ultimate Rewards offer instant and fee-free transfers to top-notch mileage and points programs at a 1:1 ratio.

Transfer partners include:
-Singapore (Star Alliance) offers private walled-in first class suites that can only be booked with their miles. A suite one-way from JFK to Europe is 57,375 miles. Travel to the US48, Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, and Israel can all be had on the cheap. There are no close-in booking fees and changes and cancellations are very cheap. Fuel surcharges apply when flying on most airlines besides United. More info here.
-United (Star Alliance) is still an excellent currency, even after their devaluation a few months ago.  They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have short-haul awards for 10,000 miles, they allow for a stopover and an open-jaw so that you can really maximize a single award ticket into several free trips, and they have dozens of partners to fly on, most of which can be booked on their website.
-British Airways (OneWorld) is awesome for short-haul awards. Just 9,000 miles for a round-trip zone 1 or 15,000 miles for zone 2 short-haul award. The zone 3 award for 25,000 miles round-trip can also be a bargain, for example for flights between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between Boston and Ireland with no fuel surcharges. Flights to Israel on USAirways or Air Berlin are just 60,000 miles with no fuel surcharges. They allow one-way awards for half the mileage. There are no close-in or expedite fees. You can cancel an award for as little as $2.50. Infants are only charged 10% of the miles on international trips instead of 10% of the full fare like US carriers charge. Plus they don’t collect fuel surcharges on AA within the western hemisphere, on Qantas within Australia, on USAirways, Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well.
You can read more in the BA knowledgebase. And you can see 102 places you can go to nonstop from NYC with Avios.
-Korean (Skyteam) offers unbeatable first class availability (A380 First Class Trip Report here) and they also have true bargains on partner travel, just 30,000 miles to fly round-trip on Hawaiian or Alaska to Hawaii in coach or 60,000 miles in first. And it’s just 20,000 miles to fly to Alaska in coach or 40,000 miles in first. You can even get a free stopover on the way to or in Alaska!
-Southwest offers a value of about 1.7 cents per point towards award travel.  Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. You can also transfer points to Airtran for flat-rate awards like business class upgrades or free tickets at a flat rate instead of a rate that corresponds to the ticket price. From Airtran they can even be converted back into the old Southwest program that also offers flat rate awards.
-Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses with awards on Delta and Cyprus Air.  For example a round-trip from Tel Aviv to Cyprus is just 5,000 miles!
-Hyatt is a powerful hotel currency. They have added a new cash and points option that offers some excellent values and more importantly those stays earn points, elite stay credits, promo credits, and you can use suite upgrades on cash and point stays as well.  It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program, a $1,500/night villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives would run just 25,000 points or 12,500 points+$150.
You can also funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. I’ve never been on an Amtrak in my life, but some people have reported getting some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program.

The beauty of miles over points or cash-back:
The great thing about being able to transfer points into airlines or hotels are the incredible values you can attain.
-A first class ticket to Hawaii can cost $3,000 but you can use 60,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 6.7 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 300,000 points per ticket.
-A last minute ticket or a ticket where you don’t stay for 3 nights from New York to Detroit costs $1,500 in coach but just 9,000 miles. That’s a value of 16.7 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per ticket.
-A first class ticket to Asia can cost $27,000 but you can use 135,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 20 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 2,700,000 points per ticket.
-A night at a Park Hyatt in Paris, Sydney, or the Maldives can run $1,500 with tax but you can use 25K-30K points for that room, a value of 5-6 cents per point. Or you can use less points and get even better values with cash and points. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per night.
And that’s all besides for the fact that getting a Capital One card costs a minimum of 3 credit pulls whereas you can get several Chase cards with just 1 credit pull.

Yes, the Ink cards are business cards. But you may be already running a business that qualifies for a business cardand there are several huge advantages that business cards have over consumer cards as you can read here.

For example if your name is Joe Smith and you sell items online, or if you have any other side business/hobby and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

If you’re like me and you run more than one business you can get the same type of card for each business to manage each businesses expenses separately.

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Other Chase consumer cards you can apply for simultaneously include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), and the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Southwest (50K signup points, 2 free checked bags, no award expedite fees, and no award cancellation fees), and the Chase Freedom (which has a limited time offer for 20,000 point for spending $500 plus 2,500 points for adding a free additional user, it also gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories and 10% bonus points if you have a Chase checking account).

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Expiring Credit Card Bonus Roundup From AMEX, Barclays, Citi, And Chase

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

-Starwood Consumer AMEX: Normally 25K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months, now 30K through 06/30. Annual fee: $0 first year then $65.

-Starwood Business AMEX: Normally 25K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months, now 30K through 06/30. Annual fee: $0 first year then $65.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/45481
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- The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®: Normally 30K bonus for spending $1, now 40K. This card is slated to be discontinued and no longer available for new signups at some point this year. $89 annual fee which may be able to be waived by asking an account specialist after opening the card.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/43739
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-Citibank Executive American AAdvantage Card: Normally 50K bonus for spending $10K in 3 months, now 100K. Expiry unknown. Annual fee: $450.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/40107
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-Chase Freedom Visa: Normally 10K bonus for spending $500 in 3 months, now 20K. Plus get 2,500 more points for adding a free additional user. Expiry unknown. Annual fee: Free.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/45449
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-Chase Southwest Premier Visa: Normally 25K bonus for spending $2K in 3 months, now 50K. Expiry unknown. Annual fee: $99.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/39279
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-Chase Ink Plus Credit Card: Normally 50K bonus for spending $5K in 3 months, now 60K. Expires today, 06/01. Annual fee: $0 first year then $95.

-Chase Ink Bold Charge Card: Normally 50K bonus for spending $5K in 3 months, now 60K.Expires today, 06/01. Annual fee: $0 first year then $95.

-Chase Ink Cash Credit Card: Normally 20K bonus for spending $3K in 3 months, now 30K.Expires today, 06/01. Annual fee: Free.

More info: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/43804
http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/44310

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It’s Back: 30,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Update: DEAD!

-Starwood AMEX Consumer Linky
New AMEX Consumer Terms: “This offer is also not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

-Starwood AMEX Business Linky
AMEX Business Terms: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product within the last 12 months.”

This offer expires 06/30.

With this offer you will get 10,000 bonus points for spending $1 and 20,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 within 6 months. So spend $5,000 within 6 months and you’ll have 35,000 Starwood points.
The $65 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Key benefits:
-The card doesn’t have bonus spending categories except in SPG hotels, but you get a 25% bonus when you transfer points into miles. Note that SPG point transfers can take from 2 days to 2 weeks to complete.
-Starwood has gutted the cash and points program, but the regular hotel redemption rate can still be a bargain in some hotels. Starwood charges insane amounts of points at their high end hotels though. While the Park Hyatt Maldives is 25,000 Hyatt/Chase points or 12,500 points+$150 per night, the W Maldives would run at least 90,000 Starpoints per night. Room rates at either resort are more than $1,000 per night.
-AMEX benefits like return protection, warranty protection, etc.
-Promotions like Twitter savings and Small Business Saturday that work on primary and secondary cards.
-The business card gets open savings cash rebates.
-Just by having a Starwood card you earn Preferred Plus status. This status earns you the right to checkout at 4pm at Starwood hotels.
-If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn SPG Gold status.
-Cardholders get 2 elite qualifying stays and 5 elite qualifying nights towards earning Gold or Platinum status.

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0% APR Cards

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

People often ask me about 0% APR cards.

There’s a reason I don’t talk about them often.  Credit card interest is why the house always wins.  0% is just a teaser to get you to fall into a very dangerous trap.  People that treat a credit card as anything different than cash are only fooling themselves.  If you don’t have cash on hand to pay for an item, then don’t buy it.  It’s a really bad idea to use your plastic as a way of getting an item you can’t afford.

Banks would love nothing more than to charge you 20 or 30% interest on your purchases and those charges will easily overwhelm the benefits of signing up and spending on a card.  If you can’t control yourself to spend within your limits than you’ll be far better off not even applying for a credit card.

But if you already do owe money that you can’t pay back right away, a 0% card can be a good thing in the short-term.

Here are some of the best ones out there:

1. The Chase Ink Cash Business card offers 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
If you have to carry a balance then this is a fantastic card to do it on as the credit utilization isn’t reported to the credit bureaus on Chase business cards. While on other cards carrying a balance can have a negative effect on your score while the balance is there you won’t have that issue with this card. However there is a 3% fee for transferring a balance to this card.
There is no annual fee for this card.

The great thing about this card are the rewards. Besides for the signup bonus you also earn 5 points per dollar on telecom, cable, and office supply store (including gift card) purchases and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas. Plus cash back
Additional cardholders are free and each one of them gets 2 free airport lounge visits per year.

The difference between this card and Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Bold (besides the signup bonus and spend threshold requirement) is that you or your spouse must have an Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Sapphire Preferred card to transfer the rewards points into miles.
Additionally the Plus/Bold cards don’t have a foreign transaction fee while this card does. And the Plus/Bold cards have a cap of $50,000 in annual spending that can earn 5 points per dollar (for 250,000 points) while this has a $25,000 cap (for 125,000 points)

You can read more about business card benefits in this post.

2. The Chase Slate Visa offers 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
The awesome thing about this offer is that if you transfer a balance to this card within 60 days of opening it there will no fees at all!  Almost every other card out there will charge a balance transfer fee.

There is no annual fee for this card.
The reason this card doesn’t earn the number one spot is that it doesn’t have a signup bonus and doesn’t earn any points.

Ink Cash or Slate? If you care about keeping your credit score higher you will be better off with Ink Cash which also has a signup bonus and earns points on purchases.  If you care more about saving the 3% fee and less about your score and the points then you’ll be better with Slate.

3. The Chase Freedom Visa offers 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
There is a 3% fee for transferring a balance to this card.
There is no annual fee for this card.
The great thing about this card are the rewards. Besides for the signup bonus you also earn 5 points per dollar in quarterly rotating categories. Plus if you have a Chase checking account you’ll also get an annual 10% bonus on top of all point earnings.
Like with the Ink Cash card, you or your spouse must have an Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Sapphire Preferred card to transfer the rewards points into miles.

4. The Barclays USAirways World Mastercard offers 0% interest on balance transfers only for 15 months.
There is an $89 annual fee for the card. This card will be discontinued soon, but for now you can still get 40,000 USAirways miles, which will soon be convertible into American miles.
There is a 3% fee for transferring a balance to this card.

5. The no annual fee version of the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard offers 0% interest on on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
There is no annual fee for this card.
There is a 3% fee for transferring a balance to this card.
You earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1 point elsewhere. You also get a 10% points rebate every time you cash out your points.

6. The Discover It card offers 0% interest on purchases for 6 months and 0% interest on balance transfers for 18 months.
There is no annual fee for this card.
There is a 3% fee for transferring a balance to this card.
This card offers 5% cash back in rotating categories.

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Ink Is Beautiful: 12 Reasons You Should Have A Chase Ink Card

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Update: The Ink limited time offer will end on Sunday, 06/01. Grab the limited time offer while you can, the last time it was offered was a year ago so it probably won’t return for another year.

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The Chase Ink cards are some of the most powerful tools in any mileage junkie’s arsenal.  They are truly a must-have.

-Chase Ink Plus Card Linky
-Chase Ink Bold Card Linky
-Chase Ink Cash Card Linky

Many people don’t even realize that they can get a business card. If you or your spouse own a business, even if it’s not your primary source of income, or even if you are just in the planning stages of a business, you can get a business card.  For example if Joe Smith sells items or wants to start selling items online and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

Here are some of the reason that Ink Is Beautiful:

1. The signup bonus.
For a limited time only the Ink Bold and Ink Plus offer an extremely generous 60,000 point signup bonus for spending $5,000 in 3 months.  The $95 annual fee on those cards is waived for the first year.

If you are approved for an Ink card, you will get the signup bonus even if you have had an Ink card in the past, simple as that.

You can also have the same Ink card at the same time for different businesses, each with their own signup bonus.

If both spouses are involved in the same business, they can each apply for their own card and they will each get the signup bonus.

The Ink Cash card has no annual fee and for a limited time only has a 30,000 point signup bonus for spending $3,000 in 3 months. It says $300 cash back but that’s just because you can use the 30,000 points for $300 cash back. I sure hope you don’t.

The Ink Plus and Ink Cash cards are credit cards that can be paid off over time if needed.  The Ink Bold is a charge card that must be paid off in full monthly.

2. 5x points on telecom.
You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on internet/cable service and landline/cellular purchases.  That’s a nice rebate when you purchase a new cell phone and off your telecom/internet bills.

3. 5x points on office supplies.
You’ll earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores.
Office supply stores like Office Max, Staples, and Office Depot sell gift cards to hundreds of other stores. You can click here to view a list I compiled last year.

By buying gift cards you can get 5 points per dollar at hundreds of places you shop at anyway, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, Marriott (You can even use these to cater a wedding!), Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and hundreds of others.

Plus Office Max and Staples accepts credit cards for Visa prepaid gift cards.  Even when there isn’t a sale the 5 points per dollar easily is worth more than the $6.95 fee on a $200 gift card.  But they often go on sale where they sell them for less than the $200 face value AND you get the 5 points per dollar.  They can be loaded onto Bluebird , Evolve Money, or just used anywhere you shop and you’ll still come out ahead.

You can buy the $200 Visa gift card from Staples here.

On the Ink Plus or Bold card you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $50,000 of spending per cardmember year per card.
On the Ink Cash card you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $25,000 of spending per cardmember year per card.

4. Earn 5x points on Charity and Gifts.

Your local school or other charity will be more than happy to accept donations of Amazon gift cards for supplies or any other useful gift cards for chinese auctions, raffles, fundraisers, etc.

They will give you a tax deductible receipt for the full face value-the price you paid for the gift cards.  And at the same time you’ll earn 5 points per dollar.  So while doing good you can still get a nice chunk of points and you’ll save on your taxes.  Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

You can also gift a useful gift card as a gift. What Bar Mitzvah kid wouldn’t want an Amazon gift card to buy whatever they really want instead of what you might think they want? Plus you’ll get 5 points per dollar!

5. Cash back on top of points.

Ink cards used to be issued as Mastercards though now all Ink cards are issued as Visa cards.

Programs like Mastercard Easy Savings and the Visa Savings Program offer cash back on top of points at select stores just for registering your card.

For example with an Ink Visa you’ll get an additional 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar every time you spend $200 or more at a Staples store or online.  That makes gift cards even more lucrative!

With Visa you’ll also earn 1% cash back at Chevron, and Texaco, 2% cash back at TigerDirect, 4% cash back at Alamo and National, 5% cash back at Lenovo, Sony, and several hotel brands, etc.

With Mastercard you’ll 5% cash back at Avis or Budget and cash back at 19,000 participating gas stations nationwide on top of 2 points per dollar.

6. Double point categories.
The Bold and Plus cards offer 2 points per dollar for spending on gas and hotels.
The Cash card offers 2 points per per dollar for spending on gas and dining.

7. Free lounge visits.
The primary cardholder and additional cardholders (which are free!) can each get a free Lounge Club membership that allows access 2 free lounge visits per year.

There are participating lounges all across the globe.

A recent addition to Lounge Club is the new Art & Lounge in Newark. That lounge is intended for use by El Al business and first class passengers and offers kosher food.

8. No foreign exchange fees.

The Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards have no fees for using their cards when abroad. Just opt to pay in the local currency and you’ll always get the best exchange rate with no fees.

9. Spending won’t hurt your credit score.
The really great thing with these business cards is that they don’t report your spending on your personal credit report.

On personal cards if you spend money on your card, your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes a lot of effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a few dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month.

On an Ink business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score. That makes life a lot simpler.

Plus if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.

10. A year of 0% APR

The Ink Cash card offers a full year of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.  So do many other cards.  The difference is that because spending on the Ink cards won’t show up on your credit report (unless you’re delinquent), carrying a balance on an Ink card won’t hurt your credit score like it will on other cards.  The 0% APR is just icing on the cake.

Note that there is a one-time 3% balance transfer fee. If you want a card with 0% APR and no fees for balance transfers you’ll want to look into Chase Slate which gives 15 months of 0% APR. However that is a consumer card, so carrying a balance there will hurt your score.

11. The Chase Trifecta.

Years ago I coined the term “Chase Trifecta.”

It refers to having a:
-Chase checking account
AND
-A Chase Freedom card
AND
-Either a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a Chase Ink Plus card, or a Chase Ink Bold card.

The reason is that the Chase Freedom is a very generous no annual fee card thanks to its rotating 5 point categories (such as gas stations, restaurants, etc).  Plus if you have a checking account you’ll even get an annual 10% bonus making those 5.5 point categories and making all purchases earn 1.1 points per dollar.

The problem is that Chase Freedom points can’t be transferred into much more valuable airline miles and hotel points.  To rectify that either you or your spouse has to have either a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a Chase Ink Plus card, or a Chase Ink Bold card.  That way you can transfer the Freedom points to one of those cards and from there into airline miles or hotel points.

12. Chase UR points are still awesome.

Chase Ultimate Rewards offer instant and fee-free transfers to top-notch mileage and points programs at a 1:1 ratio.

Transfer partners include:
-Singapore (Star Alliance) offers private walled-in first class suites that can only be booked with their miles. A suite one-way from JFK to Europe is 57,375 miles. Travel to the US48, Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, and Israel can all be had on the cheap. There are no close-in booking fees and changes and cancellations are very cheap. Fuel surcharges apply when flying on most airlines besides United. More info here.
-United (Star Alliance) is still an excellent currency, even after their devaluation a few months ago.  They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have short-haul awards for 10,000 miles, they allow for a stopover and an open-jaw so that you can really maximize a single award ticket into several free trips, and they have dozens of partners to fly on, most of which can be booked on their website.
-British Airways (OneWorld) is awesome for short-haul awards. Just 9,000 miles for a round-trip zone 1 or 15,000 miles for zone 2 short-haul award. The zone 3 award for 25,000 miles round-trip can also be a bargain, for example for flights between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between Boston and Ireland with no fuel surcharges. Flights to Israel on USAirways or Air Berlin are just 60,000 miles with no fuel surcharges. They allow one-way awards for half the mileage. There are no close-in or expedite fees. You can cancel an award for as little as $2.50. Infants are only charged 10% of the miles on international trips instead of 10% of the full fare like US carriers charge. Plus they don’t collect fuel surcharges on AA within the western hemisphere, on Qantas within Australia, on USAirways, Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well.
You can read more in the BA knowledgebase. And you can see 102 places you can go to nonstop from NYC with Avios.

Don’t forget about these 22 things to keep in mind when using Avios!
-Korean (Skyteam) offers unbeatable first class availability (A380 First Class Trip Report here) and they also have true bargains on partner travel, just 30,000 miles to fly round-trip on Hawaiian or Alaska to Hawaii in coach or 60,000 miles in first. And it’s just 20,000 miles to fly to Alaska in coach or 40,000 miles in first. You can even get a free stopover on the way to or in Alaska!
-Southwest offers a value of about 1.7 cents per point towards award travel.  Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. You can also transfer points to Airtran for flat-rate awards like business class upgrades or free tickets at a flat rate instead of a rate that corresponds to the ticket price. From Airtran they can even be converted back into the old Southwest program that also offers flat rate awards.
-Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses with awards on Delta and Cyprus Air.  For example a round-trip from Tel Aviv to Cyprus is just 5,000 miles!
-Hyatt is a powerful hotel currency. They have added a new cash and points option that offers some excellent values and more importantly those stays earn points, elite stay credits, promo credits, and you can use suite upgrades on cash and point stays as well.  It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program, a $1,500/night villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives would run just 25,000 points or 12,500 points+$150.
You can also funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. I’ve never been on an Amtrak in my life, but some people have reported getting some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program.

The beauty of miles over points or cash-back:
The great thing about being able to transfer points into airlines or hotels are the incredible values you can attain.
-A first class ticket to Hawaii can cost $3,000 but you can use 60,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 6.7 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 300,000 points per ticket.
-A last minute ticket or a ticket where you don’t stay for 3 nights from New York to Detroit costs $1,500 in coach but just 9,000 miles. That’s a value of 16.7 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per ticket.
-A first class ticket to Asia can cost $27,000 but you can use 135,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 20 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 2,700,000 points per ticket.
-A night at a Park Hyatt in Paris, Sydney, or the Maldives can run $1,500 with tax but you can use 25K-30K points for that room, a value of 5-6 cents per point. Or you can use less points and get even better values with cash and points. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per night.
And that’s all besides for the fact that getting a Capital One card costs a minimum of 3 credit pulls whereas you can get several Chase cards with just 1 credit pull.

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Evolving; Thoughts On Glitches

Friday, May 16th, 2014

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Gift cards that have evolved.

I’ve written about Evolve Money several times this year.  It’s a great service that’s intended to let you use debit cards to pay bills like your mortgage, property tax, auto loan, health insurance, utilities, store charge card (Gap, Macy’s, Target, etc).

I wrote about buying Visa gift cards from Staples to pay bills with Evolve to get miles for dirt cheap. (Of course Bluebird continues to work for that as well).

What I neglected to write was what was already brought up more than 3 months ago on DDF, that you can also use credit cards from many banks with Evolve.  The reason for the neglect is simple, it’s not the intended use of the product and I don’t break news on hacks that could last for a long time if they’re not written about explicitly.  I cover glitches like airfare that are always short-lived.  It’s not like $50 first class tickets to Hawaii, all expenses paid Vegas vacationsBahamas vacations, or $300 United (and Delta, El Al, and USAirways) tickets to Israel are going to just stick around because they’re not blogged about. And I talk about some mileage glitches at seminars where the info can be better contained.  But in the wild, wild internet it’s just stupid to break the story on glitches that will be killed by the coverage just for the benefit of a few extra clicks.

A couple weeks ago I covered the news that USAirways wasn’t collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways only because other major sites were covering it as as well and once that happened I felt that it was on borrowed time. Indeed within a week that loophole was plugged.  I posted it here at that point because once it was going to die anyway, my readers ought to benefit from it as well.

I covered the news that my United award hack was incredibly successful despite naysayers saying it would never work. Once it did work people didn’t like that I wrote about it, but it was a simple bet that United wasn’t going to spend the resources to close a loophole that was already closed to people that didn’t listen to me while it was still open. And it still works for those lucky folk.

At any rate many other sites are now posting this Evolve glitch as breaking news. A glitch like Evolve taking credit cards is really one that anyone worth their salt in the mileage game should have figured out on their own months ago even if they weren’t on DDF.  All it entailed was trying 1 bill payment with a credit card instead of a gift or debit card just to make sure that it worked and posted as a purchase and not a cash advance.  That’s barely even thinking outside the box, it’s just making your box a little bigger.

I have no idea how much longer credit card payments will last, but it’s on borrowed time now, so enjoy it while it lasts.  Then again the entire Evolve business model makes little sense.  Especially because the box is bigger than just paying bills you owe.

The truth is that while it’s really nice to be able to use credit card payments to meet minimum spend thresholds for a signup bonus, you’re still better off generating 5x the miles plus cash back thanks to $200 Staples gift cards when you’re not trying to meet a spend threshold.

In short, don’t expect to be spoonfed every aspect of a deal, don’t necessarily believe terms and conditions or what reps tell you, get involved on DDF/make new friends, and learn to expand your box by testing the fences for yourself.

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