Category Archive for 'Credit Cards'

Has Chase’s 5/24 Rule Gone Into Effect On All Cards?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

A few months ago I gave a brief “pre-obituary” for the credit card game and noted new rules that went into effect for AMEX cards and rumored new rules for Chase cards that would go into effect in March and April. Those months passed without incident.

However DDF member Jkhein notes that he applied for a Chase Ink Cash business card on May 22nd and was told by reconsideration that effective for applications made on May 22nd that they could no longer approve an Ink card if you have received 5 cards from any banks in the previous 24 months. He was told that had he applied on May 21st that he would have been approved. Previously the 5/24 rule only applied to the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Sapphire cards. Another member related a similar experience in that thread and DoC notes there that he was told by a source that the rule is now in effect for Ink, Marriott, Southwest, and United cards.

Does that leave the IHG card, Hyatt card, and British Airways card unscathed? Seems unlikely, but anything is possible. Of course it’s also possible that the rule hasn’t gone into effect on the co-branded airline and hotel cards as I’ve yet to hear firsthand reports about those.

Previously, some people have had success overturning a denial with HUCA’ing (Hang up, call again) reconsideration, while others with $10K+ in a Chase checking account or with Private Client status have had luck by asking a banker to fill out a special reconsideration form for them, but we’ll have to wait and see what reports come in with the latest rule.

Like I said in that post, there’s no doubt that this game is on the downward slope of the bell-curve here.

Post your experience with Chase applications made on or after May 22nd in the comments!

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Discover Now Offering Free FICO Score Access To Everyone

Friday, May 20th, 2016

There are lots of services out there that give free credit scores, but they all simulate scores based on their own models. These are called FAKO scores that aren’t going to be used in a credit approval decision. A FAKO score can be significantly different than your FICO score, discrepancies of more than 100 points aren’t uncommon.

Discover is launching Credit Scorecard and it gives a real Experian 8 FICO score. It does not hurt your score if you check your own score. You don’t need a Discover card to join and check your FICO score for free.

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AMEX also gives Experian 8 FICO scores to their cardholders and indeed it was an exact match:

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Interestingly if you have a Discover credit card they provide you with another FICO score, the Transunion 8:

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Barclays also provides a Transunion 8 FICO score to its cardholders, it was taken a day later and was 1 points higher than the score Discover gave:

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Other programs that you signup for aren’t giving you a real FICO score.

You can keep tabs on all 3 of your reports with 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, if there are duplicate hard pulls, or if there are pulls older than 24 months old you should dispute those as well. Unfortunately that site only shows your report, it does not give you a credit score.

One trick to get your score higher is to pay off what you spend, besides for a buck or 2, before your monthly statement prints. Once your statement is generated even if you pay it off on time you will lose up to 30% of your score depending on how much you owe that month. You can call your credit card bank to have all your card’s statements print on the same day of the month to keeps things organized.

If you can’t swing that, then try spending on a business card where the spending doesn’t affect your personal credit score. Some other tips can be found in this post from the DD archives.

HT: emak, via DDF and Yanky K, via DDFB

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100K American Express Platinum Signup Bonus

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Update: DEAD!


This card offer link isn’t my affiliate link, so I can’t personally vouch for its legitimacy, but the landing page says you’ll get 100K points for spending $3,000 in 3 months.

A $450 annual fee applies.

The bonus will only be awarded if you haven’t previously had a Platinum card.

You can read more about the card in this post.

HT: cohen220, via DDF

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Last Chance For Hilton American Express 100K and 75K Limited Time Offers

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Update: These offers are no longer available.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Until May 4th, The Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express is offering 100K points for spending $3,000 within 3 months.  It offers 12 points per dollar for spending at Hilton, 6 points per dollar at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations, and 3 points per dollar elsewhere. The bonus is valid if you haven’t had this particular Hilton AMEX before.

It has a $75 annual fee and gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder, which gets you free breakfast, including the most over-the-top breakfast I’ve had in my life at the Waldorf Jerusalem.  If you spend $40K/year you’ll get top-tier Diamond status, which gets confirmed room upgrades and space available suite upgrade at hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. You’ll also get discounted 4 night award stays and the 5th night free on award stays.


-Until May 4th, The Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express is offering 75K points for spending $1,000 within 3 months.  It offers 7 points per dollar for spending at Hilton, 5 points per dollar at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations, and 3 points per dollar elsewhere. The bonus is valid if you haven’t had this particular Hilton AMEX before.

It has no annual fee and offers Silver status for as long as you are a cardmember. You’ll also get discounted 4 night award stays and the 5th night free on award stays. If you spend $20K on the card you’ll also get Hilton Gold status.


-There’s no limited time offer for the Citi Hilton Reserve card, but it’s a great card as it gives 2 free nights at any Hilton in the world when you spend $2,500 in 4 months, including the excellent Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, the Conrad Maldives, the Grand Wailea Maui, or the Hilton Bora Bora Nui. The bonus is valid if you haven’t had this particular Citi Hilton card in the past 24 months.

To signup you can click on the “Other Credit Cards” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. Then just click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

It offers 10 points per dollar for spending at Hilton, 5 points per dollar on airline and car rental spending, and 3 points per dollar elsewhere.

It has a $95 annual fee and gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder. You’ll get the 5th night free on award stays.  You’ll also get an additional free night for spending $10K in a calendar year. This card has a $95 annual fee.


The Hilton award chart can be found here.

Rooms range from 5K to 95K points per night depending on which of the 10 categories it falls into. If you have any Hilton credit card you’ll have elite status which also get the 5th award night for free. There are also point and money awards which are a great way to stretch your points, though those awards are capacity controlled.

As long as a standard room is for sale you can use points for the room without capacity controls or blackout dates.

The awesome Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is a category 9 property requiring 80K points per night. As a Hilton cardholder the 5th award night is free, so the cost for a 5 night stay is 320K points or effectively 64K points per night.

Alternatively, AMEX Hilton cardholders can also book discounted 4 night award stays as follows:
Category 5: 130,000 points
Category 6: 160,000 points
Category 7: 190,000 points
Category 8: 220,000 points
Category 9: 260,000 points
Category 10: 300,000 points

These discounted 4 night awards are called AXON awards and can only be booked over the phone (800-920-5649), but will have the same availability as regular awards.

Hilton is a tough currency to love due to the high point requirements, but we absolutely loved our stay at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem last year and hope to stay there again. These limited time offers are all some of the richest that have ever been offered for these cards.

At the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem we were treated to a fantastic daily breakfast, which is free for Hilton Gold and Diamond members. There is a mind-boggling quantity of awesome kosher food there, from dozens of daily hot dishes to hard cheeses, fresh fruits and pastries to fresh squeezed juices, as well as on-demand dishes like french toast, pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Unlimited wine, hot or cold chocolate drinks, and espresso drinks are included as well!

Gold and Diamond members get upgrades, food and drink amenities, late checkout, and other great benefits. Their Friday night Shabbos meals are pricey, but are well worth the expense (DDFers agree with that take as well), and the in-house restaurants are excellent as well.

With a breakfast like this, you may not even be hungry for dinner…

 

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Many, many more pictures when I get around to writing the trip report 😉


If you need more points for a discounted 4 night or 5 night stay you can also buy Hilton points at half price through June 3rd here.

You can purchase anywhere from 2K points for $10 to 160K points for $800, effectively 0.5 cents per point. If you need more points you can open additional Hilton accounts in your name and then combine the accounts by clicking here.

In other words if you have 240K Hilton points you could spend 3 nights in the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. With this deal you can buy an additional 20K points for $100 and have enough points for a 4 night stay for AMEX cardholders. Or you can buy an additional 80K points for $400 and have enough points for a 5 night stay if you are a Hilton cardholder or elite.

Even if you don’t have any points in can make sense to buy points.

The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem rooms range from $450-$650 per night (plus 18% VAT for locals). If you were to buy 80K points at 0.5 cents each that would make the effective cost per night $400.  If you have a Hilton AMEX you can stay for 4 nights for 260K points (65K points per night) that would make the effective cost per night $325. If you have Hilton elite status (it’s free with any Hilton card) they you can get the 5th award night for free, so 320K points (64K points per night) at the sale price of 0.5 cents each would make the effective cost per night just $320. No tax is owed on award stays.

Or for example a top-tier category 10 hotel like the Conrad Maldives goes for $700-$1,000 per night. It costs 95K points per night ($475/night with this sale), 300K points for 4 nights for Hilton AMEX cardholders ($375/night with this sale), or 380K points for 5 nights for Hilton elites ($380/night with this sale).


Do you have any Hilton cards or do you have plans to take advantage of these limited time offers? Which aspirational hotel do you have your eyes set on? Hit the comments!

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Which New JetBlue Card Is Right For You?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

JetBlue World Mastercard
JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard

JetBlue has moved their credit card portfolio from AMEX to Barclaycard, and with the move comes new cards and new benefits.

-The base card has no annual fee and offers 10K points for spending $1,000 in 90 days.
-The Plus card has a $99 annual fee and offers 30K points for spending $1,000 in 90 days.

What’s that signup bonus worth? It all depends on the flights you take, but here are 3 examples:
1. JFK-Chicago on 5/11 is $63.10 or 3.7K points+$5.60. That’s a value of 1.55 cents per point (63.10-5.60/3,700).
2. JFK-Los Angeles on 5/11 is $138.10 or 9.2K points+$5.60. That’s a value of 1.44 cents per point.
3. JFK-Fort Lauderdale on 5/11 is $85.10 or 5.3K points+$5.60. That’s a value of 1.5 cents per point.

Assuming a value of 1.5 cents per point that would make the 10K bonus worth about $150 and the 30K bonus worth about $450.

-The Plus card also offers a 10% points rebate every time you redeem your points. The rebate will post within 1 business day of using points. That effectively makes your points about 10% more valuable and bumps up the signup bonus value of the Plus card to about $500. It means that the JFK-ORD example will really only cost Plus cardholders 3,330 points, the JFK-LAX flight will cost 8,280 points, and the JFK-FLL flight will cost just 4,770 points after the 10% rebate.

-JetBlue points never expire. JetBlue also allows families to pool their points together.

-The Plus card offers a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to 3 passengers on the same reservation. That’s a value of up to $160 in waived checked bag fees per round-trip.

-The Plus card offers 5,000 points upon every card anniversary. Combined with the 10% rebate that’s 5,500 points that are worth about $83 towards JetBlue flights. That drops the effective annual fee from $99 down to just $16.

-The Plus card offers an annual $100 statement credit when you book a $100+ JetBlue vacation package.

-If you spend $50K in a calendar year on the Plus card then you’ll get JetBlue Mosaic status for the remainder of the calendar year and for the following calendar year.
Mosaic status includes free changes and cancellations on JetBlue tickets for the Mosaic member and for everyone on their itinerary, 2 free checked bags, 15K bonus points for earning Mosaic status every year, free even more speed checkin and security access, early boarding, 3 additional points per dollar spent, free alcoholic beverages onboard, and a dedicated Mosaic 24/7 customer service line.

-Both cards offer 2 points per dollar on groceries and restaurants as well as 1 point per dollar everywhere else. The Plus card also offers 6 points per dollar on JetBlue purchases while the base card offers 3 points per dollar. That’s on top of the 3-11 points per dollar that you earn for the flight itself, which makes for a nice rebate on JetBlue flights.

-Both cards also offer a 50% rebate for in-flight purchases of cocktails, food, JetBlue movies and other eligible purchases.

-Both cards offer no foreign transaction fees.

It’s nice that they are offering a no-annual fee base card, but the benefits are pretty spartan when compared to fee-free cards like Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and AMEX Everyday. The main advantage is the lack of foreign transactions fees, but other than that it’s slim pickings.

The Plus card on the other hand is a no-brainer, even for once-per-year JetBlue flyers. The signup bonus makes it well worth the initial $99 annual fee and the anniversary bonus makes it worth keeping the card despite the $99 annual fee. The free checked bags and the 10% rebate on award tickets seal the deal on a very solid card offering. And the very generous bonus points offered on JetBlue purchases is icing on the cake.

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Confirmed: Freedom Q2 Bonus Works At Costco

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Chase Freedom Visa

On April 1st I bought a $25 Costco Cash card on Costco.com with one of my 3 Freedom Visa cards. The charge finally posted to my account and I can confirm that it earned 5 points per dollar:

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While you can use any card type to shop on Costco.com, you won’t be able to use a Visa in Costco stores until 6/20 when Costco switches from AMEX only to Visa only. But you can buy cash cards online with free shipping and use those in Costco stores.

Be sure not to wait until the end of June to try this, as it took a week for Costco to actually make the charge.

You can click here to activate this quarter’s Chase Freedom 5% categories.

Chase Freedom is an excellent no annual fee card thanks to its quarterly 5% categories. 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 over the course of a year (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

While Chase Freedom is a great card for the bonus categories, it’s not a great card for everyday spending. However the brand new Chase Freedom Unlimited card is excellent for everyday spending.

2016 Chase Freedom bonus categories:
Q1: Gas stations and local commuter transportation
Q2: Grocery stores and wholesale clubs like BJs and Sams Club. Effective 6/20 Costco will also start accepting Visa cards and should qualify as a wholesale club.
Q3: Restaurants and more to be announced.
Q4: Holiday shopping (Likely Amazon.com and more to be announced)

Freedom alone can’t transfer points into much more lucrative airline or hotel miles, 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.

The value of the points will be based on where you use them, but if you use those points for a trip worth where they are worth 2 cents each then you’ll have effectively earned 10% 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. That’s good for people in the know and bad for those who are not. 1 mile can be worth 0.25 cents or it can be worth 25 cents, it all just depends on how you use them!

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Chase Freedom Unlimited Now Available Online, Is It The Best Card For Everyday Spending?

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Chase Freedom Unlimited Visa

The new Chase Freedom Unlimited advertises a $150 signup bonus for spending $500 in 3 months, but in reality that comes in the form of 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You’ll get an additional 2,500 points for adding a free additional user which will leave you with a total of 18,250 points after spending $500.

It has no annual fee.

The real kicker is that although it advertises 1.5% cash back, that too comes in the form of 1.5 points per dollar. When used properly those points are worth far more than 1% each.

The beauty of miles is that the sky is the limit (see the end of this post for more on that or see this post for ideas for your miles). I’ve had redemptions where my miles have been worth 50 cents each. If you’re good at the game, it’s not difficult to get a value of at least 2 cents from your miles, which would mean this card would be worth 3% cash back everywhere for you. That’s tough to beat.

If you value Chase points at 1.7 cents each then earning 1.5 points per dollar everywhere is like earning 2.55% cash back. It shouldn’t be hard to attain a value like that between Hyatt and airlines like British Airways, Iberia, Korean, Singapore, Southwest, and United.
If you value them at 1.6 cents each you would be earning 2.4% cash back. Even if you value them at just 1.5 cents each it would still be like getting 2.25% cash back and still beats a 2% cash back card.

You can pay your federal taxes for a 1.87% fee, so it can make sense to use this card to pay your taxes as long as you value Chase points at a paltry 1.2 cents each.

The only catch is that you, your spouse, or an authorized user on your account must have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card in order to transfer these points into miles.

The good news is that you can convert this card into a Sapphire Preferred card and then convert it back. You can also convert your Freedom or Sapphire Preferred card into a Freedom Unlimited card, though you don’t get signup bonuses for card conversions. If you do convert your Freedom card into a Freedom Unlimited card, be sure to first finish the $1,500 in Q2 bonus spending.

It can be tough to get cards like Freedom or Sapphire if you have received 5 or more cards in the past 24 months, but exceptions have been made and bankers have been able to help some people with Chase checking accounts appeal a denial.

There are lots of cards that offer bonuses for spending in specific categories:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-I always max out the $1,500 of 5x quarterly spending on the Chase Freedom Visa. That’s an easy way to pickup 30K miles per year. Last year it even offered up to 11 points per dollar in December as a special “5th quarter” promotion. It has no annual fee.

-The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express offers 3 points per dollar on airfare and 2 points per dollar on dining, US gas stations, US supermarkets, and Uber. It is free for a year and is $195 afterward, but if comes with a $100 airline fee credit that helps offset that fee.

-The Ink Plus card offers 5 points per dollar on office supplies (including hundreds of gift cards sold by office supply stores), cell phone, internet, and telecom bills, and 2 points per dollar on gas and hotels. It has a $95 annual fee.

-The Sapphire Preferred offers 2 points per dollar on airfare, car rentals, hotels, and dining, plus it comes with travel insurance and free primary car rental insurance. It’s free for the first year and then has a $95 annual fee.

-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card is one of the best hybrid card offerings because it offers a great value for everyday spending and spending in select categories. If you have 30 transactions per month it offers 4.5 miles per dollar at US supermarkets, 3 points per dollar at US gas stations, 2.5 points per dollar on Uber, and 1.5 points per dollar everywhere else. That’s an excellent all-around card, but it requires discipline to make sure that you reach 30 transactions per month. It has a $95 annual fee.

-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card has no annual fee and if you make 20 transactions per month earns 2.4 points per dollar at US supermarkets and Uber, and 1.2 points per dollar elsewhere. It’s the only no-fee card that allows you to transfer points into miles.

-For everyday spending without needing 20 or 30 transactions per month the long-time gold standard has been the Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX. The built-in 25% bonus when transferring points into miles means that you effectively earn 1.25 miles per dollar and Starwood has an awesome array of airlines. Alas transfers from Starwood take a few days and while SPG is safe for now, it won’t be around for more than a couple of years due to Marriott taking it over. And the Starwood card’s only bonus category is for spending money at Starwood hotels.

-For my everyday spending I’ve been using a United Club card as that earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent. That card normally has a whopping $450 annual fee, though I only pay $40/year for it as a lifetime club member and a United 1K. It’s a great card, but the miles are locked into United.

So the Freedom Unlimited offers a unique value proposition. It has no annual fee. It doesn’t require that you make a certain number of transactions per month. And it offers 1.5 points per dollar everywhere. Its’ only Achilles heel is that it requires that you, a spouse, or an authorized user on your account has a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus in order to transfer its points into hotel points or airline miles. As Chase allows you to upgrade to Sapphire Preferred and downgrade back to Freedom or Freedom Unlimited that’s a not a big deal though. It even has a huge advantage over the $450/year United Club card in that the points can be transferred to Chase’s other excellent airline and hotel partners and aren’t locked into United miles.

Will you switch your everyday spending to Freedom Unlimited?

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Roundup Of Limited Time Hilton Credit Card Offers: Earn Up To 100K Points Per Card!

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

-Ending tomorrow morning, the Citi Hilton card is offering 75K points for spending $2,000 within 3 months. It offers 6 points per dollar for spending at Hilton, 3 points per dollar at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations, and 2 points per dollar elsewhere. The bonus is valid if you haven’t had this particular Citi Hilton card in the past 18 months.

It has no annual fee and offers Silver status for as long as you are a cardmember. That gets you the ability to get the 5th night free on Hilton award stays.

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-There’s no limited time offer for the Citi Hilton Reserve card, but it’s a great card as it gives 2 free nights at any Hilton in the world when you spend $2,500 in 3 months, including the excellent Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, the Conrad Maldives, the Grand Wailea Maui, or the Hilton Bora Bora Nui. The bonus is valid if you haven’t had this particular Citi Hilton card in the past 18 months.

It offers 10 points per dollar for spending at Hilton, 5 points per dollar on airline and car rental spending, and 3 points per dollar elsewhere.

It has a $95 annual fee and gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder, which gets you free breakfast, including the most over-the-top breakfast I’ve had in my life at the Waldorf Jerusalem.  If you spend $40K/year you’ll get top-tier Diamond status, which gets confirmed room upgrades and space available suite upgrade at hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. You’ll also get an additional free night for spending $10K in a calendar year. This card has a $95 annual fee.

To signup for either of the cards above you can click on the “Other Credit Cards” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. Then just click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

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American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Until May 4th, The Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express is offering 75K points for spending $1,000 within 3 months.  It offers 7 points per dollar for spending at Hilton, 5 points per dollar at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations, and 3 points per dollar elsewhere. The bonus is valid if you haven’t had this particular Hilton AMEX before.

It has no annual fee and offers Silver status for as long as you are a cardmember. That gets you the ability to get the 5th night free on Hilton award stays. If you spend $20K on the card you’ll also get Hilton Gold status.

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-Until May 4th, The Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express is offering 100K points for spending $3,000 within 3 months.  It offers 12 points per dollar for spending at Hilton, 6 points per dollar at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations, and 3 points per dollar elsewhere. The bonus is valid if you haven’t had this particular Hilton AMEX before.

It has a $75 annual fee and gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder. If you spend $40K/year you’ll get top-tier Diamond status.

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The Hilton award chart can be found here.

Rooms range from 5K to 95K points per night depending on which of the 10 categories it falls into. If you have any Hilton credit card you’ll have elite status which also get the 5th award night for free. There are also point and money awards which are a great way to stretch your points, though those awards are capacity controlled.

As long as a standard room is for sale you can use points for the room without capacity controls or blackout dates.

The awesome Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is a category 9 property requiring 80K points per night. If you stay for 5 nights the effective cost per night is 64K, or 320K points for a 5 night stay.

AMEX Hilton cardholders can also book discounted 4 night award stays as follows:
Category 5: 130,000 points
Category 6: 160,000 points
Category 7: 190,000 points
Category 8: 220,000 points
Category 9: 260,000 points
Category 10: 300,000 points

These discounted 4 night awards are called AXON awards and can only be booked over the phone (800-920-5649), but will have the same availability as regular awards.

Hilton is a tough currency to love due to the high point requirements, but we absolutely loved our stay at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem last year and hope to stay there again. These limited time offers are all some of the richest that have ever been offered for these cards.

At the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem we were treated to a fantastic daily breakfast, which is free for Hilton Gold and Diamond members. There is a mind-boggling quantity of awesome kosher food there, from dozens of daily hot dishes to hard cheeses, fresh fruits and pastries to fresh squeezed juices, as well as on-demand dishes like french toast, pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Unlimited wine, hot or cold chocolate drinks, and espresso drinks are included as well!

Gold and Diamond members get upgrades, food and drink amenities, late checkout, and other great benefits. Their Friday night Shabbos meals are pricey, but are well worth the expense (DDFers agree with that take as well), and the in-house restaurants are excellent as well.

 

With a breakfast like this, you may not even be hungry for dinner…

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Many, many more pictures when I get around to writing the trip report 😉

 

Do you have any Hilton cards or do you have plans to take advantage of these limited time offers? Which aspirational hotel do you have your eyes set on? Hit the comments!

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Highest Public Offer Ever: Earn 35,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Update: Offer Expired!
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Originally posted on 3/3/16:

Related posts:
The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart

Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition
Starwood Adds A 34th Airline Transfer Partner And It’s Excellent For Awards To Israel!
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Consumer 35K Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Business 35K Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

This is a limited time offer scheduled to run until 03/30.  It offers 40% more points than the standard offer and there has never been a better public offer for this card.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year on both cards.

For the consumer card you will get 35,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 within 3 months. The terms state that if you have had the consumer card before you will not get the bonus for the consumer card again.

For the business card you will get 35,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 within 3 months. The brand new business card terms state that if you have had the business card before you will not get the bonus for the business card again.

If you have only had a consumer card you can get the points for business card and if you have only had the business card you can get the points for the consumer card.

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Spending on the Starwood card and comparison to Freedom Unlimited.

The Starwood card remains a very good card for general spending.

While there are other cards with better bonus categories, the Starwood card is strong for general spending as Starpoints continue to be the most valuable mileage currency thanks to valuable hotel usage and the 25% bonus for transfers into dozens of airlines.

The upcoming Freedom Unlimited card will give the Starwood card a run for its money for everyday spending, but Starwood offers no foreign transaction fees compared to 3% for the Freedom Unlimited card. Starwood also offers far more airline transfer options, though it effectively earns 1.25 airline miles per dollar compared to 1.5 on Freedom Unlimited. On the other hand Freedom Unlimited will require that you either upgrade your card or have a premium card like Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus to transfer points into miles, while the Starwood card doesn’t have a requirement like that.

Starwood also allows members at the same address to transfer points between their accounts for free.

There are thousands of uses for Starpoints, some of which have been over 50 cents each for me at hotels, but I aim for a minimum value of about 2.2 cents per point and am happy when I’m able to exceed that level. It’s not hard to reach a value of that level at hotels and you can transfer 20K miles into 25K valuable miles from airlines like Aegean, Alaska, American, and dozens of other programs. If you are able to obtain a value of 1.75 cents from those airlines then that imputes a 2.2 cent value for Starpoints as well. The miles won’t sell on the grey market for that price, but miles are always more valuable when you use them yourself for travel.

The Starwood card earns 2 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood hotels, or a 4.4% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint. It earns 1 Starpoint per dollar everywhere else, or a 2.2% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint.

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Marriott merger:

Starwood is in the process of merging with Marriott, but it will be a while until the programs are merged. Marriott’s CEO has promised multiple times not to mess with SPG’s value proposition, but we’ll see what that means when the full details come out. At this point nothing is known and there are lots of possibilities. The programs could be run separately or either loyalty program could win out. Ideally they’d realize the passion that SPG members have for Starpoints and simply convert Marriott points into an SPG type of loyalty program with something like a 50% haircut in points for Marriott members. But ideally doesn’t always happen.

Will the SPG AMEX or the Chase Marriott card survive? Might both survive? Those are all questions we might not know answers to until next year.

Chase is also currently offering a limited time 87.5K signup bonus on the Marriott card. Of course Starpoints are worth far more than Marriott points and it remains to be seen how exactly and at what ratio they’ll be combined.

But in the meantime you can pickup the signup bonus on both limited time offers.

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American Express Benefits and the annual fee:

The card also carries American Express’ awesome top-notch protections that are light-years better than any other banks. Most other banks always look for a way to get out, but that’s not the case with American Express.
-If you need to return an item up to $300 they will gladly refund you. Most of the time you’ll be able to keep the item, but if you do need to send it back the return shipping will be free.
-You get an additional year of warranty coverage and if you have any issue in the extended warranty year they’ll pay to have it fixed or refund your entire purchase price without a hassle.
-If you need to dispute a charge there’s nobody who makes it easier or as pain-free as American Express does. It’s the best in the industry by leaps and bounds and you can do it all online.
-If your item is stolen or broken within 90 days you’ll be covered.

See this post to see just how amazing AMEX benefits can be.

There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $95 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. If you cancel a card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement you will receive a full refund of the fee. If you cancel after 60 days you get a pro-rated refund based on how many months you had the card.

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Spending $3K or $5K in 3 months:

You can pay your federal taxes for a 1.87% fee. The Starpoints are worth more than 1.87 cents each, so that’s a no-brainer if you’re trying to meet a spend threshold. If you overpay you can request a cash refund or apply it to your next year’s taxes.

My local gas company allows me to prepay up to $1,000 on a credit card for a $1.65 flat fee. That’s a great way to earn miles and help meet a spend threshold. My electricity supplier allows me to pay with a credit card for free as long as I am enrolled in autopay. I used to prepay 5 months of rent on a my credit card (it’s easier in Cleveland where that’s just $800/month) for a $19 flat fee. You’d be surprised to see what you can charge to your credit card!

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Sheraton Club Lounge Access:

The Starwood business card now gives free club lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels.

There have been rave reviews of the Sheraton Club lounge in Tel Aviv for example.  If you have a Starwood business card you’ll get free access to it and its free food, beverages, and sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea. A free night at the Sheraton Tel Aviv is 12K points, 6K points+$110, or 9.6K points per night on a 5 night stay.

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Premium Internet Access:

With either Starwood card you now get free premium in-room internet at Starwood hotels. All SPG guests get free internet, but cardholders will now get the faster version for free.

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Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi:

With either Starwood card you now get free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi worldwide, perfect for avoiding confiscatory rates at airports when traveling.  Search from over 1 million hot-spots here.

Enroll for free Boingo access here.

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Elite Status and Crossover benefits with Delta and Uber:

Just by having a Starwood card you earn Preferred Plus status.  This status earns you the right to checkout at 4pm at Starwood hotels and get upgraded to preferred rooms.

If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn Gold status.  Gold status gets you more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points.  You can also get gold status for free with no spending requirement by opening The Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

When you have the Starwood card you also get 5 elite qualifying nights and 2 stays for each Starwood card that you have that count towards earning Gold or Platinum status!

Starwood Gold and Platinum elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.

And all members can earn bonus Starpoints for Uber rides as well after making a single SPG stay.

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Using Starpoints:

Points are deposited directly into your Starwood account, so you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like you would with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, or Citibank ThankYou points.  You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 18 months to keep it active, though Starwood is very good about reactivating accounts that have been closed due to inactivity.

Award nights count towards elite status. Gold members receive 250 points back and Platinum members receive 500 points back per stay.

How can you use your points?

1. Hotel award nights with no blackouts or capacity controls. If a standard room is for sale you can use points to book it:

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2. If you book 5 consecutive hotel award nights at category 3-7 hotels then the 5th night will be free:

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For example:
-5 nights at the category 7 blinged out S. Regis Bal Harbour is 120,000 points, still that’s not a bad value when you consider that the cheapest rooms during peak season go for more than $1,000 per night.
-At the category 6 ultra-modern W Hong Kong with a 76th floor rooftop infinity pool or at the breathtaking Le Meridien Bora Bora or Westin Venice would cost 80,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 5 Sheraton Kauai or the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv will be 48,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 4 Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii, Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach, Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort will be 40,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 3 Le Meridien Chiang Mai Thailand over an awesome Shabbos at the nearby Chabad House. would set you back 28,000 points. Same goes for the popular Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek or the Sheraton Mahwah near Monsey.
-The category 2 Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview is just 3K points on weekends or 4K points on weekdays. Same goes for the Sheraton Eatontown Hotel near Lakewood, NJ.
-A night at the category 1 Aloft S. Jose Costa Rica or Le Méridien N’Fis, Morocco starts at just 2,000 points.

Click on the category links to explore other hotels that can be obtained for those rates.

3. Cash and points allows you stretch your points when reserving a standard room, upgraded room, or suite:

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Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays cheap. Take the Sheraton at my hometown Cleveland airport for example. The rate there for tonight is $219+tax=$260. Using Starpoints you can either pay 4,000 points for a value of 6.5 cents per Starpoint. With cash and points a category 2 hotel would be 2,000 points and $35 cash for a value of 11.3 cents per Starpoint! A weekend night is just 3,000 points.

4. Nights and Flights allow you to combine a 5 night hotel stay and get 50,000 miles for less than the cost of booking a 5 night stay and transferring points separately:

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In other words you can stay 5 nights at a category 4 hotel like the Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii or Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and get 50,000 miles transferred into the airline of your choice for just 70,000 Starpoints.

When done separately that 5 night stay would cost 40,000 Starpoints and the airline transfer would cost 40,000 Starpoints.

5. SPG Moments allows you to  purchase or bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences with Starpoints.

Throw out the first pitch at a ballgame, watch the game from a suite, etc. Starwood will even cater their suite with kosher food upon request with no additional charge! People have done that at the US Open, Cubs, Knicks, Rangers, and more games.

6. Keep your eyes peeled for promotions like this 50% off promotion where I spent 5 nights in the S. Regis Bal Harbour for just 48,000 points.

You can currently save 35% off at select resorts.

7. Of course you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios. 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on dozens of airlines thanks to the 25% bonus.

Airlines also often incentivize transfers, like American did last year by offering a 50% bonus for transfersAir Canada and United also offered promotions last year.

Curious about the 34 Starwood transfer options and ratios? Here they are!

With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go. I’ve separated them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines. Of course airlines also have lots of non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

In parenthesis you can see if American Express Membership Rewards (MR), Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), or Citibank Thank You (TY) points transfers to the airline as well.

OneWorld Alliance:
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
American: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
British Airways Avios: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, UR)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
JAL: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (No other transfers)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
China Eastern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
China Southern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Korean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (UR)
Saudia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Star Alliance:
ANA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Aegean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Air Canada/Aeroplan: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points (No other transfers)
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)

Unaligned:
Alaska (Partners with several airlines from different alliances): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Etihad: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (No other transfers)
Hainan: 20,000 Starpoints==25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Jet Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Points can also transfer to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio.

You can view the expiration policies for each transfer program here. Remember that points can only transfer from Starwood to an airline, they can never transfer from an airline to Starwood.

I don’t recommend using the SPG Flights or the SPG Merchandise/Gift Card programs as the value per point is way too low.

How do you normally redeem your Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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Chase Is Launching A Game-Changing Credit Card This Spring

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Last week I wrote the pre-obituary on the mileage game. But every now and then something comes up that proves rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

We don’t have reports yet of people applying for new Chase or AMEX cards under the new rules. And airlines will continue to devalue their miles. But as I wrote in that post, the banks and airlines have good reason to continue allowing exceptional mileage redemptions as otherwise they would never be able to compete with a 2% cash back card.

I always max out the $1,500 of 5x quarterly spending on the Chase Freedom Visa. That’s an easy way to pickup 30K miles per year. Last year it even offered up to 11 points per dollar in December as a special “5th quarter” promotion.

I use a United Club card for my everyday purchases as that earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent. That card has a whopping $450 annual fee, though I only pay $40/year for it as a lifetime club member and a United 1K. It’s a great card, but the miles are locked into United.

The only other card that gives 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere is the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card. That card has a $95 annual fee and if you make 30 transactions per month you’ll earn 4.5 miles per dollar at US supermarkets, 3 points per dollar at US gas stations and Uber, and 1.5 points per dollar everywhere else. That card launched together with the Amex EveryDay Credit Card which has no annual fee and if you make 20 transactions per month earns 2.4 points per dollar at US supermarkets and Uber, and 1.2 points per dollar elsewhere.
Both of those cards can directly transfer points into miles, so they each offered something unprecedented between a card offering a transferable 1.5 miles per dollar and a no annual fee card offering transferable miles.

While the banks are trying their hardest to avoid card churning, they are increasing the stakes in earning points for spending. Chase clearly smells blood in the water and hopes to offer a knockout punch with the Freedom Unlimited Visa. 

I’ve personally confirmed the following details about the Freedom Unlimited Visa with a Chase PR rep:
1. It will have no annual fee.
2. It will earn 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent everywhere without limits. It won’t have any category bonuses. You can cash the points out for 1.5% cash back or you can transfer them to cards like Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus in order to convert these points into airline miles or hotel points.
3. It will launch sometime this spring, the exact date is not yet known.
4. You will be able to convert existing Freedom or Sapphire cards to Freedom Unlimited.
5. You will be able to apply for a Freedom Unlimited card even if you have an existing Freedom card.
6. Both the Freedom card and Freedom Unlimited card will continue to be offered by Chase for new applicants.
7. The signup bonus for Freedom Unlimited will be identical to the current Freedom promotion, 15K points (marketed as $150 cash back) for spending $500 in 3 months plus 2.5K points (marketed as $25 cash back) for adding a free additional user card.

If you value Chase points at 1.7 cents each then earning 1.5 points per dollar everywhere is like earning 2.55% cash back. It shouldn’t be hard to attain a value like that between Hyatt and airlines like British Airways, Iberia, Korean, Singapore, Southwest, and United.
If you value them at 1.6 cents each you would be earning 2.4% cash back. Even if you value them at just 1.5 cents each it would still be like getting 2.25% cash back.

Of course the beauty of miles is that the sky is the limit (see the end of this post for more on that or see this post for ideas for your miles). I’ve had redemptions where my miles have been worth 50 cents each. If you’re good at the game, it’s not difficult to get a value of at least 2 cents from your miles, which would mean this card would be worth 3% cash back everywhere for you.

You can pay your federal taxes for a 1.87% fee, so it can make sense to use this card to pay your taxes as long as you value Chase points at a paltry 1.2 cents each.

It won’t be worth using the card when you can get a better bonus elsewhere. In other words dining and travel purchases will still earn more with Sapphire Preferred‘s 2 points per dollar. Office supply and telecom spending will still earn more with Ink Plus‘ 5 points per dollar. The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express will still make sense for 3 points per dollar on airfare and 2 points per dollar on dining, US gas stations, US supermarkets, and Uber. But for everyday purchases, the Freedom Unlimited is a game-changer. Its’ only Achilles heel is that it requires that you, a spouse, or an authorized user on your account has a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus in order to transfer its points into hotel points or airline miles. As Chase allows you to upgrade to Sapphire Preferred and downgrade back to Freedom or Freedom Unlimited that’s a not a big deal though.

Will this launch a new wave of cards offering more miles per dollar for everyday spending?

Will you switch your everyday spending to Freedom Unlimited or will you keep it on a card like the Starwood AMEXor Amex EveryDay Preferred, or Citi Double Cash?

Hit the comments!

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Citi AA 50K Offers Ending Tomorrow; Roundup Of Citi Credit Card Limited Time And Expiring Offers

Monday, February 29th, 2016

To signup for any of the cards below you can click on the “Other Credit Cards” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. Then just click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

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-Ending this afternoon, the Citi AAdvantage Consumer Mastercard and Citi AAdvantage Business Mastercard are offering 50K AA miles for spending $3,000 in 3 months. The Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard also offers 50K AA miles for spending $5,000 in 3 months.

The AAdvantage consumer and business cards have their $95 annual fee waived for the first year. They both offer priority boarding and a free checked bag for you and 4 companions. The consumer card also offers a 10% rebate of miles spent on award tickets-up to 10K miles rebated per year.

All 3 of these cards qualify for 7.5K off discounted awards to rotating destinations.

All 3 cards have no foreign transaction fees.

Note that AA is devaluing their miles on 03/22.

The AAdvantage Executive card has a $450 annual fee, but that includes an Admirals Club membership. Additional cardholders are free and they can also can access AA lounges and bring in their own guests or families for free as well. You don’t need to be flying on American to access the lounge with this card.

The Executive card offers priority checking, security, boarding, and you and 8 companions can bring a free checked bag. If you spend $40K on the card in a calendar year you’ll get 10,000 bonus elite qualifying miles.

The Executive card also offers free Global Entry or Pre-Check membership.

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There’s no limited time offer for the Citi Hilton Reserve card, but it’s a great card as it which gives 2 free nights at any Hilton in the world, including the excellent Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. It also gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder, which gets you free breakfast, including the most over-the-top breakfast I’ve had in my life at the Waldorf Jerusalem.  If you spend $40K/year you’ll get top-tier Diamond status, which gets confirmed room upgrades and space available suite upgrade at hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. This card has a $95 annual fee.

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-Like no-annual fee cards but prefer cash over miles? The Citi Double Cash card offers 2% cash back on all purchases.  There’s no signup bonus for the card, but if you want cold hard cash instead of miles it’s hard to top the earning value of this card.

There’s also 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months.

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The Citi Premier card offers 40K ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in 3 month. The points are transferrable to airlines/hotels or 50K points can be used for a $400 gift card or $500 of travel purchases. If you also have a Citi Prestige card the points can be worth much more, as can be seen below.

The Premier card has very strong spend categories. It offers triple points for travel and gas and double points on dining and entertainment. The travel category on the Premier card includes airfare, car rentals, hotels, cruises, travel agencies, public transportation, boat rentals, taxis, tolls, parking, etc. Entertainment includes sporting events, amusement parks, tourist attractions, theater, concerts, movies, etc.

There are no foreign transaction fees and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.  More info in this post.

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-The Citi Prestige card offers 50K ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in 3 months for a limited time only.  The points are transferrable to airlines/hotels or 50K points can be used for a $500 gift card,  $665 of airline purchases, or $800 of travel on American or USAirways. More info in this post.

The Prestige card offers 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, and travel agencies, and double points on dining and entertainment.  Note that the less expensive Premier card actually has better bonus categories.

There is a $450 annual fee. However the Prestige card comes packed with awesome benefits:

1. $250 annual air travel credit. No need to pick an airline. No need to buy a gift card. Just a straight credit for up to $250 of whatever you spend from any airline including tickets, bag fees, seat fees, etc. In your first cardmembership year you can get $250 back in 2015 and $250 back in 2016, which more than covers the annual fee.

2. Free American Admirals Club lounge access for you and your family or you and 2 guests when flying American.

3. Priority Pass lounge membership with free guest access for your family or 2 guests when flying any airline. Additional Prestige cardmembers are just $50 and they also get their own Priority Club lounge membership with free guest privileges. The Priority pass membership that comes with the AMEX Platinum card doesn’t include free guests access, so that’s a nice perk of this membership. Click here to search for lounges in airports across the world.

4. Global Entry or Pre-Check reimbursement. A 5 year Global Entry membership is normally $100 but will be free when paid with the Prestige card. Skip the lines when returning to the US and get Pre-Check included as well. Pre-Check allows you to keep your shoes and jacket on, skip the nude-o-scope, and leave your laptop in the bag.  It makes traveling a whole lot easier.

5. A 4th night free on all paid hotel stays. When you make a hotel reservation of 4 or more nights you’ll get the 4th night of the reservation rebated back to your for free. The rates will be the same as on the hotel website and the rates do qualify for hotel elite status and points. Note that the 4th night of the stay will be the rebated night. In some cases the 4th night may cost significantly more or less than the rest of the nights, so always check to see the actual rate for each night. There is no limit to how many times you can take advantage of this offer. You need to use your Prestige card, but you get triple points for hotel spending, so that’s not a bad thing.

6. 3 free rounds of golf per calendar year. You can search for courses here and make reservations here. That’s 6 free rounds of golf in your first cardmembership year.

CitiGold benefits:

Several folks who have CitiGold accounts have gotten notices that their annual fee on the Prestige account has been adjusted down from $450 to just $350. CitiGold customers also get 15% bonus points on the Prestige card. Citigold checking is free for 2 months after which point you can downgrade to a free checking account or keep $50K in it, but benefits typically stay even after your downgrade. CitiGold customers can also signup for the card in-branch with the $350 fee, but the in-branch offer requires $15,000 in spending.  If you have a CitiBusiness Preferred checking account you can get a personal CitiGold account for free.  CitiBusiness Preferred requires you to maintain $15K in the account to waive the fees.

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The advantage of having both the Premier and the Prestige cards:

When you have a Prestige card you can also redeem ThankYou points for 1.33 cents towards airfare or 1.6 cents towards airfare on American or USAirways. That means you can book $800 of free travel (and earn miles for the flights) with the 50K signup bonus if you would rather go down that route as opposed to transferring points into miles.

If you have both the Prestige and Premier cards all of your points will be able to be used at the 1.6 cents per point value towards American or USAirways airfare.  From just the signup bonuses alone that’s at least $1,600 in free travel from the points plus $500 in free travel from the Prestige airline credit in your first cardmembership year.

The cheaper Premier card actually has better bonus categories including triple points on all travel expenses and on gas, but the Prestige card makes all of your ThankYou points worth more.

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Getting more than one Citi card and repeat bonuses:

Citibank doesn’t generally allow 2BMs anymore, though some people have reported success. You can apply for one card, wait 8 days, and then apply for another Citi card. You would have to wait 60 days from the date of your first card application before you can apply for a 3rd Citi card and 60 days from the date of your second card application before you can apply for a 4th Citi card.

Most Citi card applications now require an 18 month waiting period from when you last had that exact card before you can get the signup bonus again.

Citi phone reconsideration (888-201-4523) can be tough if denied, but many people (myself included) have had great luck reconsidering via snail mail! Just write a short letter explaining why you want the card to: Mr. Ken Stork, Office of the President, PO Box 6000, Sioux Falls, SD 57117

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Are We Nearing The End Of The Road? A Brief History Of The Game We Play, Changes To AMEX+Chase Card Rules; Which Cards To Get Before It’s Too Late

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

It’s been a really fun run since I started blogging in 2004.

Even before I was blogging I was using eBay to flip beanie babies as a 13 year old at big profits and generated 7 figures of miles for free.

I pioneered credit card application techniques like the 2BM which became 3BM and eventually got as high as a 24BM. I typically kept the specifics limited to the 15 seminars that I ran from 2012-2015. Over the years we’ve been able to travel the world while burning over 10 million miles and banking tens of millions more along with lifetime elite statuses and other perks. Like I said in an interview last month, my problem is finding the time to burn them, not earn them. With G-ds grace, that’s an amazing problem to have and it’s one of things that I was so thankful for.

Alas, other bloggers that attended some of those seminars have taken the stories for their own. They often dumbed them down in scale and strategy, I suppose as a way to not outright break a promise to keep their lips sealed. But in the process they wound up killing many of those methods in random posts of selfishness. There’s such a fine line when deciding what things are safe to write about and what things aren’t and I’ve been guilty of poor judgement at times. But there have been posts that are so misguided that they sting. #CestLaVie

There’s no doubt that this game is on the downward slope of the bell-curve here.

It used to be easy as pie to keep applying for the same cards again and again with bonuses that just kept on growing with each passing year. It used to be really easy to meet the minimum spending requirement (Back in the day most cards only required $1 in spending) and manufacture spend by buying dollar coins or sending your spouse payments with Amazon Payments. Now those things have become increasingly difficult to do so.

Banks have gotten stricter with approvals and have policies that limit how often you can signup for the same card. And while there have always been loopholes for those in the know, those too are winnowing down.

There are still ways to manufacture spend, but in places like NYC it can be tough, especially if your Serve card was shut down.

Am I being a bit dramatic here? After all there are hundreds of avid DDF users who maximize the system, rack up millions of miles, and fly around the world in first class at a greater frequency than I do. If law school student CS91 can go from mileage newbie to racking up and burning 1.7 million miles this year, then surely all hope is not yet lost in this game. But there’s no denying that things are getting more difficult and require more time to master.

This blog has always been an odd convergence of bargain, travel/miles deals and information. It’s funny to see them come together as more and more people move into reselling as a method of manufacturing spend. That’s when people buy bargains on their credit cards and try to sell them on places like Amazon or eBay at a profit or at least break-even in order to earn miles in the process. Perhaps this will be the only way forward to keep manufacturing miles on the cheap? It’s funny to see it come full circle from the old days when I sold beanie babies and generated Cathay Pacific miles via eBay.

The airlines themselves have tried to take the gaming aspect out of the earning side of the equation as they move to reward flying based on revenue instead of flying distance. While in the past you could fly on a mileage run and earn miles worth more than the cost of the flight, those opportunities and few and far between these days. In 2004 we earned 8 tickets valid anywhere in the world on American by flying on a couple flights between NYC and California or Florida.   In 2006 I flew on a dozen AA flights in Texas and for a couple hundred bucks I had elite status and 6 figures of miles. Those days aren’t returning, though there are still ways to earn miles based on distance by crediting flights to partner airlines.

Airline consolidation has made lucrative promotions fewer and farther between as there is less need to compete. In 2005 Airtran ran a promotion to earn miles for Wendy’s cups. I sent in thousands of cups and they bought me tickets on Continental that I’m still using for free flights on United. Those were the golden days. Now airlines and hubs have been eliminated and loyalty is taken for granted.

Same goes for hotels. Not long ago I was earning 13,500 United miles+6,000 Hyatt points+1 free night at any Hyatt in the world for every 2 stays that I made. That was extremely lucrative thanks to $60 Hyatt Place stays that I was able to checkin to over the phone for every day of the promotion. Those Faster Free Nights promotions ran from about 2002 through 2010 but are gone for good. Even Starwood got in on the action and that allowed me to stay at the S. Regis Princeville in Kauai for dirt cheap in 2011. If airline mergers were the big story of the past 15 years, the ongoing hotel mergers will be the big thing. We’ll see what Marriott does with Starwood and what Accor does with my precious Fairmont, but I’m not very hopeful.

Heck, even Starbucks is moving from a “gameable” frequent user rewards based system (use their mobile app to make separate orders for every item you buy to quickly rack up free drinks) to a non-gameable revenue based system in April. The rewards landscape is changing as blogs proliferate and people maximize the benefits farther than the programs intended.

The redemption side has also become tougher with unprecedented devaluations from the likes of Hilton and United. Delta went so far as to delete their award charts and now American is poised to copy United’s devaluation in a month.

The good news from that end is that the major airlines know if they switch from an opaque system where savvy customers can game it and win to a non-gameable revenue based system, that they will lose billions of dollars in revenue as consumers switch from earning airline miles to earning cash back. The banks and their steady revenue stream won’t let that happen anytime soon.

In March of 2014 I broke the news that AMEX consumer cards would be much harder to churn. Officially most offers are once per lifetime now, though some don’t have that language and others have reported that after a number of years they’ve been able to get a signup bonus again on the same card. It’s hard to say exactly how many years it takes for that though.

Effective today AMEX Business card applications now have this language as well.

Citi started cracking down later in 2014 as I first reported here as well.

Bank of America went from one of the easiest to one of the hardest banks for multiple applications thanks to some blogs.

Chase’s approval guidelines on their Freedom and Sapphire cards got much more rigid last May when they started giving a tough time to people who have been approved for more than 5 credit cards within the previous 24 months. Some people have had success with reconsideration, others with $10K+ in a Chase checking account or with Private Client status have had luck by asking a banker to fill out a special reconsideration form for them, but it’s much tougher than it used to be.

Chuck from DoC has an inside source that says those same guidelines will begin to apply to Ink cards sometime in March and to all Chase cards sometime in April. With the way things have been heading that doesn’t surprise me at all.

So what Chase cards should you be looking into before things get even harder?

Chase Ink Plus Visa
Offering a limited time increased bonus of 60K, up from 50K.
You can read all about the awesome benefits of the Ink Plus card here.

You can also read more about what you can do with Ultimate Rewards points here, though the post needs some updating.

(If you need a card with 0% interest the Chase Ink Cash Visa offers 12 months of 0% APR and as it’s a business card your credit won’t be affected like it would be on a consumer card carrying debt.
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-Chase Marriott Visa
Offering a limited time increased bonus of 87.5K with a free additional user card, up from 50K.
Read more about the Marriott card here.
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-Chase British Airways Visa
Offering a limited time increased bonus of up to 100K, up from 50K.
Read more about the BA card here.
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-Chase Freedom Visa
Offering a limited time increased bonus of 17.5K with a free additional user card, up from 10K and 5 points per dollar in rotating categories.
Read more about the Freeom card here.
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-Chase Sapphire Visa (Click on view card offers by bank)

Offering a limited time increased bonus of 55K with a free additional user card, up from 40K plus double points on travel and dining spending and primary car rental insurance.
Read more about the Sapphire card here.
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The Chase United Visa is a good card to keep around just for the greatly expanded access it provides for both saver and standard award tickets. The free bags, club passes, primary car rental insurance, never-expiring miles, elite upgrades on award tickets, and priority boarding are just icing on the cake for that card.

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What are you thoughts on where things are heading? Sound off in the comments!

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Chase Marriott 87.5K Limited Time Signup Bonus; Starwood Implications And How Far Will It Go For Hotels In Israel?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Signup offer:

Chase is running a limited time offer on the Chase Marriott Visa for 80K bonus points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. Plus you’ll get another 7.5K points for adding a free additional user card, for a total of 87.5K points.

The normal signup bonus for this card is 50K.

You also get a free night at a category 1-5 hotel every year that you renew the card, which takes the sting out of the $85 annual fee. If only the Starwood card offered that!

There are no foreign transaction fees and you earn 2 points per dollar on airfare, car rentals, and restaurants and 5 points per dollar at Marriott hotels.

Marriott allows free point transfers between spouses, so if 2 spouses both get a Marriott card and spend $3,000 on each they would have at least 181K points.

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.

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. If you collect 110K Southwest points in a year you can bring a companion with your for free for the rest of the year and all of the following year on both paid and award tickets. The ratios to United are also better than most other airlines.

Marriott also offers excellent miles+nights packages.

SPG considerations:

Of course Starwood is in the process of merging with Marriott, but it will be a while until the programs are merged. Marriott’s CEO has promised multiple times not to mess with SPG’s value proposition, but we’ll see what that means when the full details come out. At this point nothing is known and there are lots of possibilities. The programs could be run separately or either loyalty program could win out. Ideally they’d realize the passion that SPG members have for Starpoints and simply convert Marriott points into an SPG type of loyalty program with something like a 50% haircut in points for Marriott members. But ideally doesn’t always happen.

Will the SPG AMEX or the Chase Marriott card survive? Might both survive? Those are all questions we might not know answers to until next year.

But in the meantime it can definitely make sense for both Marriott members and SPG members to take advantage of an offer like this as the points are very likely to be combinable in the future.

Marriott hotels in Israel:

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. Though with the SPG business card you’ll get free access to their lounge starting next month.  The W Tel Aviv-Jaffa was slated to open fall 2015 but that has been pushed back to November 2016. By the time that Starwood merges with Marriott you will be able to use points at both of those hotels.

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.  The Waldorf Astoria is an awesome addition to the scene, though it’s 64K-80K points per night. Citi gives 2 free nights there with the Citi Hilton Reserve card. The Reserve card even gives Gold status which earns you free breakfast, a real treat at the Waldorf.

 

Israel currently has 2 Marriott hotels:
The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya is a new luxury hotel that has been getting rave reviews on TripAdvisor and on DDF, where they’ve nicknamed it the Ritzaliya. They even provide complimentary rides in the hotel’s Jaguar.

It is a Ritz-Carlton tier 3 hotel which means that it’s 50,000 points per night or 200,000 points for a 5 night stay (40,000 points per night).

A superior room on 04/21 is $660 or 50K points, a value of 1.32 cents per point.  Or you can use 200,000 points for 5 nights, a value of 1.65 cents per point.  The 87.5K signup bonus can be worth $1,443.75 for a redemption at that value per point.

If you need more points 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.

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 on 06/19 is $300 or 35K points, a value of .86 cents per point.  Or you can use 140,000 points for 5 nights, a value of 1.07 cents per point.  The 87.5K signup bonus can be worth $936.25 for a redemption at that value per point.

What’s your favorite Marriott redemption?

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Roundup Of Citi Credit Card Limited Time And Expiring Offers

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

To signup for any of the cards below you can click on the “Other Credit Cards” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. Then just click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

Citi Limited Time Offers:

Scheduled to end tomorrow, the Citi Premier card offers 50K ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in 3 month. The points are transferrable to airlines/hotels or 50K points can be used for a $500 gift card or $625 of travel purchases. If you also have a Citi Prestige card the points can be worth much more, as can be seen below.

The Premier card has very strong spend categories. It offers triple points for travel and gas and double points on dining and entertainment. The travel category on the Premier card includes airfare, car rentals, hotels, cruises, travel agencies, public transportation, boat rentals, taxis, tolls, parking, etc. Entertainment includes sporting events, amusement parks, tourist attractions, theater, concerts, movies, etc.

There are no foreign transaction fees and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.  More info in this post.

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-For a limited time only, the Citi AAdvantage Consumer Mastercard and Citi AAdvantage Business Mastercard are offering 50K AA miles for spending $3,000 in 3 months, while the Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard is offering 50K AA miles for spending $5,000 in 3 months.

The AAdvantage consumer and business cards have their $95 annual fee waived for the first year. They both offer priority boarding and a free checked bag for you and 4 companions. The consumer card also offers a 10% rebate of miles spent on award tickets-up to 10K miles rebated per year.

All 3 of these cards qualify for 7.5K off discounted awards to rotating destinations.

All 3 cards have no foreign transaction fees.

If you act fast you can even get the miles to lock in awards at pre-devaluation rates.

The AAdvantage Executive card has a $450 annual fee, but that includes an Admirals Club membership. Additional cardholders are free and they can also can access AA lounges and bring in their own guests or families for free as well. You don’t need to be flying on American to access the lounge with this card.

The Executive card offers priority checking, security, boarding, and you and 8 companions can bring a free checked bag. If you spend $40K on the card in a calendar year you’ll get 10,000 bonus elite qualifying miles.

The Executive card also offers free Global Entry or Pre-Check membership.

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There’s no limited time offer for the Citi Hilton Reserve card, but it’s a great card as it which gives 2 free nights at any Hilton in the world, including the excellent Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. It also gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder, which gets you free breakfast, including the most over-the-top breakfast I’ve had in my life at the Waldorf Jerusalem.  If you spend $40K/year you’ll get top-tier Diamond status, which gets confirmed room upgrades and space available suite upgrade at hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. This card has a $95 annual fee.

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-Like no-annual fee cards but prefer cash over miles? The Citi Double Cash card offers 2% cash back on all purchases.  There’s no signup bonus for the card, but if you want cold hard cash instead of miles it’s hard to top the earning value of this card.

There’s also 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months.

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-The Citi Prestige card offers 50K ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in 3 months for a limited time only.  The points are transferrable to airlines/hotels or 50K points can be used for a $500 gift card,  $665 of airline purchases, or $800 of travel on American or USAirways. More info in this post.

The Prestige card offers 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, and travel agencies, and double points on dining and entertainment.  Note that the less expensive Premier card actually has better bonus categories.

There is a $450 annual fee. However the Prestige card comes packed with awesome benefits:

1. $250 annual air travel credit. No need to pick an airline. No need to buy a gift card. Just a straight credit for up to $250 of whatever you spend from any airline including tickets, bag fees, seat fees, etc. In your first cardmembership year you can get $250 back in 2015 and $250 back in 2016, which more than covers the annual fee.

2. Free American Admirals Club lounge access for you and your family or you and 2 guests when flying American.

3. Priority Pass lounge membership with free guest access for your family or 2 guests when flying any airline. Additional Prestige cardmembers are just $50 and they also get their own Priority Club lounge membership with free guest privileges. The Priority pass membership that comes with the AMEX Platinum card doesn’t include free guests access, so that’s a nice perk of this membership. Click here to search for lounges in airports across the world.

4. Global Entry or Pre-Check reimbursement. A 5 year Global Entry membership is normally $100 but will be free when paid with the Prestige card. Skip the lines when returning to the US and get Pre-Check included as well. Pre-Check allows you to keep your shoes and jacket on, skip the nude-o-scope, and leave your laptop in the bag.  It makes traveling a whole lot easier.

5. A 4th night free on all paid hotel stays. When you make a hotel reservation of 4 or more nights you’ll get the 4th night of the reservation rebated back to your for free. The rates will be the same as on the hotel website and the rates do qualify for hotel elite status and points. Note that the 4th night of the stay will be the rebated night. In some cases the 4th night may cost significantly more or less than the rest of the nights, so always check to see the actual rate for each night. There is no limit to how many times you can take advantage of this offer. You need to use your Prestige card, but you get triple points for hotel spending, so that’s not a bad thing.

6. 3 free rounds of golf per calendar year. You can search for courses here and make reservations here. That’s 6 free rounds of golf in your first cardmembership year.

CitiGold benefits:

Several folks who have CitiGold accounts have gotten notices that their annual fee on the Prestige account has been adjusted down from $450 to just $350. CitiGold customers also get 15% bonus points on the Prestige card. Citigold checking is free for 2 months after which point you can downgrade to a free checking account or keep $50K in it, but benefits typically stay even after your downgrade. CitiGold customers can also signup for the card in-branch with the $350 fee, but the in-branch offer requires $15,000 in spending.  If you have a CitiBusiness Preferred checking account you can get a personal CitiGold account for free.  CitiBusiness Preferred requires you to maintain $15K in the account to waive the fees.

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The advantage of having both the Premier and the Prestige cards:

When you have a Prestige card you can also redeem ThankYou points for 1.33 cents towards airfare or 1.6 cents towards airfare on American or USAirways. That means you can book $800 of free travel (and earn miles for the flights) with the 50K signup bonus if you would rather go down that route as opposed to transferring points into miles.

If you have both the Prestige and Premier cards all of your points will be able to be used at the 1.6 cents per point value towards American or USAirways airfare.  From just the signup bonuses alone that’s at least $1,600 in free travel from the points plus $500 in free travel from the Prestige airline credit in your first cardmembership year.

The cheaper Premier card actually has better bonus categories including triple points on all travel expenses and on gas, but the Prestige card makes all of your ThankYou points worth more.

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Getting more than one Citi card and repeat bonuses:

Citibank doesn’t generally allow 2BMs anymore, though some people have reported success. You can apply for one card, wait 8 days, and then apply for another Citi card. You would have to wait 60 days from the date of your first card application before you can apply for a 3rd Citi card and 60 days from the date of your second card application before you can apply for a 4th Citi card.

Most Citi card applications now require an 18 month waiting period from when you last had that exact card before you can get the signup bonus again.

Citi phone reconsideration (888-201-4523) can be tough if denied, but many people (myself included) have had great luck reconsidering via snail mail! Just write a short letter explaining why you want the card to: Mr. Ken Stork, Office of the President, PO Box 6000, Sioux Falls, SD 57117

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Membership Rewards Canada: 25% Bonus For Transfers Into British Airways Avios

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Related post (Read this first!): -Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios
Find more articles like this by clicking on the “Mileage Posts” tab on top of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.
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Membership Rewards Canada: 25% Bonus For Transfers Into British Airways Avios

This promotion applies for Canadian cards only.  Through 03/28, transfers from Membership Rewards Canada to British Airways will be at a 1K:1.25K ratio.

This promotion does not apply for transfers from US based AMEX Membership Rewards cards.

Destination charts for nonstop flights from Montreal and Toronto that can be booked with Avios can be found in this post.  With flights starting at just 4.5K Avios in coach and 9K Avios for a lie-flat business seat there are some real bargains.  With the 25% bonus that means that a coach award will start at just 3.6K AMEX points and a business award will start at 7.2K AMEX points.

Note that you’ll need to act fast though as effective 02/02 those awards go up to 7.5K Avios each way. However you can transfer BA Avios into Iberia Avios where those round-trips are 12K Avios round-trip.

HT: jstu, via DDF

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Get $20 Off Every $300 Of Visa Or Mastercard Gift Cards From Office Max This Week!

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

For every $300+ in Visa or Mastercard gift cards that you buy in Office Max stores by 11/28 you’ll get $20 back instantly!

If you buy 3 $200 Visa gift cards in store you’ll pay $20.85 in card fees and get back $40 instantly.

If you buy 9 $200 Visa gift cards in store you’ll pay $62.55 in card fees and get back $120 instantly.

But the real reason to bother with these if that when you use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card you get 5 points per dollar spent.

If you buy $1,800 in gift cards you’ll pay $1,742.55 and you’ll get 8,713 Ultimate Rewards points! If you value those points at 1.6 cents each that’s a profit of $57.45 off face value plus $139.40 worth of points=$196.85 total profit!

The $100 gift cards will also be profitable, though not as lucrative as the $200 gift cards.

You can use the gift cards for everyday purchases of you can cash them out.

You can use the last 4 digits of the card as the PIN number, or looks inside the packaging for the PIN.
-You can load up to $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month onto a One VIP Serve card or Bluebird card at a WalMart ATM, cashier, or customer service counter for free. Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card. Note that some WalMart employees and stores may not want to allow such loads.
-You can buy a money order with the Visa card at stores that accepts debit cards as payment for money orders. I find that grocery stores work well for this.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can give a Visa gift card to charity.

HT: PillanSmye, via DDF

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Chase Freedom: 17.5K Limited Time Signup Bonus; Activate And Start Earning 10-11 Points Per Dollar At Amazon Today!

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Chase Freedom Linky

For a limited time only the signup bonus on the Chase Freedom card is increased to $150 for spending $500 in 3 months plus $25 for adding an additional user and making a purchase. Those actually come in the form of 17,500 points that can be used for $175 cash back, but would be put to better use if used as airline miles.

Chase Freedom is an excellent no annual fee card thanks to its quarterly 5% categories. 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 over the course of a year (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

The Chase Freedom card normally give 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in spending in each quarter of the year in rotating categories.

However as previously reported, Chase has effectively ended the Q4 bonus yesterday.

From 11/23-12/31 will be “Q5”. It will have the same categories as Q4, but you will earn a whopping 10 points per dollar! All spending has been reset as if a brand new quarter has started today, so that you can earn 10 points per dollar on the full $1,500 of spending. That’s 15K points for $1,500 in spending!

-You can lock in the savings for future purchases by buying a $1,500 gift card with free shipping. Amazon gift cards never expire.
-You can also buy an eGift card that is sent right away.
-Or you can load funds directly onto your Amazon account here.
-Alternatively you can buy gift cards here from Amazon for lots of other stores as well. Sample gift cards include American Eagle, Express, Forever 21, Hollister, NordstromSouthwest, Staples, Starbucks, and Whole Foods
-You can also get a free wallet/card holder or a free teddy bear when you buy Amazon gift cards.
-Be sure to check if you are targeted for a bonus $10 when buying Amazon gift cards.

You can also now click here to activate the “Q5” categories. If you’ve already activated the Q4 categories you don’t need to do it again for “Q5”. Here are the Q4/Q5 stores:
-Amazon.com
-Amazon Prime Subscriptions
-Amazon Fresh
-Amazon Local
-Zappos.com
-Audible.com
-Diapers.com

Through the end of 2015, the Freedom card also earns a 10% annual point dividend. The final dividend will be paid out in February 2016 for 2015 purchases. That means for Q5 that you’ll earn an effective 11 points per dollar on purchases from the bonus 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.

The value of the points will be based on where you use them, but if you use those points for a trip worth where they are worth 2 cents each then you’ll have effectively earned 20-22% back on those “10 point categories.” The sky is the limit of the value of airline miles as they aren’t tied to the cost of a ticket. That’s good for people in the know and bad for those who are not. 1 mile can be worth 0.25 cents or it can be worth 25 cents, it all just depends on how you use them!

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Chase Freedom Limited Time Signup Bonus; Activate 10-11 Points Per Dollar “Q5” Holiday Special Now!

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Chase Freedom Linky

Chase Freedom is an excellent no annual fee card thanks to its quarterly 5% categories. 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 over the course of a year (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

For a limited time only the signup bonus is increased to $150 for spending $500 in 3 months plus $25 for adding an additional user and making a purchase. Those actually come in the form of 17,500 points that can be used for $175 cash back, but would be put to better use if used as airline miles.

The Chase Freedom card normally give 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in spending in each quarter of the year in rotating categories.

However for the Freedom card Q4 will effectively end on 11/22 instead of 12/31, so you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 spent between 10/01-11/22.

From 11/23-12/31 will be “Q5”. It will have the same categories as Q4, but you will earn a whopping 10 points per dollar! Plus your spending will reset on 11/23 so that you can earn the 10% on the full $1,500 of spending. That’s 15K points for $1,500 in spending.

You can also now click here to activate the Q4/Q5 categories. If you’ve already activated the Q4 categories you don’t need to do it again for “Q5”. Here are the Q4/Q5 stores:
-Amazon.com
-Amazon Prime Subscriptions
-Amazon Fresh
-Amazon Local
-Zappos.com
-Audible.com
-Diapers.com

Through the end of 2015, the Freedom card also earns a 10% annual point dividend. The final dividend will be paid out in February 2016 for 2015 purchases. That means for Q5 that you’ll earn an effective 11 points per dollar on purchases from the bonus 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 20-22% back on those “10 point categories.” The sky is the limit of the value of airline miles as they aren’t tied to the cost of a ticket. That’s good for people in the know and bad for those who are not. 1 mile can be worth 0.25 cents or it can be worth 25 cents, it all just depends on how you use them.

HT: CS91, via DDF

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Chase United Mall Lounges Are Back

Monday, November 16th, 2015

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 27 – December 24, 11:00 am until mall closing.
-SF location: The Westfield San Francisco Centre, Dome level near Bloomingdale’s. November 27 – 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.
-Visa Checkout Mondays: Stop by for gifts and treats from Visa Checkout.
-Toys for Tots Tuesdays: Cardmembers may bring a new, unwrapped toy in its original packaging, on the following Tuesdays: December 1st, December 8th and December 15th 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 on the consumer card, 50K for spending $2,000 on the business card after clicking “Are you a business owner” on the card landing page):

-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 $3K on United flights to get Silver status, $6K on United flights to get Gold status, and $9K 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.

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.

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Limited Time Offer: Chase Sapphire Preferred Now Offering 50K Points + 5K Points For Adding An Additional User!

Monday, November 16th, 2015

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

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You can find credit card offers by issuing bank in the other credit cards” tab at the top of this site.

For a limited time only Chase is offering 50K Ultimate Rewards points for spending $4K on the Sapphire Preferred card within 3 months plus 5K points for adding an additional user and making a purchase within 3 months.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. After a year the card can be downgraded to a no-fee Freedom card.

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

It’s the richest public offer ever for this card. It’s been 3.5 years since there’s even been an offer for more than 45K bonus points for this card at this annual fee level.

Officially the offer is only for people who haven’t gotten a signup bonus for this card in the past 24 months. If you have applied for more than 5 cards in the past 24 months it can be more difficult to get approved for Ultimate Rewards cards, though people that have been rejected after calling reconsideration have had success by going into a Chase branch and having a banker fill out a special reconsideration form. Generally though you’ll need to have $10K in a Chase checking account for them to send in that form.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best all-around cards out there with a great signup bonus, great year-round spending bonuses, and great benefits.

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.

In every country in the world you get primary rental car CDW insurance. Most other cards only have 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.

Besides for the Sapphire Preferred’s excellent signup bonus the card also offers:
-No foreign exchange or transaction fees so you’ll always get the best possible rate.
-2 points per dollar on all airfare, including tickets bought from travel agents and online agencies.
-2 points per dollar on timeshares (just in case you’re a real sucker)
-2 points per dollar on car rentals.
-2 points per dollar on hotels.
-2 points per dollar at restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, and cafes (3 points on 12/04/15)
-2 points per dollar on catering (3 points on 12/04/15)
-2 points per dollar on transportation including trains, buses, taxis, limos, ferries, bridges, tolls, and parking.
-1 points per dollar elsewhere.

-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.

You can transfer points at an equal ratio to your own or to one authorized user’s airline and hotel programs:
-United (Star Alliance)
-Singapore (Star Alliance)
-British Airways (OneWorld)
-Korean (Skyteam)
-Southwest
-Virgin Atlantic
-Hyatt
-Marriott
-Ritz Carlton
-IHG
-Amtrak (Ends 12/07)

Point Currency:

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

You can transfer points to one household member’s Chase card or to one authorized user’s airline/hotel programs.

You can also transfer points to Chase business Ink cards like Ink Plus and Ink Cash where you can transfer from there to other business owner’s cards and/or programs.

Transfer partners include:
United (Star Alliance) is still an excellent currency, even after their devaluation last 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 (this goes up to 15K for US flights effective 02/02/16) or 15,000 miles for round-trip 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 round-trip 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 American within the western hemisphere, on Qantas from or 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 this post on everything you need to know about BA Avios. And you can see 103 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, though that rate can now vary. 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.
Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses with awards on Delta.
Hyatt is a very powerful hotel currency. They have 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.
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 you can get some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program. Amtrak transfers end on 12/07.

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 those rooms, a value of 5 or 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.

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase Freedom (15K for spending $500+2.5K for adding an additional user for a limited time only plus 5-10 points per dollar spent in rotating categories), Chase British Airways (Up to 100K signup bonus for a limited time only), the Chase United Explorer (30K signup plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user on the consumer card/50K signup points on the business card, plus get 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 IHG (with 60K signup points and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Slate (with zero balance transfer fees, 0% APR on purchase and balance transfers for 18 months, and free FICO scores), the Chase Ink Plus (60K signup points plus up to 5 points per dollar spent), and the Chase Ink Cash (20K signup points plus up to 5 points per dollar spent).

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Here Is Everything You Need To Know The New Chase Point Transfer Terms That Will Go Into Effect Tomorrow

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Download the current and new terms here:
-Current Transfer Terms: Sapphire Preferred
New Transfer Terms: Sapphire Preferred
Current Transfer Terms: Ink Plus
New Transfer Terms: Ink Plus
Current Transfer Terms: Ink Bold Exclusives
New Transfer Terms: Ink Bold Exclusives

New point transfer terms go into effect tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know in short:

Points transfer to other Chase cards:
-On the Sapphire Preferred today you can only transfer points to cards that belong to you or a spouse/domestic partner. This is enforced as Chase has been known to terminate accounts that transfer points to cards belonging to non-household members.
Tomorrow you will be able to transfer to cards that belong to you or one other member of your household. That member no longer has to be your spouse or partner.

-On the Ink Plus today you can only transfer points to cards that belong to you, a joint business owner, or a spouse/domestic partner. Tomorrow you will be able to transfer to cards that belong to you or an owner of the company, or one other member of your household. That member no longer has to be your spouse or partner.

Points transfer to other airline or hotel programs :
-On the Sapphire Preferred today you can officially only transfer points to airline and hotel programs that belong to you or a spouse/domestic partner. However in practice this has not been enforced to date and people have been able to transfer to anyone.
Tomorrow you will be only able to transfer to cards that belong to you or one other member of your household that is an Authorized User on your account. Once you select one authorized user you won’t be able to change that selection (at least from that card). That member no longer has to be your spouse or partner, but this will likely end the ability to sell points to various third parties.

-On the Ink Plus today you can officially only transfer points to airline and hotel programs that belong to you, a joint business owner, or a spouse/domestic partner. However in practice this has not been enforced and people have been able to transfer to anyone.
Tomorrow you will be only able to transfer to cards that belong to you or an owner of the business who is an Authorized User on your account.
It’s unclear what will happen if there are multiple joint owners in the business, though the business terms do not state that the selection can’t be changed as the consumer terms do.
It seems like you will no longer be able to transfer points from the Ink Plus to household member’s airline/hotel accounts unless they are an owner in the business, though you can still transfer the points to one household member’s Chase cards.

It’s worth noting that you are able to transfer points between your own consumer cards and business cards.

You will need to reenter the mileage info and Chase card info when transferring or combining points once these changes go into effect tomorrow.

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A Limited Time Increased Signup Bonus Offer For A No Annual Fee AMEX Card With A 30% Annual Point Bonus Makes For A Sweet No-Annual Fee Combo

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Through 01/25 the Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express is offering 10K Membership Rewards points for spending $1 and an additional 10K points for spending $5,000 within 6 months.

That’s double the normal signup bonus.

The card has no annual fee. Additional cardholders are free as well and they qualify for AMEX Offers like Shop Small In November.

But the most surprising feature for a card with no annual fee is that you get a 30% annual point bonus based on your purchases during each cardmembership year that will post within 30 days of each card anniversary.

That’s an effective 1.3 points per dollar spent everywhere, which is excellent for a card with no annual fee.

But there is a catch. The card can’t transfer points into airline miles or hotel points unless you have another card such as:
The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
Platinum Card® from American Express
Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

But the Blue for Business card combined with the Everyday card is a very compelling combo. Neither card has an annual fee and by having the Everyday card the points from both cards will be transferable to airline miles.

The Everyday card requires 20 transactions per month to earn an effective 1.2 points per dollar, so there’s no reason to use that card over the Blue card for everyday purchases which earns 1.3 points per dollar regardless of how many transactions you make per month. But it will still make sense to use the Everyday card for double points on groceries. Both cards earn double points on Uber.

If you spend enough it will make sense to pay the $95 annual fee for the Everyday Preferred card which gives between 1.5-4.5 points per dollar if you make 30 transactions per month. But if you don’t spend enough or just want to avoid annual fees, the Blue for Business+Everyday card combo is a powerful one.

With the Blue for Business card you will get Membership Rewards points AND automatic cash back on purchases from select retailers with Open Savings.  That means an additional 5% off at HP, Hertz, Hyatt, Barnes & Noble online, and Fedex, though the Hyatt benefit ends 12/31.

Getting a business card is simple. If Joe Smith sells items on Ebay or on Amazon, or has any other side business/hobby and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. 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.

A perk of business card spending is that it doesn’t count against your credit utilization. On a personal card you should pay off your spending before the statement is even printed so that you don’t cost yourself points on your credit score. On a business card that’s not necessary and the spending isn’t reported as long as you pay your bills.

It’s also worth remembering that the credit line (and utilization) of business cards are not reported on your personal credit report, thus closing them also won’t effect your score.

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Ending Today: Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard 75K Limited Time Offer

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

At some point today the Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard 75K limited time offer is slated to end.

You can find credit card offers by bank in the “other credit cards” tab at the top of this site. You’ll need to be on a non-mobile device to view this offer.

The card has a hefty $450 annual fee and a hefty $7,500 spend threshold. But after meeting the spend requirement you’ll have at least 82.5K miles which is more than enough for 2 round-trip awards to Europe or a round-trip award to Israel.

You’ll get a full Admirals Club membership that you can use regardless of what airline you’re flying for free access for you and your spouse and kids or you and 2 guests. Membership alone is normally $500/year and this is the only card that gives a full Admirals Club membership that works for access even when you’re not flying on American (The Citi Prestige card doesn’t give access if you’re not flying American).

The card also offers free Global Entry or Pre-Check membership, which are amazing time savers for even infrequent flyers.
You’ll also save time thanks to priority check-in, security, boarding that Executive cardholders can take advantage of.

American has an excellent award chart with awesome one-way values from the US48/Canada like:
-12.5K to Alaska (versus 17.5K on United)
-12.5K to the Caribbean and Mexico during off-peak times (17.5K on United)
-17.5K to Hawaii during off-peak times (22.5K on United)
-20K to South America during off-peak times (30K on United)
-20K to Europe between October-May (30K on United)
-25K to Japan/Korea during off-peak times (35K on United)
-55K business class to Hong Kong (70K-80K on United)
-67.5K first class to China (80K-120K on United)

-A business class flight on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver or on AA from JFK to LAX or SFO is 25K with no fuel surcharges (versus 37.5K BA Avios plus fuel surcharges.)
-A first class flight on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver or on AA from JFK to LAX or SFO is just 32.5K with no fuel surcharges (versus 50K BA Avios plus fuel surcharges.)

-A first class flight on Etihad from JFK to the Maldives in your own first class apartment with a shower onboard is 90K miles.

While a flight from the US to Israel via Philadelphia is 45K miles each way you can fly to Israel via Europe for just 40K miles each way between October-May and you can stopover in Europe for as long as you want in each direction.

From Israel there are many bargains as well, a few examples include:
-25K to the Maldives in business (35K on United)
-30K to Thailand in business (60K on United)
-45K to Australia in business (60K on United)

The card also offers up to 7.5K off round-trip awards to rotating destinations.

Fuel surcharges only apply for flights on British Airways. It’s worth noting that many AAdvantage partner awards (such as on like Air Tahiti Nui, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, JAL, LAN, and TAM) can only be booked by calling American to hold or book them.

Yes, the card carries a whopping $450 annual fee, though it’s refundable if you close it within 37 days of that being billed.  Sometimes the fee is billed on the first statement, sometimes on the second statement.   Sometimes the first statement comes right away, sometimes it takes a month. YMMV.

There are no foreign transaction fees with the card. You and 8 companions get a free bag when flying on American or USAirways as well as priority checkin, security, and boarding. You’ll also get 25% off in-flight food, beverages, and headsets.

If you spend $40K on the card in a calendar year you’ll get 10,000 bonus elite qualifying miles.

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Buy $300 In Visa Gift Cards From Staples This Week And Get A Free $20 Visa Gift Card Via Easy Rebate

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

If you buy $300+ in Visa gift cards from Staples between 10/25 and 10/31 you can send in an Easy Rebate online to get a bonus $20 Visa gift card.

This is valid in-store only. Officially there is a limit of 1 rebate per household.

If you buy 2 $200 Visa gift card in store you’ll pay $13.90 in card fees. (A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees).

While Staples.com now carries $300 gift cards, I haven’t seen any reports of the $300 cards being found in stores yet.

Use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card and get 5 points per dollar spent.

That’s 2,070 points for a $413.90 purchase. Plus you’ll get the $20 Visa card via Easy Rebate to bring your cost basis down to $393.90 without accounting for the points.

It’s worth noting that some Office Max stores have $500 Visa and Mastercard gift cards for just a $5.95 fee, though I haven’t found those in my neck of the woods.

Even without the rebate, the argument can be made to buy gift cards from Staples for your everyday spending.

Say you spend $2,000 on everyday spend. On a typical card earning points or cash back worth 2% you would save $40.

If you bought $2,000 in Visa gift cards for $2,069.50 you’ll earn 10,348 points that are worth $181.09 at a 1.75 cents per point value. After backing out the $69.50 it cost to buy those gift cards you’ll still left with a $111.59 profit, or about triple the rewards you would earn from other cards. It’s an effective rebate of 5.58% everywhere you shop.

Even if you only value the points at 1.6 cents each that would value the 10,348 points at $165.57, leaving a profit of $96.07 or an effective rebate of 4.8% everywhere.

Want to just cash out the Visa gift card instead of using it for everyday purchases?

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can load up to $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month onto a One VIP Serve card or Bluebird card at a WalMart ATM, cashier, or customer service counter for free. Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card. Note that some WalMart employees and stores may not want to allow such loads.
-You can buy a money order with the Visa card at stores that accepts debit cards as payment for money orders. I find that grocery stores work well for this.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can give a Visa gift card to charity.

HT: Iz, via DDF

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Chase Ink Plus 60K And Ink Cash 30K Limited Time Increased Signup Bonuses Return!

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

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

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Chase Ink Plus Linky

Chase Ink Cash Linky

Offer Details:

For a limited time only, the Chase Ink Plus card is offering a 60K signup bonus for spending $5K within 3 months. The Chase Ink Cash card is offering a 30K signup bonus for spending $3K within 3 months. The Ink Cash bonus is advertised as $300 cash back, but it actually comes in the form of 30,000 points.

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 the Ink Plus signup bonus worth over $1,000 and the Ink Cash signup bonus worth over $500.

You’ll also earn up to 25,000 points for the base spending depending on whether you spend in 1, 2, or 5 point per dollar categories. So after spending $5,000 on the Ink Plus card you’ll have between 65,000-85,000 Ultimate Rewards points at your disposal.

You can even buy $300 Visa gift cards from Staples from the comfort of your home, which will earn 5 points per dollar and help meet the spending threshold.

The Ink Cash card has no annual fee but carries a 3% foreign exchange fee when used outside of the US. If you only have the Ink Cash card you can’t transfer your points into miles, but if you or a spouse have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card than all of your points will be transferable into miles.

The Ink Plus card has 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.

Chase has been making it more difficult to get approved for their Ultimate Rewards cards if you’ve received more than 5 cards in the past 24 months, though people with at least $10K in a Chase checking account have reported success by having a Chase banker go to bat for them with a special reconsideration form.

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 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.

0% APR:

The Ink Cash card offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.

While carrying balances on consumer cards can have a very harmful effect on your credit score, because the Ink Cash card is a business card, those balances won’t hurt your credit score.

Cash back:

Ink cards can be registered for Visa Savings Edge.

With that program you earn cash back on top of points. For example you’ll 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 and several hotel brands.

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 to an iPhone or Galaxy billed to your cell phone account? 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, eBay, Gap, Groupon, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, StubHub, TJMaxx, etc? 5 points per dollar.

The Ink Plus card caps those bonuses to $50K of purchases per year while the Ink Cash card caps those bonuses to $25K of purchases per year.

The Ink Plus card also offers 2 points per dollar on gas and hotels while the Ink Cash card offers 2 points per dollar on gas and dining.

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.

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 last 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 round-trip 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 round-trip 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 American within the western hemisphere, on Qantas from or 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 this post on everything you need to know about BA Avios. And you can see 103 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, though that rate can now vary. 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.
Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses with awards on Delta.
Hyatt is a very powerful hotel currency. They have 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.
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 you can get some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program. Amtrak transfers end on 12/07.

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 30K points for that room, a value of 5 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.

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (Up to 100K signup bonus for a limited time only), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points in 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), 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 IHG (with 60K signup points and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal) and the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), and the Chase Slate (with zero balance transfer fees, 0% APR on purchase and balance transfers for 18 months, and free FICO scores).

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Goodbye REDcard, Hello Again To Serve!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Last October I posted my experience switching from Serve to REDcard.

As the cards were readily available in Cleveland but not on the coasts, I gave away a number of REDcards (among other prizes) at last November’s DansDeals seminar in Brooklyn.

For 8 months I was able to load $5,000 per month from a credit card to each of the REDcards under my control.

In May I broke the news that Target would no longer accept credit card funding for REDcard. That stung, but it wasn’t a death knell. After all, you can still generate miles on the cheap by cycling money through gift cards and REDcard. I subsequently wrote why I was sticking with REDcard for the time being.

Alas the time has come.

As of yesterday Target’s registers stopped accepting debit card funding for REDcard, which effectively kills the value proposition for manufactured spending as it eliminated the ability to load gift cards onto REDcard. My local store confirmed to me that they had received a memo today stating that only cash can be used for REDcard loading from now on.

Luckily there’s still Serve and Bluebird and WalMart’s point of sale system isn’t programmed like Target’s to reject debit card funding. While individual WalMart stores and cashiers may not accept gift cards, it’s still not hard (especially as you gravitate away from NYC) to load gift cards at WalMart onto Serve or Bluebird. Plus WalMart ATMs can also load gift cards onto those cards.

Unfortunately I can’t get back my Serve with Softcard product. The lucky folks that kept that card are still able to load $1,500 per month for free from their Mastercards and Visa cards all from the comfort of their own homes.

Back in 2012 I called I called Bluebird the next dollar coin churn. After switching to Serve, Serve with Softcard, and REDcard in the interim it’s time to start working backwards.

It’s not hard to switch. I just drained the funds out of my REDcard account and used the remaining balance to pay off a credit card bill.

Then I clicked on profile and scrolled down to close account and let them know exactly why I was closing my account.

I immediately got email confirmation that my account was closed.

After that I applied for an AMEX Serve card and was approved instantly.

The One VIP Serve card has a $1 monthly fee, but it’s waived if you load it with $500 that month from any source. It’s also waived if you live in NY, TX, or VT regardless of funding. Serve can be loaded with $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month from debit cards in WalMart and there’s no reason to advertise that you’re using a gift card instead of a debit card. Serve can also be loaded with a gift card in Family Dollar, though some people have had technical difficulties loading cards there.

You can also load Serve with $200 per day and up to $1,000 per month online with an AMEX. You don’t get points for those online AMEX loads on AMEX issued cards, but they do count to get the signup bonus when trying to meet a spending threshold. And it also counts towards waiving the monthly fee if I fail to load funds that month at WalMart for any reason. If you use AMEX cards issued by other banks you should be able to get the points for those online loads. You can also load from a real debit card online, but loading from a gift card online will get your account frozen.

Serve also comes with AMEX offers and you can create 4 free subaccounts that also qualify for AMEX offers.

You can also get a Bluebird card with no monthly fee, though it can’t be loaded online with AMEX and can’t be loaded at Family Dollar.

We all knew that credit card loading at Target wouldn’t last long, though I’m a bit surprised debit card loading didn’t last longer. After all, debit loading is cheaper for Target and it got me into their stores multiple times per month, which was presumably their goal. Here’s hoping Serve and Bluebird hold out, as the low hanging manufactured spend fruit have been drying up of late…

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Staples Now Sells $300 Visa Gift Cards Online

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Related: Get A $20 Staples Gift Card For Purchasing $300 In Mastercard Gift Cards From Staples This Week
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$300 Visa Gift Card Linky

There is an $8.95 shipping and processing fee.

Stores like CVS sells $500 gift cards for $504.95, but when you use a Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card at office supply stores you’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent.

In this case that’s 1,545 points.

If you bought $1,800 in gift cards for $1,853.70 you’ll earn 9,269 points that are worth $162.21 at a 1.75 cents per point value. After backing out the $53.70 it cost to buy those gift cards you’ll still left with a $108.51 profit, or about triple the rewards you would earn from other cards. It’s an effective rebate of 6.03% everywhere you shop.

Even if you only value the points at 1.6 cents each that would value the 9,269 points at $148.30, leaving a profit of $94.60 or an effective rebate of 5.26% everywhere.

Want to just cash out the gift card instead of using it for everyday purchases?

The cost of manufacturing spend like this is 0.58 cents per point ($8.95 fee/1,545 points).

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free. You can load up to $1,000 of gift cards per transaction with no limit on the number of gift cards used for a split tender.
-You can load cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine for no fee.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service for no fee.  Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card.
-You can buy a money order at stores that accepts debit cards as payment for money orders.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can give a gift card to charity.
-You can… ;)

HT: tjak, via DDF

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Premium Features Keep Coming To The Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Related post: New Elite Status For AMEX Platinum Cardholders
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Earlier this year AMEX added several new benefits to the Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card.

-The card now qualifies for a $100 airline fee credit per calendar year. That means in your first cardmember year you can get $200 back with $100 in 2015 and $100 in 2016. Officially these are intended to be used for bag fees, seat upgrades, and lounge passes/memberships. However they also work for items like $100 American Airlines gift cards or $100 United gift registry contributions. You can even get free gift cards for stores like Amazon, BuyBuyBaby, or Gap via the iPhone or Android version of MileagePlusX, so that means $200 of free gift cards (plus bonus miles) to those stores in your first cardmembership year.

You can register for the airline of your choice by registering here.

-The card no longer charges a foreign transaction fee.

-The card gives now gives double points at restaurants in addition to double points on gas and groceries in the US and triple points on airfare.

-The ability to earn a bonus 15K points for spending $30K was supposed to end last year, but cardholders were sent a notice on their statement that it was extended through 2015. That’s pretty sweet if you can hack it, as it bumps the effective earn rates of the double point categories to 3x and the triple point category to 4.5x.

-Effective 11/15 purchases made on this card will receive the same treatment as those made on the The Platinum Card® from American Express

Namely, if you lose an item purchased within the past 90 days, AMEX will refund the price you paid or they will replace the item. Previously only stolen or damaged items were covered under this plan and proof of theft or damage was required.

-Currently only items up to $1,000 qualify for purchase protection, but effective 11/15 items up to $10,000 will now be covered under the purchase protection plan. If you purchase an item that cost up to $10,000 on or after 11/15 and lose, damage, or have it stolen from you, it will be covered.

You can read about the terms and excluded items here.

AMEX purchase protections are awesome and are a huge item to factor in the equation when you are deciding which credit card to use for a purchase. If I’m buying a laptop I’ll pass on the 5 points per dollar I might earn on another card, just so I have AMEX purchase and warranty protections.

You can add 5 free additional Gold card users which also qualify for AMEX offers and protections on purchases.

The card does have a $195 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. The $100 per calendar year airline fee credit makes that fee very palatable considering the generous point bonus categories, lack of foreign transaction fees, and the new premium purchase protections.

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New Elite Status For AMEX Platinum Cardholders

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

The Platinum Card® from American Express and the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN both offer free Starwood Gold elite status. SPG Gold status gets you late checkout, more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels, and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points. Starwood elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.

To get that gold status you need to actually pick up the phone and call 800-525-3355 and select option 3.

AMEX is now adding free Hilton Gold status as a benefit of both cards and you can enroll online here. You can also enroll additional cardholders for Hilton Gold status, but that needs to be done over the phone.

Hilton Gold status gets you upgrades, bonus points, 5th night free on awards, late checkout, breakfast, and bottled water.

Free breakfast doesn’t usually do much for me, but we had the pleasure of staying at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem earlier this year where we were treated to a fantastic daily breakfast, which is free for Hilton Gold and Diamond members. There is a mind-boggling quantity of awesome kosher food there, from dozens of daily hot dishes to hard cheeses, fresh fruits and pastries to fresh squeezed juices, as well as on-demand dishes like french toast, pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Unlimited wine, hot or cold chocolate drinks, and espresso drinks are included as well!

 

With a breakfast like this you may not even be hungry for dinner…

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Many, many more pictures when I get around to writing the trip report 😉

 

Hilton and Starwood gold status alone don’t justify the hefty $450 annual fee, but there are lots of other benefits aside from those.

The cards have 40K signup bonuses and every calendar year you can get up to $200 in airline fee refunds. That system had been down from the end of August through the end of September, but now it is working once again.

Officially these are intended to be used for bag fees, seat upgrades, and lounge passes/memberships. However they also work for items like $100 American Airlines gift cards, $100 United gift registry contributions, gift cards purchased for stores like Amazon via MileagePlusX and more via DDF.

If you get a Platinum card now you’ll get $400 of refunds in your first cardmembership year, $200 in 2015 and $200 in 2016.

-Centurion lounge access:

American Express has operated Centurion lounges in Argentina, Brazil, India, and Mexico for some time.  Now they are expanding in the US market with lounges operating in Dallas, Las Vegas, LaGuardia, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and more to come. Houston will have a lounge in the first half of 2016.

Originally the US lounges were designed for free access only for Centurion cardholders, you know them as those black cards that cost a ridiculous $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 lounges they opened it 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.

The lounges offer varying amenities like premium drinks, showers, and massages.  And as they are staffed by AMEX you can even get help with account issues and access the lounge even if you forget your Platinum card.

-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 offers 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.

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

Priority Pass gives access to the full network of “The Club” with 7 domestic lounges and growing.

Airspace lounges:

Currently there are Airspace lounges in Baltimore, Cleveland, JFK (JetBlue terminal), and San Diego.

These are modern lounges with free premium coffee, bottles 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.

You can access these even with an inactive Platinum card until the card expires 5 years from the date of issue.

Delta SkyClub:

You can access Delta lounges for free with a Platinum card when flying on Delta.  You don’t get any free guests, but secondary Platinum cardholders can access Delta lounged for free as well.

The Delta SkyClub in JFK even sells kosher meals if you need one!

You can access Delta lounge with an inactive Platinum card until the card expires 5 years from the date of issue.

Secondary cardholders:

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.

Annual fee:

The annual fee on this card is a doozie, $450.  But the benefits the card offers makes up for that.

Global Entry/Pre-Check Fee Refund

It costs $85 to apply for a 5 year TSA Pre-Check membership which 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.  If you charge it on your Platinum card the fee will be refunded.

It costs $100 to apply for a 5 year Global Entry membership which lets you bypass the customs line. If you have Global Entry you also get TSA Pre-Check, which allows you to avoid the nude-o-scope machines and lets you leave your shoes on and laptop in your bag. If you charge it on your Platinum card the fee will be refunded.

Additional cardholders qualify for a Pre-Check or Global Entry fee refund as well.

My whole family has Global Entry and it sure makes traveling a whole lot easier!

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. 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 and National Executive guarantee upgrades and faster free award rentals.

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 for spending.

I value Starpoints earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express more than Membership Rewards points.

Credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express earn more points per dollar than the Platinum card.  The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is a charge card like the Platinum card but earns more points on airfare, gas, and groceries than the Platinum card.

But the Platinum card does continue to have very unique benefits just for holding the card. 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.

HT: tjak, via DDF

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Get A $15 Statement Credit For Spending $0.01+ With A Sapphire Or Sapphire Preferred Card And Visa Checkout

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Update: Today is the last day for this promotion.

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Get A $15 Statement Credit For Spending $0.01+ At Select Stores With A Sapphire Or Sapphire Preferred Card And Visa Checkout

-Offer valid through 09/30
-To qualify for this offer, you must use your Chase Sapphire or Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa credit card with your Visa Checkout account during checkout.
-Allow 1 to 2 billing cycles from Visa Checkout purchase for delivery of the statement credit to the Chase Sapphire account added to the Visa Checkout account.
-Your card account must remain open and not be in default to receive the statement credit.
-Statement credit cannot be processed if your card number expires or changes while statement credit is pending.
-Limit (1) $15 statement credit per customer or card account. That means no AMEX fun with getting credit at each store or by using additional user cards, you’re only going to get 1 $15 credit.

Sample items to trigger the $15 credit:
-Newegg has items from $0.49 shipped here.

-A Blue Book Exam Book is $0.79 from Staples. Just signup and login to a free Staples Rewards account and you’ll get free shipping on all of your Staples.com orders with no minimum order size required.

Sites that accept Visa Checkout include:
Staples
Newegg
Gap
Neiman Marcus
Williams Sonoma
Gymboree
Orbitz
Zulily
Fandango
Virgin America
Under Armour

HT: cfbrown, via DDF

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Final Day To Finish Freedom Q3 Bonus Spending, Register Now For Q4 Bonus Spending

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Chase Freedom Linky

Today is the last day to earn 5 or 5.5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in spending at gas stations and at Kohl’s. Visa counts all 7-Eleven’s as gas stations, even if they don’t sell gas, so I’ve stocked up on Visa gift cards from there on 3 Freedom cards. Those cards can be cashed thanks to cards like REDcard, Serve, and Bluebird.

Other gas stations also sell gift cards that can be liquidated for cash. Or you can always buy gift cards for the gas station of your choice and lock in extra savings by purchasing them on a Freedom card this quarter.

You can also now click here to activate next quarter’s 5% categories. You’ll earn 5 or 5.5 points per dollar on spending from:
-Amazon.com
-Amazon Prime Subscriptions
-Amazon Fresh
-Amazon Local
-Zappos.com
-Audible.com
-Diapers.com

Chase Freedom is an excellent no annual fee card thanks to its quarterly 5% categories. 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 $100 signup bonus also comes in the form of 10,000 points that can be used for $100 cash back, but would be put to better use if used as airline miles.

Through the end of 2015, the Freedom card also earns a 10% annual point dividend. The final dividend will be paid out in February 2016 for 2015 purchases. 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. That’s good for people in the know and bad for those who are not. 1 mile can be worth 0.25 cents or it can be worth 25 cents, it all just depends on how you use them.

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (Up to 100K signup bonus for a limited time only), the Chase Ink Plus (60K signup bonus for a limited time only, plus earn up to 5 points per dollar), the Chase Ink Cash (30K signup bonus for a limited time only, plus earn up to 5 points per dollar with no annual fee),the Chase Southwest Premier (50K signup bonus points for up to $900 of free flights with free award cancellations), 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 IHG (with 60K signup points and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal) and the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), and the Chase Slate (with zero balance transfer fees, 0% APR on purchase and balance transfers for 18 months, and free FICO scores).

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Limited Time Offer: Get Up To 100K British Airways Avios, Good For More Than 22 Free Flights!

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Chase British Airways Visa Linky

For a limited time the BA card is offering 50K Avios for spending $2,000 in 3 months, an additional 25K Avios for spending another $8K in 12 months, and an additional 25K Avios for spending another $10K in 12 months.

That’s a total of 75K Avios for speding $10K in 12 months or 100K Avios for spending $20K in 12 months. 100K Avios is enough for more than 22 free short-haul flights such as NYC-Toronto, more than 13 flights from NYC-Miami, 10 flights from NYC-Cancun, 8 flights from Los Angeles-Hawaii, Los Angeles-JFK, or Boston-Ireland, 4 flights from NYC-Buenos Aires, or 2 flights from Sydney to JFK, all without fuel surcharges.

You’ll also earn 3 Avios per dollar on BA flights or 1 per dollar elsewhere, so after $10K in spend you’d have at least 85,000 Avios or after $20K in spend you’d have at least 120,000 Avios, enough for more than 26 short-haul flights.

You can also 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 zero Avios, but taxes and fuel surcharges will be owed.

There are no foreign transaction fees.

There’s a $95 annual fee, but that pales in comparison to the value of these miles. Even if you value a last-minute short-haul flight at just $100, that’s over $2,200 in free flights and the potential for far more than that.

You can still load $5,000 of gift cards per month to cards like REDcard, Bluebird, and Serve. Grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations are good places to purchase gift cards. Typically a $500 gift card costs about $4.95, so $20K in gift cards would cost you $198 in fees. But you would have 120,000 Avios after spending $20K like that! Once in your REDcard, Bluebird, or Serve account you can pay off the credit card bills.

Or just use the card for everyday purchases over the 12 months and supplement if needed with gift cards to get to $20K.

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Related posts:

-Want to learn more about the BA Avios program? Read this article for everything you NEED to know about the BA program and how to best search for BA award availability with tips and tricks! If you have a question about Avios it’s probably already been answered there!
-Click to view Direct Avios Flights From Montreal, Toronto, Denver, Detroit, Pittsburgh, S. Francisco, And 6 Ohio Airports
-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 196 Direct Avios Flights From Dallas
-Click to view 12 Direct Avios Flights From Johannesburg
-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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-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 4 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.
-100,000 Avios has gotten me flights that would have otherwise cost over $13,000. Or those same exact flights would run some 280K American miles not even accounting for the $75 close-in fees and $150 cancellation fees that American would charge with their own miles compared to $0 close-in and $5.60 cancellation fees 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 or Alaska is just 12.5K Avios each way.

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

-Avoiding fuel surcharges:
-There are no fuel surcharges for flights on Aer Lingus. A flight from Boston to Dublin or Shannon is just 12.5K in coach or 25K in business. 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. Aer Lingus flights can only be booked over the phone.
-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.
-There are no fuel surcharges for flights on Alaska. These flights can only be booked over the phone.
-There are no fuel surcharges for flights on LAN. Some of their flights can only be booked over the phone.
-There are no fuel surcharges for flights on Niki. They fly from Israel to Vienna for 10K Avios.
-There are no fuel surcharges for flights on TAM. Some of their flights can only be booked over the phone.
-There are no fuel surcharges for flights on American within the Western Hemisphere
-There are also no fuel surcharges for flying on Qantas from Australia to anywhere in the world or within Australia.
-There are no fuel surcharges for JAL flights within Japan.
-Fuel surcharges on award-winning carrier Cathay Pacific are relatively 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.
-As long as you have earned a single Avios within the past 12 months then fuel surcharges for intra-Europe flights will be very low. You can transfer points from AMEX, Chase, or Starwood to activate that benefit.

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 $55 or the taxes you paid.  That means you pay just $5.60 for cancel a one-way domestic itinerary (and that’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 Starwood, Membership Rewards, and Ultimate Rewards.

-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-Boston, LGA-Cleveland, LGA-Detroit, LGA-Montreal, LGA-Pittsburgh, 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, Chicago-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, Los Angeles-Columbus, Cleveland-Phoenix, Berlin-Tel Aviv, Vienna-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

You can learn everything you need to know about the British Airways program in this post.

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It’s Back: 30,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards! Plus: New Benefits For Existing Cardholders!

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Update: Offer expired!
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Originally posted on 08/11:

Related posts:
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart

Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

This is a limited time offer scheduled to run until 09/14.  It offers 20% more points than the standard offer and there has never been a better public offer for this card.

For the consumer card you will get 30,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 within 3 months. The consumer offer is for first time Starwood consumer cardholder’s only.

For the business card you will get 30,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 within 3 months. The business offer is available as long as you haven’t had a Starwood business card in the past 12 months.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year on both cards.

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Spending on the Starwood card:

The Starwood card remains a very good card for general spending. Best of all, as of 08/11 there are no longer any foreign transaction fees on the Starwood card!

While other cards have better bonus categories, the Starwood card is strong for general spending as Starpoints continue to be the most valuable mileage currency thanks to valuable hotel usage and the 25% bonus for transfers into dozens of airlines.

They also generously allow members at the same address to transfer points between their accounts for free.

The Starwood card earns 2 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood hotels, or a 4.4% rebate at a value of roughly 2.2 cents per Starpoint. It earns 1 Starpoint per dollar everywhere else, or a 2.2% rebate.  There are thousands of uses for Starpoints, some of which have been over 50 cents each for me, but I aim for a minimum value of about 2.2 cents per point and am happy when I’m able to exceed that level.

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American Express Benefits:

The card also carries American Express’ awesome top-notch protections that are light-years better than any other banks. Most other banks always look for a way to get out, but that’s not the case with American Express.
-If you need to return an item up to $300 they will gladly refund you. Most of the time you’ll be able to keep the item, but if you do need to send it back the return shipping will be free.
-You get an additional year of warranty coverage and if you have any issue in the extended warranty year they’ll pay to have it fixed or refund your entire purchase price without a hassle.
-If you need to dispute a charge there’s nobody who makes it easier or as pain-free as American Express does. It’s the best in the industry by leaps and bounds and you can do it all online.
-If your item is stolen or broken within 90 days you’ll be covered.

See this post to see just how amazing AMEX benefits can be.
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Annual fee: Making it pay for itself.

There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $95 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. If you cancel a card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement you will receive a full refund of the fee. If you cancel after 60 days you get a pro-rated refund based on how many months you had the card.

That small annual fee is nothing compared to what you can make from promotions like Small Business Saturday, AMEX Offers/Twitter offers, and other promotions that American Express runs all year long such as AMEX Express Checkout. Up to 99 additional cardholders are free on the Starwood card, and each one qualifies for their own promotion credits! 9 months later and we still haven’t spent through all of our prepaid credit at my local pizza shop or grocery stores thanks to SBS.  And it will be quite a while before we finish our collection of free diapers and wipes.

You can also always downgrade the card to a card with no annual fee.

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Spending $3K or $5K in 3 months:

With cards like Bluebird, Serve, and REDcard, it’s not hard to hit a spend threshold.

You can buy gift cards with your Starwood card and then cash out the gift cards with Bluebird, Serve, or REDcard.

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Business cards and Open Savings:

With the Starwood business card you will get Starpoints AND automatic cash back on purchases from these select retailers with Open Savings.  That means an additional 5% off at HP, Hertz, Hyatt, Barnes & Noble online, and Fedex.

In other words if you use your Starwood business card at a participating Hyatt hotel you’ll earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spend plus 5% cash back.  That’s better than the triple points that the Hyatt card awards for Hyatt spending!

Getting a business card is simple. If Joe Smith sells items on Ebay or on Amazon, or has any other side business/hobby and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name.
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.

A perk of business card spending is that it doesn’t count against your credit utilization. On a personal card you should pay off your spending before the statement is even printed so that you don’t cost yourself points on your credit score. On a business card that’s not necessary and the spending isn’t reported as long as you pay your bills.

It’s also worth remembering that the credit line (and utilization) of business cards are not reported on your personal credit report, thus closing them also won’t effect your score.
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Sheraton Club Lounge Access:

Effective 08/11, with the Starwood business card you will get free club lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels.

There have been rave reviews of the Sheraton Club lounge in Tel Aviv for example.  If you have a Starwood business card you’ll get free access to it and its free food, beverages, and sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea. A free night at the Sheraton Tel Aviv is 12K points, 6K points+$110, or 9.6K points per night on a 5 night stay.

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Premium Internet Access:

Effective 08/11 with either Starwood card you will get free premium in-room internet at Starwood hotels. All SPG guests get free internet, but cardholders will now get the faster version for free.

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Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi:

Effective 08/11 with either Starwood card you will get free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi worldwide, perfect for avoiding confiscatory rates at airports when traveling.  Search from over 1 million hot-spots here.

Enroll for free Boingo access here.

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Elite Status and Crossover benefits with Delta and Uber:

Just by having a Starwood card you earn Preferred Plus status.  This status earns you the right to checkout at 4pm at Starwood hotels and get upgraded to preferred rooms.

If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn Gold status.  Gold status gets you more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points.  You can also get gold status for free with no spending requirement by opening The Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

When you have the Starwood card you also get 5 elite qualifying nights and 2 stays for each Starwood card that you have that count towards earning Gold or Platinum status!

Starwood Gold and Platinum elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.

And all members can earn bonus Starpoints for Uber rides as well after making a single SPG stay.

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Using Starpoints:

Points are deposited directly into your Starwood account, so you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like you would with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, or Citibank ThankYou points.  You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 18 months to keep it active, though Starwood is very good about reactivating accounts that have been closed due to inactivity.

Award nights count towards elite status. Gold members receive 250 points back and Platinum members receive 500 points back per stay.

How can you use your points?

1. Hotel award nights with no blackouts or capacity controls. If a standard room is for sale you can use points to book it:

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2. If you book 5 consecutive hotel award nights at category 3-7 hotels then the 5th night will be free:

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For example:
-5 nights at the category 7 blinged out S. Regis Bal Harbour is 120,000 points, still that’s not a bad value when you consider that the cheapest rooms during peak season go for more than $1,000 per night.
-At the category 6 ultra-modern W Hong Kong with a 76th floor rooftop infinity pool or at the breathtaking Westin Venice would cost 80,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 5 Westin Maui, Sheraton Kauai, W Hollywood, or the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv will be 48,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 4 Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii or Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort will be 40,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 3 Sheraton Agoura Hills (great base for eating out at Tierra Sur, arguably the best kosher restaurant in the world) would set you back 28,000 points.
-The fantastic category 2 Le Meridien Chiang Mai Thailand would set you back just 3K points over an awesome Shabbos at the nearby Chabad House.
-A night at the category 1 Aloft S. Jose Costa Rica starts at just 2,000 points.

Click on the category links to explore other hotels that can be obtained for those rates.

 

3. Cash and points allows you stretch your points when reserving a standard room, upgraded room, or suite:

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Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays cheap. Take the Sheraton at my hometown Cleveland airport for example. The rate there for tonight is $219+tax=$260. Using Starpoints you can either pay 4,000 points for a value of 6.5 cents per Starpoint. With cash and points a category 2 hotel would be 2,000 points and $35 cash for a value of 11.3 cents per Starpoint! A weekend night is just 3,000 points.

4. Nights and Flights allow you to combine a 5 night hotel stay and get 50,000 miles for less than the cost of booking a 5 night stay and transferring points separately:

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In other words you can stay 5 nights at a category 4 hotel like the Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii or Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and get 50,000 miles transferred into the airline of your choice for just 70,000 Starpoints.

When done separately that 5 night stay would cost 40,000 Starpoints and the airline transfer would cost 40,000 Starpoints.

5. SPG Moments allows you to  purchase or bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences with Starpoints.

Throw out the first pitch at a ballgame, watch the game from a suite, etc. Starwood will even cater their suite with kosher food upon request with no additional charge! People have done that at the US Open, Cubs, Knicks, Rangers, and more games.

6. Keep your eyes peeled for promotions like this 50% off promotion where I spent 5 nights in the S. Regis Bal Harbour for just 48,000 points.

You can currently save 35% off at select resorts.

7. Of course you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios. 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on dozens of airlines thanks to the 25% bonus.

Airlines also often incentivize transfers, like American is doing now by offering a 50% bonus for transfers to them through 08/31.  Air Canada and United are also currently offering promotions.

Curious about the 33 Starwood transfer options and ratios? Here they are!

With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go. I’ve separated them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines. Of course airlines also have lots of non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

In parenthesis you can see if American Express Membership Rewards (MR), Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), or Citibank Thank You (TY) points transfers to the airline as well.

OneWorld Alliance:
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
American: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
British Airways Avios: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, UR)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
JAL: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (No other transfers)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
China Eastern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
China Southern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Korean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (UR)
Saudia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Star Alliance:
ANA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air Canada/Aeroplan: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points (No other transfers)
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)

Unaligned:
Alaska (Partners with several airlines from different alliances): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Etihad: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (No other transfers)
Hainan: 20,000 Starpoints==25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Jet Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Points can also transfer to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio. Amtrak rides on select routes are just 1,500 points in coach or 2,000 points in business. Within the Northeast corridor a ride is 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.  A private bedroom and bathroom with kosher meals from NYC-Miami would be just 12,500 points per adult. More about these options in this post.

You can view the expiration policies for each transfer program here. Remember that points can only transfer from Starwood to an airline, they can never transfer from an airline to Starwood.

I don’t recommend using the SPG Flights or the SPG Merchandise/Gift Card programs as the value per point is way too low.

How do you normally redeem your Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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1 Week Left To Register For Freedom Q3 Bonus Spending

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Chase Freedom Linky

Monday, September 14th is the last day to register to 5 or 5.5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in spending at gas stations and at Kohl’s. You can now click here to activate this quarter’s 5% categories. You have until 09/30 to earn 5 points per dollar in those categories.

Visa counts all 7-Eleven’s as gas stations, even if they don’t sell gas, so I’ve stocked up on Visa gift cards from there on 3 Freedom cards. Those cards can be cashed thanks to cards like REDcard, Serve, and Bluebird.

Other gas stations also sell gift cards that can be liquidated for cash. Or you can always buy gift cards for the gas station of your choice and lock in extra savings by purchasing them on a Freedom card this quarter.

Chase Freedom is an excellent no annual fee card thanks to its quarterly 5% categories. 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 $100 signup bonus also comes in the form of 10,000 points that can be used for $100 cash back, but would be put to better use if used as airline miles.

2015 bonus categories:
Q1: Grocery stores, Movie theaters, Starbucks
Q2: Restaurants, Bed, Bath & Beyond, H&M, and Overstock.com
Q3: Gas stations and Kohl’s.
Q4: Amazon.com and more to be announced.

Through the end of 2015, the Freedom card also earns a 10% annual point dividend. The final dividend will be paid out in February 2016 for 2015 purchases. 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. That’s good for people in the know and bad for those who are not. 1 mile can be worth 0.25 cents or it can be worth 25 cents, it all just depends on how you use them.

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Just How Amazing Are AMEX Credit Card Protections?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

We all love AMEX for their nonstop year-round AMEX Offers, promos like $10 off $0.01 with Express Checkout, 20% off NYC restaurants, and for SBS of course.

But where they really shine are their purchase protections. Here are just a few of my experiences:

Purchase protection covers items that are stolen or broken within 90 days of purchase. On most cards you’re covered for items up to $1,000 but if you use a Platinum or Delta Reserve card it covers items up to $10,000 and it will even cover you for items that are merely lost!

A couple months ago a friend of mine was celebrating the birth of his first son. I bought and brought over a bottle of his favorite scotch, Lagvulin, but he wasn’t home and I managed to break it as I brought the bottle back into my house.

Officially consumable items are excluded from purchase protection, but having nothing to lose I went online and submitted a claim in the AMEX Claims Center.  And sure enough, they issued a full refund!

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AMEX offers free CDW car rental coverage, but only on a secondary basis. That’s great if you don’t have personal car insurance, but it means they won’t cover anything if you do.
They offer Premium Car Rental Protection that makes the coverage primary for a $19.95/rental fee ($15.95/rental for CA residents) for $75K of coverage or $24.95/rental ($17.95/rental for CA residents) for $100K of coverage.

Of course the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives free worldwide primary coverage, though the claims process is more cumbersome than it is with AMEX.

But a big difference is that your Chase Sapphire Preferred card won’t cover what they consider to be luxury cars and SUVs.

With AMEX Premium car rental protection luxury cars and SUVs are covered. They had no problem covering the damage that the valet at the S. Regis Bal Harbour did to the Lincoln Navigator that Avis upgraded me to earlier this year. No messy paperwork required, just a quick online claim took care of everything. And yes, it will even cover the $75,000 scratch on the door of the Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo should you miraculously find yourself in a rented one 😉

Of course it’s worth noting that AMEX won’t cover rentals in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand, while Chase will cover all countries (though you should always carry a letter of coverage when traveling abroad from the insurance that your card offers).

The lesson here is to always check with the insurance provider to see if your upgraded car is covered.

 

Extended Warranty

Extended warranty matches the manufacturer’s warranty up to an extra year of warranty coverage on items up to $10,000. The irony is that most manufacturer’s warranties stink. They make you send in your item and typically have long turn-around times. Or they find reasons why the warranty doesn’t cover your problem.

Wait it out until the manufacturer’s warranty ends and you’ll be in luck. Often times you’ll receive a refund of your entire purchase price within a few days of making a claim without even hassling you at all.  DDF members report this happening often for cameras, cell phones, and computers. For some more expensive items they may ask for a repair quote but when you send in the quote you’ll typically be credited with that amount (up to the purchase price paid) within a few days.  People on DDF have even reported getting refunded for computers with cracked screens and other physical damage during the AMEX warranty bonus year, something that the manufacturer would never cover.

 

Dispute Resolution

I’ve had to file a few disputes over the years. I learned early on that disputes on cards from most banks can be very tough for a consumer to win, even with all of the documentation in the world.

AMEX is light-years ahead of the competition in this regard, it’s much easier for a consumer to win a dispute and disputes can be easily filed online or over the phone.

From contractors that didn’t perform, to the dive shop in Maui that sold us an intro-dive tour but stuck us with pro divers who had no patience for us, AMEX dispute resolution has come in handy many times.

Back in February 2011 I ordered a Bugaboo on sale and paid the extra $1 for lifetime free returns. The store went out of business before I realized in September 2011 how far superior the UppaBaby Vista is to the Bugaboo in just about every way, but AMEX had no problem standing behind the stated lifetime return policy and refunded the charge in full. They didn’t even want the Bugaboo back.

Frankly AMEX dispute resolution may be too good. I had one person dispute the $13 they paid for on an AMEX to attend a DansDeals seminar (the full proceeds of which were donated to charity).  When I asked the attendee why they disputed the charge they said that they just didn’t recognize the charge, so they disputed it. He called AMEX right away to drop the dispute, but by that point it was too late and they refunded him the money and I got hit with a chargeback fee on money I had already donated.

Yes, the person made up for the chargeback fees I was hit with in the end, but just be careful to only dispute things after attempting to contact the merchant to make things right or clarify what the charge is for as AMEX dispute resolution works incredibly well. If you ever receive goods or services that you’re not happy with, just let the merchant know that you do plan on disputing the purchase and see if they will come to a compromise without it coming to that. But if they won’t, AMEX will have your back more than any other bank.

 

Return Protection is by far one of the most underrated benefits that AMEX offers.  If you buy something from a retailer with a return policy less than 90 days long, even if they have no return policy at all or if the item is on final sale, you can use AMEX return protection.

Return protection works for items that cost $300 or less and can be used to return up to $1,000 of items per card per year. If the item is under $100 AMEX will typically issue an immediate refund.  If it’s between $100-$300 usually an examiner will review the claim to ensure that the item isn’t on the excluded list. Usually the examiner will then issue a refund though on occasion AMEX will request that you email a photo of the item or mail the item in for a refund.

The current return protection policy is that AMEX will pay for return shipping if they do require that you actually return the item to them. In the past AMEX didn’t used to cover the return shipping and they were more inclined back then to request that the item be returned. I used it 6 times and wound up with a $305.70 check as apparently they were supposed to cover the return shipping.

Of course all of these benefits make the equation on which card to use even more complicated. It’s important to remember that although another card may give you extra points in some categories, what is the ability to return, dispute, or have extended warranty coverage worth?

 

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

The following are some of the cards that have all of the above benefits:

Consumer cards:

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express

-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

Platinum Card® from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

 

Business cards:

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN

 

Share your experiences in the comments!

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Are 2 Chase Limited Time Card Offers Ending Today?

Monday, August 31st, 2015

-Until sometime this afternoon, you can get 80K points for signing up for the Chase Marriott Visa and spending $3K in 3 months. The normal bonus is 50K.

You also get a free night every year that you renew the card at any category 1-5 hotel , which takes the sting out of the $85 annual fee.

There are no foreign transaction fees and you earn 2 points per dollar on airfare, car rentals, and restaurants and 5 points per dollar at Marriott hotels.

5 free nights start at 30K points thanks to 5th night free, and spouses are allowed to combine their points. You can read more about the program and learn about Marriott hotels in Israel in this post.

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The Chase British Airways Visa is offering 50K miles for spending $2K in 3 months, with the $95 annual fee waived for the first year and it was being advertised as ending today as well:

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I’m no longer seeing that language, but regardless of whether the annual fee waiver continues, it’s a valuable offer.

50K points is enough for more than 11 free zone 1 short-haul flights, more than 6 free zone 2 short-hauls flights, or 5 free zone 3 flights with no fuel surcharges, no close-in fees, and cancellations that cost just $5.60.

Zone 1 includes flight between New York and places like Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Montreal, Pittsburgh, or Toronto or between Miami and the Bahamas or Cancun. It’s also enough to fly from Melbourne to Sydney, or to many cities within Europe. Zone 2 includes flights between New York and Chicago or Florida, from LA to Cabo, or from JFK to Bermuda. Zone 3 includes flights between Tel Aviv and Germany or Austria, Chicago to LA, Hong Kong to Singapore, or JFK to Cancun, S. Maarten, or S. Juan.

You can learn everything you need to know about the British Airways program in this post.

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Can’t View Your FICO Score From AMEX? Try These 2 Simple Tricks…

Monday, August 24th, 2015

-Related posts (Read this first!): -Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
-My FICO Scores From All 3 Credit Bureaus, Obtained Monthly Free Of Charge Thanks To Credit Cards

-Find more posts like this by clicking on the “Credit Card Posts” tab. View AMEX consumer card offers, AMEX business card offers in the tabs above of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

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Most services that advertise free credit scores are only providing you with a FAKO score. That’s not something of much use as lenders don’t ever see those scores. A FAKO score can be significantly different than your FICO score, discrepancies of more than 100 points aren’t uncommon.

I’ve been tracking my Transunion FICO 8 score for free from Barclays and Discover. I had been getting my Experian FICO 8 score from AMEX. That stopped recently when my AMEX profile changed from the newer version to the older version.

I was kind of happy with that as it also took me back to the old AMEX Offers format, which is far easier to use than the new one.

However it also wiped out the option to view my FICO score.

Old version:

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DDFB user Ari R. pointed out a few days ago that if you delete the additional user’s off of your login then it will switch back to the new format and give you the FICO option back and that you can toggle back and forth as needed.

And of course, I realized that adding AU cards for AMEX Express Checkout was the culprit.

So I clicked on Account options>Remove cards from online access and deleted the AUs:

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Once all the AUs were gone the FICO option returned:

 

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And the score is looking as healthy as ever, despite the games I play:

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Several DDF’ers reported that this method worked for them, but it didn’t for a few others.

What worked for some DDF’ers was to remove a primary card from their main login and give the primary card its own login.

DDF hat tip leader and poweruser Marco Polo reported that deleting AUs and making his business platinum card its own dedicated login didn’t work, but when he made a dedicated login for his consumer blue card he finally got the FICO option.

Can you view your FICO score from AMEX? Did either of these tricks work for you? What’s your FICO score? Hit the comments!

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Roundup Of Limited Time Increased Credit Card Signup Bonuses From AMEX, Capital One, Chase, And Citibank

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Update: The AMEX Plum offer ends at 2:59pm today and 2 Chase offers are set to expire next Monday.

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Related: Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
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American Express Limited Time Offers:
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

 

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Consumer Credit Card from American Express

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Expres.

Both cards earn Starpoints which can transfer to 33 airlines, most of which have a 20K:25K favorable transfer ratio.

Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.

Both cards offer preferred plus status with 4pm late checkout and free premium in-room WiFi at Starwood hotels.

Both cards offer free unlimited Boingo WiFi from over 1 million hotspots around the world, including many airport locations.

Both cards offer up to 99 free additional user cards, each of which qualify for promotions like Small Business Saturday, AMEX Offers/Twitter offers, and AMEX Express Checkout.

The business card offers free Sheraton club access when staying at Sheraton hotels and Open Savings.  You can earn the signup bonus again on the business card as long as you haven’t had in in the past 12 months.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year on both cards.

Read more in this post.

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-The SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express offers a $250 statement credit for spending $5,000 in 6 months if you apply by 09/21. It also offers 5% cash back at office supply stores and wireless phone bills. You also get 3% cash back on your choice of: Airfare, Hotels, Car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising, or shipping. There is no annual fee.

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 Expired!

The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN offers up to 3.5% back on your first $30,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months if you apply by 08/24. When you pay early you get 1.5% back with no cap. Plus, get an additional $200 statement credit for every $10,000 you spend on the Card, up to $600 back. That can be an extra 2%.  The card normally gives 1.5% cash back, $250 annual fee waived for first year.

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Capital One Limited Time Offers:

Note that Capital One does a credit pull from all 3 credit bureaus when applying for cards, though some have had success getting a card with 1 pull by freezing the reports by 2 of the 3 credit bureaus. More info on freezing from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

-Capital One Spark Cash for Business offers $500 cash back for spending $4,500 in 3 months for a limited time only.  This card offers 2% cash back everywhere and there are no foreign transaction fees.  $59 annual fee is waived for the first year.

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-Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offers 21.5% cash back on all Uber rides until 04/30/16 and $100 cash back for spending $500 in 3 months. This card offers 1.5% cash back everywhere and there are no foreign transaction fees. No annual fee. More info in this post.

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Chase Limited Time Offers:

 

-Chase Marriott is offering 80K points for spending $3K in 3 months if you apply by 08/31. There is an $85 annual fee. You’ll also get a free night at a category 1-5 hotel every anniversary.

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.

Read more about using Marriott points in Israel in this post.

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-Chase British Airways offers 50K Avios for spending $2K in 3 months and normally has a $95 annual fee. If you apply by 08/31 the annual fee is waived for the first year.  Awards start from 4.5K Avios each way and can be cancelled for just $5.60. When used for flights it’s not difficult to get a value of 1.5 cents per point when using, making the signup bonus worth $750, though it can be lower or much higher depending on how you use the miles. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Everything you want to know about British Airways Avios in this post.

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Citi Limited Time Offers:

 

-The Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard is offering 75K AA miles for spending $7,500 in 3 months for a limited time only.

There’s a $450 annual fee. After meeting the spend requirement you’ll have at least 82.5K miles which is more than enough for 2 round-trip awards to Europe or a round-trip award to Israel.

You’ll get a full Admirals Club membership that you can use regardless of what airline you’re flying for free access for you and your spouse and kids or 2 guests. Membership alone is normally $500/year and this is the only card that gives a full Admirals Club membership that works for access even when you’re not flying on American (The Citi Prestige card doesn’t give access if you’re not flying American).

American has an excellent award chart with awesome one-way values from the US48/Canada like:
-12.5K to Alaska (versus 17.5K on United)
-12.5K to the Caribbean and Mexico during off-peak times (17.5K on United)
-17.5K to Hawaii during off-peak times (22.5K on United)
-20K to South America during off-peak times (30K on United)
-20K to Europe between October-May (30K on United)
-25K to Japan/Korea during off-peak times (35K on United)
-55K business class to Hong Kong (70K-80K on United)
-67.5K first class to China (80K-120K on United)

-A business class flight on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver or on AA from JFK to LAX or SFO is 25K (versus 37.5K BA Avios)
-A first class flight on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver or on AA from JFK to LAX or SFO is just 32.5K (versus 50K BA Avios)

-A first class flight on Etihad from JFK to the Maldives in your own first class apartment with a shower onboard is 90K miles.

While a flight from the US to Israel via Philadelphia is 45K miles each way you can fly to Israel via Europe for just 40K miles each way between October-May and you can stopover in Europe for as long as you want.

From Israel there are many bargains as well, a few examples include:
-25K to the Maldives in business (35K on United)
-30K to Thailand in business (60K on United)
-45K to Australia in business (60K on United)

Fuel surcharges only apply for flights on British Airways. It’s worth noting that many AAdvantage partner awards (such as on like Air Tahiti Nui, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, JAL, LAN, and TAM) can only be booked by calling American to hold or book them.

 

Yes, the card carries a whopping $450 annual fee, though it’s refundable if you close it within 37 days of that being billed.  Sometimes the fee is billed on the first statement, sometimes on the second statement.   Sometimes the first statement comes right away, sometimes it takes a month. YMMV.

There are no foreign transaction fees with the card. You ad 8 companions get a free bag when flying on American or USAirways as well as priority checkin, security, and boarding. You’ll also get 25% off in-flight food, beverages, and headsets.

If you spend $40K on the card in a calendar year you’ll get 10,000 bonus elite qualifying miles.

The card also offers free Global Entry or Pre-Check membership.

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-The Citi Hilton HHonors card normally offers 50K, but is offering 75K Hilton points for spending $2K in 3 months for a limited time only.  There’s no annual fee. You’ll also get Silver elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder. If you spend $20K/year you’ll get Gold status.

There’s no limited time offer for the Citi Hilton Reserve card, but it’s a great card as it which gives 2 free nights at any Hilton in the world (including the excellent Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem). It also gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder, which gets you free breakfast, including the most over-the-top breakfast I’ve had in my life at the Waldorf Jerusalem.  If you spend $40K/year you’ll get top-tier Diamond status, which confirmed room upgrades and space available suite upgrade at hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. This card has a $95 annual fee.

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-The Citi Premier card offers 50K ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in 3 months for a limited time only.  The points are transferrable to airlines/hotels or 50K points can be used for a $500 gift card or $625 of travel purchases. If you have a Prestige card the points can be worth even more.

The Premier card has very strong spend categories. It offers triple points for travel and gas and double points on dining and entertainment. The travel category on the Premier card includes airfare, car rentals, hotels, cruises, travel agencies, public transportation, boat rentals, taxis, tolls, parking, etc. Entertainment includes sporting events, amusement parks, tourist attractions, theater, concerts, movies, etc.  There are no foreign transaction fees and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.  More info in this post.

 

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-The Citi Prestige card offers 50K ThankYou points for spending $3,000 in 3 months for a limited time only.  The points are transferrable to airlines/hotels or 50K points can be used for a $500 gift card,  $665 of airline purchases, or $800 of travel on American or USAirways. More info in this post.

The Prestige card offers 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, and travel agencies, and double points on dining and entertainment.  Note that the less expensive Premier card actually has better bonus categories.

There is a $450 annual fee. However the Prestige card comes packed with awesome benefits:

1. $250 annual air travel credit. No need to pick an airline. No need to buy a gift card. Just a straight credit for up to $250 of whatever you spend from any airline including tickets, bag fees, seat fees, etc. In your first cardmembership year you can get $250 back in 2015 and $250 back in 2016, which more than covers the annual fee.

2. Free American Admirals Club lounge access for you and your family or you and 2 guests when flying American.

3. Priority Pass lounge membership with free guest access for your family or 2 guests when flying any airline. Additional Prestige cardmembers are just $50 and they also get their own Priority Club lounge membership with free guest privileges. The Priority pass membership that comes with the AMEX Platinum card doesn’t include free guests access, so that’s a nice perk of this membership. Click here to search for lounges in airports across the world.

4. Global Entry or Pre-Check reimbursement. A 5 year Global Entry membership is normally $100 but will be free when paid with the Prestige card. Skip the lines when returning to the US and get Pre-Check included as well. Pre-Check allows you to keep your shoes and jacket on, skip the nude-o-scope, and leave your laptop in the bag.  It makes traveling a whole lot easier.

5. A 4th night free on all paid hotel stays. When you make a hotel reservation of 4 or more nights just call 561-922-0158 to make the reservation and you’ll get the 4th night of the reservation rebated back to your for free. The rates will be the same as on the hotel website and the rates do qualify for hotel elite status and points. Note that the 4th night of the stay will be the rebated night. In some cases the 4th night may cost significantly more or less than the rest of the nights, so always check to see the actual rate for each night. There is no limit to how many times you can take advantage of this offer. You need to use your Prestige card, but you get triple points for hotel spending, so that’s not a bad thing.

6. 3 free rounds of golf per calendar year. You can search for courses here and make reservations here. That’s 6 free rounds of golf in your first cardmembership year.

CitiGold benefits:

Several folks who have CitiGold accounts have gotten notices that their annual fee on the Prestige account has been adjusted down from $450 to just $350. CitiGold customers also get 15% bonus points on the Prestige card. Citigold checking is free for 2 months after which point you can downgrade to a free checking account or keep $50K in it, but benefits typically stay even after your downgrade. CitiGold customers can also signup for the card in-branch with the $350 fee, but the in-branch offer requires $15,000 in spending.  If you have a CitiBusiness Preferred checking account you can get a personal CitiGold account for free.  CitiBusiness Preferred requires you to maintain $15K in the account to waive the fees.

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The advantage of having both the Premier and the Prestige cards:

When you have a Prestige card you can also redeem ThankYou points for 1.33 cents towards airfare or 1.6 cents towards airfare on American or USAirways. That means you can book $800 of free travel (and earn miles for the flights) with the 50K signup bonus if you would rather go down that route as opposed to transferring points into miles.

If you have both the Prestige and Premier cards all of your points will be able to be used at the 1.6 cents per point value towards American or USAirways airfare.  From just the signup bonuses alone that’s at least $1,600 in free travel from the points plus $500 in free travel from the Prestige airline credit in your first cardmembership year.

The cheaper Premier card actually has better bonus categories including triple points on all travel expenses and on gas, but the Prestige card makes all of your ThankYou points worth more.

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Getting more than one Citi card and repeat bonuses:

Citibank doesn’t generally allow 2BMs anymore, though some people have reported success. You can apply for one card, wait 8 days, and then apply for another Citi card. You would have to wait 60 days from the date of your first card application before you can apply for a 3rd Citi card and 60 days from the date of your second card application before you can apply for a 4th Citi card.

Most Citi card applications now require an 18 month waiting period from when you last had that exact card before you can get the signup bonus again.

Citi phone reconsideration (888-201-4523) can be tough if denied, but many people (myself included) have had great luck reconsidering via snail mail! Just write a short letter explaining why you want the card to: Mr. Ken Stork, Office of the President, PO Box 6000, Sioux Falls, SD 57117

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Get $15 Off $300 Or $30 Off $600 For Purchasing Visa Gift Cards From Office Max This Week

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

If you buy $300+ in Visa gift cards from Office Max by 08/29 you’ll get $15 back instantly. If you buy $600+ you’ll get $30 back instantly. Valid in-store only.

Some stores will set limits to these offers, while others will let you make multiple transactions to save $15 or $30 on each transaction. In the same store itself some cashiers may allow multiple purchases while others may not.

If you buy 3 $200 Visa gift cards in store you’ll pay $20.85 in card fees and get back $30 instantly. A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees and get back $15 instantly.

But the real reason to bother with these if that when you use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card you get 5 points per dollar spent.

Even without the instant rebate, the argument can be made to buy gift cards for your everyday spending.

Say you spend $2,000 on everyday items. On a typical card earning points or cash back worth 2% you would save $40.

If you bought $2,000 in gift cards for $2,069.50 you’ll earn 10,348 points that are worth $181.09 at a 1.75 cents per point value. After backing out the $69.50 it cost to buy those gift cards you’ll still left with a $111.59 profit, or about triple the rewards you would earn from other cards. It’s an effective rebate of 5.58% everywhere you shop.

Even if you only value the points at 1.6 cents each that would value the 10,348 points at $165.57, leaving a profit of $96.07 or an effective rebate of 4.8% everywhere.

Want to just cash out the gift card instead of using it for everyday purchases?

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free. You can load up to $1,000 of gift cards per transaction with no limit on the number of gift cards used for a split tender.
-You can load cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine for no fee.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service for no fee.  Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card.
-You can buy a money order at stores that accepts debit cards as payment for money orders.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can… ;)

HT: chucksterace, via DDF

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Chase Ink Unboldened

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

-Find more posts like this by clicking on the “Credit Card Posts” in the tabs above of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

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I have a couple Chase Ink Bold cards currently.

One is from the old Exclusives program that went away in 2011. It’s an awesome card that earns up to 1.675 points per dollar everywhere. And I’ve been able to nab annual retention bonuses to keep that card going as well.

Another is for another business that I got last year before the Bold card was completely discontinued. That card earns 5 points per dollar on office supplies/telecom and 2 points per dollar on gas and hotels. Essentially it’s identical to the Ink Plus (and similar to my Ink Classic and Ink Cash cards) that I also have, except that it’s a charge card. That means that the credit line is flexible and able to be easily adjusted as needed and that you can’t carry a balance on the card (not that you should even carry a balance with interest on a card). It was unique in the Chase portfolio as was intended to compete with the AMEX stranglehold on the charge card market.

However effective 08/31 my Bold cards are being “unboldended.” Meaning that they will be converted to regular credit card with a credit line. Everyone who has a Bold card will receive a letter in the mail and a secure message with the details of their new hard credit line.

It’s unfortunate to lose that flexible spending line. But on the other hand, the additional hard credit line will be able to used as leverage to get approved for other cards. Essentially the cards become Ink Plus cards.

The best news is that there was no word on any changes to the old Exclusives rewards program, which is surprising given that on 12/31/15 the Chase Freedom card is losing its Exclusives benefits and Sapphire Preferred is losing its 7% dividend program then as well. Here’s hoping that no news is good news…

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