Category Archive for 'Credit Cards'

American Express Significantly Improves The Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card; Reports Of The 15K Spend Threshold Bonus Posting In 2015

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Effective June 1st American Express is making some nice changes to the Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card, though the annual fee (after the first free year) will be going up from $175 to $195.

-The card will qualify 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.

-The card will no longer charge a foreign transaction fee.

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

Officially this card stopped offering a 15K point bonus for spending $30K in a calendar year, but DDF member hvaces42 reports that he already spent $30K on the card in 2015 and he still got the 15K bonus.  That’s pretty sweet as it bumps the effective earn rates of the double point categories to 3x and the triple point category to 4.5x. Of course you can’t count on that, but for now it appears to still be working.

The card also offers 5 additional cardholders without any additional annual fee, each of which qualify for promotions like Small Business Saturday. Last year SBS gave a $30 per card credit, so someone who had a Premier Gold card with 5 additional users was able to get $180 in free spending.  With that (and other AMEX promotions that run throughout the year) combined with the $100 per calendar year refund, carrying this card just became a no-brainer.

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A Slightly Easier Way To Hit 20-30 Transactions On The Lucrative Everyday Cards

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card and The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card offer big bonuses for making a certain amount of transactions per month.

The Everyday card offers 20% bonus points if you make 20 transactions in a month, which means you earn 1.2 points per dollar everywhere and 2.4 points per dollar on groceries and Uber.  That’s excellent for a card with no annual fee.  In fact this is the only no-annual fee card that exists that allows points to be directly transferred into real airline miles and hotel points.

The Everyday Preferred card offers 50% bonus points if you make 30 transactions in a month, which means you earn 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 3 points per dollar on gas and Uber, and 4.5 points per dollar on groceries.  The only other card that gives 1.5 real airline miles per dollar is the Chase United Club card. The United Club card has a $395 annual fee while the Everyday Preferred card has a $95 annual fee.

How lucrative is the Everyday Preferred card when you make 30 transactions per month?

I value my AMEX points at 1.6 cents each.  That’s a pretty conservative value if you travel.  A private walled suite on Singapore from JFK to Europe is 57K miles.  That’s valuing that suite at just $912.  Earlier this month I flew from Miami to Cancun for 4.5K points.  That’s valuing the flight at just $72.

Multiply the 1.6 cents value per point by 1.5-4.5 points earned per dollar everywhere and that’s 2.4%-7.2% back everywhere.

AMEX often has transfer bonuses as well. Last month there was an offer for 40% more points for transfers into British Airways.  That increases the points earned per dollar to 2.1-6.3 points per dollar everywhere, multiplied by a 1.6 cents per points value and that’s 3.36%-10.08% back everywhere.

In other words, quite lucrative.

The AMEX site has a counter for these cards that makes it easy to keep track of your monthly purchases.  All you need to do is check it 2 days before the end of your billing cycle to see how many purchases you need to get up to 20 or 30.

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Previously I recommended buying $0.50 Amazon gift cards in as many transactions as you need to get up to 30 for that month.  However if you need to buy 10 gift cards you then have to manually apply each gift card code to your Amazon account.

That’s a bit time consuming so I was happy to learn that there’s an easier way to accomplish the same thing.

You can just go to this link to directly add funds onto your Amazon account.  Just type in $0.50 as the amount you wish to add to your account and 50 cents will be added to your Amazon account. No need to copy and paste the gift card code into your account, it just goes directly there.  Don’t bother with the auto-reload option.

You can check your Amazon gift card balance here. It says it takes 5 minutes for the balance to be updated but it only seems to take 1 minute for me. Your Amazon gift card balance never expires.

Have a better way to get up to 20 or 30 transactions? Hit the comments!

HT: DP7, via DDF

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Posting From 35K Feet For Free, Thanks To AMEX

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

GoGo in-flight internet isn’t cheap. I’m currently on a 4.5K BA Avios award and the price for internet access on this one hour flight is $9.95.

Luckily I have an AMEX Business Platinum card which now comes with 10 free annual GoGo internet passes. You can signup for your 10 free passes via this link.

Of course it’s not worth having the card just for the GoGo passes, but it’s always nice to have a valuable perk added to a card.

Note that only the business platinum card has the free GoGo passes, the consumer platinum card does not.

Is Business Platinum worth it?

It definitely is for the first year with the 40K signup bonus.  You can earn the bonus if you haven’t had the card within the past 12 months.

To signup for credit card offers like this you can click here to view links for all card offer types.  After clicking on business credit card offers just scroll through the pages until you find the card offer.

Plus in your first cardmembership year you can get $400 in airline fee credits thanks to a $200 credit in 2015 and a $200 credit in 2016 if you signup now.

But what benefits does the card have?

-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, San Francisco, and more to come. Miami will be the next to open.

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. Note that you can’t access United lounges with the Priority Pass membership that you get from the Platinum card.

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

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.

I just used the Cleveland lounge this morning where I got free bottles of still and sparking water and a newspaper.

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 lounges 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.

Annual fee:

The annual fee on this card is a doozie, $450.  But it’s not as painful as it sounds.

As with annual fees from most banks, they are refundable if cancelled within 60 days.  It is also pro-rated if cancelled after 60 days and you have another American Express card (i.e. if you have the card for 3 months and then cancel you would get a $337.50 refund), and it is pro-rated if you downgrade the card even if you have no other American Express card.

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.

I breezed by 50 people in line this morning thanks to pre-check.  Left my jacket and shoes on, my laptop in my bag, and went from walking into the airport to sitting in the lounge in less than 3 minutes.

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.

Starwood Gold Elite Status:

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

It also gets you 50% bonus points on paid stays, and room upgrades and 4pm late checkout on all stays.

Lost Item Protection:

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

Car Rental Perks:

A 4 hour late return fee-free grace period at Hertz and fee-waived Gold Plus membership 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.

Boingo Internet access:

In addition to 10 free GoGo in-flight internet passes per year you also get unlimited access to over 1 million Boingo hotspots worldwide.  These are located throughout airports and cities across the globe.

So, is it all worthwhile? It’s not for spending.

I value Starpoints earned from the Starwood American Express more than Membership Rewards points.

Credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred and The Amex EveryDay Credit Card simply earn more Membership Rewards points per dollar than the Platinum card.  The 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 and add very unique benefits. I’ve laid most of them out for you and you’ll just have to decide for yourself if its worth it based on your own situation.

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

Even if your business doesn’t have a Tax ID number it can still qualify 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.

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.

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Chase Ink Plus 60,000 Point Signup Bonus Returns

Monday, February 9th, 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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To signup for credit card offers like this you can click here to view links for all card offer types.  After clicking on business credit card offers just scroll through the pages until you find the card offer.

The Ink Plus is a business credit card and you may need to scroll through the pages of the business credit cards to find the offer.

Offer Details:

Spend $5,000 in 3 months on a new Chase Ink Plus business card and get a 60,000 point signup bonus.  The previous signup bonus was 50,000 points, though this card has offered a signup bonus as high as 70,000 points in the past.

The current 60K bonus offer will run until March 1st.

It’s not difficult at all to get a value of 1.75 cents per point when using Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel by transferring them into airline miles or hotel points. That would make this signup bonus worth over $1,000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lounge Club:

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

Cash back:

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

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

Bonus points:

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

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

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

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 earlier this year.  They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have short-haul awards for 10,000 miles, they allow for a stopover and an open-jaw so that you can really maximize a single award ticket into several free trips, and they have dozens of partners to fly on, most of which can be booked on their website.
-British Airways (OneWorld) is awesome for short-haul awards. Just 9,000 miles for a round-trip zone 1 or 15,000 miles for zone 2 short-haul award. The zone 3 award for 25,000 miles round-trip can also be a bargain, for example a flight between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between Boston and Ireland is just 25K miles round-trip with no fuel surcharges. Flights to Israel on Air Berlin are just 60,000 miles with no fuel surcharges. They allow one-way awards for half the mileage. There are no close-in or expedite fees. You can cancel an award for as little as $5.60. Infants are only charged 10% of the miles on international trips instead of 10% of the full fare like US carriers charge. Plus they don’t collect fuel surcharges on AA/USAirways within the western hemisphere, on Qantas within Australia, on Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well.
You can read more in 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.  Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. You can also transfer points to Airtran for flat-rate awards like business class upgrades or free tickets at a flat rate instead of a rate that corresponds to the ticket price. From Airtran they can even be converted back into the old Southwest program that also offers flat rate awards.
-Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses with awards on Delta.
-Hyatt is a very powerful hotel currency. They have finally added a cash and points option that offers some excellent values and more importantly those stays earn points, elite stay credits, promo credits, and you can use suite upgrades on cash and point stays as well.  It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program, a $1,500/night villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives would run just 25,000 points or 12,500 points+$150.
You can also funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. I’ve never been on an Amtrak in my life, but some people have reported getting some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program.

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

HT: TimT, via DDF

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

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Update 2: The Amazon Prime offer is expired.

—————————————————————–Update: I just got word that the signup offer for all 4 of the cards below will be changing tomorrow.

I don’t know what the exact changes will be, but I would assume that the Amazon Prime limited time offer will be coming to an end. 

If you want to take advantage of that offer you should apply for any of the cards below by 2:59pm EST today.

Related post: The Most Underrated Credit Card?

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Originally posted on 10/28/14

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMEX EveryDay Preferred:

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

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

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

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

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

AMEX EveryDay:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Most Underrated Credit Card?

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Update: The Amazon Prime offer is expired.

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American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

A few weeks ago a fellow blogger asked my opinion of what is the most underrated credit card.

It’s always tough to single one card out.

For card benefits I answered with the United Explorer. It’s no secret I’m a fan of the card as I wrote about in this post. You can view card offers via the creditcards.com banners at the top of this site.

But for spending I wrote that it’s the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express

Assuming you can make 30 transactions per month, it offers 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 3 points per dollar on gas and Uber, and 4.5 points per dollar on groceries.

It’s really even more than that, as Membership Rewards often offers bonuses for point transfers. Currently there is a 35% bonus for transfers to Virgin America and more crucially, a 40% bonus for transfers to British Airways.  In the past transfer bonuses to BA have ranged between 20-50%.

With a 40% transfer bonus, you have effectively earned 2.1 BA Avios per dollar spent everywhere, 4.2 Avios per dollar spend on gas and Uber, and 6.3 Avios per dollar spent on groceries.

If you value BA Avios at 1.5 cents each that’s like getting 3.15% back everywhere, 6.3% back on gas and Uber, and 9.45% back on groceries.  It’s really easy to get that kind of value out of a BA award flight. If a paid one-way flight is $67 and you use Avios for it then you’ll have achieved this value.  If the paid flight is $134 then you can double those values in each of those categories. No close-in fees and $5.60 flight cancellations only sweeten the pot.

Spend $715 on groceries and you’ll get 3,218 points. Transfer them to BA during a 40% bonus and you’ll have enough Avios for a free flight. The grocery bonus is capped at $6,000/year (which would earn 27,000 points).

Fly one-way from NYC to Montreal or Detroit this week and a ticket on American will set you back up to $800. Or you can use 4.5K BA Avios. That means the points reward from buying $715 of groceries can be worth more than you paid for the groceries! And it’s why I love real miles over cashback cards because the cost of an award isn’t tied to the actual cost of the ticket. That applies even more so on business and first class awards where awards can also be very lucrative.

If you don’t have 30 transactions in any given month you’ll only get 1 point per dollar everywhere, 2 points per dollar on gas and Uber, and 3 points per dollar on groceries. Just have your statement close on the first of every month and set your calendar to remind you on the 29th of the month to check your account to see how many transactions you made that month. If it’s under 30 you can just buy $0.50 Amazon gift cards in as many transactions as you need to get up to 30 for that month.

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

The EveryDay Preferred card has a $95 annual fee, but that’s low considering it’s the only card other than the $395/year United Club card that gives 1.5 real airline miles per dollar everywhere. (Yes Ink cards can potentially earn more, but you’d have to first buy gift cards and then use those gift cards everywhere which will wind up costing you valuable purchase protections that credit cards offer).

The fee is also negated by the fee-free additional user cards you can get that each qualify for AMEX promotions such as Small Business Saturday.

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

The signup bonus is 15K Membership Rewards points plus 1 year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 within 3 months.

The Amazon Prime offer is a limited time offer. It will come as a code sent to you via email after you meet the $1,000 spend threshold. If you already have Amazon Prime the code will extend your Prime membership by a year.

Don’t want to pay an annual fee? You can downgrade the card to the non-preferred version of the card or you can apply for the fee-free Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express.  However that card only earns 1.2 miles everywhere and 2.4 points per dollar on groceries and Uber. On the plus side it’s the only fee-free card that can transfer points into real airline miles without having to first transfer the points to a card with an annual fee.

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Are You Maximizing All Of The Benefits Your Cards Give You? A Look At The Published And Unpublished Perks Of 11 Chase Credit Cards

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Update: The links to the Chase cards below will no longer work after 4:59pm EST today.  Once the links no longer work you can still view the offers via the CreditCards.com banners at the top of this site.

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Related:
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered

-Do You Maximize Your Credit Card Spending? Here’s Where Should You Be Using Each Of Your Credit Cards.
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People are always asking me what the best credit card is. If only it were that easy.

Different cards have different things they excel at. But if you know what the benefits are for each card then you’ll be able to maximize what’s in your wallet.

Here are the top benefits of cards from Chase.

Airline cards:

-Chase United Explorer
Signup Bonus:
30K miles for spending $1,000 in 3 months plus 5K miles for adding a free additional user.
Spend benefits:
1. 2 miles per dollar on United flights and United award taxes.
2. 10K annual mileage bonus for spending $25K on the card. An effective 40% bonus everywhere if you can spend $25K in a calendar year.
3. No foreign exchange/transaction fees.
Travel benefits:
1. Added benefits for non-elite travelers: Free checked bag, expanded coach saver award availability, expanded Plan B business saver award availability, last seat coach and business standard award availability, priority boarding.
2. Added benefits for elite travelers: Upgrades on award tickets, waived PQD spend requirement on flights if you spend $25K on United cards annually.
3. 2 annual United Club passes
4. Primary rental car insurance worldwide.
5. Miles will never expire as long you remain a cardholder.
Annual fee:
$95, waived for the first year.
Learn more about:
-Expanded award space
-United Plan B
-United expert mode.
-Primary rental car insurance.
-Benefits of the card.

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-Chase British Airways Visa
Signup Bonus:
50K Avios for spending $2,000 in 3 months. Good for more than 11 free award flights.
Spend benefits:
1. 1.25 Avios per dollar spend everywhere and 2.5 Avios on per dollar spent on BA flights and Avios awards.
2. Spend $30K in a calendar year and get a free companion pass for use on award travel on BA flights in any class of service.
3. No foreign exchange/transaction fees.
Travel benefits:
10% off paid BA flights.
Annual fee:
$95, waived for the first year for a limited time only.
Learn more about the card’s benefits here.

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-Chase Southwest Premier
Signup Bonus:
For a limited time only, 50K points for spending $2,000 in 3 months. Points are good for up to $960 of Southwest flights or $500 in gift cards to dozens of stores.
Spend benefits:
1. 2 points per dollar on Southwest flights and on Southwest award taxes.
2. No foreign exchange/transaction fees.
3. 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases up to 15K points per year.
Travel benefits:
1. Earn 110,000 points in a calendar year from signup bonuses and spending on the Southwest card and get an unlimited use companion pass good on paid and award flights for the remainder of the calendar year and for the following calendar year.
2. As always, 2 free bags, free changes, free cancellations of all award travel, and free refunds of points if cost of award travel goes down.
Annual fee:
$99.
Learn more about the card’s benefits here.

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-Chase United Club (Click on Club option on the right side of the page)
Signup Bonus:
$100 after first purchase.
Spend benefits:
1. 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere plus 2 miles per dollar on United flights.
2. No foreign exchange/transaction fees.
Travel benefits:
1. Full United Club membership valid at United lounges and hundreds of partners lounges worldwide. Access is free for you and your spouse and kids or you and 2 companions even when not flying.
2. TSA security passes for gate access even when you aren’t flying at airports with a United Club.
3. 2 free checked bags.
4. Waived award expedite/close-in fees.
5. Priority check-in, priority baggage handling (your bags will arrive ahead of the general public), priority security line access, and priority boarding with elites ahead of Explorer cardholders.
6. Hyatt Platinum status
7. Hertz President’s Circle status
8. Added benefits for non-elite travelers: Expanded coach saver award availability, expanded Plan B business saver award availability, last seat coach and business standard award availability.
9. Added benefits for elite travelers: Upgrades on award tickets, waived PQD spend requirement on flights if you spend $25K on United cards annually.
10. Primary rental car insurance worldwide.
11. Miles will never expire as long you remain a cardholder.
Annual fee:
$395.
Learn more about the card’s benefits here.

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Ultimate Rewards cards with transferable point currencies:

-Chase Ink Plus
Signup Bonus:
50K points for spending $5,000 in 3 months.
Spend benefits:
1. 5 points per dollar on landline, cellular, cable, and internet provider spending.
2. 5 points per dollar on office supply spending, including gift cards for hundreds of other stores sold by office supply stores.
3. 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas.
4. No foreign exchange/transaction fees.
5. Spending won’t hurt your credit score.
Travel benefits:
1. Free Lounge Club membership with 2 free lounge entries annually for primary and secondary cardholders.
2. Points transfer instantly to airlines, hotels, and Amtrak and allows the transfer of points from cards like Freedom and Ink Cash into miles as well.
Annual fee:
$95, waived for the first year.
Learn more about the card’s benefits here.

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-Chase Sapphire Preferred
Signup Bonus:
40K points for spending $4,000 in 3 months plus 5,000 points for adding a free additional user.
Spend benefits:
1. 2 points per dollar on all travel including airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.
2. 3 points per dollar on the first Friday of every month at restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, catering, bars, lounges, and more.
3. Price protection, return protection, purchase protection, and warranty protection
Travel benefits:
1. Trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage protection, trip delay protection, baggage delay protection, and travel accident insurance
2. Points transfer instantly to airlines, hotels, and Amtrak and allows the transfer of points from cards like Freedom and Ink Cash into miles as well.
3. Primary rental car insurance worldwide.
Annual fee:
$95, waived for the first year.
Learn more about the card’s benefits here.

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-Chase Freedom
Signup Bonus:
10K points (marketed as $100, but comes in the form of points) for spending $500 in 3 months plus 2,500 points for adding a free additional user.
Spend benefits:
1. 5 points per dollar in rotating categories such as grocery, gas, restaurants, and Amazon.com
2. 10% bonus points on top of all points earned in 2015 if you have a Chase checking account.
3. 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 15 months.
Annual fee:
None.
Learn more about the card’s benefits here.

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-Chase Ink Cash
Signup Bonus:
20K points for spending $3,000 in 3 months.
Spend benefits:
1. 5 points per dollar on landline, cellular, cable, and internet provider spending.
2. 5 points per dollar on office supply spending, including gift cards for hundreds of other stores sold by office supply stores.
3. 2 points per dollar on dining and gas.
4. Spending won’t hurt your credit score.
5. 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 12 months.
Travel benefits:
1. Free Lounge Club membership with 2 free lounge entries annually for primary and secondary cardholders.
Annual fee:
None.
Learn more about the card’s benefits here.

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$0 and 0% BT fees:

-Chase Slate
Spend benefits:
1. 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 15 months.
2. No balance transfer fees.
Annual fee:
None.

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Hotel cards:

-Chase Marriott Premier
Signup Bonus:
1 free night at Category 1-4 hotels upon approval and another 50K points for spending $1,000 within 3 months.
Spend benefits:
1. 5 points per dollar spent at Marriott
2. 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, car rentals, and dining.
3. 1 Elite credit for every $3,000 spent
4. No foreign exchange/transaction fees.
Travel benefits:
1. Receive 1 free night at Category 1-5 hotels every account anniversary.
2. 15 credits toward elite status every account anniversary.
Annual fee:
$85, waived for the first year.

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-Chase Hyatt
Signup Bonus:
2 free nights for spending $1,000 within 3 months. Nights must be booked and used within 12 months or they will expire.
Spend benefits:
1. 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt.
2. 2 points per dollar spent on airfare, car rentals, and dining.
3. No foreign exchange/transaction fees.
Travel benefits:
1. Receive 1 free night at Category 1-4 hotels every account anniversary.
2. Platinum status, though it doesn’t do much now that the bed type guarantee has been eliminated and internet is free for all guests. You do get a 15% point bonus on paid stays.
Annual fee:
$75, waived for the first year.

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

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Update: The annual fee waiver for the BA card now has a 03/31 end date:

 

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Originally posted on 10/30/14:

Chase British Airways Visa Signature Linky

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

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

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

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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!
-Get A 40% Bonus When You Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points Into British Airways Avios!
-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 3 years it has continued to provide an incredible value for short-haul flights.  I’ve booked dozens of short-haul tickets using Avios for travel on American.  A Cleveland-NYC ticket can cost $1,200 round-trip if you don’t stay for at least 3 days or if you book last-minute.  But BA allows me to use just 9,000 Avios for that same flight, a whopping value of over 13 cents per mile.  I can hop over to Chicago or NYC on a whim without any kind of mileage regret like I used to have in the pre-Avios days.
-50,000 Avios has gotten me flights that would have otherwise cost over $6,500. Or those same exact flights would run some 140K American miles not even accounting for the $75 expedite fees and $150 cancellation fees that American would charge with their own miles compared to $0 expedite and $5.60 cancellation when booking an American flight with Avios!

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

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

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

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

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

Advantages of BA Avios over most traditional mileage programs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase Southwest Premier(50K signup bonus points for up to $960 of free flights with free award cancellations), 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 Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal),the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Card: Get 50,000 Points. Award Flights Start At Just 2,214 Points With 2 Free Bags And Free Cancellations!

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Signup offer and anniversary bonus:

You can get 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 within 3 months of getting the card. They’re marketing this as 2 roundtrip flights but in fact it is enough for up to $960 of flights on Southwest.

For example a one-way Los Angeles-Las Vegas flight on 02/18 is $48.10 with tax.
It can also be bought for 2,214 points plus $5.60 tax.
So 2,214 points gets you a value of $42.50 ($48.10 airfare less the $5.60 tax required on the points ticket)
So each point is worth 1.92 cents (42.50/2,214), valid for redemption on all flights. so you can stretch out those 50K points points for as more than 22 free flights with Southwest’s low prices or 44 free flights if you earn a companion pass.

Every anniversary you’ll also get a 6,000 point bonus.

Free changes and cancellations. Lock in low fares with no penalty:

While other mileage currencies now charge $200 to cancel an award ticket, Southwest continues to allow you to cancel an award flight and redeposit the points in your account for future use without any penalties! Coupled with 2 free bags per person and that’s a lot of added value. A family of 4 needing to cancel award tickets on another airline would set you back $800 versus it being a free change on Southwest. A family of 4 checking 2 bags each would run $480 round-trip on another airline versus paying nothing on Southwest.

Thinking of taking a trip but not 100% sure about it? With Southwest points you can lock in a good rate and just cancel the trip free of charge at any point before the flight if you can’t make it!

You can use the points for yourself or book award tickets for anyone else you want to give a ticket to.

Don’t fly?

You can also use 50,000 points to get $500 worth of gift cards to places like Alamo, Amazon, Avis, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, Brooks Brothers, Budget, Carnival Cruises, Children’s Place, Express, Fairmont, Gap, Hertz, Hyatt, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Marriott, Motherhood Maternity, National, Nike, Office Depot, Saks, Sea World, Sears, Shutterfly, Staples, Starbucks, Toys R Us, TJMaxx, Walmart, Zappos and many others.

With Southwest’s Rapid Rewards “2.0” program you can redeem points for any seat on any flight. There are no blackout dates or capacity controls.

The value per point will depend on your route, but points always seem to be worth more than 1.8 cents each for discounted fares.

When Southwest has a fare sale the amount of points go on sale as well as it tracks to the price of the ticket. Best of all Southwest will refund your points if the price of your award ticket falls!  Just rebook your trip online for the same dates or give them a call for the credit.

You get 1 point per dollar on regular purchases and 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, including hotel and car rentals via Southwest.

Companion pass:

You can get a free companion pass if you earn 110,000 points in a year from most sources, including earnings from credit card signups and credit card spending! If you earn 110,000 Southwest points in 2015 the pass will be good until 12/31/16. The pass allows you to bring a companion with you for free whenever you fly Southwest, even if you are flying on a free ticket! There is no limit to the number of free companion flights that you can take.

Points transferred from Ultimate Rewards to Southwest don’t qualify towards companion pass status, but points transferred from Ultimate Rewards into Hyatt and then into Southwest do qualify. So you can transfer 50K Ultimate Rewards points into 50K Hyatt and 50K Hyatt transfers into 30K Southwest.

In other words if you get 50K points from signing up for this credit card you can transfer 100K Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and then into 60K Southwest points, worth about $1,152 towards Southwest travel. Plus then you’ll have a companion pass so that you can bring your companion for free whenever you fly Southwest, so that $1,152 toward Southwest is really doubled to $2,304 because of the free companion ticket. Not a bad value for a 100K Ultimate Rewards transfer.

See this post for more info on the Ultimate Rewards program and associated credit cards.

And as always, Southwest:
-Gives 2 free checked bags per passenger.
-Does not charge change fees to switch your flight. Whether you are on a paid or an award flight you can change without penalty!
-Does not charge a cancellation fee to cancel your flight (you will get Southwest credit for the full amount paid, even on non-refundable wanna get away fares) or to cancel and redeposit your award flight.
-Refunds the fare or point difference if the price of your flight goes down after you buy it, just call to get the credit at any time before your flight!

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (Which has no fee for the first year for a limited time only, 50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), 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 Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal),the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered

Monday, January 12th, 2015

This is an article I wrote a few months ago, but people keep asking the same questions, so here it is again:

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

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Originally posted on 10/08:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What do you do about annual fees?
A: On some cards those pay for themselves. Take the Starwood or Everyday Preferred cards where additional cardholders are free.
If you have 5 additional cardholders on either of those cards you’ll get $180 to spend at a small business in November. You can have up to 99 additional cards. And each of those cards are also eligible for other AMEX promotions that run all year long.

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

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

In short, they really are not a big deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Checking your own credit report does not hurt your score.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because it’s very hard to stay ahead of the game if you don’t have a good handle on what you already have.

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Can’t Find Saver Award Availability? There’s One Must-Have Credit Card That Can Help You Out

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Visa is the only card that gives expanded award availability. As long as there is 1 seat on the plane you can redeem standard level miles for it.

But more important than that is the incredible amount of additional saver award space it gives you access to.

While throwing together the Chicago DDF DO last week I found a flight option for AJK from NYC using 10K United miles (the 7.5K Avios flight options didn’t work for him)

Alas he had just cancelled both his and his wife’s consumer and business United cards. And the flight I found only had saver award availability for cardholders.

The United card is crucial for anyone who collects United miles.  If you have elite status you can only get elite upgrades on award tickets if you have a United card.  If you don’t have elite status then the expanded award availability alone makes the card an absolute must.

While the card doesn’t directly help with business class saver award availability (only Platinum, 1K, or GS status helps for that), it does make Plan B business class saver award availability easier as that award requires there to be coach saver availability. Read more about Plan B here.

So, just how much extra saver award availability is there?

Below is a look at the saver award space for 2 popular routes through March (Saver awards typically become available within a couple months of the flight).  Flight results are shown from one flight on the date listed.

For example on March 22nd United is willing to sell a cardholder up to 9 coach saver award seats for 42.5K miles but there are no saver awards available for non-cardholders, so they would have to swing for the 85K standard level award. Cardholders can redeem those saver award seats for anyone, even if they don’t have a United card.  Additionally United will be willing to sell a cardholder a 70K Plan B business class award but would not sell that award to a non-cardholder as there would be no saver award space to book at all.

Availability for a cardholder:

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Availability for a non-cardholder:

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(Want to learn how you can see how many seats are bookable for cardholders and non-cardholders on United.com? I explained it all on this post about United.com Expert Mode)

Note that saver award availability is very fluid, the results below are accurate as of 12:30am this morning.

Newark-Tel Aviv (Number of available saver award seats):
01/12: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 6
01/18: Cardholders: 3, Non-cardholders: 0
01/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
01/24: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 7
01/27: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
01/29: Cardholders: 7, Non-cardholders: 0
02/02: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/03: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/05: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 6
02/05: Cardholders: 2, Non-cardholders: 0
02/09: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 3
02/10: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
02/15: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 3
02/17: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 4
02/18: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 0
02/19: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 0
02/20: Cardholders: 7, Non-cardholders: 0
02/21: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 0
02/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 6
02/24: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 0
02/25: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/28: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/01: Cardholders: 3, Non-cardholders: 0
03/02: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/03: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/04: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/09: Cardholders: 2, Non-cardholders: 0
03/17: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/22: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0

JFK-Los Angeles (Number of available saver award seats):
01/12: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 4
01/13: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 6
01/14: Cardholders: 5, Non-cardholders: 3
01/17: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
01/18: Cardholders: 2, Non-cardholders: 0
01/20: Cardholders: 3, Non-cardholders: 0
01/21: Cardholders: 6, Non-cardholders: 2
01/22: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
01/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
01/24: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
01/29: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 3
02/01: Cardholders: 8, Non-cardholders: 1
02/05: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 4
02/06: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 5
02/11: Cardholders: 5, Non-cardholders: 0
02/19: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 6
02/20: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 2
02/21: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
02/25: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 7
02/26: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
02/27: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
02/28: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 4
03/01: Cardholders: 7, Non-cardholders: 0
03/05: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/06: Cardholders: 4, Non-cardholders: 0
03/12: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0
03/16: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
03/18: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 2
03/23: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 7
03/30: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 1
03/31: Cardholders: 9, Non-cardholders: 0

How do you find expanded award availability? All you need to do is login to your United.com account before you search for award flights. Never use the United.com remember me option when logging in.

How do you know if your card is properly linked to your account? Just login on United.com and then hover over the words “Mileage Expiration”

If your card is properly linked you will see the following message that your miles won’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder:
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If your card isn’t properly linked then you will see the following message that your miles will expire if you don’t have activity every 18 months:

 

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If you have a United card but don’t see the non-expiring message just add the card to your United.com account here and it should be linked within 48 hours.

Other card benefits:
Besides for the signup bonus of 30K miles for spending $1,000 and another 5K miles for adding a free authorized user and the expanded award space, there are other really nice benefits of the Explorer card:
-Primary CDW insurance in every country in the world.
-First checked bag free.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-No foreign transaction fees.
-2 free transferable United lounge passes per year.
-10K mileage bonus every year that you spend $25K, a 40% mileage bonus which means you’ll have earned 1.4 miles per dollar everywhere.
-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.
-Double miles on United purchases.
-Elite members can get upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.
-Miles don’t expire as long as you are a cardholder.

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

-You can also get the business version of the Chase United Explorer card which also qualifies for expanded saver award space. Just click on “Are you a business owner” in the top-right of the Explorer card link.

-Want a 2nd free bag, a 50% mileage bonus per dollar spent everywhere, United club access for you and your entire family, post-security terminal access without a ticket, priority baggage handling and priority security access, and waived award expedite fees? The United Club card comes with all of that.  Just click on the MileagePlus Club tab at the right side of the Explorer card link.

The Explorer business, Club, and the now defunct Presidential Plus card also give expanded saver award availability.

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a year and the annual fee is waived 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 Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal),the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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Do You Maximize Your Credit Card Spending? Here’s Where You Should Be Using Each Of Your Credit Cards.

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

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

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

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

You can value a mile by what they sell for on the grey market, but that’s not really fair because those miles are being resold by a broker to someone else at a higher valuation.  So there’s 1 grey market value for what a broker will pay (and even that will depend on the broker, the amount being sold, and constantly changing market conditions) and there’s another grey market value if you actually know end users as the brokers do.

I know of folks who fly first class internationally just to make contacts with people who actually pay $30,000 to be in the pointy section of the plane.  On a flight back home from Hong Kong in Cathay First another passenger offered to take us on his yacht.  He paid the full fare and doesn’t have the time to figure out the mileage game. However I’m sure he’d be happy to save $10K on his $30K tickets, and that would have an astronomical value per mile. Of course the airlines frown on all this and some airlines aggressively shut accounts down for selling their miles.

A better way of valuing miles is according to what you use them for as that’s how they’re intended to be used, though again, the problem with that is the sky is the limit.  A last-minute British Airways award for a flight that costs $1,200 is just 9,000 Avios, a value of  over 13 cents per mile. You can fly in a private walled-in Singapore suite to Europe for 57,000 miles one-way. In business or first class you miles can easily be worth more than 20 cents each.  I’ve had redemptions where my miles were worth over 50 cents each.  Combine with that a card that earn over 2 miles per dollar and it means that everything you buy is free ;)  OK, that’s an ridiculously extreme way to look at things, but it shows how difficult this exercise is.

And then you have Pa Kettle who redeems 50,000 miles for a $200 domestic ticket where their miles will only be worth less than half a cent each.

Determine the value:

I don’t care for posts that claim to put a value on the various currencies without any disclaimers.  Their value ultimately depends on what YOU will do with the points.

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

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

Instead of giving a value to each currency, I’ll just share the minimum value I aim for when I use my points. Often I get several times that value, but let’s call their value the minimum level at which if I can’t attain that value I won’t burn the points. Feel free to plugin your own numbers as this is a highly personal exercise.

-Starwood Starpoints: 2.1 cents (Use for hotels or get a 25% points bonus when you transfer increments of 20K into 25K miles with dozens of airlines like ANA, Air Canada, Alaska, American, British Airways, Delta, Flying Blue, Singapore, and USAirways. Caveat: Transfers aren’t instant.)
-Chase Ultimate Rewards points: 1.75 cents (Transfer to hotels like Hyatt or airlines like British Airways, Singapore, Southwest, and United)
-American Express Membership Rewards points: 1.65 cents (Transfer to airlines like ANA, Air Canada, British Airways, Delta, El Al, Flying Blue, and Singapore. Caveat: No good hotel options and transfers to domestic program incur fees.)
-United miles: 1.7 cents
-American/USAirways miles: 1.7 cents
-British Airways Avios: 1.5 cents
-Delta miles: 1.4 cents
-Barclay Arrival gives 2.22% cash back.
-Fidelity gives 2% cash back
-Blue Cash gives 1-3% cash back
-Blue Cash Preferred gives 1-6% cash back

Of course you can currently transfer 1 AMEX MR point into 1.4 British Airways Avios, so that would give AMEX points an imputed value of 2.1 cents.  However that promotion ends 01/31, so while the points may be temporarily worth more, I wouldn’t call that their long-term value.

To repeat: Value is highly subjective.  Determine how you value each currency, use the formulas I’ve laid out at the bottom of this post, and figure out if that will change where you should be using each card.

Let’s take a look at what you can earn for spending on 19 different cards:

Cards with transferable point currencies:
-Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 40K for spending $4K plus 5K for adding an additional user. Highlights: Signup bonus, double points for dining and travel.
-Chase Ink Plus Business Card
Annual fee: Free then $95. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 50K for spending $5K. Highlights: Signup bonus, double points for gas and hotels, quintuple points for office supplies and telecom, annual lounge passes.
-Chase Ink Cash Business Card
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 3%. Signup bonus: 20K for spending $3K. Highlights: Double points for gas and dining, quintuple points for office supplies and telecom, annual lounge passes.
-Chase Freedom Visa
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 3%. Signup bonus: 10K for spending $500. Highlights: Quintuple point rotating categories, 10% checking bonus (ending 12/31/15)
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Annual fee: Free then $65. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 25K for spending $5K. Highlight: 25% bonus for converting points into miles.
-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 10K for spending $1K plus a year of Amazon Prime ($99 value). Highlights: The only free card that allows that allows direct mileage transfers, 1.2-2.4 points per dollar everywhere.
-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express
Annual fee: $95. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 15K for spending $1K plus a year of Amazon Prime ($99 value). . Highlights: 1.5-4.5 points per dollar everywhere.
-American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
Annual fee: Free then $175. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: 25K for spending $2K. Highlights: Double points on gas and groceries, triple points on airfare.
-Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual fee: $450. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: 40K for spending $3K. Highlights: Signup bonus, Centurion lounge access, Airspace lounge access, Delta lounge access, Priority Club worldwide lounge access, $200 annual airline fee refund, Starwood Gold Elite status, Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check enrollment fee refund.

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

Cashback cards:
-Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
Annual fee: Free then $89. Forex fee: None. Signup bonus: $400 for spending $3K. Highlights: Signup bonus, 2.22% cash back everywhere.
-Fidelity American Express
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 1%. Signup bonus: None. Highlight: 2% cash back everywhere.
-Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Annual fee: None. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: $50 for spending $1K plus a year of Amazon Prime ($99 value). . Highlight: Up to 3% cash back.
-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Annual fee: $75. Forex fee: 2.7%. Signup bonus: $100 for spending $1K plus a year of Amazon Prime ($99 value). . Highlight: Up to 6% cash back.

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

Everyday purchase (Click here to see how many points are earned and how these calculations are made):
-Ink (general spending made via $200 gift cards bought from Staples at a cost of $6.95): 5.58%
-United Club: 2.55%
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (if you make 30 transactions per month): 2.48%
Note: You can buy $0.50 Amazon gift cards to get up to 30 each month.
-United Explorer (assuming you spend exactly $25K per year): 2.38%
-Barclaycard Arrival: 2.22%
-Starwood: 2.1%
-Fidelity: 2%
-AMEX EveryDay (if you make 20 transactions per month): 1.98%
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking: 1.93%
-British Airways: 1.88%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 1.87%
-Ink: 1.75%
-Freedom without checking: 1.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 1.75%
-United Explorer (under $25K spend per year): 1.7%
-American/USAirways: 1.7%
-Premier Rewards Gold: 1.65%
-AMEX Platinum: 1.65%
-Delta: 1.4%
-Blue Cash/Blue Cash Preferred: 1%

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

Airfare:
-Ink (For Southwest flights via Southwest gift cards bought from an office supply store): 8.75%
-Premier Rewards Gold : 4.95%
-United Explorer on United flights (assuming you can spend exactly $25K in a year): 4.08%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
Note: Sapphire Preferred also offers valuable insurances on airfare.
-British Airways on British Airways flights: 3.75%
Note: The British Airways card also gets a 10% discount on BA flights.
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5% (This card also offers valuable insurances on airfare)
Note: Sapphire Preferred also offers valuable insurances on airfare.
-United Club on United flights: 3.4%
Note: You must use the United card to get free baggage.
-United Explorer on United flights (under $25K spend/year): 3.4%
Note: You must use the United card to get free domestic baggage.
-American on American flights: 3.4%
-USAirways on USAirways flights: 3.4%
-Delta on Delta flights: 2.8%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Car Rental:
Sapphire Prefered and United cards have primary insurance coverage worldwide:
-Ink Plus at Alamo or National: 5.75%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-United Club: 2.55%
-United Explorer (assuming you can spend exactly $25K in a year): 2.38%
-United Explorer (under $25K spend/year): 1.7%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Hotel:
-Ink Plus at any Wyndham hotel brand: 8.5%
-Starwood at a Starwood hotel: 4.2%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-Ink Plus: 3.5%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

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

Gas:
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking during promo quarter: 9.63%
-Ink (via gas gift card bought from an office supply store): 8.75%
-Chase Freedom without Chase checking during promo quarter: 8.75%
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (if you make 30 transactions per month): 4.95%
-Ink at Chevron or Texaco: 4.5%
-Ink: 3.5%
-Premier Rewards Gold: 3.3%
-Blue Cash Preferred: 3%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Groceries (Including gift cards):
-Chase Freedom with Chase checking during promo quarter: 9.63%
-Ink (via grocery gift card bought from an office supply store): 8.75%
-Chase Freedom without Chase checking during promo quarter: 8.75%
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (if you make 30 transactions per month): 7.43%
-Blue Cash Preferred: 6%
-AMEX EveryDay (if you make 20 transactions per month): 3.96%
-Premier Rewards Gold: 3.3%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Office Supply purchases (including gift cards to other stores)
-Ink: 8.75%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

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

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

Uber:
-AMEX EveryDay Preferred (if you make 30 transactions per month): 4.95%
-AMEX EveryDay (if you make 20 transactions per month): 3.96%
-Sapphire Preferred with 7% dividend: 3.75%
-Sapphire Preferred without 7% dividend: 3.5%
-Premier Rewards Gold: 3.3%
-AMEX Platinum: 3.3%
-See everyday purchases for standard percentage back on other cards.

Things to bear in mind:

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

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

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

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

-The points from Freedom and Ink Cash can’t transfer directly into real miles. You or your spouse will need an active Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus when you want to make that transfer.
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Read the methodology and calculations behind the numbers, and learn to plugin your own mileage values after the jump:

(more…)

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Renting A Car With A Credit Card? Here’s What You Need To Know About Insurance.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

-Find more posts like this by clicking on the “Credit Card Posts” tab and find credit card offers in the “Credit Cards” tab above of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.
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Car rental companies love to upsell insurance options when you rent a car.

Most are bogus. but 2 are legitimate. There’s liability insurance and there’s the collision damage waiver insurance or CDW.

No credit card covers liability insurance.
When you drive in the USA you need to have liability coverage which covers damage to other people and their property. If you own a car and are insured you’ll be covered when you rent a car in the US, so there’s no need to take out liability insurance. If you don’t own a car you can rely on the state minimum liability that the car rental agencies are required to provide free of charge. However you can be on the hook if you cause damage in excess of the minimum requirement, so you may want to take out that coverage if you don’t have a personal car insurance policy. Note that in California and Texas there is no state minimum liability, so any damage you cause will be your responsibility.

In some countries, like Israel and Mexico, you are always required to pay for liability insurance.

Many credit cards provide CDW insurance. That covers damage that occurs to your rental car. However most cards only provide secondary coverage in your home country, which means that if you have your own car insurance you would have to file a claim with them and only if they deny it will the credit card cover the damage.

AMEX cards have the option to add a premium car rental insurance option that changes coverage from secondary to primary, but that will set you back about $20 per rental.

2 popular Chase cards provide free primary CDW coverage even in your home country, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase United Explorer. If you damage your rental car then those cards will cover the damage without having to file a claim with your personal auto insurance policy.

Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.
The Sapphire Preferred also gives double points on car rentals, making it the best card to use when renting a car anywhere in the world.

Most cards exclude CDW coverage in select countries such as Israel and Jamaica.  All Chase cards provide coverage worldwide, including Israel.  Just call the number on the back of your card to be connected with the CDW insurance department who can provide you with a letter of coverage to provide the car rental agency in any country that you specify.

In a country like Israel you’ll still need to purchase liability insurance, but you won’t have to pay the CDW insurance.  Which is a good thing as the basic CDW insurance in Israel comes with a high deductible, so even if you pay the daily CDW fee you may still wind up paying for the small scratches that car rental companies in Israel love to charge to everyone without ever repainting their cars.

With CDW coverage insurance from your credit card there is no deductible as long as you decline to take out the CDW coverage from the car rental agency.  You won’t be responsible for a thing as long as you use the right card.

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Activate Freedom Q1 And Start Bonus Spending Now; How To Find If Your Local Grocery Will Qualify And How Much Bonus Spending You’ve Done This Quarter

Monday, January 5th, 2015

The Chase Freedom Visa is an excellent no annual fee card.  They market the signup bonus as $100 for spending $500 in 3 months, but really it comes in the form of 10,000 bonus points which are worth much more than $100 when transferred into miles.  Plus if you add an additional user and make a purchase within 3 months you’ll get another 2,500 bonus points, for a total of 12,500 points.

But the real beauty of the card is in the quarterly 5% categories. Again, while they call it 5% cash back you’ll really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be worth much more than 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

I say at least because if you have a Chase checking account active by December you’ll get a 10% bonus on all points earned this year.  So if you spend the $1,500 per quarter and have Chase checking you will earn 33,000 points per year, or 5.5 points per dollar.  You’ll also earn 1.1 points per dollar on all other purchases that you make.

If you and your spouse only has a Freedom card you won’t be able to transfer points to airlines and hotels. However if you or your spouse has a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card (or will get one in the future) you can transfer Freedom points over to one of those cards and then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio into much more valuable airline miles (United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).

Click here to activate this quarter’s Chase Freedom 5% categories.

The 5 point categories for 2015 are as follows:
Q1: Grocery stores, Movie theaters, Starbucks
Q2: Restaurants and more to be announced.
Q3: Gas stations and more to be announced.
Q4: Amazon.com and more to be announced.

So shop at your favorite grocery store from now until March 31st and you’ll earn a whopping 5 or 5.5 points per dollar spent.

Many grocery stores sell gift cards that can be cashed out as well.

Target and WalMart are excluded from bonuses.

Starbucks purchases and reloads online, in-store, and in-app all qualify.

There are 4 ways to tell if a grocery store will qualify.

1. Chase has a listed of qualifying merchants.  However it just shows national chains that will qualify like Pathmark and ShopRite.

As long as the store is categorized as grocery you’ll get the 5 points per dollar even if it’s not on that list.

2 You can lookup the merchant code on Visa’s site.

It’s a useful site and you can search for grocery stores only, but it’s far from perfect and it’s not an exhaustive list.

3. If you purchased from the store in the past you can click on any card to see your account activity, click on the “I’d like to” menu, and click on dispute a charge:

chase4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then click on all transactions and scroll down to the last time you shopped at the store.

For example Tibor’s butcher shop in Cleveland would qualify:

chase5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Boris’ butcher shop would not:

chase6

 

 

 

 

 

 

(For Clevelanders: GFS, Giant Eagle, Heinen’s, and Ungers would all qualify as well according to this method).

4. Make a small test purchase to see if you get 5x points for the transaction.  Once your purchase switches from pending status to posted status you can click on the purchase to see how many points you earned.  This same method works for other Chase cards with bonus categories.

Note that different terminals in the same store can have different classifications.  If you purchase something in a specific department or at customer service in can have a different category than at the regular cashiers.

DDF user “clear thinker” points out that his purchase from the coffee counter at Breadberry only shows 1 point per dollar, while the regular grocery purchase shows as 5 points per dollar:

 

Coffee counter purchase:

bb1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regular grocery purchase:

bb2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coffee counter register is categorized as dining and therefore didn’t get the 5 points per dollar even though both charges posted from the same exact store.

 

Chase now also shows you how much you have earned for the current quarter. 

Just click on Ultimate Rewards under your Freedom card and you’ll be redirected to a page showing how much you’ve earned this quarter:

freedom4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The maximum earnings is 7,500 points per quarter for $1,500 of spending. In “Freedom-speak” that’s $75 cash back even though the rewards come in the form of points.  Just multiply your rewards by 20 to see how much you have already spent this quarter. If you have $30 in rewards showing that mean you’ve spent $600 so far and can earn 5 points per dollar on another $900 in spending this quarter.

Don’t use the points for cash back as they’re worth significantly more when transferred into airline miles, hotel points, or Amtrak points!

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

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

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Today is the first Friday of the month and with the Chase Sapphire Preferred First Friday promotion you earn triple points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card on all dining purchases.

Normally you earn double points per dollar on airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.

Today you will earn triple points on sit-down restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, catering, bars, lounges, and more.

If you opened your card before 07/20/14 you’ll also get a 7% annual dividend that means 3.21 points per dollar. For example if you spend $100 in any restaurant you’ll get 300 points on your next statement plus 21 additional points as part of your annual dividend.

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

Need to pay a caterer? Do it today and pocket all those extra miles! It’s a great day to pay for bar mitzvah or wedding bills!

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

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

Currently you get 40,000 points for spending $4,000 on a new Sapphire Preferred card and you get another 5,000 points for adding a free additional user card and using it once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1 Day Left For Extra Savings At Staples With Visa Business Cards

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

There is just 1 day left to earn a bonus 1% cash back when using cards like Ink Plus or Ink Cash at Staples with Visa Savings Edge:

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Until 12/31/14 you can still earn the 1% cash back on $200+ purchases on Staples. That’s on top of the 5 points per dollar you earn with office supply spending on the Ink cards.

Now is a really good time to stock up on gift cards from Staples to take advantage of the bonus 1% cash back.  You can see this post for a list of the gift cards you can buy.  You can lock in savings for eBay purchases, Shell, Groupon, Gap, Nordstrom, Southwest, Starbucks, Whole Foods, etc.

Or you can lock in savings on Visa gift cards.  A $200 gift card costs $206.95 but the 1% cash back knocks down the cost to $204.88. With an Ink card you’ll earn 5 points per dollar, or 1,035 Ultimate Rewards points on each Visa card.  At a cost of $4.88 that’s like buying points at 0.47 cents each.  On the Ink Plus card you can earn 5 points on dollar on $50,000 in annual spending (250,000 potential points per card per year), on the Cash card it’s capped at $25,000 of annual spending (125,000 potential points per card per year).  Even with the $4.88 fee, that amount of points far surpasses the cost of the gift card and the rewards that any other card provides for everyday purchases.

You can use those Visa gift cards wherever you would normally use your credit card.

Why should you buy points at 0.47 cents each?
-You can use 9,000 points transferred to BA for a free round-trip short-haul flight like NYC to Montreal or Miami to the Caribbean/Mexico. That costs you $42 at .47 cents per mile
-You can use 15,000 points transferred to BA for a free round-trip medium-haul flight like NYC/Philadelphia to Miami. That costs you $70.50 at .47 cents per mile
-You can use 25,000 points transferred to BA for a free round-trip flight like from the west coast to Hawaii or from Boston to Dublin. That costs you $117.50 at .47 cents per mile
-You can use 30,000 points transferred to Southwest for about $500 worth of paid flights. That costs you $141 at .47 cents per mile
-You can use 85,000 points transferred to United for a round-trip to Israel. That costs you $400 at .47 cents per mile.

Of course you’re not limited to using those Visa gift cards for purchases, you can also cash them out…

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2 Days Left To Finish Freedom Q4 Spending

Monday, December 29th, 2014

-Chase Freedom Visa-Earn 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $500 in 3 months, plus earn 2,500 points for adding a free additional user.
There is no annual fee for Chase Freedom!
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2014 Q4 bonus category spending ends 12/31/14.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-American Eagle

-Express

-Forever 21

-Hollister

-Nordstrom

-Southwest

-Starbucks

-Whole Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Shop at department stores such as:

-Bloomingdale’s

-BonTon

-JCPenney

-Kohl’s

-Lord & Taylor

-Macys

-Neiman Marcus

-Nordstrom

-Saks Fifth Avenue

-Saks Off 5th

-Sears

-Find more valid department stores here.

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

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

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

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

2015 bonus categories:

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

Q1: Grocery stores, Movie theaters, Starbucks
Q2: Restaurants and more to be announced.
Q3: Gas stations and more to be announced.
Q4: Amazon.com and more to be announced.

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

Grocery stores and gas stations are always awesome categories as you can find Visa cards there that can be liquidated.

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$200 Visa Cards Available For Face Value At Staples.com

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Update: DEAD!

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$200 Visa Gift Card Linky

Use the following code for $5 off $50: 51520

That drops the cost of the gift card down from $206.95 to $201.95.

The code only works once per Staples account, but I had no problem ordering more via Staples guest checkout.

Additionally if your Visa business card is registered on visasavingsedge.com you’ll get 1% cash back via statement credit. That drop the cost of the $200 gift card to $199.93.

The 1% cash back offer ends 12/31/14.

Of course it’s not the 7 cent profit that makes the deal, it’s the 5 points per dollar you’ll earn for paying with a card like Ink Plus or Ink Cash.  That’s over 1,000 points per $200 Visa card purchased. Points transfer to United, British Airways, Singapore, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG, Amtrak and will transfer to Korean once again next month.

You can use these Visa gift cards to effectively earn 5 points per dollar on your purchases from any store.

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, so Visa gift cards are the best way to go.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free.
-You can cash out the Visa cards using EvolveMoney to pay bills like your mortgage, property tax, auto loan, health insurance, store charge card (Gap, Macy’s, Target, etc).  There is no fee for this but you can only make 1 payment per biller per month month.
-You can load Visa cards to your Serve card with a Family Dollar cashier for no fee (though some stores won’t do this)
-You can load Visa 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 with the Visa card at any store that accepts debit cards as payment (except the post office).  Such stores exist even in manufactured spend deserts like NYC.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can swipe the card on an Amazon card reader for a 1.75% fee.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can… ;)

HT: stingypolisher, via DDF

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Poll: Which Prepaid AMEX Card Do You Use? A Recap Of All The Different Options

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Which Prepaid AMEX Card Do You Use?

View Results

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AMEX’s array of prepaid cards make it easy to generate spend on your credit cards. However you can only have one prepaid card as they track it by your social security number.  You will have to empty out the funds and cancel your prepaid card to switch to another prepaid card product.
There is no credit check to get a prepaid card, but you do need to provide your social security number.

Here’s the rundown of the options:

Bluebird:
-Getting it: You can get a Bluebird card on Bluebird.com for free.
-Fees: There are no monthly fees.
-Online loading: You can’t load Bluebird online from a credit card. You can load $200 per day up to $1,000 per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online. There are some debit cards that still award miles for purchases.
-In-store loading: You can load Bluebird from select gift cards at WalMart ATMs or with WalMart cashiers for free. The limits are $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month per Bluebird card. In other words you can buy Visa gift cards from grocery stores or from Staples or Office Max (buy with Ink Plus or Ink Cash and earn 5 points per dollar) and then use them to add funds to Bluebird in WalMart stores. The pin is the last 4 digits of the card number. On some gift cards when loading with a cashier you’ll need to press cancel on the pin pad after swiping the card and then click to change the payment method from credit to debit.
Note that ATMs are often are broken (though you can call WalMart corporate to complain about that) and in some stores cashiers won’t load gift cards to fund Bluebird.
You can also load funds via Vanilla Reloads, but it can difficult to find stores that will sell those with a credit card and they are being discontinued effective 04/01/15.
-Cashing out: You can get a free checkbook to write checks from your Bluebird account or you can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have Bluebird send anyone a check for free.
-Other benefits: You (and up to 4 free additional users) can use Bluebird for AMEX Offers like Twitter and Small Business Saturday and you can take advantage of 2x savings catcher on WalMart purchases.

REDCard AMEX:
-Getting it: You can currently only get a REDCard AMEX at these select Target stores. You can only purchase 1 REDCard per day per social, but if you have other people’s social security numbers then you can buy a REDCard for each of them on the same day. Once you have a REDCard any Target store in the nation can activate or load funds to it.
The nearest Target selling REDCards to NYC is apparently in Aberdeen, MD. You can also use 9K Avios to fly round-trip to Baltimore, Boston, or Pittsburgh to pick some up.
The card sold in-store is only a temporary card. You must register the account online and then you will be sent a permanent card in the mail. Once you activate the permanent card you will unlock full usage of the card.
-Fees: In some markets there is a $5 purchase fee while in other markets there is no purchase fee. There are no monthly fees.
-Online loading: You can’t load REDCard online from a credit card. You can load $200 per day up to $1,000 per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online.
-In-store loading: You can fund REDCard from any credit card or gift card with any Target cashier for free. When you first purchase the REDCard you can load it with $500. Once you get your permanent card the limits are $1,000 per transaction, $2,500 per day, and $5,000 per month per REDCard.  You can load as many REDCards as you want, though you’ll probably need to call your credit card company to unfreeze your card when they freeze it due to suspicious activity.
-Cashing out:  You can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have REDCard send anyone a check for free. You can also make free withdrawals at Target ATM machines.
-Other benefits: 5% off everything you buy from Target with the card, free shipping on all Target.com orders, and an additional 30 days to return items to Target. REDCard does not qualify for AMEX Offers.

 

REDCard makes life easy:

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Serve:
-Getting it: You can get a Serve card on Serve.com for free.
-Fees: There is a $1/month fee that is waived if you add $500 to your account that month. It’s also waived for residents of NY, TX, and VT even without loading $500.
-Online loading: You can load $200 per day and up to $1,000/month to Serve online from a credit card with no fees. Note that some banks consider loads to Serve to be a cash advance. With Chase for example it will actually go into a pending state as a cash advance but it will post as a purchase that will earn miles with no fees. You need to have the cash advance limit on your card exceed the amount of funding in order for the transaction to go through. Loads from Barclays should be safe as well.  Loads from AMEX cards will not earn points, though they do count for signup thresholds.
You can also load $200 per day up to $1,000/month per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online.
-In-store loading: Identical to Bluebird.
-Cashing out: You can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have Serve send anyone a check for free.
-Other benefits: You (and up to 4 free additional users) can use Serve for AMEX Offers like Twitter and Small Business Saturday.

Serve with Softcard:
-Getting it: You must apply for Serve with Softcard in the Softcard app.
-Fees: There are no monthly fees.
-Online loading: You can load $500 per day and up to $1,500/month to Serve with Softcard online from a credit card with no fees. Note that some banks consider loads to Serve to be a cash advance. With Chase for example it will actually go into a pending state as a cash advance but it will post as a purchase that will earn miles with no fees. You need to have the cash advance limit on your card exceed the amount of funding in order for the transaction to go through. Loads from Barclays should be safe as well. Loads from AMEX cards will not earn points, though they do count for signup thresholds.
You can also load $500 per day up to $1,500/month per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online.
-In-store loading: Identical to Bluebird.
-Cashing out: You can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have Serve send anyone a check for free.
-Other benefits: You (and up to 4 free additional users) can use Serve for AMEX Offers like Twitter and Small Business Saturday. You can also take advantage of numerous Softcard promotions.

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American Express Platinum Card End Of The Year Housekeeping; Be Sure To Double Dip Or Apply Now For A Triple-Dip!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Every calendar year you can get up to $200 in airline fee refunds with The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Officially these are intended to be used for bag fees, seat upgrades, and lounge passes/memberships. However they also work for items like the $100 American Airlines gift cards, $100 United gift registry contributions, and the PGGM.

If you have a Platinum card don’t forget to make a $200 airline fee purchase in 2014 and again in 2015.

Triple dip if you apply now: If you don’t have a card yet you can actually apply now and get 3 fee refunds in your first cardmembership year.  You would be able to get credit in December 2014 as well as in January 2015 and January 2016 before you would have to pay a 2nd annual fee.  Yes, the card has a $450 annual fee, but that’s $600 in potential fee refunds to cover that.

Double dip for 2014: Many cardholders were targeted for an additional $100, $200, or ever $500 fee refund for spending on American or USAirways when cardholders lost access to those lounges on 03/22/14.

That spending must be completed by 12/31/14 as well.

If you don’t recall what your offer was or if you weren’t targeted call the number on the back of your card and ask.  I just called today on my business Platinum card that wasn’t targeted and the rep was able to add the $100 offer to my account!

Others have called about not being targeted and have even received flat-out account credits as a courtesy.

It Platinum worth it?

It definitely is for the first year with the 40K signup bonus. Especially if you apply now and can triple dip the airline fee refund before you have to decide whether to keep the card for a 2nd year.

But what benefits does the card have?

-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, San Francisco, and more to come. Miami will be the next to open.

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. Note that you can’t access United lounges with the Priority Pass membership that you get from the Platinum card.

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

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 it’s not as painful as it sounds.

As with annual fees from most banks, they are refundable if cancelled within 60 days.  It is also pro-rated if cancelled after 60 days and you have another American Express card (i.e. if you have the card for 3 months and then cancel you would get a $337.50 refund), and it is pro-rated if you downgrade the card even if you have no other American Express card.

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.

Starwood Gold Elite Status:

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

It also gets you 50% bonus points on paid stays, and room upgrades and 4pm late checkout on all stays.

Lost Item Protection:

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

Car Rental Perks:

A 4 hour late return fee-free grace period at Hertz and fee-waived Gold Plus membership 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. I’ve laid most of them out for you and you’ll just have to decide for yourself if its worth it based on your own situation :D

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Final Day For Chase Freedom Increased Signup Bonus

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Update: The limited time increased bonus on the Freedom Visa will come to an end today.  As long as you see the $200 offer (20,000 points) on the application you can still apply and get the offer. 

It will go back down to $100 (10,000 points) tomorrow.

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Originally posted on 11/17:

The Chase Freedom Visa now comes with a 20,000 point signup bonus for spending $500 within 3 months.

This is marketed as a $200 signup bonus, but is actually 20,000 points that can be used for $200 cash back, though the points are more valuable when transferred into airline/hotel/train miles.

This is double the previous signup bonus and is available for a limited time only.

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

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

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

2014 bonus categories:
Q4: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

2015 bonus categories:
Q1: Grocery stores, Movie theaters, Starbucks
Q2: Restaurants and more to be announced.
Q3: Gas stations and more to be announced.
Q4: Amazon.com and more to be announced.

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

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

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

If you use those points for a trip worth where they are worth 2 cents each and then you’ll have effectively earned 10-11% back on those “5 point categories.” The sky is the limit of the value of airline miles as they aren’t tied to the cost of a ticket.
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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (Which has no fee for the first year until 12/31 only, 50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal) ,the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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Activation Now Open For Freedom 2015 Q1 Bonus Categories; Finish Q4 Bonus Spending Now!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

-Chase Freedom Visa-Until 12/17 only you can earn 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points (double the normal bonus) when you spend $500 in 3 months plus 2,500 points for adding an additional user and making a single purchase in 3 months.
This is marketed as a $200 signup bonus, but is actually 20,000 points that can be used for $200 cash back, though the points are more valuable when transferred into airline/hotel/train miles.
There is no annual fee for Chase Freedom!
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2015 bonus categories:

You can now activate your 2015 Q1 Chase Freedom 5% categories.

Between 01/01/15 and 03/31/15 you will earn 5 points per dollar at grocery stores (excluding Target and WalMart), Movie theaters, and Starbucks.

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

Grocery stores and gas stations are always awesome categories as you can find Visa cards there that can be liquidated.

Upcoming categories include:
Q2: Restaurants and more to be announced.
Q3: Gas stations and more to be announced.
Q4: Amazon.com and more to be announced.
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2014 Q4:

Q4 bonus spending ends 12/31/14.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-American Eagle

-Express

-Forever 21

-Hollister

-Nordstrom

-Southwest

-Starbucks

-Whote Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Shop at department stores such as:

-Bloomingdale’s

-BonTon

-JCPenney

-Kohl’s

-Lord & Taylor

-Macys

-Neiman Marcus

-Nordstrom

-Saks Fifth Avenue

-Saks Off 5th

-Sears

-Find more valid department stores here.

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

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

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

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

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Buy $300 In Visa Or Mastercard Gift Cards From Office Max And $20 Back Instantly

Monday, December 15th, 2014

If you buy $300+ in Visa or Mastercard gift cards from Office Max by 12/27 you’ll get $20 back instantly. Valid in-store only.

If you buy 2 of the $200 gift cards in store you would normally pay $13.90 in card fees. In this case you’ll actually be making a $6.10 profit.  But the real reason to do this is to use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card and get 5 points per dollar spent or about 2,000 points.

Alternatively you can buy a $200 gift card and a $100 gift card or 3 of the $100 gift cards if there are no $200 gift cards to get a $20 credit.

Officially you can do this twice for $40 back in one transaction.  But many stores will allow you to make as many transactions as you want…

As you’re paying $393.90 for $400 worth of gift cards you can use these everywhere and effectively earn 5 points per dollar everywhere on top of the 1.5% cash savings.  You’ll never beat that cash back rate!

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, so Visa gift cards are the best way to go.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free.
-You can cash out the Visa cards using EvolveMoney to pay bills like your mortgage, property tax, auto loan, health insurance, store charge card (Gap, Macy’s, Target, etc).  There is no fee for this but you can only make 1 payment per biller per month month.
-You can load Visa cards to your Serve card with a Family Dollar cashier for no fee (though some stores won’t do this)
-You can load Visa 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 with the Visa card at any store that accepts debit cards as payment (except the post office).  Such stores exist even in manufactured spend deserts like NYC.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can swipe the card on an Amazon card reader for a 1.75% fee.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can… ;)

HT: MilesNpoints, via DDF and FM

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New American Express Business Platinum Benefit: Gogo Preferred Program

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

American Express is adding a new benefit for Business Platinum cardholders, free enrollment in the Gogo Preferred Program.

It hasn’t rolled out yet, but when it does in the near future, cardholders will get 10 free Gogo inflight internet uses per calendar year.

Always nice to see useful benefits like that being rolled out!

HT: freemymiles, via DDF

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

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Update: Delta has wisely decided that they will not implement a limit on points transfers from any program into Delta miles.

There’s no longer going to be a need to resort to the various workarounds described in this post :D

Now if only they would do an about-face on their decision to no longer award miles for the distance of flights flown next year…

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Originally posted on 10/01:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

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

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

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

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

This is a Delta imposed limitation.

In AMEX’s words,

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

You are able to transfer Membership Rewards points to a SkyMiles account without any annual limitations through December 31, 2014″
Workaround?  You are able to request that different American Express cards accumulate points in their own Membership Rewards account. It seems like that should function as a workaround to transferring out more points to Delta as AMEX clearly states that the 250K limit is just from a single Membership Rewards account.
You can also freely transfer points between each of your Membership Rewards accounts so that each of your Membership Rewards eligible cards can transfer 250K points to Delta annually.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cards like The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express offer the ability to earn 20% or 50% more miles everywhere in addition to up to 450% more miles in selected categories. And they can also each be assigned their own Membership Rewards account number, which should work to transfer more points out to Delta.  Note that the Everyday cards are credit cards and AMEX limits you to 4 credit cards per person.  Card like the Gold and Platinum are charge cards which don’t count towards that limit.

HT: miles, via DDF and Gary.

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

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Credit Cards With Limited Time Increased Signup Bonus Offers Ending Soon

Monday, December 8th, 2014

-Looking for more info on credit card basics? Just read the FAQs!

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

-The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is being discontinued and for a limited time is offering a 50,000 point signup bonus for spending $1. 
There is an $89 annual fee.

Key perks:
-5K mile flight discount that lowers the cost of a domestic saver award to 20K round-trip, an off-peak flight to the Caribbean to 20K, an off-peak flight to Europe or South America for 30K round-trip, or a flight to Tel Aviv for 75K round-trip. (Effective sometime in Q2 2015 this will switch to a 10% award redemption rebate when USAir miles merge with American)
-Companion pass good for 2 $99 round-trip flights within the US48/Canada with 1 $250+ round-trip flight purchase.
-Free American or USAirways lounge pass.
-Free luggage on USAirways flights (will include American at a later date)
-Free FICO monthly score watch.

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Chase:

-The Chase Freedom Visa is offering a 20,000 signup bonus for spending $500 within 3 months.  The regular bonus on this card is just 10,000 points. Additionally you can get 2,500 more points for adding a free additional cardholder.
There is no annual fee.
The 20K bonus is marketed as $200 cash back as points can be used for cash back, though you would be wiser not to as airline miles are far more valuable.

Key perks:
-5 points per dollar spend in rotating categories such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, department stores, and Amazon.com
-10% point dividend in 02/15 and 02/16 for 2014 and 2015 spend if you have a Chase checking account.
-Keeps points earned from premium cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Plus alive without an annual fee. However you or your spouse will need a premium card to transfer points into miles.

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-The Chase British Airways Visa Signature is offering a 50,000 signup bonus for spending $2,000 within 3 months.
For a limited time the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Key perks:
-Award tickets start at just 4.5K Avios to fly on short-haul American and USAirways flights, meaning the signup bonus will earn more than 11 free flights.
-1.25 Avios per dollar spent.
-Spend $30K and get a companion pass that’s valid on BA award redemptions in any class of service.

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American Express:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express is offering 15K Membership Rewards points plus 1 year of Amazon Prime (a $99 value) for spending $1,000 within 3 months.
There is a $95 annual fee.

Once you complete the spend requirement you will get the regular signup bonus and a code via email for a year of Amazon Prime If you already have Amazon Prime the code will extend your Prime membership by a year.
Amazon Prime offers free 2 day shipping, unlimited music streaming, free Prime Instant Video, early access for Amazon Lightning Deals and MyHabit.com, access to over over 500,000 free eBooks, and more. Join Amazon Mom with Prime (no extra cost) to get 20% off diapers and 15% off baby items on your registry.

Key perks:
-One of the best card that exist for everyday spending thanks to a 50% point bonus for making 30 transactions per billing period. That’s 1.5 points per dollar everywhere you shop. At a conservative 1.6 cents per point valuation that’s a minimum of 2.4% back.
-4.5 points per dollar on up to $6,000 per year at grocery stores if you make 30 transactions that month (3 points if you don’t). At a conservative 1.6 cents per point valuation that’s 7.2% back.
-3 points per dollar on gas and Uber if you make 30 transactions that month (2 points if you don’t). At a conservative 1.6 cents per point valuation that’s 4.8% back.
-Up to 99 fee-free additional cards that each qualify for AMEX promotions.
-Transfer points to all Membership Rewards airline and hotel partners.

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

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

The EveryDay Preferred card has a $95 annual fee, but that’s low considering it’s one of the only card that gives 1.5 real airline miles (not fake bank miles) per dollar everywhere. The only other card that does that is the United Club card which costs $395 per year.

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-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express is offering 10K Membership Rewards points plus 1 year of Amazon Prime (a $99 value) for spending $1,000 within 3 months.
There is no annual fee.

Key perks:
-The only no-annual fee card that can transfer points into real airline miles.
-20% point bonus for making 20 transactions per billing period. That’s 1.2 points per dollar everywhere you shop.
-2.4 points per dollar on up to $6,000 per year at grocery stores if you make 30 transactions that month (2 points if you don’t).
-3 points per dollar on Uber if you make 30 transactions that month (2 points if you don’t).
-Up to 99 fee-free additional cards that each qualify for AMEX promotions.
-Transfer points to all Membership Rewards airline and hotel partners.
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-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is offering $100 cash back plus 1 year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 within 3 months.
There is a $75 annual fee.

Key perks:
-6% cash back on up to $6,000 in grocery purchases per year.
-3% cash back on gas and department stores.
-Up to 99 fee-free additional cards that each qualify for AMEX promotions.
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-Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers $50 cash back plus 1 year of Amazon Prime for spending $1,000 within 3 months.
There is no annual fee.

Key perks:
-3% cash back on up to $6,000 in grocery purchases per year.
-2% cash back on gas and department stores.
-Up to 99 fee-free additional cards that each qualify for AMEX promotions.

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

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Valid Today And Extended For 2015: Triple Points Per Dollar With Sapphire Preferred At Restaurants And Caterers On The First Friday Of Every Month

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Today is the first Friday of the month and with the Chase Sapphire Preferred First Friday promotion you earn triple points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card on all dining purchases.

The promotion was announced in 2013, extended for 2014, and has now been extended for 2015 as well!

Normally you earn double points per dollar on airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.

Today you will earn triple points on sit-down restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, catering, bars, lounges, and more.

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

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

Need to pay a caterer? Do it today and pocket all those extra miles! It’s a great day to pay for bar mitzvah or wedding bills!

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

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

Currently you get 40,000 points for spending $4,000 on a new Sapphire Preferred card and you get another 5,000 points for adding a free additional user card and using it once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (Which has no fee for the first year for a limited time only, 50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), the Chase Freedom (which for a limited time is offering a 20K signup bonus plus 2.5K for adding an additional user, has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points through 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Ink Plus (50K signup points, 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies, 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas) and the Chase Ink Cash (which has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas).

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Summary Of Dates For Barclays USAirways Card Benefits That Are Ending And Starting

Friday, December 5th, 2014

There is currently a limited time offer for 50K miles for signing up for The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® and spending just $1.

See this post and the comments there for all of the information you need on that card offer.

The card is being discontinued shortly, though the exact date is unknown.  If you are rejected, many people have had great success getting it approved by calling reconsideration at 866-408-4064.

Aside from the big signup bonus on a card that gives the bonus as often as you’re approved for it, there are nice flights benefits as well.

Card benefits:
-5,000 mile discount on USAirways award flights will continue from now until the merger of American’s AAdvantage program and USAirways’ Dividend Miles program in Q2 2015.  With the discount you can fly round-trip within the US49/Canada for 20K miles, to Hawaii for 35K, to the Caribbean off-peak for 20K, to Europe off-peak for 30K, to Israel for 75K in coach or 115K in business, etc.

-10% award rebate will start with the merger of American’s AAdvantage program and USAirways’ Dividend Miles program in Q2 2015. You will get back 10% of the miles you redeem, up to 10K miles per year for as long as you’re a cardholder.

-Free checked bag for you and 4 travel companions. This currently applies only to USAirways flights. American flights will be added on a future date.

-Double miles for purchases on USAirways and American flights remains in effect.

-25% off in-flight food, beverage, and headset purchases on USAirways and American remains in effect.

-Priority boarding on USAirways flights (group 2) remains in effect. Priority boarding on American flights (group 1) start with the merger of American’s AAdvantage program and USAirways’ Dividend Miles program in Q2 2015.

-USAirways/AAdmirals Club pass will be sent upon card approval in 2014 and will be valid for a year.  No further club passes will be sent out.

-USAirways companion pass that allows you to bring 2 companions for $99 with the purchase of a $250+ ticket within the US48/Canada will be sent upon card approval in 2014 and will be valid for a year.  No further companion passes will be sent out.

-10K preferred qualifying miles for 2015 applies if you spend $25K in 2014. This benefit will end in 2014.

-$100 flight discount coupon for spending $30K in a year will begin in 2015.

-The ability to redeem for one-way flights, car rentals, and hotel stays will start with the merger of American’s AAdvantage program and USAirways’ Dividend Miles program in Q2 2015.

-USAirways first class checkin benefit ends 12/31/14.

-All miles from American and USAirways will automatically combine with the merger of American’s AAdvantage program and USAirways’ Dividend Miles program in Q2 2015.

-The ability to view your FICO score for free will continue for as long as you remain a Barclays cardholder.  You won’t be able to apply for the Barclays USAirways card once the card is discontinued, but you can keep it for as long as you like.  Barclays is giving very generous retention bonuses to people who have the card already, including waiving the subsequent annual fees and giving bonus miles for staying in order to retain cardholders.  A supervisor immediately offered to waive the annual fee on my 2 existing accounts.

Anything else I left out?

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Final Gasp For USAirways Credit Card: 50,000 Mile Signup Bonus For Spending $1!

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is being discontinued.  The exact date is still unknown, but with American finalizing their merger process it will disappear any day now.  People who have the card will be able to keep it, but it will close for new applicants, so now is a good time to apply for one before the card is gone forever.

Barclays is making a final push to get as many customers as they can before they have to stop offering the card and they are now offering a record-setting 50K signup bonus for the card.

If you applied for a previous offer you can call up Barclays at 866-419-0881 and ask to be matched to the new 50K offer!  You may need to ask for a supervisor to get matched.

Even if you have gotten the bonus on the card in the past you can still get the bonus again and best of all, you just need to spend $1 on it to pickup 50,000 miles.  You can earn the signup bonus as often as you are approved for the card.

There is an $89 annual fee, though that’s dwarfed by the value of 50,000 miles.

The card is issued by Barclays. They typically pull from your Transunion credit report.  Most banks pull from Experian though this does vary by state.  If you are NJ or NY based you shouldn’t have almost any credit pulls on your Transunion report if you don’t have Barclays cards.  If you are denied you can call reconsideration at 866-408-4064.

USAirways miles will combine with your AAdvantage miles next year.

Cardholders get free baggage on USAirways, a companion pass good for $99 round-trip tickets for up to 2 companions, priority boarding/checking, 25% off in-flight purchases, and a free club pass.

Cardholders also get a 5K discount when redeeming for USAirways flights, though that benefit is slated to be discontinued and be replaced with a 10% rebate on flight redemptions sometime next year.

USAirways has a very generous award chart:

-A flight within the US49 and Canada on USAirways flights is just 20K miles round-trip for cardholders thanks to the 5K mile discount.

-A flight to Hawaii is just 35K miles round-trip for cardholders thanks to the 5K mile discount.

-Off-peak coach awards to the Caribbean for cardholders are just 20,000 miles round-trip and to Europe are just 30,000 miles round-trip if you fly on USAirways. Off peak First Class/Envoy awards to the Caribbean are just 45,000 miles round-trip if you fly on USAirways.

-Round-trip coach to Israel is 80K, business to Israel is 120K, and first class to Israel is 180K. With the card USAirways flights to Israel are 75K in coach and 115K in business. USAirways flies nonstop to Israel from Philadelphia (and you can tag on a flight from anywhere in the US for the same rate).  Plus odds are that American will start nonstop service from JFK and/or Miami to Tel Aviv in the near future.

-A first class ticket on Cathay Pacific to Asia with no fuel surcharges normally costs $28,000. It can also be had for just 120K USAirways miles.

Plus with USAirways miles you’ll also get a free stopover. People have booked tickets to Hong Kong with a stopover in Tel Aviv in first class for 120K miles.

Or you can try booking a 40K award to Israel and South Africa like this (and other) DD readers have done.  Or fly in first class to South America for 60K like DDF member jaywhy…

A business class ticket to Australia or New Zealand is 110,000 USAirways miles and a first class ticket is 140,000 USAirways miles. Plus you can stopover pretty much anywhere in the world on the way there for as long as you want.

Links for your reference:
USAirways Award Chart
USAirways OneWorld Award Chart
USAirways Other Partner Award Chart
USAirways Award Fees
USAirways OneWorld and Non-Alliance Partners

Of course those rates will change in the 2nd quarter of next year when American merger their mileage program with USAirways.

A nice added benefit is that Barclaycard holders can view their FICO 08 score for free via this link:

fico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite hundreds and hundreds of credit cards, a top-tier FICO score. You can too, just follow the FAQs!

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Final Call For The USAirways Credit Card; Check Your Email For Targeted Promotions

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

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

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The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is being discontinued.  The exact date is still unknown, but with American finalizing their merger process it will disappear any day now.  People who have the card will be able to keep it, but it will close for new applicants, so now is a good time to apply for one before the card is gone forever.

Even if you have gotten the bonus on that card in the past you can still get the bonus again and best of all, you just need to spend $1 on it to pickup 40,000 miles.  You can earn the 40K signup bonus as often as you are approved for the card.

The card is issued by Barclays. They typically pull from your Transunion credit report.  Most banks pull from Experian though this does vary by state.  If you are NJ or NY based you shouldn’t have almost any credit pulls on your Transunion report if you don’t have Barclays cards.  If you are denied you can call reconsideration at 866-408-4064.

USAirways miles will combine with your AAdvantage miles next year.

If you have the card it’s also worth checking your email for targeted promotions.  I searched my email for “usairways” and found an offer I was sent on 10/29 for 15K bonus miles for spending $500 on my existing card in November, December, and January, which is a pretty sweet offer so I just put a $500 charge on my card.

I have 2 USAirways cards right now, so luckily the email also said which card was targeted for that offer :D

Also worth noting that Barclaycard holders can view their FICO 08 score for free via this link:

fico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite hundreds and hundreds of credit cards, a top-tier FICO score. You can too, just follow the FAQs!

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Small Business Saturday FAQs: Your Questions Answered

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

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

Happy shopping!

Originally posted on 11/17:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample Consumer cards include:

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

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

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Chase United Mall Lounges Are Back

Monday, November 24th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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

Monday, November 17th, 2014

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

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

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

The rest of 2015 has yet to be announced.

Activation for Q1 will begin 12/15/14.

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2014 Q4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-American Eagle

-Express

-Forever 21

-Hollister

-Nordstrom

-Southwest

-Starbucks

-Whote Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Shop at department stores such as:

-Bloomingdale’s

-BonTon

-JCPenney

-Kohl’s

-Lord & Taylor

-Macys

-Neiman Marcus

-Nordstrom

-Saks Fifth Avenue

-Saks Off 5th

-Sears

Find more valid department stores here.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 14th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

However, last week DDF user ah reported that,

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consumer cards include:

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

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

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

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Changes To Citicard Signup Bonuses

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

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

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Chase Ink Plus 70K Limited Time Offer Linky

Offer Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lounge Club:

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

Cash back:

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

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

Bonus points:

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

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

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

Points plus cash back:

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

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

Gift card uses:

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

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

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

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

Point Currency:

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

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

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

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

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Amazon Local Register: 1.75% Credit Card Processing

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

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

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

Amazon Local Register

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: ShlockDoc, via DDF

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

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

For a limited time only, the Chase Ink Plus card is offering an unprecedented 70,000 point signup bonus online to the public.

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

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

What can you do with that amount of points?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t find Delta availability?

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

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

None of these flights have any fuel surcharges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read my trip report on flying Korean here.

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

IMG_4175a

 

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

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

A $211 fuel surcharge applies.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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The fuel surcharge makes up $160 of the fees.

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

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

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

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

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S. Regis Bora Bora.

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

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

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

Alaska flights must be booked over the phone.

There are no fuel surcharges.

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

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

Aer Lingus flights must be booked over the phone.

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

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

You can even make it work for Pesach:

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11. Hyatt points+cash awards.

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

Park Hyatt Sydney

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

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Andaz Maui

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

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

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There are also incredible uses for lower categories.

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

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

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Rendering of Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas.

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

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

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

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

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

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

There are no fuel surcharges.

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

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

 

Or take the ice bucket challenge onboard?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are no fuel surcharges.

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

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

There are no fuel surcharges.

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


Photo credit, Something Fishy, Trip Report part 2.

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

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

There are no fuel surcharges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22. United 10K short-haul awards.

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

There are no fuel surcharges.

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Amtrak award chart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Amtrak Bedrooms here.

On to some more obscure stuff…

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

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

United allows for a free stopover.

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

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

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

tyo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach:

nrt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business:

nrt2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United never collects a fuel surcharge.

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

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

picture120 067a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach:

tlv5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business:

nrt4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

87.5K in coach:

hnl2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

hnl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

85K in coach:

lax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

lax2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

45K in coach:

mia1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

80K in lie-flat business class:

mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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ISIS Wallet To Rebrand As Softcard

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

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

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Originally posted on 09/03:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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