Still catching up on news from the past week while I was checking off bucket list items on this wild and crazy trip (Some pictures can be found on Instagram):
-30 Awesome Things You Can You Do With Ultimate Rewards Points
–Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
The Chase Ink Plus card is offering a 60K signup bonus for spending $5K within 3 months. The Chase Ink Cash card is offering a 30K signup bonus for spending $3K within 3 months.
The increased signup offers will run until May 25th.
It’s not difficult at all to get a value of 1.75 cents per point when using Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel by transferring them into airline miles or hotel points. That would make the Ink Plus signup bonus worth over $1,000 and the Ink Cash signup bonus worth over $500.
You’ll also earn up to 25,000 points for the base spending depending on whether you spend in 1, 2, or 5 point per dollar categories. So after spending $5,000 on the Ink Plus card you’ll have between 65,000-85,000 Ultimate Rewards points at your disposal.
The Ink Cash card has no annual fee but carries a 3% foreign exchange fee when used outside of the US. If you only have the Ink Cash card you can’t transfer your points into miles, but if you or a spouse have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card than all of your points will be transferable into miles.
The Ink Plus card has a $95 annual fee. There are no foreign exchange fees on the Ink Plus card.
Insurance coverage on car rentals in every country outside of the US is primary on leisure or business rentals. Within the US coverage is primary for business rentals and secondary on leisure rentals.
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.
The Ink Cash card offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, and best of all those balances won’t hurt your credit score.
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.
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.
The Ink Plus card caps those bonuses to $50K of purchases per year while the Ink Cash card caps those bonuses to $25K of purchases per year.
The Ink Plus card also offers 2 points per dollar on gas and hotels while the Ink Cash card offers 2 points per dollar on gas and dining.
Gift card uses:
Your local school or other charity will be more than happy to accept donations of Amazon gift cards for supplies or any other useful gift cards for chinese auctions, raffles, fundraisers, etc.
They will give you a tax deductible receipt for the full face value-the price you paid for the gift cards. And at the same time you’ll earn 5 points per dollar. So while doing good you can still get a nice chunk of points and you’ll save on your taxes.
Or you can use Visa gift cards for everyday spending thereby getting 5 points per dollar on everything you buy anywhere via the Visa gift cards. You can read how lucrative that can be in this post on where you should be using each of your cards.
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, though that rate can now vary. Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down.
–Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses with awards on Delta.
–Hyatt is a very powerful hotel currency. They have a cash and points option that offers some excellent values and more importantly those stays earn points, elite stay credits, promo credits, and you can use suite upgrades on cash and point stays as well. It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program.
You can also funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. I’ve never been on an Amtrak in my life, but you can get some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program.
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 cards from other banks with just 1 credit pull.