Which Credit Cards To Use When And Where?

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A year ago I put everything I could on my Starwood American Express card.  Since then I’ve made more life more complicated by utilizing a plethora of Chase cards in addition to my Starwood card. You’re still going to just fine by sticking with a Starwood card, but it’s worth using that in conjunction with other cards in order to maximize your rewards and spread your points across more programs to have a greater shot at getting the award you want.

In the front of my wallet is Starwood, Starwood Business, Freedom, Ink Bold, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Classic.

When and where do I use each of my active cards?

Starwoood American Express Consumer Card and the Starwood American Express Business Card
Great for signup bonus, points for spending, and card benefits. 10K Starpoints for spending $1 or 25K Starpoints for spending $5K on each card. Free for 1 year, then $65.

American Express has the best benefits in the business by far. Computer or other expensive item break during the bonus warranty year? American Express will give you a full refund. Merchant doesn’t take returns? American Express will give you a full refund. Have a problem with a bad merchant or bad product? American Express will give you a full refund. The card also gets you Preferred Plus status, which gets you 4pm late checkout and other benefits at Starwood hotels.

As Starwood Starpoints are the most valuable point currency out there this is the American Express card to use. The points transfer at 20K:25K ratios with no fees (albeit not instantly like Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards) into American or British Airways in the Oneworld Alliance, Delta or Flying Blue in the Skyteam Alliance, and Air Canada or USAirways in the Star Alliance, or to LAN at a 20K:50K ratio into LAN of the Oneworld Alliance. Plus there are unaligned airlines, like Emirates, where you can book an A380 suite where you can take a shower on board while on your way to stay at Park Hyatt Maldives (but you’ll need Chase for the hotel!). All of those airlines have many partner options and provide the ability to book with no fuel surcharges.
Plus of course Starpoints are also very valuable with the hotel redemption options like unrestricted free nights, cash and point nights, 5th free nights, and the nights & flights combo award.

For right now on my Starwood card I put any purchase that I might want to return to American Express, any high-ticket item that I may want warranty coverage for, and purchases in places like Costco that only take American Express.
On my Starwood Business card I put purchases that qualify for Open Savings (Airtran: 5%. Barnes & Noble: 5%, Fedex: 5%, Flowers.com: 5%, Hyatt: 3%, HP: 5%, Microsoft: 5%, Courtyard/Fairfield/TownePlace/SpringHill/Residence Inn by Marriott:5%) as they earn Starpoints on top of cash back.
I value Starpoints at about 2.3 cents each, so the real key to each card for me is if it can beat a 2.3% rebate.

American Express Platinum Card (Membership Rewards)
Great for burnable signup bonus and card benefits, but not great for spending. 25K points for spending $1K. $450 per year.
The main point of this card is the signup bonus, and the benefits (The $200 per calendar year airline fee (and gift card) credit, the platinum lounge access, the priority club lounge membership, the regus club membership, the Starwood gold status, the free expedited global entry membership, the car rental benefits, etc, etc)

The only compelling benefit this card gives for spending is that it covers lost items for 90 days, but it sure is great for lounge access, even once you’re done with the card…

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card (Membership Rewards)
Decent for burnable signup bonus, points for spending, and card benefits. 15K points for spending $1K. Free for 1 year, then $175.
This card gives 3 Membership Rewards points (which can transfer instantly at a 1:1 to British Airways in the Oneworld Alliance, Delta or Flying Blue in the Skyteam Alliance, and Air Canada in the Star Alliance) for spending on airfare and 2 points per dollar on gas and groceries.
I value Membership Rewards points at about 1.5 cents each right now so this card is nice for the signup bonus and the bonus categories, but that’s about it. Other cards also offer bonuses in these categories, so it’s not worth keeping around after the free year.

-Chase Continental OnePass Plus Mastercard and United Mileage Plus Explorer Visa
Great for signup bonus and card benefits, but not great for spending. 30K points for spending $1. Free for 1 year, then $95.

The main point of these cards is the signup bonus (30K which can be typically be bumped to 50K) and the benefits (primary car rental insurance, annual United club passes, miles that never expire, free baggage on Continental and United, priority boarding so you have room for carry-on baggage, upgrades for elites on award tickets, in-flight discounts, last seat EasyPass availability, and there some other nice benefits like price-drop protection, roadside assistance, delayed/lost/damaged baggage insurance, Trip delay/cancellation/interruption insurance, etc.)
You can generally do better for spending with other Chase cards, but if you do spend $25K in a year then you get 10K bonus points, which basically bumps up the earnings from 1 mile per dollar to a more respectable 1.4 miles per dollar.

The Continental card will be going away very soon, grab it while you can!

-Chase Hyatt Visa
Great for signup bonus and card benefits, but not great for spending. 2 free nights at any Hyatt worldwide. $75 annual fee.
The main point of this card is the great signup bonus which gets you 2 free nights that are good at top-tier hotels around the world that can go for $1,000 per night without any blackouts or restrictions. Plus you get other benefits. Non-elites get the 2 free nights for spending $1,000 on the card and they get Platinum status with free internet, bonus points, upgrades, guaranteed avaialbility, expedited checkin, and late checkout. Platinums earn 2 free nights at any Hyatt worldwide without blackout dates for spending just $1 and earn 2 suite upgrades on paid stays of up 7 days each. Diamonds at the time of application (including those who status-matched to Diamond) earn 2 free nights in a suite at any Hyatt worldwide without blackout dates for spending $1.
You can generally do better for spending with other Chase cards, and even stays at Hyatt hotels which earn triple points may be better served by using your Starwood card for Starpoints+Open Savings.

A nice new benefit is the annual free night certificate at category 1-4 hotels, good at hotels like the Hyatt 48LEX in Manhattan.

-Chase Freedom (Ultimate Rewards)
Great for spending, especially if you have a Chase checking account. 20,000 points for spending $500. No annual fee.
5 point per dollar spent in rotating categories is great..
For 2012 these rotating categories were:
Q1: Amazon.com and Gas stations
Q2: Grocery stores and movie theaters
Q3: Gas stations and restaurants
Q4: Hotels, airlines, Best Buy, and Kohl’s

Where the card really gets sweet is when you have a Chase checking account. Once linked up you get the Chase Exclusives Bonus: 10 bonus points for every transaction (even on a transaction of just 1 cent!) AND 10% bonus points for each $1 spent! And that’s all on top of the 5 point categories!

While this card on it own can’t transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airlines and hotels which give the best values, if you (or anyone else you know) also have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold card you will be able to transfer those points to airlines and hotels. Freedom will keep all points alive though even if you close Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold.

I personally consider my Ultimate Rewards points to be worth about 1.9 cents each. When the Freedom card with Chase Exclusives faces the Starwood card head on that means that Freedom beats Starwood on purchases of $90 or less and on all purchases in the rotating categories up to $1,500. On purchases above $90 Starwood has the advantage over Freedom even with the Exclusives bonuses. You do need to keep in mind that you do lose out on the American Express protections though.

-Chase Sapphire Preferred (Ultimate Rewards)
Great for burnable signup bonus and points for spending. 50K points for spending $3K. Free for 1 year, then $95.
Sapphire’s great benefit is the 7% annual point dividend on all points earned. That even includes a 7% on top of the awesome signup bonus (making it 53,500 points) and bonus categories.

Freedom with Chase Exclusives eclipses Sapphire on regular purchases, as Freedom gets 1.1 points per dollar plus 10 points per transaction and Sapphire gives 1.07 points per dollar.

However Sapphire gives 2.14 points per dollar for dining, airfare, car rentals, hotels, and more, so Sapphire will beat Freedom on purchases of $11 or more in those categories.

Sapphire also has no foreign transaction fees, so is a great card to used outside of the US.

The card is made from metal and just looks awesome and customer service is top-notch and you’ll never have to talk to a phone tree as a human always picks up right away!

The Sapphire Preferred card also allows you to transfer points earned on the Freedom card into airlines/hotels.

-Chase Southwest Visa
Great for signup bonus and points for spending. 25K points for spending $1. $69 annual fee.
I got this when it was offering 50K points for signing up, but even 25K points is worth about $475 of Southwest flights.
Plus a 1.9% value towards Southwest flights for all spending and 3.8% on Southwest spending is a nice spending rebate. And credit card points count toward the 110K needed for a free companion pass that even works on free tickets!
Every year you get another 3,000 points worth about $57 towards Southwest flights.

-Chase British Airways
I got this card when it was offering 100K points. Not worth spending on though. $95 annual fee.

-Chase Continental Presidential Plus
Great for benefits. $395 annual fee or $100 annual fee for lifetime club members.
Earn 1,000 flexible elite miles for every $5,000 you spend. However effective in 2012 you can’t get top-tier 1K elite status if you have used any elite miles and flexible elite miles will start expiring.  These changes have pretty much killed this once great card.
Waived expedite fees on award tickets and 2 free checked bags.
A United club membership comes with this card.

-Chase Ink Bold (Ultimate Rewards)
Great for signup bonus and points for spending. 50K points for spending $5K. Free for 1 year, then $95.
The version that I have came with Chase Exclusives benefits for having a checking account. That gave 1.2 points per dollar spent. Spend $25K and get a 7,500 point bonus (1.5 points per dollar spent on average), spend $50K and get another 15K point bonus (1.65 points per dollar spent on average), spend $100K and get another 25K points bonus (1.675 points per dollar spent on average).
That meant for higher value purchases it would make sense to use this card instead of Freedom and it’s a toss-up between this card and Starwood. For high spenders this was an excellent card.

Now the card gives new applicants 5 points per dollar spent on telecom (landline and wireless phone+internet), cable, and office supplies, 2 points per dollar and gas and lodging, and 1 point per dollar elsewhere.
There is no foreign transaction fee.
With the new card the bonus categories are great, but Starwood, Freedom, and Sapphire beat it for other purchases.

The Ink Bold card also allows you to transfer points earned on the Freedom and Ink Classic cards into airlines/hotels.

All versions of this card come with 2 free airport lounge uses per year.

-Chase Ink Classic (Ultimate Rewards)
Similar system to the new Ink Bold, but you need Ink Bold or Sapphire Preferred to transfer the points earned to airlines/hotels.
5 points per dollar spent on telecom (landline and wireless phone+internet), cable, and office supplies, 2 points per dollar and gas and lodging, and 1 point per dollar elsewhere.

Ink Classic will keep all points alive though even if you close Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold.

-Discover More
Great for spending in rotating categories. $150 cash back for spending $1K. No annual fee.
5% cash back in rotating categories for up to $1,500 per quarter:
Q1: Gas and Entertainment
Q2: Restaurants and Movies
Q3: Gas, movies and theme parks.
Q4: Department stores, electronics stores and toy stores.

-Gap Card:
No annual fee.
Great for building credit and use at Gap Inc Stores.
One of my first credit cards and an easy one to get to build your credit. Gives about 5% back in rewards for use at Gap Inc stores and many coupons requires a Gap card.

-Banana Lifetime Luxe Card:
No annual fee.
Great for building credit and use at Gap Inc Stores.
The Luxe program used to be for life. If you got it back then you are luxe for life, but otherwise you need to requalify yearly with $800 in spending. It gets free shipping on all Gap Inc orders from stores and online with no minimum purchase and gets you free alterations at Banana.

-USBank Cards:
No annual fee.
My Northwest cards were converted into these cards which I downgraded to fee-free cards that I keep open so I don’t hurt my credit utilization. With Chase and American Express it’s easy enough to move credit around as there are other cards that are worth opening, but these just gather dust.

-Schwab/Bofa Cards:
No annual fee.
More dust-gathering cards since the 2% program was eliminated.
Good for free museum access the first weekend of each month.

-Key/Chase Continental Debit Cards
RIP, was great while they lasted, especially for money orders.

-Bank Direct Debit Card
Earn 1.2 AA miles for each $1 in the account and unlike with cash you pay no interest on miles earned, but a $12 monthly fee kicks in for 2012.

-Diners Club
Citi has finally closed the sale of Diners to BMO and AA was lost as a partner. Not much value left here, especially since Continental/United added primary car rental insurance to their cards.

-Capital One
Can’t stand these guys as they hit your credit 3 times as opposed to just once like every other bank does to get a credit card. But it was hard to turn down $2K to open up 2 cards.
Now the cards just gather dust.


Other decent cards I don’t have right now?

-Delta Gold American Express Consumer Card and the Delta Gold American Express Business Card.  No fee first year, 30K points for spending $500, priority boarding, and free checked bags on Delta.

-Costco American Express, no annual fee, 3% cash back on gas and dining and 2% cash back on travel.

-American Express Blue Cash. 3% cash back on the free card or 6% cash back on the paid card at supermarkets.  Great if you have a supermarket that sells lots of gift cards to other stores, and even better if they also run promotions to buy the gift cards from them!

-American Express Simply Cash Business Card No annual fee, 5% cash back on wireless and office supplies. 3% cash back on gas. AMEX Open Savings.

-Chase Slate, No annual fee. Zero balance transfer fees for 60 days and 0% APR for 15 months!

-Chase Marriott Premier, 50K bonus points and a free cat. 1-4 night certificate for spending $1,000. Annual free cat. 1-5 night certificate. 15 night elite credit. No Foreign exchange fee. No fee first year.

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101 Comments On "Which Credit Cards To Use When And Where?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


1)When you flout the amazing protections of the Starwoods Amex, I assume the Amex PRG offers the same exact protections, correct? If Correct, then i guess spending on gas or groceries would be better done on the Amex PRG, correct?

2)Please help me understand, what is the significance of $90? Why is that the magic number that the Freedom is adios and the Starwoods is in?

3)Same as above as in why $11 to the Sapphire? Whats the significance in $11?

4)Those benefits you mentioned for the Continental/United (namely “price-drop protection, roadside assistance, delayed/lost/damaged baggage insurance, Trip delay/cancellation/interruption insurance”), are they benefits that are NOT included with Amex benefits which you say are the best?

5)Do you have more then 1 Discover (cash-back) card?
If i got one without getting a signup bonus, will they allow me to sign up for more of the same exact card?

Thanks again Dan for all your useful info, saving us all that Yiddishe Gelt one dollar at a time!


LOL! Love that picture! Made my day


the mobile site maks problems when i click “next page” it comes up the same page again and again


Thanks for the post Dan!

For the Chase Freedom: My account and the ADS for this card say it is %5 back on spending in the bonus categories, not 5 point per dollar.

Can you confirm?


With many of these cards issued by Chase, how do you get them to approve you for all these credit limits on multiple cards.


Not sure if it’s just me, but none of the posts at the top by “Related posts:” are working…

Shmuel Boruch

Thanks a MILLION!


Dan, the chase freedom gives you 10 bonus points for every transaction on your checking account, does that mean if I transfer $1 at a time from paypal I’ll get 10 pts. every time?


Do you like to use the Bank of America cash rewards for gas? they give 3% on gas and a 10% bonus if you redeem the money into a Bofa checking account.
What do you think? Is there a reason to not use this card?


Dan, did you consider sending this in to Guinness World Records?

Ya never know…


Hello Dan,

I want to start doing it but I don’t understand one thing. When you open one card how long to yo wait to open up another one? Do you cancel that one first before opening the new one? Please provide some details how to do it.


the links on top dont work


Wow! What an awesome roundup. thank you.


What about the capital one cards which give double points?


dan your the man!


Wow what a collection! Just out of curiosity how many cards do you have ACTIVE at the moment?


Hi Dan,
Thanks for a great site!! I have the amex platinum and I want to make sure I understand- if I weed to buy a product with it and then see that i am unhappy with it and the company policy is not to accept returns, they would refund the full amount to me? What happens with the actual product? Also is there a limit to how many products they cover?
MAny thanks!!


I think you’ve illustrated well that there’s a point at which one can get carried away with this stuff. Sure you can spend all your time constantly over-analyzing a flow-chart of a myriad of cards that would be most valuable every time you pay for something but there’s a point of diminishing returns here. Nickle-and-diming every financial transaction just isn’t worth it after a point. Just pick a couple cards and move on, and use all the extra time you save doing something actually fun. Life’s too short.


Dan, you Rock! Couple Q’s:

1. I live in Israel. Is there a card you recommend? If its the Saphire Preferred for the no transaction fee, i have it already thanks to you.

2. i called Saphire preferred. they said i dont get two airport lounge free passes. i could have sworn that was part of the deal.

3. Any thoughts on who to fly to and from Israel? ideally id like to be flying at least business every time. I have 200,000 miles with Delta and about 200,000 miles with UR.

Thanks in advance!



Dan great post, like the chase ink bold business card that it does not affect ur credit, does the starwood business card also not affect ur credit?


i have a business thats doing 250,000 a year i have a starwards business cc for 5 mouths and i would like to know what outher business cc will be good for points and for credit and how many can open know for the business



Hey Dan, just curious how many credit cards are in that picture? and how many are actually active?


Thanks Dan, I think capital 1 that give you 2 cents per dollar is also very good, especially since you don’t value any other program more than 1.9 cent per mile.


1. Why would you need protections on your gas and groceries? But yes, the protections are on most AMEX cards, but return protection is only on select cards.

2. If you assume a value of 2.3 cents per Starpoint and 1.9 cents per Ultimate Reward point then $90 is the crossover point between the cards.
At $20 for example you’ll earn 32 UR points on Freedom with Exclusives (worth 60.8 cents) or 20 Starpoints (worth 46 cents).
At $200 for example you’ll earn 230 UR points on Freedom with Exclusives (worth $4.37) or 200 Starpoints (worth $4.60).
At $90 you’ll earn 109 UR points on Freedom with Exclusives (worth $2.07) or 90 Starpoints (worth $2.07), so anything lower then $90 will be better off using Freedom, anything higher will be better off using Starwood.

The differences seem small, but they really add up over the course of a year!
Thanks for not asking about when to use Freedom or the old Ink Bold with Exclusives, that’s when it really gets tough!

3. Let’s say you want to buy a $2 cup of coffee. You may think (and many prominent bloggers incorrectly advise) to use Sapphire Preferred for 2.14 UR points.
Look closer.

At $2 you’ll earn 12.2 UR points on Freedom with Exclusives (worth 23.2 cents) or 4.14 UR points on Sapphire (worth 7.87 cents).

At $20 you’ll earn 32 UR points on Freedom with Exclusives (worth 60.8 cents) or 42.8 UR points on Sapphire (worth 81.32 cents).

The crossover point is about $10 for spending on dining. Anything less than that goes on Freedom, anything greater than that goes on Sapphire.

4. Most of those benefits aren’t stanard with most AMEX card.
However it’s worth noting that AMEX benefits are much easier to deal with and receive than benefits from other banks.

5. I just have the one card, but I would assume that you should be able to signup again.


I don’t cancel cards. I open up a different card, have them approve it by moving over the credit line from the old card, then reopen the old card by the same process.
Best not to open a card that you already have open as they’re unlikely to approve it.
I have gotten the bonus on the Sapphire card multiple times like this. Don’t believe everything a rep tells you.

They give you 5 points per dollar which you can always redeem for 5% cash back, but why would you want to when you can get so much more value by transferring to airlines/hotels (or selling to a broker)?

It’s a long process, but now I have lots of credit lines to shift around to get new cards. Read the related article about credit card reconsideration.

Should work now, thanks.

@Shmuel Boruch:

I don’t understand your question, sorry. You get 10 points every time you spend anything on your card.

I get 2 points for gas on Ink card and each point is worth 1.9 cents in my book, thus am getting a rebate of 3.8%, which is higher than with BOFA.


It’s not a science, it’s all just trial and error and seeing what works best for you.

But the Cap1 points can never be worth more than 1 cent…you can’t have fun with them@

With the cards I have I always get more than 2 cents on EVERYTHING I spend, even if I use the miles poorly. If I use the miles well the sky is the limit.
I’ve redeemed miles in the past where each mile was worth 50 cents. With some cards listed here (like Freedom, Sapphire, Ink, etc) giving 2 or even 5 miles per dollar than means I made money on everything I bought in those categories!

The cards that are by themselves and are described in the post are the active ones.

There are 2 routes.
You can return items up to $300 each ($600 each if you pay extra for premium return protection) to AMEX.
If the item is defective and the store won’t take it back then you can dispute the charge and there’s no limit to how expensive of an item you can dispute. Similar to how my Bugaboo wound up being free thanks to AMEX:

Valid criticism. Most people should indeed just get a Starwood card and be done with it.

But then they need a non-AMEX and Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Ink Bold, and Ink Classic all are excellent but each with little nuances that will make you want to get the most out of all of them.
Then you’ll ask me how to do that and I can point them to this post 😉

1. You’re got a great card for use abroad, but you should also look into Ink Bold for the bonus categories it has with no foreign exchange fees.

2. That’s only with Ink Bold.

3. Delta miles for Delta travel, Continental/USAirways miles for travel on those airlines, and AA miles for El Al travel.
That’s for nonstop flights, then there’s always connecting flights, and Continental/USAirways has that covered best as they’re in the Star Alliance with dozens of airlines, although Delta can help with Air France/KLM/Alitalia.

Spending on business cards don’t affect your credit utilization, so that won’t affect your credit. And closing them won’t affect your credit as their credit lines are not reported in the first place. However if you default on them it will show up in your personal report.

You can open as many cards as you want!
Look into the Ink Bold and Ink Classic as well as AMEX Simply Cash for their bonus categories. Or just use a good consumer card for your business.

I’ve opened hundreds of cards over the years. Probably have about 30-45 cards active at any given time.

Starpoints are worth 2.3 cents (or more if you use them well) which beats Capital one.
Plus the whole point of this article is how to beat the 2.3 cents from Starpoints! On the Chase UR cards you can get up to 9.5 cents back per dollar spent.
I’m not sure how you missed all that?


How many months do I have to spend the $5000 on the ink business card in order to get 50k points? Also when do they give u the free pases to the lounge right when u sign up or only after a year? Dan I know u prob won’t answer this question but with all those cards….have u never been finnancially reviewed by anyone??????


3 months.
You can call them up right away for the free lounge membership that included 2 free visits per year.

A financial review by a company like AMEX is not a big deal. As long as you make any reported income at all you’ll be just fine.



Hate to sounds like a broken record, but here is info from my last Chase Freedom statement. As you can see, the Freedom give 5% NOT 5pts/dollar in rotating categories. What am I missing (I have Freedom + Checking + Sapphire)?

Previous Points Balance xx,xxx
Points earned on purchases x,xxx
10% Bonus Points per $1 You Spend xxx
Bonus 10 Points on Every Purchase xxx
Bonus from 5% categories: Oct – Dec 2,xxx
Current Points Total xx,xxx


Sorry you wrote 10 bonus points for every transaction


I’m not sure why you’ve x’ed out your info, but here is a picture from my Freedom card where I clearly get points for the 5% categories:

Sorry, it’s 10 bonus points for every purchase made on the card.


Amex platinum canceled my lounge access 3 months after I canceled the amex card.



Dan, no where in your screenshot does it say 5 Points per dollar in the bonus categories. It says 5%. There’s a huge difference between 5pts/dollar and 5%.


I already answered Mike.
The Starwood card is YMMV, sometimes you’ll get it, sometimes you won’t.

They cancelled your Priority Pass lounge membership.
Your card itself will work just fine at AA, Delta, and USAir lounges until the card expires in 4 years from when you got it.

You need to work on your reading comprehension.

It says on there and I received 6,000 UR points from the 5% categories that month: http://www.dansdeals.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/freedom1.png

There is no auto cash back with Freedom, they give you UR points for all spending and bonuses. You are free to cash out (if you’re crazy!) or if you have (or you know anyone else that has a) Sapphire Preferred Preferred or Ink Bold to transfer them to airlines/hotels.


So how many times have you gotten the sapphire bonus? I don’t understand how you would get this multiple times. Do you have a guide to applying for a business card? Thanks.


Did you miss the picture in the post? There are cards I’ve done dozens of times. It’s all trial and error, you learn what works from experience…and by religiously reading and searching on http://www.dansdeals.com/forums

For a business card like if you sell on ebay and want a card for that you can state you a sole-proprietor, call your business John Smith Sole Proprietorship (if your name is John Smith) and just put in your social security number in the Tax ID field as your social security number is your Tax ID number if you are a sole-proprietor.


still not fixed


@Dan: Dan. Just explain how your statement which says “Bonus 5%” = 5 points per dollar. Not trying to question you, just trying to understand a little better. I see your 6000. Are you saying that you had $1200 in spending in the bonus cats?


At the bottom of the mobile page is the option to switch to the desktop site that should work properly.

I gave $1,500 to charity in October on my Freedom card. That gave me 1,500 base points, 150 bonus points for the 10% Exclusives, 10 bonus points for the transaction Exclusives bonus, and 6,000 bonus points for the 5% category bonus, for a total of 7,660 points.
Note that the 5% line item is a bonus of 4 points per dollar as you already got 1 of the points in the base points. It maxes out at $1,500 per quarter.


Dan, you asked me ” Why would you need protections on your gas and groceries?” Its not about the protections, it’s that if the benefits are exactly the same on the Starwoods and PRG, then why not use the PRG for gas and groceries and get double points? Aren’t double prg points worth more than ONE starwoods?

Also, back to my question about the CO/UA cards, so at the end of the day, which cards would you be better off using for its benefits/protections, the aforementioned or the Starwoods?

Lastly, Freedom categories I assume was eclipse sapphire even over $11, no?


Am i wasting my time waiting for the sapphire to offer the 100k signup bonus again?


Please read the post more carefully.

“Premier Rewards Gold (PRG)…I value Membership Rewards points at about 1.5 cents each right now so this card is nice for the signup bonus and the bonus categories, but that’s about it.”

“However Sapphire gives 2.14 points per dollar for dining, airfare, car rentals, hotels, and more, so Sapphire will beat Freedom on purchases of $11 or more in those categories.”

The protections I posted for the CO card are very different than SPG. If you want warranty/return/dispute protection then go with SPG or PRG.

They never offered 100K application publicly. Grab the 50K (actually 53.5K with the 7% dividend) while you can!


Which cc would be good if i would want to go to isreal with 4 for succos 2012


@Dan: Thank you. Although I still don’t see how 5% works (to me, $100 spent in a bonus cat, would net 105 points, not 500 points), I’m done questioning it, as you (as usual) seem to know what you are talking about, and have a statement to back it up..

Thanks for your patience.


Starwood or any of the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.

If spending $100 on 1 point categories earns 100 points then spending $100 on 5 point categories earns 500 points. Or even more with Chase Exclusives.
I’m not sure how to simplify it more than that.


@Dan: I get the Math, but the website doesn’t say 5 points per bonus cat, it says 5%. That’s why I am confused.

You call them 5 point categories, but Chase calls them 5%.


6 of one, half dozen of the other, that’s the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5% back on a $100 purchase is 500 UR points, which can be cashed out for $5, which is 5% of $100 or can be transferred into 500 airline/hotel miles.



What card would you recommend for a business, that does not spend in any of the special categories like airfare, gas, groceries….. We do not bank at Chase, but we do spend about $100,000 per year on different things like Hardware, and Transportation.


@Dan: 5 Percent of $100 dollars is $5. It would stand to reason that 5% of $100 would be 5 points.



Thanks for replying to my post. You said that each chase ink card is worth 1.9 cents to you. How do you make that calculation. I apologize, I am sure you have answered this questions tons of times.

I love your site by the way, thanks for taking the time to answer comments


No, but I give up. Please send my regards to Oholei Torah.

I base that in how I redeem the Continental and Hyatt points that you can get with UR points.
I always try to get that much value out of the miles, if it’s much less than that I’d rather buy the ticket and use the miles a different time. It’s easy to do with last-minute tickets and business class tickets. Even easier on a first class or round-the-world ticket. Also easy to do at 5 star hotels like Park Hyatts, and even some mid-tier hotels like Hyat 48LEX i Manhattan, or at any hotels during a peak season (during the holidays, or a big event like the super bowl, olympics, or even a big convention in town, etc)


Thanks for the info.

Separate question. Visa signature has warranty protection and will accept returns as well, why is Amex better?


Visa/MC benefits and disputes comes with major hassles and often ends in denials.
AMEX benefits and disputes are easy to file and almost always end up in your favor.


Once again, thanks for your time.

Have you ever done a calculation at the end of the year to see what percentages you got per purchase on average? I would be very curious to know.


Dan – any trick to opening a Chase checking account in a state where there are no Chase branches (VA)? No luck opening online as I get the “we don’t offer this product in your location” error. I’m headed to MI this week and am wondering if they’ll open an out-of-state account. Any experience with this situation?


Let us know what happens!


Looking to book for sukkos 2012, tried my luck with AA points nothing available on ELAL for the dates i’m looking for(between yom kiper and sukkos 1 day only), and so on continental direct, (I have SPG, AA, UR, BA Points) going with family so we prefer non stop, so i guess my option is to pay Cash, Please advise otherwise.
Please give me your advise which CC to use between SPG and Chase Shaphire Preferred, 1: points 2: if would need to make a change for any unknown reason, which card would help me better or none.
Thanks a lot




Hey dan,
Quick question it would seem from the offers we were getting until about 3 months ago to the offers that are out there now that 2010~2011 have had very generous offers! Sometimes triple or quadruple the usual amounts (meaning the amounts those same banks were offering for the same or similar cards up to that point…..). I’m just wondering that now these offers seem to be dying down what will 2012 bring? I know this is just speculation but you are alot more experienced than I am in this field! Do u think it will go back to an average of 10k-25k mile/point ($100~$300 value) bonuses? Or do u think we will still see 50k/75k/100k bonuses?


Hey Dan! Again great post! I have 3 questions:
1) my main card that built up my credit over the past 10 yrs is an AmeX blue sky that only gives me $100 credits per 7,500 points. I have a large credit line on it. I want to apply for the starwood but want to know if moving the CL from blue sky to starwood and then closing blue sky will impact my length of credit history (15% impact from your related post)
2) what is the advantage to apply for a starwood consumer and not a starwood business? Per my understanding, business will give u the same as consumer but the 5% at select stores right?
3) do i need to actually apply for the card online or can i just apply when i ll tell them to transfer the CL over the phone?



@Dan: dan, so what happens to the card that you move the credit over from? Does it still stay open?


Dan: I signed up for the Southwest card and I noticed that the $50 giftcards jumped back to 5,000 points each. My question is was the 20% off deal that was just running a usual occurrence (and I should just wait it out until the next one) or is it very rare (and I should just redeem now)?


i just signed up for the chase freedom and when i recieved my cards it gave me a list of benefits – purchase protection, price protection, extended warranty, and lost baggage protection
however u write that the card doesn’t come with these benefits.
second q, does starwood or amex prg come with price protection and/or lost baggage protection


They’re both good cards, look on the forums for help finding award tickets.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

1. Actually AMEX always reports all of your cards as being opened the year that you first got an AMEX card, so feel free to close away an AMEX card as the new card will still have the original opening date!

2. The consumer card is just easier to get for most people. Also by having both you get more night credits towards Platinum elite status and of course it’s just another opportunity for more signup points.

3. Apply online for the best offer and you can always move the credit line around afterward.

Sometimes I close it, sometimes I just move over part of the credit line.

I’ll bet it will come around again, although maybe not until the last quarter of next year.

I didn’t say it doesn’t come with any benefits, I said that AMEX benefits are much better and easier to deal with and get covered for than with MC/Visa.


Thanks Dan!

Just one clarificarion, in a perfect world where all merchants were accepting AmeX, would you ever use any chase cards or stick with starwood for every purchases?


Dan the man! As always!
When u say to try to use 3 web browsers to apply, question is, if I should apply for the same card same bank with the 3 browsers or I should apply for 3 different types of cards but at the same bank? Just trying to understand what u always keep on saying about the 3 browsers


“Co pp lifetime club members ” wat does that mean and how do u get into that club?
Btw great article!!!


@ debee
Diff cards same bank, same bank same cards won’t work!


When I try to sign up for starwoods amex card, it only discuses the 10k bonus points, I cant find any mention about 30K after 5k purchases.


If Chase offered more bonus points for that purchase I’d use the Chase card.

3 cards, same bank.

You don’t anymore.

Use another browser, or clear cache/cookies, or browse incognito to open the link.


@Dan: I guess the 25k is only for buisness because I only see it when I click the buisness link.


No, it works on both cards. You need to follow the instructions I just gave you.


Dan I have a Citi Dividend card (i got it when i didnt know/care about rewards) and Thank You Premier for Citi (recently for 50k signup mostly) and chase freedom (with checking exclusives). (I also have a chase freedom).

I want the Citi AA card for the sign up bonus… what strategies do you have for applying, considering i already have 2 cards with Citibank? How would YOU do this.

Online? in a branch? By phone? What would you say? Should I call and ask the rep if they can take from my dividend line? I dont even want that card anymore, should i ask them to close it or would this HURT my credit (no annual fee).

I think to have hundreds of cards you must be applying in some atypical way and know the best way to do this…


Dan,what do you mean by using debit cards for money orders,you earned miles for that?

simon c

Dan I am young and just getting really hooked onto you. I only have had my own credit card for about a year and a simple bank of america card what would you say is the best way to go so i can start myself off really well with a great credit line?


hey dan,i am new at this i just want to sign up to get the bonuses so i can sell the points for some spare cash since i am not a big flyer, which cards do u recomend that i can sell the bonuses for the most $$$? tx.


want to get the signup bonus so which card would you recommend the continental or the united explorer? (also want the free luggage and priority boarding) is one better than the other and will i get it if i already have a united visa mileage card with chase?
also if i want to open a business card which one do you suggest as the best offer? wont spend a lot on it
thanks tons,


Thanks so much – I have about 500K UR points from my ink bold card transferable to airlines, and one of my cardholders has about 300K on his UR debit card, non transferable. Is there a way to make the debit card UR points transferable?
Also do you recommend keeping them in UR until I need them, or transferring them to miles now?


Just apply online for 2 or 3 different citi cards in separate browsers and hope for the best and be ready to deal with reconsideration if needed.


@simon c:
Apply for a Starwood or Sapphire card and see what happens?

Any Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards card are easily sellable.

If you have a United card now then go for Continental. Ink Bold or Starwood business are both good.

From the UR page go to manage UR>combine UR>transfer to other, and you can transfer points from the UR debit card to the UR credit card and then you can transfer out the points to airlines.


Dear Dan

i wanted to know if i have no credit and i wanted to know how i start buliding up my credit


FYI, I have a chase freedon card for couple of years, and they sent me yesterday a replacement card in the mail. They changed to mastercard world saying that its now a world card.
Althogh When I read the agreement about rental insurance it sais clearly as follows:
You may be unable to receive benefits in Australia Ireland Israel italy etc.


Dear Dan

i wanted to know if i have no credit and i wanted to know how i start buliding up my credit


Dan, I was wondering how does opening so many cards impact your credit score? Do you recommend closing some within a year (to reap the benefits of signing up) without having to incur the annual fee?


I got the Chase British Airways Visa when they had the 100k offer… should I cancel it at the end of the free first year?


Read the DansDealsForums many people have asked your question, just perform a search and you’ll see!


i am not a computer guy or very fimlar with computers were do i do a search and what do i do


can i apply to the chase sapphire card and get 50k and then apply to the chase ink and get 50k and put them both together to make it 100k?



Is it a world mastercard?

I don’t close outright, I have them transfer the credit line of an old card to approve a new one.

If you don’t need it, why not?



I have the Amex spg card… if I add my wife as an authorized user under my account, will she then be eligible for the bonus starpoints with the current promotion… or does she have to open up her own card to qualify? Thanks!


She needs to open her own card.


Can I get the Bold Ink and the Bold Classic at the same time?


Sure, just did it myself.


I just opened up a SPG card for me and my wife separately. Will i be able to connect them both to one SPG account to combine the points? (25k and 25K)
Additionally, if my goal is to get enough points to transfer them to AA for the 20% bonus to fly to Israel, what is the best strategy to accumulate points for this?


Anyone at the same address can transfer Starpoints back and forth for free.


why do u save the actual card after you cancel?
when do we get the 7% Annual Points Dividend on chase sapphire?


here are the terms:
Earning points and 7% Annual Points Dividend
You will earn 1 point for each $1 of net purchases. You will earn an additional 1 point for each $1 of eligible airfare net purchases made online through the program booking tool. You will receive a yearly bonus of 7% of all points you earned in the previous Year. (“Year” means, for your first year as a cardmember, the period beginning with your enrollment date through your December statement date of that same year. For each year thereafter, “Year” means the twelve month period beginning the day after your December statement date through your December statement date of the next year). Your bonus will appear on your January or February billing statement.


Yes MY chase Freedom is now a World Mastercard. I can send you a photo if u want.


Wife and I each bought 4 $50 American Airlines gift cards for or Amex Platinum cards. Even though we had designated American as the chosen carrier, we never received bonus credit to offset the $200 charges on the cards. You said it would work. It has not.


Did you buy each $50 gift card in separate transaction as I said you need to do?


for car rentals in usa does it make a dif between amex cards which one you use? starwoods or regular?
is that the best card for your protection?


This post is so lit