Showing posts with label Credit Cards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Credit Cards. Show all posts

June 25, 2017

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Comes Through Again

We're headed to Montreal over the summer and while we had planned to stay at the newly renovated Fairmont, it doesn't look like the hotel will be open in time for our trip.  I had speculatively booked a cash rate at the W which was running around $600 USD for both nights.

I posted a few weeks ago about the drama in securing the sign-up bonus on the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  We completed the minimum spend and the free nights posted a few days ago.

Fortunately, there was still avialability at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal and I was able to book our free nights.  Look at these cash rates!  That's nearly $1,500 USD for two nights with tax.

While I would never pay anywhere near that for a city hotel, I'm excited to check out the original Ritz-Carlton.  We are making our way through many of the great Ritz properties this year with stays in Georgetown, Kyoto, Hong Kong, and now Montreal.

The $450 annual fee for this card is steep but when you factor in the two $300 credits, 10,000 Marriott Rewards points, two free nights, and the ability to leverage the Visa Discount Air program to save on airfare, the card is a no brainer.

Save 10% on British Airways Flights

I've had the British Airways Chase credit card off and on for a few years.  The card proved to be valuable last year when I finally redeemed a Travel Together Ticket for a 2-for-1 ticket in first class to  Dubai.

Another benefit of the card is 10% discount on British Airways flights.  While not earth shattering, you only have to book one flight a year to make the $95 annual fee worth it.

I was working on flights to London for a couple family members and BA ended up being the best flight option.  I was able to use the 10% discount which ended up being better (in this case) than the AARP discount.

Booking with the discount was a breeze.  Here's the landing page to get started.  Note that the purchase must be put on the BA card.  The 10% discount was automatically added to my cart by clicking through from this page.  Good news is that you'll receive 3x Avios points for paying with the Chase BA card - a nice rebate on top of the 10% and the miles earned from the flight.

Here's a hypothetical booking showing an upcoming first class flight with the 10%

My strategy has been to acquire this card, earn the bonus, and then cancel.  It's not subject to Chase's 5/24 rule meaning you can get the card every 24 months.  With the year hold period after sign-up, that effectively means you can get the card (and the bonus) every 3 years.  I set things up such that Emily and I are 18 months off cycle so one of us should always have the card active.  You never know when you need 10% off a BA flight!

June 17, 2017

Earn 5x at Restaurants in Q3

I've written about the Chase Freedom card a number of times.  Chase Freedom is one of the best "fee free" cards on the market.  While the card is marketed as a cash back card, if you have another Ultimate Rewards earning card (such as an Ink business card or a Chase Sapphire Preferred/Reserve card) you can transfer the cash back points earned to your Ultimate Rewards earning card.  You can then use those points to transfer to a variety of travel partners (British Airways, United Airlines, Hyatt, etc..) which provide far more value then simply redeeming for cash back.

Chase Freedom provides a quarterly bonus where you can earn 5x cash back (and ultimately 5x Ultimate Rewards) on up to $1,500 in spend per quarter.  

Registration/activation is open for Q3 which offers 5x at restaurants and movie theaters.  Chase offered this bonus last year and we were able to hit the entire $1,500 on my card earning 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points.  I may or may not have purchased a large Starbucks gift card to end up exactly at $1,500 at the end of the quarter.

June 3, 2017

Why You Should Keep Great Records of CC Signup Bonuses

The previous Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card signup bonus was incredible.  While the bonus has been cut from 3 free nights to 2 free nights, I still think there's a ton of value the card.  Yes, the annual fee is high at $450.  But you're getting $300/calendar year in airline incidental cards (which I value close to cash) as well as 10,000 Marriott Rewards points and the 2 free nights.

We have an upcoming trip to Montreal and I was hoping to stay at the newly remodeled Fairmont.  Unfortunately, it's opening a few weeks after our trip so needed to look elsewhere.   I currently have a paid reservation at the W but figured free would be better.

Emily had the Ritz-Carlton card three years ago.  My records of when we signup for cards, receive bonuses, and cancel are pretty solid.  You can receive the new cardmember bonus on Chase cards every 24 months.

Since this is a non 5/24 card, I figured it would be an easy approval.  And it was.  Until a week after she received the card, Chase sent a letter saying she was ineligible for the new cardmember bonus given that she's received a previous bonus in the past 24 months.

We secure messaged Chase from her account basically stating that the records seemed to be off and provided the date (from our records) of her previous signup bonus.  They they said they would look into it.  A week later, they wrote back to say the new cardmember bonus would be applied to the card.  Now all we need to do is complete the spend, receive the free nights, and book the Ritz in Montreal!

I'll report back once the free nights are in her account.  I suspect we won't have any issues but we'll see.  Yet another reason why keeping great records of credit card signup bonuses can pay off.

February 18, 2017

SPG Amex 35,000 Point Offer is Back!

The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex is the credit card with the longest stay in my wallet.  I've had the card for nearly 12 years and don't plan on giving it up anytime soon.

The standard offer has ranged between 25,000 - 30,000 SPG points (we've seen 35,000 before a few times) for the past few years but Amex is now offering 35,000 SPG points on both the personal and business versions of the card.

In order to take advantage, you'll need to spend $3,000 in the first 90 days to earn 25,000 points.  Then another $2,000 within the first 6 months to earn another 10,000 points.  That's 40,000 SPG points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.  That is a fantastic deal as SPG points are among the most challenging to earn while being the most flexible.  

Remember, you can transfer SPG points to Marriott at a 3:1 ratio making this deal worth 120,000 Marriott points.  Or you can transfer at a 1.25:1 ratio to a number of airlines turning the 40,000 SPG points into 50,000 airline miles.

If you haven't had these cards (keep in mind Amex's once in a lifetime rule) then I would encourage you to apply now.  It's unlikely that the offer will ever be better than this and the card may actually go away should Marriott choose to focus their card issuing partnership exclusively on Chase.

To that end, if you are interested in a referral link (I'll earn 5,000 SPG points) please send me an email and I will send it over.  

February 11, 2017

Another 60,000 AA Miles from Citi

In late 2015, Emily received a targeted offer via mail from Citi.  Apply for a new American Airlines AAdvantage card and receive 60,000 AA miles after spending $3K in 90 days.

She met the spend requirements, received the 60,000 miles, and we used them to fly to Abu Dhabi.  We cancelled that card in late 2016 and unbelievably, Citi is back with the same targeted offer 60 days later.  Not one but two pieces were received in the mail this past week.

The offer is identical:

  • 60,000 AA miles after spending $3K in 90 days
  • $95 annual fee waived for the first year
  • No language around the offer only being valid if you haven't had the card for 24 months (standard Citi language)
Not only is this a great offer but Citi's loosening their grip on people churning this card.  Emily's already been approved and we'll likely meet the spend requirement in April.  I suspect that the 60,000 miles will post no problem given the extent Citi has gone (multiple direct mail pieces) to win back her business.  If so, that will be 3 bonuses from this card in <3 years.  I'll report back once the miles post.  Check your mail as this is a great offer! 

January 15, 2017

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card $50 Statement Credit

Citi's offering a $50 statement credit (targeted) for adding an authorized user and spending $3,000 on the card by 3/31/2017.  While I won't be taking advantage (too many other spending requirements to meet) this is actually a decent deal if you don't have anywhere better to put the spend.

The card earns 10x points on Hilton spend, 5x on airfare and car rentals, and 3x everywhere else.

Even if all of your spend is unbounded (unlikely) you'd be earning 9,000 Hilton HHonors points and $50.  I value the HHonors points around .6 cents/point so you're getting $104 in value from $3,000 in spend.

That's a roughly 3.5% return.

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Cuts Bonus to Two Nights

Over the last few months, I've written several posts describing the value of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  Start with my full review, then read on about the $300 annual travel credit, then read about the $100 off airfare benefit which has already saved me hundreds of dollars.

You can also read View From the Wing's thoughts on my review of the overall value of the card.

Unfortunately, Chase just cut the three night sign-up bonus down to two nights.  That's a big reduction (1/3) so like going from a 60,000 point bonus to 40,000 points.

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong where we'll be staying in May
I don't think this fundamentally changes the value prop of the card though.  The benefits (forgetting the sign-up bonus for a second) are still worth more than the $450 annual fee.  You're earning:

  • 10,000 Marriott Rewards points
  • $300 travel credit (2x for one annual fee)
  • $100 off roundtrip domestic coach airfare for 2-5 people (unlimited uses)
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck reimbursement
On top of it, the two free nights.  So if you haven't signed up already, don't panic.  This card is still on Emily's list for 2017 and we'll likely pick it up towards the end of the year so we can use our free nights somewhere in 2018.

January 8, 2017

Earn 5x on Gas and Uber

I've written about the Chase Freedom card a number of times including post about the 5x category (restaurants) last quarter.  Freedom is one of the best "fee free" cards on the market.  While the card is marketed as a cash back card, if you have another Ultimate Rewards earning card (such as an Ink business card or a Chase Sapphire Preferred/Reserve card) you can transfer the cash back points earned to your Ultimate Rewards earning card.  You can then use those points to transfer to a variety of travel partners (British Airways, United Airlines, Hyatt, etc..) which provide far more value then simply redeeming for cash back.

Chase Freedom provides a quarterly bonus where you can earn 5x cash back (and ultimately 5x Ultimate Rewards) on up to $1,500 in spend per quarter.  During Q4 the bonus categories included department stores, warehouse clubs, and drug stores.  While we didn't max out, we certainly picked up some extra UR points for holiday shopping we would have done anyway.   

Registration/activation is open for Q1 which offers 5x at gas stations and local commuter transportation.  We don't spend a ton of money on gas but should be able to get a ton of value out of these categories given our Uber/Lyft/Car2Go spend.  Not sure we'll max the $1500 on either card but this should still generate some extra UR points this quarter.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus Ending

As has been widely reported, the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 point sign-up bonus is ending this week (1/12).  The bonus will drop to 50,000 bonus points and apparently will still be available in Chase branches through March.

I've had the card in my wallet since September and plan on keeping it in perpetuity.  This is the strongest (overall) points earning card on the market and is stocked with benefits that make the $450 annual fee pretty easy to overcome for nearly all situations.

Use your Chase Ultimate Rewards for free nights at the Park Hyatt Maldives
The $300 annual travel credit effectively lowers the annual fee to $150.  If you spend $1,000 on travel and dining per month, you'll earn an extra 12,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per year over the Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x) card.  That is worth nearly $240 in my book and far more than the difference in annual the leftover ($150 for Reserve vs. $95 for Preferred) annual fee.

If you're been considering a new credit card or had your eye on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, now is the time to apply!

Churning the Barclaycard Arrival Plus MasterCard

I applied for the 50,000 point signup offer back in November.  I've completed the minimum spend requirement and received the 50,000 points in my account.  So that makes 3 signup bonuses in ~3 years.

Barclaycard offers the Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard in the US with a 50,000 point signup bonus.  This card is a great "cash replacement" for travel expenses as you'll get 2x miles on all purchases which can then be redeemed against travel purchases.  You also get 5% of the miles back in the form of a rebate on all redemptions.  The minimum redemption is a $100 purchase (used to be $25 and the rebate used to be 10%).

Effectively, this is a 2.10% cash back card on travel purchases with a $525 signup bonus.  The $89 annual fee is also waived for the first year.  Like the Alaska credit cards issued by Bank of America, Barclays will generally provide the signup bonus more than once.  Here's my experience:

  • January 2014 approved and received 40,000 mile bonus (cancelled prior to 12 months)
  • March 2015 approved and received 40,000 mile bonus (canceled prior to 12 months)
  • November 2016 approved and received 50,000 mile bonus

December 30, 2016

2016 Credit Card Year in Review

Last year, I posted a recap of credit card annual fees paid across 2015.  If you're interested, checkout my other 2016 year in review posts:
This year, I'm going to provide a recap of all cards acquired in 2016.  There are 25 so grab a cup of coffee (or a cocktail) before you sit down to read this one.

In total, we acquired 25 new cards generating 1,659,500 miles and points from sign-up bonuses.  We paid $2,448 in annual fees but received $1,200 in travel credits.  Since we spend more than $1,200 a year on travel, I value the credits as cash.  That means we paid $1,248 out of pocket.  That doesn't include another $800 in travel credits we'll receive in 2017 from annual fees paid in 2016.  If you include that, our out of pocket expense for nearly 1.7M miles and points was less than $450.  If you add the $200 in flight discounts from the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card, our out of pocket expense is down to about $250.

December 26, 2016

Tallying Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Benefits

I've written several posts about Chase's new Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  For those just catching up, you can read earlier posts:

I've reaped so much value from the card, I figured I'd add it all up.  I should note that the card carries a $450 annual fee which isn't waived for the first year.  So before you apply, know that you're in for $450.

I've had the card for a few months and had a chance to use many of the advertised benefits.  While I am still loving my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card actually offers more value (at least for me) in terms of non spending bonuses/benefits. 

Here's a recap of what I've received in exchange for my hard earned $450:
  • 3 complimentary nights at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (~$1600 value)
  • $200 in airfare discounts
  • $300 in airline incidentals (first class upgrades)
  • 10,000 Marriott Rewards points (valued at ~$100)
  • Additional $300 in airline incidentals coming next week (2017)
That is $2,500 in "value" from carrying the card for just a few months.  While this is the cash value, these aren't the prices I would personally pay.  So let's go through that exercise:
  • I wouldn't pay $500+ a night for the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown but I would pay $250/night so let's knock that down to $750.  
  • The airfare discounts are real money.  
  • While upgrading to first class is a luxury, I would pay $50/segment/person for the privilege.  So we'll knock that down from $600 to $200.
  • The Marriott Rewards point value is real
Add it all up and you're looking $1,250 in exchange for a $450 annual fee.  Not bad at all.  I plan on booking 2-3 additional roundtrips for 2+ people in 2017 - that should result in $200-$300 in additional savings against the annual fee.  This card may just be a keeper!

December 10, 2016

Ritz-Carlton Rewards $300 Annual Airline Credit

While I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I'm quickly falling for the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card as well.  If you're just joining us:

Read my complete review of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card and my review of the $100 off airfare benefit.

Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, and Amex Gold, the Ritz-Carlton card comes with a $300 annual airline credit.  By getting the card before the end of the year, you can actually receive the credit twice for one annual fee.  Once in 2016 and once in 2017.

My $450 annual fee has hit and I'm trying to get as much out of that fee as possible.  While some of the other cards offer more flexible credits, this one is a bit more restrictive.  You have to actually call/write into Chase to have a purchase credited (other credits are automatically reimbursed).  This means that purchasing gift cards is a challenge.  You can find the complete terms on Chase's website but my primary use is going to be for checked bag fees (dropping to zero airline status next year) and seat upgrades to economy plus and first class.

$100 Off Airfare With the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

Last week, I shared my review of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  One of the great benefits of the $450 annual fee card is the ability to receive $100 off airfare when you book through the Visa Infinite portal.  The ticket must be a round-trip in domestic coach and is available for 2-5 tickets.  There's no limit on the number of times you can leverage this benefit and I plan to get A LOT out of this perk.

Booking through the portal was surprisingly easy and prices matched United's website exactly.  There's even a place to enter your frequent flyer details and Global Entry/PreCheck number.  Once I completed the booking, the reservation showed up in my United account immediately.  Here's how to take advantage of this benefit:

First, go to the Visa Discount Air Benefit portal.

Login with your name and Ritz-Carlton Rewards card number.  One thing to note is that in order to receive the benefit, the ticket must be charged to the card.  Obviously a small price to pay to receive $50 off each ticket.

Second, search for flights.  This is a pretty standard airline search engine and I'm confident all of you will be able to figure it out.  Going through the process the first time, I was in disbelief that this would actually work.  It seems too easy and too good to be true.

Third, select flights and add personal information for each ticket.

 Here's the exact same flight itinerary pricing on for the same price.

Book.  It was that easy and took less than 10 minutes included price checking on United.

This is an incredible benefit and since we will likely book 5-6 domestic coach roundtrip flight in 2017 we should be able to save $500 - $600.  I wasn't expecting the card to be a keeper, but combined with the $300 airline travel credit, the $450 annual fee is easily offset.  Will have more details on my experience redeeming the $300 travel credit in another post.

December 4, 2016

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Review

Chase has had a Ritz-Carlton credit card product for years.  This year, they changed up the signup bonus from two free nights (and sometimes targeted 140,000 points) to there free nights after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

The card comes with a $450 annual fee and a $300 calendar year airline incidental credit.  So now is a great time to get the card since you can effectively get the rebate twice (in 2016 and 2017).  This will essentially offset the annual fee plus some.

November 5, 2016

American Airlines Credit Card 10% Mileage Rebate

At the end of 2015, I picked up the Citi American Airlines AAdvantage card for Emily.  The targeted offer provided 60,000 AA miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.  The card also offers a 10% mileage rebate (up to 10,000 miles) on award tickets booked with American Airlines miles.

We were able to take advantage of this in late 2015 for our trip to London and Abu Dhabi in March of this year.

Citi AAdvantage Award Ticket Rebate
We were also able to take advantage of this benefit this year for our upcoming trip to Dubai.  While we booked separate tickets with miles from each of our accounts, Emily's 115,000 mile award redemption triggered the credit and the next day she had 10,000 miles back in her account.

This turned out to be a pretty amazing card offer.  We earned 60,000 miles from the signup bonus and 20,000 miles in the form of award ticket rebates.

Going forward, the 10,000 mile rebate more than offsets the $95 annual fee (waived for the first year).

October 30, 2016

How to Get SPG Gold With Amex Platinum

I recently upgraded Emily's Amex Business Gold to Business Platinum.  The offer was too good to pass up - 50,000 mile bonus after spending $10,000 in 5 months.  That's after receiving 75,000 miles for signing up for the gold card in the first place.

I was also able to pay a pro-rated annual fee (~$120) and received the $200 travel credit at Amazon!  One of the benefits of the Amex Platinum is the ability to receive free SPG Gold.

While not life changing, SPG Gold provides the potential for an upgrade, additional points (3x vs. 2x) on stays, and a welcome amenity.  Emily has a few SPG stays coming up in the next six months so figured it would be worth getting her status upgraded.  Since I've been SPG Gold, I've never actually leveraged the SPG Gold perk from Amex.

It was actually super easy.  First, go to this Amex website.  Click on "Enroll Now."

Login and confirm your SPG Number.

That's it.  The page states that status should be updated within 72 hours.  I upgraded this morning and still haven't seen the status change but will post once it's upgraded to Gold.

September 24, 2016

Earn 5x at Department Stores with Chase Freedom

I've written about the Chase Freedom card a number of times including post about the 5x category (restaurants) last quarter.  Freedom is one of the best "fee free" cards on the market.  While the card is marketed as a cash back card, if you have another Ultimate Rewards earning card (such as an Ink business card or a Chase Sapphire Preferred card) you can transfer the cash back points earned to your Ultimate Rewards earning card.  You can then use those points to transfer to a variety of travel partners (British Airways, United Airlines, Hyatt, etc..) which provide far more value then simply redeeming for cash back.

Chase Freedom provides a quarterly bonus where you can earn 5x cash back (and ultimately 5x Ultimate Rewards) on up to $1,500 in spend per quarter.  During Q3 the bonus categories included restaurants and warehouse clubs (i.e. Costco).  While the quarter isn't over, I've already maxed my 5x bonus and Emily is getting pretty close.  

Registration/activation is open for Q4 which offers 5x at department stores, warehouse clubs, and drug stores.  While I was hoping for a 5x (or a 10x) bonus at Amazon, these categories are pretty solid for holiday shopping.  Between warehouse clubs, department stores, and gift cards from drug stores, we should easily be able to do some of our holiday shopping at 5x.  

When Do Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credits Post?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 annual travel credit is one of the most lucrative benefits the card offers.  But how fast do credits post?

First, the credit triggers automatically which is awesome.  Second, it triggers on everything from airfare to hotel spend to carshare to Uber.  And third, it seems to hit within a business day.

I've already received my $300 credit for 2016 after spend with Car2Go, Uber, and a prepaid hotel stay.  That's before my $450 annual fee hits which I'm assuming will be billed upon the closing of my first statement.

I'm looking forward to another $300 travel credit in January!!