Bonus Spending offer on AmeX Business Open Platinum upto 35k MR points

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After logging in I stumbled upon an offer to earn additional 35K Membership Rewards (MR) points after spending a total of $10k by 10/15/18. The term requires two tier spending – first $5k gets 25K points and the second $5k for additional 10k points. I think this is a  terrific offer to rack up some membership reward points. Combine this with some amazng ongoing Amex offers like 2X MR points at Best Buy, Staples, 10% off upto $100 max at several stores like Lowe’s, Staples you could really rack a lot of points and save money.

Direct Link to offer – https://amex.co/2LMFF23

 

amex biz registration

Caution – I would avoid purchasing any Visa giftcards as Amex has been known to shut  down accounts lately.

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Reader Success Story – Free (Almost) All-inclusive trip to Cancun and Hyatt Zilara Review

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Today on the blog we are featuring readers Renish and Anjali who are just back from Cancun using miles and points. There you go Anjali and Renish –

We recently took trip to Cancun, Mexico for 4 days 3 nights from May 19th -22nd and stayed at Hyatt Zilara Cancun- All Inclusive Adults Only Resort. I want to thank Amit for helping us plan this beautiful getaway, which was mostly paid for in points except the taxes for the flight (under $90 per person) and the taxi from and to the airport ($55).

Flights:

We booked our flights with Southwest using points and companion pass. Round trip nonstop from BWI to CUN costed us 17,628 points plus tax per person. All thanks to Southwest companion pass, all we paid was taxes for second person. We have been utilizing the companion pass a lot this year. This was our second trip since we got the companion pass and already planning the third trip. The companion pass can be earned by earning 110k Southwest Points in a calendar year. The sign-up bonus of 50k to 60k on each of the Southwest cards can help you score the companion pass.

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Top Cancun Shuttle:

After a lot of research, we booked our round trip private shuttle with Top Cancun Shuttle. It was $55 for round trip from CUN to Hyatt Zilara, which was cheaper since one-way trip was $35. Options for payment were to pay online through PayPal or pay upon arrival. We chose to pay through PayPal and received the confirmation right away in our email. Once reached at the airport, they were waiting for us with board with our name.

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The shuttle was equipped with AC and easily accommodate seven people. It was very comfortable and scenic drive of 30 minutes. On our way back to Airport from resort, they were right on time to pick us up.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun- All Inclusive Adults Only Resort:

We stayed at Hyatt Zilara Cancun- All Inclusive Adults Only Resort. Staying at Hyatt Zilara was the best decision. We looked at many all-inclusive resorts, but nothing could have beat the experience. One of the main deciding factor for us was that all the rooms at Zilara had balcony with ocean view and jacuzzi in the room. So, unlike other resorts we didn’t have to pay extra for the upgrade to get the ocean view/ balcony.

We booked Junior Suite King at Hyatt Zilara Cancun through Hyatt portal for 25,000 points/night. Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt is 1:1 point transfer, so we transferred 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book three nights. We earned a lot of Ultimate Rewards points by signing up for Chase cards like Chase Business Ink Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus Business cards.

We booked Junior Suite King at Hyatt Zilara Cancun through Hyatt portal for 25,000 points/night. Chase to Hyatt is 1:1 point transfer, so we transferred 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book three nights. The rooms can be booked only over the phone.

We had requested early check in and we got email to check in online 24hrs prior. It was helpful to check in online because our room was ready even before we reached the resort.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with welcome drink and refreshing cold towel and then guided to front desk for check-in. Upon check-in, we were provided with schedule of activities and map of resort. Also, we were given opportunity to make reservation to restaurant where required. We went ahead and reserved our spot for Teppanyaki at Asiana Restaurant, which is the only restaurant that requires reservation. All the other restaurants are walk ins and first come first serve basis.

Bar & Lounge:

The drink quality at all the bars were top notch and menu were different at each bar. We utilized Tradewinds and Lobby Bar the most. Tradewind was swim-up bar, which was main bar at the infinity pool. They had so many different types drink on menu and the bartenders made amazing drinks. Lobby bar was used mostly in the evening and night to hangout after dinner. It was the best place to sit down with coffee from the Coffee House or grab few drinks. We recommend tipping the bar tenders and servers every few drinks.

Also, I would highly recommend not to miss their Foam Pool Party, which was very different experience.

24hr. Lounge:

The lounge was stocked 24hrs with snack and drinks. The alcoholic drinks were served until 2am.

Restaurants & Room Service:

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Food at all the restaurants and even room service was excellent.

Maria Marie:

Contemporary Mexican Cuisine. It was different and new twist to all the food that we tried. If you don’t have anything from this restaurant, this desert is must have. Tequila Borachito!

Asiana Restaurant:

You should reserve your spot for Teppanyaky. The experience was great, but don’t expect it to be extraordinary. Being Vegetarian, there weren’t much options but the food we were served was good.

Teppanyaki Restaurant:

We enjoyed the sit in restaurant more because there were so many options. If you are vegetarian, then I would recommend the restaurant more than teppanyaki. The food was delicious and vegetarian options were good.

Spice:

This is a buffet restaurant and they had various cuisine for all meals. The menu changed every day and for breakfast and lunch. For dinner, they also had different themes every day.

Coffee House:

Your go to place for coffees and deserts all day long.

Room Service:

Room service menu was different for breakfast, lunch/dinner, and late night. We could order the room service as soon as we checked in the room and the service was available 24hrs.

We stayed and explored resort for our whole stay. The experience was worth every penny and points that we used. If you are planning trip to Cancun and just want to relax and enjoy the view, this is the best choice you can make. The resort is even more beautiful in person, you have to be there to experience it all.

The total cost out of pocket for the entire trip was under $200 for two people that otherwise could have easily costed us couple thousand dollars. We can’t thank Amit and Credit Card 101 community enough to help us plan this getaway. Credit Card 101 rocks!!

 

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Freebie Friday – Your weekly guide for making and saving money

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It’s Friday and we are back with out weekly guide to help you save or make money. I just placed order for $400 in groceries using  SHIPT on-demand grocery delivery service and saved $200 using Amex offers which is a whooping 50% off so super excited.

  1. Sign-up  with SHIPT and get at least $20 in free groceries when you use this link. I had my wife refer me so on my first order not only I saved $20 but an additional $50 as I had Amex offers on  several credit cards for $50 off $100 order so  got groceries for 70% off!! Check all your Amex cards and see if you have been targeted for this offer. Amex offers have saved me several thousands in the last few years where we have been able to source all kind of things from discounted giftcards, free wines, savings on gas and much more. Also, for SHIPT I chose the annual billing plan where my first two weeks are free and can cancel anytime. So I did not have to pay any delivery fees as well. Act fast as this Amex offer ends in 3 days. Make sure you add the offer to the card before using it for transaction.

SHIPT

2. BOGO at IHOP – IHOP is offering offering Buy One Entree Get One Free when you text IHOP to 888111 for a mobile coupon valid at participating locations. Coupon expires after 7 days. Not valid w/ any other offers. Limit one coupon per table. Don’t forget to purchase discounted IHOP giftcards from websites like Raise to save even more.

3. HSBC bank upto $750 in sign-up bonus with new checking account and qualifying activities. The $350 offer seems doable. Remember with bank bonuses they will issue you a 1099-INT so you will have to pa taxes on any earnings as they are accounted as interest. Still some easy money to be made.

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Can you possibly avoid a Chase shutdown?

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Since beginning of 2018 Chase has been notorious in shutting down accounts without any warnings. The latest report is from this thread on Reddit where a user was shutdown without any warning and he only found out after his transactions on Chase Sapphire Reserve card were getting rejected.  There have been random data points all across the board as to what triggers shutdown but still no definite answer. Some shutdowns were obvious (too many cards in last six months) but others have no  backbone whatsoever.

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One of the admins of Credit Card 101 had Chase shutdown all his accounts. He barely does any manufactured spending , applies for may be one or may be two cards in a year and has a stellar credit history with a credit score in 800’s. The Chase shutdown not only impacted his relationship with Chase but he was asked to submit financial documents from other bank as a result of nasty remark Chase left  on his credit report after closing his accounts – ” Account closed due to unsatisfactory relationship” whch obviously was not true . He eventually went through a long tedious process with Chase to reinstate all his accounts after a secondary review.

I have three business  and six personal credit cards open with Chase. These cards have allowed us to take some really fancy vacations around the world and I would be shattered if I had to ever face a Chase shutdown . Here are some steps I plan and suggest what others may consider although no guarantee this could help but are more of commonsense steps than anything else.

  1. If you are just starting off GO SLOW. This is a marathon not a sprint. I would limit myself to applying no more than three cards with Chase in the first year. In the past it was a different story. I personally applied for five to six Chase cards in a year but this was back in 2013 when things were “very” different.
  2. Try to keep total inquiries  on all three credit reports below six in the last six months. Chase (and other banks) often conduct a soft pull on your credit report every few months. If they notice a large number of inquires on your report it raises  red flags.
  3. Try consolidating your credit limits especially on Personal credit cards. Chase is extremely generous when it comes to extending credit card limit. I plan to cancel my Disney Credit card  that I barely use and reduce my credit limit by almost 30% across all Chase accounts from where it is today. Make sure to never cancel your oldest credit card it has the greatest impact on your score (length of credit /average age of credit).
  4. Do not apply for the same card second time you’ve previously received a sign-up bonus with Chase. I have personally applied for the British Airways Card twice in the last four years each time they offered 100K sign up bonus. Chase requires you to wait two years from the time bonus was earned on similar product. My last card with Chase was the Marriott Business card. I was planning to get one of the newly launched Avios card for 100K sign up but not going to apply for any more Chase cards till the dust settles.
  5. Keep manufactured spending to a minimum. Lately Office Depot/Max and Staples offered extremely lucrative deals on purchase of visa giftcards. If you have a 5X Ultimate Rewards earning card like the old Ink plus Business or Ink Business cash avoid maximizing the 5X category in a short period of time (under six month). I’d spread  transactions across other cards and banks to take advantage of these offers.
  6. Don’t call Chase to negotiate annual fees. I am quite proactive when it comes to negotiating annual credit card fees to see if banks have any retention offers especially with Citibank and American Express. I have not called Chase asking for any retention offers for the last two years. This possibly stands true today because last thing you want is a pair of eyes looking at all your accounts and spending habits triggered by your desire to waive $95 annual fees. Plus its OK for Chase to make some money from me as well especially for someone who never carries any balance. Today I pay annual fees on Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450), IHG ($89), Marriott Personal and Business ($95, $99). Each card offers some terrific benefits  that easily outweighs the annual fees.
  7. Do not add more than one authorized user on your card at any given time and only add people who you could trust. A recent shutdown from Chase was triggered when someone added both their in-laws at the same time (go figure). If you are adding an authorized user do not provide their SSN to Chase as it is not needed.
  8. Keep your credit utilization on personal cards under 20% and most preferably under 10%. This is a good article to read on bust out fraud basically a white paper from Experian that draws a nice correlation between a lot of factors. Banks lost millions if not billions when people where declaring bankruptcy left right center in late 2000’s after racking up tremendous credit card debt. If they see your utilization is going up from what your normal spending pattern is they may consider you as a high risk customer and shut you down.
  9. Keep credit card applications with other banks to a minimum as well. For someone starting of I’d recommend to not get more than six personal credit cards in any given year.
  10. Develop a banking relationship with Chase and do a direct deposit with them if it makes sense. Having some money in savings with Chase could  help you establish as a “good” customer.

Again these are just a few precautionary steps that may  help to avoid a Chase shutdown and its better to be safe than sorry! Feel free to add anything else you know has or could triggered shutdown.

Freebie Friday – Weekly guide to making and saving money

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We will publish some easy money saving and making deals each Friday –

  1. SunTrust Bank $250/$500 Checking Account Bonus Promotion

SunTrust bank is offering up to $500 when you open a new qualifying personal checking account and complete the following steps –

  • Deposit at least $100 within 14 days of account opening.
  • Complete at least $2,000 in Direct Deposits* for a Signature Advantage account, or $1,000 for a Select Checking account, within 60 days of your account opening
  • Conduct at least 10 debit card purchases** within 60 days of account opening
  • Make sure to use promo code Q218CHECKINGOL
  • Bank will issue you a 1099-INT end of the year so you will be responsible to pay taxes on bonus but still easy money.

This offer is available only to U.S. Residents with a U.S. Address in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia

Here is direct link to the offer – SunTrust Bank $250/$500 Checking Account Bonus Promotion

2. Redbox offers a 1-Night Video Game Rental for Free. Valid for online reservations only. Add a game to your cart and during checkout it will deduct the price. Some exclusions may apply. Valid through 5/21/18.

3. Spotify.com is offering an Introductory Trial PromotionGet 3-Months of Spotify Premium for $0.99. If you have subscribed to the Premium or Unlimited service or have taken a 30-day free trial offer or 60-day free trial offer previously, you are ineligible for this introductory trial offer. This is a trial and after your first 3 months, you will be charged full price unless you cancel here

4. American Express via Amex Offers.com is offering select American Express Cardholders: $15 Statement Credit w/ Purchase of $30 or More on one or more transaction at Sams Club.com. Offer valid through June 14, 2018 or while promotion last.

Note, offer availability will vary by cardholder. Be sure to login to your American Express account to see if you’re eligible/qualified to activate the offer on your card. .