Opinion: Award Chart Disappearances

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Every so often we get news of a devaluation, merger/acquisition, or some other major event that causes major shifts in the world of loyalty programs. The most recent one was that of United eliminating their award chart as of November 15, 2019, and American signaling their impending drop of their award chart as well.

Personally, this was never a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.” When Delta made the move, I knew the others would follow suit – why? Because US legacy carriers don’t innovate, they imitate. They don’t look to their competitors and think “what can we do to stand out, to be unique?” Instead they continue to devalue and offer sub par products claiming that it is in response to customer demands for increased flexibility and the like.

In a discussion with a friend the other day, he pointed out improvements made by American with their Flagship Lounge upgrades, United with their Polaris product and lounges, and Delta with the Delta One Suite. First off, let me say, that I appreciate ANY improvement that an airline makes, but take a step back from these and remove the US airline branding and just think about the product. Polaris and Flagship lounges are good, but there are far better business class lounges offered by other airlines. United’s “upgraded” Polaris product merely brings it in-line with market offerings. The Delta One Suite is the closest to a true product innovation, but only from the standpoint of the door (but remember, it was JetBlue that was the first to offer this option). The soft product on Delta, in my opinion, doesn’t compete with what is offered globally by many other airlines.

So, What Now?

At the very least let’s take these actions from the airlines as stark reminders that the airlines control the loyalty programs which means they control or have influence over:

  • mileage/point earn rates
  • redemption rates
  • redemption availability
  • redemption rules
  • routing rules
  • transfer partners

…and the biggest thing to keep in mind: POINTS AND MILES ARE NOT INVESTMENTS! They inherently devalue, so please don’t horde them, but USE them.

That being said, if you are looking to book, now is the time to do it. I expect to see bookings increase as people look to dump their miles before the devaluations take effect. The good news here is it doesn’t appear that these devaluations will affect partner bookings, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t make that change in the future.

Other Questions/Thoughts Related to Devaluation

I hold co-branded cards from all three of the legacy US airlines, but never spend on them. Why do I hold them? Well – obviously the perks. Having free checked bags is nice, a bump in the boarding order is always a bonus and in the case of the United – the additional availability of Saver space. This is a perk that I have used many times over the years, but the problem now is that without knowing how much a “Saver” ticket costs, we don’t have a clear idea of the value. American directly devalued their cards when they lost the 10% annual mileage rebate, but this United perk could still remain with a very hazy valuation.

For any airline using a dynamic pricing model for award flights, the associated credit card sign-up bonuses also lose value and clarity. Right now, I know exactly what I can get with 50,000 MilagePlus points, thus making the decision on whether to get the card and spend the required amount a fairly easy decision.

This devaluation also impacts both Marriott and Chase. One of my favorite transfer partners of Chase has historically been United, but their reliability as a transfer partner goes way down in my book without an award chart. Does this makes Chase points worthless? Hardly, but it does add an additional wrinkle and certainly lowers the value slightly. Much like Chase, Marriott has United as a transfer partner (and even offers a 10% bonus on transferred miles). The same situation applies here where the points and the bonus are difficult to accurately compare to other potential transfer opportunities.

Profitability of Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs generate a large amount of revenue for the airlines and is one of the most profitable areas for them, so it should come as no surprise that they work to reconfigure programs to make them more confusing, opaque, and profitable. In a fun exercise, I went through the 2018 10Ks of American, Delta, and United to look at the revenue from their loyalty programs as well as their PRASM (Passenger Revenue per Available Seat Mile) and CASM (Cost per Available Seat Mile). PRASM and CASM give a glimpse into the profitability of flying passengers around the world.

As you can see there is a hefty amount of revenue from the loyalty programs and I would expect Delta’s to increase in the coming years with the newly renewed deal with American Express. The more interesting figures in this table are PRASM and CASM. None of the legacy airlines are actually profitably transporting passengers. Any profitability that they are recording is coming from freight, loyalty programs, or other minor items. Does this mean that the airlines fail at their supposed core competency – transporting passengers? The short answer is that I don’t know. What I do know is that the airlines are heavily reliant upon their loyalty programs and co-brand relationships and going forward we should never be surprised when the airline use various levers to manipulate those programs to become more profitable and less passenger friendly.

The reason that this blog and our community exists is to help individuals navigate the confusing world of points/miles and efficiently and effectively earn and burn their accrued points. If you take away nothing else from this article, leave with this: Points aren’t collectors items and don’t appreciate in value. Earn your points, use your points, and most importantly enjoy your points. You have earned it!

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Award Travel Las Vegas – The Travel Hacker’s Guide to a Weekend in Vegas

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Inside: Follow along as I walk you through award travel in Las Vegas. Learn the secrets to experiencing unforgettable (and affordable) fun in Sin City with this Travel Hacker’s Guide to a Weekend in Vegas!

Birthdays. We all have them. And they keep on coming. Every single year, like clockwork.

While the notion of growing older isn’t all that exciting after the age of 21, luckily for me, I’m married to a travel hacker.

And like many travel hackers, at MY house, we celebrate family birthdays with a fun trip! One year, my husband took me on an incredible tour of Northern Italy. One year, we hopped on a flight to San Francisco.

And this year?

My husband treated me to an unforgettable weekend in Las Vegas! He flew us from the cold winter in the heart of Ohio to the sunny desert. We stayed in a gorgeous room right on the Vegas strip and played in a popular casino. He treated me to coffee and pastries each morning, lunch and dinner in some of Vegas’s top restaurants and several shows or various entertainment each night.

His cost? Taxes and gratuities. 

For a travel hacker, the only things cooler than the trip itself are the deals you score along the way. And I thought it’d be fun to give you a glimpse into how much fun award travel in Vegas can be!

Ready to get started?

The Travel Hacker’s Guide to a Weekend in Las Vegas

award travel las vegas

Award Flights to Vegas

For domestic travel, there’s no airline I love more than Southwest! It’s true – in fact, I even wrote an open love letter to the airline.  Southwest Airlines consistently ranks as having the top airline rewards program in the USA, and it’s clear to see why. It’s incredibly easy to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which gives you buy 1 get 1 flights. (Even better, you can “buy” the first flight with Southwest points!)

Amit has an incredibly helpful guide to everything you need to know about the Southwest Companion pass, so make sure you check it out!

We were able to book direct flights because Las Vegas is a Southwest hub. When we got on board, my husband was super friendly and helpful, even assisting fellow passengers with putting their bags in the overhead bin. The flight attendant came over to thank him for his help, and he casually mentioned that it was my birthday.

Travel Hacking Tip #1: Always be nice, and let people know if you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary.

The attendant wished me a happy birthday, and later dropped off FOUR free drink tickets on my lap with a wink and a smile. Oh, how I adore Southwest!

travel hacking las vegas

Airport Experience & Hotel Transfer

We were lucky to have direct flights, but for those of you who might have a layover, airport lounges are amazing. (We also love them for preflight fun.)

They give you a quiet spot to relax and recharge and offer complimentary drinks, cocktails, snacks, and treats. Because let’s be honest, the only thing worse than airport food is having to pay outrageous sums of money to purchase it. We love Amex Platinum cards because they give you access to both Priority Pass AND Centurion lounges. Las Vegas has one of the BEST Centurion lounges.

Another perk of the Amex Platinum? Uber credits! We grabbed an Uber, our favorite way to transfer from the airport to our hotel on the strip (for FREE) using this credit.

Travel Hacking Tip #2: The Amex Platinum cards come with a fairly hefty annual fee, but make sure you follow Amit’s Facebook group (Credit Card 101) for tips on how to get an Amex Platinum product with all the benefits for NO annual fee!

The VIP Vegas Experience

Warning, this part may seem a bit complicated if you’re brand new to travel hacking, but allow me to help you step into the mind of a seasoned travel hacker. Deep breath, we got this.

Another perk of the Amex Platinum card is automatic Hilton Gold status. We’re going to need that.

Step 1: Match your newly acquired Hilton Gold status to Wyndham Rewards. (Here’s the link you’ll need.) This process takes a few days, but soon you’ll have DIAMOND status without spending a night in their hotels. Wyndham is not our favorite hotel chain, but Diamond status is awesome for what we’re going to do next.

Step 2: Match your Wyndham Rewards Diamond status to Total Rewards. They will also give you Diamond status. (Here’s the link you’ll need.) This will take a few days to process.

Wondering why I just made you do all that? Glad you asked.

Here’s why:

Total Rewards status is for highly elite gamblers who spend (and probably lose) a LOT of money in their casinos. By clicking a few buttons online, you’ve now upgraded your status in the eyes of the casino. Total Reward Diamond status members receive INCREDIBLE benefits.

Just a few of my favorites include: A 4 day stay at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, $100 dining credit to their top restaurants (like Nobu, Hell’s Kitchen, or the Bacchanal Buffet), free valet or self-parking, complimentary show tickets, and even comped resort fees. And so much more!

For our complimentary show tickets, I picked a stand up comedy show, and a Tenors of Rock show which was FANTASTIC! I would highly recommend their concert if you’re as obsessed with classic rock as I am!

Tenors of Rock Show in Las Vegas from Lakes and Lattes on Vimeo.

Travel Hacking a Hotel in Vegas

You have several options here.

Option # 1: The easiest way to a hack a hotel room in Vegas would be to book any available comped rooms through your Total Rewards Diamond status. These are easy to find if you are traveling to Las Vegas in the low season (typically August – October) and staying midweek.

If you’d like to go this route, I recommend downloading the Total Rewards app on your phone and searching through it.

Bonus: There’s no resort fees to pay since you now have Diamond Status.

Option # 2: Since we were visiting Las Vegas over the weekend in November, we didn’t have much luck with finding a comped room that worked for our schedule. So we decided to book a hotel directly through the Chase portal, using our accumulated Ultimate Rewards points.

Option # 3: Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and booking a classic MGM property (MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Aria, New York-New York, etc).

MGM Resorts has a partnership with Hyatt that allows you to book their rooms using Hyatt points. Please note: This option means that you WILL have to pay resort fees.

*If you’re wondering which option to pick between #2 and #3, I’d recommend pricing them both out to see which option works out in your favor. We found a great deal at the Vdara Las Vegas through the Chase portal.

How to Hack Free Meals and Drinks in Vegas

Part of what makes Las Vegas so incredible is the easy access to some of the country’s best dining options. The problem? Restaurants can be pretty expensive.

Luckily, I have a few hacks up my sleeve!

Hack #1: Remember that Total Rewards Diamond status you’ve now earned? It comes with an awesome dining perk. $100 towards a meal at ANY of the Caesar’s Palace affiliated resort restaurants. We’re talking restaurants like Mesa Grill, Nobu, Giada, Guy Savoy, etc. 

My husband and I were playing what we call “two player mode” (we each were able to match to Total Rewards Diamond status.) This meant we had $200 to spend at any of the affiliated hotels!

Hack #2: MyVegas. This is going to sound super silly, but it’s fantastic! Not sure if any of you can relate, but I married a gamer. What I mean by that is that my husband LOVES to play games. Computer games. Board games. Card games. Playstation. And even silly app games on his iPad. And somehow, he came across a series of apps called MyVegas. These games allow you to earn points that you can redeem for REAL comps in Vegas. Genius, right?

Some of the comps we redeemed during my birthday weekend in Vegas included:

  • $50 in bar credit at NY-NY casino. (Side note, do you know how hard it is to order $50 worth of cocktails when they are so dang cheap during happy hour? #TheStruggleIsReal)
  • Free Starbucks 
  • $80+ in restaurant vouchers which equaled breakfast and lunch for both of us.

Other popular comp redemptions include things like free hotel stays, free Cirque du Soleil tickets, concert tickets, helicopter rides, and special events just to name a few!

You can check out the MyVegas apps in your iPhone/Android app store.

I hope you enjoyed my Travel Hacker’s Guide to a Weekend in Vegas! Do you have any award travel tips to add?

The counter-intuitive approach to Chase Sapphire cards

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By now, you would be aware that the Chase 5/24 rule has been extended to each of the Chase personal credit cards, including it’s co-branded cards.
In August 2018, Chase changed the sign-up bonus eligibility criteria for its Sapphire series of cards. Traditionally, you would be eligible for a new sign-up bonus on a Sapphire card after 24-month from your last Sapphire bonus. The Conventional path was something like this –
Conventional Chase path
Now, the current language states that one can only get a sign-up bonus for the Sapphire line of cards after 48 months from receipt of the first sign-up bonus. For most people in the hobby, 4 years is a long time to hold Ultimate Rewards without using them, since any form of points and miles almost always depreciate. We are also assuming that within these 4 years, you have become seasoned at the points and miles game and understand that the Sapphire Reserve card is something you cannot not have!
So, with the new sign-up bonus rules in place, I adopted a lesser known, counter-intuitive approach –
New Chase path
While the obvious difference is the missed sign-up bonus on the second card, I see it differently here; Chase would have only allowed me to get one sign-up bonus in 4 years. How would I maximize the value at the least cost?
First, I started out with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which helped me accumulate 50,000 sign-up bonus points, same as the Sapphire Reserve, but without any annual fee in the first year. I decided to get my account seasoned, deep dive into the hobby, understand the benefits of the CSP vs. CSR, and then when the annual fee hit for the second year, I simply upgraded my credit card from the Preferred to the Reserve.
So, same sign-up bonus, avoided annual fees for the first year, and landed in a better position to redeem all the accumulated Ultimate Rewards, albeit at a higher redemption rate of 1.5x (CSP redemption is at 1.25x). You also save end up saving a very important slot in the 5/24 rule since you are not applying for a new card. This becomes even more important now that Chase has started considering most of its personal credit cards under 5/24.
So if you try to redeem your Sign-Up bonus via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal, here is how it looks with the two cards –
Redemption via Chase UR portal
By following my strategy, you will be able to save annual fees in the first year, and then hop on to a card which offers incredible premium benefits for an effective annual fee of $150 (after the $300 travel credit), or just $50 once every 4 years, if you choose to enroll for the Global Entry program and pay the fees using the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Let me provide a more realistic view – If you are like me, casually trying to accumulate points and have only been in the hobby for a year or so, or are just starting out and intending to slowly build up your Ultimate Rewards points, here is how your points would look at the end of the year  –
Existing UR summary
The Sapphire Reserve (image, above) truly shines with a little over the 200,000 UR’s in my possession. After upgrading to the Reserve yesterday, here’s my redemption calculation –
Personal UR Redemption calculation
Yes, this simple upgrade increases the value of my points to more than the Annual Fees of this card, and it also offers me Priority Pass access (one trip a year is also worth it) and many more benefits!
Not Convinced Yet?
What are the factors holding you back from getting a Sapphire Reserve?
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Here Are The Best Cash Back Credit Cards And How To Maximize Their Benefits

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No matter how much we love the rewards from Airlines and Hotel programs, “Cash is King”. There are many cards in the market that offer Cashback as a reward for your spends.

Here is a quick comparison of all the popular Cashback credit cards available.

Cashback on purchases 5% Rotating Categories? Annual Fee Redemption Options
Consumer Cards
Citi Double Cash 2% No $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer
Chase Freedom Unlimited 1.50% No $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Gift Cards
Chase Freedom 1% Yes $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Gift Cards
Discover it 1% Yes $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Gift Cards
Discover it Miles 1.50% No $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Gift Cards
American Express Blue Cash Everyday 3% cash back at US supermarkets,
2% cashback at US gas stations and select US department stores
1% cashback on all purchases.
No $0 Statement Credit
American Express Blue Cash Preferred 6% cash back at US supermarkets,
3% cashback at US gas stations and select US department stores
1% cashback on all purchases.
No $95 Statement Credit
Bank of America Cash Rewards 1% cash back on all purchases,
2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs,
3% at gas stations
No $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Check
Bank of America Premium Rewards 1.5 – 3.5% No $95 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Check
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card 1.50% No $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer
US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card 1% Yes $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer
Capital One Quick Silver card 1.5% No $0 Statement Credit, Check, Gift cards
Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card 3% First year, 2.5% after No $0 for first year and $59 after that Statement Credit, ACH Transfer
Small Business Cards
Capital One Spark Cash 2% No $0 for first year and $95 after that Statement Credit, Check, Gift cards
Capital One Spark Cash Select 1.50% No $0 Statement Credit, Check, Gift cards
Capital One Spark Classic 1% No $0 Statement Credit, Check, Gift cards
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services.
2% cashback at Gas Stations and Restautants
1% cashback on other purchases
No $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Gift Cards, Better value by redeeming for Travel
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card 1% cash back on all purchases,
2% at Restaurants and wholesale clubs,
3% at gas stations
No $0 Statement Credit, ACH Transfer, Check
American Express SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card 5% at U.S. office supply stores, 3% on a select category you choose and 1% on all other purchases No $0 Statement Credit
  • Citi Double Cash Credit card:

Citi DoubleCash

$0 Annual fee and earn 1% cashback when you buy and an additional 1%  cashback when you pay for the purchases.

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited:

Freedom Unlimited

$0 Annual fee and earns 1.5% cashback on all purchases.

  • Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom

$0 Annual fee and earn 1% cashback on all purchases. You can also earn 5% on rotating categories that change every quarter, up to a maximum of $1,500 in combines purchases.

chase 5%

5% Cashback calendar for Chase Freedom card holders

  • Discover it:

Discover it

$0 Annual fee and earns 1% cashback on all purchases. You could also earn                         5% cashback on purchases when you activate and spend at different places that change every quarter, up to a maximum of $1,500 in purchases.

Discover 5%

Discover 5% Cashback calendar for 2018

For the first year of card membership, Discover will match the Cashback.

Also, when redeeming your cashback, Discover offers the option of buying various merchant Gift cards at a discounted price.


Some of the gift cards you could buy with your Discover Cashback

  • Discover it Miles:

Discover it Miles

Even though this card is called as Miles card, it is effectively a cashback card that 1.5% on all purchases.

Similar to Discover it card, your rewards will be matched by Discover at the end of your first year membership.

  • American Express Blue cash Everyday:

Blue Cash Everyday

3% cashback at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%) and 2% cashback at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% cashback on all purchases.

$0 Annual fee

  • American Express Blue cash Preferred:

BLuecash Preferred

6% cashback at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%) and 3% cashback at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% cashback on all purchases.

$95 Annual fee

  • Bank of America Cash Rewards:

BankofAmerica Cash Rewards

1% cash back on purchases everywhere, every time, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/ wholesale club/ gas purchases each quarter.

No annual fee

Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

  • Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card:

BofA Premium Rewards

2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

$95 Annual fee

Preferred Rewards customers get an additional 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase

BofA Preferred

Three tiers of Bank of America relationship

If you could maintain a balance of over $100K+, you can enjoy 75% rewards bonus for being a Platinum Honors member. That means you could earn up to 3.5 % per $1 on travel and dining purchases and up to 2.62 % per $1 on all other purchases.

Remember this is tax season, you could pay taxes using credit card using services like Pay1040.com for a fee of 1.87%. When you compare 1.87% fee with the possibility of earning of 2.62% cashback, you could make money on your tax payments.

  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card:

Cash Wise

Unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on net purchases

$0 Annual fee

  • US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card:

US bank Cash+

5%cashback on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose.

2% cashback on one everyday category, like gas or groceries and 1% on all other net purchases.

$0 Annual fee

  •   Capital One Quicksilver card
   Capitalone Quick Silver

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

$0 Annual fee

  • Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit card:


Earn 3% cashback on all purchases during the first year of membership and 2.5% after that

$59 annual fee, waived for the first year


Small Business Credit cards

If you own a small business, you could get one of the small business credit cards that earns Cashback.


  • Capital One Spark Cash credit cards

There are three variants of this card and offers varying amounts of cashback.

Capitalone business

Three variants of Capital One Spark Cash credit cards

  • Chase Ink Business Cash Credit card

chase Ink

Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year.

Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn

No Annual fee


  • American Express SimplyCash Plus Business Credit card

Amex Business card

5% at U.S. office supply stores, 3% on a select category you choose. On purchases up to $50,000 at 5% and 3% per calendar year, then 1%

No Annual fee


How to maximize the benefits?

All the above mentioned cards offer cash back on all purchases ranging from 1-3.5% on all purchases. However, there are a few cards that offer additional cashback on purchases that falls in specific categories like Gas stations, Grocery stores etc..

For example, Discover it and Chase Freedom card offers 5% cashback on rotating categories that change every quarter. You could earn 5% cashback on  up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate.

Here are a few tips you could consider to maximize the

  1. Purchase Gift cards – Many Grocery stores sell gift cards of various merchants like Restaurants, Gas stations, Amazon, prepaid visa/Master gift cards etc. You could purchase gift cards and buy stuff from that merchant, effectively earning 5% cashback on that purchase.
  2.  Many gas stations also sell gift cards and could be a great opportunity to maximize your purchases.
  3. If you purchase regularly, you may consider stocking up the gift cards of that merchant for future use or you could buy items in bulk for future use.

Which cashback credit card do you hold and how do you maximize the benefits?

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Comparison of Amex Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards vs. Citi ThankYou Points.

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It is a known fact that Amex, Chase & Citi are big players when it comes to issuing credit cards. These banks not only have co-branded cards but also issue cards under their  proprietary rewards program. These are considered as flexible currency as they offer a lot of flexibility in terms of how we can spend these points.

Here is a comparison of all the features of the three programs – Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi ThankYou points.

  Amex Membership rewards Chase Ultimate Rewards Citi ThankYou points
Cards that will earn the reward points
  • Amex Platinum Card
  • Amex Business Platinum
  • Amex Premier Rewards Gold card
  • Amex Business Gold Rewards Card
  • Amex Everyday
  • Amex Everyday Preferred
  • Amex Blue Business Pus Credit Card
  • Amex Green Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Chase Freedom
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • Chase Ink business preferred
  • Chase Ink business cash
  • Citi ThankYou Premier
  • Citi Prestige
  • Citi ThankYou Preferred
  • AT&T Access Card From Citi
  • AT&T Access More Card from Citi ( possible with product conversions only)
Airline Transfer Partners (1:1 except as noted)
  • AeroMexico Club Premier: 1,000 MR points =  1,600 Premier points
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al: 1,000 MR points = 20 Matmid points
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • TrueBlue points (250 MR Points = 200 TrueBlue Points)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • United MileagePlus
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Flying Blue
  • JetBlue TrueBlue: 1,000 TY points = 800
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Miles
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Life Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • Eva Air
  • Flying Blue
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Jet Privilege
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotel Transfer Partners (1:1 except as noted)
  • Choice Privileges
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (1000:333)
  • Hilton  Honors (1000:1500)
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • World of Hyatt
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz Carlton Rewards
Cash Redemptions 0.6 Cents per point towards Statement Credit 1 Cent per point towards statement credit or ACH transfer 1 Cent per point towards statement credit
Redeem towards travel (Air travel, Hotel and Car Rental on the respective portal) 1 Cent per point. (Get 35% of the points back if you hold Business Platinum card and booked with qualifying airline) 1.5 Cents/Point with Sapphire Reserve or 1.25 Cents/Points with Sapphire Preferred 1.25 cents per point (with Prestige or Premier card)
Points Sharing Points Sharing not allowed Points can be shared with another household member Can be shared with anyone holding ThankYou card. Transferred points expire after 90 days of transfer


Key Things to note:

Some of the cards offer all the features when combined with a premium card. For example, Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited alone can not unlock the full potential of Chase Ultimate Rewards program, but when combined with Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve. Similarly, Citi ThankYou preferred offers full value when combined with ThankYou premier or Prestige card

It is generally not a good idea to redeem points towards Merchandise or gift cards

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club & KLM/Airfrance – Flying Blue are common transfer partners for all 3 reward programs – so you could pool points from the three rewards programs for something big.

Which rewards program is best?

The true answer is “It depends“.  Each program has its own advantage depending on your requirement and type of cards held. For example, if you have Chase Sapphire Reserve card – you get more value when redeeming towards travel rewards like flight, hotel & car rentals.

You should also consider that the card issuers have recently tightened the rules around the new card approvals, so it may be worthwhile to invest in all the 3 programs.

But, here are some of the strong aspects of each program in different scenarios:

Best program for transferring points to Hotel loyalty programs:

World of Hyatt is associated with Chase Ultimate Rewards and could offer great value when redeemed thoughtfully.  Transferring to Marriott Rewards, Ritz Carlton Rewards and IHG Rewards Club is not generally NOT recommended as it is very easy to earn these  points at less than 1 cent/point.

Best program for transferring points to Airline loyalty programs:

This is very tough one, as there are sweet spots with each airline loyalty program. But, here are our recommended Airline transfer partners for each program that could offer great value

Amex Membership Rewards: Air Canada -Aeroplan, Delta Sky Miles, British Airways Executive Club, ANA Mileage Club, Singapore Krisflyer, Asia Miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards: United MileagePlus, British Airways Executive Club, Southwest Rapid rewards, Singapore Krisflyer

Citi ThankYou points: Avianca Life Miles, Singapore Krisflyer, Etihad Guest, Asia Miles

Best Program for Travel rewards:

All three programs allowing Flight, Hotel & Car rental bookings through their respective portal. In this case, the best program would be Chase Ultimate Rewards (If you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve – 1.5 cents/points) or Amex membership Rewards  (If you hold Amex business platinum cards – 1.54 cents/point).

If you do not hold the premium cards, then Citi ThankYou Points (1.25 cents/point) and Chase Ultimate Rewards (1.25 cents/point) offer great value.

What is your favorite program and your consideration for choosing that program?

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Chase 5/24 Rule, Cards Exempted And Exceptions

UPDATE : Now every card from Chase falls under the 5/24 rule

Every bank has a set of unpublished rules when it comes to approving for credit cards. It is always important to know these rules so we could maximize the return of the hard pulls in the credit pulls.

What is Chase 5/24 rule?

Around 2 years ago, Chase  tightened rules when it comes to approving for certain credit cards in their portfolio. With this 5/24 rule, a credit card application will not be approved if the applicant had opened more than 5 new cards in the last 24 months from not just Chase but ANY bank.

Even Authorized User (AU) cards could impact your ability to get the new card as this also shows up as a new account in your credit report. However, there may be a chance that this can be pleaded and your application may be approved if you are over 5 account due to AU cards

This rule does not account for the number of hard inquires on the credit report, but the number of new accounts (across all banks) added to the credit report in the last 24 months, which means that this new rule is intended to limit the number of sign up bonuses received.

How to Check your 5/24 status?

There is an easier way to check, if you have opened more than 5 cards in the last 24 months.

Step 1: Login to Credit karma

Credit karma is free service which provides credit monitoring and credit scores from your Transunion and Equifax.  If you dont have an account yet, you could sign up in a few minutes.


Step 2:  View Score details

Once you login, you would be able to see a Dashboard showing your TransUnion and Equifax credit score details.  Click on the “View Score details” on the bottom of either score.


Step 3:  View “Credit Usage”

On this page, you will see all the factors impacting your credit score.  Click “View Details” below the credit usage section.


Step 4: Count the number of accounts in the last 24 months

Here you could see all the open credit card accounts. You could count the number of cards opening in the last 24 months.

4. Count the numbers

If you have 5 or more cards opened in the last 24 months, you could not get selected Chase cards.

One more thing you could notice is that business cards are not reported to the credit bureaus. This is true with most business cards and business cards would not impact your 5/24 status as long as it is not showing up in your credit report.

Which Business cards do not show up on credit report?

Several banks do not report business cards in your credit report unless there is an issue with your business card account.  As of the day of writing this post, only CapitalOne and Barclayard (conflicting reports) seem to report business cards to credit bureaus.

Here are a couple of flyertalk threads for more information and datapoints

A list of Business cards which earns miles and points

5/24 – Chase  & non-Chase churning strategy

If you had applied for business cards in the last 24 months, you could exclude the business cards, when you count your 5/24 status as mentioned above.

Which Chase cards are exempted from this rule?

Thankfully, there are several Chase cards that are not covered by the 5/24 rule.  This flyertalk thread has all the current updates and data points. As of today, the following Chase travel rewards cards are exempted from this 5/24 rule.

British Airways Visa Signature card

The Hyatt credit card

IHG Rewards Club Select Credit card

Ritz-Carlton rewards credit card

Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card

If you are less than 5/24, you should focus on other chase cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred etc.. before applying for the above listed cards.

What are the potential exceptions to this rule?

Note that the below listed options are not guaranteed to by-pass this 5/24 rule, but will improve your chances significantly.

  • The most probable approach for by-passing the 5/24 rule is, if you are pre-approved for a card. This is usually informed by the  the teller during the branch visit.
  • If you are 5/24 due to Authorized user cards (AU) in the last 24 months, it may be a good idea to ask the primary card holder to cancel these AU cards issued against your name and request these bank to notify the bank to remove these cards
  • If you received a targeted mailer with an exclusive invitation code, you could potentially get away with the 5/24 limitation
  • In the past,  having Chase Private Client status used to by-pass the 5/24 rule, as the relationship manager used to work with the credit analyst and get you approved. However, recent data-points suggest that it does not work any more.


Chase has  an unpublished rule, which is famously called 5/24 rule. As per this rule, a Chase credit card will not be approved if the applicant has opened 5 or more cards with any issuer (according to the credit report) in the last 24 months.

There may be limited exceptions to this rule, if you apply for pre-approved offer in the branch or through a targeted mailer.

If you have opened less than 5 credit cards in the last 24 months, you may want to prioritize Chase cards before getting other cards.