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.

Cancun 3

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:

cancun 18

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.

lpl-tech-frustration-772x485

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. .

Plastiq.com Overview

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In the various forums, groups, blogs, and articles out there revolving around the world of points and miles, Plastiq is often mentioned as one of the tools that can allow an individual to pay a bill with a credit card.  In this post, I’m going to go over the basics of Plastiq, some considerations, and some additional tips on earning extra points through using this service.

plastiq1

What is Plastiq?

Plastiq is a company founded by two college students who in their words “believed that making a payment as important as tuition should be as simple as buying a coffee.”  The website launched in 2015 and since then millions of users have been making monthly payments covering everything from rent, utilities, mortgages, and phone bills to paying for a variety of additional services like contracting and landscaping, as well as the purchasing of goods.

This is done through simply creating an account with Plastiq and entering various credit cards and the billing information of institutions that need to be paid.  Bills can be scheduled in advance or paid immediately.  The overall process is quite simple and while Plastiq often offers promotional deals, the standard fee applied is 2.5%.  Plastiq will charge your credit card and then cut a check (or send an ACH payment) on your behalf.

Why use Plastiq?

For anyone that is hooked into the points game there is this pain felt anytime something is paid for and points are not earned.  One of the most common areas for this (and most individuals’ single largest monthly expenditure) is the home mortgage.  By being able to pay these kinds of bills with a credit card, no longer are these valuable points being left on the table.

What limitations exist?

Just because Plastiq enables the ability to pay virtually any bill doesn’t mean that it is a free-for-all without restrictions.  Currently Plastiq notes that the following payments are not allowed:

  • Payments to friends/family (note that payments for legitimate services from a business run by a friend/family member are fine)
  • Deposits into retirement accounts or other savings plans
  • Payments to be sent outside of the US or Canada
  • Credit card statements

Another item to note is that on occasion Plastiq will require verification of a legitimate recipient.  This issue came up for me when I entered the name of an individual for payment.  This individual has a construction business that is just his name and he had done work on my roof.  I received an e-mail from Plastiq asking for an invoice and I provided the invoice and resolved the issue in under 24 hours.  I have had tenants pay me via Plastiq and they provided a copy of a lease and they too had the issue resolved in under 24 hours.

Plastiq allows Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover to be used on the site, but while Mastercard and Discover can be used for any type of payment, Visa and American Express have the following restrictions:

Visa: can be used for any payee with the sole exception of mortgages

American Express: can be used on the following payee types (from Plastiq’s website) – “Government, Utilities, Education, Residential Rent and Club Fees and Memberships”

Fees and Spend Coding

The overall fee is 2.5% for credit cards and 1% for debit cards.  While I wouldn’t recommend using a debit card on Plastiq, do note that the fee is lower.  Visa, Mastercard, and Amex gift cards CAN be used to pay bills and are treated as credit cards and charged the 2.5% fee.  Occasionally Plastiq offers discounts for specific card types or bill types or for scheduling payments in advance.  Taking advantage of these promotions can add up to a decent amount of savings.

A lot of people ask how these payments code on credit cards (are there category bonus opportunities) and currently I see the payments coding on my cards as “Utilities.”  Up until earlier this month the Citi AT&T Access More was coding as 3x, but that seems to have fallen off.  At this point, it COULD be reinstated, but I’d personally bet against that.

Plastiq also offers a referral bonus program where users can refer others and earn $1,000 fee-free dollars for themselves and $500 fee-free dollars for the new user.

Maximizing Value

Folks that are newer to the points and miles game might look at a 2.5% fee and view that as a losing proposition up against a card only earning 1 or 2x on the transaction.  Like most things in this world, “it depends.”  If you are using a straight cash back card, then yes, you are absolutely losing money.  In this instance, avoid using Plastiq.

However, for cards that earn airline or transferable points, even a 1x earn rate can be lucrative if you are able to redeem those points for greater than $0.025 each.  Many premium cabin redemptions using Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, SPG, or Thank You points can easily top $0.10 per point.  Another consideration is using Plastiq to hit the spend necessary to trigger the sign-up bonus.  This is a great way to knock out an extra thousand dollars that would otherwise be inaccessible to hitting the credit card.

Lastly, my favorite way to utilize Plastiq is to pay bills by liquidating gift cards.  I purchase gift cards using my Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Cash at office supply stores in order to earn 5x points and thus am effectively earning 5x on the payment of a mortgage.

Hypothetical Annual Earning 

Looking at monthly expenses that can’t typically be paid by credit card, we can get a sense of the value that Plastiq can add.

 Expense Monthly Amount
Mortgage/Rent $1,500
Utilities $250
Car Payment $400

This comes to a monthly total of $2,150, which on an annual basis can give you the following based on these respective earn rates:

1x : 25,800

2x : 51,600

3x : 77,400

5x : 129,000

At 2.5% in fees on $2,150 per month, the annual total in fees is $645.  The ability to purchase 5x gift cards at break-even or even negative cost can greatly bulk up that earning power and with close to 130K in points just from paying bills is enough for a first class ticket anywhere in the world.

Bottom Line

Plastiq is a great option to pay bills on a wide range of services and also offers a very reasonable fee for the service.  This can allow for a boost to the monthly points accrual, creating significant value provided solid redemptions are made.  One thing to remember is that while Plastiq does offer reasonable fees, there are some specialized payment services that do beat them.  For example, I had been paying my power bill via Plastiq until I realized that my power company charges a flat $1.65 to pay direct on their website (up to $1000 per payment).  As always, do your homework and know that Plastiq is a great additional tool to have in your points earning arsenal.

In the interest of full disclosure, we will earn a referral bonus for anyone that is approved from the link above.  These are publicly available offers and all claims made in this post as of the posting date can be found in the offer language for the card.  We only provide the best publicly available offers and thank you for your continued support.

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Act Fast: 35K SPG Business Amex Sign-Up Bonus until 3/28

One of my favorite credit cards, the SPG Business credit card from American Express is offering an extremely generous sign-up bonus of 35,000 points if you apply through March 28, 2018.

The required spend is $7,000 within three months, so including the bonus, you’d be sitting on (at a minimum) 42,000 points.

SPG.png

Why should you get this card?

  • SPG points are some of the most valuable transferable points available. They partner with over 30 airlines and offer a 25% transfer bonus when transferring 20,000 points.
  • We know that Marriott has acquired SPG. We know that American Express will continue to issue business cards.  We don’t know however, how the SPG and Marriott programs will be combined.  We also don’t know when this specific card will stop being issued.  In my opinion, get it sooner rather than later.
  • It will NOT count against Chase 5/24 rule as this is a business card (although you don’t need to have a business to get the card).
  • You get multiple perks:
    1. Sheraton Club Lounge access any time you stay at a Sheraton property (regardless of if you pay using this card). While the lounges vary in quality – they always offer a hot breakfast, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and complementary beverages.  Overseas they can offer some exquisite spreads and sometimes have free alcohol.
    2. Two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards status each year
    3. Unlimited Boingo WiFi
    4. Complimentary in-room premium internet access
  • The $95 fee is waived for the first year.
  • On the low end, the bonus of 35,000 points is worth ~$800

While this is a great bonus offer, the value of SPG points makes this card my go to for all my non-bonused spend.  You might as well get it while the bonus is hot and make it part of your suite of credit cards.  Last year I was able to redeem 40,000 SPG points for 50,000 Alaska MileagePlan miles which I then used to book a Cathay Pacific business class flight from JFK – HKG – MLE with a 10 day stopover in Hong Kong.  This flight priced out at $5,623.34 giving me a per point value on my SPG points of ~$0.14.  It is redemptions such as this that make the Amex SPG Business card one of my favorite credit cards currently available.

To apply, click here: Apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card

 

In the interest of full disclosure, we will earn a referral bonus for anyone that is approved from the link above.  These are publicly available offers and all claims made in this post as of the posting date can be found in the offer language for the card.  We only provide the best publicly available offers and thank you for your continued support.

Earn Elite Status With These Credit Cards

When it comes to Credit cards, the first thing that gets attention in this hobby is the sign up bonus.  Other benefits offered by these credit cards are often overlooked and one such benefit is the opportunity to get “Elite Status” with the Airline and Hotel Loyalty programs.

In this post, we will review the credit cards that would help you accelerate towards the Elite status with Airlines and Hotel Reward Programs

1. Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard:

 

AAdvantage Executive card

 

Apart from the signup bonus and other benefits. You could also earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM’s) when you spend $40,000 or more in eligible purchases with in a calendar Year.

This card comes with an Annual fee of $450.

Here is a summary of requirements for various levels of AAdvantage elite status.

AA

Summary of AAdvantage Requirements

 

2. Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit card

 

Delta Platinum Card

 

Through 04/11/2018, there is an improved signup bonus of 70,000 miles with the Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card.  You can also earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. This card comes with an annual fee of $195.

you can also earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 or more in eligible purchases on the Card in a calendar year. Earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in a Calendar year for a total of 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs.

Here is a summary of elite status requirements.

Delta Elite Status

MQD requirement is waived, if you spend $250,000 or more in a Calendar year with Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit card.  In theory, you could earn Delta Silver status with just credit card spending.

3. Amex Delta Reserve Credit card

Delta Reserve

American Express offer 3 variants co-branded Delta credit cards.  Another card that helps you earn elite status is Delta Reserve Credit card. You can earn 10,000 MQM’s when you spend $3,000 or more in eligible purchases with in first 3 months.

This card carries a hefty annual fee of $450.

You can also earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $30,000 on purchases on your Delta Reserve Credit Card in a calendar year. Earn an additional 15,000 MQMs and an additional 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $60,000 on purchases on your Delta Reserve Card in a calendar year.

This card also waives MQD requirement, if you spend $250,000 or more in eligible purchases in a calendar year.

 

4. United MileagePlus Presidential Plus Credit card:

 

United MileagePlus

You can earn 1,000 Flexible Premier qualifying miles (Flex PQM) for each $5,000 you spend on your Card. You can use these Flex PQM to help maintain your Premier status or elevate it, up to Premier Platinum. Flex PQM earned through credit card spending is valid in the calendar year they are earned and an additional 39 months before they expire.

Here is a summary of the requirements for United Premier status.

United Elite

United Premier Status Requirements

 

5. Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business MasterCard:

Barclays AA Business

 

Earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases each calendar year. This card comes with an annual fee of $95.

6. AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard:

Barclays AAdvantage Silver

You could earn 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM’s) for every $20,000 you spend annually (up to 10,000 miles each year)

You could also earn  $6,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars when you spend $50,000 on purchases each calendar year. You’ll earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000, and another $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $50,000

This card comes with an annual fee of $195. This card can not be applies directly, but only available as upgrade to Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard.

With all the 3 variants of AAdvantage cards, you could potentially earn 20,000 EQMs  and $9,000 EQDs after a combined total spend of $115k in eligible purchases across the 3 cards, which gets you Gold status comfortably and well on the way towards Platinum status.

 

With Hotel Reward programs, it is fairly straight forward. In most instances, you get the status just for holding the card. Here is the summary

Credit Card Annual Fee Elite Status offered
Amex Platinum Charge Card $550 SPG Gold Status
Hilton Honors Gold Status
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit card $95 SPG gold status with $30,000 spending in a Calendar year
Hilton Honors Amex Aspire Card $450 Hilton Honors Diamond Status
Hilton Honors Amex Ascend card $95 Hilton Honors Gold Status
Hilton Honors Amex card $0 Hilton Honors Silver Status
Hilton Honors Amex Business card $95 Hilton Honors Gold Status
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit card $0 for first year and $85 afterwards Receive 15 Elite night credit enough for Marriott Silver status and an additional 1 Elite night credit for every $3,000 spend
Chase IHG rewards Club select Credit card $0 for first year and $49 afterwards IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite
Chase Hyatt Credit Card $0 for first year and $75 afterwards Hyatt Discoverist Status
Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit card $450 Ritz Carlton Gold Elite status for the first year. Spend $10,000 your first year and each subsequent year to maintain your Gold Elite status.
Elevate to Platinum status when you spend $75,000 or more in an account year
Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature card $75 Radisson Rewards Gold Status
Radisson Rewards Visa Signature Credit card $50 Radisson Rewards Silver Status
Barclays Wyndham Rewards visa card with no annual fee $0 Wyndham Rewards Gold Membership
Barclays Wyndham Rewards visa card with  annual fee $75 Wyndham Rewards Platinum Membership

 

What is your favorite card and the elite status?

 

 

 

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.

Discover_Gift_Cards

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:

Alliant

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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Credit Cards With Lounge Access Benefit

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During Air travel, there are instances beyond our control where we end up with a long layover or the flight gets delayed at the last moment and we end up having to wait for a long duration at the gate.

To ease the discomfort, Lounge access could come to the rescue. While US domestic Airline lounges may not offer huge value, there are several lounges that offer attractive amenities including complimentary drinks, snacks, food, showers etc..

Unless we are an elite member or flying in business/first  class, access to lounges is not complimentary and the cost multiplies when we are traveling as a group. Fortunately, there are several credit cards that offer complimentary lounge access as one of the benefit. This benefit is often offered through Priority Pass membership. For starters, Priority Pass does not own lounges, but is affiliated with over 1,000+ lounges across the globe and provides you complimentary access or negotiated rates depending on your plan.

If you were purchase Priority Pass membership on your own dime, here is what it would cost you. There are several types of membership you could get with Priority Pass depending on your requirements.

Priority Pass Memberships

Standard membership costs you $99 per year, then you could enjoy a flat fee of $27 for every visit, while the Prestige membership costs $399 per year and would get you unlimited free visits to its affiliated lounges. Note that none of the plans offer complimentary visits for our guest.

The cost effective option would be to get the lounge access through these credit cards. There are several cards that offer premium membership plan Priority Pass Select as one of the benefit. We will discuss the details and the weigh the cost of the card membership fees when compared to the Priority Pass Membership fees. A few airport restaurants recently got added to Priority Club – Corona Beach between Gates D23 and D24 at Miami Airport, Timberland Steaks and Grill at Denver Airport , Capers Cafe Le Bar, Capers Market , House Spirits Distillery and Alaska Lounge at Portland Airport.

Citi Prestige Card:

Citi Prestige card is one of the premium travel credit card in the market with several benefits and one of the key benefit is the Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that offers unlimited access to its affiliated lounges including 2 guests or immediate family members.

Other key benefits of the card include $250 travel credit every year and 4th Night free. This card comes with an annual fee of $450 and each authorized user card will be an additional $50. If any of your friends, family member needs lounge access, you could add them as an authorized user and simply share the Priority Pass Select card only. The lounge access benefit for the authorized user would be same as the primary card holder, which means one could get lounge access at $50 per year.

HK

Plaza Premium Lounge – Hong Kong

American Express Platinum Card:

American Express Platinum card revamped its benefits recently and one of the key change is the enhancement to lounge access benefit. You now get Priority Pass Select membership which gives unlimited lounge access to the primary card holder and 2 additional guests.

The other feature of this card is the access to Amex centurion lounges that are probably one of the best domestic lounges you could find in the US. You get great food, drinks and facilities.

As of today, Centurion Lounges are currently at the following US Airports

  1. Las Vegas (LAS)
  2. Dallas (DFW)
  3. Houston (IAH)
  4. New York (LGA)
  5. Miami (MIA)
  6. San Francisco (SFO)
  7. Seattle (SEA)

You could find Centurion Lounges outside of US as well,

  1. Mumbai (BOM)
  2. Delhi (DEL)
  3. Buenos Aires (EZE)
  4. Mexico City (MEX-3)
  5. Monterrey (MTY-2)
  6. Sydney (SYD)
  7. Toluca (TLC)

The next upcoming locations are Hong Kong (HKG) and Philadelphia (PHL)

Centurion Lounge

Centurion Lounge – Las Vegas

You also get access to the Delta sky club lounges when flying with Delta.  The annual fee for the card is $550 as it offers several other benefits like $100 incidental travel expenses like Baggage fees, seat selection fees etc. and $200 in Uber credits and more…

Chase Sapphire Reserve:

In the past, Chase used to offer co-branded premium credit cards only. About a year ago, this has changed with the introduction of Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The annual fee for this card is $450 and one of the key benefit of the card is the $300 in travel credit.

This card also offers Priority Pass Select membership as a benefit, which grants lounge access to you and your guests. As per the terms, there seems to be no set limit on the number of guests that could accompany you.

Siem Reap

Plaza Premium Lounge – Siem Reap

Ritz Carlton Rewards credit card:

Ritz Carlton Rewards credit card also offers Priority pass select membership that grants complimentary lounge access to you and its guests. The annual fee of this card is $450 and offers $300 towards incidental travel credits like baggage fees, seat selection fees. You could even purchase lounge access passes towards this travel credit.

KAL Lounge

KAL Lounge – LAX

US bank Altitude Reserve card:

This card is probably the newest card in the premium cards segment. Currently, this card is available for the current US bank customers only. This card offers priority pass select membership which gets you 4 complimentary visits and an additional 4 visits for your guests at participating lounges.

Given that this card comes with a $400 fee, Lounge access benefits is mediocre. But there are other card benefits like up to $325 annual travel credit that may be interest a few.

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard:

This card is for someone, who primarily travels with American Airlines and have access to more than 50 Admirals clubs across the globe.

This card comes with an annual fee of $450 and gives unlimited access to Admirals club to the primary card holder and up to 2 guests or immediate family members. Authorized users also get unlimited access to the Admirals club.

United MileagePlus Club card

This card offers United MileagePlus club membership as the key benefit that lets you , as the primary card member, and your eligible travel companions will enjoy access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges worldwide.

Annual fee for this card is $450.

Crystal Visa Infinite Card

This is probably the least known credit card issued by City National Bank.  getting this card is through a paper application and may not be straight forward, you may check this flyertalk thread for more data points. Annual fee for the card is zero for first year and $400 from the second year of membership

This card offers lounge access through Priority Pass Select Membership. Card holder can choose up to 2 members that can get Priority Pass Select membership and there seems to be no restriction on the number of guests each member can take as long as the  specific lounge accepts.

 

Conclusion:

There are several premium  cards in the market that offer lounges access as one of the key benefit through the Priority Pass Select membership or membership to the respective lounge club.

It may be tough to rank the best card with respect to the lounge access benefit as the individual circumstances may vary. Which card would you like to hold for the lounge access?