Credit Cards

Activate 3nd Quarter Bonus Categories

As we approach the end of the second quarter of 2019, it’s time to activate bonus categories for card that have quarterly bonuses.  All of these cards offer bonus points or cash back on up to $2000 in purchases during the quarter.

US Bank Cash+

Even though TV, Internet & Streaming Services are shown as new below, that was a new category last quarter.  If you’re not already getting 5x Ultimate Rewards points by using a Chase Ink card (and even if you are!) you may want to switch the card you’re using for payment.  You must register your card before mid-June to get the bonus cash-back in the categories you select.  As a reminder, you choose two 5% categories and one 2% category.  To register, click on the link in the email you received from US Bank.

Discover Card

Discover gave us the full year’s calendar late last year:

This quarter’s category is Restaurants and they’ve added PayPal.  Restaurants is a good category for me.  I usually use my Amex Gold Card to earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar but I’ll switch to Discover for 5% cash back.  As a reminder the Discover card does not have foreign transaction fees but may not be as accepted worldwide as Visa, MasterCard and even American Express.  To register, sign in to your Discover account and click on the Activate button.

 

Chase Freedom

Chase is once again offering 5x Ultimate Rewards points at gas stations, this time with the added category of Streaming Services.  I find it frustrating that they’re recycling categories, especially one where I can’t max it out!  I don’t use streaming services so that doesn’t help me.  You can redeem the URs for a penny apiece on your credit card statement or, if you have one of the UR-earning cards that comes with an annual fee you can transfer these points to airline frequent flyer programs or hotel loyalty programs.  Alternately you can shop through the UR portal and use the points like cash.

To register you can go to this link to look at the calendar, then click on the Activate Now button as seen above.

 

Categories: Cash Plus, Chase, Credit Cards, Discover, Freedom, US Bank | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Amex Gold Card Changes Earning Rate When Dining Outside the US

In my last post I detailed which cards I used for each bonus category. I stated that I used the Amex Gold card for the dining category because it earns 4x Membership Rewards points. But Amex only offers the 4x points for US restaurants. When abroad I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for its 3x Ultimate Rewards points.

Effective June 6th (Thursday), Amex will offer the 4x Membership Rewards points for non-US restaurants as well. Since there are no foreign transaction fees on the Amex Gold card, that’s a great deal!

But I will continue to use my Sapphire Reserve outside the US. Visa has a far greater acceptance rate worldwide than Amex. And the Sapphire Reserve also earns 3x points on other travel categories whereas the Amex Gold only offers bonus points on travel purchases made through the Amex portal. When I’m traveling I prefer to have one card for most of my purchases (hotel-specific cards notwithstanding) so I’ll continue to boost my UR balance with my Sapphire Reserve and will leave my Amex Gold at home.

How will the Amex 4x points on dining worldwide affect your credit card strategy when traveling?

Categories: American Express, Chase, Credit Cards, Premier Rewards Gold Card, Sapphire Reserve | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Cards I Use for Bonus Spending

Yesterday Ben at One Mile At A Time wrote a post about which cards he uses for different bonus categories.  I thought I’d do the same with the cards in my wallet.

Airfare Purchases

I’ll typically use my airline-specific card if I’m flying one of the three US legacy airlines. For flights on other airlines I’ll use my Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) for 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points even though I could earn 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points with my Amex Gold card. That’s because I already earn lots of Membership Rewards points on dining and I’m hardly ever using my CSR card these days.

Continue reading

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Activate 2nd Quarter Bonus Categories

As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2019, it’s time to activate bonus categories for card that have quarterly bonuses.  All of these cards offer bonus points or cash back on up to $2000 in purchases during the quarter.

US Bank Cash+

US Bank has added a new category for this quarter, TV, Internet & Streaming Services.  If you’re not already getting 5x Ultimate Rewards points by using a Chase Ink card (and even if you are!) you may want to switch the card you’re using for payment.  You must register your card before mid-June to get the bonus cash-back in the categories you select.  As a reminder, you choose two 5% categories and one 2% category.  To register, click on the link in the email you received from US Bank.

Discover Card

Discover gave us the full year’s calendar late last year:

 

This quarter’s categories are Gas Stations, Uber and Lyft.  As a reminder the Discover card does not have foreign transaction fees but may not be as accepted worldwide as Visa, MasterCard and even American Express.  But if you use ride-sharing services a good bit here in the US you’ll be fine.  To register, sign in to your Discover account and click on the Activate button.

 

Chase Freedom

Chase is offering 5x Ultimate Rewards points at Grocery Stores and Home Improvement stores.  This is one of my favorite categories because it’s the easiest to max out.  You can redeem the URs for a penny apiece on your credit card statement or, if you have one of the UR-earning cards that comes with an annual fee you can transfer these points to airline frequent flyer programs or hotel loyalty programs.  Alternately you can shop through the UR portal and use the points like cash.

To register you can go to this linkthis link to look at the calendar, then click on the Activate Now button as seen above.

 

Categories: Cash Plus, Chase, Credit Cards, Discover, Freedom, US Bank | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Changes coming to American Airlines credit cards

Last week we were notified by both Citibank and Barclays that there will be changes coming to their affiliated American Airlines credit cards.

Through the end of April both cards will continue to offer you a 10% rebate on award tickets, up to a maximum of 10,000 miles per year. Starting May 1, 2019, this benefit will be removed from both cards.  So if you were thinking about redeeming AA miles, do it sooner rather than later.  Remember that AA allows you to change dates and routings on award tickets, as long as the starting and ending point remains the same.

There are other changes, both positive and negative as well though they vary by card.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard®

(Supposedly) Positive changes:

– If you spend $20,000 on the card during your cardmember year you’ll get a companion certificate for $99 plus taxes and fees.

– You can get up to $25 back on inflight wi-fi purchases each year

– Resuming a trial program they had last year, your final total each month will be rounded up to the nearest whole dollar and for each penny it’s rounded up you’ll be given 1 AAdvantage mile. So if your total spent for the month is $xx0.45 it will be rounded up to $xx1.00 and you’ll earn an addition 55 AA miles.

Negative changes:

– If you (like me) had a version of this card that was converted from the old US Airways president’s card that earned 10,000 miles each year when you renewed your card, that program will be discontinued. You will receive your last 10,000 mile bonus upon the next renewal after May 1, 2019.

– Barclays hands out discount certificates for $100 off an AA flight if you spend $30,000 or more during a cardmember year. This program is also being discontinued effective with your next anniversary date on or after May 1, 2019.

– The annual fee will increase to $99 from $89.

Even the supposedly positive changes are mostly negative to me. I fly to meet up with friends and only very rarely fly an entire route with someone so I don’t need the companion pass. I’ve never used wi-fi on a flight so while that’s nice, it’s not something I’ll likely use. I wouldn’t mind the Flight Cents program but am not lost without it.

As for the negative changes, I’d already concluded that it was a waste of my time to manufacture spend $30,000 for a $100 certificate so I hadn’t planned to do that this year. The annual fee increase is not a deal breaker. The loss of the 10,000 miles per year just for owning the card is the big hit here.

 

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select®

The changes here aren’t quite as drastic. The card will not lose any other benefits and if you spend $20,000 per year on the card you’ll get a AA discount certificate whose value is being increased from $100 to $125.

I’ve owned Barclays AAviator card for a number of years and have held on to it primarily for the 10,000 mile bonus each year. With that feature gone, I’ll try to product change this card to something else or cancel it when my cardmember year is up in December. I’ve had the Citi AA card for over 20 years so I’ll hang on to that for the free checked bag and priority boarding.

It’s a real shame these benefits are being removed. As bad as American’s been lately you’d think they’d be looking for ways to entice the public to use their cards but that appears not to be the case.

Categories: Credit Cards, Citibank, Barclays, AAdvantage Aviator, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Wow! 100K Hilton Bonus Points on No-Fee Card

For a limited time American Express is offering an increased sign-up bonus for the no-fee Hilton Honors credit card. The standard offer is 60K points but the increased offer is 100K points after spending just $1000 in the first three months after approval. The card earn 7x points at Hilton properties, 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else. Unlike many no-fee cards, this card has no foreign transaction fees – though Amex is not as accepted worldwide as Visa and Mastercard.

No referral required on this one! To take advantage of this offer, get started HERE.

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New Year, New Quarter, New Bonus Categories

Happy 2019!  Here’s a quick reminder that there are new bonus categories on some of your favorite cards for the first quarter of 2019:

The Chase Freedom card offers bonuses on purchases at Gas Stations, Drug Stores and on Tolls.  If you haven’t already activated your card you can do that HERE.

 

The Discover Card is offering 5% cash back on purchases at Grocery Stores.  You must register before you will receive the bonus cash back.  You can do that HERE.

And finally the US Bank Cash+ card offers choices of a number of different categories for you to decide what works best for you.  You can pick 3 categories that will earn 5% back and one category for 2%. All other categories will earn 1% cash back.  You can make those choices HERE by logging into your account on the US Bank website.

 

Categories: Cash Plus, Chase, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Discover, Freedom, US Bank | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Activate 2019 Q1 Quarterly Bonus Categories!

We’re just a couple of weeks away from the end of the year, so it’s time to register for the category bonuses for the first quarter of the new year.

Discover Card

Once again Discover has released their bonus categories for the whole year. The first quarter’s category is Grocery Stores, which should be pretty easy to max out. To register, just log into your Discover account online or visit this link to log in. Note that to receive the 5% cash back you must register first before making your purchase. You can earn 5% back on up to $1500 in purchases.

US Bank Cash+

US Bank is offering the same categories as for Q4 2018 though you can choose the ones that work best for you. Select 1 of the 2% categories and 2 of the 5% categories, based on your needs. For the 5% category you can earn the 5% on up to $2000 in purchases. To select your categories, visit the US Bank Cash+ website.

 

Chase Freedom

For the fourth quarter the Chase Freedom card will earn 5x points at Gas Stations, Drug Stores and on Tolls. As in previous quarters this offer is good on up to $1500 in combined purchases for the quarter. I’m hopeful I can max out this card at Drug Stores but we’ll have to see. But be sure to register ASAP so you’ll earn your bonus points!  To get your card activated, follow the link to this page that shows the categoriesWhen you click on the green button you’ll be taken to a screen where you enter some minimal card information

And then you’re ready to go!

Categories: Cash Plus, Chase, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Discover, Freedom, US Bank | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Amex Gold Card Gets an Upgrade

American Express has long had two premier cards: the Premier Rewards Gold (PRG) card, which has a $195 fee, and the Platinum card, which carries a $450 fee. Both cards feature travel credits that essentially lower their annual fees. But as time has gone on other card issuers have stepped up their games and the PRG has largely been passed by.

But this week Amex introduced a redesigned version, now called the American Express Gold Card, and though the annual fee has increased, so have the benefits.

If you already have the PRG or have ever had it, you’re not eligible for the sign-up bonus for the new Gold Card but that’s not all bad.

If you’re new to this card, it has a relatively modest 25K point sign-up bonus but you only have to spend $2000 in the first three months. Benefits for this new card include:

You can still enjoy these benefits:

The $250 annual fee isn’t waived the first year but there are credits to help offset that cost:

  • A $100 airline fee credit each year with your selected airline. This cannot be used on airline tickets but is great for checked bag fees, etc.
  • A $10 dining credit each month good for Grubhub, Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Seamless.
  • If you book a hotel that’s part of the Hotel Collection you can receive a $75 hotel credit

If you’re new to this card, Amex will also give you 20% back on purchases at US restaurants during the first three months, up to $100. So if you’re like me and dine out a lot that’s an easy $100 back for spending $500 in US restaurants in 3 months.

But since I currently have the PRG I’m not eligible for the sign-up bonus. I will still get the 4x points at US restaurants and supermarkets and I can enroll for the dining credit. My annual fee will be prorated based on my anniversary date.

The card does lose its 2x points at Gas Stations benefit but I can get 2x MR points using my Blue Cash for Business card or 3x Thank You points by using my Citi Premier card.

If you want a more in-depth analysis, including a worksheet to see if this card is right for you, check out Frequent Miler’s post Is 4X worth $250 per year?

As for me, I’ve been using my Chase Sapphire Reserve for dining as it earns me 3x points and I’ll continue to use that for overseas restaurants as the new Gold card is only earns the bonus points for US restaurants. But I will definitely be shifting more of my purchases to the Gold card in the future.

Categories: American Express, Credit Cards, Premier Rewards Gold Card | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Q4 Bonus Category Registration Now Available

Can you believe we’re almost three-quarters of the way through 2018?  As we approach the end of the third quarter, that can only mean it’s time to register for fourth quarter credit card bonuses.

Discover Card

Discover’s Q4 categories are ones that are handy for the holiday season: Amazon and Wholesale Clubs.  To register, just log into your Discover account online or visit this link to log inNote that to receive the 5% cash back you must register first before making your purchase.  You can earn 5% back on up to $1500 in purchases.

US Bank Cash+

US Bank is offering the same categories as for Q3 though you can choose the ones that work best for you.  Select 1 of the 2% categories and 2 of the 5% categories, based on your needs.  For the 5% category you can earn the 5% on up to $2000 in purchases.  To select your categories, visit the US Bank Cash+ website.

Chase Freedom

For the fourth quarter the Chase Freedom card will earn 5x points at Wholesale Clubs, Department Stores and for using Chase Pay. As in previous quarters this offer is good on up to $1500 in combined purchases for the quarter. I no longer have a warehouse club membership, don’t use mobile payments and can’t remember the last time I bought something at a department store so these categories don’t help me much, sadly.  But be sure to register ASAP so you’ll earn your bonus points!

Categories: Cash Plus, Chase, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Discover, Freedom, US Bank | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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