Credit Cards

Changes coming to Citi Prestige this Sunday

While we’ve known changes were coming to the Citi Prestige, we hadn’t known the exact details. Citi recently released this information and, in my opinion, they’re mostly negative.

1. The new card will be metal. This is to compete with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum, I assume. Change Rating: Neutral

2. Changes to the Fourth Night Free Benefit
a. Today when a booking a hotel for the fourth night free benefit, it must be done by calling or emailing the specified travel agency. Starting next week booking the hotel can be done online.  Change Rating: Positive
b. Today when booking for four nights or more, the fourth night’s stay is refunded, even if it’s the most expensive night of the stay. Starting next week, the average cost of the room for one night will be refunded and taxes will not be refunded. Change rating: Negative

3. When redeeming ThankYou Points for cash, they can be redeemed at a rate of .5 cents per point, so redeeming 50,000 points nets you $250. Next week you’ll be able to redeem points at the rate of a penny per point, so that same 50,000-point redemption will earn you $500. Change rating: Positive

4. Lounge Access: while you’ll still have access to Priority Pass lounges, you’ll no longer have access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs when traveling on AA. Change rating: Negative

5. Redeeming points for flights: Today you may redeem points at the rate of 1.6 cents per point for flights on American Airlines or 1.33 cents per point on other airlines. Effective next week the rate will be 1.25 cents per point on any airline. Change rating: Negative

6. Today the Citi Prestige allows for three complimentary rounds of golf at over 2000 courses worldwide. That benefit ends next week. Change rating: Negative

For people like me who want to use ThankYou Points for travel, these are mostly negative changes. If there’s any good news it’s that there will be a new sign-up bonus of 75K points starting next week. But card holders who have opened or closed the Prestige or Premier card in the last 24 months are not eligible for the bonus. My plan for now is to apply for the Premier card and once I have it then I’ll close my Prestige card. I’ll miss the $250 Air Travel Credit but the Premier is much cheaper than the $450 annual fee for the Prestige.

In the meantime I recently redeemed most of my ThankYou Points for a flight for a ski trip next year.

What are your plans for your ThankYou Points?

Categories: Credit Cards, Citibank, Citi Prestige | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2017 Q3 Starts Today – New Bonus Categories Activated

Just a quick reminder that today is the first day of the 3rd quarter of 2017, so if you have a card with rotating quarterly bonus categories, it’s time to move those cards to the front of your wallet.

For the Discover Cards, you’ll earn 5% cash back at restaurants.

For US Bank, you’ll have the categories you’ve chosen as most valuable to you.

For the Chase Freedom card, restaurants and movie theaters will earn you 5 Ultimate Rewards (URs) points for each dollar.  You can choose to redeem those URs as cash back on your credit card statement at the rate of 1 cent per point.  However, if you have another Chase card that earns URs and that card has an annual fee, you can pool your points and transfer them to various airline and hotel programs where it’s possible to get more than 2 cents per point in value.

So plan your purchases carefully for the next quarter!

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

Chase Freedom Q3 Bonus Categories Announced

Chase has announced the 5x bonus categories for their Freedom credit card for the third quarter of 2017.  As I figured, Restaurants are on the list as are Movie Theaters. I hate that both the Chase Freedom and the Discover cards have the same bonus category in the same quarter. C’mon banks, help us out!

Using your Freedom card at Restaurants and Movie Theaters will earn 5 points per dollar spent, up to a max of $1500 spent.  While Chase bills this as 5% cash back – and you certainly can use it as cash back – you can make those points worth more than a penny apiece.  If you have the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or one of the Ink business cards that charge an annual fee, you can transfer these points to several airlines or hotels, where you can get more than 1 cent in value for the points.  For example, points can be transferred to United Airlines.  I’m currently looking for airfare for a Colorado ski trip in February, which is prime season.  I’d prefer to fly into the Vail/Eagle County Airport instead of making the trek from Denver.  But right now airfares are in the $590 range.  If I could find an award flight for 25K miles I’d be getting 2.3 cents in value for each point.

Registration is now available. You have until September 14th to register, but why wait? Click HERE to reach the calendar page.

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Categories: Chase, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Freedom | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Some Q3 Cash-Back Category Selections Available Now

As we are just past the middle of the 2nd quarter of 2017, a couple of cash-back cards have already announced their categories for the 3rd quarter (and even beyond).  As a US Bank Cash+ customer I received an email letting me know I could make my selections now.  Here are the choices for Q3:

I originally got this card because charitable donations were one of the 5% categories but that option went away in mid-February.  I’ve kept this card both because it’s free and because it gives me a 5% discount on my gym membership (which I need to use more often!).

Discover has also announced their categories for both Q3 and Q4, though it looks like the Q4 category list may expand once we get closer to it.

Restaurants is a category where I can certainly do a lot of damage as I eat out a lot.  My only dilemma comes when Chase decides to offer 5 Ultimate Rewards points via their Freedom card during the same quarter.  Since Chase has not yet announced their Q3 categories we’ll have to wait to see what card I will choose.

(h/t: Rapid Travel Chai)

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

[Targeted] 2x Bonus Miles from AA Aviator

The AAdvantage Aviator MasterCard is offering a targeted bonus for the second quarter of 2017.  Normally this card only offer bonus miles on purchases from American Airlines but during this promotion cardholders may earn 2x bonus miles for every $1 spent at grocery stores, home improvement stores and restaurants between April 1 and June 30, 2017, up to 2500 bonus miles.  If you were targeted you should have received an email from Barclays providing a link to activate the offer.  Note that you must activate the offer by May 31 to be able to take advantage of it.

The phrase “2x bonus miles” had me stumped.  To me, that sounds like I should get 2 miles (the bonus) in addition to the 1 mile per dollar I’d normally get at these types of businesses, which would mean I’d only have to spend $834 to max out the offer.  I reached out to both the Twitter team (@AskBCUS) and using the secure message center on the Barclays US credit card website. The folks at the secure message center didn’t even take the time to understand my question.  They seemed to think I was having trouble registering.  Fortunately the Twitter team was on the ball.  They clarified the offer is for a total of 2 miles per dollar spent in these categories, meaning I’d need to spend $1250 to accumulate all 2500 miles.  That was what I had suspected but it was good to get clarification.

For me this is one of the easiest offers to use.  Grocery stores and home improvement stores each sell gift cards – both Visa and merchant – which makes it a piece of cake to meet the requirement.

Note that bonus miles will not be awarded until 6-8 weeks after the promotion ends.  While I hate that it takes that long to get the extra miles, that’s pretty standard for Barclays.

Categories: AAdvantage Aviator, American Airlines, Barclays, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Register for Q2 Bonus Categories

Today is the 15th of the third month of the quarter and that means it’s time to register your Discover Card and Chase Freedom card for the next quarter’s bonus categories.  You can earn 5% back (Discover) or 5x points (Freedom) on purchases of up to $1500 on each card.  And if you haven’t already registered for your US Bank Cash+ card, here’s a reminder to do that now.

Discover Cards

Discover’s bonus categories this quarter are Home Improvement stores and Wholesale Clubs.  Home improvement stores often sell retail gift cards and perhaps in your area they sell Visa or MasterCard gift cards as well.  While you can’t use Discover at Costco, I know it’s accepted at Sam’s Club and they often sell Visa/MC gift cards too.  That would make it very easy to max out this quarter’s promo.  To register, click on the link in the email you receive – it is tied to your account which makes it super easy – or go to the registration page and log into your account.

Note: You must register for this promo BEFORE any purchases will receive the bonus.  So register now, before the quarter even starts.

 

Chase Freedom

For the Freedom card, this is one of my favorite quarters.  It’s so easy to max out this promo at grocery stores and drug stores as they both sell Visa gift cards as well as other useful items. (Hey, ya gotta eat!)  You must register for this promo by June 14th.

 

US Bank Cash+

US Bank opens up their registration much earlier that Discover or Freedom.  Selection for Q2 bonus categories has been available since mid-February.  As I mentioned in this post in February, the Charity category has gone away which was a great disappointment to me.  These are the US Bank Cash+ categories for Q2:

To register just click on this link and log into your US Bank account and make your selections.

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

Increased SPG Card Sign-Up Bonus!

Starwood Preferred Group (SPG) Starpoints are among the most flexible currencies on the market, which is why both Ben of One Mile At A Time and Brian, The Points Guy, value them at over 2 cents apiece.  About once a year they offer an increased sign-up bonus and that time is now!

In addition to using these points at SPG hotels, they can be transferred to over two dozen airlines at a 1:1 ratio – and if you transfer 20K points at a time they’ll tack on a bonus 5K points!  Other airlines are available at less favorable ratios.

SPG points can also be transferred to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio (1 SPG = 3 Marriott) and used either for stays at Marriott hotels or transfer them to other airlines.

Here are the airlines where you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio:
spg-1-to-1-partners
Here are the other airlines:
spg-other-partners
The Air New Zealand transfer rate is a horrific 65 SPG points = 1 Air New Zealand Airpoint so you want to make that a transfer of last resort. GOL Smiles and United MileagePlus both transfer at a rate of 2 SPG points = 1 frequent flyer mile.  Might do in a pinch but again, you’d try to avoid it.  Since LATAM uses kilometers for their currency the transfer rate is 1 SPG point = 1.5 LATAM Pass mile.

If you choose to transfer your points to Marriott, they are best used at Marriott properties but they can be transferred to airlines as well.  However the airline transfers are usually at a terrible transfer rate so I do not recommend this method.

The normal sign-up bonus for this card is 25K points but if you are approved by April 5th and meet the minimum spend, here’s what you can earn:

25,000 bonus Starpoints after using the new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints after making an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.

That’s a maximum of 35K Starpoints which is the biggest bonus ever for this card.  Note that those “first 3 months” and “first 6 months” are dated from the date of approval, NOT the day you activate the card.

The card has no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.

There are business and personal versions of this card though I can only refer you for the personal card.  If you allow me to refer you and are approved, I will receive a 5,000 point bonus for doing so.  Just drop me an email at 2btraveling@gmail.com.  All I need is your first name and an email address!

Categories: American Express, Credit Cards, SPG Amex | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

US Bank Cash+ Q2 Category Selections and Reminder

The US Bank Cash+ card has rotating bonus categories each quarter.  You can choose two categories from a large list to earn 5% cash back and from a list of three categories to earn 2% cash back.  All other purchases will earn 1% cash back.  The nice part about it is that you get to select the categories that will help you most!  You may now make your selections for the second quarter of 2017 by visiting the selection site.  Here are the categories for the second quarter of 2017:

2017-02-17-us-bank-q2-categories

As a reminder, effective today, February 17, 2017, you can no longer earn 5% cash back for charity contributions if that was one of the categories you selected for the first quarter.  As I mentioned last month, this is the main reason I got this card and I’m really disappointed US Bank is dropping this category.  I’ll keep the card because it’s free and because I can get 5% back for my gym membership but otherwise I’d let it go.  Hopefully they’ll change their mind at some point in the future.

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

US Bank Cash+ Category Changes

US Bank has a couple of credit cards that I’ve found useful.  I’d had their Club Carlson Visa and I got good value from Club Carlson points in Turkey a couple of years ago but since then the card had sat idle in my drawer.  Last year I changed to the Cash+ card.

us-bank-cash-plus
Each quarter the US Bank Cash+ Card allows you to select the cash-back categories that best fit your needs.  There are three categories that are 2% cash back each quarter and you can select which categories you’d like for 5% cash back from a list.  While the 2%/5% categories max out at $1500 in purchases each quarter, you can get unlimited cash back at 1% for all purchases after the $1500 or for any unbonused categories.

When I recently downloaded my latest statement I noted this wording under the Important Messages heading:

Effective February 15, 2017 a new 5% Cash+ Category will be available: Ground Transportation featuring merchants such as Uber and Amtrak®.  Also effective February 15, 2017, the 5% Charity Category will no longer be available.

While that’s great for folks who use Uber and Amtrak, it defeats the main purpose I had for getting the card, namely charitable donations.  I’ve been blessed with a good income and like to give back and this was a real incentive to do so.

It’s a shame that US Bank is removing this category so I’ll be sure to bump up my giving for this quarter so it is completed before February 17.  I find the timing of this odd as it’s smack in the middle of the quarter, instead of waiting until quarter-end. We’ll have to see how they handle the selection of a new 5% category for those of us who’ll be losing this one

Does this category change negatively impact you?

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

Register now for Freedom Q1 Bonus Categories

Each quarter the Chase Freedom card offers 5x points in certain rotating categories.  Registration is now open for the first quarter of 2017.  The bonus categories are gas stations and local commuter transportation.  Note that this does not include parking, tolls or Amtrak purchases.  It also does not include merchants that do not specialize in selling automotive gasoline; for example, truck stops, boat marinas, oil and propane distributors, and home heating companies.  I assume this would include charges like Uber, however.

2016-12-17-freedom-1q-bonus

It frustrates me that these categories overlap with Discover this quarter.  I wish they’d switch off so that it would be easier to max out each card.

I do not recall getting an email from Chase reminding me to register so go ahead and do it now before you forget about it!

Categories: Chase, Credit Card Promos, Freedom | Tags: | Leave a comment

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