Credit Cards

Discover 5% Categories Calendar for 2020 is Released

As they’ve done for the past couple of years, Discover Card has released its full cash-back calendar for the upcoming year. I really like that they do this and wish Chase would do this for their Freedom categories as well.

For Q1 the categories are Grocery Stores, Walgreens and CVS. Is it significant that other drug stores are excluded? I’m not sure. For me this is the easiest category to max out as I can buy Visa gift cards and load them to my Bluebird account.

Q2 categories are Gas Stations, Uber/Lyft and Wholesale Clubs. I no longer have any wholesale club memberships so that category doesn’t help me. In the past I’ve struggled with the gas station category as I usually only have to fill my car up 2-3 times per month and gas stations typically don’t sell $500 gift cards. But now that I have a Bluebird card again, I may see if I can find some gas stations that sell $100 or $200 cards and allow me to pay with a credit card. Time will tell.

For the third quarter, the categories are Restaurants and PayPal. I don’t use PayPal but usually have no problem maxing out the Restaurant category.

The last quarter’s categories are aimed at online holiday shoppers: Amazon, Walmart.com and Target.com. I won’t get close to maxing out but maybe I can make a dent in those categories.

You can activate the first quarter categories now. As always, the 5% cash back is good for up to $1500 in purchases each quarter.

Which quarter will be easiest for you to max out?

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

Activate 4th Quarter Bonus Categories

It’s the 15th of the last month of the quarter which means it’s time to activate bonus categories for card that have quarterly bonuses for next quarter.  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, though it’s been available for at least a couple of quarters now.  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 September 25th 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 or visit this link.

Discover Card

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

The fourth quarter was originally announced as Amazon but now they’ve added Target (in-store) and Walmart.com.  None of these is particularly great for me.  To register, sign in to your Discover account and click on the Activate button.

 

Chase Freedom

Chase’s fourth quarter categories may help those who need to shop for the holidays.  You can earn 5x Ultimate Reward points for shopping at department stores, having your card tied to PayPal and with Chase Pay.  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

New Hilton Promo – Earn Up To 7500 Bonus Points in Two Stays

Hilton has a new promotion that will give you 7500 points after two stays. While Hilton points are usually valued somewhere in the .4 cents range, every little bit certainly counts. And don’t forget that you can pool Hilton points with up to ten friends and family members which help them stretch even farther.

The Scoop

After you register, earn 2500 bonus points after your first stay. After your second stay you’ll earn 5000 bonus points.

Your stays must be completed between the time you register and January 31, 2020. Note that this excludes stays that are otherwise ineligible to accrue Hilton points. That includes some third-party bookings, like many online travel agencies including Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. Corporate travel agency bookings are allowed.

Since these are bonus points they won’t count toward your qualification for elite status. But with Hilton, the best way to achieve status is by owning their credit card. Hilton offers three card through American Express and right now all three have great signup offers.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

This no-fee card currently has a signup bonus of 90,000 Hilton points once you spend $2000 on the card within the first three months after approval. This signup bonus ends August 28, 2019. You’ll earn 7x points at hotels in the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else. This card is one of the few no-fee cards that does not have foreign transaction fees. You’ll get Silver status just for holding the card and you’ll be upgraded to Gold status each year you spend $20,000 on the card.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

With a $95 annual fee, this is one of the best deals in travel. Not only does this card have a great signup bonus of 130,000 points after spending $4000 within the first four months after approval, you automatically earn Gold status just for owning the card. Gold status is enough to get you free breakfast and premium internet and is generally considered to be the best mid-level hotel status out there. Last year I scored an upgrade to a 2-room suite in Germany because the hotel was at capacity and having Gold status earned me the bump up. Spend $40,000 on the card and get upgraded to Diamond status through the end of the following calendar year. The signup bonus ends August 28, 2019. With the Surpass card you’ll earn 12x points at Hilton properties, 6x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

This is a premium card with a $450 annual fee and a signup bonus of 150,000 points after spending $4000 in the first three months after approval. It also gives the cardholder Diamond status, Hilton’s top level. Enjoy one weekend night reward each year after renewal and an additional night for each $60,000 in spend. You also get a $250 statement credit each year of card membership good for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts. With the Aspire card you’ll earn 14x points at Hilton properties, 7x points on purchases made directly with airlines or hotels and US restaurants and 3x points everywhere else.

If one of these cards looks right for you I’ll be happy to refer you. Just drop me a line at 2BTraveling@gmail.com.

Categories: American Express, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Hilton Amex, Hilton Aspire, Hilton Surpass | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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: AAdvantage Aviator, Barclays, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard, Citibank, Credit Cards | 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.

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

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

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