Credit Cards

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

New Month, New Quarter, New Bonus Categories

It’s the first day of a new quarter and that means it may be time to change which cards you’re using for certain purchases.  As mentioned a few weeks ago, here are the categories for cards with quarterly rotating bonuses:

Discover Card

Discover Card will net you 5% cash back when you use your card at Restaurants this quarter.  The most important thing to remember is that you must register your card before you’re eligible to earn the 5% back.  If you haven’t done it yet, do that now!

 

US Bank Cash+

With US Bank’s Cash+ card you get to select your own categories: two will earn you 5% cash back and one will get you 2%.  It also offers a category I’ve never seen elsewhere: home utilities.  That can be especially valuable during these hot summer months.  Here’s the list of categories for Q3:

To make your selections, log into your account.

 

Chase Freedom

Freedom is offering 5x Ultimate Rewards points at gas stations, Walgreens and for Lyft rides.  Ultimate Rewards can be spent as cash back on your statement at a value of a penny a point, or if you have one of the paid UR-earning cards, like the Sapphire Preferred or the Sapphire Reserve, those points can be combined with the URs you earn through those cards and transferred to an airline or hotel partner.  You may end up getting more than one cent per point value in that instance.

If you haven’t already activated your bonuses, you can do that here.

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

Activate Q3 Bonus Categories Now

It’s time to activate your bonus categories for the cards that offer quarterly bonuses. All of these cards will give you bonus cash back (or points) for up to $1500 in spend during July, August and September.

Discover

For the Discover Card, restaurants will earn you 5% cash back.  Remember that you must activate your Discover Card bonus BEFORE making any purchases or you won’t get the bonus cash back.  To register your card, look for the email that should have been sent to you or visit this link.

US Bank Cash+

With the US Bank Cash+ Visa you can select one of three 2% categories and two of twelve 5% categories.  To me the home utilities category is a no-brainer as I know I’ll spend several hundred dollars there each quarter and I know of no other card that offers that category.

Chase Freedom

Though Chase markets this as a cash back card, in fact you’re earning Ultimate Rewards points.  And you can redeem each point for a penny off your credit card bill.  But if you’ve got one of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards-earning (UR) cards with an annual fee (like Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or one of the Ink cards) you can combine the URs you earn via the Freedom card with the URs earned with the other cards and get more than one cent per point in value from those URs.

For the third quarter of 2018 the bonus categories are Lyft, Walgreens and gas stations.  This doesn’t help me much as I very rarely use ride-sharing and have never used Lyft, the Vanilla pre-paid debit cards found at Walgreens cannot easily be turned into cash and the gas stations around here will not allow the purchase of pre-paid debit cards with a credit card and they often don’t have the $500 denomination anyway.  You can activate your Chase Freedom card bonuses here.

 

So for me it looks like I’ll be using my Discover card at restaurants and my Freedom card at the gas pump in Q3.

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

New benefits, slightly higher fee for the Citi AA Platinum Card

The Citibank AAdvantage® Visa was the first rewards credit card I ever had and I’ve held on to it through various iterations including a switch to MasterCard for over 20 years. But it’s one I keep for the benefits instead of for its earning power.

To me the primary benefits are a free checked bag on domestic flights and the 10% rebate on miles when purchasing an award ticket (up to 10,000 miles per year). But at present the card earns 2x miles on all American Airlines purchases and 1x miles everywhere else. While I do have a couple of small recurring charges on this card, I spend less than $50 per month on it.

Starting July 22, 2018 it seems that Citi will attempt to get me to spend more on this card by offering 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations as well as a $100 AA flight voucher if I spend $20K or more during my cardmember year and renew the card. They’ll also raise the annual fee from $95 to $99 which seems…cheap.

My reaction: well, it’s better than nothing. But if Citi was hoping to drive me to use this card more often, this is not going to do it. I already get 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at restaurants through my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I get 3x of Citi’s own Thank You Points per dollar at gas stations via the Citi Premier card. Thanks to my Barclay’s American Airlines AAviator card I can earn that $100 voucher for $20K spend, get the free checked bag AND, thanks to having converted that card over from the US Airways card, I get 10K miles bonus each year I renew.

The only reason I keep this card is for how it’s helping my credit rating’s average age of accounts score and the 10% mileage rebate though that only helps in years when I redeem AA miles. And it’s frustrating to me when I want to book an international trip as soon as the window opens but AA hasn’t released ANY award seats from Memphis to an AA hub so I have to buy a positioning flight.

So, nice try, Citibank but let’s see if you can do better.

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

IHG Devalues their Card, Pick Up the Old Card Today

We knew it would happen sooner or later. One of the best card benefits on the market is being reduced. IHG is the Intercontinental Hotel Group, the power behind Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza and others. Their credit card, issued by Chase, had one of the best benefits out there: a free night at any of their properties worldwide. Even better was that the card only cost $49 annually so even if you never spent a dime on it (after meeting minimum spend and getting your sign-up bonus) it was still a great deal.

This week I received a letter from Chase stating that the free night benefit was changing:

Currently, we award this Anniversary Free Night each year after your anniversary date, and it is redeemable at any IHG property. Going forward, Anniversary Free Nights issued after May 1, 2018 will be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a redemption value up to and including 40,000 points.

So even though all other benefits remain the same, this is still a huge loss. I’ve got an upcoming trip in October where we’ve already used last year’s certificate for one night, we’re using points for the second night and had planned to use this year’s certificate for the third night. But I won’t get this year’s certificate until July and the hotel costs 50,000 points so I won’t be able to use it there. So we changed our plans and will stay at a different hotel the third night.

Notice the highlighted bit in the quote about eligible IHG hotels? There is a list of excluded properties and some of those go for 40,000 points or less. Summer at Mommy Points has more details in her post though she’s since had an update saying that all 40,000 point (or less) hotels will be available for the certificate. But we’ll have to see. I’m a little skeptical.

If you sign up for the old IHG card by today you can still get the certificate good for any IHG hotel in the world on your anniversary date but only for the first year. Certificates issued after that will have the 40,000 point limit.

Part of the reason for this cut back is that IHG is issuing two new cards, IHG Premier and IHG Traveler. The Traveler is the base card with an annual fee of only $29 and the sign-up bonus is 60K points after spending $2000 in the first 3 months after approval. The Premier card has an $89 annual fee and earns you 80K points after spending $2000 in the first three months. Both cards earn bonus points at IHG hotels (10x for the Premier, 5x for the Traveler), 2x at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x everywhere else. There are other benefits regarding hotel status, savings on points purchases and bonus points based on spending thresholds. Nick at Frequent Miler has a terrific post today laying out each card’s benefits. But neither of these cards is as good as the current (old) card with it’s $49 annual fee and free night – even capped at 40K points.

Both Frequent Miler and Mommy Points include screen shots of Twitter conversations where the Chase reps say that cards approved today will get the uncapped anniversary night so bookmark those pages and sign up for the new card today. Frequent Miler has a card sign-up link in the post and on the Best Offers page.

Categories: Chase, Credit Cards, IHG Rewards Card | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

It’s a new quarter, activate bonus categories now!

Today is the start of the second quarter of 2018 so time to activate your bonus categories if you haven’t already done so.  The Chase Freedom, Discover and US Bank Cash Plus cards all offer 5% bonus categories good for up to $1500 in spend.  Both Discover and Chase Freedom have grocery stores as their category though with the Freedom card you can also use Chase Pay or Paypal to earn bonuses.  The US Bank Cash Plus card allows you to pick your 5% category and new this quarter is home utilities.  That’s a great category and I’m not aware of any other card offering that category so I hope it sticks around.  I don’t know if it includes telephone and television services or not but if you don’t have a Chase Ink card to earn 5% on those categories it’s certainly worth testing out. 

More information on the categories and how to register can be found in this postDon’t forget that to receive the Discover 5% cash back you must register before using your card.

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

Register Now for Q2 Category Bonuses

Registration is now open for quarterly bonus categories for the Chase Freedom, Discover and US Bank Cash+ cards.

Chase Freedom

Starting today you can register your Chase Freedom card and in April you’ll receive 5x Ultimate Rewards points on purchases made at grocery stores, Paypal and on purchases made through the Chase Pay mobile payment system.  You must activate by June 14, 2018 to earn 5x during this quarter but you don’t have to activate before you make your purchases.  You can earn the 5x points for up to $1500 in purchases.  After that you’ll earn the usual 1x points per dollar.  Note that you won’t earn points at Wal-Mart or Target grocery stores unless you pay via Chase Pay or Paypal.

Discover Card

Discover has chosen to reveal their entire 2018 calendar and for the second quarter their 5% cash back category is Grocery Stores.  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 changing things up just a little by adding Home Utilities and removing Bookstores.  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.

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

Register Now for 2018 Q1 Bonus Categories

Registration is now open for quarterly bonus categories for the Chase Freedom, Discover and US Bank Cash+ cards.

Chase Freedom

Starting today you can register your Chase Freedom card and starting in January you’ll receive 5x Ultimate Rewards points on purchases made at gas stations, for internet/cable/cell phone service and on purchases made through mobile pay systems like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Chase Pay and Samsung Pay.  You must activate by March 14, 2018 to earn 5x during this quarter but you don’t have to activate before you make your purchases.  You can earn the 5x points for up to $1500 in purchases.  After that you’ll earn the usual 1x points per dollar.

Discover Card

Discover has chosen to reveal their entire 2018 calendar and for the first quarter their 5% cash back categories are Gas Stations 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 always the first to reveal the categories for the next quarter.  As we reported last month, they have their usual array of categories for you to 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.

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

Register for US Bank Cash+ 2018 Q1 Categories

If you’re currently a cardholder of the US Bank Cash+ card, it’s time to register for bonus cash back categories for January-March 2018.  As usual you get to select one category to earn 2% back and two categories where you can earn 5% back.

This quarter’s categories seem to be the same as the 2017 Q4 categories but you need to make a selection each quarter to ensure you get the 5% back.

Make your selections, click the button and you should be taken to a second page to confirm your selections.  Click on the Confirm button and you should see this Registration Successful page:

 

You have until December 26 to change your selections if needed.

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

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