Credit Cards

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.

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

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

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

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