Credit Cards

Activate 2020 3rd Quarter Bonus Categories

It’s the 15th of the 3rd month of the quarter so 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+

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 for TV/Internet/Streaming Services and Cell Phones.  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.  I’m choosing Home Utilities (as usual) and Gyms (as usual).

Discover Card

Discover has already given us the full calendar for 2020.  For Q3 the categories are:

This is a great category for me as I eat out a lot.

Don’t forget that Discover added Home Depot for the month of June as a 5% category and Home Depot sells gift cards, although the one near me does not sell the variable load Visas.

Chase Freedom

Q3’s Chase Freedom categories are Amazon and Whole Foods.  With so many people ordering online, this will no doubt be a popular category.  You can redeem the Ultimate Rewards (UR) points earned through these purchases in several ways.  As a statement credit they’re worth one cent apiece.  You can use them to book travel through the Chase portal, also for one cent apiece.  Where their value really shines is if you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) or Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Though these cards carry annual fees ($95 for CSP, $450 for CSR) you can combine the UR points earned on the Freedom with those earned on your other UR-earning card and transfer them to several airlines and hotel groups.  Or you can book through the Chase travel portal for 1.25 cents apiece if you have the CSP or 1.5 cents each if you have the CSR.  I have the CSR and my friends and I booked a lovely ocean-front condo on the Sunshine Coast of Australia using UR points at 1.5 cents each.  It was a fantastic way to top off our trip Down Under.

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

In the end

Always register for the bonus categories even if you don’t think you’re going to use them.  You’ll never know when they might come in handy!

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

Bonuses Galore

Chase, American Express and Citibank have each unleashed a slew of new bonuses for those who carry their travel-related cards. Since folks aren’t spending money on travel, they’ve increased the bonus points earned at groceries on cards you might not otherwise be using there. Amex and Citibank are also giving you different ways to spend the travel credit that come with some of their premium cards.

All of these changes are temporary as we deal with this virus. While it’s great to have these options, let’s hope they don’t have to come up with more creative ways to incentivize us to use their cards once these offers run out. That will mean we are or will soon be traveling again. Continue reading

Categories: Chase, Citi Prestige, Citibank, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Delta Amex, Hilton Aspire, Hilton Surpass, IHG Rewards Card, Marriott Rewards Card, Membership Rewards, Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Activate 2020 2nd Quarter Bonus Categories

It’s the 15th of the 3rd month of the quarter so 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 several 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 June 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.  I’m choosing Home Utilities (as usual) and Gyms (as usual).

Discover Card

Discover has already given us the full calendar for 2020.  For Q2 the categories are:

If you’re a wholesale club member or can get Visa gift cards at gas stations, this quarter could earn you a lot of cash back.

 

Chase Freedom

If you don’t have a Chase Ink card that earns 5x points on internet/cable/phone already and don’t want to use one of your US Bank categories, this is the quarter to use your Chase Freedom card on those bills.  Otherwise use this card for your gas purchases (and gift cards, if sold there) and on any streaming services you may use.

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

Activate 2020 1st Quarter Bonus Categories

I’m a little late with this post but 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 several 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 December 26th 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.  I’m choosing Home Utilities (as usual) but instead of my usual Gym category I’m going with sporting goods this time.  Since I’ll have a couple of ski trips during the first quarter of 2020 and I may buy something at one of the shops, it will cost more than my monthly gym membership so I’ll get a better value there.

Discover Card

Discover has already given us the full calendar for 2020.  For Q1 the categories are:

This is an easy one to max out as you can buy Visa gift cards at these places and load them to your Bluebird or turn them into money orders.

 

Chase Freedom

If you don’t have a Chase Ink card that earns 5x points on internet/cable/phone already and don’t want to use one of your US Bank categories, this is the quarter to use your Chase Freedom card on those bills.  Otherwise use this card for your gas purchases (and gift cards, if sold there) and on any streaming services you may use.

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

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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