Chase

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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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

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!

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Register now for Discover Q4 bonuses

Yesterday was the first day of the last quarter of 2016.  With it comes a new opportunity to earn 5% back when using your Discover card.  This quarter’s bonus categories are Amazon.com, Department Stores and Sam’s Club – all places that can be useful for holiday shopping.  You may earn 5% cash back in these categories for the first $1500 in purchases through the end of the year.

Some Sam’s Club locations also sell Visa and/or MasterCard gift cards so that’s an easy way to max out your bonuses.

Registering for the bonus

I received an email from Discover that looks like this:

2016-10-02-discover-q4-bonus-registration
Or you can log into your account at Discover.com to register for the bonus.  Either way, it’s a very simple process.

And if you haven’t already registered for the Freedom 5% bonus categories, now’s the time to do that too!

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Freedom Q4 Bonus Activation Now Live!

2016-09-17-freedom-q4-registration

The Chase Freedom card normally offers 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent.  But each quarter the card offers bonus categories which will earn 5 UR points per dollar for up to $1500 in purchases during the specified quarter.  To get the 5 UR points per dollar bonus you must activate it for your Freedom card.

The activation page is now live for the fourth quarter of 2016.  The categories for this quarter are:

  • Department Stores
  • Wholesale Clubs
  • Drug Stores

These are a terrific set of categories and make it easy to max out the bonus.  With the holidays approaching, many people will shop at department stores and wholesale clubs for gifts.

And if you find you’re going to fall short of maxing out the deal you can buy gift cards to complete the spend.  These can be department store cards for yourself or as gifts and both wholesale clubs and drug stores sell a number of merchant gift cards for restaurants, other stores and gas stations.  You can also buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards and use those for everyday spend at places where you would not normally earn 5 UR points per dollar.

To activate the card, simply go to the activation page on the Chase website, enter your information and you’re all set!  You should then see a web page indicating your activation is complete.
2016-09-17-freedom-q4-activation

You have until December 14 to activate the bonus categories but why wait?  Do it now and you’ll be all set when October 1 rolls around.

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My Experience Applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Though I’ve not mentioned it here, the top bloggers in the world of points & miles have all let us know about Chase’s new offering that’s meant to compete with the Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum.

2016-09-04 CSR Intro

The card comes with a $450 annual fee – not waived the first year – which is similar to those cards.  But whereas the Platinum comes with an annual $200 airline credit (and you must specify which airline) and the Prestige has an annual $250 airline credit, the Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 annual credit good on any type of travel.  Since these credits are valid for a calendar year, that means that in the first year you have the card you can get $600 in travel credits which totally offsets the annual fee.  In future years it knocks the annual fee down to $150, which is quite reasonable for a card like this.

Like the Freedom cards and the Sapphire Preferred, this new Sapphire Reserve card earns Ultimate Rewards (UR) points that can be transferred to a number of airlines and hotels:

  • Air France/KLM
  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton

I don’t know if people are applying for this card at record rates or not but they’ve actually run out of card stock for it!  It was supposed to be issued on a metal card, similar to the Sapphire Preferred but apparently the demand has far exceeded Chase’s expectations so people are receiving temporary plastic cards until the metal cards can be issued.
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Activate Q3 Bonus Categories Now

There are two great no-annual-fee credit cards that offer quarterly bonus categories.  When you buy products from stores in those categories during the specified time frame, instead of the usual 1% cash back or 1 point per dollar, you’ll earn 5% or 5x points.  Each of these cards offers the bonuses for up to $1500 in purchases each quarter.  You’ll need to be sure to activate these category bonuses before mid-September, so why not go ahead and do it now?

First up, the Discover family of cards.  My Discover card is the oldest one I own and over the years has transitioned to a Discover More card.  But the Discover It card is also eligible to receive the quarterly bonuses.  To register for Q3, either log into your account and look on the right side of the screen where you’ll see a link or go straight to the activation page and sign in there.  This quarter’s bonus categories are home improvement stores (like Ace, Home Depot, Lowe’s and even specialty stores like Benjamin Moore) and Amazon.com, so you can start your holiday shopping early!  (And Amazon is a category for Q4 too!)

2016-06-20 Discover Q3 Bonus

Next, the Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back – or 5x Freedom points, which can be worth more than 1 penny per point – on spending at Restaurants and Wholesale Clubs.  That comes just in time for those who use Costco as they now only accept Visa.  You can activate your Freedom bonus here.

2016-06-20 Freedom Q3 Bonus

Quarterly bonuses are a great way to increase the amount of points or cash back you earn – just remember to use these cards beginning on July 1!

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

Register Now for Chase Freedom Q2 Bonus

The Chase Freedom card is a terrific no-fee credit card. Each quarter it offers 5x Ulitmate Rewards (UR) points in certain bonus categories.
2016-03-17 Freedom 2Q Categories

Those UR points can be redeemed for a penny a point, which is not a bad deal. But if you have one of the other Ultimate Rewards cards like the Sapphire Preferred or one of the Ink business cards, you can combine your UR balance between the cards. That means you can transfer your UR points to airlines (like United) or hotel programs (like Hyatt) and get more value than one penny per point.

Today I received a reminder email from Chase that it was time to register for the second quarter bonuses, which will begin on April 1.

2016-03-17 Freedom 2Q Registration Email

If you received this email you can just click on the link and, voila!, you’re registered.

If you did not receive the email you can go to the registration website and sign up there.

2016-03-17 Freedom 2Q Registration Site

Once you’ve signed up you should get an email from Chase indicating your registration was successful.

2016-03-17 Freedom 2Q Registration Complete

This quarter you can earn bonuses for up to $1500 in purchases at Grocery Stores and Wholesale Clubs. Note that most Wal-Marts and Targets do not qualify as grocery stores for this promotion. Wholesale Clubs like Sam’s and BJs will work too.

This is an easy category to max out as many grocery stores and warehouse clubs sell Visa gift cards. Buy 3 x $500 Visa gift cards and you’re done for the quarter! Or, if you don’t have an easy way to liquidate Visa gift cards, there are restaurant and other store gift cards that can be bought in many grocery stores. And often you can earn at least double fuel points for these gift cards. And remember that a gift card doesn’t have to actually be a “gift”. You can use it for yourself for places where you regularly dine or shop.

So be sure to register today!

Don’t have this card? You can sign up for one here. I make no money from this link but it will help support one of the full-time bloggers who help get the word out about the points & miles game.

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

A South Pacific Birthday Trip

SPB Trip Planning
SPB Qantas First Class to Sydney
SPB Park Hyatt Sydney
SPB Sydney Opera House
SPB Around Sydney
SPB Flying to/from Uluru
SPB Emu Walk Apartments
SPB Uluru and Kata Tjuta
SPB Park Hyatt Melbourne
SPB Around Melbourne
SPB Flying to Fiji
SPB Hilton Fiji
SPB Snorkeling Trip
SPB Fiji Air Business Class to Los Angeles
SPB Hyatt Regency DFW

 

I have a couple of friends I like to travel with and over the years we’ve all had a birthday that ends in a zero (with different leading digits!). Our tradition has become whoever has the “zero birthday” gets to pick the vacation spot and we try to do it up right. About two years ago I first got into the miles and points game and it wasn’t long before I set a goal of celebrating my next “zero birthday” in Australia and using miles and points to pay for as much of it as possible.

My dad, who’s a 2 million miler on American, offered to give me whatever AA points I needed to make my trip happen. That left me a goal of helping my friends accumulate the miles they’d need to fly Down Under too. Then, of course, there would be points needed for hotel rooms. Lofty goals but with two years to get things planned, we were able to accomplish it relatively cheaply – well, cheaply as compared to what it COULD have cost!

The itinerary

I had visited Australia before, in 2006, and was eager to go back. One of my friends had been there as well but the other had not. So I knew that meant I’d need to re-visit some of the iconic places but I also wanted to be sure to visit some places I’d never been. My prior trip had involved stops in Sydney and Cairns, which is up near the Great Barrier Reef. While I would have loved to have gone back to the GBR, there were other places I wanted to visit as well, and with a total trip length of two weeks, we just couldn’t squeeze everything in this time around. In the end we flew from the US to Sydney and stayed there four days. Next we flew to the Red Centre of the country and visited Uluru (Ayers Rock) for a couple of days. Then it was down south to Melbourne for a bit more than two days.

During our trip planning we had talked about stopping off somewhere a little more exotic on the way back, somewhere we could just enjoy the beach, the sun and the surf. Since we’d be using primarily American Airlines miles, I quickly realized that due to their routing rules we’d need to stay in Oceania for our beach time. That led us to look at Fiji as our final stop before heading back to the US.

My friends and I each make our homes in different cities in the US so here is how our trip worked out:

The various routings for our trip. Map made on gcmap.com

The various routings for our trip. Map made on gcmap.com

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Categories: American Airlines, Australia, Award Travel, Chase, Fiji, Fiji Air, Hilton, Hotel, Hyatt, Oceania, OneWorld, Qantas, Sapphire Preferred | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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