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Month: January 2019

Everyone Should Have an Amex SPG Card

Hyatts are great for redeeming points. The Hyatt award chart often makes it easy to get 2 cents per point when redeeming and that’s pretty much the holy grail for maximizing credit card points.

But here’s the rub: Hyatt has about 800 hotels worldwide. You can find at least one in pretty much any major city, but there will be times where it just won’t be feasible to stay at a Hyatt and if you only have Hyatt hotel points, you will have to pay cash to stay at another hotel. We do not pay cash to travel. Repeat that. I have not spent a dime on hotels or airfare for a dozen years (Disney is the only exception since you can’t redeem points at Disney properties). The only way to pull this off is to have points spread out across a wide array of reward programs.

This has already been a long-winded way to say the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is one everyone should have. The signup bonus is 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Marriott bought Starwood in 2016 and their reward programs merged last year. Those 75,000 points can be used at nearly 8,000 hotels around the world so unless you are traveling to a remote desert, you will always be able to find a Marriott or SPG hotel nearby. You can easily get $500 worth of value out of those points and as I’ve mentioned in the past, that’s really the minimum amount of value you should be looking for with every credit card you apply for. Do not apply for the Target credit card to get 10% off your $20 purchase!

In the example below, you can redeem 70,000 points for two nights at the Courtyard Boston Downtown on a summer weekend. It would cost you over $700 in cash.

Amex cards also unlock Amex offers, which can be very lucrative and can easily make up for the $95 annual fee on the card. That fee is waived for the first year. You also get a free night each year (awarded on each card anniversary) in a hotel up to 35,000 points. So clearly, as long as you use that free night each year, this card is one that is worth getting and keeping long term.

Apply for the SPG card here.

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Citizens Bank Offering a $450 Checking Account Signup Bonus

Some checking account bonuses can be a true pain in the ass to obtain. You need a bunch direct deposits, use a debit card 10 times and then keep the account open for 6 months or pay an early termination fee, etc etc. Thankfully this is not the case with a new offer from Citizens Bank.

The offer is available to residents in CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. One direct deposit of $1,000 or more within 60 days of account opening gets you a $450 bonus. If you can’t swing a DD of more than $1K, there’s a $200 bonus for one direct deposit of $500 or more. The Platinum Checking account that gets you $450 has a $25 monthly fee, but it’s likely not charged for a month or two and I can’t find anything about an early termination fee so once that bonus hits (it may take up to 90 days after the direct deposit according to the terms), just transfer the money out and close the account.

A reminder that bank account bonuses do count as taxable income so you will get a 1099 form for any bonus you receive.

Here’s the link to the offer


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My 2019 Credit Card Signup Bonus Strategy

First post in a while as at least someone in my family has been sick for the last few weeks. My son vomited on me twice, including once pretty much right into my mouth. Alright, TMI and that’s not what you’re here for. Since it’s the first day of 2019, I figured I’d outline my personal strategy for the year when it comes to credit card bonuses.

Now my strategy almost certainly shouldn’t be your strategy as I am more limited in the cards I can get since I have had so many over the years. For example, American Express now only lets you receive a signup bonus once per lifetime per card. There are still several Amex cards I have never received a bonus for, but none of them have a signup bonus that’s worthy of using a credit inquiry on at the moment.

Chase’s 5/24 rule, meaning you can’t be approved for any Chase card if you have gotten 5 or more credit cards from any bank in the past two years, is a big factor in what cards I will be applying for. Up until a few years ago, I could apply for 12 cards a year and not have to worry about being limited by Chase. Now I have to be more careful. Over the past two years I have applied and been approved for 7 credit cards. But 3 of those cards have been business cards and those do not count toward the 5/24 rule.

So basically I want to hit as many business cards as I can this year, thus “aging” my personal cards so come next year, I should be at 2/24 and able to apply for two new Chase cards. The beauty of Chase cards, at least for most of them, is that you can receive a bonus for the same card every two years. The one exception that I know of that was recently added is on the Chase Sapphire, which has a four year waiting period to get a second bonus.

My last credit card application was for the Southwest Premier Business card, which gives you 60,000 Southwest points after $3K in spending. I will complete the minimum spending later this month and then I am considering applying for the personal version of the Southwest Premier card. That would put me right at 5/24, but after hitting the minimum spending, I will have earned 120,000 SW points, which is enough to obtain a Companion Pass. That pass, which allows a family member or friend to fly free with you an unlimited amount of times on Southwest through the next calendar year after you earned the pass, can be worth thousands if you fly a lot.

I also have my eyes on the Citi AA business card. It’s currently offering 70,000 AA miles (those can easily be worth more than $1,500 in travel if used wisely) if you spend $4K in four months. The $99 annual fee is waived for the first year.

A reminder that many things count as businesses when it comes to applying for business credit cards.

That’s basically my plan for the first half of the year. During the second half, I will keep my eyes out for any huge bonuses and then I will have to decide if they are worth going after even if they are going to add to my 5/24 total and possibly delay my next Chase application.

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