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Month: March 2019

How I Get 5% Back on Almost Every Purchase

Hello to my 12 readers (4 of whom I am not related to). A few months back I wrote about how everyone should be getting at least 2% back on every purchase. Now that is the bare minimum. If you aren’t get 2%, well then you just don’t like free money. But for those who do, I want to run down how I get 5% back on almost every purchase I make. Now should you go apply for all these cards right now? No. Some may make sense for you. Others won’t.

Chase Ink Business Preferred: I have an older version of the Chase Ink that gives 5% back on cellphone bills. I actually switched it up recently after learning that the Chase Ink Business Preferred offers free cellphone protection if you pay your bills with that card. You get up to a $600 per claim in cellphone protection against covered theft or damage. There’s a maximum of 3 claims in a 12 month period with a $100 deductible per claim.

The Chase Ink Preferred also gives you 3% back on phone, internet and cable bills. In my mind, the 3% plus the cellphone protection beats out the 5%. The Ink Preferred also has one of the best signup bonuses out there – 80,000 points after spending $5K in five months. Those are worth $800 in statement credits or more than $1,500 worth of travel if transferred to frequent flyer or hotel programs. A reminder you don’t need a traditional business to open a business credit card.  Application link here.

Chase Freedom/Discover IT:  Both of these cards have rotating 5% cash back categories that change each quarter. Right now, the Chase Freedom has 5% on gas stations, drugstores and tolls. The Discover has grocery stores. The great thing about that drugstore category is CVS counts and you can buy $500 gift cards to rack up those points. Discover often offers 5% back at Amazon in Q4 each year and it’s already on the schedule again for 2019. We buy pretty much everything on Amazon so when Q4 rolls around, I buy $1,500 worth of Amazon gift cards so all my holiday shopping is getting 5% back.

If I had to pick one of these two cards, though, the Freedom is the winner. It has a $150 signup bonus after spending $500 in three months and Chase UR points are much more valuable than Discover points. That said, the Discover card doubles your cash back earned for the first year. That means 2% on everything and a huge 10% on anything on the rotating categories. Do note that there’s a maximum of $1,500 in spending in each category that earns bonus points. Chase Freedom link here. Discover IT here.

American Express Gold Card: This card gives 5% back at supermarkets and restaurants all year. But here’s the big caveat: there’s a $250 annual fee that isn’t waived the first year. My annual fee is coming due soon and it will be a tough call on whether to keep it or not. The pros: there’s a signup bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points after $2K spending 3 months. That bonus alone makes this card worth getting for at least one year. 40K Amex points can easily get you $600-700 worth of travel.

The card also gives you $10 a month in statement credits when you pay with the card at participating dining partners, which include Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack locations. We sure as hell don’t bring two kids to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, but we get that $10 credit every damn from from Grubhub. So right there with the dining credits, that brings the annual fee down to $130. You also get up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits toward incidental airline fees like checked baggage when you charge them to your card.

So yeah, tough call on this one when it’s renewal time. Big fee, but also big benefits. I will say if you are big spender at restaurants, this is likely a card you want in your arsenal despite the annual fee. Application link here.

The one big nut I have yet to crack: how to get 5% back (or anything back) on my mortgage payment. If someone has figured that out, well, you are my new best friend.

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Citi American Airlines Cards Are Lucrative And Churnable

I applied for my first credit card in a while today. I was letting my credit reports “cool off” a little bit, which really isn’t necessary, but I’m trying to be a bit more selective in the cards I apply for. I applied for the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage
Platinum Select World Mastercard today and was instantly approved. That was a little surprisingly because a lot of times with business cards you get a pending status and need to call in or at least wait a week or two to be approved.

The bonus on this card is 50,000 miles after $3,000 spend in three months and then another 15,000 miles after a total of $10,000 spend in the first year. The annual fee of $99 is waived the first year. I value AA miles at about 1.5 cents a piece so you are looking at about $1,000 worth of flights for this bonus.

When applying, I just used my name for the business name. I’ve sold a few hundred dollars worth of items on eBay in the past year so I put that down as my revenue and used my social security number as the tax ID number. As I’ve mentioned before, you would be surprised at what qualifies as a business.

The great thing about business cards is they don’t show up on your personal credit report. This is especially important when it comes to staying under Chase’s 5/24 rule, i.e. you can’t be approved for any Chase card if you have been approved for more than 5 cards from any bank in the past 24 months. Chase generally has the best bonuses so I do my best to always be under 5/24. With business cards, though, I can open as many as I want (except for those from Capital One, Discover and TD Bank as those do show up on your personal credit report) and Chase won’t see them on my credit report.

If you really don’t have anything that qualifies as a business, Citi also has a personal AA card that offers a bonus of 60,000 miles for $3,000 spending in three months.

Another great thing about Citi AA cards if they are churnable, meaning you can get the bonus on them more than once. Here’s what the terms say for the personal card: American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than an AAdvantage MileUp℠ or CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months. It’s the same deal for the business card. If you haven’t opened or closed a Citi AA card in the past 24 months, you can apply and get the bonus again.

My strategy with my new card will be to keep it open for 10-11 months, enough time to spend the $10,000 to get the full bonus and to not piss off Citi by looking like a bonus chaser (even though I am one) by getting the bonus and then closing it right away. Once I close it, I will make a note on my credit spreadsheet to apply for it again in two years.

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