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Miles of Deals Posts

How to Obtain Maximum Value For Your Credit Card Points

Earning credit card points by signing up for new cards is quite easy, but how you decide to use those points is where you can reap major rewards or make tragic mistakes. OK, maybe that is overstating it, but if you want to squeeze out the maximum value from your points, you need to be smart.

With fixed-value point cards, there isn’t much to think about. If you get the Capital One Venture card, you are getting a 50,000 point signup bonus that is worth $500. It’s the cards with transferrable points, namely Chase and Amex, that can have you sipping on a mimosa in first class and getting one of those hot towels. That’s some fancy shit and I sure as hell don’t have the cash to pay for that.

Anyway, I plan on delving deep into the reward programs of every bank, but for now, let’s take a look at an example of a smart use of Chase UR points. Now if you just say have a no annual fee Chase card like the Freedom, you can’t transfer your points to airline or hotel programs. But with the premium cards like the Sapphire and the Ink, you can transfer to numerous partners. From the Ultimate Reward portal, you just click on Transfer to Travel Partners. From there you can connect your airline and hotel accounts and once you do, it takes just seconds to make a transfer.

My family has been to the Hyatt Place Delray Beach numerous times. It’s an example of a hotel with a high cash price, especially during the peak tourist season, that can be snagged for a bargain’s worth of points. For example, to book the hotel with cash on the night of Feb. 12, 2019, the price with taxes comes to $396. Now you do get a decent free breakfast at the Hyatt Place, but I have two kids who eat $20 worth of Danimals a day, so I ain’t paying that much for a hotel room.

But now we go take a peek at the Hyatt Gold Passport free night chart. And look at that, the Delray Hyatt Place is only 12,000 points per night. So you simply transfer your 12,000 Chase points to your Hyatt account and book the hotel with points. By doing that, you get more than 3 cents per point worth of value, i.e. if you just cashed out the Chase points for a statement credit, you would get $120. Transfer the same amount to Hyatt, get a $400 hotel room. Not bad.

 

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You Should Be Getting At Least 2% Back on Every Purchase

This site will mainly focus on taking advantage of huge credit card sign up bonuses, but I feel like it’s first important to make sure everyone isn’t missing out on 2% cash back on every purchase they made. When I see someone use a debit card to buy something at a store, a little piece of me dies inside. Using a debit card gets you 0% cash back and that’s just not cool. Don’t do that to yourself.

There are many credit cards out there that give you 1% back on all purchases, and some of them like the Chase Freedom have 5% cash back in rotating spending categories. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t be getting at least 2% back on every single thing you buy. To get it, you just need one of the following cards:

Capital One Venture: This one not only gives you 2% back on every purchase, but there’s a 50,000 point bonus if you spend 3K in the first 3 months. You can’t redeem points for straight cash back, but it’s basically the same thing. 50,000 points is worth $500 in statement credits toward travel purchases and many things fall into the travel category. There also seems to be a nice glitch where you can keep redeeming points for the same purchase over and over again. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year. After the first year, you would need to make the call on whether to cancel or switch to one of the other cards below. But this card is certainly worth getting for at least a year.

Fidelity Rewards Visa Card: I’ve had this card forever. No annual fee plus 2% on everything is a beautiful thing. This one also isn’t a true straight cash back card as they won’t mail you a check, but it’s quite simple. You just need some kind of free Fidelity account and after you accrue $50 in rewards, you transfer it to your Fidelity account and from there you can cash out. Note there is no signup bonus on this one.

Citi Double Cash: This one gives you 1% on all purchases and then another 1% as you pay for those purchases. So a complicated way of saying 2% on everything. Also no annual fee and you can redeem cash back for a check or statement credits.

The takeaway: Stop using your damn debit card and get one of the cards above. As long as you can hit the 3K spend in 3 months, I’d go with the Capital One.

Bonus: If you already have a 2% card and you are just here for huge bonuses, well I certainly respect that. My friend Dan reminder me today of one of the best ones currently out there. The American Airlines Aviator card. You get 50,000 AA miles after making one purchase. Yes, just one purchase. You do need to pay the $95 annual fee on your first statement, but used wisely, the 50,000 AA miles are worth at least $750. That’s a damn great deal for about 5 minutes of work: 2 mins to apply and 3 mins to drive to the nearest 7-Eleven and buy a pack of gum.

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Welcome.

If you are reading this, wow! I actually started this website. My talented sister-in-law Erin created the logo months ago and then I just didn’t do anything for months, which frankly I completely expected of myself. But anyway, I am excited that I have finally put words down here. I’m keeping the website design very simple right now because the website builder thing had all these boxes and menus everywhere and I got frustrated and just deleted them all.

Here’s the quick back story on why I’m starting this site: I spend way too much of my free time searching for new credit card offers and deals in general online that I want to share some of that “knowledge” with more people.

Credit card sign up bonuses are where there is real “free money” to be made. I haven’t paid for a flight or hotel in 10 years. I would estimate I have obtained more than $50,000 worth of free travel through credit card bonuses. Over the years, I have convinced a few friends and family to get into the points game, but many others remain skeptical. How can credit card companies give away all those points? Won’t opening new credit cards hurt my credit score? I’m going to tackle some of those FAQs a little further below, but first let me run through the basic details of how obtaining a massive stash of airlines and hotel points works. For those who don’t travel, you can of course get straight cash back on many cards, but the real value comes in using points for travel.

Let’s take a look at one of the best credit card offers out there right now as an example. The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 on the card within three months after obtaining it. 50,000 Chase points are worth $500 cash or closer to $1,000 worth of travel if you transfer those point to frequent flyer programs. The toughest part of “earning” this free money can often be hitting the minimum spend in time, but there are many ways (buying Visa gift cards to use later, pre-paying bills, etc) that can help you get there. I will explore them in depth in a future post.

Now let’s tackle some of the myths that often make people skeptical of jumping into the miles/points game.

MYTH: If I apply for new credit cards, it will ruin my credit score. TRUTH: My credit score is 800 and I open 10+ cards every single year. If you apply for several cards over a short period of time, yes, your score could drop a few points but it will almost certainly rise back up to where it was and probably even higher after a couple months. 65% of your credit score is based on your payment history and credit utilization percentage (i.e. how much of your available credit you are using compared to your total credit line across all credit cards). Opening new cards increases your total credit line, thus lowering your credit utilization percentage.

MYTH: You have to pay annual fees on cards with large signup bonuses. TRUTH: Now this one is partially true, but I’d say 80 percent of credit cards with annual fees waive the fee for the first year. So if you are just trying to rack up points like myself, you just cancel the card before the annual fee hits for the second year.

MYTH: It must be a scam. The credit card companies aren’t giving away all these miles for free. TRUTH: Yes, I swear they are. This is all totally legal. In just the second quarter of 2018, Chase made $8.3 billion profit. The credit card companies are doing just fine. Their goal with these signup bonuses is to rope people into a long term relationship and they are hoping you rack up a ton of debt so you have to pay them a ton of money in interest.

Let’s be clear: the cards I will recommend on this site are not ones you should apply for if you don’t plan on paying your balance in full every month or if you are trying to get out of debt. High reward cards tend to have high interest rates. But if you are looking for a card to help you work your way out of debt, one of the best is the Amex Everyday Card. You can apply for it here. It offers no interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. And even better, balance transfers are free (they are 3-5% on most cards) if you requested one within the first 60 seconds of opening the card.

A disclaimer: I like free things, thus if I can receive a referral bonus by sharing credit card referral links on this site, I shall. The caveat is I will always post links to the best available bonus offer at the time and that may not always be one in which I can get a referral bonus. Basically if you click a link from this site to apply for a card, I can promise you the offer you receive is the highest one you will find anywhere else online. One important thing I haven’t mentioned so far: you need a good credit score to be approved for the best rewards cards. In general, that means above a 700. You may get approved for a few with a score as low as 650, but over 700 is really where you want to be. You can check your credit score for free on Credit Karma.

My main goal with this site is simple: help people travel the world for free as I have done for the last decade.

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