The US Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature card is a no annual fee card that gives cash back on purchases. The interesting part of the card is that you pick the categories each quarter (one 2% category and two 5% categories).

US Bank Cash Plus  The US Bank Cash Plus card   get $425 using it strategically

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card Benefits

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose (like department stores or cell phone service).
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category (like gas or groceries).
  • 1% cash back on everything else.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.

Make sure you choose your categories each quarter.   If you do not choose your categories, all net purchases will still earn 1% cash back. Categories are subject to change quarterly.  You can find a list of the categories here.

What’s interesting is that one of the 5% categories is charity and that one of the qualifying categories is Kiva.

charity The US Bank Cash Plus card   get $425 using it strategically

I’ve talked about Kiva in the past here and my personal experience with Kiva.  Essentially, you make microloans to those in need in countries around the world, and get your money returned over time without interest.

Given that you can make these loans with your credit card, you could consider the miles or points earned from the credit cards as your interest.  Keep in mind that you are floating money and will be getting paid over months.

So, if you make these loans using the US Bank Cash plus signature visa card, you would be earning 5% on your contributions.  Since US bank limits to $2000 on 5% categories every quarter, that works out to $8000 spend over the year.  Earning 5% on $8000 is $400.

As an added one time bonus, US bank gives $25 when you redeem at least $100.  Thus, you could receive $425 over the course of the year.  This is more money that you would normally get in an average checking or savings account.  Of course, you could withdraw money from checking or savings accounts, but that’s not the case here.  In addition, this money from US Bank is tax free.

Keep in mind that there are risks to Kiva such as loans defaulting.  My personal rate of default has been very low (0.3 %) equivalent to losing $24 on an $8000 loan.

In comparison, there are many cards such as Chase Freedom and Discover card that offer 5% back on rotating categories.  The difference between those cards is that you have to go buy things and there is no such thing as floating money.  With this approach and the US Bank Cash Plus card, you’re not buying anything, but loaning money which you will eventually get back.

If loaning money is not your thing, you could still get 5% cash back by picking other categories.  Given that it’s a no annual fee card, it is just as valuable as the Discover card or Chase Freedom.

Also keep in mind that this strategy applies specifically to the Cash Plus Signature Visa.  If you do not qualify for the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, you will automatically be considered for the U.S. Bank Cash Rewards Visa Card that earns 1% cash back on all net purchases, but does not offer the 5% and 2% Cash+ Categories.  You can only apply for this card in person.  It is not available online.

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Don’t Trust The Delta Award Calendar

For those that are experts in booking awards with Delta miles, you can likely ignore this post.  For those that struggle to book awards with Delta miles, there is a simple message in this post: the Delta award calendar sucks.  If you are trying to book international awards, you should ignore it or at least realize that what you see is not true.

I was recently looking at flights from Houston to Amsterdam in economy at the low level.  I started looking for one-way so I can find the flights I want and then piece them together in the multi-city search.  In the starting search, I typed in my departure, arrival, date and checked off the “redeem miles” along with “my dates are flexible.”

delta 1 Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

Here is what the Delta award calendar showed:

delta 2 Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

According to this award calendar, there should be no low level awards available, only peak awards.  This would actually discourage a person from continuing and instead click on a “saver award” date that they may not even want.

However, I continued clicking through on the “peak award” date that I wanted and on the next page, buried at the bottom of the page found a “saver award.”

delta 3 Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

So, even though the Delta calendar showed “peak award” on the date that I wanted, when I continued, I actually found a “saver award.”  In essence, you can’t trust the stupid Delta calendar.

To avoid this problem, you can use the KLM or Airfrance websites to look for the award.  The two airlines share the same frequent flyer program called Flying Blue.  You should create frequent flyer account for Flying Blue to be able to check for awards.  Once you have that, you can search for your award on KLM or Airfrance.us.

When I searched the same itinerary through Flying Blue, I clearly see that the low level award is available.  In fact, there are many dates where low level awards are available, yet Delta calendar shows peak dates.

flying blue Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

The untrustable Delta award calendar is part of the reason many people including me hate Delta miles.  However, if you know some tips and tricks, you can actually find the ticket you want… sometimes…rarely icon smile Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar The lesson here is don’t trust the Delta award calendar.  Check for award availability through Flying Blue.

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Comparing the best 2% cash back cards

Of the hundreds of credit cards out there, there are only 3 that currently stand out with rewards in the form of 2% cash back on everything .  A 2% cash back on everything is sort of the benchmark that’s used for comparing other cards and helps determine value of miles and hotel points.  Let’s go over the 3 best 2% cards to see how they compare and how you can benefit from each one differently.

The Fidelity American Express Card

Fidelity amex Comparing the best 2% cash back cardsThe Fidelity American Express credit card is perhaps the all time benchmark for 2% cash back on everything. It’s one of the very best cards out there. I have one and I think that everyone out there should have one.  This card has no annual fee.  There is currently no signup bonus, but in the past, Fidelity has offered a $50 signup bonus and a $75 bonus as well.

It is a card issued by FIA card services, a subsidiary of Bank of America. Rewards are paid out in the form of worldpoints. You earn 2 worldpoints for every dollar spent. Those 2 points are equal to 2 cents but only if the card is linked to a Fidelity account.  You can link it to a Fidelity Cash Management Account or a Fidelity Brokerage account.  If you redeem for anything else besides transferring to your Fidelity, you will get less than 2% back.  Check out this post from Saverocity to learn how to redeem your points correctly.

Since the card uses the American Express network, it doesn’t quite have the worldwide acceptance of Mastercard or Visa.  However, one benefit of being an Amex is that you can use it for Amex Sync offers or the annual Small Business Saturday to save some money. The foreign transaction fee is 1% which is actually better than other Amex cards.  Finally, you can actually use the card to get over 3% value when used for flights.

Citi Double Cash Back Card

citi double cash card Comparing the best 2% cash back cardsThe new Citi Double Cash Card is a new offer from Citi. It is also a no annual fee card like the Fidelity Amex.  Although there is no public offer for a bonus, there are targeted offers of $100 to $200.  The public offer gives 0% APR for the first 15 months, although there’s a balance transfer fee.

It’s earning structure is a little different than the Fidelity Amex.  You earn 1% on your purchases, and another 1% when you pay off those purchases.  As a result, you only earn the full 2% when you fully pay for your purchases, which you should be doing anyway.  It is a mastercard, so it has wider acceptance.  You can also downgrade to this card from other Citi cards if you choose.  This maybe the way to go so don’t waste a credit inquiry.  Rewards can be redeemed when you have a minimum of $25.  They can be redeemed in the form of cash, gift cards, or statement credits.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

barclaycard arrival Comparing the best 2% cash back cards

The Barclaycard Arrival card has been around for while.  It’s issued by Barclays bank.  It has no annual fee the first year, but $89 thereafter.  Contrary to the other 2 cards, the public offer does come with a signup bonus of 40,000 points (worth $440 when used for travel).

First of all, you earn “miles” with this card.  However, these “miles” should really be called points because they are not directly transferrable to any airline.

You earn 2 “miles” for every $1 spend, and each “mile” is worth 1 cent only when redeemed for travel.  Thus, your rate of return on the card is 2% when used for travel.  However, when redeemed for travel, you get 10% miles returned, which makes the effective return 2.2%.  Each mile is worth 0.5 cent when redeemed for cash back.  This equates to just 1% when redeeming for cash back.  So, technically, this isn’t a pure 2% cash back.  However, if you travel enough, it’s as good as cash.

Considering the large annual fee the second year, the other 2 cards have the edge with the no annual fee.  However, plenty of people have gotten the fee waived the second year.

Verdict

If you don’t have any of these cards yet, perhaps the first one to get should be the Barclaycard Arrival card as Barclays Bank is stingy in issuing cards to people that have many credit inquiries or too much credit already.  In addition, you are getting $440 value, whereas you get nothing with the other cards.  The Fidelity Amex is fairly easy to get as Bank of America (FIA card services) is fairly lenient.  I wouldn’t jump on the Citi Double Cash card just yet unless you get a targeted offer for a signup bonus.  These three are the current best 2% cards out there.

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I find the idea of “hidden city ticketing” pretty interesting.  The only reason to do hidden city ticketing is to save money on airfare.  The idea is best explained with examples:

Suppose you are trying to go from city A to city B.  The price of a direct flight from city A to city B might be more expensive than a flight from city A to city C that connects through city B.  If you take the second option, you could take the A-B leg, get out at B, and never take the B-C leg.

With real airports this time:  I want to travel from Houston to Charlotte (one-way) on October 3rd.  The cheapest NONSTOP ticket I found was $358.

iah clt The dangers of hidden city ticketing and should you be doing it?

However, if I book from Houston to Augusta with a stop in Charlotte, the entire itinerary is only $129 and the Houston to Charlotte leg is the same flight.  I could just get out in Charlotte and never take the Charlotte to Augusta leg.  That is a huge difference in price.  This is an example of hidden city ticketing.

iah clt aug The dangers of hidden city ticketing and should you be doing it?

You can certainly do this, but there are a lot of things to keep in mind to see if the benefits outweigh the risks when attempting this type of thing.  There are certainly many dangers involved.

Is it illegal?

According to this random letter on the American Airlines website, this is not illegal, but more so unethical.  It states:

Although the issuance and usage of hidden city tickets is not illegal in the sense that one could be fined or sent to jail by the government, it is unethical and a breach of a passengers contract with AA. Both tariff rule 100AA and American’s Condition of Carriage, which are incorporated into every ticket sold by American as part of our agreement to carry the passenger named on the ticket, bar hidden city ticketing. In addition, it violates the agencies’ contract to act as an agent for American Airlines.

In addition, some may say it’s unethical on the grounds that you are taking an airplane seat that you don’t intend to use.  As a result, you are taking a seat that someone else may need.

Does it work on roundtrips?

Because the airline will cancel the rest of the segments of your ticket if you don’t take one of the legs, this works best on one ways.  If you do this on a roundtrip, the throwaway segment has to be on your last leg.  However, you could split up the round-trip into 2 one-ways.

Risk with luggage

In the example above, if you check in luggage, your luggage will be directed to the final destination (Augusta).  Since you are going to get out in Charlotte, you don’t want your luggage in Augusta.  Don’t check in luggage!  Just take a carryon.

Flight changes 

Again with the example above, what happens if the flight to Charlotte gets cancelled due to bad weather?  The airline will try to reroute you to the final destination, which means they could route you through a different city altogether.  That’s probably one of the biggest risks of doing this.  You will really have to convince the gate agent to route you through Charlotte.

Airline won’t love you

The airlines really frown upon this kinda stuff.  They do not want you performing hidden city ticketing.  You are not only circumventing the system by paying less in airfare, you are also ticketing a seat that you won’t be using and that they could have sold.  As a form of punishment, they can shut down your frequent flyer account and confiscate all the miles.  This is one of the worst things that can happen as your hard earned miles are valuable.  As a miles and points collector, this would be a big loss in an attempt to save a few dollars.  To potentially avoid this scenario, do not enter in your frequent flyer number of the airline you are flying.  Instead, you could enter in a partner airline’s frequent flyer number.

Don’t buy the ticket from a third party

It’s vital that you don’t buy the ticket from a third party (Orbitz) or a travel agent.  You should book directly with the airline.  The reason for this is that if the airline figures out what you are doing, they could hold the third party accountable and bill them for the difference of the airfare you saved.  If you are going to try to take advantage of a loophole, don’t hold a third party accountable.

How to find hidden city ticketing

Perhaps the best way to find hidden city tickets is ITA matrix.  Search one way fares.  Pick one stop flights and force the software to connect through the city you want to get out in.  As in the example above, your one stop flight should connect in Charlotte, and your final destination should be all the airports within a specified mileage range of Charlotte.  Once you find what you are looking for, just go to the airline website to buy the ticket.

Is it worth it? 

The answer is: it depends.  To me, there are too many risks involved as stated above.   As a result, I might consider it if the flight I need is very short notice, the fare is just outrageous and I can’t find anything with miles.  In addition, this is not something you want to do over and over again.  This tactic should be used very conservatively, if at all.

Final words

Hidden city ticketing is a way to save significant money on airfare, with significant dangers as well.   If you can understand the ideas and consider yourself a risk taker, you can certainly add this to your toolbox of travel tricks.  Use it conservatively, use it with caution.

Final tip

I live in Houston.  Houston (IAH) is a huge United hub.  An airport that United serves 80 miles outside of Houston is Beaumont Port Arthur (BPT).  United has a bus service from IAH to BPT.  For example, if you try to book ATL to BPT on United, you will fly ATL-IAH and then take a United bus from IAH to BPT.  There is no IAH to BPT “flight” on United.

IAH BPT The dangers of hidden city ticketing and should you be doing it?

In addition, if flying United, you cannot get to BPT without connecting in IAH.  As a result, if you are flying United and you want to get out in Houston, BPT would be a good destination for hidden city ticketing.  In case of bad weather, they can’t reroute you to BPT through any other city, unless they put you on another airline, which you could argue against.  In addition, you would not be missing a flight, you would be missing a bus (less trackable maybe?).  However, I do think the “no checking luggage” requirement still applies as the luggage is automatically transferred to the bus.  You don’t want your luggage to end up in BPT.

What are your thoughts on hidden city ticketing?

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Sell your USED prepaid gift cards on ebay

If you love miles and points and read other blogs, chances are you buy prepaid gift cards.  I came upon something interesting the other day on Ebay.  I saw that people sell Visa, Amex, and Mastercard gift cards that have no value left on them.  What’s more shocking to me is that there are actually buyers for these gift cards.

Here’s a few examples of completed sales on Ebay for these gift cards:

ebay prepaid gift card Sell your USED prepaid gift cards on ebay

ebay prepaid gift card 2 Sell your USED prepaid gift cards on ebay

Just from these examples, you can see that you can get anywhere from $1 per card to $5 per card.

These are listed as “collectibles.”  Clearly, if you buy a lot of gift cards, this could be one way to reduce your purchase fees.  Once you have exhausted the balance on the gift card (gone to Wal Mart), put them up for sale in ebay. Obviously, it requires extra effort on your part to sell these through Ebay. You will lose a few bucks to Ebay for commission, and some for shipping.  However, if you can get the right price, you could significantly reduce your cost for MS and as a result be earning miles and points for minimal out of pocket expenses.

Keep in mind that the buyer would have access to your transaction history, but as long as you don’t care about that, it should be ok. Be careful selling used gift cards if you have officially registered any cards with your name and address for online shopping purposes. You don’t want the buyer to be able to access any of that information.

I haven’t tried this, mostly because I don’t buy that many gift cards.  Has anybody done this?

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I am usually not a fan of trip reports or hotel reviews.  However, I felt the need to talk about Berchtesgaden in general and the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden after taking a trip there recently.

It’s funny that sometimes points take me where I may have never gone otherwise.  I had 80,000 IHG rewards points burning a hole a my pocket. That was the bonus from what is now the Chase IHG rewards mastercard.

I actually learned about the town of Berchtesgaden, Germany after hearing a lot about the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden.  With rooms going for 250 Euros a night, it’s not a hotel I would have ended up at without points.  At 35,000 IHG Rewards points a night, it was a good redemption.

My wife and I stayed there for 2 nights. To start, Berchtesgaden is a magical destination. Being there feels like you are in a fairyland. The views are simply breathtaking.

Berchesgaden 1 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

View just outside the hotel. ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Transportation

I use the site Rome2rio to figure out how to get to places. Leaving from Vienna, we hopped on a train to Salzburg and then bus 840 to the main Berchtesgaden bus station (Berchesgaden Hbf).  From there, we took a cab to the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden which was about 14 euros plus tip.

If you have a rental car, it’s all the easier as you can easily drive up to the hotel.  Since we didn’t have a car, we had to rely on public transportation to get around.  The hotel actually gives you  a card that allow you to use the public transportation buses for free which was nice.  However, we realized that we wasted quite a bit of time waiting for these buses.  Also, the last bus to the hotel is at 6:30 pm, so if you decide to stay out beyond that, you will have to take a cab.

In hindsight, it would have been quite advantageous to have a car as it would have saved a lot of time and money spent on cabs as well.

The Intercontinental Berchtesgaden

The hotel is one of the top 5 hotels in Berchtesgaden.  In fact, it seems to be the only “chain hotel” there.  If you are looking to stay with loyalty points, this seems to be the only option.  With all others, you will have to pay cash.

The hotel has an uphill driveway, and is a beautiful multi-stone building.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 1 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

© Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Intercontinental Berchtesdgaden 2 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

 As you walk in, there’s an open area which is part of the bar with nice views looking out.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 3 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

We got a standard room since IHG doesn’t give upgrades on award stays.  The room was comfortable with a beautiful view from the balcony.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 4 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

© Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 5 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

View from the balcony ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

The mini bar is complimentary, but only contains juice and water.  Still, not bad considering water can cost an arm and a leg in Europe icon smile Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

Perhaps one of the best features of the hotel is the outdoor heated pool.  Again, the view from the pool is breathtaking.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 6 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

Heated outdoor pool ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Top 2 Attractions

The number 1 attraction in Berchtesgaden is Königssee which is a glacial lake.  You can get there by taking a short bus from the main Berchtesgaden bus station.  The boat tour (a must do) takes you on a 35 minute tour of incredible beauty ultimately taking you to the main attraction of Bartholomew’s Church.  There is a longer boat tour you can take as well.

Berchtesgaden 2 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Berchtesgaden 3 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

One of the other attractions is Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest).  You take a very short walk from the hotel (~5-7 minutes) and then take a bus from there.  Technically, it’s a chalet style structure on top of a peak which was intended as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler (history lesson).  The views you see from the elevation are some of the best I have seen.

Berchtesgaden 4 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Berchtesgaden 5 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

The Intercontinental Berchtesgaden from Eagle’s Nest ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Conclusion 

Berchtesgaden is a beautiful place in the Bavarian Alps with a lot of history.  It should definitely be on your bucket list.  If you don’t want to spend cash for staying there, consider staying at the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden for 35,000 IHG rewards points a night.  You could also use the free anniversary night from the Chase IHG Rewards mastercard to book this.  It’s a 5 star hotel, very romantic and great for a honeymoon.  You won’t regret it!

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It’s always fun to learn new stuff from the travel blogosphere.  Today, I learned something new courtesy of Travel with Grant.  There’s some great information on his blog.

Apparently, there is a no annual fee from Bank of America called the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards Card.  It looks like Bank of America will pay you just for using the card every month and paying off more than the balance every month.

BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards  Make money with the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards credit card

Here’s the details:

  • Earn $25 per quarter to pay down your balance faster when you pay more than the monthly minimum on time each month–that can be up to $100 each year
  • Get more rewards for the banking you already do – an additional $5 bonus per quarter if you have a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • Cash back is automatically credited to your card balance
  • Pay down your balance faster with a low Intro APR offer
  • No annual fee

It looks like you can pretty much get $100 or $120 a year for free.  What I take away is that you just make a small transaction every month and then pay off a bit more than what’s due.  I did not see any terms for what a minimum transaction has to be.

You can downgrade from the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa card when it’s time to cancel.  One idea I had is why wait to downgrade at the end of the year.  Why not apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa, get the bonus miles, and downgrade right away so you still have the rest of the year to earn the $100 or $120.

In addition, it looks like you can have more than one of these cards.  Depending on how many of these cards you can get, that’s easy tax-free money.  I’ll be looking to add this to my no annual fee card pile in the near future.  You could consider this as off-setting a nice annual fee card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

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In this competitive world of credit cards, Chase is a powerhouse in offering some of the best cards. The bank’s Ultimate Rewards currency is valuable and versatile.

Recently, Chase announced a couple of offers worthy of application.

Chase INK Plus – 70000 point signup bonus (HT: Flyertalk)

You can get the Chase Ink Plus with a bonus of 70000 points. The key is that you have to apply in a Chase branch and the $95 fee is not waived. Minimum spend is $5k in 3 months.

Since the normal offer is 50,000 points with no annual fee the first year, you are essentially getting 20000 extra points for $95. You are buying the extra points for 0.475 cents per point. That is an excellent value for Ultimate Rewards Points.

As always, you can’t go wrong with 5x points at office supply stores, cable, internet and phone bills and 2x points at gas stations and hotels.

Marriott Rewards Premier Visa – 70000 point signup bonus

There’s also a public offer  for 70,000 points for the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa.

Marriott 70000 points 70000 point offers   Chase Ink Plus and Marriott Rewards Premier

There is no annual fee the first year, $85 thereafter.  In addition to the 70,000 points, you get 1 free night stay at a category 1-4 location.  You get 1 free night every year at a category 1-5 hotel as well.  The minimum spend is $1000 in 3 months.

Looking at Marriott’s award chart, you can easily redeem for 2 nights at an upper category Marriott or even 2 nights at a lower level Ritz-Carlton.

This is certainly not a great card for everyday use.  Just get the bonus and then put it away in your drawer and even consider canceling it after the first year.  There are certainly better cards out there for everyday spend.

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The Citi Thank You Premier card may have just become a little more valuable after Citi recently announced that Thank You points can be now be redeemed for miles.

citi thankyou premier Citi ThankYou Premier becomes a little more valuableMore specifically, they can now be transferred to the following airlines:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia miles
  • Eva Air
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways

ThankYou points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio, so 1000 points=1000 miles in any of the above airlines.

Is this worth it?

There’s a small catch with the Citi Premier card. The card offers:

  • 20,000 ThankYou points after $2000 spend within 3 months of the account opening
  • 30,000 ThankYou points after $3000 spend in the first 3 months of the second year

The annual fee is waived the first year, but is $125 the second year.   To collect the entire bonus, you will be paying the $125 annual fee.  Ignoring the minimum spend ($5000), you will be earning 50,000 “miles” in the first 2 years.

In a way, this is similar to the 100,000 mile Citi American Airlines card offer since you were getting 100,000 miles for a net $250 fee, with a 10,000 minimum spend.  This is “half” of that offer.  The only difference is that you didn’t have to wait a year and 3 months to get your bonus miles.

Previously, Citi ThankYou points could be redeemed for 1.25 cents/point when redeeming for airfare or 1.6 cents/point when redeeming for American or US Airways flights.

Now with the points to miles option, the value is only increased if you can redeem your miles for greater than 1.6 cents/point.  You certainly can do that by transferring to Singapore Airlines.  You can fly to Hawaii for just 35,000 miles using Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles.  That’s easily worth over 2 cents/mile.

Of note, Citi states that it can take up to 14 days for the transfer, so you must be careful if you are planning on redeeming an award with those miles.

The Verdict

The Citi ThankYou Premier card has added a bit of value by allowing for points to miles transfers to 7 different airlines.  This added value is there only if you can redeem the miles for greater than 1.6 cents/mile.  With the current offer, you will have to wait till year 2 to collect the full bonus.  That might be as good as it gets.  This card is certainly not worth keeping the 3rd year for the $125 annual fee.

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 Amex Business Platinum 150000 points offer, Chase Freedom 17,500 points offer, and Sapphire Preferred Update1.  Amex Business Platinum 150000 points offer

A friend of mine received a 150K Amex Business Platinum offer.  That is probably one of the biggest offers I have seen.  I have never received an offer like that, but I would have loved to.  Lucky for me, he did not want the offer because he has had the business platinum card in the past 12 months.

Although I am not sure, I do think this offer is transferable, meaning I could use the targeted RSVP code.

According to the offer, you get 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after $10,000 spend within 3 months and additional 50,000 points with another $10,000 spend within the same timeframe. 20k spend in 3 months is not difficult, but it certainly takes away from spend on other cards.

The card has a $450 annual fee, most of which you can recover with the $200 airline fee reimbursement, $100 Global Entry credit OR $85 TSA Precheck application fee credit.

It recently lost benefits for American Airlines or US Airways lounge access, but you still get lounge access for Delta or the Amex Centurion lounges.

The current public offer is for 40,000 points after $5k spend in 3 months, so this offer is quite noteworthy.  Keep a lookout for one in your mail.

2.  Chase Freedom 17,500 signup bonus

The normal offer for the Chase Freedom is 10,000 points.  There was recently a 20,000 point offer as well.

However, the most current offer is 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $500 within 3 months.  If you add an authorized user and make a purchase, you will get an additional 2,500 points.  Everyone should have this in their wallet.

As always, it’s good for getting 5x on quarterly rotating bonus categories, this quarter being Kohl’s and gas stations.

3.  Chase Sapphire Preferred dropping the 7% annual bonus but adding…..

Yup, Chase is dropping the 7% annual bonus.  If you are a new applicant, you will not get this annual bonus.  If you already have the card, this benefit will continue till the end of 2015.  Depending on how many Ultimate Rewards points you earn a year, this could be quite significant.

To soften the blow, the Sapphire Preferred will come with Primary Collision Damage Waiver Insurance on rental cars.  Collison Damage Waiver only covers the rental car in the event of damage or theft.  Previously, this coverage was secondary meaning you would have to file a claim with your personal insurance company first.

With this new benefit, the Sapphire Preferred will be my go to card for rental cars.  I had been using the United Explorer card as that has primary coverage as well.  You can now think of it like this:  you paying for primary collision coverage with your 7% annual bonus icon smile Amex Business Platinum 150000 points offer, Chase Freedom 17,500 points offer, and Sapphire Preferred Update

I would rather have had the 7% annual bonus.

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