Navy Federal Credit Union 0% APR No Balance Transfer Fee Promotion

navyfed0Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) has a limited-time promotion where both new and existing NFCU credit cardholders can get 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. You must transfer a non-Navy Federal credit card balance before February 28, 2018. (All NavyFed cards now have no balance transfer fee, but the APR is usually much higher.)

Members With Existing Navy Federal Credit Cards – Sign in to your online account, select the “Transfers” tab and “Make Credit Card Balance Transfer” on the lower right side. Be sure to transfer your existing card balance before Feb. 28, 2018.

Members Without a Navy Federal Credit Card – Sign in to your online account, select the card you want to apply for, and choose the Balance Transfer option during the application process.

Membership eligibility for NavyFed is restricted primarily to military personnel including Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force – including retirees and family members – but also includes some civilian employees in the Department of Defense. Some may have joined through a military-related association in the past, but that window is now closed. If you are not military and wish to join, your best bet may be to ask an affiliated family member to refer you. NavyFed offers a variety of solid financial products including mortgage and home-buying services.

This is a solid offer, especially if you already have an NFCU card as you don’t need to apply for a new card. In addition, there continues to be fewer good no fee 0% APR balance transfer offers these days even though interest rates are still relatively low. Here are some other opportunities to consider:

  • Chase Slate Card – 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. No balance transfer fee. Balance transfers must be initiated within 60 days of account opening. Update: The BankAmericard® Credit Card has the exact same offer.
  • Citi Simplicity® Card – 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 21 months. A longer period and applies to both purchases and balance transfers, but with a 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum). No late fees and no penalty rate. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum – 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months. Shorter period, but no balance transfer fee. You must be an Alliant CU member to obtain this card, but membership is open to anyone who pays a $10 membership fee to Foster Care to Success. You could view that as a small balance transfer fee.

0% balance transfer cards can be good opportunities to lower the interest rate on your existing balances and accelerate any debt payoff plans. Try your best to finish your payments within the introductory period, as the rates will increase significantly after that.

Citi Simplicity Card Review: 0% for 21 Months (1.75 Years), No Late Fees, No Penalty Rates

CitiSimplicityCard (1)This offer is now EXPIRED.

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to pay down debt. Rewards-earning credit cards may not be optimal for those carrying balances and thus more impacted by 18% interest rates than a relatively puny 2% back on purchases.

Our partner Citi offers the Citi Simplicity® Card, which is uniquely suited for those that want to transfer higher rate balances to a long 0% intro period while also offering some “accident forgiveness insurance”. The highlights:

  • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24%-25.24% based on your creditworthiness*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month

No late fees, no penalty rate details. On most other credit cards, if you make a late payment, you’ll first be charged a late payment fee of about $35. On top of that, your super-low interest rate disappears and instead gets jacked up to something called their “default rate” or “penalty rate”. This is often close to 30% APR! The Citi Simplicity card adds a bit of flex in that they do not charge penalty rates or late fees.

Note that if you are 30 days late on this or any credit card, Citi will still report this activity to the credit bureaus. This card may be forgiving but you’re still trying to pay down debt and keep your credit score as high as possible. (Before the Credit CARD Act of 2009, there was something called “universal default” where you could be subject this penalty if you were late on another credit card. This is not longer allowed.)

The strong part of this card is the long 21 month period, so you can spread out payments over 1.75 years and ideally pay it all off by the end. There is a 3% balance transfer fee ($5 min). However, if you’re currently paying 18% APR, then 3% works out to 2 months of interest over a 21 month period. Once the intro period on all 0% cards expire, the rates will go right back up. You’ll either need to pay it off or transfer your balance again if you need more time. This card lets you spread your payments out over 21 months instead of 6 or 12 or 15.

If you know you will pay it off within a shorter time period, look for a card with no balance transfer fee. Compare with other low fee 0% APR balance transfer offers.

In terms of rewards structure… this is not that type of card. The Citi Simplicity does not earn any cash back, points, miles, or free toasters. I’d open a separate card for rewards after your balances are paid off and you join the “Paid in full every month” club. It does include certain purchase benefits such as Citi Price Protection (price drop protection on brick and mortar purchases) and free Extended Warranty (extends manufacturer’s warranty for up to 12 months).

Bottom line. The Citi Simplicity® Card is a card targeted that for those serious about paying down their balances. You get a 0% introductory period of 1.75 years on both purchases and balance transfers, with a one-time 3% balance transfer fee ($5 min). The card includes consumer-friendly features that help ensure your low rates don’t get hiked. If you do the math and can make adequate payments to pay down your balance over a span 1.75 years, this card may help get you debt-free with minimal gotchas. No annual fee.

  • Citi Simplicity® Card application page

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Review: 6% Cash Back on Groceries

Blue Cash Preferred w ButtonThe Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a cash back rewards card with a unique feature that still hasn’t been copied by competitors: 6% cash back at US stand-alone supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases. If you spend $500 average per month on supermarkets, that alone will earn you $360 every year in rewards. Highlights:

  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at US stand-alone supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 3% Cash Back on gasoline at at US stand-alone gas stations
  • 3% Cash Back at select major US department stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.24% to 25.24%.
  • $95 annual fee.

For more information about this card and to apply online, visit CardRatings.com.

Tracking and last-minute holiday shopping. Every December, I personally use this card to buy gift cards at standalone grocery to use up the annual limit and get 6% back. My local Safeway has an entire wall of options, but I usually go with Amazon, Apple iTunes, or Starbucks. You can easily track how much you’ve spent on groceries on your online account. Just go to “Statements & Activity” > Chart logo (Graph and Filter your Transactions), and then click on “Merchandise and Supplies”. Adjust dates as necessary. Screenshot:

amexbcp2small

Supermarkets details. “US stand-alone supermarkets” means that superstores, convenience stores and warehouse clubs are not considered supermarkets. This means no Super Wal-Mart, no Super Target, no Costco. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!!) are Safeway, Meijer, Vons, Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie, and online supermarkets such as FreshDirect.

Gasoline details. “US stand-alone gas stations” means that superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline are not considered gas stations. This means no Target, no Costco, no Sam’s Club. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!!) are Exxon, Mobil, Hess, Shell, Gulf, Murphy USA, Murphy Express.

Major US Department stores details. These are the only stores that qualify:

• Bealls
• Belk
• Bloomingdale’s
• Bon Ton Stores
• Boscov’s
• Century 21 Department Stores
• Dillard’s
• J.C. Penney (JCP)
• Kohl’s
• Lord & Taylor
• Macy’s
• Neiman Marcus
• Nordstrom
• Saks Fifth Avenue
• Sears
• Stein Mart

Annual fee. The card has a $95 annual fee, so you’ll want to utilize that 6% cash back on groceries to maximize your value. If you spend the max cap of $500 a month at supermarkets, at 6% back that would net you $360 cash back in a year vs. $60 at 1% cash back. Note that spending $31 per week at supermarkets at 6% cash back will result in over $95 Reward Dollars per year to cover the annual fee.

If you don’t like the idea of paying an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases with no annual fee. It currently offers a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

Cash back is officially given in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit, gift cards, and merchandise. Statement credit are as good as cash, so I just stick with that.

Bottom line. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has a top feature of 6% cash back at US supermarkets, along with 3% cash back at gas stations and select major department stores. I treat this card like one of my 5% cash back cards, except there are no rotating categories or activation to worry about. Supermarket purchases all go straight on this card, while I try to remember it as well for my occasional department store purchase. Then in December, I use up the rest of the $6,000 annual spending limit on gift cards for holiday presents.

For more information about this card and to apply online, visit CardRatings.com.

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

5% Cash Back Credit Cards: Rotating Categories Update 2018 Q1

5percentback Activation for 1st Quarter 2018 is now open. Last chance for Q4 2017 bonuses. The credit cards below offer a hefty 5% cash back on categories that rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but I also rack up over a hundred dollars in additional rewards per year without changing my spending habits. You can also buy gift cards with the 5% back now but spend the gift cards later.

None of these have an annual fee, so it costs me nothing to keep them around. New cardmembers may also get an upfront sign-up bonus.

Chase Freedom VisaChase Freedom Visa – $150 Cash Bonus

From October 1st through December 31st, 2017 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Walmart (includes SuperCenters, Walmart Neighborhood Markets, Walmart.com, and Walmart branded gas stations operated by Walmart)
  • Department Stores (includes JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom Rack)

From January 1st through March 31th, 2018 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Internet/Cable Phone services
  • All purchases made with Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay digital wallets

Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com. As long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive. All other purchases earn 1% back, with no tiers or expiration of rewards. Technically, you earn Ultimate Rewards points which can also be converted to frequent flier miles instead of cash. Currently, the Chase Freedom card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in purchases in your first three months.

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover it® Cashback Match

From October 1st through December 31st, 2017 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Amazon.com
  • Target

From January 1st through March 31th, 2018 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Wholesale Clubs

disc_2018q1

Enroll after logging into your online account (look on the right-hand side). 5% rewards won’t apply until after you activate your rewards, so it is best to activate now before you forget.

If you are a new applicant and sign up via my Discover Card referral link by the end of 2017, you will get a $50 Cashback Bonus after your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. You will also get Cashback Match for an entire year – a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. That means for the first year your 5% cash back purchases becomes 10% cash back, and your 1% cash back purchases become 2% cash back. Plus, at the end of the year that $50 sign-up bonus will also be doubled to $100. If you apply after 1/1/18, you’ll still get the 5%/10% and 1%/2% doubling but the bonus will become a $50 statement credit (not subject to doubling).

You can verify this on the application page by clicking on “See rates, rewards and other info” and looking for this text:

TERMS OF CASHBACK BONUS OFFER: Get a $50 Cashback Bonus after you make your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. Promotional award will be applied within 8 weeks. The promotional award is in addition to the Cashback Bonus earned on all purchases.

usbankcashplusU.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card. This card unique in that you get to choose the two 5% cash back categories every quarter, out of a preset selection of niche categories like “Fast Food” or “Department Stores”.

You also get to choose a single 2% cash back category from a preset selection of broader categories like “Gas Stations” or “Grocery Stores”. 1% cash back on everything else. No limit on total cash back earned. However as you see below getting 2% is not that special, so this card is only really good if you spend significantly in the available niche categories. Importantly, you must remember to choose your categories each quarter, even if they stay the same! If you do not choose your categories, all purchases revert to only earning 1% cash back for that quarter.

5% Cash Back at Amazon. Get 5% back at Amazon.com all year long with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Prime membership required.

Citi Dividend 5%. This card is no longer available to new applicants, but if you still have the grandfathered card you can activate to get 5% cash back at gas stations and car rentals during Q1 2018. You are capped at $300 cash back for the calendar year.

Don’t settle for the “1% on everything else” that these cards offer. Get 2% cash back or higher. The following cards currently have the ability to offer cash back rewards as high as 2% or even greater. Please read my card-specific reviews for details.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Review: 60,000 Miles Limited-Time Offer

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard Art

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, from our partner Citi, is running a limited-time offer on their co-branded American Airlines credit cards. Here are the updated card highlights:

  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*

Note the following language for the personal card. Basically, to get the personal card bonus, you can’t have had the personal card opened or closed within the last 24 months. Having the business version is okay.

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

To clarify, you can have one of both the consumer version of this card and the CitiBusiness® version designed for businesses under your name. The bonuses are also separate. You can get one consumer bonus every 24 months, and you can also get one business bonus every 24 months.

The annnual fee is $95, waived for the first 12 months.

American Airlines MileSAAver awards are still 25,000 miles for a round-trip ticket within the contiguous 48 states. If the trip is less than 500 miles, then it is only 15,000 miles roundtrip within the contiguous 48 states. Under-500 miles routes include Las Vegas to/from Los Angeles, Charleston to/from Miami, New York to/from Washington DC, Philadelphia to Boston, and many others.

This card also makes you eligible for Reduced Mileage Awards, where you save up to 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver® awards to select destinations on American Airlines operated flights. Combine this with the 10% rebate on redeemed AAdvantage miles, and you can stretch your miles a lot further.

Bottom-line. 60,000 bonus American miles can be worth a lot in airfare, depending on how you use them. Due to the 24-month waiting periods, it is best to apply during a limited-time offer such as now. Plus, the annual fee is waived during the first year. As with most of these co-branded cards, a lot of the ongoing value comes when you fly on American and utilize the free first checked bag benefit ($50 per person, roundtrip) and also when you redeem miles for award flights.

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

Wyndham Rewards Visa Card: 45,000 Point Bonus (Worth 3 Free Hotel Nights)

wyndhamfeeThis Wyndham Rewards Visa Card special link (annual fee version) is currently offering a limited-time sign-up bonus of 45,000 Wyndham Rewards points. This is enough points to be redeemed for 3 award nights at nearly any Wyndham property with no blackout dates. (The standard offer is usually 30,000 points.) You earn 30,000 bonus points after your first purchase, plus an additional 15,000 bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. There is a $75 annual fee that is not waived. Here are the other card highlights:

  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases for every participating hotel stay, Wyndham Vacation Rental North America properties, and on-property spend and maintenance fees at Wyndham timeshare properties.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases (excluding Target® and Walmart®).
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on purchases everywhere else, (excluding Wyndham timeshare downpayments).
  • Automatic upgrade to Wyndham Rewards Platinum status (early check-in, 3,000 annual points bonus, Avis/Budget rental car upgrades).
  • Earn 6,000 bonus points annually after your account anniversary every year. (Together with Platinum status, that is a total of 9,000 annual bonus points.)
  • No foreign transaction fees

In 2015, Wyndham Rewards changed to a simple, flat redemption schedule. A “Go Free” award is 15,000 points for a free night (per bedroom) at any all particpating properties under the Wyndham umbrella. This includes over 7,000 hotels worldwide – from Days Inn motels to Wyndham Grand hotels. Award covers room rate and taxes. This includes rooms at their top-tier hotels and all-inclusive resorts. You simply need to find a “standard” room that is available, as there are no blackout dates. The alternative is their “Go Fast” award (Cash + Points option) which can also be a good value.

Here are just a few quick possibilities:

Wyndham points expiration. Note that their system is different in that your points only have a finite lifespan, even if you maintain the required activity. For example, earning points via this credit card will only reset the 18-month inactivity clock. You should get the exact date in your online account page.

Wyndham rewards will expire 48 months after they are first deposited into your account unless your account is canceled sooner due to inactivity. An account is considered inactive if no account activity has taken place over an 18-month period.

Bottom line. The sign-up bonus of 45,000 Wyndham Rewards points can be redeemed for 3 free nights at a variety of locations around the US and even worldwide. Your value will depend on your specific redemption. If I can get $200 value out of each night (including taxes), minus the $75 annual fee, the net bonus value is still over $500. I appreciate the flexibility of this program, in terms of the flat redemption rate, no blackout dates, and the large number of hotels available.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card $1,000 Bonus

Update 11/19: This offer appears to be expired. Many of the better deals don’t last very long.

sparky

Here’s a special link for the Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card that includes a $1,000 cash bonus once you spend $10,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. There is a $59 annual fee that is waived for the first year. The fine print states that “Existing or previous Accountholders may not be eligible for this one-time bonus.” Note that there are multiple kinds of “Spark” cards, and even other offers for this Spark card with lower spending requirements and lower bonus sizes. Take a screenshot if you apply.

The spending requirement of $10,000 within 3 months is pretty high, but the Spark Cash for Business also a flat 2% cash back on all purchases so at least you won’t be giving up good rewards elsewhere. This also means that after you spend $10,000 within 3 months, you’ll get $200 cash back + $1,000 bonus cash = $1,200.

Here are the cash back redemption options:

How do I redeem my rewards?
You can get your cash back upon request in the form of a statement credit or a check. You can also set up an automatic redemption preference; options include: (1) at a set time each calendar year or (2) when a specific threshold ($25, $50, $100 or $200) has been reached. Just go online to capitalone.com or contact our Rewards Center. You can also redeem for credits for previous purchases, gift cards, and more. Rates for these redemption options may vary and are subject to change without notice.

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that they can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not a corporation or LLC. Why? Because any individual can be a business as well. The business type is called a sole proprietorship. Your business name is just your personal name, and your tax ID number is your Social Security Number. Whether you have a small business with just one employee or over 100, it is important to track your your business expenses and keep them separate from your personal finances. This applies even if you are starting out small with a blog/website, eBay, Etsy, Amazon store, Uber, Lyft, etc.

Bottom line. This special offer is perfect for someone with a small business that is looking to make a large purchase on equipment, raw materials, inventory, taxes, or advertising. If you put $10,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, you’ll get $200 cash back (2%) + $1,000 bonus = $1,200 total.

JetBlue Plus Credit Card: 60,000 Point Limited Time Offer

jetblueplus

The JetBlue Plus credit card by Barclaycard has a new special offer for 60,000 bonus TrueBlue points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. Valid for first-time cardmembers. Expires 12/31/17. This is the double the standard offer of 30,000 bonus points and also higher than previous bump-ups to 40,000 points. Highlights:

  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue flights. – Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking.
  • First checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights.
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don’t expire.
  • Earn and share points together with Family Pooling.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary.
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases including cocktails, food and movies.
  • Enjoy Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases after your anniversary date.
  • Get 10% of your points back every time you redeem to use toward your next redemption.
  • Get a $100 statement credit after you purchase a JetBlue Getaways vacation package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card.
  • $99 annual fee.

Free checked baggage perk can be valued at $25 to $35 each-way, per person. The free checked bag perk applies to you and up to 3 travel companions on the same reservation when (1) the ticket is purchased with your JetBlue Plus card, (2) the primary cardmember’s TrueBlue member number must be entered at the time of booking. If you buy higher fare classes, a certain number of complimentary bags may already be included. Here is a chart of JetBlue’s baggage fees:

jetbluebags

How does redeeming TrueBlue points work? TrueBlue works on a revenue-based system, where the points required depends on the current cash cost of the flight (with no blackout dates). If they sell it for cash, you can book it with points. This is opposed to traditional chart-based systems that charge a fixed point balance but imposes blackout dates and limited seat availability.

TrueBlue points are best redeemed for JetBlue flights. There are some other options like newspaper or magazine subscriptions, but I won’t cover them here.

TrueBlue points can be estimated at 1 points = 1.4 cents. Ex. 30,000 points would cover $420 in JetBlue airfare. The exact value may vary, but 1.4 cents is very close to what I found across Blue, Blue Plus, and Blue Flex fares. You can easily test it out yourself by pricing out the same flight on JetBlue.com using points or cash.

This means 2X points back on restaurants and groceries can be estimated as 2.8% back in the form of TrueBlue airfare. The 3X points back on Jetlue-operated flights can be 4.2% back in the form of TrueBlue airfare. The 6X points back with the Plus card on Jetlue-operated flights can be 8.4% back in the form of TrueBlue airfare.

Upon the renewal of your $99 annual fee, you get another 5,000 TrueBlue points ($70 of airfare value at 1.4 cents/point). If you can take advantage of the free checked bag perk, there is definitely ongoing value for regular JetBlue fliers. I haven’t investigated the $100 off a JetBlue Vacations package, but it could be worth something as well.

Bottom line. At 1.4 cents per TrueBlue point, 60,000 bonus points can be valued at $840 towards JetBlue fares. Add the baggage perk which you could value at an additional $50 per roundtrip Blue fare, per person. Minus the $99 annual fee, and that is still a very solid sign-up incentive for even casual JetBlue customers. If you are a frequent JetBlue flier, the 5,000 point anniversary bonus and other perks can create additional ongoing value.

XKCD on Credit Card Reward Optimization

XKCD has some clever observations about the pursuit of credit card rewards:

xkcdccrewards

I definitely spend more time thinking about optimizing things than is… optimal? rational? That’s why I started a website, so I can justify it as a business pursuit! 🙂 Here’s another good one from XKCD:

efficiency

Don’t forget the time cost of “Arguing with strangers on internet about A vs B”.

Final mention: XKCD Remix: The Secret Life of Personal Finance Bloggers.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – 50,000 Miles Limited-Time Offer

Capital One Venture Rewards Image

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card has increased their sign-up bonus to 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Those 50,000 miles can be redeemed as a $500 credit towards any travel purchase made with the card (any airline, any hotel, no blackout dates). It may help to think of “miles” as “points”. The annual fee is also waived for the first year ($95 after that). learnmore_green

The highlights:

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

The 2 miles on on every $1 in purchases essentially make this a 2% back card when applied towards travel. This is pretty good overall, but compare with these other 2% cash back cards below.

Bottom line. The combination of a limited-time bump to 50,000 bonus miles and the annual fee waiver for the first year makes this a good time to apply for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card. You’ll also get 2X miles on your purchases, so after you spend your $3,000 within 3 months to get the bonus, you can redeem 50,000 + 6,000 = 56,000 miles for $560 toward travel on any airline or hotel. That could be a nice discount on your next vacation.

California Residents: Southwest Credit Card Companion Pass Shortcut Offer

Southwest Premier Credit Card ArtIf you are a California resident, check out this special offer on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card that provides a shortcut to the SWA Companion Pass:

The Companion Pass lets a designated person fly with you for free on all your Southwest flights – both paid and award flights! (You must still cover taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way.) Usually, you have to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points within a calendar year in order to qualify. However, this special offer lets you get it after applying for a new card and making a single purchase of any amount.

Here are some additional things to consider:

  • How California residency is determined: “Individual must have a valid California address as evidenced by their application for the Rapid Rewards® Credit Card.” PO Boxes are not allowed as billing addresses. You should probably have the same billing address on your Rapids Rewards account.
  • You must open the card by 11/30/17, and allow up to 8 weeks after your first purchase to receive the Companion Pass. The pass will be valid until 12/31/18.
  • Chase has a rule that they will automatically deny approval on this credit card if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years (aka the 5/24 rule).
  • Not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Rapid Rewards Credit Card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new cardmember bonus for a Rapid Rewards Credit Card within the last 24 months.
  • Rapid Rewards® points won’t expire as long as your card is open or you have flight-earning or partner-earning activity at least once every 24 months.
  • You must still pay the annual fees of $69 or $99, depending on the card.

Southwest recently announced that they plan to start flying to Hawaii, but the flights probably won’t be until late 2018 or early 2019. Therefore, you might try to time your purchases so that you get the 40,000/60,000 point bonus in 2018 as part of a larger plan to earn 110,000 points throughout 2018 and get another Companion Pass good through the end of 2019.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® Review – 60,000 Miles Limited-Time Offer

citibusiness

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, is running a limited-time offer on their co-branded American Airlines credit cards. Here are the details:

  • Designed for businesses
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications, care rental merchants and at gas stations*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases.*

Note the following fine print:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

To clarify, you can have one of both the consumer version of this card and this business version under your name. The bonuses are also separate. You can get one consumer bonus every 24 months, and you can also get one business bonus every 24 months.

Annual fee is $95, waived for the first 12 months.

American Airlines MileSAAver awards are still 25,000 miles for a round-trip ticket within the contiguous 48 states. If the trip is less than 500 miles, then it is only 15,000 miles roundtrip within the contiguous 48 states. Under-500 miles routes include Las Vegas to/from Los Angeles, Charleston to/from Miami, New York to/from Washington DC, Philadelphia to Boston, and many others.

There are some small differences between this and the consumer version of this card. This business card offers 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications, car rental merchants and at gas stations. The consumer version does not. I also do not see any mention of the ability to earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back on this business card.

However, this business card does make you eligible for Reduced Mileage Awards, where you save up to 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver® awards to select destinations on American Airlines operated flights.

Business card eligibility. Many people aren’t aware that they can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not a corporation or LLC. Any individual can be a small business. Perhaps you sell items on eBay, Craiglist, or Etsy. Maybe you do some graphic design, web design, freelancing and/or consulting. If you received a 1099-MISC tax form and filled out a Schedule C, that means you have business income, you pay self-employment taxes, and you’re a sole proprietorship. This is the simplest business entity, but it is fully legit and recognized by the IRS. On a business credit card application, you should use your own legal name as the business name, and your Social Security Number as the Tax ID.

Bottom-line. Due to the 24-month waiting periods, it is best to apply during a limited-time offer such as now. The annual fee is waived during the first year. As with most of these co-branded cards, a lot of the potential value comes when you fly on American and use the free first checked bag benefit ($50 per person, roundtrip) and also when you redeem miles.

Please note this a business card, designed specifically for businesses. Click here for the consumer version.

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