Chase Ink Plus Business Card Review: $500 Cash, $625 Travel, or 50,000 Rewards Points Bonus

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Chase Ink Plus Card ArtChase has a new small biz credit card, called the Ink Plus® Business Card. It turns out to be very similar to the Chase Ink Bold Business card (full review), but with the important difference that the Ink Plus is a credit card where you can carry a balance and the Bold is a charge card that you must pay in full each month. The current APR for both purchases and balance transfers is 15.24%.

The good news is that the Ink Plus has a sign-up bonus, offering 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after your after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months your account is open. You can read about my Ink Bold bonus experience here. To briefly recap:

Ultimate Rewards points are very flexible:

  • Cash. 1 point = 1 cent in cash, so 50,000 points = $500 cash.
  • Travel. 1 point = 1.25 cents towards travel, so 50,000 points = $625 towards travel at the same prices at Expedia or Travelocity (no % markups), split up however you like into multiple tickets, down to the penny. Good for people who don’t like to bother with miles.
  • Frequent flier miles and hotel rewards points. Transfers directly to United miles, British Airways miles, Hyatt hotel points, and Marriott hotel points. Best for folks that are willing to research and maximize their miles. Top up your account to reach an award, an transfer over only what you need.

The card also has the following same Ink Bold features:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards..
  • Flexibility to pay your balance over time or in full.
  • Earn 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs
  • Chip-enabled for enhanced security at home and abroad
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year, then $95.

You can buy Amazon.com gift cards at Staples and OfficeMax and get the 5x points, effectively discounting them 5% in cash (6.25% in travel), which may also help you with the spending requirement. Based on past experiences, you should be able to get this card and bonus in addition to the Ink Bold card as they are different cards. I already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred personal card and the Ink Bold card, so I’ll probably wait for a bit during my no-annual-fee first year and then try out this new card as well for my business. Gift cards purchases are also useful for satisfying the spending requirement for the bonus.

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. The business type is called a sole proprietorship, and these days many people are full-time or part-time consultants, freelancers, or other one-person business. 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.

“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.  “The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”

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Citi® Double Cash Card Review: Earn 1% When You Buy + 1% As You Pay

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citidouble200Update: Certain existing Citi cards are now eligible for conversion to this new card. Details below*. Citi has just launched an all-new cash back credit card and it is actually quite compelling. With the Citi® Double Cash Card, as the name suggests you earn cash back twice:

  • 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make
  • Plus an additional 1% unlimited cash back as you pay for those purchases, whether you pay in full or over time.

This all comes with no caps, no category restrictions, no quarterly enrollment hoops, no rotating categories. All with no annual fee. The only way you don’t get your 1% + 1% total is if you default on your bill and don’t even make the minimum payments. You can redeem your cash rewards in full as soon as it totals $25 or more, via check or statement credit (i.e. if you have $31.44, you can get a check for $31.44).

So is this a 2% cashback card? Imagine you put $100 on the charge, 1% is earned so you have $1. Then you redeem that $1 (ignore minimums for this example) for a statement credit (as opposed to paper check) which means Citi actually “paid” for $1 of the $100. So you pay the remaining $99 and get an additional 1% or $0.99 back. Final tally: $1.99 back on $100 in purchases, or 1.99% back.

  • If you ask for your cash rewards in the form if a statement credit, you’ll get 1.99% effective cash back.
  • If you ask for your cash rewards in the form of a check, you’ll get the full 2% total cash back.

If you charged $1,000 per month, the difference between 1.99% and 2% per month would be a whopping 10 cents per month, or 1.20 per year.

There have been flat 2% cards in the past (Fidelity Mastercard, Sallie Mae, Priceline) but they are all no longer open to new applicants. However, most existing cardholders were grandfathered in, so based on that precedent you may want to get this card while it is still offered. Based on call with a Citi phone rep, you cannot convert an existing Citi card to this one at this time.

(* Added 10/2014: According to various online reports, certain existing Citi cardholders can now convert their card to this Citi Double Cash card. Most success stories involve Citi Dividend and Citi ThankYou cards. Many Dividend holders got to keep their cash rewards balances; ThankYou cardholders must still have another linked ThankYou card or risk losing points. Some people got to keep their old number, others got new numbers. Speculation is that having a Mastercard helps in this regard. Most rejection stories involve the Citi Forward or Citi Simplicity cards. While there is uncertainty, it does appear worth a shot if you are interested. Converted cards are not eligible for the 0% interest for 15 months mentioned below. Call the number on the back of your card or their main line at 800-950-5114.)

Obviously, you’ll want to pay in full every month (unless taking advantage of the 0% APR promo rate on purchases) as to not rack up interest charges which can quickly offset your cashback rewards.

0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99%-22.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Bottom line. Given the combination of the ability to get 2% flat cashback on all purchases, no annual fee, and the fact that it is a Mastercard which has the widest acceptance, the Citi Double Cash is a great rewards card to keep in your wallet, both for those who prefer simplicity and just want one card and for those who like optimizing multiple cards and can now establish a 2% minimum on everything. I don’t know of any other card that offers this combination of features.

Citi Double Cash Leaderboard

Money Magazine Best Credit Card Rankings 2014

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money1410The October 2014 issue of Money Magazine features their annual rankings of the “Best Credit Cards”. Here’s a condensed list of their top picks for various categories. I’ve written about most of them, and in those cases I’m linking to that post which provides more details. Otherwise, I’m linking directly to the card page and including a few highlights about the card.

Best for Balance Transfers (Low, long introductory APR)

  • Chase Slate Card. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. No balance transfer fee if you transfer within the first 2 months. No annual fee.

Best for Regular Balance Carriers (Low ongoing APR)

Best for Purchases (Low, long introductory APR)

  • Citi Simplicity Card. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months. 3% balance transfer fee, $5 min. No annual fee.

Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Rewards (Tie)

  • Citi Double Cash Card. 1% flat back when you swipe, 1% flat when you pay your bill. No limits or tiers. If you redeem rewards via check that is 2% flat cash back, if you redeem via statement credit then it is actually technically 1.99% cash back. Spend $2,000 a month on this Mastercard and get back $480 a year without changing your spending patterns. No annual fee.
  • Fidelity American Express. 2% back with no limit or tiers. Rewards must be deposited into a Fidelity account.

Best For Cash Back on Essentials

Best 5% Cash Back Cards (Tie)

  • US Bank Cash Plus. 5% back on two categories from 12 possible choices, on $2,000 in purchases per quarter. No annual fee. Must apply in physical branch, application is not available online.
  • Chase Freedom. 5% in categories that rotate quarterly, on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter. $100 sign-up bonus. No annual fee.

Best For Travel Rewards / Traveling Abroad.

Best For Miles Hounds / Best Sign-Up Bonus.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred. Big upfront sign-up bonus, 2x points on Dining and Travel, Ultimate Rewards points offer flexible transfers to miles, cash, or travel credit.  $0 annual fee first year, then $95.

Best For Hotel Perks.

Best For Small Business Rewards.

  • Chase Ink Cash. Decent sign-up bonus, 5% cash back on up to $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. No annual fee.

Best For Small Business Borrowing.

  • US Bank Business Edge Platinum. 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, 10% to 18% after that. This is the lowest APR among no annual fee small biz cards. No annual fee.

Best First Card For a College Kid

Best Card For Online Shopping

  • Discover It Card. The ShopDiscover portal offers cash back bonuses of 5% to 20% at select online retailers, which can be redeemed as statement credit. Also has 5% rotating categories. No annual fee.

Discover Card 5% Back At Lowe’s, Shell Gas, or Walgreens

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Discover It and Discover More cardholders may be able to get 5% cashback at your choice of one of the following stores: Applebee’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s, Olive Garden, Shell, or Walgreens from now until November 30th, 2014. Subject to a cap of $1,000 in purchases. Valid both in-store and online. I think the best options for most would be Lowe’s (home improvement or wide selection of gift cards to Amazon, etc), Shell (gasoline), or Walgreens (coupon book items, expensive meds, or gift cards). I was able to get the promo by doing the following:

  1. First, log into your existing online account at Discover.com.
  2. Then, come back here and click on this link from the same browser.

You should see this page (click to enlarge):

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This is in addition to the standard 5% back categories on the Discover it card, currently 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases at Online Shopping and Department Stores and movies for 4th quarter of 2014. Selected fine print:

*Sign up to earn 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1000 in total purchases made at your choice of one of the following stores: Applebee’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s, Olive Garden, Shell, or Walgreens from 10/1/14 (or the date you sign up, whichever is later) through 11/30/14. Once you sign up, no changes can be made to your selection. Purchases made using virtual wallets or third party payment providers will not be eligible. Purchases made outside of the U.S. will not be eligible. Rewards are added to your Cashback Bonus account within 2 billing periods. See Cashback Bonus Program Terms and Conditions for further details.

American Express Small Business Saturday 2014 – $30 Total Bonus Per Card

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sbs180Small Business Saturday details out for 2014! American Express has confirmed that they will bring back Small Business Saturday (SBS) on Saturday, November 29th – two days after Thanksgiving.

The significant change this year is that now it is up to three separate $10 statement credits, for a total of up to $30 per eligible card. Details from the Official Terms and Conditions [pdf]:

  • Limit three (3) $10 statement credits per eligible American Express Card. To receive the offer, Card Members must register any eligible American Express Card for this offer. Corporate Cards and all prepaid Card products (other than American Express Serve® and Bluebird®) are not eligible.
  • The number of registrations is limited. Registration opens at 12:00 A.M. MST (“Mountain Standard Time”) on Nov 16, 2014 and will continue until 11:59 P.M. MST on Nov 29, 2014, unless the registration limit is reached sooner.
  • To receive the $10 statement credit, the Card Member must use his or her registered Card to spend $10 or more in a single, in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location on Saturday, Nov 29, 2014.

Other important terms and tips:

  • Qualifying small business locations appear on the Shop Small Map available at ShopSmall.com. The map isn’t perfect, so use your common sense.
  • If you don’t have anything specific in mind, even gift cards to a local non-chain restaurant, grocer, hardware store, or clothing boutique count.
  • In all previous years, additional authorized user cards have been eligible for their own $10 credit. (Authorized user cards with AmEx get their own unique card number.) I see nothing that changes that in this year’s rules. Many American Express cards offer additional cards for free to authorized users like your spouse, partner, or older children.
  • Most prepaid cards are not eligible, but American Express Bluebird and Serve cards are eligible. Given that these cards are free to obtain (officially you can only have one or the other, though) this is another path to an additional free $30 of small business patronage in 2014.

Small Business Saturday remains a very creative way for American Express to tell the public that they’ve greatly increased acceptance of their cards at small businesses, which has always been their relative weak spot due to their slightly higher fees for the merchant. (It also makes small business that aren’t accepting AmEx to think twice…)

This is a great perk for American Express cardholders. With a little advance planning multiple credits are very easy to get… I’ve gotten them every year without issue.

5% Cash Back Credit Cards: Rotating Categories Update 2014

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4th quarter activation now open for all cards. Holiday shopping is the theme, but I’m buying Amazon gift cards at the end to use over the next few months. The cards below offer a hefty 5% cash back on certain categories that rotate each quarter. With a little extra attention, I can easily rack up hundreds of dollars in additional rewards per year without otherwise changing my spending habits. Sometimes this involves buying Amazon gift cards at stores offering 5% back. None of these have an annual fee, so it costs me nothing to keep them around. New cardmembers often also get an initial sign-on bonus.

Chase Freedom CardChase Freedom® – $100 Bonus
From October 1st through December 31st, 2014 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Amazon.com
  • Zappos.com
  • Select Department Stores including Macy’s, Nordstroms, Sears, and Kohl’s (full list)

Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com, it’s quick and 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. Currently, the Chase Freedom® card is offering $100 bonus cash back if you sign up and make just $500 in purchases in your first three months and a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period. No annual fee.

Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa CardCiti® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card
From October 1st through December 31st, you can earn 5% cash back from Citi on eligible purchases at:

  • Best Buy
  • Department Stores
  • Toy Stores

Log into your online account or call 1-800-231-0891 to activate the rewards each quarter (starts upon activation, not retroactive). The total cash back earned with the card is $300 per calendar year.  See Citi Dividend Card Reward Program Information for details. Full 1% cash back on all other purchases and eligible cash advances and rewards do not expire as long as you have activity once every 12 months.

Discover it® CardDiscover it 14 Month BT (RED)
From October 1st through December 31st, 2014 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Online Shopping (including but not limited to Amazon.com, Apple.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, and Overstock.com)
  • Department Stores (including but not limited to Macy’s, Nordstroms, Sears, and Kohl’s)

Login into your online account to activate the rewards each quarter (starts upon activation, not retroactive). The new Discover it® card now has a flat 1% cash back (no more tiers), free FICO score every month, late-payment forgiveness, and direct-to-human, 100% US-based customer service reps. No annual fee. (If you have an old Discover More card, you should call in and convert it to a Discover It card for free and get the new perks.)

“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.  “The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card: Two Free Weekend Nights (Which I Redeemed for $1,109 Value)

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Update: Got my two rewards certificates and redeemed for $1,000+ worth of rooms in Hawaii. Details following. I applied for this card on the same day as the US Airways 40,000 miles bonus, 7/14. Not sure about approval date but my first purchase was on 7/22. First statement closed on 8/20, in which I charged $1,800 and also paid the $95 annual fee (but didn’t satisfy the $2,000 spend yet). Second statement closed 9/18, where I did meet the $2,500 spending hurdle. I was issued the two weekend night certificates via e-mail on 9/20. Here is a screenshot:

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According to commenter TJ below who satisfied the spending requirements in the first billing cycle, s/he got the certificates two weeks after the close of the 1st statement. My guess is that they just want to make sure you pay the annual fee. Also, good tip to check your spam folder for the e-mailed certificates!

I called in on 9/22 to book the nights I wanted at my resort of choice – the Grand Wailea (Waldorf Astoria) in Maui. (I’ve never stayed there before, but it looks pretty awesome.) Keep in mind that although there are no category restrictions (it doesn’t matter how expensive the hotel is on average), you can only book a “standard room” which I believe is their cheapest tier of rooms. So if you want a busy weekend that is coming up soon and those cheaper rooms are sold out, you may not get it. However, I was able to get two consecutive weekend nights in November, only two months from now. I am also able to cancel without any penalty or fees up until 14 days before the booking.

If I was booking with cash on the exact same dates and exact same room, it would have cost me $1,109.25. Here’s proof via screenshot from the booking website:

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If I was to have used points, it would have taken 70,000 per night for a total of 140,000 Hilton Honor points. Note that I took out the resort fees, which are reportedly waived when booking with certificate or points redemptions (any taxes on the room rate are included). These would be $25 per night ($28.35 with taxes). You actually get the following stuff too: “Guest internet access; beach umbrellas for use on Wailea Beach; admission to twice daily SCUBA clinics; free bike rental”. I’m quite happy with this result, as it was my goal to visit Maui this winter.

Original post with review of card details below:

hiltonreserveThe premium co-branded Citi Hilton Hotels card is the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. The sign-up bonus includes certificates good for 2 Free Weekend Nights, with “weekend night” meaning a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. If you like staying at posh hotels, you can get $500+ value out of each certificate and easily $500 of value out of them together. Card feature summary:

  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors portfolio after $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Free HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
  • $95 annual fee.

The two free weekend night certificates have no category restrictions, but do have the following exclusions (often these are condo-hotels). Certificates are valid for 12 months after issuance. Must be used on “standard” rooms (no upgraded suites, etc). Room taxes are included with the certificates. Booking the same rooms using rewards points would cost 50,000-70,000 HHonors points per night. Possible choices include:

grandmaui

In the end, this is a great way for casual travelers to stay two nights at a really fancy hotel where you can’t imagine paying over $300 a night. Alternatively, this card is good for regular travelers where Hilton is your hotel chain of choice. Free Gold status offers perks like late checkout, free Wi-Fi, and a free breakfast at many hotels. For future years, if you spend $10,000 in a year you get another free weekend night certificate, which you can weigh against the $95 annual fee.

I just applied for this card. I would normally like to use the certificates for something international and exotic, but with two toddlers I’m pretty sure we’re going to use it for the Grand Wailea in Maui. My application is pending; you can check via their application status number 888-201-4523.

US Airways Premier World MasterCard: Limited-Time 40,000 Mile Bonus (Success!)

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Update: Successfully got my 40,000 bonus miles. Details following, as I certainly like knowing these things before applying for a card. Applied on 7/14. Approved on 7/21. First statement closed on 8/12, in which I charged $10 and also paid the $89 annual fee. I read some stories about other people making only a single purchase (the minimum technically required) but having to call in about the bonus. Thus, I put on another 4 small charges during the second statement period which ended 9/12 totaling about $49. My 40,000 bonus miles posted 9/13, one day after the closing of my second statement period. Here is a screenshot:

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The card is issued by Barclaycard, which means you also get a free FICO score every couple months.

Original post with review of card details below:

usaircardI think I’ve only flown US Airways once in my lifetime, but I still included the US Airways Premier World MasterCard® in my latest round of credit card applications.

Why? American Airlines and US Airways are in the process of merging and once that is complete, the only Citibank-issued American Airlines cards will be left available. That means this one issued by Barclaycard will no longer be accepting applications and you won’t be able to get its sign-up bonus or other unique perks ever again. Card highlights:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee
  • First checked bag free on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights
  • Redeem miles for award travel on US Airways and American Airlines booked through usairways.com or US Airways Reservations
  • Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on purchases everywhere else
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details

The eventual merger also means that the 40,000 US Airways miles you get from this card will turn into 40,000 American Airlines miles, which I do fly often and often get me cheap last-minute award flights. The miles won’t disappear but the card will, so I might as well get this bonus now while I can.

Note that 40,000 mile bonus does not require any minimum purchase amount and that there is an $89 annual fee that is not waived for the first year. 40,000 miles for example is enough for a roundtrip from the US to Hawaii, so that is worth it for me. The US Airways companion certificate is also a unique feature which would be awesome if it eventually applied to American flights (though it probably won’t).

1 Year Free Identity Protection and Credit Monitoring from Home Depot

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hdallclearidHome Depot has admitted they were recently hacked and customer information was compromised and stolen. If you have shopped at any Home Depot store after April 1, 2014, you are eligible for one free year of identity protection and credit monitoring at homedepot.allclearid.com (press release).

If you need identity repair assistance during the next 12 months, starting on September 8, 2014, we have a team of dedicated fraud resolution investigators available to assist you. They will do the work to recover financial losses, restore your credit, and make sure your identity is returned to its proper condition.

For additional protection, we are also making available at no cost to you a service that includes credit monitoring, identity monitoring, and an identity theft insurance policy.

It appears you get AllClear Secure identity repair service and a 12-month AllClear PRO subscription (retail price of $14.95 a month, though I’d never actually pay that). Call 1-855-252-0908 for identity repair assistance. You’ll have to provide them with your Social Security number. Keep in mind that with all major credit card issuers, you have zero liability for any unauthorized charges as long as you report them in a timely manner.

Reminder: Everyone can get free daily credit monitoring from all three major credit bureaus through the following sites: Credit Sesame for Experian, Credit Karma for TransUnion, and Quizzle for Equifax (I got offered this last one, but it may be targeted).

Bank of America Better Balance Rewards Card Review

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bofabbrA couple of readers have asked me about the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards credit card. It definitely has a unique rewards structure (full details):

  • Earn a $25 cash reward for each calendar quarter in which all of your monthly payments are received on or before the due date and are more than the minimum payment due. Your account must remain open and you must have a payment due in each of the monthly cycles of the calendar quarter to be eligible for the quarterly cash reward; a zero balance or a credit balance does not qualify.
  • Earn an additional $5 cash reward per quarter if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account.
  • Cash back is automatically credited to your card balance, unless otherwise directed into your BofA bank account.
  • No annual fee.

The draw is that you could charge just $5 to the card every month, wait for the statement to close, and then pay off that $5 every month, and end up with $100 a year in rewards (or $120 a year with BofA account). It would take $5,000 of total purchases at a theoretical 2% cashback rate to get to $100 in rewards.

The first catch is that you need to maintain this every single month. If you skip just one month and have a zero balance, or somehow a refund has you end up with a negative balance, or you don’t pay the minimum due on time, then you forfeit the entire $25 for that quarter. Remember that by default the $25 reward is applied to your credit card balance, so even that could put you negative in a month. You have to pay attention to this card.

The second catch is that there is no other rewards structure, not even a flat 1% cash back. There is no incentive to put any significant purchases on this card, as you won’t get any additional cash back.

In the end, this card would work best for:

  1. People who naturally charge very little on their cards, but at least something every month. Maybe you’ll miss out on a quarter here and there, but with small total purchase amounts it would still be more than you’d get from a normal rewards card.
  2. Detail-oriented folks who are willing to jump through the hoops to get that $100 to $120 per year by charging small amounts and paying them off every month. (Then put all your other charges on a 1%/5% or flat 2% cashback card or other better card.) You could try and automate this somehow with a scheduled $5 monthly charitable contribution, put Netflix bill on auto-pay, or something similar. I can’t recall if BofA lets you also automate the payment.

I think the best play here is to try and convert an existing Bank of America credit card that you don’t use anymore (cash out the rewards completely first!). Ideally you’ll get access to the benefits without an additional credit check. Otherwise, in the current environment, it is quite easy to get $500 or more value upfront out of a new credit card application. A credit pull is valuable and I’d rather have a big bonus now instead of having to jump through hoops for 4-5 years. If/when the bonuses start to drop, then this card would start to look better.

Amazon Local Register: 1.75% Credit Card Processing Fee

Amazon just announced Local Register, which allows small businesses to accept credit cards on their smartphone or tablet much like Square, Paypal, etc. The special thing is their initial promotional rate of 1.75% until the end of 2015 if you sign up by October 31st, 2014. Their standard rate is 2.5%. Square’s standard rate is 2.75%, PayPal is 2.7%. So this is a decent savings of at least 30% on your credit card processing fees. No minimum amounts or monthly fees. Via NYT Bits.

To swipe cards, you have to buy the dongle for $10 with free 2-day shipping, but it also includes $10 in free processing fees. They just don’t want people ordering it and leaving it in their desk drawer (like I did with my Square reader). The lower rates apply to swiped cards only, manually entered numbers cost 2.75%. Compatible with iPhone 4 and newer, Samsung Galaxy S3 and newer, Kindle Fire HD and newer, and all iPads.

I’ve been seeing more Square-type readers at farmer’s markets and smaller retail kiosks. If you have higher volume, you may get a better deal via Costco or other traditional merchant accounts. Individuals may speculate about the churning of cashback or rewards cards through this reader, but in my opinion it has been tried before and is not worth the hassle.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card: 30,000 Bonus Miles Review

United Mileage Plus Explorer Card Big

United MileagePlus Explorer Card BigThe United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is now offering 30,000 United miles after spending $2,000 in 3 months, plus 5,000 more miles for adding an authorized user and making a purchase on that additional card.

Here are the highlights for the card (application link):

  • Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Check your first bag for free & save up to $100 per roundtrip
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club with two one-time-use passes every year
  • No foreign transaction fees!
  • Earn double miles on United ticket purchases, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Your miles don’t expire as long as you’re a Cardmember, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

All in all, a good card for regular United fliers with the free bags and priority boarding. Every year you spend $25,000 in purchases using your United MileagePlus Explorer Card, you’ll earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles. That means at 25k of spending, you’ll be getting 1.4 miles per dollar on all purchases.

Adding an authorized user is free of charge, so no reason not to get that addition 5,000 miles. Keep in mind the following terms and conditions:

This new cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this consumer credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months.

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United Mileage Explorer CArd