Discover Card + Amazon 1-Click $10 Promotion

Updated. It looks like this offer is back as of February 2018. I was able to get another $10 credit even though I already got the previous $10 credit back in September. I still had the Discover card as my default 1-click payment method, but I did change to a Chase card right before clicking on the promo link below (not sure if that made any difference).

Original post:

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Amazon has a targeted offer for $10 Amazon credit when you switch your 1-Click default payment method to an eligible Discover credit card. They’ve run similar offers for Citi and Chase in the past.

The link should show your eligibility (for the account that is currently signed-in). It probably won’t work if your 1-click default method is already Discover. You could try and remove it first. I had a Discover card already in my account, but not set as 1-click, and it worked for me. $10 credit valid on items both sold and shipped by Amazon.

If you have a Discover card, you may also want to sign up for their free Social Security Number Monitoring and New Account Alerts. I keep my Discover it card open for its rotating 5% cash back rewards.

Affirm: Immediate Gratification + Hiding The Pain of Paying Upfront

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Here is an interesting longform Racked article about Affirm micro-loans. Now, instead of (gasp!) saving up for a few months before paying cash for those $200 jeans, you could have them today for $235. It’s basically credit card debt for people who previously couldn’t get approved for a credit card. Hurray for innovation.

Sure, it may be more transparent and convenient, but here’s the real reason why you’ll soon see it everywhere:

Affirm is not just meeting a demand, but creating one, encouraging shoppers to buy and spend more. Affirm claims an average 75 percent boost in order values across all its merchant partners. Affirm is clearly not just facilitating purchases that would have otherwise happened through other means of credit. Four retailers I spoke with reported significantly higher sales, and more frequent purchases, with Affirm customers.

Saving for retirement is a form of delayed gratification. You could buy buy $235 jeans today, $200 jeans after saving up a few month, or you could invest it and wait 20, 30, 40 years down the road and be able to afford housing, food, and medical care when you’re old. Even if you’re a crazed fanatic like me with a 50% savings rate, you might wait 10 to 15 years before actually being able to “spend” the money you put away.

How can we avoid debt when it means immediate gratification? No easy answers here, but looking back, I used to check my net worth all the time. It’s hard to call that a healthy habit, but then again it did provide a form of immediate pleasure from saving $200 instead of spending it. I liked seeing the number go up. Mentally, I also knew I could use that money as a cushion if I wanted to try a new career path. In that way, having more money in the bank meant more freedom now, not just later.

Added: Dave Ramsey is famous for helping people out of debt, and one of his main tips is to pay cash for everything. At a minimum, use a debit card. (You could even “Debitize” your credit card.) That way, you feel the appropriate pain of each purchase. When you put things on a credit card with the idea of paying “later”, you are hiding that pain. $20 a month feels a lot easier than $200 upfront. This is why Affirm customers end up buying more stuff than cash buyers (on top of paying interest).

Citi Simplicity Card Review: 0% for 18 Months (1.5 Years), No Late Fees, No Penalty Rates

CitiSimplicityCard (1)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 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49% based on your creditworthiness*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% 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 18 month period, so you can spread out payments over 1.50 years and ideally pay it all off by the end. There is a 5% balance transfer fee ($5 min). However, if you’re currently paying 18% APR, then 5% works out to 3 months of interest over a 18 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 18 months instead of 6 or 12.

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 1.5 years on both purchases and balance transfers, with a one-time 5% 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 1.5 years, this card may help get you debt-free with minimal gotchas. No annual fee.

“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.”

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Card: 2% Cash Back With Military Service or Checking Account

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Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed), the 3rd largest US credit union by assets, launched the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Card in 2017. This credit card offers up to 2% flat cash back with no earning caps and no annual fee. Here are the highlights:

  • Sign-up bonus: $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.
  • 2% cash back on all purchases with PenFed Honors Advantage (qualifying military service or PenFed checking account, details below). Otherwise, you get 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. 3% balance transfer fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

PenFed Honors Advantage requires either of the following:

  • Military service (active, reserve, retired, or honorably discharged).
  • Checking account. Have and maintain a PenFed Access America Checking Account. This account has no monthly fee with daily balance or monthly direct deposit of $500 or more. $25 minimum opening deposit. As long as the account is open, you qualify for the 2% cash back.

In other words, if you don’t have military service, opening and keeping $500 in their Access America Checking Account will keep you qualified without a direct deposit or minimum activity requirements.

Cash back redemption options. Your cash back rewards can be redeemed as a statement credit, a deposit into a PenFed account, or a deposit into an external bank account. Simple.

Competition. The following cards currently offer a competitive level of cash back rewards. Some offer higher rewards, but with additional requirements and/or an annual fee. Please read my card-specific reviews for details.

PenFed CU membership eligibility. Check out their eligibility tool. If you have a military affiliation, chances are that you can join immediately. However, anyone in the general public can also gain access by first joining either the National Military Family Association or Voices for America’s Troops. Both of these partner organizations can be joined with a one-time donation of $17.

Bottom line. The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Card offers 2% flat cash back on all purchases with no annual fee. There is currently a $100 sign-up bonus if you make $1,500 in purchases within the first 90 days. PenFed Credit Union membership is required, but is also open to anyone willing to donate $17 to the National Military Family Association (NMFA).

If you already have one of the other 2% cash back cards available with less requirements, this may not warrant an additional credit check and new bank account. However, PenFed does offer good customer service and other financial products. You might consider making them your primary banking institution if you live near PenFed branches (often near military bases).

Debitize: Will Making Your Credit Card Feel Like Debit Help You Budget? ($10 Bonus)

debitizeappIn our increasingly cashless world, I prefer to use credit cards over debit cards for a few reasons:

  • Credit cards usually have better cash back, points, or rewards programs.
  • Credit cards have additional features like free checked bags, extended warranties, and price drop protection.
  • Credit cards have more consumer protections explicitly required by federal law.
  • Having a certain amount of revolving credit card usage with a good payment history improves your credit score.

A major benefit of debit cards is that it feels more like “cash”, so it can be easier to control your spending. When you make a debit card purchase, your bank balance is immediately reduced so you know much money you have left. If this helps your manage your cashflow, it can help you avoid credit card debt. Indeed, if you try to buy something with a debit card and your bank account has a zero balance, the purchase will be rejected (depending on your specific settings, some banks allow small overdrafts).

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Debitize is a new start-up that makes your existing credit card feel more like a debit card. I had no idea this was a thing. Apparently they were profiled by the NY Times. Basically, you link up both your credit card and bank account, and they will match up your credit card purchases and take the same amount out of your checking account on a daily basis (weekdays). The money accumulates in your Debitize Reserve Account, and then they pay off your credit card bill when it is due each month.

We initiate withdrawals once a day on weekday mornings. Typically it takes one more day to hit your checking account. So if you go to the movies on Tuesday night, we’ll initiate the withdrawal on Wednesday morning and you will see the funds out of your checking account on Thursday.

You keep your existing credit card. This means you get to keep all the credit card perks like cash back, airline miles, hotel points, free checked bags, etc. You can still do credit card fraud disputes, refunds, etc.

You keep your existing bank account. You can set a minimum balance that Debitize will never go below so you won’t get hit with any overdraft or low-balance fees, or you may want a buffer for some other reason. Debitize will send you an alert if you hit this minimum balance.

Debitize has a freemium pricing model. The basic functionality is free. They take money out your bank account daily, but only pay the credit card company once a month at the due date. There is also a $3/month Credit Optimizer tier that pays off your credit card balance once every week so that your credit utilization ratio is lower and thus your credit score is higher.

My take? I can see why people would want this feature. Credit card perks. Free. I think Debitize is best for folks that have a handle on their debt, but prefer the feel of debit cards for better day-to-day budgeting.

I think the primary drawback is the added complexity. If someone has problems with credit card balances, they might do better with more simplicity. Focus on paying down that debt. Stick with the plain debit card with no rewards (and no option to carry a balance). In fact, one might go all the way back to physical cash where possible.

Debitize is offering a $10 credit for new customers towards your credit card bill. You must wait until at least 5 automated withdrawals from your checking account have been processed. I am a member of their affiliate program and will also receive a referral fee if you qualify for this bonus.

$10 credit will be applied to your Debitize account and paid towards your credit card bill as long as you have been active long enough to have at least five automated withdrawals. We really just want you to give us a real try — if you do and don’t think Debitize is for you, just shoot us a note.

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.
  • 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.

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:

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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.”

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Review: 50,000 Bonus Miles

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard Art

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

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $2,500 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*

Bonus details. 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.

The highest bonus that I have ever seen on this card is 60,000 bonus miles, but 50,000 bonus miles + first year annual fee waived is still solid historically and better than their standard offer (usually around 30,000 miles).

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.

Baggage fee value. Currently, American Airlines charges $25 one-way for the first checked bag and $35 one-way for the second checked bag in Economy. That’s $50 roundtrip for a single checked bag, per person. With this card, your first checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation.

Redemption tips. American Airlines MileSAAver awards are still 25,000 miles for a round-trip ticket within the contiguous 48 states. Their online system is pretty good for looking for domestic AA awards. 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.  The 50,000 bonus American miles is a solid promotion when paired with the annual fee being waived for 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 for you and up to 4 companions ($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)

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(Offer is now expired.)

This 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.

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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

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Update – This offer is now EXPIRED.

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.