NFL Extra Points Credit Card Review: Super Bowl Ticket Redemption Details

NFL Extra Points Card Image

The NFL Extra Points Credit Card issued by Barclaycard is the only credit card officially co-branded with the National Football League. They are savvy too – the very first thing you do on the application is pick your team, so it can show you a credit card plastered with your favorite logo on it (not the generic one shown to the right). It is certainly a conversation starter; all 32 team logos are available.

Now, there are plenty of “affinity” cards out there that let people show off their university alumni status, preferred charity, or favorite sports team, but most of them have rather vanilla rewards. In contrast, this NFL-sponsored card offers some unique rewards that you can’t find elsewhere. A lot of people dream about going to the Super Bowl. Since it is coming up, I thought I’d take a closer look at using credit cards points to get you there. First, the card highlights:

  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after making $500 in purchases over the first 90 days. That’s enough to redeem for a $100 cash back statement credit, or see below for more redemption options.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on NFL and DirecTV® purchases. “NFL purchase transactions are Purchases made at NFLShop.com, participating NFL team retail and online stores and NFL Team stadiums. DirecTV® purchase transactions are Purchases made directly with DirecT®.”
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 20% off at NFLShop.com.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR, currently 15.24%, 20.24% or 25.24%, based on your creditworthiness. 3% balance transfer fee, $5 minimum.
  • No annual fee.

In terms of cash back rewards, those start at 2,500 points for a $25 statement credit. Considering you only get 2X points on NFL and DirecTV purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, there are better cash back cards out there. But are the exclusive NFL perks a good deal?

Selected list of exclusive NFL experiences. Sure, you can redeem for a wall poster or t-shirt, but these are examples of the more unique options:

  • 10,000 Points: 2 Tickets to an NFL PreSeason Game
  • 25,000 Points: 2 Tickets to an NFL Regular Season Game
  • 25,000 to 50,000: Official NFL Mascot appearance at your event or party.
  • 100,000 Points: Round of Golf with an NFL Player
  • 160,000 Points: 2 NFL Super Bowl Tickets (Upper Level)
  • 200,000 Points: 2 NFL Super Bowl Tickets (Mid Level)
  • 250,000 Points: 2 NFL Super Bowl Tickets (Lower Level)

There are also Draft VIP parties, Training Camp experiences, Stadium Tours, or having your personal message appear on your team’s scoreboard. The specific redemption amounts vary by team.

Super Bowl Ticket value? You may or may not know this, but the only way for the general public to even have the option of buying Super Bowl tickets at face value ($500 each) is by lottery. To enter this random drawing, you must send a ticket request via certified or registered mail, between Feb. 1 and June 1 of the year preceding the game in question. Those selected in the random drawing will have the opportunity to purchase two tickets.

Super Bowl Random Drawing
P.O. Box 49140
Strongsville, OH 44149-0140

If you’re not one those lucky few, you’re stuck on the secondary market. Check out this FiveThirtyEight article on the crazy markups. According to ESPN, the day after the conference championship games last year, StubHub’s average Super Bowl sale was $3,042. This year? $5,461. Here’s another price chart from BusinessInsider and SeatGeek:

superbowl16

Let’s say a reasonable estimate is $3,000 per ticket. For 160,000 points, you get two tickets. That makes it $6,000 value divided by 160k points = 3.75%. That’s a whole lot better than 1% cash back. Of course, you’d still have to figure out how to eventually charge $160,000 on your credit card, but some frequent business travelers, small business owners and/or wholesale buyers may have it within reach. Otherwise, just 10,000 points will get you two tickets to a pre-season game, and 25,000 will get you two regular season tickets (available up to a week before game day, usually the specific stadium section number is shown ahead of time).

Citi ThankYou Premier Card Review – 40,000 Bonus Points

Citi ThankYou Premier Card ArtThe Citi Prestige card still has a different 50k offer.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has re-launched from our partner Citi, with a new sign-up bonus and purchase rewards structure. Get 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points as follows:

  • Earn 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • First year annual fee waived, $95 after that.
  • No foreign transaction fee on purchases.
  • Chip Technology included for improved acceptance while traveling.
  • No limits on earning points or expiration dates.

What can you do with 40,000 ThankYou Points? Citi has been trying to improve the value and flexibility of ThankYou points, so here is a rundown of what you can do with 40,000 of them. Bonus ThankYou Points not available if you have had a Citi ThankYou Premier card opened or closed in the past 18 months.

$500 in Airfare (ThankYou Travel Center)

With the new Citi Premier card, you get a 20% discount on the standard number of points needed for a travel redemption. The reverse math means 1 TY point = 1.25 cents towards travel. Note that this 25% bonus applies all of your points from all Citi cards linked to the same ThankYou account, thus boosting the value of all your other points. (Compare with the Citi Prestige card, which has 33% bonus amongst and other additional features, but also a higher annual fee.)

For example, with my non-Premier card, I found that a flight that cost $360 including taxes and fees on Expedia would cost 36,000 TY points from Citi Travel. But with the Citi Premier, it would only cost 28,800 TY points. ThankYou Travel Center screenshot:

ThankYou Travel Center screenshot:

ty1

Expedia.com screenshot:

ty2

So 40,000 TY points will indeed get you $500 in airfare, with the Citi Travel Center having the same price as compared to Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Since you can book any flight that can be found on Expedia, there are “no blackout dates”.

Don’t have enough points to cover an entire airfare? That’s okay. Let’s say you found a ticket that want for $200 = 16,000 points, but only have 10,000 points available. Citi now lets you pay the difference, so in this case you can get your $200 ticket for 10,000 points and $75. This makes it much easier to use up all of your points at a 25% premium.

$400 in Gift Cards, $400 Check Towards Student Loan / Mortgage

You can view your redemption options at ThankYou.com. I took a quick look and it takes 10,000 ThankYou (TY) points to redeem for a $100 gift card to retailers like Gap, Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Bath and Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond, Cabelas, CVS Pharmacy, Kohl’s, Land’s End, LL Bean, Sears, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Staples, and Walmart. So with 50,000 TY points, you could get five $100 gift cards from different stores.

Want something closer to cash? For a check mailed to you, it is 8,000 points for $50 (1 points = 0.625 cent). The best deal is a check mailed towards your mortgage payment or student loan (made out to your lender), which is 7,500 points for $75 (1 points = 1 cent).

New Airline Transfer Options

Citi ThankYou points are also now available to transfer to certain airline mileage programs on a 1:1 basis including Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Etihad, Flying Blue by Air France and KLM, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways. For example, 40,000 TY points can get you 40,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles.

New Rewards Structure

The Citi ThankYou Premier now earns:

  • 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent travel including gas, airfare, and hotels.
  • 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent dining out and entertainment.
  • 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases.

Triple (3X) points on airfare and hotels, when combined with the 25% travel premium, makes that equivalent to a 3.75% reward towards travel booked through Citi Travel Center. Double (2X) on restaurants (includes bars and fast food) and entertainment makes that 2.5% towards travel booked through Citi Travel Center.

With the improvements in ThankYou point redemption, increased sign-up bonus, and new rewards structure, everything looks to be a little bit better than before. The current sign-up 40k sign-up bonus with no annual fee the first year is attractive. However, a cardholder would need a fair amount of spending in the bonus categories (gas, airfare, hotels, dining out) in order to offset the $95 annual after the first year where they waive it.

  • Citi ThankYou Premier 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.”

RadPad: Pay Rent With MasterCard Credit Card at 1.99% Fee

rp_logoRadPad is a startup trying to be both a better apartment search engine and a better rent payment service. Of course, this translates to: Find apartment on your smartphone. Pay rent on your smartphone. Tap tap done. :)

I haven’t learned much about their rental marketplace, other than it is free for landlords to list. However, RadPad recently altered their fee structure:

  • No fee for debit card payments (Visa and MasterCard debit, under $5,000).
  • 1.99% fee for paying with MasterCard credit card or their Masterpass digital wallet.
  • 3.49% fee for Visa, American Express, and Discover credit cards.
  • Works with Apple Pay.

Your landlord or management company doesn’t have to sign up for anything, Radpad will mail them a paper check. RadPad also guarantees that you won’t be subject to late fees (they require 4 business days lead time). They’ll even send you an alert when the check is deposited by your landlord.

If you write and mail a check now, then you most likely have a debit card already. You can pay no fees, but gain in convenience (and perhaps save a stamp?). Much fewer debit cards offer significant rewards after the Durbin Amendment.

(The notable exception is the PayPal Business Debit card, which gives you 1% cash back on online “signature” purchases. If that is how it is processed, you can net 1% and the money is drawn from your bank account. However, for existing cardholders after 2/1/16 and all new cardholders, PayPal will not pay cash back on “PIN-less debit” transactions. This is a fine distinction, but if that is how the transaction is processed, then you won’t get the 1% cash back. Honestly, nobody really knows until someone tries it after 2/1.)

The lower 1.99% MasterCard fee also opens you up to paying rent with a rewards credit card like the Citi Double Cash card (issued as a MasterCard). Alternatively, you may be working on a spending requirement on a credit-card sign-up bonus. If, for example, you get $500 in rewards after making $3,000 in purchases like the Citi ThankYou Premier card (issued as a MasterCard), then that works out to over 16%.

rp_payscreen

Note: Plastiq offers a similar service. It works with a wider variety of payments (not just rent), but the default fee is 2.5% for credit card payments. If you catch them during a promotion, the rate may be lower.

Five Ways To Get a Free Credit Score (No Trials!)

Updated 2016. As noted, the government requires the credit bureaus to provide you a free credit report once every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com. However, checking your credit score on a regular basis allows you to track changes in your credit data much more frequently.

The services listed below provide you a free credit score updated throughout the year (at varying intervals). Besides just a score, many include data taken directly from your credit reports like account balances, credit inquiries, and any negative marks. Some even offer free daily credit monitoring with e-mail alerts.

Being ad-supported, they can do so without the hassle of annoying trial membership offers, requiring credit card numbers, or having to remember to cancel anything. As of July 2016, all three major credit bureaus are covered: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion.

Credit Sesame

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CreditSesame.com offers a free credit score every month, either based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore). They used Experian data in the past, but it appears that most members have been migrated over to Transunion. Range is from 300-850. They also offer free daily credit monitoring, either via e-mail alerts or smartphone app. They make money with ads on the site.

No trial or credit card required. You will need to provide your personal information and Social Security number to some of these companies, naturally, so be comfortable with that. None of these methods by themselves will affect your credit score as you are requesting them for yourself.

And now, for a limited time, Credit Sesame is offering $50,000 in identity theft insurance and access to identity restoration help for FREE.

Quizzle

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Quizzle.com offers a free credit score based on your Equifax credit report (VantageScore), updated once every 6 months. They also provide a free, full copy of your Equifax credit report once every six months. No trial or credit card required. The score scale is also 300-850. Quizzle is also ad-supported; they are under the same umbrella as Quicken Loans, which explains I’m offered a mortgage quote every time I log in. 😉

Credit Karma

1601_creditkarma

CreditKarma.com offers you two free credit scores, based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and updated weekly. Range is 300-850. You can also opt-in to free daily credit monitoring based on your TransUnion data. No trial or credit card required. Credit Karma is also ad-supported; I’m usually pitched various credit cards.

Lending Tree

1601_lendingtree

LendingTree.com offers a free credit score based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore), updated once a month. Range is from 300-850. LendingTree is another mortgage broker, I guess buying a home is one of the main reasons why people check their scores.

Credit.com

1601_credit

Credit.com offers a free credit score based on your Experian credit report (VantageScore), updated once a month. Range is from 300-850. Credit.com is ad-supported; I’m usually pitched various credit cards.

Free Monthly FICO Score

It is often pointed out that the scores above are not FICO scores. No, they are not FICO scores because Fair Isaac charges a lot more money for them and these companies can’t cover those costs with their advertising. However, these credit scores can still be very useful for tracking changes and general trends in your credit history. Free credit monitoring is also a great way to track any big changes including fraudulent activity. There is value in getting an e-mail notification whenever a new account is added to my report.

1505_discoverfico

Discounted One-Time FICO Score

Finally, if you want a discounted FICO score without having to sign up for a new credit card, you will need both a credit card and sign up for a trial. This should be reserved for cases where you really want your FICO score. You can sign up for a month of ScoreWatch at MyFICO.com for $14.95. You’ll get an instant free Equifax credit report and Equifax FICO credit score. The regular price for a FICO score is $19.95 so you’ll be saving 25%. You must call 1.888.577.5978 to cancel but will be charged each month you renew.

New Fidelity Rewards Visa Credit Card Review: 2% Flat Cash Back

new_usbank_fido_visa_200Ending some speculation, Fidelity has officially announced changes to their credit card line-up as of January 2016. Previously, there were three versions of the card issued by FIA Cardservices (subsidiary of Bank of America) – a grandfathered 2% MasterCard, a 1.5% base-tier Visa, and a 2% American Express.

Fidelity has consolidated their offering to a single card – a Visa Signature offering a flat 2% cash back when directed to a Fidelity Investment account, issued by Elan Financial Services (subsidiary of US Bank). All existing credit card links now redirect to this new Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card. Let’s take a look.

Highlights:

  • Unlimited 2% cash-back, when redeemed into an active Fidelity account.
  • No annual fee.
  • No sign-up bonus at this time.
  • Visa Signature benefits, like Concierge service.
  • Chip-enabled and works with Apple, Android, and Samsung Pay.

2% cash back details. The 2% rewards value applies only to points redeemed for a deposit into an eligible Fidelity account:

  • Fidelity Cash Management Account
  • Fidelity Brokerage account
  • Fidelity-managed 529 account
  • Fidelity Retirement account (IRA, Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, Rollover IRA)

The redemption value is different (read: worse) if you choose to redeem your points for their other available options, including travel, merchandise, gift cards, or statement credit. I can’t seem to find any publicly-available details yet on these alternative options.

You can either choose automatic or manual redemption. With automatic redemption, once you reach $50 of rewards (5,000 points from net spending of $2,500), your balance will be automatically swept into your designated Fidelity account. With manual redemption, you must call Cardmember Services at 888-551-5144 after you reach the same 5,000 point minimum balance.

Already have the previous FIA Cardservices-issued card? For now, just use your card as usual. US Bank/Elan did agree to acquire the existing credit card business, which means sooner or later everyone will be forced to move over to this new card. You will not have to re-apply, your points will move over, and the card will be transitioned automatically. You will be notified around mid-2016 with further details. This is all from Fidelity’s existing cardmember FAQ.

If you have a Fidelity Rewards Credit Card, you can continue to enjoy the features and benefits associated with that card. If you would like information about rates, fees, other costs and benefits, please call an FIA Card Services® representative at 877-811-7088. Information will be sent to you in mid-2016 regarding your new Fidelity® Visa Signature® card.

I am curious how this would affect credit history, as this card is one of my older credit lines (10+ years). I am guessing the old line will be closed. Update: Good news! I just received a note directly from Fidelity that for current credit cardholders that when we are eventually converted to a new Visa card number, our credit reports will still reflect the original opening dates of our current credit cards.

Commentary. This move makes complete business sense. First, now they can offer a Visa card with 2% cash back without any tiers. Second, Fidelity uses this card to encourage customers to keep all their assets within Fidelity-branded accounts. You could theoretically now have your checking account, credit card, brokerage account, IRA, 401(k), all with Fidelity.

Their previous issuer, FIA Cardservices was owned by Bank of America, which is essentially a direct competitor. You could also have a Bank of America checking account, BofA credit card, Merrill Edge brokerage account, and Merrill Lynch wealth management account under their umbrella. In fact, I recently opened up a Merrill Edge account and moved over $100,000 of assets and received (1) 100 free stock trades a month and (2) a 75% bonus on my credit card rewards with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card (my review).

Elan Financial Services is a subsidiary of US Bank, but they are less of a direct competitor. You won’t see “US Bank” mentioned anywhere on this card. Elan quietly co-brands with many other financial institutions (over 1,400) who want a credit card but don’t want to handle the back-end details.

My personal choices. As a self-directed investor, I like to keep my options open. This new card remains a solid cash back card for existing Fidelity customers (or those willing to open a Fidelity account). I have the Bank of America card mentioned above, excellent rewards for those with over $100k in assets and it has no annual fee. I also have the Citi Double Cash card (my review) because it is a similarly solid card with no annual fee (and doesn’t require any companion account).

Why do I have all three? My experience is that good credit cards may stop taking new applicants with no prior notice, but as an existing customer you can often continue to receive grandfathered benefits for a long time.

Chase Freedom Review: $150 Sign-Up Bonus

Chase Freedom Visa

The Chase Freedom® – $150 Bonus is a popular rewards credit card. What makes it unique is the combination having no annual fee and the ability to get 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter.

Here are the highlights:

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like Gas Stations, Restaurants, and Select Grocery Stores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it’s automatic
  • Cash Back rewards never expire as long as your account is open
  • No Annual Fee

Note the following text regarding the sign-up bonus eligibility:

This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

2016 5% Cash Back Categories

From January 1st through March 31st, 2016 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Local Commuter Transportation (includes taxis, subways, local commuter buses and trains)

freedom_q1_2016

Activate each quarter at ChaseBonus.com, via your online account page, or call the number on the back of the card.  The categories usually include at least one big-spending area, and seem to go with the seasons (home improvement for spring, gas and travel for the summer). This is another “keeper” card for me, as I can keep it around and use it when the bonus categories fit my spending needs.

“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.”

 

Pay with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points at Amazon.com ($10 First-Time Bonus)

Chase Sapphire Preferred ImageIf you have Ultimate Rewards points accrued from Chase credit cards, you can now use them to buy eligible items at Amazon.com. The redemption rate is 1 Ultimate Rewards points = 1 cent at Amazon, which is the same rate as their statement credit redemptions. The only added benefit is that there is no minimum redemption size. However, you may still get a better value by converting them to frequent flier miles like those from United Airlines or British Airways.

You’ll need to connect an eligible Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, including:

However, if you have even one Chase Ultimate Rewards point, you can now get $10 off your first purchase using this feature. See the details at this Chase / Amazon promotion page. Offer valid through 12/31/15 with promo code SWP15CH10S. Limited-time offer, while supplies last.

The instructions are pretty clear:

1. Link your Chase Sapphire® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® card to your Amazon account.
2. Enroll your Chase Sapphire or Chase Sapphire Preferred card in Shop with Points.
3. Add products sold and shipped by Amazon.com to your Shopping cart.
4. Choose your enrolled Chase Sapphire or Chase Sapphire Preferred card as your Payment Method and select to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for all or part of your order. Click “Use this payment method”.
5. Enter the promo code SWP15CH10S in the box provided and press “Apply”.
6. Redeem at least $0.01 (or 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point) and press “Apply”. If you receive an error message while attempting to apply the promo code, please wait 72 hours and try again.
7. The Shop with Points promotional offer of up to $10 of savings will be reflected instantly on the right side of the checkout page. If the shopping cart order is less than $10, the promotional credit will be applied against the full order. You can change the amount of points redeemed at any time prior to placing the order.

Here is a screenshot of my successful application of this offer (click to enlarge):

swp1b

I only had to use 1 Ultimate Rewards point, and it took $10 plus $0.01 off my order. Remember to add only products “sold and shipped by Amazon.com” to your cart.

Credit Card Industry Charts: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover

Here’s a quick infographic for followers of the credit card industry. As part of the Bloomberg Businessweek article How Bad Will It Get for American Express?, there was an informative graphic comparing the number of cards, number of accepting merchants, and total dollar amount of purchases processed by the four major US payment networks: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. (Click to enlarge.)

amex_stats

I was a little surprised that the gap between the number of Visa’s and Mastercard’s was so big. I thought they were roughly equal. It was also interesting that the number of Discover and AmEx cards out there were about the same, and while Discover has more accepting locations, AmEx process over double the amount of payments.

Square IPO, Direct Deposit Loans, and Controlling Your Cashflow

squaredongleAs you’ve probably heard, the Square IPO was completed last week. For a while, I didn’t understand how a company could have a $4 billion valuation when they basically offer a simplified merchant account. They let small businesses accept credit cards, which means they skim a tiny bit off the 2.75% they charge while most of it goes straight to the networks. (Add in their other expenses, and Square has never made a profit.) Wouldn’t you rather own Visa or American Express directly?

Then I read this Bloomberg Businessweek article How Two Guys Lost God and Found $40 Million (And sold Wall Street on a shady new kind of finance). Although I try my best to avoid carrying any debt, I do try to keep up with the industry. With a normal credit card, you are waiting around for the borrower to pay you back your principal + interest. The borrower gets their paycheck, pays for rent and food and whatever else, and hopefully gets around to pay you some interest. Here’s a cashflow visual:

cashflow_classic

What these guys profiled in Businessweek did is give struggling small businesses a merchant account, and also lend them money. The key difference of their “merchant cash advance” service is that they would take the loan payments (including interest) directly from their gross credit card receipts! They were lending to horrible credit risks at sky-high rates (because nobody else would lend to them), but they knew they’d be fine because were first in line to snatch any incoming money before the business owner could even touch it. Here the modified cashflow visual:

cashflow_square

Hmmm… if Square can pull something like that off on a big scale, maybe they can be worth billions. It turns out that both Square and Paypal do this same sort of lending. They lend to small businesses and taking money out from the incoming transactions. From a WSJ article dated May 2015:

Paypal said it has doled out $500 million in loans in the first year-and-a-half since it introduced the lending program. And rival Square recently said it had extended more than $100 million in cash advances in the year since it started its own version. […] PayPal, like Square, deducts money from merchants’ accounts based on their receipts, so that they aren’t on the hook if business slows.

From another WSJ article dated September 2015:

At both PayPal and Square, payments are taken as a portion of transaction volume, meaning merchants repay more when sales are high and don’t pay on days without sales. That allows for easier repayments, but makes it difficult to calculate an annual interest rate.

Wow. Ingenious or evil genius? It would be like lending to everyday people but being able to intercept their paychecks before they even landed in their bank accounts. You’d get the money before people could even have the chance to default (or pay for food). Some banks already have something called “direct deposit loans” allow them direct access to bank accounts, taking payments almost immediately after your paycheck arrives. It is possible for motivated people to switch off their direct deposit or move banks, but you’re giving the lenders a built-in advantage.

(A problem for Square is that competitor PayPal also does the free credit card swiper thing, but PayPal can avoid paying Visa and Mastercard whenever a user buys something with their existing PayPal balance. They just move some money around internally and pocket the savings.)

So what’s my point? For one, Square may have a growing profit source from these first-in-line loans to small businesses. Second, as a smart consumer, you should be careful to stay in control of your cashflow. I’d never give a lender permission to withdraw money at any time from my bank account. They should have to wait for me to pay them.

PSA: Beware When Shredding Your Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

csp_shred0Every credit card is getting a smart chip these days, which means a lot of expired cards. My shredder is rated for 12 sheets of paper at a time, and up until recently handled every credit card, CD, and DVD sent its way. But not the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. I knew it had a little extra heft due to some sort of metal (aluminum?) sandwiched between layers of plastic, but that fact somehow didn’t register in my shredding fervor… until I heard an awful crunching noise:

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The results: The numbers on the back of the card are still visible, and the magnetic strip may still be readable. My shredder still works, although it has been making some funny noises. Not sure what to do with it now, perhaps industrial-grade shredder could finish the job? Now you know why Chase has started sending folks a prepaid mailer to send back your card when they replace it. :)

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card New Bonus: 50,000 Points = $625 In Travel, Plus 5,000 Points For Authorized User

Chase Sapphire Preferred Image

Updated with new offer, perk details. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a premium rewards credit card, now with an upped sign-up bonus to new cardholders that is the best publicly-available bonus in years. Bonus highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Note the following text:

This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

The short version is 50,000 points can be redeemed for $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards™. Using it is flexible as well, as you can buy a more expensive ticket (or tickets) and simply pay the difference. You can also transfer the points to various airline mileage programs as well and redeem miles for even better value. This card has a lot of other small features that other cards don’t offer. Full review below.

Rewards Program Summary

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants. Earn 1 point for every dollar in other purchases. Travel includes airfare, car rental, hotels, and more. Restaurants include both table-service dining and fast food. There are no earning caps or expiration dates. The Ultimate Rewards points that you earn offer great flexibility:

  • Simple cash rewards. Cash redemptions are easy – you can redeem in $1 increments as long as above $20, so you could cash out $27 or $253 without anything left over. 100 points = $1.
  • Simple travel rewards. Points redeemed towards travel are worth 25% more, and you can apply them to any hotel or flight available on their travel portal. Redemptions can also be maximized because you can book wherever you want and simply pay the difference. For example, 25,000 points can be used for any ticket up to $312.50, but if say you wanted a $325 ticket you could just pay the $12.50 difference. You’re able to use every last point on this program, and you don’t have to worry about room or flight availability.
  • Flexible transfers to airline miles. If you prefer, you can also transfer to United Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt Hotels, IHG Hotels, and Marriott Hotels. 1 Sapphire point = 1 mile/hotel point for these transfers. Miles redemption continue to offer great value for savvy travelers, especially for last-minute travel and business class seats. If you collect miles, this is really lucrative as I don’t know of any other card that gives 2 miles/dollar spent on travel and dining.
  • Sharing points. Ultimate Rewards points are instantly transferable to other accounts like family members, as long as they have their own card as a (free) authorized user. This way, you can pool points together for transfers and redemptions if you like.

More Features

Just nice-to-have perks:

  • Premium, dedicated customer service line with a live person, 24/7. I tested this out and it works. A real person picks up after a couple rings, no phone trees or typing those darn 16 digits over and over. You can use this feature to redeem cash rewards over the phone for free, although booking rewards tickets over the phone costs $20 (doing so online is free).

Travel-related perks:

  • $0 foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security and wider acceptance when used at a chip card reader
  • Primary car rental collision damage waiver insurance. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. Most other cards only offer secondary insurance, which means it only kicks in if your personal auto insurance does not cover an accident (which can trigger an increase to your premiums).
  • Travel and shop with confidence with premium Travel and Purchase Protection Benefits, including Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Purchase Protection and more
  • Trip delay reimbursement. If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement. If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Baggage delay insurance. Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days.

Retail shopping and purchase-related perks:

  • Extended Warranty Protection. Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Purchase Protection. Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
  • Return Protection. You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase, up to $500 per item, $1,000 per year.
  • Price protection. If a card purchase you made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.

I share the opinion with many others that this is a strong bonus backed by a solid rewards card for the savvy traveler. I say “savvy” because if you can wrangle 2 cents per mile of value out of a frequent flier program (quite possible), then this card is great value. During your first year, you should see if you can get enough value to justify the $95 annual fee. For someone who charges very little on their credit card and/or does not travel much, it is likely not a good rewards card for that situation.

For me, I keep this card around after looking at the whole picture. I have accumulated nearly 300,000 Ultimate Rewards points from this card and other sources including the Ultimate Rewards cashback portal and the Chase Freedom card, but I need to keep this card open to retain the flexible transfer options as I like to keep these UR points around to transfer over to specific partners as needed. I try to specifically put travel and dining out on this card, as I prefer 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar over 2% cash back. This works out because the travel protections on this card are stronger than most and only apply if you actually charge your travel on this card. Primary car rental CDW insurance is pretty valuable on its own.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Banner 50000

“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.”

BankAmericard® Credit Card Review

Bank of America BT CardBank of America is the issuer behind many different credit cards, but only a few of them carry the “BankAmericard” co-branding. I have written up reviews of the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card, but this brief review is specifically to cover the “classic” BankAmericard® Credit Card.

Rewards programs. The BankAmericard® Credit Card does not come with a rewards program. There is no cash back, there is no points system.

There is no annual fee. The card also comes with chip technology for security and ease of use internationally.

  • 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 11.24% – 21.24% Variable APR.
  • Balance transfer fee of either 3% of the amount of the transfer or $10 (whichever is greater) applies
  • No annual fee
  • The perfect card for those seeking a simple yet convenient-to-use credit card
  • $0 Liability Guarantee, so you’re not responsible for any fraudulent charges made on your account

Be careful with the naming structures when picking amongst cards. The BankAmericard® Credit Card is best if you are looking for the longest 0% APR period. Otherwise, if you are primarily interested in rewards cards then I would look at the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit cards instead.

“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.”