CIT Bank Review: Money Market 1.85% APY, 11-Month No Penalty CD 1.85% APY

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Rate update. CIT Bank (not to be confused with Citi Bank) is an online-only bank with a multi-year history of competitive rates. They don’t offer a checking account, so they focus on savings products with high interest rates. Here is their current line-up:

  • 11-Month No-Penalty CD at 1.85% APY. $1,000 minimum to open. 11-month CD with a fixed rate, but no withdrawal penalty seven days or later after funds have been received. This means that your interest rate will never go down, but you can still move out if interest rates go up.
  • Money Market Account at 1.85% APY, currently available on all tiers ($0+) with no max. $100 minimum to open, but $0 minimum balance requirement. Pay individuals with People Pay.
  • Premier High Yield Savings at 1.55% APY, currently available on all tiers ($0+) with no max. $100 minimum to open, but $0 minimum balance requirement.

As of 5/28/18, both the 11-month No Penalty CD and the Money Market are at 1.85% APY. The No-Penalty CD has a rate that can’t go down, but also has a $1,000 minimum balance. The Money Market rate could drop, but has more flexibility as you can easily make more deposits and also make 6 withdrawals every month. (There is really no reason for anyone to open a new Premier High Yield Savings.)

Check out my rate chaser calculator to see if it makes sense for you to move money over. They also have traditional term CDs as well as fancy CDs that allow add-on deposits and rate-bumps. Currently, I don’t find those rates especially interesting.

Existing savings customer? Upgrade now! Honestly, the only reason I can think of for them to create this new account is to avoid raising the interest rate on idle cash in their older accounts. If you already have an existing savings account, take a minute and upgrade yourself to the better interest rate. Click on “Open an Account” here, then “I have a CIT Bank account”, and then login with your username/password. You can do everything online and even fund your new Money Market account with an instant transfer from your existing Premier High Yield Savings. I wish I didn’t have to do this, but at least it literally only took a minute to complete.

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New customer? Opening process overview. Here’s my review of the opening process if you are a new customer.

  • The application process was completely online. You provide the usual personal information.
  • You must submit to a credit check, but in my experience it was a “soft” pull which did not harm my credit. None of my various credit monitoring services showed it was a hard pull.
  • You may fund via (1) electronic ACH transfer, (2) wire transfer, (3) mobile check deposit via CIT Bank mobile app (iOS and Android), and (4) mailing in a paper check. There was no option for credit card funding. I picked online ACH funding and you need to provide routing and account numbers, followed by manual verification via micro-deposits after a day or two. There was no instant linking option via login information.

After deposit verification, then your funding will go through.

You have successfully verified your external account. Please allow up to 5 business days for your funds to appear in your CIT Bank account.
No further action is required for this account. Thank you!

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How to transfer your money from an existing No Penalty CD into an new, higher-rate No Penalty CD. Let’s say you opened up a No Penalty CD at 1.55% APY, but then the rate for a new CD has risen to 1.85% APY. You have the option of moving the funds (with no penalty of course) over to a new CD with a new 11-month holding period. I just did this, and here’s the easiest way to do so:

  • Start a new online application for the 11-Month No-Penalty CD at 1.85% APY. Click on “Get Started”, and you will have the option to sign-in as an existing CIT customer.
  • After signing in, go through the opening process but choose to fund via “Mail in Check”. Your personal details should be filled in already to save time. Again, I did not observe any hard credit check. This will get you access to your new account number for the new No Penalty CD on the final “Congrats! Your account has been opened” page. Save/print this new account number!
  • Call CIT Bank on the phone at 855-462-2652, open M-F 8a-9p ET, Sat 9a-5p ET, Sun 11a-4p ET. Press “0” for operator. Tell them you opened up a new No Penalty CD and you wish to fund it by closing out your old No Penalty CD. They will verify your identity, ask for the new account number, and complete the transfer instructions while you are on the phone. My customer service rep was pleasant and helpful. I timed my call at under 8 minutes from start to end.
  • That’s it. The phone rep told me the entire process should take 1-3 business days to complete. Your new accounts will show up online. You can have the entire previous balance (including accrued interest) moved over, or another amount.
  • It would be nice if you could do this all online, but I don’t see an option to close the CD early online. Let me know if you know how.

User interface. While the front-facing website is pretty slick, after you login the backend is run by Fidelity National Information Services (subdomain ibanking-services.com). This is a popular backend software system used by many smaller banks who don’t want to create their own software from scratch. As of 3/3/18, the user interface was upgraded to be look more appealing and be more user-friendly. Two-factor authentication is available using voice or SMS.

There is also an app available (iOS/Android) provided by the same company. It is similarly functional and includes mobile check deposit. Here are some screenshots:

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Bottom line. CIT Bank is a lean bank offering targeted products for folks looking to get higher interest rates on their cash balances. I have an account with them due to their low minimums (easy to move in and out) and their current aggressive rate-hiking. They don’t do physical bank branches, checking accounts, or fancy apps. However, I have been pleasantly satisfied with their customer service. Their most compelling products are their Money Market account ($100 minimum to open, no ongoing minimum) and their 11-month No Penalty CD which combines a competitive interest rate with a $1,000 minimum deposit. The lack of a penalty means you are always able to move out to a higher rate, even within CIT bank itself.

Plastiq Promotion: Pay Bills w/ No Fee with Masterpass ($250 Max Per Bill)

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New promo. Plastiq has a new promotion where you can pay a bill using a Mastercard in Masterpass with no fee. Expires 9/30/18. Thanks to readers Jon and Bill. Here are the restrictions and details:

From now until September 30, 2018, we will waive the Plastiq fee when you use Mastercard in Masterpass for the payment. This promotion applies to any bills or invoices up to a maximum of $250 each.

To qualify for this promotion, you must:

Use a Mastercard in Masterpass for the payments (read here on how to add a Mastercard in Masterpass to your Plastiq account).
Submit or schedule payments between June 1, 2018 12:00 a.m. ET and September 30, 2018 11:59 p.m. ET.
The payments’ delivery date must be before or on September 30, 2018.
There is no minimum or maximum amount required for the transaction.
If the amount is over $250, you will incur a Plastiq fee on the remaining amount over $250.
If you have signed up with a referral code, you will need to hit the required minimum of $500 in successful payments and receive the fee-free dollar credit in order to be eligible for this promotion.

To clarify, there is a $250 limit per payment, but no limit on the number of payments. You could split up a larger bill into $250 increments if the payee accepts that. You could convert a mortgage, home equity loan, student loan, tuition, or property tax payment into a credit card payment that earns rewards or fulfill a sign-up bonus. For example, with the Citi Double Cash Card, the 2% cash back means every $5,000 in purchases could earn $100 cash back.

Original post:

Plastiq.com lets you pay bills and invoices with a credit or debit card, even if they don’t usually accept them. The standard service fee is 2.5% for credit cards and 1% for Visa and MasterCard debit cards. However, they run limited-time promotion with lower fees. They will charge your card and send out a paper check to the payee (direct bank transfers to a few), so you’d want to plan ahead for any snail mail delays. They recommend 10 business days to be safe. More ideas from their site:

  • Rent or Mortgage
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) dues
  • Tuition
  • Childcare costs
  • Buying a car, RV, or ATV
  • Income or business taxes

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(Note: This was only an example given during a 1.5% fee promotion. The current fee may be higher or lower.) Why would I want to pay a 1.5% service fee?

Sign-up bonus spending requirements. Sign-up bonuses often having spending requirements. For example, you might get a $500 value bonus but need to spend $5,000. Well, that’s effectively 10% back so if you need a little help to get over that hurdle, it’s okay to pay a 1.5% fee. Here are some recent cards with big $500 value bonuses but also spending requirements:

2% cash back credit cards, or similar. If you have a rewards credit card that offers 2% cash back (or equivalent value in points), then you can still make a slight profit by putting them on your credit card. A simple example is the Citi Double Cash Card. For example, if you have a tuition bill or tax bill of $5,000 and you earned 2% cash back while paying a 1.5% fee, your net 0.5% is $25.

Combine a rewards card + 0% APR on purchases. Many credit cards offer 0% APR on purchases for an introductory period of 12 months or longer. If the card also has a half-decent rewards program on purchases, the combination of purchase rewards and spreading out the payments over a year at no interest could be attractive.

Referral program. Plastiq has a somewhat confusing referral program. If a new user signs up via a referral link and pays $500 worth of bills, they will then get $500 “fee-free dollars”. So first you’d have to pay the fee on a bill, and then on your next bill, $500 of it will be “fee-free” (at 2.5% that’s a $12.50 savings). The referrer will get $1,000 in fee-free dollars. If you take advantage of the promo above, that should trigger the bonus. Here’s my referral link. Thanks if you use it.

Google Express: 25% Off First Order, Free Google Mini for Existing ($125+ Order)

gexpressUpdated offers. Google Express has a couple more coupon codes that may be of interest.

  • 5RTC4Q545$10 credit towards your first order (i.e. $10 off $10). This is my referral code where you get $10 and I get $10 as well. After joining, you can also refer friends for $10 credits.
  • APPSPECIAL – 25% off your first order ($30 max). Supposedly must use Google Express App (iOS or Android). Use the best option between this one or the $10 off $10 above for your first order. Expires 5/27/18.
  • FREEMINI – Free Google Mini with $125+ purchase. Good for existing customers. Google Mini will appear in your cart after adding code. Does not stack with other codes. Expires 6/5/18 or while supplies last. Time order a lot of toilet paper?
  • $15 off any Target order. Good for existing customers. Must order through Google Express via Google Assistant. Expired.
  • SHOPCOSTCO25 – 25% off your Costco order, good for existing customers. Max discount $40. Expires 4/1/18. Expired.
  • APPFEB20 – 20% off for existing customers. Max discount $20. Must use Google Express app. Expires 2/27/18. Expired.
  • NEWYEAR20 – 20% off for existing customers. customers. Max discount $10. Expired.
  • APP20OFF – 20% off for existing customers. Max discount $20. Expires 2/11/18. Expired.

Google Express delivers things directly to your door from participating merchants like Costco, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Target. Free delivery is usually included above a certain amount that varies (i.e. $35). There is no longer an annual membership fee.

Note that some prices may be higher than from in-store. You will usually see a banner noting if this is the case. For Costco, there are reports that the “coupon book” items are still at the store price. Otherwise, a 20% off coupon may still offset the higher costs.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card Review: $500 Cash Bonus, 1.5% Flat Cash Back, No Annual Fee

inkunlimited2018Chase has freshened up their line-up of small business credit cards. The new Ink Business Unlimited Card is offering a $500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. The special feature of this card is a flat, unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Here are the details:

  • $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limit. Simple.
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.
  • No annual fee.

Ultimate Rewards points. The cash sign-up bonus actually comes in the form of Ultimate Rewards points at 1 point = 1 cent in cash. 50,000 points = $500 cash. If you have one of the other annual fee cards that offer a boost in value like the Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer your points between Ultimate Rewards accounts and redeem using that other card’s 25% travel bonus. This can increase the value of your points.

You could think of this card as the small business version of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

Prefer airline and/or hotel points? If you transfer over your Ultimate Rewards points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (or Ink Plus business card), then you can use that card to transfer into hotel and/or airline miles. If you value those miles/points at more than 1 cent per point, then your 1.5X rewards from this card can be significantly higher. Examples:

– You could earn 1.5 United miles per dollar spent.
– You could earn 1.5 Hyatt points per dollar spent.
– You could earn 1.5 British Airways Avios per dollar spent.
– You could earn 1.5 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent.

For example, if you placed a perceived value of 1.5 cents on each United mile or Southwest Rapid Rewards point, then you’d receive 2.25 cents of perceived value per dollar spent with this card. Your actual numbers will depend on your own specific redemption choices.

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, eBay/Amazon/Etsy sellers, or other one-person business owners. 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.

Note that Chase has an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years (aka the 5/24 rule). This rule is designed to discourage folks that apply for high numbers of sign-up bonuses. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so in our household one applies to Chase while the other applies at other card issuers.

Bottom line. This Chase small business card has a large sign-up bonus and flat 1.5% cash back with no annual fee. If you have certain other Chase credit cards, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points over to those cards and increase your value. Be sure to compare with other Chase small business cards – Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Cash.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card Review: 80,000 Point Bonus, Travel Rewards

inkpreferred2018Chase has freshened up their line-up of small business credit cards. The Ink Business Preferred Card is offering a 80,000 point bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This flavor is their “premium travel card” with 3X points on travel purchases and the ability to redeem points at a 25% premium through their travel portal. This feature makes 80,000 points worth $1,000 towards travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Here are the details:

  • 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3X points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases with no limit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $95 annual fee.

Ultimate Rewards points. This card offers a 25% bonus on travel redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards travel website. 80,000 Ultimate Rewards = $1,000 in travel. Similar to Expedia or Travelocity, you can book flights on most major airlines and hotel chains. This makes it much more flexible to spend your points. You can even buy something more expensive and pay the difference.

If you have other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points like the Ink Business Cash or Ink Business Unlimited, you can transfer points into this card account and take advantage of the 25% premium. However, if you happen to have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you could transfer your points out to grab the better 50% premium.

You could think of this card as the small business version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Prefer airline and/or hotel points? This card also allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points into hotel and/or airline miles. Transfer to United Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt Hotels, IHG Hotels, and Marriott Hotels at a ratio of 1 Ultimate Rewards point = 1 mile/hotel point. Miles redemption continue to offer great value for savvy travelers, especially for last-minute travel and business class seats.

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, eBay/Amazon/Etsy sellers, or other one-person business owners. 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.

Note that Chase has an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years (aka the 5/24 rule). This rule is designed to discourage folks that apply for high numbers of sign-up bonuses. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so in our household one applies to Chase while the other applies at other card issuers.

Bottom line. This Chase small business card has a large sign-up bonus and premium travel features with a $95 annual fee. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points from other Chase cards to increase your value. Be sure to compare with other Chase small business cards – Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Cash.

Chase Ink Business Cash Card Review: $500 Cash Bonus, 5% Back Categories, No Annual Fee

inkcash2018Chase has freshened up their line-up of small business credit cards. The Ink Business Cash Card is offering a $500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. The special feature of this card is are 5%/2% bonus categories targeted towards small business expenses. Here are the details:

  • $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
  • 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.
  • No annual fee.

Ultimate Rewards points. The cash sign-up bonus actually comes in the form of Ultimate Rewards points at 1 point = 1 cent in cash. 50,000 points = $500 cash. If you have one of the other annual fee cards that offer a boost in value like the Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer your points between Ultimate Rewards accounts and redeem using that other card’s 25% travel bonus. This can increase the value of your points.

You could think of this card as the small business version of the Chase Freedom card.

Leveraging the 5% back bonus categories. Putting all of your small business cell phone, landline, and internet bills on the card and getting 5% back is pretty handy. For example, even just $200 a month x 12 months x 5% back is $120 back a year without changing your spending habits. Now let’s take the office supply store category and the fact that you can buy gifts cards to Amazon.com and other retailers at such office supply stores like Staples and OfficeMax… now you can effectively discount many of your other purchasing needs by 5% as well. Putting those purchases on such gift cards upfront can also help you meet 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, eBay/Amazon/Etsy sellers, or other one-person business owners. 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.

Note that Chase has an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years (aka the 5/24 rule). This rule is designed to discourage folks that apply for high numbers of sign-up bonuses. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so in our household one applies to Chase while the other applies at other card issuers.

Bottom line. This Chase small business card has a large sign-up bonus and ongoing features of 5X/2X categories with no annual fee. If you have certain other Chase credit cards, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points over to those cards and increase your value. Be sure to compare with other Chase small business cards – Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Unlimited.

Frequent Flier Miles: Which Airlines Are Easiest To Redeem Economy Awards?

Cashing in your frequent flier miles for a free flight can be hit or miss, especially around a holiday. Which airlines are the most generous with making seats available? Each year, IdeaWorks tries to run a fair comparison of all the major airlines to keep them honest. This WSJ article discusses the results:

During March, IdeaWorks made more than 7,000 trip searches among 25 airlines, looking for two seats at the basic “saver” award level—25,000 miles for a domestic U.S. round-trip, for example—on 14 specific travel dates June through October. Each airline’s 10 busiest long routes and 10 busiest medium-length routes, both domestic and international, are queried to get the fullest picture of award availability.

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Most improved goes to American, which admitted that they significantly increased their overall seat availability, especially to Hawaii and Europe. Worst decline goes to Alaska, which says it didn’t change the amount of seats released, so perhaps there is simply more competition and usage of the program. Note that the survey focuses on economy tickets (not business or first class).

Southwest and JetBlue remain on top at close to 100% availability, but that is a bit misleading since both of their points are revenue-linked with no blackout dates. For example, 25,000 Southwest points will buy you basically any “Wanna Get Away” ticket that costs up to about $340. So the results are really just saying that Southwest’s busiest routes almost always have a flight that costs under ~$340. Southwest doesn’t fly to Europe at all, but they do have plans for Hawaii soon (which I look forward to, but will probably hurt their numbers).

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Review – 60,000 Bonus Miles

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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:

  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • New: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations*
  • New: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at restaurants*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • New: Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card*
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees*
  • 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*
  • Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*

The annual fee is $99, waived for the first 12 months.

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 offer matches the highest bonus that I have ever seen on this card of 60,000 bonus miles + first year annual fee waived, and is signficantly 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.

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 round-trip 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 60,000 bonus American miles is a great 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, round-trip) and also when you redeem miles for award flights. If you plan to fly American a lot in the next 12 months, this offers brings good value.

“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.”

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® Review – 70,000 bonus miles

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

  • Designed for businesses
  • For a limited time, earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening*
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications, care rental merchants and at gas stations*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases.*

Note the following fine print:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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.”

Hilton American Express Cards Limited Time Offers (75k, 100k, 125k Points)

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The following Hilton Hotel co-branded credit cards with American Express have limited-time offers. The current AmEx policy is that applicants can only get one welcome offer, per card in your entire lifetime, so if you’re going to get one you might as well wait until one of these temporary bump-ups.

Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Complimentary Hilton HHonors Silver status.
  • Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn HHonors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • No annual fee.

Hilton Honors Ascend Credit Card from American Express

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn a free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • 12X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly directly at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 6X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn HHonors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 6/27/2018.
  • Plus, earn a free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer ends 06/27/2018.
  • 12X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly directly at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 6X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points at Select Business & Travel Purchases (ex. U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines)
  • 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn another Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend an additional $45,000 in purchases on your Card in the same calendar year.
  • 10 free airport lounge visits each year once enrolled in complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership, which offers access to over 1,000 lounges in over 120 countries.
  • $95 annual fee.

Hilton has some really nice properties, but the value of Hilton points depends greatly on what kind of hotels you are looking to book with them. I’ve seen some valuations around 0.6 cents per point, but I mentally mark them at 0.5 cent a point. That would make my personal valuation of 100,000 points at $500.

iPhone 6S Plus + New Apple Battery = Best Used/Frugal Phone?

iphone6srose

Update 3/17: DailySteals just added new stock in iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S at under $200 (Verizon + Fully GSM unlocked). Compare with Swappa.

More and more people are being scared away from paying $1,000+ for a new smartphone as they realize that every September there will be another one that is a bit newer and shinier. I think the absolute amount that the iPhone improves each year is getting smaller and smaller. If you’re not committed to staying on the bleeding edge, why not save some bucks?

I recently took advantage of the special pricing on iPhone battery replacements on my iPhone 6, and it definitely made a difference in speed (and of course battery life). They performed the battery swap in the Apple Store in about an hour while I shopped elsewhere. This made me think about what the current best value would be for an iPhone (functionality/price).

My choice as of mid-2018 is the iPhone 6S Plus. They currently start in the $220 range, compare prices at sites like Swappa (person-to-person) and DailySteals.com (refurb deals). You have Touch ID. You get the bigger 5.5-inch high-resolution “Retina” screen for easier reading. From a superficial perspective, it’s really hard to tell it apart from an iPhone 7 or 8 (especially with case). The speed is adequate, even if you update to the current iOS. Of course, this assumes that you add a new battery ($29) direct from Apple. (You even get a physical headphone jack!)

Free National Emerald Club Executive Membership

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(Update 2018: Here is a new alternative sign-up link that should give you instant Emerald Executive Club status at National. I’m not sure if my previous link below still works, but it did as of March 2018 according to the comments. More details in original post below.)

When I’m paying for it myself, my preferred car rental company is National. Now, when AutoSlash says I’ll save big bucks by going elsewhere, I will, but if the difference is small then I will stick with National. Here’s why:

  • If you sign up for their free Emerald Club loyalty program, even at the base tier you get to pick from any car in their “Emerald Aisle” while paying the Mid-Size price level. As a car enthusiast, that adds a bit of fun and excitement to the process, even if it is choosing between a Hyundai and a Chevy compact. At most major airports, you can show up, walk up to the car you like, and drive off without waiting in lines.
  • Even though they aren’t Hertz or Avis, they aren’t a tiny shop that I’m afraid will try to wring every last penny out of me. I’ve never had any issues when returning cars with tiny scratches or dents, so I don’t have to stress about making every scratch noted when picking up the cars.
  • There are often promotions where I can get upgraded to their a higher status level, Emerald Club Executive.

Here is a current sign-up link that will get you free National Emerald Club Executive Status. The upgraded status will last for the rest of this year, plus another 14 months. Note that you have to provide valid Driver’s License information; I put in the wrong information initially because I just wanted to test out the link, but it only worked after putting in the real information. Perhaps they check it against some sort of database.

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Here is a quick summary of the perks of Emerald Club Executive over the base Emerald Club level.

  • Obtaining this status usually requires 12 paid rentals or 40 paid rental days in a calendar year. It is also available to American Express Platinum cardholders.
  • While paying the Mid-Size rate, you can pick from cars in the Executive Aisle, which are a notch nicer than the standard Emerald Club aisle. There are usually full-size cars and SUVs available in the Executive aisle. Off the top of my head, I’ve driven a Chevy Impala, Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Ford Mustang, and a GMC Terrain.
  • You’ll always pay for one car class less when you reserve a full-size or luxury car. For example, if you reserve a full-size car, you’ll pay the mid-size price. This discount can be thought of as a “free upgrade”.
  • You can earn a free rental day every six rental credits, as opposed to every 7 credits at the base tier.

Once you obtain your status and/or membership kit, you can also ask for a status match with Hertz, Avis (request via email), or Enterprise. For example, based on the qualification criteria, it appears at Emerald Club Executive lines up with Hertz Five Star, while Emerald Club Executive Elite lines up with Hertz President’s Circle.