United Explorer Business Card Review – 100,000 Bonus Miles Limited-Time Offer

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Updated with 100k limited-time offer. The United Explorer Business Card is the co-branded business credit card between Chase and United Airlines, and it offers unique perks for regular United customers including free checked bags and expanded award seat availability for redeeming miles. Right now, there is also a limited-time offer of up to 100,000 bonus United miles for high spenders:

  • 50,000 bonus United miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months.
  • Additional 50,000 bonus United miles after spending $25,000 total within the first 6 months your account is open.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket.
  • Two one-time United Club passes each year ($100+ value)
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights.
  • 2X miles at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.
  • 2X miles on United purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Your miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Keep in mind the following terms and conditions:

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.

However, you CAN get this card if you had the consumer version of the United Explorer in the past 24 months (or have one now).

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, Uber/Lyft drivers, 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 most likely 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.

The good news is that small business cards from Chase hardly ever show up on personal credit reports, so getting this card in itself won’t affect your future 5/24 eligibility. This it makes a “free” application if you are already eligible.

This card is very focused on rewarding you for being a United customer. Before you board, you might use one of your free United Club lounge passes. You have the first checked bag for free on United flights, both for your and a companion traveling on the same reservation. The fee is usually $30 per person, each way, so that this how they get the value of $120 each roundtrip. You also get Priority Boarding, which helps you find space for your carry-on.

Expanded award availability. You earn United miles for all your purchases (double miles on restaurants and hotel stays), but then they also make it easier for you to redeem those miles on Saver level tickets with no blackout dates. Expanded award seat availability is another of the top perks from this card, and it is actually a significant difference. Saver Award ticket redemptions start at 12,500 miles one-way within the continental U.S. and Canada.

Another unique feature of this card is that it offers primary coverage on the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. On many other cards, this coverage is offered as secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your personal auto insurance has been exhausted.

Bottom line. The United Explorer Business card offers valuable perks for folks that fly United even just once or twice a year. The card provides lounge passes, a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts. There are bonus categories to earn more miles, and special expanded award seat inventory for credit card holders to make it easier to actually redeem those miles for flights. Right now, there is a 100,000 mile limited-time offer.

I have added this card to the Top 10 Best Small Business Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards Credit Card: 40,000 Points + $100 Statement Credit Offer

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card currently has a limited-time offer that can get you over $1,000 value in Amtrak train fare. If the link doesn’t load, visit Amtrak.com and start booking any reservation. Then go back and reload the application link. Note that the offer on the Amtrak.com front page does not include the $100 statement credit. Improved link found via DoC. Here are the highlights:

  • 40,000 bonus points and $100 statement credit after you make $2,500 or more in purchases on your new card within 90 days of account opening.
  • Complimentary Companion Coupon, One-Class Upgrade and a Single-Visit Station Lounge Pass for access to ClubAcela, Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge, or First class lounges upon account opening.
  • 3 points per $1 spent with Amtrak
  • 2 points per $1 spent on other qualifying travel purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get a 5% Amtrak Guest Rewards point rebate when you book your Amtrak redemption travel.
  • 1,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) every time you make at least $5,000 in purchases in a calendar year, up to 4,000 TQPs
  • There’s no limit to how many points you can earn and you can redeem them when you want since your points will not expire as long as your card account is open.
  • No foreign transaction fees†
  • $79 annual fee.

This offer is not going to be attractive for everyone, but it can be very valuable if you either enjoy recreational train travel or if you can use it for your commuting needs.

Amtrak points are worth about 2.6 to 2.9 cents per points towards Amtrak train fare. That means 40,000 points is worth over $1,000 in Amtrak train fare. Amtrak redemptions are variable and directly-linked to the cash cost, so you can use points on basically any ticket. In addition, the $100 statement credit more than offsets the $79 annual fee.

The best value is for train fare, but Amtrak points do transfer to certain other hotel programs, although some require elite status in those programs. You can also redeem for various gift cards at a rate of 10,000 points = $100 gift card. So 40,000 points would get you $400 in gift cards to CVS, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Starbucks, etc.

You could take the train across the entire country! There is an 18-hour Capitol Limited overnight train from Washington D.C. to Chicago in a “Superliner Bedroom” with a private bathroom.

You could then take the 3-day, 2-night trip on the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco. Enjoy the views as you cut through both the Rockies and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.

Bottom line. The Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card currently has a limited-time offer that can get you over $1,000 value in Amtrak train fare.

I do not receive a commission for this card. The potential value is high, but I don’t know if it is too niche to include in my list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers. I feel that the percentage of people taking some sort of flight is much higher than those taking an Amtrak train. Am I wrong?

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Equifax Data Breach Settlement: Free Credit Monitoring vs. Reduced Claim

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Update. As many of you correctly pointed out, only $31 million was allotted to the $125 alternative payment if you opted out of the free credit monitoring. The FTC has provided an update encouraging people to pick the free monitoring:

I thought I could choose $125 instead of free credit monitoring. What happened?

The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming. Millions of people have visited this site in just the first week. Because the total amount available for these alternative payments is $31 million, each person who takes the money option is going to get a very small amount. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.

The free credit monitoring provides a much better value, and everyone whose information was exposed can take advantage of it. If your information was exposed in the data breach, and you file a valid claim before the deadline, you are guaranteed at least four years of free monitoring at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance, among other benefits. The market value of this product is hundreds of dollars per year.

You can still choose the cash option on the claim form, but you will be disappointed with the amount you receive and you won’t get the free credit monitoring.

My perspective is that data breaches are happening all the time. (Capital One was breached just this week.) All of them just say “oh my, we’re sorry, here’s some free credit monitoring”. I’ve probably got about 8 different credit monitoring services going on right now, and I’m sure more will be offered shortly. I do NOT value their free monitoring at some “retail value” of hundreds of dollars. You may feel differently. I think that people should be rightly angry if they end up with a few bucks in the end, which hopefully will spur further change and make future penalties more severe. If all these companies care about is money, then isn’t a huge cash penalty a better deterrent to lazy security practices?

Original post:

Equifax has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 48 out of 50 states over their huge data breach that was discovered in 2017. You can find full details at FTC.gov, where you can confirm the official claim website. You can check your eligibility at this lookup tool. You will need to provide your last name and last 6 digits of SSN.

First, you can get up to 10 years of free credit monitoring or $125 if you decide not to enroll because you already have credit monitoring. No supporting documentation necessary. I am already using these free daily credit monitoring services and they have been working well for me, so I am definitely filing a claim for the cash payment of $125. However, some people may prefer the monitoring. You can file a claim for every person in your household that is 18 or older.

Next, you can be compensated for the time you spent dealing with the claim, at a rate of $25 per hour up to 20 hours. Supporting documentation requirements vary as follows:

  • If you submit a claim for 10 hours or less, you must describe the actions you took and the time you spent doing those things.
  • If you claim more than 10 hours, you must describe the actions you took AND provide documents that show identity theft, fraud, or other misuse of your information.

If you are the type of person that read this website, you probably did spend at least some amount of time dealing with the data breach. For me, these activities mostly happened near the time the breach was discovered in September 2017.

  • You might have spent time reading press releases and news articles about the data breach and how it might impact your financial life and how to avoid identity theft.
  • You might have spent time reading official websites about all of the many differences between a credit freeze and fraud alert.
  • You might have spent time on the phone or online in order to place and/or removing those credit freezes and fraud alerts.
  • Finally, you probably checked all of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus, probably multiple times, in order to make sure there was no fraudulent activity.

For example, if you spent 5 hours doing this total, you can file a claim for an additional $125 (5 times $25) by listing and attesting to your activities but without having to provide physical documentation.

You can also file claims for direct expenses that you paid as a result of the breach (supporting documentation required), including:

  • Losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts
  • The cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report
  • The cost of credit monitoring
  • Fees you paid to professionals like an accountant or attorney
  • Other expenses like notary fees, document shipping fees and postage, mileage, and phone charges

As with many such settlements, the final amounts may be reduced depending on the number of people who make a claim.

Finally, starting in 2020, all US consumers can get 6 free credit reports per year for 7 years from the Equifax website. That’s in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can sign up for an email reminder if you want.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Hilton American Express Cards Limited-Time Offers – Up to 125,000 Hilton Points Each

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

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Hilton Hotels has two American Express consumer cards, a no annual fee and a $95 annual fee version (with more perks of course). There is also a business card version. Each person can only get one welcome offer, per card in your entire lifetime, so it’s best to apply during one of these temporary bump-ups. (You could get all three of these welcome offers separately, but only one per card per person per lifetime.)

What are Hilton Honor points worth? The best value is from booking free hotel nights or using their “Points & Money” option where you pay with a combination of Hilton points and cash. Hilton has some really nice properties, but the value varies from hotel to hotel. I just ran a search and for the same 60,000 Hilton points, I could book rooms that cost $320 or $532 cash. I’ve seen some valuations around 0.6 cents per point, which I think is fair on average, but I would be more conservative at 0.5 cents a point. That would make 90,000 points = $450 value and 130,000 points = $650 value towards Hilton hotel stays.

The good part of Hilton points is that they have so many different hotel brands, from business-class DoubleTree to luxury Waldorf Astoria. Hilton also lets you transfer and pool points with other with other family or household members. As long as you keep them active (once every 12 months), I do like to keep some around. These credit cards are good at creating activity, but here’s another tip on how to keep Hilton points active.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after $2,000 in purchases within first 3 months.
  • Earn an additional Weekend Night Reward certificate after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • 12X Hilton Honors points on purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 6X Hilton Honors points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Hilton Honors points for all other eligible purchases.
  • Free Honors Gold status (free breakfast, room upgrades based on availability, 5th standard reward night free).
  • Spend $40,000 in a calendar year on this card and get Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.

(This offer is for first-time Surpass cardmembers only, and not eligible for those who previously had an Ascend Card.)

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • after $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 7X Hilton Honors points on purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5X Hilton Honors points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Hilton Honors points for all other eligible purchases.
  • Free Honors Silver status (5th standard reward night free, 2 bottles of water in your room).
  • Spend $20,000 in a calendar year on this card and get Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee.

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

  • 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward certificate after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • Earn another Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend an additional $45,000 in purchases in the same calendar year.
  • 12X Hilton Honors points on purchases at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
  • 6X Hilton Honors points on Select Business & Travel Purchases (ex. U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines)
  • 3X Hilton Honors points for all other eligible purchases.
  • Free upgrade to Honors Gold status (free breakfast, room upgrades based on availability, 5th standard reward night free).
  • 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.

Bottom line. Hilton American Express cards offer regular Hilton customers a good opportunity to earn additional points towards free Hilton hotel stays as well as additional perks like status upgrades. The best time to apply for a Hilton co-branded American Express card is during a limited-time increase to their welcome offers. This is because American Express has changed their policy to only allow each person to get a welcome bonus once per card per lifetime.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

American Express Blue Business Cash Card: 2% Cash Back on First $50,000 in Purchases, No Annual Fee

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The American Express Blue Business Cash Card is a new business rewards card that earns 2% cash back on up to $50,000 of purchases per calendar year (then back down to 1% after that) and no annual fee. There is also a 0% intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (variable rate after intro period). This card replaces the SimplyCash Plus card, which has been discontinued and is no longer open to new applicants.

This is a solid offer for small business owners who want a simple-yet-competitive rewards credit card. If your business purchases don’t exceed $50,000 within each calendar year, this card provides flat 2% cash back and no annual fee. (Many other 2% cash back cards charge an annual fee.) In addition, your cash back is automatically credited to your statement as a statement credit, so you don’t have to remember to redeem anything. Easy. Automatic. I would say the only drawback is that there is no welcome offer.

My primary small business card for day-to-day spending is the sibling Blue Business Plus Card from American Express (my review), which offers 2X Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in purchases each year and no annual fee. I prefer earning the double Membership Rewards points per dollar over 2% cash back because I regularly redeem each MR point for more than 1 cent per point of value. I enjoy the flexibility of having some Membership Rewards in my back pocket to convert to miles, points, etc, and I like not having to pay an annual fee.

If you don’t expect to get at least 1 cent per mile value by converting to airline miles or hotel points, then this card is better.

Business credit 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.

This card will require you to personally guarantee that you’ll pay them back what you charge on the card, which means they’ll check your personal credit score like any other consumer card. However, as the card is a business card, American Express won’t have it show up on your personal credit report, so it won’t change things like your credit limits, average account age, or credit utilization ratio.

Bottom line. The American Express Blue Business Cash Card is a new small business card that earns a flat 2% cash back on ALL purchases up to $50,000 per calendar year with no annual fee. This is a high cash back percentage, and your rewards are automatically credited on the next monthly statement, so you don’t have to remember to redeem anything.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Our Family Travel Award Redemptions 2019

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

I’m not a Instagram travel blogger and I’ll never visit every country in the world, but I do earn enough points from navigating the top credit card offers to fund a big chunk of our annual travel each year. We are a family of five including a toddler, so we redeem for domestic economy class tickets to see grandparents instead of business class seats to an over-water Maldives bungalow. We also travel in peak times due to school schedules, so it’s harder to hunt for high value opportunities. I used to worry about this, but now we just earn ’em and burn ’em.

We are heading to Kauai later this month, which included these redemptions:

Economy flights to Hawaii – 15,000 to 40,000 American miles roundtrip each
The actual redemption amount will vary based on dates and times. The interisland flights are 7,500 miles each way (both AA/Hawaiian), and Mainland US to Hawaii are 20,000 miles each way.

You can earn American Airlines miles from multiple credit cards, as there are versions from both Citi and Barclaycard. Sometimes one offer is much better than the other, right now both are solid. Marriott/SPG points also transfer over to American miles. The cards will also let us get free checked bags and priority boarding, saving us more money.

Grand Hyatt Kauai – 25,000 Hyatt points per night
I’m excited to visit what is consistently rated the best resort in Kauai for the first time. You can earn Hyatt points from multiple credit cards as well. There is the Chase World of Hyatt card, and Ultimate Rewards also transfer over on a 1:1 basis instantly to Hyatt. That means the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Freedom, and Freedom Unlimited all earn points that can lead to a nice resort in Hawaii. (I also got a ton of points from the Ink Business Preferred for small businesses.)

Transferring some Chase points over let me top off the account to reach exactly the number of points needed. Redeeming with Hyatt points also includes all taxes and let me avoid the daily $35/resort fee. Here’s a screenshot showing that the total cash cost for our stay would have been $701 per night (2.8 cents per Hyatt point) after adding in the resort fee:

(I’m also getting 10% of my redeemed points back from this promo, so in the end I’ll be getting more than 3 cents per Hyatt point.)

For the holidays, we are heading to visit family in Austin, Texas:

Economy flights to Austin – 20,000 British Airlines Avios roundtrip each
The flights are actually on American as well, just using Avios. While far from my best Avios redemption, it worked out as British Airways allows you to “household” an account. We had a previous trip so a lot of miles were spread across the kids’ accounts, and this feature lets us pool the points and use them all up. For example, what if you had 18,000 points in five different accounts and the award you wanted was 100,000 points? Avios lets you pool them together, and you could transfer over some American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards points to top things off.

Besides past flights, our main source of Avios points was the Chase British Airways card.

SpringHill Suites Austin – 14,000 Marriott points per night
No free scuba lessons or water slides here. This is just a nice suite hotel so that we can fit all five of us in comfort. There is a solid free buffet breakfast, and it’s close to family (and a Rudy’s BBQ).

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The Texan’s Food Pyramid

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Marriott also has credit cards from both Chase and American Express that can provide lots of points-earning opportunities.

Both my wife and I apply for a few new cards each year, but we don’t go past that much anymore. Our basic idea is to try out one card at a time. Sometimes the perks are pleasantly much better than expected, and other times they are harder to use than expected.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Which Airline Miles Are Easiest To Redeem For Economy Awards? 2019

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

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, consulting firm IdeaWorks tries to run a fair comparison of all the major airlines to keep them honest. This WSJ article (paywall?) discusses their process:

In March, IdeaWorks searched for two award seats together on various travel dates between June and October on each airline’s busiest routes. Seats have to be available at the airline’s lowest everyday price—typically 25,000 miles round trip for a domestic coach ticket. The company made nearly 4,000 queries.

Below are the rankings of the 6 major US airlines. It is important to remember that this ranking focuses on domestic economy tickets only (no business class or international flights). The article does also rank international airlines on availability from a related metric.

For 2019, the most improved airline is United Airlines, while the worst decline goes to Delta. Not surprisingly, United claims this was totally on purpose because that’s what customers want and they are all about that… Meanwhile Delta suggested that the change was simply a result of more demand because their program is so popular. Shrug.

If you fly a lot on United, you can get significantly expanded award availability with the Chase United Explorer card. Add in the free checked bag for you and a companion, and the perks can easily offset the annual fee.

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 $375. So the results are really just saying that Southwest’s busiest routes almost always have a flight that costs under ~$375. JetBlue is only 98% because some of their flights are just over the price threshold. I wonder if they included flights to Hawaii, now that Southwest flies there?

I have come to appreciate the simplicity of Southwest’s structure, especially now that I primarily shop for multiple economy tickets. For example, you can reliably value their credit card bonuses of 40,000 points = $600 in Wanna Get Away airfare, and 80,000 points = $1,200 of Wanna Get Away airfare. I can buy five seats on the same flight, no problem. Others prefer the traditional, more complex structure because it offered the skilled person the chance to get outsized value, like a $3,000 ticket for 50,000 points.

Airlines make a huge percentage of their revenue from selling these airline miles, which they create out of thin air both for actual flying and specifically for credit card users. This also means they have an incentive to create “miles inflation” such that each mile is worth less and less over time. I like this annual WSJ survey because it shows that someone is paying attention and calling them out publicly, at least on seat availability.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Chase World of Hyatt Card Review: 50,000 Bonus Points, 10% Back Promotion

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

(Existing or new World of Hyatt or the Hyatt Credit cardholders: Register for this promotion to get 10% back of any Hyatt points you redeem between July 1st and September 2nd, 2019. You must register before July 15th and finish your stay by September 2nd. You can already have your stay booked, which works out great for me because I am already set to redeem over 100,000 points in late July. That’s like finding an extra $100 to $200 in my case.)

Chase has launched a new The World of Hyatt credit card, which replaces their previous Hyatt co-branded card. There is a current sign-up bonus of up to 50,000 Hyatt points. Here are the highlights:

  • Up to total 50,000 points – 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Additional 25,000 bonus points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.
  • Receive 1 free night every year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort.
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year.
  • Get automatic World of Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as your account is open and 5 qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every year.
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card.
  • $95 annual fee.

If you’ve gotten a bonus from any Hyatt Card within the last 2 years, please note the following:

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Hyatt Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Hyatt Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.

If you have the old Chase Hyatt card, you can call them up and ask for upgrade options.

The 5/24 rule applies to this card. On many Chase cards, there is 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 is applied on a per-person basis, so in our household one applies to Chase while the other applies at other card issuers. The 5/24 rule is now believed to apply to this card.

What can you get with 50,000 Hyatt points? Here are all the Hyatt redemption options, but the most popular options are for free hotel nights, points+cash hotel combinations, or room upgrades. Hyatt allows you the flexibility of combining your points with any other World of Hyatt member to redeem an award.

After the recent Marriott/Starwood merger, I believe that Hyatt points are now the most valuable hotel points on a per-point basis. In general, I would rather convert my Chase Ultimate Rewards points into Hyatt points than any other hotel program.

Below is their points award chart, and here is their award search tool. Free rooms start at 5,000 points. A suite upgrade is 6,000 points.

For example, 50,000 points can get you two free nights at the Category 6 properties like the Hyatt Regency Maui or Grand Hyatt Kauai (25,000 pts/night). You also avoid the resort fees of up to $45 per night with an award redemption. Alternatively, 50,000 points would get you 4 nights at a Category 3 like the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando (12,000 pts/night) with some points left over. Finally, you could get 10 nights at 5,000 points per Category 1 night like the Hyatt Place Austin/Round Rock.

If you compare with the cash cost of these hotels, the number varies you are nearly always getting between 1 cent and 2 cents per point value, sometimes more. We are staying at the Grand Hyatt Kauai this summer on Hyatt points from this card, where the cash value is $701 per night when you include all taxes and the $35/night resort fee. That works out to 2.8 cents per Hyatt point.

Annual fee and free anniversary night. This card does have a $95 annual fee, but in exchange you get a Free Night Certificate good at any Category 1-4 hotel or resort. I can easily get $95 of value out of this certificate, so this card is a keeper card for me. Your travel situation may be different.

You can also earn an additional free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year. I had to spend $6,000 to reach the sign-up bonus the first year, so I went ahead and reached this hurdle to reach a total of 2 free Cat 1-4 nights + 50,000 points after the first year. I probably won’t go for it in future years, though.

Hyatt points expire after 24 months of inactivity, but earning points via this credit card counts as activity. Chase Ultimate Rewards points also convert to Hyatt points and the transfer counts as activity.

Ongoing rewards structure. I might book my Hyatt nights on this card, but the rest of the rewards aren’t terribly exciting to me.

  • 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt – 4 Bonus Points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member.
  • 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other card purchasesoffer details reference link*

The free Discoverist status from this card gets you a free bottle of water daily, a free upgrade to premium WiFi internet, dedicated check-in area, and a 2pm late checkout upon request at participating locations. You are also eligible for a minor room upgrade within your type booked.

Bottom line. The Chase World of Hyatt card is the newer co-branded Hyatt credit card. As with most of these types of card, the best value is obtained by folks like like to stay at Hyatt properties. There is currently a 50,000 point sign-up bonus, an anniversary free night award, and a $95 annual fee. As long as you use the points up for free Hyatt hotel nights, the total net value of this card in the first year is easily over $500. For the two nights we booked at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, the cash cost would have been $1,400.

I will receive a commission for this card if you sign-up via my link. I have added this offer to my ongoing list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Citi Premier Card Review: 60,000 Points = $750 in Airfare Booked at ThankYou.com, $95 Annual Fee

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The Citi Premier Card has changed up their sign-up bonus to 60,000 bonus points (worth $750 in airfare booked at ThankYou.com) with a $95 annual fee for the first year (not waived). Here are the highlights:

  • 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 3X points on Travel, including Gas Stations
  • 2X points on Dining Out and Entertainment
  • 1X points on All Other Purchases
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee.

3X points include both air/hotel/car rental and daily commute items. “Travel” includes hotels, airfare, taxis, car rental, public transportation, parking, cruises, and gas. When combined with the 25% travel premium, makes that equivalent to a 3.75% reward towards travel booked through Citi Travel Center. The double (2X) on restaurants (includes bars and fast food) and entertainment (sporting events) makes that 2.5% towards travel booked through Citi Travel Center.

Bonus details. The current bonus is 60,000 bonus points and $95 annual fee. 60,000 points are redeemable for $750 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou.com travel portal, or $500 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com. The previous offer was 50,000 points and the first year of annual fee waived, so this can be seen as a slight improvement as 10,000 points can be redeem for $125 in airfare vs. the $95 annual fee. If you got a lower bonus recently, it doesn’t hurt to ask Citi to match the current bonus via their secure message system. The worst they could say is no.

Note the following fine print:

Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+SM, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi PremierSM or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.

ThankYou.com Travel Center redemption details (60,000 points = $750 in travel). With this card, every 10,000 ThankYou points will get you $125 in airfare, hotel nights, car rentals, and cruises book through the ThankYou.com Travel Center, which in my experience has very similar (if not identical) total price with taxes as compared to Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Because you can book any flight that can be otherwise purchased with cash, there are “no blackout dates”.

This can be even more flexible than traditional “miles” redemptions because you can use it across multiple flights, multiple passengers, and you can even do partial redemptions. 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 easy to use up all of your points at the better travel rate without buying anything extra you don’t need.

60,000 ThankYou points = $600 in gift cards, $600 check towards student loan or 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 60,000 TY points, you could get six $100 gift cards from different stores.

For a check mailed to you, it is 8,000 points for $50 (1 points = 0.625 cent). A better conversion ratio comes from a check mailed towards your mortgage payment or student loan (it arrives made out to your lender), which is 7,500 points for $75 (1 points = 1 cent).

Hotel points and airline miles transfer options. Citi ThankYou points are also now available to transfer to certain airline mileage programs on a 1:1 basis including JetBlue, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Etihad, Flying Blue by Air France and KLM, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways. For example, 60,000 TY points can get you 60,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles. If you know how to redeem these points wisely and like to fly in international business class, you can get a lot of value. For example, Singapore Airlines has some very nice award options and great customer service.

Bottom line. The Citi Premier Card is a premium travel card with a $95 annual fee. Currently, new cardholders can get a sign-up bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points = $750 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou travel center. Minus the $95 annual fee, and the total first year value is roughly $650. Note the restrictions if you’ve had or closed a similar ThankYou card in the last 24 months.

I do not receive a commission for this card. I will be adding this offer to my ongoing list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard Review – 75,000 Bonus Miles

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard is the official co-branded card with perks like Hawaiian miles for purchases, a free checked bag, and companion ticket discounts. If you like to fly to/from Hawaii, right now there is a limited-time offer of up to 70,000 bonus miles. Here are the highlights:

  • Up to 75,000 bonus miles. 50k after $2,000 in purchases within 90 days + additional 25k after $6,000 total in purchases in the first 12 months.
  • One-Time 50% Off Companion Discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and North America on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $100 annual companion ticket discount each year for roundtrip travel between Hawaii and North America on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Free first checked bag on Hawaiian Airlines flights book with card (primary cardholder only)
  • 3X miles for every $1 spent on purchases made directly from Hawaiian Airlines
  • 2X miles per $1 spent on gas, dining, and grocery store purchases, and 1X mile per $1 spent on every other purchase.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $99 annual fee

ShareMiles. A unique feature of Hawaiian Airlines is that with this card, they allow you to receive Hawaiian miles from other members without a fee. This is handy if your family members have a few miles here and there, as you can now pool them all together to reach an award level.

Domestic award travel discount. These are from their standard award chart to help you value these miles if you don’t have this card:

  • Interisland flights: 7,500 miles one-way (SuperSaver), 10,000 (Saver), and 15,000 (Flex)
  • Hawaii to Mainland US roundtrip in Coach: 40,000 miles roundtrip (SuperSaver), 60,000 (Saver), and 80,000+ (Flex)
  • Hawaii to Mainland US roundtrip in First Class: 80,000 (Saver), and 160,000+ (Flex)

However, if you do have a Hawaiian Airlines card, then you can receive certain discounts:

  • Interisland flights: 8,500 miles one-way (Saver), and 12,500 (Flex)
  • Hawaii to Mainland US roundtrip in Coach: 35,000 miles roundtrip (SuperSaver), 50,000 (Saver), and 60,000+ (Flex)

Value. As you might expect, grabbing a SuperSaver award seat means that you’ll have to book early as there are only a limited amount of such seats available per flight. They often also involve a layover on another island, which adds a few couple hours to your total travel time. Still, a quick search found some flights for 40,000 miles + $11.20 in fees that would have cost $541 with cash, for a value of 1.3 cents per mile. You just can’t be too picky with your flight times.

Bottom line. The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard offers a unique set of perks for regular customers of Hawaiian Airlines, including miles for purchases, free checked bags, and companion ticket discounts.

I don’t receive any commission for this updated offer. I will be adding this offer to my ongoing list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Review: $700 Towards Any Travel + Annual Fee Waived First Year

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

This offer has expired.

AFB_ARF_card_rRGB_ArrivalPlus_Fee_WE (1)The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard® is a travel rewards card that has just increased their sign-up bonus to 70,000 points (worth $700 towards any travel), and the annual fee is also waived for the first year ($89 annual fee after that). This is the highest total incentive ever for this card. Here are the highlights:

  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • NEW – Control Your Card – Instantly secure your accounts by locking your cards with Barclays SecurHold™, plus set transaction limits and block certain purchase categories for you or your authorized users. Available only on the Barclays mobile app.
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Annual fee waived for the first year ($89 annual fee after that).

Rewards program details. With this card, you earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. There are no special categories. These miles (easier to think of them as points, really) are then redeemable towards travel booked from any merchant or retailer classified as Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways and Car Rental Agencies. You can redeem towards any airline on any date.

To redeem, visit any booking site (Delta.com, AA.com, Southwest.com, Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, Hilton.com, Hotels.com, etc) and buy a ticket with this credit card. You don’t need to use any specific portal. Let’s say you buy an airplane ticket for $250. Then, you visit your Barclaycard account website and you’ll offset your purchase. You’ll redeem 25,000 “miles” and see a $250 statement credit on your statement. I’ve done this multiple times, and it always went smoothly with no issues.

Travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100 toward a qualifying travel purchase of $100 or more made within the last 120 days. For example, you could use 10,000 points for a $100 credit towards a $200 plane ticket, if you wished.

On top of that, the card gives you a 5% miles rebate when you redeem for any travel. So if you redeemed 50,000 miles, you would get 2,500 back in your account after about a week. Although this is more complicated than just spending less points, you can calculate that getting $500 of value out of 47,500 miles at 2X miles/$ spent works out to 2.11% cash back towards any travel. Everything else (gift cards, merchandise) offers a significantly worse redemption ratio, so I wouldn’t bother.

During the first year, the $89 annual fee is waived. However, in future years it comes back. So I would take the first year and see how you like it. You would have to put over $80,000 in purchases on this card annually in order to get the 0.11% advantage to offset the $89 annual fee (after the 1st-year waiver) when compared to a 2% cash back card. That’s a big number.

Another option is that you are allowed to use 8,900 miles to offset the $89 annual fee. (Minimum increment is 2,500 points for $25 against annual fee.) Finally, you can also ask them to downgrade your card into the “plain” Arrival card with no annual fee (and no 2X miles).

Bottom line. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is a travel rewards card that earns double miles on all purchases (even more with the 5% rebate). The sign-up bonus has been raised to 70,000 points – worth $700 in travel statement credits – the highest ever for this card. The $89 annual fee is waived for the first year, but applies in subsequent years. This is a very strong offer as there is a $700 net value over the first year.

Applying for this card can cover a huge chunk of your annual vacation travel budget. I have added this offer to my list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Chase Freedom Card Review: 5% Cash Back on Quarterly Categories + $150 Sign-Up Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The Chase Freedom Card is a popular cash back 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:

  • $150 cash bonus after $500 in purchases within your first 3 months.
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.
  • New 5% categories every 3 months like Gas Stations, Restaurants, and Select Grocery Stores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit JourneySM
  • 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.

2019 5% Cash Back Category Calendar

From October 1st through December 31st, 2019 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Department Stores
  • Purchases made with PayPal. Many online stores take PayPal including eBay. You can also pay your taxes online with PayPal and still make money after the 1.87% fee.
  • Purchases made with Chase Pay

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.

If you’d rather have “set it and forget it” rewards, compare with the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, which offers a flat 1.5% cash back on everything (no special 5% categories) and no annual fee.

Synergy with Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Technically, you earn Ultimate Rewards points which can also be converted to airline miles or hotel points instead of cash if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

This turns the 5% cash back categories into 5X Ultimate Rewards categories. That’s like earning 5 United miles per dollar spent, or 5 Hyatt points per dollar spent. With the Sapphire Reserve, 5X Ultimate Rewards = 7.5% back towards travel (flights, hotels) booked through the Chase travel portal.

Bottom line. The Chase Freedom Card is a unique cash back rewards card that lets you earn 5% cash back on select categories each quarter. It’s a little extra work to keep track of things, but it allows me to earn hundreds of dollars in extra cash each year without buying extra stuff I don’t need.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.