Refinance Your Car Loan Due To Ultra-Low Interest Rates?

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Many interest rates are at all-time lows right now. This means that if you have any sort of debt, you should explore refinancing. The goal is to lower your interest rate and monthly payments while paying minimal upfront costs and fees.

Did you know that you can refinance your existing car loan? While I advise avoiding car loans because they turn a painful $1,500 in optional features into “only” $20 a month, I also know that most people do end up taking out a loan. Experian says that 85% of new cars and 55% of used cards are financed as of Q4 2019.

I’ve long recommended a good credit union for a new or used car loan. Below are one refi-centric rate comparison and several national credit unions that offer competitive rates on refinancing existing car loans – down to as low as 2% APR. For credit unions, don’t be afraid to use the alternative paths listed to join. There should be no loan application fee, although you will have to undergo a credit check. You should get multiple quotes to compare, including at least one credit union.

MyAutoLoan.com Refinance

  • This one is not a credit union, it is like LendingTree for auto loan refinancing. Open to everyone, you submit one application and they will give you multiple quotes from different private lenders.
  • They offer an interest rate estimator tool with no credit check based on your overall credit profile.
  • No application fees.
  • Refinance for as low as 2.04% APR for 36 months. They seem to specialized in refi, as their listed refinance rates are lower than their new/used car purchase loan rates.
  • No payments for up to 90 days for qualified borrowers.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

  • Membership open to active, honorably discharged, or retired military, Federal employees, or select membership groups. This includes being a Red Cross blood donor or volunteer. You can also join the Navy League for $25. I recommend just going through the PenFed application process and let them guide you.
  • Currently, they are offering a $250 bonus when you refinance an auto loan with them.
  • Refinance a 2019/2020 model year car for as low as 2.14% APR for 36 months.
  • Refinance a 2018 or older model year car for as low as 2.99% APR for 36 months.

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Membership open to active military, veterans, and family members of veterans.
  • Refinance a 2019/2020 model year car for as low as 2.29% APR for 36 months.
  • Refinance a 2018 or older model year car for as low as 3.89% APR for 36 months.

USAA

  • Membership open to those with the military affiliation: active duty, Guard or Reserve, a veteran, an eligible family member, or a cadet or midshipman. USAA is the most strict about their membership if you are not military, but they usually have very competitive rates.
  • No application fee.
  • No payments until 60 days after your loan is approved.

Hanscom Federal Credit Union

  • Membership open to active or retired military as well as other partner organizations. If you don’t otherwise qualify, anyone can join the Nashua River Watershed Association for a one-time $35 fee.
  • Hanscom FCU offers a 0.25% discount for loans on new and used vehicles (excluding motorcycles) to current active duty members in the U.S. Military.
  • No application fees or title transfer fees.

Why multiple quotes? If you apply for a car loan, they will run a credit check and provide a specific rate quote on your credit report data. (Check your credit reports for free once a week until April 2021.) Thus, I wouldn’t only go by which place advertises the lowest “as low as” rate unless you have a perfect credit score. You should apply to multiple lenders and compare as they may target differed borrower profiles. If you make these credit checks within a short period of time (Experian suggests 14 days or less), the credit bureaus should automatically recognize that you are comparison shopping and only count one hard inquiry against your credit score.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

Pay with Discover Card Points, Get 20% Off at Amazon.com (Targeted)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Discover it 14 Image

If you have a Discover with cash back rewards, you can redeem them to buy eligible items at Amazon.com. The redemption rate is $1 in Cash Back Bonus = $1 to spend at Amazon, which is the same rate as their statement credit redemptions. Here is a targeted promotion where you can get 20% off Amazon.com purchases (max $50 discount) when you redeem at least $0.01 in Discover cash back. The promotion may not work for everyone, but it worked for me and I’ve usually done every other promotion including a similar promotion last year. Via SD:

  • Click here to link your Discover Cashback points balance to your Amazon account
  • Click here to activate the promotion on your Amazon account (eligibility will vary)
  • Add one or more of eligible products sold and shipped by Amazon.com to your shopping cart. Note the maximum discount available is $50.
  • Proceed to checkout & select your Discover Card as your payment method
  • Select the amount of Discover Cashback Bonus Points you would like to use for the purchase (must use at least 1 point or $.01)
  • Savings will be reflected on the final order checkout page if the items in your order are eligible for the promotion credit.

This is a limited-time offer. 20% off with Discover Cashback Bonus, maximum discount of $50. The promotion will end on the earlier of (a) 11:59 PT on 4/20/2020, or (b) the time at which offers worth $2,000,000 have been redeemed. The promotion will expire concurrently. Amazon.com reserves the right to cancel or modify this offer at any time.

This is nice perk for existing Discover cardholders, which is why I never cancel a card with no annual fee. For example, you could save $47 on Airpod Pros and pay a net price of $188. Check out my Discover it credit card review, one of my keeper 5% cash back cards.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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 Rewards+ Card Review: 0% APR on Purchases for 15 Months + 15,000 Bonus Points

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

The Citi Rewards+ Card has become more attractive in this environment with its 0% introductory APR for 15 months from date of account opening, upfront sign-up bonus, and round-ups rewards on small purchases with no annual fee. (Credit card companies tend to cut back on the 0% offers during recessions.) Here are the highlights:

  • 15,000 bonus points after $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. 15,000 ThankYou points = $150 in gift cards at ThankYou.com.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. Balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Minimum 10 points earned on every purchase. The card automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, so for example a $1 parking charge or $2 cup of coffee can earn 10 points. This happens on every purchase with no cap.
  • 2X points at Supermarkets & Gas Stations on the first $6,000 per year. 1 point per $1 spent thereafter.
  • 10% of your points rebated back on the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points redeemed per year.
  • No annual fee.

Note the following terms:

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

0% introductory APR on purchases for 15 months. This is one of the longest 0% intro periods on purchases, which means that you can keep charging all your purchases on this card for 15 months and not have to pay any interest. Carrying a credit card balance is obviously not ideal, but in extreme times such an offer can help with short-term cashflow issues and defer your monthly expenses until later. You will still need to keep making the minimum payments each month to keep the 0% rate. There is also 0% intro APR for 15 months for balance transfers, but that comes with a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Round up rewards, helpful on small purchases. The default rewards on this card is 1 point per $1 spent, which is rather common these days. They try to mix things up by making it round up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. For example, a $1 purchase would earn 10 points, not 1 point. A $2 purchase would earn 10 points, not 2 points. A $11 purchase would earn 20 points, not 11 points. This makes the effective rewards percentage much higher on small purchases. If you make a lot of small purchases, this card is well-suited for you.

If you have a high monthly spend amount, I would recommend the Citi Double Cash card instead, as it earns 2% cash back on purchases.

10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year. Let’s say you get that 15,000 points bonus and earn another 5,000 points from your purchases. When you redeem your 20,000 ThankYou points for a $200 gift card, you’ll also get 2,000 points rebated back to your account.

Combine with Citi Prestige or Citi Premier Cards. If you also have the Citi Prestige Card or Citi Premier Card (which do have annual fees), you move your ThankYou points into the account linked to those cards and then transfer them to airline partners such as Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, or Singapore Airlines. This would effectively increase the value of the points earned from the Citi Rewards+ card.

Bottom line. The Citi Rewards+ Card offers a long 15-month 0% introductory APR period on purchases on top of a 15,000 point sign-up bonus worth $150 in gift cards. This can help you with short-term cashflow issues by charging your purchases with no interest accruing during the first year and three months. There is also a unique rewards structure for those that make a lot of small purchases. No annual fee.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® Review

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Updated. The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is a solid business travel card from Citi and American Airlines. They have recently boosted their sign-up bonus with a limited-time offer. I am still busy accumulating miles as I fully believe that we will be traveling once again. Here are the details:

  • 65,000 American Airlines bonus miles after $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months.
  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions.
  • Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights.
  • 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations.
  • 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual fee $99, waived for the first 12 months.

Note the following fine print:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have received a new account bonus for a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® account in the past 48 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.

Baggage fee value. Currently, American Airlines recently joined the other airlines and now charges $30 one-way for the first checked bag and $40 one-way for the second checked bag in Economy. That’s $60 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.

Companion Certificate perk. I don’t see this available on the consumer version of this card: Earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate for domestic main cabin travel after you spend $30,000 or more in purchases each cardmembership year and cardmembership is renewed. Redeeming the certificate costs $99 for the ticketing fee plus $21.60 to $43.20 in government taxes and fees, based on itinerary.

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. The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® offers a lot of potential value when you regularly fly on American and use the early boarding and free first checked bag benefit (now $60 per person, roundtrip). Right now, there is a limited-time sign-up bonus and the annual fee is waived for the first year.

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

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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 IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card Review: 75,000 Bonus Points, No Annual Fee

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

The Chase IHG Rewards Club Traveler card is the IHG hotel card that includes a sign-up bonus and special IHG perks but with no annual fee. They just improved the sign-up bonus from 60k to 75k points. Here are the highlights:

  • 75,000 bonus IHG points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 15X points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel.
  • Earn 2X points at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Fourth Reward Night Free when you redeem points for any 4+ night stay.
  • No annual fee.

This is a new card, but please note the following:

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

This offer is for the new “IHG Club Traveler” card, so this language means that if you have the older and different “Premier” or “Select” card, you can still apply for this card and get the sign-up bonus.

What can you get with IHG points? The best redemption value for IHG points is for free hotel nights. The other options offer significantly less value. While the points don’t translate directly to a dollar value, but overall you should expect around 0.60 cents of value per point, which would make 60,000 IHG points worth an estimated $360 value. Not bad for a no annual fee card. You can perform the calculations for hotels that fit your needs. I tried a bunch of other various combinations and got between 0.5 cents and 0.8 cents per point equivalent value.

IHG stands for Intercontinental Hotel Group which has over 5,000 hotels including the following brands:

  • Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Kimpton
  • Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express
  • Staybridge Suites
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Hotel Indigo
  • EVEN Hotels

IHG points expire after 24 months of inactivity, which is relatively long so with occasional activity you can easily save up these free nights for later. Chase Ultimate Rewards points also convert to IHG points.

Total of 15x points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG. Here’s how this breaks down: Earn 5X points per $1 spent as an IHG® Rewards Club Traveler credit cardmember + 10X points per $1 spent from IHG® for being an IHG® Rewards Club Member, for a total of 15X points total at any of their 5,400+ IHG® hotels & resorts.

Given my 0.6 cent per IHG point valuation, I would book my IHG nights on this card, but not my everyday purchases on an ongoing basis.

  • 2 IHG points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
  • 1 IHG point per $1 spent on all other card purchases

Upgrade to Premier? Downgrade to Traveler? If you can reliably use a anniversary night certificate (40,000 point maximum value) and get $89 value out of it, you should consider going with the IHG Rewards Premier credit card mentioned on the same application page. The Premier card also adds some other small perks like Platinum Elite status and a TSA Precheck fee credit.

If you already have the Premier card and don’t want to pay for those added perks, you may consider asking if you can downgrade to this Traveler now without any annual fee.

Bottom line. The Chase IHG Rewards Club Traveler credit card now comes with no annual fee and an improved sign-up bonus boost of 75,000 IHG points. As with most of these co-branded cards, the best value is obtained if you can redeem for IHG hotel nights.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

Special Coronavirus Relief: Paid Leave, Mortgage Payments, Student Loans, Credit Cards, and Unemployment

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Wow. I thought that I was prepared, but I must admit that I was still shaken by last week. For those facing severe financial emergencies right now, so I have tried to collect information and links to where you can hopefully find some help. Be prepared advocate for yourself; many of these will only be given to those who ask and are persistent. Everything is in flux as well, so if you don’t find success try again later. There will be more government stimulus coming.

Paid leave for small/mid-sized business employees, including part-time workers and self-employed. Eligible employees can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave for 12 weeks when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable. Business must have less than 500 employees (52% of workforce). This is done via refundable payroll tax credits. DOL press release. NYT article.

The act provided paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons and created the refundable paid sick leave credit and the paid child-care leave credit for eligible employers. Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the act. Eligible employers will be able to claim these credits based on qualifying leave they provide between the effective date and Dec. 31, 2020. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances.

Unemployment insurance. Many states are expanding their eligibility rules for unemployment benefits. You might be eligible if you have to stay at home to care for children. You may not have to officially quit your current job (i.e. your employer temporarily shuts down). You might be eligible if you are under quarantine or have to take care of someone under quarantine or infected. Please visit the Department of Labor for your specific state. CNBC article. DOL.gov/coronavirus.

Mortgage payments. Contact your mortgage or home-equity loan servicer directly to ask about mortgage payment deferral options. Fannie and Freddie Mac have instructed their loan servicers to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months if borrowers suffer hardship. In New York, the impacted can defer mortgage payments from any servicer for 90 days. Bank of America is allowing deferrals on a case-by-case basis, with the waived payments being added to the end of their loan term. CNBC article.

Student loans. President Trump announced that federally-held student loans would be set to 0% interest for at least 60 days in addition to being able to request forbearance for 60 days, but there has been a lot of difficulty in actually making the requests with loan servicers as they have cut back on call center hours. There will also be an automatic suspension of payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020, or who becomes more than 31 days delinquent. Press release. ED.gov. Studentaid.gov.

Credit cards and auto loans. Chase, Citibank, American Express, US Bank, Discover, Ally Bank, and Apple have all announced some sort of accommodation for coronavirus. The offers are often vague, but it can’t hurt to call and ask for details. For example, Discover says it won’t report late payment to credit bureaus, but what about late fees and penalty APRs? Chase says they might waive fees or extend payment due dates, but only on a case-by-case basis. Apple (if approved) will allow you to skip your March credit card payment without incurring interest charges. Ally Bank will allow deferral of auto loan payments for 120 days, but finance charges will still accrue. Some of these are rather lame, like offering up credit line increases that were always available anyway.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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 Ink Business Preferred Card Review: 100,000 Point Bonus worth $1,250 Towards Travel

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

inkpreferred2018Updated with new 100k offer. Business credit cards can be used by self-employed or side-gig workers with eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Uber/Lyft, Adsense or other 1099 income that make you a sole proprietorship. The Ink Business Preferred(R) Card has a new 100,000 point bonus for new cardholders, worth at least $1,250 towards travel when redeemed through Chase and potentially more via points transfer to Hyatt hotels, etc. This is their premium travel card with 3X points on travel purchases and the ability to transfer points to airline miles or redeem at a 25% premium through their travel portal. Here are the details:

  • 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That’s worth $1,250 toward any airfare or hotels booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (works like Expedia or Travelocity).
  • 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.
  • 1X point per $1 on all other purchases with no limit.
  • Ability to transfer points directly to airline mile partners.
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Free additional cards for employees.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $95 annual fee.

Ultimate Rewards points. This card offers a 25% bonus on travel bookings made through the Ultimate Rewards travel website. 100,000 Ultimate Rewards = $1,250 in travel. Similar to Expedia or Travelocity, you can book flights on most major airlines, hotel chains, and car rental companies. 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 card, you could transfer your points over to that card and 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.

For example, I could definitely get more than $1,250 in value by converting into 100,000 World of Hyatt points.

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 don’t 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 otherwise eligible.

Bottom line. The Chase Ink Business Preferred Card has a new, bigger 100,000 point sign-up bonus worth at least $1,250 towards travel, along with premium travel features included with the $95 annual fee. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points from other Chase cards to increase your value. If you’d rather have a more simple cash-focused rewards structure and no annual fee, be sure to compare with the Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Cash.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Review: 75,000 Point Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card emerged after the merger of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott (formerly the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card). This card offers unique perks for regular Marriott customers, and offers a 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy point bonus. Here are the highlights:

  • 75,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Additional Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 2X Bonvoy points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.

Keep in mind the following:

The bonus is not available to you if you:

(1) are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express);

(2) are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or

(3) applied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card) within the last 90 days.

That’s a lot of long card names, but note the different 30-day, 90-day, and 24-month waiting periods that may now include Marriott business cards. (See my Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Review.) This is why you should be looking to get the best possible bonus (like a limited-time offer) if you do apply.

The Marriott and Starwood merger is now complete, and you can use these points at either Marriott properties (Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites) or former Starwood Properties (Westin, Sheraton, The Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, Le Méridien, Aloft).

Here’s the current award chart:

You could use 70,000 points on two free nights at a Category 5 hotel like the Courtyard Waikiki Beach in Hawaii on a standard date, or you could get 4 free nights at a Category 3 hotel like the Residence Inn Austin Arboretum.

You can still turn your points into airline miles with a bonus. 60,000 Marriott points = 25,000 airline miles. Similar to the old Starwood bonus structure, they will add 15,000 points for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles.

Finally, Marriott points are also convertible to gift cards, but it takes 60,000 points to redeem for a $200 gift card for Marriott or retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Nordstrom. That ratio isn’t all that great so you’ll definitely get the most value via hotel night redemptions or airline miles transfer.

Free Night Award. At your card anniversary (when you pay the annual fee), you will receive a Free Night Award that is good for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. This excludes the very top properties, but for regular travelers it will be very easy to get your $95 value. Many W Hotels, Westin, and even some Ritz-Carltons worldwide are included. Here are some sample hotels that qualify under the 35,000 point limit:

  • Sheraton Kona Resort (Big Island, Hawaii)
  • Westin Hapuna Beach Resort (Big Island, Hawaii)
  • Courtyard Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Oahu)
  • Sheraton Kauai Resort (Kauai, Hawaii)
  • W Atlanta
  • New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
  • W Chicago
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing, China
  • The S. Regis Bangkok, Thailand

Bottom line. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card (formerly the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card) has a sign-up bonus offer of 750,00 Marriott points. As with all hotel cards, the value is dependent on your unique travel preferences. If you stay at Marriott/Starwood properties regularly, the free annual night award should easily cover the annual fee.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

Alliant Credit Union Visa Signature Card Review: 2.5% Cash Back (Up to $10k/Month)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

alliantcc

Updated with new spending caps. Alliant Credit Union, the 5th largest US credit union by assets, has updated the terms of their Alliant Visa Signature Credit Card. This cash back rewards card has a headline feature of 2.5% cash back. However, they have now added a spending cap of $10,000 per monthly billing cycle (i.e. you can get $250 cash back max per month). The $99 annual fee is waived during the first year (note that the 3% cash back promo during the first year is also gone). Here are all of the highlights:

  • 2.5% flat cash back with no categories to track.
  • Maximum cash back is $250 ($10,000 in qualifying purchases) per billing cycle.
  • $99 annual fee, waived the first year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • You must be an Alliant Credit Union member to apply for this card.

Cardholders can choose to receive cash back rewards via a credit card statement credit (appearing within one billing cycle) or as a deposit into your Alliant checking or savings.

If you have an existing Alliant credit card, you can ask for it to be converted to this card.

The $10,000 spending cap per month will also apply to existing cardholders.

Comparison numbers against a 2% cashback card with no annual fee and no sign-up bonus. Instead of a flat sign-up bonus, with this card you are basically getting a 0.5% boost to your cash back in the first year. If you charge $1,000 a month, 1% more is $60 more cash back over a year. If you charge $4,000 a month, 0.5% more is $240 more cash back over a year.

After the first year, with this card you’ll get 0.5% more cash back but also pay the $99 annual fee. That makes the breakeven point $19,800 per year in annual spending (roughly $1,650 per month). If you spend more than that, the extra cashback will offset the annual fee. If you spend less, you will have more rewards with the 2% card.

Competition. The following cards currently offer a competitive level of cash back rewards. Please read my card-specific reviews for details.

Alliant CU membership eligibility. If you start the online membership application, it does a good job of walking you through their various eligibility options. The good news is anyone that is willing to donate $10 to Foster Care to Success is able to join. Here are their membership groups:

  • Any employee or retiree of a Qualifying Company.
  • Any member of a Qualifying Organization.
  • Any immediate family member of an existing Alliant member.
  • Anyone who lives or works in a Qualifying Chicagoland Community.
  • Anyone who is willing to make a one-time $10 donation to the Foster Care to Success charity group.

Bottom line. The Alliant Visa Signature Credit Card offers 2.5% flat cash back on all purchases with a $99 annual fee. As a first year promotion, the annual fee is waived. The annual fee makes it best for people that make a high amount of purchases on their credit cards, at least $20,000 a year just to break even with a 2% cash back card. Alliant Credit Union membership is open to anyone willing to donate $10 to Foster Care to Success.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

Have a Small Business? Get Companion Pass With A Single Credit Card 100k Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

New limited-time 100k small business card bonus. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book either paid or award flights (including to Hawaii!). If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points (or 100 one-way flights) within calendar year 2020, you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021! (That makes right now the perfect time to start your collecting.) You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

Points earned from credit cards count toward that 125,000 point requirement, including sign-up bonuses. You can often get very close to that magic number when you add up the potential miles from these Southwest consumer and business cards. This is on top of the value of redeeming those points for miles (75,000 points can get you $1,100+ in Wanna Get Away airfare).

New! – Qualify for a Companion Pass in 2020 and 2021 with a single credit card sign-up and 25k in qualifying purchases! For a limited-time, if you apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card (see below) and can satisfy the required $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months and $25,000 in purchases in the first 6 months, you will have earned at least 25,000 Rapid Rewards points from your spendings PLUS the 100,000 bonus points, which brings you to a total of 125,000 points = Companion Pass! Not to mention the roughly $1,500 worth of in Wanna Get Away airfare.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card

  • Up to 100,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points. Earn 70,000 points after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after $25,000 in purchases in the first 6 months, for a total of 100,000 points.
  • 9,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Inflight WiFi Credits of up to 365 x $8 credits.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Fee credit in the form of a statement credit of up to $100 every four years.
  • $199 annual fee.

Here is the rest of the Southwest credit card line-up:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority card

  • 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after you $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 7,500 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $149 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after you $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 3,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $69 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card

  • 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after you $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Value of Rapid Rewards points. Redeeming Southwest points for flights varies in a narrow range, but a very reasonable approximation from my experience is 1.5 cents in Wanna Get Away airfare in per point. That works out to $600+ in Wanna Get Away airfare from 40,000 points or $900+ in Wanna Get Away airfare for 60,000 points or $1,100+ in Wanna Get Away airfare from 75,000 points (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. This means that Southwest points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on traditional airlines.

Now, if you manage to qualify for the the Companion Pass on every trip that you book with those points, that doubles the potential value of each award redemption. In other words, 125,000 Rapid Rewards, would usually get you $1,850 in Wanna Get Away airfare, but with the Companion Pass you’d get an extra companion ticket for every flight booked.

A backup option is gift card redemptions. You can currently redeem 6,750 points for a $50 a Amazon.com or Walmart gift certificate. That makes 60,000 points worth $444 in Amazon or Walmart gift cards. It’s something, but less than half the value you could get from redeeming for flights.

Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person. The fees on the other airlines have crept up to $30 per bag, each-way. That adds up.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. Just the free award flights from the points are enough to satisfy that rule, and then you can add on the potential value of the companion tickets.

Card restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months.

Extending your Companion Pass with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest points on a 1:1 basis. The idea is is to book an award flight with those Southwest points while you have the Companion Pass, thus doubling the value of your Ultimate Rewards points as well.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn up to 100,000 Southwest points from qualifying for a single credit card sign-up, which in itself can be redeemed for a lot of free Southwest flights (including to Hawaii!). Earning 125,000 points overall (including from credit card rewards and bonuses) in a year will earn you the Southwest Companion pass, which provides a free companion ticket on every flight bought with cash or points for the rest of the current year and all of the next year. Finally, Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person on every flight.

Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers and also the Top 10 Best Business Card Offers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

Reminder: Ongoing Benefits From Equifax Data Breach Settlement

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Although the deadline to file a claim for the huge 2017 Equifax Data Breach Settlement has now passed, here is a quick reminder that there are still ongoing benefits available, including the ability to get a free credit report every other month:

Six (6) free Equifax credit reports per year. All U.S. consumers can now get 6 free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. This is in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get every rolling 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Free identity restoration services. For at least seven years, you can get free identity restoration services. If you discover misuse of your personal information, call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982. You will be given instructions for how to access free identity restoration services.

Reimbursement for identity theft expenses. You can still file a claim for any expenses you incur between January 23, 2020, and January 22, 2024, as a result of identity theft or fraud related to the breach, such as:

  • Losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts
  • Fees you paid to professionals, like accountants or attorneys, to help you recover from identity theft
  • Other expenses you incurred while recovering from identity theft, like notary fees, document shipping fees, postage, mileage, and phone charges.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.

JetBlue Plus Card: 60,000 Point Limited Time Offer

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

jetblueplusThe JetBlue Plus credit card has a limited-time offer for 60,000 bonus TrueBlue points for first-time cardmembers. The previous bonus was 40,000 points. Here are the highlights:

  • 60,000 bonus TrueBlue points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee.
  • First checked bag is free for the primary cardmember and up to 3 companions when you use your JetBlue Plus Card.
  • 6X points on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue flights. – Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking.
  • Annual $100 statement credit after you purchase a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more.
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don’t expire.
  • Earn and share points together with Family Pooling.
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases including cocktails, food and movies.
  • Get 10% of your points back every time you redeem to use toward your next redemption.
  • 5,000 TrueBlue bonus points annually after your account anniversary.
  • $99 annual fee.

First checked bags on JetBlue usually cost $30 each-way, per person. The free checked bag perk applies to you and up to 3 travel companions on the same reservation when (1) the ticket is purchased with your JetBlue Plus card, (2) the primary cardmember’s TrueBlue member number must be entered at the time of booking. That works out great for a family traveling together. If you buy higher fare classes, a certain number of complimentary bags may already be included.

How does redeeming TrueBlue points work? TrueBlue works on a revenue-based system, where the points required depends on the current cash cost of the flight (with no blackout dates). If they sell it for cash, you can book it with points. This is opposed to traditional chart-based systems that charge a fixed point balance but imposes blackout dates and limited seat availability.

TrueBlue points are best redeemed for JetBlue flights. There are some other options like newspaper or magazine subscriptions, but I won’t cover them here.

TrueBlue points can be estimated at 1 points = 1.4 cents. Ex. 30,000 points would cover $420 in JetBlue airfare. The exact value may vary, but 1.4 cents is very close to what I found across Blue, Blue Plus, and Blue Flex fares. You can easily test it out yourself by pricing out the same flight on JetBlue.com using points or cash.

This means 2X points back on restaurants and groceries can be estimated as 2.8% back in the form of TrueBlue airfare. The 3X points back on Jetlue-operated flights can be 4.2% back in the form of TrueBlue airfare. The 6X points back with the Plus card on Jetlue-operated flights can be 8.4% back in the form of TrueBlue airfare.

Upon the renewal of your $99 annual fee, you get another 5,000 TrueBlue points ($70 of airfare value at 1.4 cents/point). If you can take advantage of the free checked bag perk, there is definitely ongoing value for regular JetBlue fliers. I haven’t investigated the $100 off a JetBlue Vacations package, but it could be worth something as well.

Bottom line. The JetBlue Plus card from Barclaycard is running a limited-time offer. At 1.4 cents per TrueBlue point, 60,000 bonus points can be valued at $840 towards JetBlue fares. Minus the $99 annual fee, and that is still a very solid first-year value for even casual JetBlue customers. Add the baggage perk which you could value at an additional $60 per roundtrip Blue fare, per person (covers you and 3 companions, so great for a family traveling together). You would need to be a regular JetBlue flier to get value out of the card on an ongoing basis.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land 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.