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Comparing the Discover it and Chase Freedom 5x Categories

There’s nothing like getting paid to pay. It some ways, the now popular cash back cards feel like they’re providing free money. As folks say, ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. Yes, cash-back cards are not the gravy train. As with any credit card balance, the 5% cash-back is quickly outweighed by the much more significant Annual Percentage Rate. However, a well-chosen cash-back card can be a valuable tool to keep in your wallet.

Two of the favorited cash-back cards are the Discover It and the Chase Freedom cards. They have reached this popularity because of their appealing 5% cash-back feature. In both cases, this attractive percentage is accessible to purchases that fall within certain categories. In order to choose one card over the other, the long-term factor that will affect your cash-back are these categories.

Discover ItChase Freedom

The Similarities

For both cards, the categories that earn 5% change quarterly. Every three months, you need to shift your mental spending to take advantage of the increased percentage. If you purchase outside of the categories, you’ll receive 1% cash-back. The price is right for this card, as neither one has an annual fee. Both cards have the same spending limit on which you can earn the prized 5%. You can spend up to $1500 in the quarterly categories and therefore receive up to $75 in cash-back.

Category Authorization

Both cards also use a category activation system that requires the cardholder to activate their access to these categories. This activation means that you have to log in to your account online or call to confirm that you will be purchasing in these categories and want to earn 5% instead of that measly 1%. This extra step is seemingly unnecessary and a pitfall for those who forget to activate. You’d think that it’s straightforward that people who are using the card would want to access the better cash-back rate.

For the category authentication, both cards have their strengths within this system. Discover It has no end date for when you can authorize your card to access these categories. The Chase Freedom card authorization period ends about two weeks before the quarter closes, which could leave some people out in the cold. The Chase Freedom card , however, has a clear email and text reminder system to make sure that you don’t miss your window (and have the widest window possible). And once you activate it, it provides the 5% on all combined purchases made within the quarter.

Current Quarter

To begin, let’s look at this quarter: July to September 2016. The Discover It card will give you 5% back for purchases at home improvement stores and on Amazon.com. If you’re planning some small home renovations, this category could provide a big benefit. You could easily earn 5% ‘off’ of your reno, as the category is quite open as to the range of business it allows. Instead of providing a list of authorized establishments, Discover provides a description of the type of business. However, if you’re not planning renovations, the category isn’t that useful. Some Amazon.com purchases could provide certain cash-back opportunities, but likely you won’t near the same benefit.

The Chase Freedom card offers the 5% for restaurant tabs and purchases at wholesale clubs. Chase provides a lengthy list of the eligible restaurants, which they describe as places where their primary business is eat-in or sit-down dining. For example, almost every fast-food restaurant you can imagine is listed. However, hotel and casino restaurants, as well as grocery store cafes and bakeries are not eligible. However, you can earn 5% back at the grocery section of wholesale clubs, like Costco. This category is more useful to the average consumer, as food purchases, whether at restaurants or bulk groceries, are a common expense.

In the current quarter, you could be a big winner with Discover It’s home renovation plans and the more significant purchases that come along with that. However, most consumers will have better luck earning 5% back within the Chase Freedom restaurant and wholesale club category. You may not max out your $1500 allowance, but the category is still more accessible.

Next Quarter

Looking forward, we head to the last quarter of the year: October to December. Of course, this quarter holds the holiday shopping season. Both cards are holding out on the final category details. Perhaps the suspense adds to the end of year cheer, but it can make it difficult to pick the better holiday shopping companion.

We do know that the Discover It card will provide you with 5% on all your Amazon.com purchases. For those who don’t want to leave their home for the mall, this cash-back category could be a boon. The Chase Freedom card will continue to offer the 5% on wholesale club purchases. Looking towards the hearty eating season that it is, you could get all your holiday groceries at a great cash-back rate. However, the biggest winners of the quarter are yet to be announced.

Past Categories

Looking back to the fourth quarter of 2015, we can see what kinds of categories could appear. Of course, the categories change and are rarely the same year to year, but it provides some context. The Discover It card provided 5% at Amazon.com, department stores, and clothing stores. The Chase Freedom card provided the great rate at Amazon.com, zappos.com, audible.com and diapers.com. Here, the Discover It card seems to come out the better option based on the wide range of store types, rather than specific websites. However, the preference really depends on whether you like to shop online or in person.

Conclusion

For this year, the Chase Freedom cash-back card is the best card to earn higher cash-back on everyday purchases. Everyone needs to eat, and you could earn on food bills or restaurant tabs. Home renovation and online shopping at Amazon.com is more niche, though highly useful for those consumers who fall into that niche. However, the release of the fourth quarter categories will be a key comparison point. Keep an eye out for the announcement, as it will likely come out in mid-September.

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New 100,000 Marriott Business Credit Card Offer from Chase

There are a ton of reward programs out there, but not all are created equal. Signing up for a good deal that automatically gives you points for spending a minimum amount is exactly what you should be looking for. The Marriott Rewards program is currently offering 100,000 points on its business credit card (application here: https://creditcards.chase.com/credit-cards/marriott-business-credit-cards.aspx) as a bonus after you spend 5,000$ in the first 3 months. This deal is amazing considering you would have to spend 20,000$ at Marriotts around the world to accumulate that many reward points. This makes it an absolute steal for anyone who can grab this offer.

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Marriott points can be used on so much more than just hotel rooms. With their points you can splurge on yourself with a little shopping. 100,000 points can get you the next big tech item you have been wanting like Fitbit Blaze Smart Watch (55,000 points), or you can spend it on something to block out all the sun on those sandy beaches you are sure to visit with left over points after getting some Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses (55,000 points). Shopping not only is a great way to spend a few points, but it makes buying your next new toy a little easier on your wallet. With 100,000 points in the Marriott Rewards program some serious shopping can be done without having to spend a single extra dollar. This is the perfect way to splurge on something for yourself or a loved one or for helping take a bite out of that Christmas list that never seems to end.

If shopping is not your cup of tea, you can also book your next cruise through Marriott’s reward program. Cruises start at 149$ and for every 63,000 points you have you get 250$ worth of credit you can use, which will bring your price for a cruise for two as low as about 50$! This also means you would have enough points left over for some shopping, flying, or any other services the Marriott rewards program has. While cruising is a wonderful way to spend your points, you also get 6 points per dollar spent on up to 60,000 points on the cruise when you book a balcony or suit room! This is more points offered per dollar than any other way through the Marriott Rewards program.
Maybe you’re not a shopper, and cruising makes you sick. Maybe you’re more of the giving type and have a huge heart. The Marriott Rewards program has an amazing set of non-profit organizations they team up with where you can use points to give as donations. The organizations include some really amazing non-profits including the Children’s Miracle Network, Peace One Day, and Habitats for Humanities. Not only does giving back feel good, but finding a cause that hits close to home, or one that you are just truly passionate about and helping them out is a wonderful thing to do. Everyone needs a little light in their life and by helping out those organizations you can be helping building houses, giving kids second chances, and so much more. This is one of the most meaningful ways your Marriott points can be used. You can give a portion of your points (2,500 is 5$) and feel great about yourself! With the rest you can shop, cruise, or whatever else floats your boat!

The Marriott Business Credit Card’s 100,000 point offer is one that you should not miss out on. The points can be used for so much from shopping, to giving, to cruising. These points can be used all over the world and are very versatile compared to other rewards programs out there. With 100,000 points you can get the latest tech gadget you have been eyeing, you can grab a quick cruise for you and your love, or so much more. These points normally would take a ton of spending to accumulate, and with so many options these points are some of the best. The Marriott Business Credit Card not only gives you great points per dollar conversion on everything you buy (from 1:1 all the way up to 6:1), these points have a lot of bang for their buck. Grab this deal while you can, it is sure to not disappoint.

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Are Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses a Scam?

Are Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses a Scam?

Credit card sign up bonuses may sound like a scam sometimes, but they aren’t if you’re smart about managing your credit card spending and bill payment.

Sign up and get $350 cash back! Sign up and get 5000 points! Sign up and pay 0% interest! You’ve seen these claims on everything from the billboard to your junk mail. Every credit card advertisement seems to be selling a card and a deal that’s too good to be true. How can they give away points and money just for registering for the card? Everyone knows that first lesson in economics: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So, with credit card sign up bonuses, who’s paying?

 

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It’s a Contract: Follow it and You’ll be Fine

Each of the sign up bonuses comes along with a contract between you and the credit card company. The sign up bonus is an offer that is available to you under specific conditions. The condition may be that you are required to put a certain amount of money on the card within a certain period of time. Or, the great terms may be limited to a certain length of time. These conditions are usually clearly listed and they must be meticulously followed.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a sign-up bonus where you can earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account. Those points are the equivalent to $625 in travel when you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, and it certainly is – if you’re planning on charging $4,000 to your credit card the next three months. And, most importantly, it’s a sweet deal if you’re also able to pay off $4,000 from your card by the payment due dates.

What is a credit card?

When considering all the sign up bonuses, it’s important to remember what kind of product you’re signing up for. Credit cards allow you to borrow money from your bank to make purchases that you then pay back later. It’s a convenient tool for purchasing anything from a latte to airfare to Rio. You have a certain period of time to pay back the money, but if you don’t do so in that grace period, you’ll need to pay back the money and a percentage of interest on the amount owed. Banks don’t loan money for free and this interest is big businesses.

In the example above, the sign up bonus is provided if you spend $4,000 in three months. For some people, this amount of money is a normal amount that they charge and pay off in three months. For other people, they need to spend more to meet the $4,000 bonus sign up. If this is more than they usually put on a credit card, it’s also more than they usually pay off of a credit card. Even if they pay off part of the balance, but $1,000 is left and is charged interest. Depending on how long balance remains and therefore how much interest is charged, the interest payment can eliminate any bonus that came with the sign up points. Alternatively, they find out they can’t afford to put $4,000 on the credit card in three months. In this scenario, they avoid paying interest, but they also lose the sign up bonus.

Another potential pitfall is in the zero interest sign-up bonus. The Discover it® credit card charges 0% interest for the first 12 months. This is a sweet deal if you want to make a large purchase, like a laptop or minor home renovation supplies, and pay it off over a few months. You can borrow that money for no interest at all over that first year. However, after that first, glorious year, you will have to pay interest on any remaining balance. Carrying a balance on your card went to being worry-free to whoa-expensive. Also, once the interest kicks in, it’s as a variable annual percent rate (APR), which is connected to your credit score. You can get a great rate if you have great credit. If your credit score isn’t so hot, you could end up on the high end of the APR scale. Any balance left on in Month 13 will be costly.

Sign Up Bonuses are a Scam Only as Much as Credit Cards are a Scam

The sign up bonus is no more a scam than credit cards themselves are a scam. Credit cards are an extremely expensive way to borrow money. They are very useful when used wisely and with prudence. However, as soon as a credit card has a late payment or a balance that collects interest, they are a big money maker for the banks. There is nothing unclear or evil with a credit card or a sign up bonus. They are simply financial agreements between you and the company. So long as the contract is followed, there is no issue. However, the sign up bonuses can require balances that some consumers cannot pay off, and so will accrue interest. However, it’s the responsibility of each consumer to decide if they can meet with conditions to receive the perks without any downside. The contract is clear, but it’s up to you the consumer to keep up their end. The credit card company stands to make a lot of money if you don’t.

Conclusion

Credit card sign up bonuses are not a scam. They are a marketing tool with clear terms and conditions. Some may be built on setting people up to hold a balance on their card, but the decision to sign up and accept the financial conditions is up to the consumer. Companies provide clear statements about the bonus conditions and timelines. If you can use a credit card with clever caution, you can save money and even make money with these bonuses. However, you have to remember that there’s no such thing as free lunch. If you’re not careful about paying off your credit card and remembering the changes in your card conditions, you will pay for your free lunch with your card balance interest.

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Discover it Miles Credit Card Review

Discover it Miles

There’s nothing quite like wanderlust to motivate someone to pack a bag and hit the road. That desire to travel is prompted by a myriad of sources, though, from stress related to the constant grind of work, family pressures or the simple desire to sip a fruity cocktail on a faraway beach without a worry in mind. With a reported average of over 100,000 passenger flights taking off each day, individuals have the opportunity to escape to the getaway of their choice with relative ease. But traveling requires cash-flow, and in some cases, a lot of it. The Discover it Miles credit card is here to help.

 

Discover it Miles

 

Discover’s Miles credit card is a travel rewards card with a number features that makes it stand out among the rest. As a recent spin off of the Discover It rewards credit card, this travel card affords cardholders the opportunity to earn 1.5x unlimited miles on every dollar spent on purchase. The card has both advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed, all outlined below, but it certainly is in the running for individuals seeking a solid travel rewards card to help offset the cash burden of hitting the skies.

The Basics

The Discover It Miles credit card allows cardholders to earn an unlimited number of miles equal to 1.5% of each dollar spent on the card. It is considered a flat rate rewards program, meaning there are no categories to track or limits to total rewards earnings – a great feature when compared to other cash-back or travel rewards credit cards. While the Discover It Miles card may have a lower rate of rewards crediting than comparable cards, cardholders have the opportunity to earn double the 1.5 miles per dollar spent in the first 12 months of account opening. This essentially means 3 miles are credited for each dollar of purchases, which is applied to the account at the end of the 12-month mark.

One of the attributes that makes the Discover It Miles credit card attractive is its introductory offer. Cardholders who qualify experience a 0% APR on purchases made within the first 12 months after the card is opened, after which the standard APR applies. Current standard rates for the Discover It Miles card range from 11.24% to 23.24%. The 0% introductory offer is not applied to balance transfers, although a reduced rate may be available for well-qualified applicants. For cost-conscious travelers, the Discover It Miles credit card is a great choice as it has no annual fee for as long as the account remains open. That’s a challenge to find in the travel rewards card universe!

Redeeming Rewards

The Discover It Miles credit card offers some flexibility in redeeming accumulated rewards, which also differs from other travel credit cards. Cardholders can request a redemption of earned miles at any time as a credit for travel-related purchases made within the previous 180 days, including airfare, hotels or rental cards. Alternatively, rewards may be redeemed for cash back on non-travel related charges, albeit at a lower credit rate. For instance, 100 miles translate to $0.50 of credit for ancillary purchases, compared to the $1 credit when applied toward travel expenses for the same number of miles redeemed. The flexibility in rewards redemption makes the card attractive, but clearly benefits the traveler more so than an individual looking for a pure cash-back rewards card.

Credit Requirements

While the average credit score necessary to qualify for the Discover It Miles card is not specified by the card provider, all new credit card applicants must be able to provide proof that they are a low risk borrower. Generally, this includes a strong credit history in terms of on-time repayment, no collection accounts and responsible use of other credit accounts. Applicants should be aware that while the introductory rate is 0% under the current promotion, the standard APR that applies after the first 12 months of billing cycles may be near the higher end of the spectrum if credit history and score are less than ideal.

Unique Card Perks

The Discover It Miles credit card offers some unique perks in addition to cash-back travel rewards. Cardholders who use the credit card to purchase in-flight Wi-Fi are eligible to receive a statement credit equal to the purchase price of that service, credited with seven business days. The in-flight Wi-Fi credit is capped at $30 per anniversary year, and unused credits are not carried over from year to year.

Discover also offers cardholders the ability to review their FICO Credit Score on each statement or through the use of the online or mobile log-in. Key credit factors compiled from TransUnion are used to determine an individual’s FICO Score as reported by Discover, which may differ from other credit bureau score reporting methods. The FICO Credit Score availability is free of charge to all Discover It Miles cardholders.

Discover also offers free overnight card replacement should the Miles reward card be lost or stolen, as well as a unique feature called Freeze It. When a cardholder freezes a credit card account, Discover essentially stops all future transactions from going through, including new purchases, cash advances or balance transfer requests. The Freeze It feature is incredibly helpful for travelers who may have temporarily misplaced the credit card or who are concerned with fraudulent activity.

Finally, the Discover It Miles credit card allows cardholders the ability to earn and use travel rewards without the annoyance of blackout dates. Most other travel rewards cards have restrictions on how and when a traveler can use earned miles.

The Verdict

The Discover It Miles credit card is a strong contender in the sea of travel credit cards for those always on the go. However, the Discover It Miles credit card is not a great fit for everyone. A strong credit history is required to qualify for the card, and the potential for earning rewards as a travel credit or cash-back are not nearly as high as comparable rewards cards.

But with no annual fee, bonus miles earned within the first 12 months after account opening, and a 0% introductory interest rate, frequent fliers would be hard pressed to find another credit card as appealing as the Discover It Miles offer. The additional perks like in-flight Wi-Fi statement credits and no blackout dates also make the card attractive for cost-conscious cardholders.

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Top 10 Points Credit Cards for Everyday Spending Bonuses

When it comes to everyday spending bonuses, you have plenty of cards to choose from. We’ve selected the top ten credit cards for everyday spending, meaning you can get more than a 1% rewards rate on more than one “everyday spending” category, such as gas or groceries.

In this post, we’re focusing on credit cards that earn points or miles in a rewards program. Take a look and see if any of these capture your interest!

1. Citi ThankYou Cards

There are 3 different versions of this card, and each one offers some great bonuses.

The Citi ThankYou Preferred card offers a 20,000 point sign on bonus after spending $1,500 in the first three months. Earn two points for every dollar spent on dining, travel and entertainment, one point on every dollar spent in other categories. There is no annual fee for this card. There is a 12 month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. You can redeem your points for cash, statement credit or gift cards. There is a separate offer for the Citi ThankYou Preferred card which also has no annual fee and offers a 15-month 0% introductory APR with no annual fee, and no sign on bonus.

The Citi ThankYou Premier credit card has a 20,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months, and an additional bonus of 30,000 points after spending another $3,000 in the first three months of the second year you have the card. Earn 3 points for every dollar spent on dining, travel and entertainment, one point on all other purchases. There is no annual fee. Redeem for cash, statement credit, travel rewards and gift cards.

The Citi ThankYou Prestige offers 30,000 ThankYou points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels, 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment and 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases.

2. Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard

Earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Earn two miles per dollar spent on all dining and travel purchases, one point per dollar on all other purchases. There is an introductory APR of 0% for the first 12 months that you have this card. Redeem for cash back or travel rewards; when redeeming for travel rewards you earn an additional 10% bonus on the travel purchases. There is no annual fee for this card.

Apply Now: Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard®

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months that you have the card. Earn an additional 5,000 points for adding another authorized user in the first three months. Earn two points for every dollar spent on dining and travel purchases, and one point for every dollar spent in other categories. Redeem for cash, travel, gift cards and more. There is no annual fee for the first year, after that the annual fee will be $95.

4. Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard

Although there is no sign on bonus for this card, you will earn two points for every dollar spent on gas, groceries, and utilities. Earn one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is no introductory APR for this card. Redeem your points for travel, cash back, or gift cards. There is no annual fee for this card.

Apply Now:

Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Excellent Credit

Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Average Credit

5. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months you have the card. Earn three points for every dollar spent on flights, two points for every dollar spent at gas stations and grocery stores, and one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is no annual fee for the first year, after that the annual fee will be $175. Redeem your points with flexible options through many travel partners or gift cards.

6. Amex Everyday Preferred Card

Earn 15,000 points, plus a one year membership to Amazon Prime (worth $99 per year) after spending $1,000 in the first three months that you have the card. Earn a 50% bonus on all points when you make at least 30 purchases per month using the card. Earn three points for every dollar spent at grocery stores, up to $6,000 annually. Earn two points for every dollar spent at gas stations. Earn one point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. There is an introductory APR of 0% for the first 15 months. Use your Membership Rewards to pay for flights and hotel stays. The annual fee for this card is $95.

7. Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

Earn 40,000 bonus sign on points after spending $1,000 in the first three months you have the card. Earn six points for every dollar spent at Hilton hotels. Earn three HHonors points for every dollar spent at grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores. Earn two HHonors points for every dollar spent on all other categories. There is no annual fee for this card. Redeem your HHonors points for hotel stays at participating Hilton group hotels and other travel.

8. Playstation Card from Capital One

Earn 5,000 bonus points after you make your first purchase in the first 90 days that you have the card. Earn 10 points for every dollar spent on Playstation Store purchases. Earn three points for every dollar spent on Playstation purchases at Sony Stores. Earn three points for every dollar spent on quick serve restaurants, movie theaters and mobile phone service. Earn one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is a 0% introductory rate until September 2015 on purchases and balance transfers. Redeem your points for Sony products, movies, music and more. There is no annual fee for this card.

9. USAA Rewards Amex

Earn two points for every dollar spent on gas station and grocery store purchases. Earn a 2,500 point bonus after making your first purchase within the first three months you have the card. Redeem your points for cash, gift cards, travel and more. There is no annual fee for this card.

Apply Now: USAA Rewards™ American Express®

10. PayPal Mastercard and eBay Mastercard

Earn three points for every dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants. Earn two points for all PayPal and eBay transactions. Earn one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is no annual fee for this card.

Each of these cards has something special to offer when it comes to earning rewards for your every day spending. Any time you can earn more than one point for every dollar you spend, it is worth taking a look at the options!

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The Best American Express Credit Cards for Travel Rewards

 I’ll admit it, I’m a pretty big American Express fan.  My first credit card was a Starwood Preferred Guest credit card by American Express, and I now proudly hold a American Express Platinum card in my wallet.  So, yes, I’m happy with the company and their suite of credit cards.  But, which ones are the best for travel rewards?  Let’s dig in with this post and see which cards are available, shall we?

Platinum Card from American Express

The ‘granddaddy’ of travel rewards credit cards, the Platinum Card from American Express has seen some competition as of late.  However, the benefits of this card are massive (and should be that way, with the $450 annual fee).  For one, you have access to the Membership Rewards partners, one of the most diverse group of transfer partners in the travel market.  And, most are available to transfer to at a 1:1 ratio.

Many of those same partners offer ‘transfer bonuses,’ sometimes up to 50% for a limited time.  You’ll receive two points per dollar spent on travel purchases on their booking engine, and one point per dollar on every other purchase.  Furthermore, you’ll receive $200 in statement credits for airline fees annually, and free Boingo internet for as long as you have the card.  A 40,000 point sign-up bonus for spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership isn’t half bad, either!

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

I’m in love with SPG.  For one, their hotels, from the hip W Hotels, to luxurious St. Regis properties, to the ubiquitous Westins, are some of the best properties in their respective cities.  I love the SPG Card from American Express especially because of the value of SPG points: the program allows for the most transfers to airline partners in the business.

And, when you transfer more than 20,000 at a time, you’ll earn a 5,000 mile bonus.  If you like sign-up bonuses, I would apply now: you’ll receive 30,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 in the first six months of cardmembership (20,000 for the spend, 10,000 on first purchase).  The annual fee is a reasonable $65 a year.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

The little brother of the Platinum card, the Premier Rewards Gold Card is worth a mention because of its bonus categories.  You’ll earn three points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline, and two points per dollar on gas and grocery stores.  This can really add up for those making purchases regularly in these areas.

Conclusion

There are many American Express cards out there, but I believe these three to be the strongest out there.  The combination of transfer partners, either with SPG or Membership Rewards, combined with the backing of American Express makes these all winners in my book.  I love American Express’ purchase protection, and have had great experiences working with their customer service department.  So, what do you think?  Did I recommend your favorite cards, or do you have your own favorites?  Let us know in the comments.

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The Top Citibank Credit Cards of 2014

There are many credit card issuing banks out there on this earth.  Not all are created equal.  Some banks really are known for solid card products (looking at you, Amex and Chase) and support their customers.  Citibank is one of those companies.

But, which cards are the best to hold in your wallet in 2014?  Which ones have the best offerings for travelers, for big spenders, or for the thrifty among us?  This post is for you.  Let’s get into what the top Citi credit cards are for 2014, shall we?

 

Do You Like Rewards?

I would recommend the Citi ThankYou Premier card for those of you that enjoy redeeming points for the best rewards possible.  I love Citi’s “ThankYou” system, which gives you a twenty-five (25) percent boost for booking through Citi for flights and hotels.  This card is a powerhouse for earning with regular spending.

If you spend a lot of money on airfare or hotels, you’ll earn three points per dollar spent.  This is huge for business travelers.  For any other purchase, you’ll earn one point per dollar.  Still, if you are a big traveler (and taxi fares count under the travel category), this card is solid.  There is a $125 annual fee, though.

 

Big Balances

I know that many of us have had bad ‘luck’ with keeping up with our credit card bills.  Many don’t realize that a way out of some bad credit card debt with high interest rates is a balance transfer to another credit card with a lower interest rate.

The Citi Simplicity card is a good card for this type of trouble.  With the most 0% APR financing for purchases and balance transfers on the market today, at eighteen months, this card is awesome.  There are no penalty fees or penalty APRs with this card.  What an awesome credit card!

 

No Fees? No Problem.

The Citi Dividend Platinum Select card features no annual fee, and gives you a nice sign-up bonus- $100 after spending  $500 in the first three months of card membership.  Another one of those ‘cycling category’ credit cards, the Citi Dividend Platinum Select credit card additionally offers 5% cash back on four different categories a year.

The benefits are capped at $300 per year, though, limiting you a bit.  You’ll have unlimited 1% back on all other purchases, however.  There are better cash back credit cards out there, sure, but if you like Citi as a credit card issuer, this is your best option.

 

Conclusion

These are the best options from Citi, in my opinion.  Are they the best options available on earth?  No, but I do love a card that offers you mistake-free credit (the Simplicity card), or a card that offers three points per dollar spent on travel (ThankYou Premier) or a cash back card with bonus categories (Platinum Select).

What do you think? Do you think these cards are worthy of a spot in your wallet?  Or, do you think there are better cards out there?  We want to know in the comments!

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Should You Apply for a Travel Agency Credit Card?

We all love the co-branded credit cards.  Whether we’re using a credit card for a favorite hotel chain, or a preferred airline for travel, using a co-branded credit card helps travelers collect more from their location, in either discounts, earned points or miles, or status.  But, what about co-branded credit cards with travel agencies?  They exist, too!  Whether it’s Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, or Priceline, there’s a credit card out there for each site.  But, is it worth it?  Let’s explore below!

 

The Good

If you are reading this and are loyal to a single travel site, then a co-branded card likely makes sense.  While not as rewarding as other co-branded cards for hotels or airlines, travel agency credit cards do reward those users for their loyalty.  The Orbitz Rewards visa offers up “Orbucks” for purchases made on the card, which means you can use those points for full or partial purchases on Orbitz.com.  Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline’s cards work in similar ways.

I also like the fact that the cards do not have an annual fee, making cost of ownership zero dollars if you pay off your bill each month (which you always should).

 

The Bad

Non-flexible

For most of the credit cards, you are locked in using your points on those specific websites.  The Citi PremierPass Expedia card will let you use the points earned on Citi’s ThankYou program, and the Priceline Rewards Visa will allow you to take a statement credit for any purchase that is above $25.  The other cards, on the other hand, have you stuck in their respective programs.

Also of note in regards to the Orbitz card- you can only use your redemptions on hotel reservations- no flights or rental cars.  I find this highly restrictive and a bit ridiculous.  Many of the cards also have restrictions on the type of purchases that actually earn miles (rental cars rarely count, and anything that isn’t prepaid).

Less value

The final point of contention is the value of your points- the Travelocity Rewards American Express offers one point per cent redemption, unless you’re redeeming 20,000 points at a time- then it is two cents per dollar.

The Citi PremierPass Expedia card earns ThankYou points, so it varies in terms of value.  The Orbitz Rewards Visa earns Orbucks, which are worth one dollar for hotel redemptions.  And finally, the Priceline Rewards Visa is quite ambiguous with its points, stating it’s how you redeem that makes the value of the points fluctuate.

 

Bottom Line

If I were someone that buys a lot on these sites, I would stay far away from these cards.  Instead, I would focus on a card that rewards travel purchases, like two points per dollar with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card credit card.  That way, you have the flexibility to redeem your rewards for whatever you’d like.  These cards seem to have too many rules and stipulations associated with them to make them worth your while.  But, every person is different.  What do you think?  Let us know below in the comments!

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Get 60,000 Points with Citi Hilton HHonors Card

Another sign-up bonus boost?  Say it is so!  Usually, a successful application to the Citi Hilton HHonors nets you 50,000 Hilton HHonors points after meeting the spend requirements, but not so today!  Now, you’ll earn 60,000 Hilton HHonors points at sign-up.  What else is available on the card?  Let’s check out the benefits below!

 

The Benefits

Sign-Up Bonus

For this card, you’ll receive 60,000 HHonors Bonus points after spending $1,000 in four months.  That means you’ll be able to spend those for a free night at a pretty decent Hilton property (you can always check out this site for what a specific Hilton hotel will cost you).

Bonus Points

You will have plenty of opportunities to earn bonus points when using the Citi Hilton Visa Signature Card.  When you spend money at a Hilton property, you’ll earn six points for every dollar spent (that includes room rate and on-property spending, so spend away at that mini-bar!).  Furthermore, every dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations will earn 3 bonus points.  This point value for these categories are found on other cards, but it’s great to see here as well.  Every other dollar spent will earn two points per dollar.

Status

You’ll receive Silver status automatically by owning this credit card (the fee-based Citi Hilton Reserve card gets you Gold status automatically).  Benefits include a 15% bonus on base points when staying at a Hilton and complimentary health club access.

Plus, if you stay four times at a Hilton in the first four months of card membership, you’ll be placed with Gold status, which gets you room upgrades, free breakfast, and more bonus points.  I’d recommend doing this, as the free breakfast and room upgrades I’ve received as a gold member at Hilton are outstanding!

Annual Fee

Another great benefit of this card over other Hilton cards is the fact that it does not have an annual fee, making cost of card membership free if you pay your bills on time and in full!

 

The Nitty Gritty

This card’s APR is 14.24%, and balance transfers of 14.24% APR as well.  Cash advances carry a stiff 25.24% fee, and a penalty APR of 29.99% applies if you make a late payment or have a returned payment.

Transaction fees are stiff as well, with foreign transaction fees racking up 3% of every purchase, balance transfers at 3% or $5, whichever is greater, and cash advances at $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.  Penalty late fees are up to $35.

 

Conclusion 

The new sign up bonus associated with this credit card, at 60,000 miles, makes this a no brainer for anyone in the market for a hotel branded credit card.  The no annual fee and low spend requirement makes it a great deal!  Also, free silver status with Hilton ain’t so bad either.

I would take advantage of the Gold status, 4-stay offer, since the benefits of this mid-level status are better than most other similar levels in the hotel space.  The breakfasts that I’ve had with this status are absolutely amazing, and my recent ‘double upgrade’ at the Waldorf Astoria Berlin to a junior suite was a welcome, awesome surprise!  Are you applying? Let us know below!