What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

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Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Fri Sep 09, 2016 6:56 am

Got my Sapphire Reserve approved 13 days after I applied. I didn't poke them, just finally got an email that it had gone through. They are running mighty slow, I got the CSP instantly when I applied online 4-5 months ago.

As to the Strategy part, my old strategy was Amex Preferred cash/Citi Double Cash/Chase Freedom/Amazon. New strategy for now is the reward chasing game. I now have all those and CSR/CSP/United (210000 bonus points in last few months, 155000 Ultimate Rewards, 55000 United), also just got the Costco card. Not carrying all that plastic of course, and will cancel most of the fee bearing cards when closer to a year up. May end up keeping CSP or CSR for the ultimate rewards transfer to partner ability. Heck, the United card isn't bad for the free bags either. And may give the Hyatt card a go depending on whether next vacation could use the 2 free nights...

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:48 am

Da5id wrote:Got my Sapphire Reserve approved 13 days after I applied. I didn't poke them, just finally got an email that it had gone through. They are running mighty slow, I got the CSP instantly when I applied online 4-5 months ago.


Were you under the 5/24 limit, i.e., fewer than 5 cards opened in the past 24 months?

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:51 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:Got my Sapphire Reserve approved 13 days after I applied. I didn't poke them, just finally got an email that it had gone through. They are running mighty slow, I got the CSP instantly when I applied online 4-5 months ago.


Were you under the 5/24 limit, i.e., fewer than 5 cards opened in the past 24 months?


Yep. I was under the limit, had 3/24. CSP was #4. May do Hyatt as #5, though I gather that wouldn't count. But I think I'm out of the bonus game for a bit, I'm running low on large expenses/things I want to prepay. And don't want to get into the whole "manufactured spending" game.

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:00 am

Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:Got my Sapphire Reserve approved 13 days after I applied. I didn't poke them, just finally got an email that it had gone through. They are running mighty slow, I got the CSP instantly when I applied online 4-5 months ago.


Were you under the 5/24 limit, i.e., fewer than 5 cards opened in the past 24 months?


Yep. I was under the limit, had 3/24. CSP was #4. May do Hyatt as #5, though I gather that wouldn't count. But I think I'm out of the bonus game for a bit, I'm running low on large expenses/things I want to prepay. And don't want to get into the whole "manufactured spending" game.


As I mentioned earlier, my current "manufactured spending" strategy is paying estimated taxes. For example, if I need to spend $4,000 on a new card and can spend only $2,500 naturally, I pay the remaining $1,500 to the IRS. The fee is less than 2%, i.e., this cost me less than $30.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

SRenaeP
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby SRenaeP » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:08 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:Got my Sapphire Reserve approved 13 days after I applied. I didn't poke them, just finally got an email that it had gone through. They are running mighty slow, I got the CSP instantly when I applied online 4-5 months ago.


Were you under the 5/24 limit, i.e., fewer than 5 cards opened in the past 24 months?


Yep. I was under the limit, had 3/24. CSP was #4. May do Hyatt as #5, though I gather that wouldn't count. But I think I'm out of the bonus game for a bit, I'm running low on large expenses/things I want to prepay. And don't want to get into the whole "manufactured spending" game.


As I mentioned earlier, my current "manufactured spending" strategy is paying estimated taxes. For example, if I need to spend $4,000 on a new card and can spend only $2,500 naturally, I pay the remaining $1,500 to the IRS. The fee is less than 2%, i.e., this cost me less than $30.

Victoria


Thanks for mentioning this Victoria. I previously haven't considering paying taxes due to the fee but the fee may be worth it in order to hit minimum spends for large sign on bonuses. I've passed on some cards because I didn't know if I could hit the minimum spend but given that we pay a lot in taxes every year, this might be the way to go assuming the fee is much less than what the sign on bonus is worth.

-Steph

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:14 am

SRenaeP wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:But I think I'm out of the bonus game for a bit, I'm running low on large expenses/things I want to prepay. And don't want to get into the whole "manufactured spending" game.


As I mentioned earlier, my current "manufactured spending" strategy is paying estimated taxes. For example, if I need to spend $4,000 on a new card and can spend only $2,500 naturally, I pay the remaining $1,500 to the IRS. The fee is less than 2%, i.e., this cost me less than $30.

Victoria


Thanks for mentioning this Victoria. I previously haven't considering paying taxes due to the fee but the fee may be worth it in order to hit minimum spends for large sign on bonuses. I've passed on some cards because I didn't know if I could hit the minimum spend but given that we pay a lot in taxes every year, this might be the way to go assuming the fee is much less than what the sign on bonus is worth.

-Steph


Steph,

It's even better than that. We can pay estimated taxes every quarter, and those living in states with income tax can pay estimated taxes to the state as well as Federal. In my state, the fee for paying estimated state taxes with a card is slightly higher than the fee for paying a Federal tax, but it's another option if one needs it.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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mikep
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby mikep » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:17 am

As long as the fee is less than 2% for the estimated taxes I'd say its worth it.. it's well known here you can use a 2% cash back card. Therefore those who choose to use another card should be earning more than 2% in equivalent value with it.

Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:18 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:Got my Sapphire Reserve approved 13 days after I applied. I didn't poke them, just finally got an email that it had gone through. They are running mighty slow, I got the CSP instantly when I applied online 4-5 months ago.


Were you under the 5/24 limit, i.e., fewer than 5 cards opened in the past 24 months?


Yep. I was under the limit, had 3/24. CSP was #4. May do Hyatt as #5, though I gather that wouldn't count. But I think I'm out of the bonus game for a bit, I'm running low on large expenses/things I want to prepay. And don't want to get into the whole "manufactured spending" game.


As I mentioned earlier, my current "manufactured spending" strategy is paying estimated taxes. For example, if I need to spend $4,000 on a new card and can spend only $2,500 naturally, I pay the remaining $1,500 to the IRS. The fee is less than 2%, i.e., this cost me less than $30.


My normal spending (plus a few predictable big ticket items) gets me there. But using my normal spending of course has hidden costs, in that I'd otherwise be using better credit cards (with bonuses of 2-6% depending on category) instead of the 1% card to reach the spend. I'm also OK buying Amazon or Costco gift cards, as I'll eventually spend the money on Amazon or Costco...

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:20 am

mikep wrote:As long as the fee is less than 2% for the estimated taxes I'd say its worth it.. it's well known here you can use a 2% cash back card. Therefore those who choose to use another card should be earning more than 2% in equivalent value with it.


The 2% cut-off applies to the general use of cards vs. paying taxes. But if you get a new card such as a CSR and must spend $4,000 within a few months, and don't have enough of regular expenses, paying the balance of the minimum spending to the IRS makes sense.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Texanbybirth
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Texanbybirth » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:21 am

We got declined for: the CSR (me), the Freedom Unlimited (me), and the Ink Plus (wife).

I was over 5/24 at the time of apps, but I applied for both on the same day. I applied for the CSR in branch, but I didn't ask if I was pre-approved. I applied for the Freedom Unlimited online since I thought "what the heck?" there's only one hit to my credit report anyway. As expected, no dice when calling recon to try to push approval.

I should have applied for my wife's Ink Plus on the same day she was approved for the CSR, as it wouldn't have hit her account yet. I only applied last night, about two weeks later, and got the "7-10 days" message.

Oh well, we're out of the rewards game for two years it seems to (a) cool down a bit - I've been spending a lot of time on it, but we're expecting our second child any day and I don't think it's a faithful use of my time) - and, (b) to reset all of the new accounts on the credit reports. Let's be honest, this family isn't traveling anywhere extravagant in the next few years anyway! By then I think our goal will be to get SWA Companion Passes for each of us. :beer

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:24 am

Da5id wrote:I'm also OK buying Amazon or Costco gift cards, as I'll eventually spend the money on Amazon or Costco...


I do that too, but now I have large positive balances at both Amazon and Costco, because I was buying gift cards with Chase Freedom when it was offering respective 5x category bonuses.

Victoria
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Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:27 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:I'm also OK buying Amazon or Costco gift cards, as I'll eventually spend the money on Amazon or Costco...


I do that too, but now I have large balances at both Amazon and Costco, because I was buying gift cards with Chase Freedom when it was offering respective 5x category bonuses.

Victoria


Yeah. And Freedom is doing Costco/Warehouse for rest of year, so you can accumulate plenty (next quarter is warehouse + something holiday related per the website). With good timing, my child's laptop is dying, other child's music lesson fees are due, so I'll have a nice start on meeting my spend anyway.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Gemini » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:52 am

I have the card CSR in hand. Assuming I can meet the 4K spend in 3 months, does it still make sense to pay the 1.87% fee additional for federal taxes? I am not sure how much additional my state is, but I will find out.

For those who have CSR and AMEX preferred cash back and Penfed gas card, are you still using those for groceries (6% CB w/ AMEX) and gas (Penfed 5%) or just sticking to CSR/Freedom combo?

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:17 am

Gemini wrote:I have the card CSR in hand. Assuming I can meet the 4K spend in 3 months, does it still make sense to pay the 1.87% fee additional for federal taxes?


If you can meet the minimum spending with your regular spending, there is no need to pay taxes. But if you can spend only $3,200 and there is still $800 left to spend, you can pre-pay $800 with the CSR to the IRS as Estimated Taxes for the 4th quarter.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:17 pm

VictoriaF wrote:And so my current strategy is as follows:
01. Maintain about 100k to 200k in each of American Airlines and United Airlines (including Chase UR) accounts to use for international flights.
02. Pay cash for domestic flights and Amtrak.
03. Participate in the SPG, IHG, Marriott, Hilton and Accor hotel programs for the reasons listed below.
04. Use SPG points for transfer to airlines when my mile balance gets low.
05. Use IHG points for an upcoming stay at an event.
06. Use the Hilton status to get some perqs at an upcoming event for which I will pay out of pocket.
07. Use Marriott points for a future stay.
08. Accumulate Accor points by staying in Ibis, and possibly use them for a future free stay or an Internet discount.
09. Open 2 to 4 new credit cards every year, especially, when they offer high opening bonuses for American or United.
10. Schedule my ongoing expenses to qualify for new card sign-up bonuses.
11. When I don't have enough expenses, pay estimated taxes with the balance.
12. Close old credit cards when annual fees are due, with some exceptions listed below.
13. Keep a Citi-AAdvantage card to have priority boarding and free checked-in luggage.
14. Keep Chase United Explorer to have priority boarding, free check-in luggage, and access to the United lodge.
15. Keep CSP to store UR.
16. Have a list of the best use of various cards. For example, I use Chase-Freedom for its quarterly category spending, CSP for travel expenses, and IHG for groceries.

This 16-point strategy is my 80-20 solution.

Victoria


That's an impressive list, thanks for posting it.
So far this year we opened two CSPs, one CSR, one Citi Hilton, all in the last 4 months. That's $14k of minimum spending - we're almost done with it. Guess we're big spenders, but the prepayment game is an interesting one to play. I only did MS once with a OneVanilla card. Haven't dealt with prepaying taxes yet, either.

On wednesday I applied for a Barclay arrival+ online and was denied. Wasn't surprised given that they shut me down and revoked all my cards a while ago. But I called their reconsideration line. Turned out they had blacklisted me and not even pulled my credit. But upon my request, they pulled it, and after doing so, they approved me. Card will be arriving next week. So, $3000 more of spending to figure out. If only Plastiq would actually deliver payments, it would be really easy since that's less than our minimum payment with the escrow amount figured in.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby gvsucavie03 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:59 pm

Gemini wrote:I have the card CSR in hand. Assuming I can meet the 4K spend in 3 months, does it still make sense to pay the 1.87% fee additional for federal taxes? I am not sure how much additional my state is, but I will find out.

For those who have CSR and AMEX preferred cash back and Penfed gas card, are you still using those for groceries (6% CB w/ AMEX) and gas (Penfed 5%) or just sticking to CSR/Freedom combo?


Amex is only good up until 6000 in groceries then it drops to 1%. Plus you have the $95 fee. Citi Double Cash picks up from there. Penfed always for gas.

Jags4186
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Jags4186 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 5:07 pm

VictoriaF wrote:My credit card reward strategy is evolving. When I was working, I did not want to bother with the complexities of credit cards, frequent flyer programs, and their combinations. Shortly after retiring, I started attending frequent flyer events, reading blogs, and applying new techniques to my credit card strategies and to my travel. The effort has paid off pretty quickly, but I found that I was spending too much time reading, analyzing, verifying, applying, reconciling, and otherwise managing the process.

Now, I seem to be converging on an optimal for me strategy. My travel patterns are as follows:
1. I fly only economy and don't need too many miles to get reward flights to anywhere in the world.
2. In the U.S., I usually get good cash rates to my frequent destinations.
3. I like staying at no-star small hotels and hostels, especially if I can get a private room.
4. Several times a year, I attend events in the U.S. and abroad, where I stay at event hotels. While I usually pay negotiated low rates, it makes sense to be accumulating points.
5. Occasionally, I need to stay at an international airport hotel, and Ibis is a reasonable option at 60 to 80 Euros per night.

And so my current strategy is as follows:
01. Maintain about 100k to 200k in each of American Airlines and United Airlines (including Chase UR) accounts to use for international flights.
02. Pay cash for domestic flights and Amtrak.
03. Participate in the SPG, IHG, Marriott, Hilton and Accor hotel programs for the reasons listed below.
04. Use SPG points for transfer to airlines when my mile balance gets low.
05. Use IHG points for an upcoming stay at an event.
06. Use the Hilton status to get some perqs at an upcoming event for which I will pay out of pocket.
07. Use Marriott points for a future stay.
08. Accumulate Accor points by staying in Ibis, and possibly use them for a future free stay or an Internet discount.
09. Open 2 to 4 new credit cards every year, especially, when they offer high opening bonuses for American or United.
10. Schedule my ongoing expenses to qualify for new card sign-up bonuses.
11. When I don't have enough expenses, pay estimated taxes with the balance.
12. Close old credit cards when annual fees are due, with some exceptions listed below.
13. Keep a Citi-AAdvantage card to have priority boarding and free checked-in luggage.
14. Keep Chase United Explorer to have priority boarding, free check-in luggage, and access to the United lodge.
15. Keep CSP to store UR.
16. Have a list of the best use of various cards. For example, I use Chase-Freedom for its quarterly category spending, CSP for travel expenses, and IHG for groceries.

This 16-point strategy is my 80-20 solution.

Victoria


Do you find you check your bags a lot when you travel? I don't see the purpose of carrying airline cards for priority boarding, but perhaps checked bag savings makes sense for you. United MPE gives you access to XN class awards which, depending on your travel patterns, might be worth the $95/annual fee or not. Only you will be able to answer that.

Just FYI, United MPE does not offer you access to the United lounge.

I wouldn't keep CSP just to store UR. You can store UR on any Chase UR earning card...Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Chase Ink Cash. You just can't transfer unless you have a CSP, CSR, or Ink Plus. You can always upgrade depending your transfer frequency.

For cards you just keep for specific spending, make sure you're getting enough benefits to offset the annual fee. For example, you can get significant cash back on groceries with no annual fee cards.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Fri Sep 09, 2016 6:08 pm

Jags4186 wrote:Just FYI, United MPE does not offer you access to the United lounge.


Looks like it gives 2 passes each year
https://www.theexplorercard.com/Benefits/Explorer

Two United ClubSM Passes
Take some time to relax before your flight with two United Club one-time passes each year. Enjoy complimentary beverages, snacks and amenities like workspaces, free Wi-Fi and more. Passes are not valid for use at United Arrivals Lounges, United Global FirstSM Lounges or Star Alliance Lounges. For a list of United Club locations, visit united.com/unitedclublocations Third-party site. Access is subject to space availability.


But it seems that United has several kinds of lounges. Club, Arrivals, Global First, Star Alliance ... I guess you need their more expensive United club card to access those. Last week when I flew from SFO to LAS, there was a United Club lounge in the terminal.I did not use since I don't have the MPE card.

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:05 pm

Jags4186 wrote:Do you find you check your bags a lot when you travel? I don't see the purpose of carrying airline cards for priority boarding, but perhaps checked bag savings makes sense for you. United MPE gives you access to XN class awards which, depending on your travel patterns, might be worth the $95/annual fee or not. Only you will be able to answer that.


Jags4186,

Thank you for excellent feedback!

I normally don't check in my bag, and so this benefit is just in case. The priority boarding, on the the other hand, is valuable to me because I don't have any status with airlines and this enables me to find space in the overhead compartment for my bag. My usual travel bag is MEI Voyager, and gate check would be OK. But when I go to the Camino, I bring a backpack where every item is essential, and it's particularly important that I have it with me all the time.

Access to XN class awards was the reason for getting United MPE but I have not used this yet.

Jags4186 wrote:Just FYI, United MPE does not offer you access to the United lounge.


They send two annual passes to a lounge annually. I keep them in case I get stranded somewhere.

Jags4186 wrote:I wouldn't keep CSP just to store UR. You can store UR on any Chase UR earning card...Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Chase Ink Cash. You just can't transfer unless you have a CSP, CSR, or Ink Plus. You can always upgrade depending your transfer frequency.


You are right, I need CSP only for transferring points not for storing them. But I am not sure that I would be able to upgrade Freedom in time for a UR transfer when I need it.

Jags4186 wrote:For cards you just keep for specific spending, make sure you're getting enough benefits to offset the annual fee. For example, you can get significant cash back on groceries with no annual fee cards.


This is a good point. I keep Chase IHG because I want to qualify for a free night as a part of a long reward stay in 2017. I will have to pay one annual fee on it but plan to cancel it later that year. In the mean time, I charge groceries to it unless I have to meet minimum spending on some other card.

Victoria
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Jags4186 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:53 pm

You're right about the lounge passes I forgot. I usually sell those on eBay when I get them. Once you've been burned by being turned away with an expired one, you learn your lesson to just sell them instead of keeping them around just in case.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Ron Ronnerson » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:21 pm

Jags4186 wrote:You're right about the lounge passes I forgot. I usually sell those on eBay when I get them. Once you've been burned by being turned away with an expired one, you learn your lesson to just sell them instead of keeping them around just in case.


My wife and I used a couple of the passes at San Francisco Airport and thought the lounges were not worth writing home about. We still have two passes remaining and no travel plans for a while. We never thought to sell them. Thanks for this pointer.

protagonist
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby protagonist » Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:34 am

Check out "How I circumvented Chase's 5/24 rule". viewtopic.php?f=11&t=199252

Oleanmike
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Oleanmike » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:12 pm

My wife and I both got CSR cards. We prepaid some future travel to satisfy the minimum spend on both cards. We already have been credited the $300 each and got triple points for the minimum spend. So after just a few weeks we have 224,000 Ultimate Reward points. I also downgraded my existing Sapphire Preferred and got credit for the prorated amount of my yearly fee. There's some great advice on this board!

countofmc
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby countofmc » Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:16 pm

My wife was just approved for CSR. She already has CSP, I have Freedom.

She's thinking of downgrading the CSP to a Freedom, instead of just outright cancelling. Essentially we'd both have separate Freedom cards, and would be authorized users on each. Would we be able to "double up" on the quarterly bonus categories? So we could get a bonus for up to $1500 on one card, and another $1500 on the other?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Markr867 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:18 am

Getting the CSR is really a no-brainer if you pay your CC bills on time (as everyone here does, obviously) and if you like to travel. I applied the day it came out and was not approved due to 5/24 (at the time I applied there weren't many data points saying people over 5/24 weren't getting approved... oh well), but my boyfriend applied and was approved instantly. We've already received the $300 travel credit for this year and are working towards the minimum spend. Once a few cards drop off my credit report in October, I plan to apply for the card even if the bonus has been reduced (as I expect it will). Even with the $450 fee, getting the $300 travel credit this year and next year puts me ahead without even factoring in whatever sign-up bonus exists when I apply.

Currently, he has the CSR and I have the Freedom. Our strategy going forward will be to use the Freedom for whichever category is paying 5% at the time, use the CSR for all dining/travel (except when Freedom does 5% on dining), and transfer all points from the Freedom to the CSR to get the 1.5% redemption rate.

Trying to talk my boyfriend into a very nice trip to Australia or the Maldives in early 2018 with the UR points we have currently and will be earning with this card. Gotta love points!

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Allan » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:37 am

Seems to be a lot of praise here for the Chase card, but is it any better than the cards offering a straight 2% cash back cards? Such as the Fidelity VISA and Capital One Spark VISA, which I use.

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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:46 am

Allan wrote:Seems to be a lot of praise here for the Chase card, but is it any better than the cards offering a straight 2% cash back cards? Such as the Fidelity VISA and Capital One Spark VISA, which I use.


It depends on your travel and spending patterns. Let's assume that I need to fly from D.C. to Paris or Berlin and an economy ticket normally costs $1,200. If I open a credit card that gives me a 50,000 miles bonus for spending $4,000 in three months, I can use the miles for 5/6 of the flight. Thus,
- if I spend $4,000 for cash back, I get $80
- if I spend $4,000 for a sign-up bonus, I get $1,000 ($1,200 x 5/6).

If I open several cards, I can accumulate points and miles in different programs and chose those best suited to my specific needs. As I travel a lot, it pays off.

Victoria
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Allan
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Allan » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:02 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Allan wrote:Seems to be a lot of praise here for the Chase card, but is it any better than the cards offering a straight 2% cash back cards? Such as the Fidelity VISA and Capital One Spark VISA, which I use.


It depends on your travel and spending patterns. Let's assume that I need to fly from D.C. to Paris or Berlin and an economy ticket normally costs $1,200. If I open a credit card that gives me a 50,000 miles bonus for spending $4,000 in three months, I can use the miles for 5/6 of the flight. Thus,
- if I spend $4,000 for cash back, I get $80
- if I spend $4,000 for a sign-up bonus, I get $1,000 ($1,200 x 5/6).

If I open several cards, I can accumulate points and miles in different programs and chose those best suited to my specific needs. As I travel a lot, it pays off.

Victoria


OK, but you're talking about the sign-up bonuses, not the actual reward points or $'s. Correct? Once you get past any sign-up bonuses is there anything better than 2%. I know some cards offer 5% on gas and groceries, but then much less on other charges. For 1-2 cards to use on everything, is there anything better than the 2% cash back. I use these cards a lot in my business, average $50,000-$80,000 a month in use.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:08 am

Allan wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Allan wrote:Seems to be a lot of praise here for the Chase card, but is it any better than the cards offering a straight 2% cash back cards? Such as the Fidelity VISA and Capital One Spark VISA, which I use.


It depends on your travel and spending patterns. Let's assume that I need to fly from D.C. to Paris or Berlin and an economy ticket normally costs $1,200. If I open a credit card that gives me a 50,000 miles bonus for spending $4,000 in three months, I can use the miles for 5/6 of the flight. Thus,
- if I spend $4,000 for cash back, I get $80
- if I spend $4,000 for a sign-up bonus, I get $1,000 ($1,200 x 5/6).

If I open several cards, I can accumulate points and miles in different programs and chose those best suited to my specific needs. As I travel a lot, it pays off.

Victoria


OK, but you're talking about the sign-up bonuses, not the actual reward points or $'s. Correct? Once you get past any sign-up bonuses is there anything better than 2%. I know some cards offer 5% on gas and groceries, but then much less on other charges. For 1-2 cards to use on everything, is there anything better than the 2% cash back. I use these cards a lot in my business, average $50,000-$80,000 a month in use.


If you have several cards opened for bonuses, you can also juggle them for spending categories. For example, my CSP (Chase Sapphire Preferred) gives me 2% for travel spending and I use it for travel. Chase Freedom gives 5% for Costco spending and I use it at Costco. If I need to spend on something that is not earning at least 2%, I can use a card that gives 2% back.

Victoria
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:50 am

Alert: Until 14 September, one can transfer 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points into 30,000 American Airlines miles. Normally, one can transfer 20k from SPG to AA to earn a 5k bonus, i.e., 20k SPG --> 25k AA. However, from early August until 14 Sep, there is an additional bonus. The AA site describes it as follows:

American Airlines wrote:Example
Your 20,000 Starpoints® convert to 20,000 AAdvantage® miles (20,000 miles total)
When you convert 20,000 points, Starwood adds a 5,000 point bonus (25,000 miles total)
You earn 20% bonus miles on your conversion (20% of 25,000 = 5,000; 30,000 miles total)


I did not know about this bonus until today and have just initiated the transfer.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby dbr » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:53 am

Yes, the game is in sign up bonuses and not in earning benefits for spending.

There is also a particular and peculiar hobby in participating in airline frequent flyer programs which is separate and distinct from a simple practice of getting a rebate on routine spending.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby tnf » Sun Sep 11, 2016 11:56 am

No Rewards Credit Card for me -- been there, done that, got burnt. Not worth anymore to me carrying a credit card balance and owing a debt if I can avoid it. I pay cash or use a VISA Debit Card for everything and will do so for as long as I can.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Ron Ronnerson » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:11 pm

Allan wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Allan wrote:Seems to be a lot of praise here for the Chase card, but is it any better than the cards offering a straight 2% cash back cards? Such as the Fidelity VISA and Capital One Spark VISA, which I use.


It depends on your travel and spending patterns. Let's assume that I need to fly from D.C. to Paris or Berlin and an economy ticket normally costs $1,200. If I open a credit card that gives me a 50,000 miles bonus for spending $4,000 in three months, I can use the miles for 5/6 of the flight. Thus,
- if I spend $4,000 for cash back, I get $80
- if I spend $4,000 for a sign-up bonus, I get $1,000 ($1,200 x 5/6).

If I open several cards, I can accumulate points and miles in different programs and chose those best suited to my specific needs. As I travel a lot, it pays off.

Victoria


OK, but you're talking about the sign-up bonuses, not the actual reward points or $'s. Correct? Once you get past any sign-up bonuses is there anything better than 2%. I know some cards offer 5% on gas and groceries, but then much less on other charges. For 1-2 cards to use on everything, is there anything better than the 2% cash back. I use these cards a lot in my business, average $50,000-$80,000 a month in use.


Unlike investing, in credit card utilization, complexity seems to be rewarded. I'm speaking of which card to use for your regular activity, not about sign-up bonuses. Whether or not the increased complexity is worth it is an individual decision. If you charge $50k+ in a given month, it would seem to me that ensuring you're using the best card in terms of percentage back would be prudent. What that looks like in practice probably depends on your spending patters. For example, if you're charging at a variety of merchant categories, perhaps a straight 2% back is pretty good. However, if you're spending heavily in particular categories, you'd want to see what card offers a high percentage back in those categories. I use a few different cards in order to get back a higher percentage than 2% overall. It is increased complexity but, to me, the additional amount I get back is worthwhile. By the way, there are a bunch of free apps out there that use GPS technology and can tell you which card to use based on your location. Personally, I don't bother with that. My set up is like this:

-I charge my auto/umbrella/home insurance automatically to a debit card. This results in my checking account earning a rate of 2.01% on up to a balance of $25k. This is over double what Ally Bank pays.
-I have my cable and cell phone bills automatically charged to a Chase Business Ink. I get 5 times the points which means about 7.5% off those bills.
-I charge grocery stores purchases on a Blue Cash preferred to get 6% back on charges up to $6k annually. It also offers 3% back at gas stations. After the $95 annual fee, this card offers more like 4.5% back.
-On a Chase Freedom card, there are rotating categories where I get 5 times the points. Currently, the category is restaurants and warehouses. I bought tires at Costco last week. I will take the points and transfer to a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. That will result in the points being something like 7.5% back.
-I use a Chase Sapphire Preferred for all other purchases. I get 2 times the points at restaurants and travel. This makes it worth like 3% back on those categories. Everything else is 1 point per dollar spent and is like 1.5% back. There is an annual fee but the travel benefits and other perks make this worthwhile for us so we keep the account.

This may seems like a lot but it's not as bad as it looks. I don't have to think about the the debit card or the Chase Business Ink card because they charge automatically. American Express is my "GG" card which stands for "groceries and gas." Chase Sapphire Preferred is for everything else. I memorize the bonus categories on the Chase Freedom card. I've gotten to the point where I barely have to think which card to pull out of my wallet. I'm not maximizing cash back as there are other credit cards I could get. However, I'm at the point where I don't want any additional complexity. I'm looking for the optimal point of complexity for me, not to absolutely maximize the cash back.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby protagonist » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:14 pm

countofmc wrote:
She's thinking of downgrading the CSP to a Freedom, instead of just outright cancelling.



Can you downgrade CSP to FReedom? Or does it involve another credit pull, and thus another card contributing to 5/24?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby protagonist » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:19 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Alert: Until 14 September, one can transfer 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points into 30,000 American Airlines miles. Normally, one can transfer 20k from SPG to AA to earn a 5k bonus, i.e., 20k SPG --> 25k AA. However, from early August until 14 Sep, there is an additional bonus. The AA site describes it as follows:

American Airlines wrote:Example
Your 20,000 Starpoints® convert to 20,000 AAdvantage® miles (20,000 miles total)
When you convert 20,000 points, Starwood adds a 5,000 point bonus (25,000 miles total)
You earn 20% bonus miles on your conversion (20% of 25,000 = 5,000; 30,000 miles total)


I did not know about this bonus until today and have just initiated the transfer.

Victoria


Interesting.

That said, Starwood points are one of the few hotel programs that seem to offer good hotel transfers, and I have about 250K AA points.

I am tempted by this, but in the long run I think I am better off saving my Starwood points and having the flexibility of where I use them when I need them.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:29 pm

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Alert: Until 14 September, one can transfer 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points into 30,000 American Airlines miles. Normally, one can transfer 20k from SPG to AA to earn a 5k bonus, i.e., 20k SPG --> 25k AA. However, from early August until 14 Sep, there is an additional bonus. The AA site describes it as follows:

American Airlines wrote:Example
Your 20,000 Starpoints® convert to 20,000 AAdvantage® miles (20,000 miles total)
When you convert 20,000 points, Starwood adds a 5,000 point bonus (25,000 miles total)
You earn 20% bonus miles on your conversion (20% of 25,000 = 5,000; 30,000 miles total)


I did not know about this bonus until today and have just initiated the transfer.

Victoria


Interesting.

That said, Starwood points are one of the few hotel programs that seem to offer good hotel transfers, and I have about 250K AA points.

I am tempted by this, but in the long run I think I am better off saving my Starwood points and having the flexibility of where I use them when I need them.


Rewards strategies are highly individual. I am not interested in Starwood or other nice hotels, and I am focusing on accumulating air miles. For 2017, I am planning three international trips to:
- Prague
- Barcelona (possibly, via France)
- Brisbane (possibly, via Hawaii)

Having flexibility with American and United miles is essential for me.

Victoria
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby protagonist » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:32 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Alert: Until 14 September, one can transfer 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points into 30,000 American Airlines miles. Normally, one can transfer 20k from SPG to AA to earn a 5k bonus, i.e., 20k SPG --> 25k AA. However, from early August until 14 Sep, there is an additional bonus. The AA site describes it as follows:

American Airlines wrote:Example
Your 20,000 Starpoints® convert to 20,000 AAdvantage® miles (20,000 miles total)
When you convert 20,000 points, Starwood adds a 5,000 point bonus (25,000 miles total)
You earn 20% bonus miles on your conversion (20% of 25,000 = 5,000; 30,000 miles total)


I did not know about this bonus until today and have just initiated the transfer.

Victoria


Interesting.

That said, Starwood points are one of the few hotel programs that seem to offer good hotel transfers, and I have about 250K AA points.

I am tempted by this, but in the long run I think I am better off saving my Starwood points and having the flexibility of where I use them when I need them.


Rewards strategies are highly individual. I am not interested in Starwood or other nice hotels, and I am focusing on air miles. In 2017, I am planning three international trips to:
- Prague
- Barcelona (possibly via France)
- Brisbane (possibly via Hawaii)

Having flexibility with American and United miles is essential for me.

Victoria


Is Australia just a vacation, or for a purpose like a conference or some such thing? Interesting. Please relate your best deal on points to Australia.

The last I checked, Air France had some great deals to places like that (Hawaii, S Pacific), esp. if you are creative in routing. They also offer good deals to Europe...or at least did fairly recently...I flew to Bordeaux via Amsterdam on KLM on points this summer. UR now offers Air France/KLM as one of their partners. Check- it out.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:44 pm

protagonist wrote:
Victoria wrote:Rewards strategies are highly individual. I am not interested in Starwood or other nice hotels, and I am focusing on air miles. In 2017, I am planning three international trips to:
- Prague
- Barcelona (possibly via France)
- Brisbane (possibly via Hawaii)

Having flexibility with American and United miles is essential for me.

Victoria


Is Australia just a vacation, or for a purpose like a conference or some such thing? Interesting. Please relate your best deal on points to Australia.

The last I checked, Air France had some great deals to places like that, esp. if you are creative in routing. UR now offers Air France/KLM as one of their partners. Check it out.


For now, I only checked out flights to Prague in Spring. It's the usual 60k on United + $90 in taxes.

A trip to Barcelona will be in Summer, and I may visit friends in France on the way there. I'll check United stop-over conditions, or may book separate flights to Paris, to Barcelona, and back to the U.S. Thank you for the tip about UR and AF/KLM.

A trip to Australia will be in the Fall of 2017 for a conference PLUS local travel before or after. I am waiting for the information from the organizers if they will be offering something, or I should plan it on my own. A trip to Hawaii would be for another conference on the way to Australia, if the dates of the two conferences are congruent.

I don't have any status with the airlines, and for me the dates and schedules are more important than good deals. If I can get round trip economy flights to Europe for 60k miles and to Australia for 90k, I will consider it miles well spent.

Victoria
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Doom&Gloom » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:24 pm

protagonist wrote:
countofmc wrote:
She's thinking of downgrading the CSP to a Freedom, instead of just outright cancelling.



Can you downgrade CSP to FReedom? Or does it involve another credit pull, and thus another card contributing to 5/24?


Yes, you can convert it. No additional credit pull and the card will probably retain the same #, but the expiration date and cvv will change. It does not add a tick to the 5/24.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:53 pm

protagonist wrote:
That said, Starwood points are one of the few hotel programs that seem to offer good hotel transfers, and I have about 250K AA points.

I am tempted by this, but in the long run I think I am better off saving my Starwood points and having the flexibility of where I use them when I need them.


Beware that Starwood points expire after 12 months of inactivity, like many hotel and loyalty programs. Worse, they will even close your account for inactivity. Happened to me.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:58 pm

madbrain wrote:Beware that Starwood points expire after 12 months of inactivity, like many hotel and loyalty programs. Worse, they will even close your account for inactivity. Happened to me.


This is a good tip. I could not find on the SPG web site when my points expire. I was not looking too hard and assumed that they don't.

Victoria
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Mudpuppy » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:43 pm

Allan wrote:Seems to be a lot of praise here for the Chase card, but is it any better than the cards offering a straight 2% cash back cards? Such as the Fidelity VISA and Capital One Spark VISA, which I use.

I was just running the numbers for my spending habits. I don't like to travel, so I don't care much for the cards with travel bonuses. My calculations have both an annual rewards estimate (minus any annual fees) plus a separate column for the sign-up bonuses.

I'm currently using an old Blue Cash (5% gas+grocery, 1% else after $6500 spending) plus Freedom and Discover for 5% rotating categories. If I switch over to the following, I'll increase my rewards by a couple hundred dollars a year:

1) Blue Cash Preferred for 6% Grocery + 3% Gas + 3% Department Stores ($95 annual fee offset by increased reward percentages compared to the Blue Cash Everyday, also has $150 sign-up bonus)
2) Keep current Chase Freedom and Discover for 5% rotating categories (I keep the categories on a note in my phone)
3) Hilton AmEx no annual fee card for work-related travel (sign-up bonus should get me to Gold status for next year, guaranteed Silver status with card)
4) 2% Fidelity Visa tied to a Cash Management account for all other purchases (possible $100 sign-up bonus if you search for promo codes, but I wouldn't count on it since it's not on Fidelity's main page)

The Hilton AmEx is a very personal decision. The reimbursement person at work is very picky about snacks while traveling (I've had her deny a reimbursement request for a $4 snack at night because it "wasn't during a meal" even though my daily meal total was below per diem and I had a receipt). Gold status should get me into the executive lounge at most properties (except the ones that require booking the Executive floor) for free snacks, and also a back-up breakfast should I not be able to eat the breakfast at the meeting itself due to food intolerances.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Gemini » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:12 pm

My spouse has the Target red card where it is 5% off everything at Target. Does anyone else here use it? Is that pretty good at 5% or should we be using other cards at Target?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby lakpr » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:38 pm

Gemini,

I have that card. If your shopping is predominantly at Target then yes it is a fine choice.

Just a suggestion and caution: never link your bank account to the Red card. Read further for what I do to still capture the discount when I do shop at Target.

The Target store near my home has an AllPoint ATM that I can use to withdraw cash using my credit union debit card for no fee. Whenever I go to Target I calculate the approximate total amount for the goods in my cart. Then I withdraw to the nearest $20 from my CU, go to the customer service counter first to load cash on my Red card, and if the counter lady agrees also will pay for my stuff using the Red card for the discount; else will go to the check out counter.

As it is, I am paranoid about using debit cards anywhere. Ever since the Target credit card breach I have adopted this method to minimize my exposure and pain in case of a repeat breach.

All that said, my primary shopping is usually done at Costco including groceries and gas, where I can use my Freedom card.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Mudpuppy » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:43 pm

Gemini wrote:My spouse has the Target red card where it is 5% off everything at Target. Does anyone else here use it? Is that pretty good at 5% or should we be using other cards at Target?

I'm considering adding a Target RedCard to my above mix, but I've read mixed reviews about the credit card. It's got a 2.8 out of 5 rating on Credit Karma's user review site for example. In comparison, Blue Cash Preferred has a 3.8 rating and Blue Cash Everyday has a 4.0 rating. At my normal Target spending rate, it's about a difference of $50 a year between using the RedCard and using a 2% card. I'm not sure it's worth it for $50 a year given the mixed online reviews.

My sister has no issues with the Target debit card. But I refuse to get the debit card, as I don't want Target linked directly to any of my bank accounts.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby mpsz » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:51 pm

I had the 5% card for a while and stopped using it because I wanted to carry fewer cards. I probably would have kept it if they offered the MasterCard version to new users. It was nice that the 5% came off your purchase immediately, as opposed to earning points, dealing with statement credits, etc.

IIRC it was serviced by TD Bank and the website was exceptionally poor. They only offered a $500 limit and was not able to increase beyond that.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby rjbraun » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:28 pm

madbrain wrote:
protagonist wrote:
That said, Starwood points are one of the few hotel programs that seem to offer good hotel transfers, and I have about 250K AA points.

I am tempted by this, but in the long run I think I am better off saving my Starwood points and having the flexibility of where I use them when I need them.


Beware that Starwood points expire after 12 months of inactivity, like many hotel and loyalty programs. Worse, they will even close your account for inactivity. Happened to me.

Happened to me as well, though I was able to get the points reinstated. I don't have so many Starwood points and have yet to use any of them, but I was toying with a possible Starwood hotel booking recently and that's how I learned of the closure. As unnoticeably as my account got closed, it also got reinstated pretty easily. Not sure just how this happened, but as long as I got my points back I didn't really press (other than to make note of what actions to take to ensure it didn't happen again). I assume you already tried to get your points back, but I figured I would pass along my experience in case it could be helpful.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:12 pm

rjbraun wrote:Happened to me as well, though I was able to get the points reinstated. I don't have so many Starwood points and have yet to use any of them, but I was toying with a possible Starwood hotel booking recently and that's how I learned of the closure. As unnoticeably as my account got closed, it also got reinstated pretty easily. Not sure just how this happened, but as long as I got my points back I didn't really press (other than to make note of what actions to take to ensure it didn't happen again). I assume you already tried to get your points back, but I figured I would pass along my experience in case it could be helpful.


Right now it's not showing any points in my account, or any previous stays. My last booking at an SPG hotel was in early 2015. I probably didn't have any many points, and I certainly never used them. I don't really travel frequently enough to keep all those loyalty accounts active. I had stayed at SPG hotels before that but hadn't bothered to create an SPG account. I think I have stayed 3-4 at SPG hotels in totals, but always more than 12 months apart ...

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Sep 12, 2016 6:30 am

madbrain wrote:
rjbraun wrote:Happened to me as well, though I was able to get the points reinstated. I don't have so many Starwood points and have yet to use any of them, but I was toying with a possible Starwood hotel booking recently and that's how I learned of the closure. As unnoticeably as my account got closed, it also got reinstated pretty easily. Not sure just how this happened, but as long as I got my points back I didn't really press (other than to make note of what actions to take to ensure it didn't happen again). I assume you already tried to get your points back, but I figured I would pass along my experience in case it could be helpful.


Right now it's not showing any points in my account, or any previous stays. My last booking at an SPG hotel was in early 2015. I probably didn't have any many points, and I certainly never used them. I don't really travel frequently enough to keep all those loyalty accounts active. I had stayed at SPG hotels before that but hadn't bothered to create an SPG account. I think I have stayed 3-4 at SPG hotels in totals, but always more than 12 months apart ...


I have just checked my SPG account and again could not find any notation of when it would expire. And so I Googled and found the following "quick answer":


SPG wrote:Do Starpoints expire?

Your SPG Membership is considered "Inactive" if, during a 12-month period:

- you have not had an Eligible Stay at an SPG Participating Hotel;
- you have not earned*, redeemed, purchased or transferred any Starpoints, or
- your account has been cancelled.

*'Earned or redeemed' is defined as any points posting to or being removed, transferred, or redeemed from an SPG account.

If your account becomes inactive, your Starpoints will be forfeited without notice. Starpoints do not expire for active accounts (does not apply to Starpoints earned through the Vistana Vacation Network as those expire after six years, regardless of activity).

Starwood Preferred Guest membership expiration dates are reviewed monthly and, if your account had an eligible transaction in the last month, your expiration date is extended 12 months.


If you have over 20,000 SPG points, it makes sense to transfer them to American Airlines before 14 Sep, to earn additional bonus AND extend the account life by 12 months. If you don't have that many points, you can transfer just 1,000 SPG points to an airline. This would not earn bonuses but extend the life of the account. If you don't have even 1,000 points, it probably does not matter if the account is closed.

Victoria
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:55 am

For those doing the CSR thing, I'm not planning on doing more travelling this year. I wanted my $300. So after a bit of googling I prepaid EZPass (NH) $300. Already have the $300 credit in my CSR account, so clearly it did indeed code as tolls (a travel category). Yay.

That also helps towards 4K spend needed. Prepaying my home/umbrella/auto insurance for the rest of the installments until renewal killed a fair bit of that too, having a teen driver in house makes those insurance rates rise...


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