2013 Credit Card Recap

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Update: There’s an exciting Limited Time Offer for the Hilton American Express cards through 5/31/17! The links below are expired, but you can learn more about best offers we’ve seen on these cards!

Update: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has exciting new benefits, and a great new limited time offer. Learn more about the current offer here.

Update: This offer for Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days of having the card. Learn more about the special offer here.

Update: This offer for The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Learn more about the special offer here.

One of the questions I’m asked frequently is how I accumulate miles and points, and what my personal overall credit card strategy is. Everyone has different situations and travel goals, and those variables will certainly impact your approach to miles and points, but I figured it might be helpful to recap my results for 2013, and then I’ll share my plan for 2014 separately.

Keep in mind I place a very high value on international premium travel, and strongly prefer to purchase domestic tickets to help with requalifying for elite status.

As I outlined earlier this week, not only did I fly more than usual in 2013, but about half my flights last year were on award tickets, which was a bit unusual for me. I’m a firm believer in only having as many miles in a given program as I can reasonably spend on short notice, and given that I was earning more miles through flying this year I was correspondingly less aggressive with my credit card applications.

At the beginning of 2013 I had 13 active credit cards in my wallet, consisting of a mixture of personal and business cards across various issuers:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

    • This one is of course a no brainer, and a card everyone should have.
    • The card offers double points on dining and travel. That means you’re earning 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and on just about all travel expenses, including hotel, airline tickets, car rentals, transportation, and even parking.
    • While I can get a good return on hotels and airline tickets with other cards, it’s the dining and other travel expenses (taxis, trains, parking, etc.) that make this card awesome.
    • Since it has no foreign transaction fees I use it when I’m traveling abroad almost exclusively.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

    • On a per point basis, Starwood points are probably the most valuable points currency out there. I valued them at about 2.2 cents each, and they’re actually the only points currency I consistently value at over two cents per point. So I put all my Starwood hotel stays and spend in categories that don’t earn bonuses on other cards on this card.
    • That being said, I’d keep the card alone for the fact that it offers two stays and five nights towards Starwood status annually. In the past I’d qualify for Starwood Platinum on 25 stays instead of 50 nights, but now I’m qualifying on nights given that you don’t get the 10 suite night awards annually if you qualify on stays. That’s basically like picking up night credits towards status at $13 each.
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

    • I’m still a bit torn on the value of this card, probably because I didn’t maximize my spending here.
    • It offers triple points on airfare and double points on restaurants, gas, and groceries in the US. But the big downside is the hefty annual fee of $195 (waived for the first year).
    • I got a retention bonus on the card that was enough for me to not cancel the card outright, but I probably need to make more of an effort to use this card in order to justify the annual fee going forward.
  • Hilton HHonors Card from American Express

    • This no annual fee credit card is worth keeping solely for the fact that it gives you access to Hilton’s AXON awards.
    • Up until late March, one of the very best uses of Hilton HHonors points were AXON awards, which are special four night rewards available exclusively to those with a co-branded Hilton American Express credit card.
    • Hilton’s devaluation gutted the AXON awards, so I probably wouldn’t get this card now, but it was great at the time.
  • American AAdvantage Citi Visa

    • Last year Citi added new benefits to this card, including a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 10,000 miles per year.
    • I easily max that out every year (since I typically make at least 100,000 AAdvantage miles worth of award redemptions per year), so by keeping this card I’m basically buying 10,000 miles at $95 annually, which is 0.95 cents per mile. Deal.
    • It’s worth noting I don’t put a dime in spend on the card.
  • US Airways MasterCard

    • Now that the American and US Airways merger is underway I doubt this card will be around for long, given that Citi will almost certainly be the bank issuing the “new” American’s credit card.
    • This card offers a 10,000 mile anniversary bonus just for having the card, so up until now it has been a way to essentially “buy” 10,000 US Airways miles annually for 0.89 cents each.
    • I suspect this card will be going away shortly, but for the time being I felt I might as well keep it.
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

    • Despite the huge Hilton HHonors devaluation last year, I still think this is one of the very best cards out there.
    • Just for having the card you get HHonors Gold status, which gets you free internet and club lounge access/breakfast.
    • Even though I have top tier status with Hyatt and Starwood, they don’t have hotels everywhere I need to be, while Hilton usually does. So no matter how devalued their points program gets, you can’t beat the on-property benefits you get simply for having a $95 annual fee credit card.
    • There are several other methods for obtaining HHonors Gold status right now, but for the bulk of 2013 this was certainly one of the more attractive options.
  • Chase Hyatt Visa Card

    • The only time I spend a dime on this card is for actual Hyatt stays, since you earn three points per dollar.
    • Other than that I keep the card for the annual free night certificate, redeemable at Category 1 through 4 properties. That more than justifies the annual fee, given that it can be redeemed at properties like the Andaz West Hollywood, Andaz Shanghai, Park Hyatt Melbourne, etc.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express

    • This card is expensive but was worth every dime to me last year.
    • It offers lounge access with several programs, along with the new American Express Centurion lounges. Given how much I travel this was a huge benefit!
    • But beyond that you get an annual airline fee credit for $200, which in practice can be used to purchase airline gift cards. So I’m able to purchase $200 in American Airlines gift cards per year and have it reimbursed. What sweetens the deal even further is that the annual fee is based on a rolling 12 month period, while the airline fee credit is based on a calendar year. So that means with your first year’s annual fee you can actually pick up two airline fee credits, worth $400.
    • The other thing that makes this card awesome is access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, which I use extensively
  • Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

    • The Chase Ink cards are the best business cards out there at the moment, in my opinion.
    • With the Ink Plus, you get double points on the first $50,000 spent annually at hotels and gas stations, and 5x points on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cell phones, landlines, internet, and cable TV. The last category alone justifies the annual fee on the card (which is waived the first year), given that those are fixed monthly expenses for me, and when I add them up and calculate the 5x points I’m earning, I’m already coming out ahead.
  • The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

    • In 2012 I had applied for the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN and as the annual fee approached I got an upgrade offer to the Business Platinum card, offering 25,000 Membership Rewards points if I upgraded.
    • I crunched the numbers and figured it made sense to pay the $450 annual fee to upgrade, as I’d be getting both 25,000 Membership Rewards points and $400 in airline gift cards (through the airline credit reimbursement).
    • I didn’t renew this card since I have the personal Platinum card as well, but I think it was a good deal for the upgrade.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express

    • I like this card for exactly the same reasons as the personal card.
    • They both offer the same bonuses, so the one reason to have both of them is because they each offer you two stays and five nights towards status annually.
    • Between the two cards that’s four stays and 10 nights towards status, a very nice head start each year.

I also applied for several cards this year, and was approved for everything I applied for. Considering that I’ve been actively applying for credit cards for nearly six years now I think this is a good assortment of cards, and I’m happy with my choices.

1. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

Sign-up bonus: 85,000 Club Carlson points after spending $2,500 within 90 days
Annual fee: $75

Approval process: I intentionally applied for this card first since I hear US Bank frowns down on those with lots of inquiries, so I was kind of shocked to be instantly approved for this card.

Why I applied: For me this was the hottest card out there that I didn’t have. In addition to the sign-up bonus you get Gold status with Club Carlson for as long as you have the card, and a 40,000 point anniversary bonus each year just for having the card.

 2. Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles when you spend $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Approval process: When I applied I was informed I’d receive a decision in writing within a couple of weeks, though when I called the status line the next day I was informed that I had already been approved for the card.

Why I applied: I already had the Citi AAdvantage Visa card, and in the past even had the Citi AAdvantage MasterCard. However, it had been about three years since I’ve applied for it, so I had no issues being approved again. While Citi doesn’t seem to have a strict rule in regards to how long you have to wait between applications, waiting 18 months between applications (based on the time of approval, not the time the card is canceled) on a particular card seems to fairly consistently do the trick.

3. Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Sign-up bonus: 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within first 90 days (basically $440 cash back towards travel)
Annual fee: $89, waived the first year

Approval process: I was instantly approved for the card.

Why I applied: This is one of the hottest new cards from Barclaycard. While it’s not a traditional mileage card, each mile basically gets you a cent towards the cost of travel, and on top of that you get a 10% refund when you redeem your points. That basically means the sign-up bonus gets you $440 worth of travel, which is pretty good for a card with the annual fee waived the first year.

And if you’re into accruing points that can be applied towards the cost of travel, this card is pretty tough to beat, given that it basically offers 2.1% cash back towards the cost of travel.

4. & 5. Alaska Airlines Signature Visa Card

Sign-up bonus: 30,000 Mileage Plan miles upon account approval
Annual fee: $75

Approval process: When I applied I was informed I’d receive a decision in writing within a couple of weeks, though when I called the status line the next day I was informed that I had already been approved for the card.

Why I applied: Alaska miles are becoming increasingly valuable to me, especially now that you can redeem them for travel on Emirates and can have a stopover on a one-way award. Beyond that, the card offers a $99+ companion certificate for every year you have the card. This is about as “no strings attached” as companion certificates get, given that the companion still earns miles, can upgrade, etc. So not only is the sign-up bonus on the card good, but I get a huge amount of value for keeping this card long term. I actually applied for two of these cards in 2013, in addition to the business card. There doesn’t seem to be a need to cancel the previous card before applying for a new one.

6. Alaska Airlines Business Visa Card

Sign-up bonus: 25,000 Mileage Plan miles after your first purchase
Annual fee: $50

Approval process: When I applied I was informed I’d receive a decision in writing within a couple of weeks. I called the reconsideration line a day later and was told it would take a few days to process my application. I called back late last week and they said they needed to verify my business address, so I faxed them documentation of it immediately. A day later I was approved.

Why I applied: Much like the personal Alaska Visa card, the business card also offers a companion certificate, so I figured the more of those I can rack up, the better. 25,000 miles isn’t bad either. I can already feel my next shower on the Emirates A380!

7. Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

Current offer: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why I applied: I started the year with both the Ink Bold® Business Charge Card and the Chase Ink Plus, though had cancelled my Ink Plus at the beginning of the year, since I didn’t need to keep both. Chase recently rebranded both the Ink Plus and Ink Bold as Visas rather than MasterCards, and Visa cards offer different perks and benefits than MasterCards, so these are effectively both new products, and it made sense to pick up the Ink Plus again.

I find the Ink Cards to be the best business credit cards out there given that they offer 5x points on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services; 2x points on the first $50,000 spent annually at gas stations and on hotels. It’s worth noting that the Ink Plus is a credit card, while the Ink Bold is a charge card, though otherwise the cards offer the same benefits.

Approval process:
After submitting my application I received a “decision pending” message, so I called up Chase and after answering a few questions was approved on the spot.

8. Chase Freedom® Card

Current offer: 10,000 points after spending $500 within three months
Annual fee: none

Why I applied:
This is a card I’ve always wanted though never got around to signing up for. Chase has many of the best credit card sign-up offers, so I never really prioritized the Freedom card.

However, they temporarily doubled the sign-up bonus to 20,000 points, so between that and the ability to earn 5x points in rotating categories, I figured it was time to finally pick up the card. By not having the card I wasn’t just missing out on the sign-up bonus (which admittedly isn’t huge), but more importantly missing out on 24,000 bonus points per year in the rotating quarterly categories.

Besides, since it’s a no annual fee card it’s great to keep long term, as the age of your accounts is one of the things factored into your overall credit score.

Approval process:
I again received a “decision pending” after submitting my application, and when I called up Chase they switched a small portion of my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit line to the Chase Freedom, and approved me instantly.

9. US Airways Barclays Mastercard

Current offer: 35,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase
Annual fee: $85, waived the first year

Why I applied:
It’s tough to beat 35,000 US Airways miles after the first purchase, and this is very much a “use it or lose it” offer, since the card will be going away after the merger.

Approval process:
When I applied I received an error message saying “due to technical issues” my application didn’t go through, which seems to be the norm when using this link. However, after calling they confirmed that the application was in fact received and approved instantly, and I also received an email a few minutes later confirming I had been approved.

Overall, this year of applications wasn’t just about the sign-up bonuses alone, but about planning for everyday spend and maximizing the available opportunities. I also only closed two accounts this year, and picked up several cards I plan on keeping long-term. Each offer a specific value, so I feel like I have a very well balanced portfolio at present, and will share my 2014 strategy later on.

What about you? What was your approach for 2013, and what were the results?

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Comments

  1. “Despite the huge Hilton HHonors devaluation on the way, I still think this is one of the very best cards out there.”

    That can’t be right — Hilton’s not devaluing their program AGAIN in 2014, are they?

  2. Lucky, I’m curious with the amount of credit cards you hold and continue to apply for, do you maintain a tier 1 credit (ie 750+)? I always thought that carrying a lot of credit cards would hurt your credit score. I’ve always only carried 2 cards (1 amex, 1 visa) because of this, but seems like I’m missing out on a ton of points and miles by doing so.

  3. Lucky, why don’t you mention the miles and points you get from referrals…. that’s the real way you are able to accrue so many. You’d have to spend $1 million a year to get as many miles as you do without your points and miles given to you from the cc companies.

  4. Didnt u sleep through the shower on emirates?

    to be honest i would done the samething. Cheers!

    Any suggestions on racking alaska miles besides cc? I need my shower too

  5. @tyler

    Why are you mad? U can do the same thing! Why are you posting and reading if your gonna be negative. He makes a living doing this no different then anyone else, respect him for staying educated and informing everyone.

  6. @ Jonathan,

    I’m in now way mad, I just think this post is misleading. I have no problems with credit card referrals, and have used Lucky’s in the past. But this post makes people pushes the cards and implies that you can accrue as many points and miles as Lucky does simply by getting these cards. That’s completely untrue, and Lucky should be more honest about how he really gets the majority of his miles.

  7. @Luis: In general, having more credit cards and larger lines of credit (as long as you don’t use most of the credit, and never pay late) will increase your credit score, and sometimes fairly substantially. The process of applying for a credit card has a small, short-term negative effect on your credit score but once the accounts are open, if well managed, the effects are positive.

    @Tyler: I’m pretty sure that Ben’s referral earnings from people who sign up for credit cards using his links come in the form of cold, hard cash rather than miles. Some credit cards (notably AMEX) have programs where you can refer friends and earn points but that’s different (and much less lucrative) than the affiliate links that allow people like Ben to devote their full efforts to traveling and blogging about it.

  8. @ Luis — Yes, my credit score has actually improved since I began applying for lots of cards, and my score is over 800. If you check the top of the “Best Credit Card Offers” page I have an explanation of how applying for cards can actually improve your score.

  9. @ Jonathan — Hah, yep I did indeed sleep through it. As far as Alaska miles go your best bet is either picking up their credit card, transferring from Starpoints, or outright purchasing miles when they’re running a promotion.

  10. @tyler (and everyone else with similar attitudes),

    I’ve been noticing a negative attitude from an extremely small number of readers on these sorts of blogs (The Points Guy most recently). Why be so angry at something you can easily do yourself? There’s really nothing malicious that Lucky is doing there, so why be so rude and mean? If you don’t like his methods, you don’t have to play the game and you don’t have to read the blog. If you are curious about his possibly earning miles from referrals, why not politely ask? Would save us all a bunch of annoyance reading through the comments.

  11. @Tyler

    I’ve questioned how Ben has obtained enough miles to travel on so many award trips. He did recently post a map of paid and award trips. I think the only necessary disclosure is when a trip has been paid for by another company. I don’t think there has been any major instance where Ben has deceived his readers.

    If you had the time you could go through each trip report and try and add up the cost in miles. I think many have said in their opinion that is doable. Though, when he travels with a family member I would think that he is probably using his own miles to fund their travel as well. My only guess is that he can also obtain MR points through his award trip booking business. Paying for taxes and fees for those tickets would allow him to earn a bonus on that spending. I’m sure he also obtains points from manufactured spending, purchasing of miles during promotions, credit card sign ups, and flying on mistake fares.

    At the end of the day most come to read the trip reports and the tips he gives. It’s ok to ask questions on how he funds the travels, but keep a positive tone since he has been more than upfront than other bloggers about how he has booked his award travel.

  12. @Bill

    Some have negative tones because they don’t always feel that the bloggers are looking out for their readers. For example, how many bloggers still post the reconsideration line numbers?

  13. How do most of you remember how to spend each credit card? Do you write a code on the back of the cards to remember there are no foreign fees or keep a cheat sheet?

  14. I have the Amex PRG and the annual fee will be coming up shortly. You said that you got a retention bonus. Could you please advise what they offered you and what you said to get it?

  15. @ Bill,

    What amazes me is how if you write a comment that is not praising a post it’s considered having a negative attitude. Can you tell me where my post was at all negative? I’m being realistic, and I think bloggers are getting to the point of promising unrealistic rewards from signing up for a very high number of cards.

    Lucky’s blog is just like any other business, and as such there will be people who provide polite criticism/feeback. A smart business owner would realize this and ensure he is clear and transparent.

    @ Lucky,

    Thanks for the response. You might not get points from referrals, but a big chunk of your travel is not done from credit card bonuses. In the past year alone you’ve done numerous Lufthansa FC trips- it’s impossible that all that was done without compensation of some sort.

    @ Brent,

    Thanks!

  16. @ Tyler
    Lufthansa trips in first can be booked using United miles if the flight is within 14 days. United miles are easy to obtain through Chase ultimate rewards. You can obtain those through several credit cards and business cards on the Chase side. Also, you can transfer the points from your Freedom card or any other card holder’s account.

  17. @Brent,

    Yes, I know :-). But even if you got all Chase UR cards you wouldn’t be able to do 5+RT’s a year.

  18. I whole heartedly agree with Tyler. To all all the people attacking Tyler for asking the cold questions, quit your whining. Ben has to be transparent on how he gets his miles since this is his business model.

    @ Lucky /Ben,

    Why dont you post how many miles you obtained though Sign up bonuses and how many miles you “bought” from the airlines?

    Please don’t mislead your readers by telling us that you flew on all those international first class tickets by using miles earned from sign up bonuses. You didnt. You either bought those miles with cash or they were given to you.

  19. @Tyler, read the trip reports. Lucky usually says where the miles came from. For example the trip with his Dad on Lufthansa came with his Dad’s MR points. There is one of your trips right there.
    If you read carefully, I would guess that Lucky buys and “shares” several hundred thousand dividend miles and lifemiles every year. Sure if might cost $10,000 in purchasing miles through these routes, but this is his full time job and it is a business expense. I’m sure the returns are much greater from the credit card referrals and bookings business.

  20. Lucky, your link to the AA mastercard shows a page with 30k miles bonus. Should it be 40k like your post says?

  21. How do you keep track of which card to use when? I’m imagining you pulling out a laptop and firing up excel every time you go to the grocery store just to make sure you use the right card.

  22. @ Tyler — I don’t think I ever claimed that I earn all my miles through credit card sign-up bonuses or through credit card spend. I flew over 200,000 revenue miles this year (earning me well over 400,000 redeemable miles), I consistently buy miles from US Airways when they have a share miles promotion (meaning I pick them up at 1.1 cents each), etc.

  23. @ jon — Hah, there are certainly people that use Excel, though for me it’s pretty straightforward. Groceries and US airfare go on the Premier Rewards Gold Card, gas goes on the Ink Card, dining and all other travel purchases go on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

  24. @Tyler: If you’re question about why people consider your posts negative was a real one, it’s because you have several times accused Ben of accepting free trips from airlines and credit card companies and lying about it. Accusing someone of being on the take and being dishonest can fairly be characterized as negative.

    @Ben: Like most other posters — both negative and positive — I’m fascinated by how some people manage to rack up a million or more miles each year. I know that giving details of how you do it involves revealing some personal information that you might not want to share (for instance, how much you spend on credit cards each year) and might possibly point to behavior that credit card companies or banks would find “interesting” (I’m not accusing you or any other individual not named after a preserved vegetable of misbehavior, but we all know that there are some people who do some pretty wild things).

    Still, as much detail as you feel comfortable providing would be appreciated. Does your earning look like this:

    Earned by Flying: 400K
    CC Bonuses: 200K
    CC Spend: 200K
    Direct Purchase: 150K

    Is the earned-via-spend line more? Less?

    This just fascinates me.

  25. In 2013:

    – I lost my Ritz Carlton Club Level upgrades (expired) from the RC Rewards card because I never had the opportunity to use all of them.

    – I lost my free Hyatt night (expired)

    – I used Marriott points from some very basic tier 1 – 4 unexciting properties. They were in places I needed to be though, so that was good.

    – I used 100% of my UA MP Miles for domestic economy saver or standard awards, or domestic saver F awards. With the flexibility UA offers elites, this was really one of the highlights of this dumb hobby.

    – Earned close to 100,000 VX points that I still have not figured out how to use. (no one to blame but me for this) I hope I use them before VX goes bankrupt.

    – Earned 50,000 Fairmont points that I have not learned how to use.

    – Lost a number of Fairmont room / suite upgrade certificates because they expired before I could use them.

    – Lost some Fairmont $25 breakfast certs, and a free dessert certificate.

    – Lost at least two free National Rental car days before I could use them.

    – Canceled the VX Visa Card, the AA Citi Visa, my partners CSP card (transferred the points first), and one or two others.

    – Upgraded from the AMEX PRG to Plat when they offered me 50,000 points for switching (with a minimum spend)

    This is just what I could think of off the top of my head.

    I probably should not be playing this game… 🙂

    Not quite as glorious as Lucky’s year, was it?

  26. My home city is CLT which currently is a hub for US Airways (which I fly on almost exclusively for that reason) but now with the merger will be part of American and OneWorld. With that said since probably 90% of my flying will be on AA/US and of course be code sharing with the other alliance members, is there a particular card/program that might be of particular value for my situation? I also do a lot of traveling on Amtrak (east coast) and would like to accumulate points for that as well.

  27. @ Craig — The good news is that eventually you can combine points from Citi AAdvantage and US Airways Barclaycards, so if you don’t have an AAdvantage card it could make sense to sign up for one. Otherwise I’d consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is one of the most rewarding all around cards and transfer partners with Amtrak.

  28. @ Craig,
    Get the US airways personal and business cards from Lucky’s links
    and the AA exec card from another link with the 60k offer
    Manufacture spend 25kx2; 40k x1 = 90k = 30k EQMs on the new AA/US
    Keep a Chase UR card for Amtrak

  29. Lucky, thanks for that 50k link for the AA Mastercard sign up. I got approved.

    Any other good cards to get to rack up AA miles? I know the AA exec card is offering 60k miles, but the $450 fee is a deal breaker for me. I already have the SPG card.

  30. Ben – what card do you use to buy AA tickets if you don’t use the Citi AA @ 2 miles / $? Sapphire? PRG? And if so why do you feel that those are more valuable than the 2 AA miles

  31. Lucky, an additional benefit of the HHonors Reserve card is the free annual weekend night if you spend $10,000 during your cardmember year. Valuing HHonors points at 0.5 cents, and the stay at $250, that’s a 4% return on spend – well worth it, in my view.

  32. Is the 7% dividend on the Chase Sapphire card just a 7% bonus on all points earned that year, or is it only a 7% bonus on points earned, but not yet spent at the end of the calendar year…and if so, does this 7% dividend work like compound interest year after year where you continue to earn a dividend on points you already earned a dividend on in the previous year + a dividend on points you earned because of the dividend?

  33. @ Tommy Z — It’s based on all the points earned. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent any or all of them yet, you get the dividend on the points accrued that year only.

  34. @ Geoff — I use the Premier Rewards Gold Card, which earns me three points per dollar on airfare, plus 15K bonus points for any year in which I spend $30K. I value Membership Rewards points and AAdvantage miles roughly the same, so I do think that’s a better return.

  35. @ Luis — There’s also a Citi AAdvantage Business Card, though the only other good option would be to get an SPG Business or Personal AmEx and transfer the points to American.

  36. What are your thoughts on the US Air 10k pqm bonus after 25k spend? Do you think it’s wise to hit at 25k spend asap in case they decide to wipe out the card sometime this year?

  37. Also, does currently having the MB Plat disqualify me from the Gold Personal bonus? I know the new rules disqualifies Plat Personal.

  38. @ E — If you’re going for status with American/US Airways and won’t otherwise qualify it’s definitely not a bad strategy.

  39. @ E — The rules are pretty vague, though based on how I read them I believe you would be disqualified from getting the bonus unfortunately.

  40. What about the Fidelity AMEX? At 2pct on everything it is consistently rated one of the top cards on other independent evaluation sites. Why is it never mentioned here? Hmmm….

  41. I wish all this was valid for me, but because I’m Australian, it doesn’t help me.

    I’m the same age as you and I’m actually getting my first credit card this year, I was wondering, just a throwback question, what was the first credit card you ever got, how old were you and was it easy for your to get approved for your first card?

  42. @ Mitchzmagic — I got my first card when I was 18, and it was a student credit card. About six months later I started applying for “real” credit cards.

  43. @ Lucky – Thanks for letting me know. We have something like that here too. Great to hear how you did it.

  44. Hi Lucky

    Both of my Citi CC are coming up for renewal. The Citi advantage visa signature and the Citi advantage amex signature.. even though Citi agreed to give me a statement credit for both of the CC’s in the amount of the annual fees, I never use the cards.

    Should I just cancel them both in order to reapply again after 18 months for the sign up bonus or just keep them to raise my credit outstanding and lower my credit utilization ratio.

    Thanks Russ

  45. @ Russ — Do you redeem a lot of American miles? If so, makes sense to keep at least one card for the 10K annual mileage credit when redeeming 100K miles, in my opinion.

  46. Hi Lucky,

    Thanks, but if I keep the card/s in hope of redeeming 100k miles, that would give me 10K a year, alternatively if I cancel them, and wait a year or 2 I could get 50k sign up bonus (if the bonus is available.) Correct?
    Thanks Russ

  47. @ Russ — Well yes, but that’s assuming a) there will be a 50K sign-up bonus then and b) they don’t change their eligibility rules on getting the bonus for a new card.

  48. Ben, the 10,000 mile anniversary bonus miles on US Airways mastercard, does it apply to everyone? I did not see that benefit listed in the one that I applied in November. Thanks.

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