Credit Cards

Does The Freedom Or Freedom Unlimited Offer A Better Incremental Return?

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Reader Rohit asked a question in the Ask Lucky forum about whether he should apply for the Chase Freedom® Card or Chase Freedom® Unlimited.

The premise is that he has the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and wants to apply for one of those no annual fee cards, given that they’re great complements to the Sapphire Preferred. Which is worth more — 5x points in select categories on the Freedom Card, or 1.5x points across the board on the Freedom Unlimited Card?

Ultimately there’s no “one size fits all” answer, as it all depends on your spend pattern. So the best I can do is to provide a general outline by which you can decide.

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How To Track If You’re Maxing Out Amex EveryDay Bonus Categories

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Two of Amex’s best credit cards for maximizing everyday spend are The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express. These cards are both extremely rewarding, both for non-bonused spend, and also for specific category bonuses.

For those of you not familiar with these cards, the Amex EveryDay Card:

— Offers 2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 of spend per calendar year
— Offers a 20% points bonus when you make at least 20 transactions per billing cycle
— Has a $0 annual fee

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Register To Earn 5x Points At Grocery Stores And Drugstores

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The Chase Freedom is one of my favorite no annual fee credit cards, as it offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, for up to $1,500 of spend per quarter. Most people use this as a cashback card, meaning the 5x points really translates into 5% cashback in these categories.

The best part is that in conjunction with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, points earned on this card can be converted into “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, and be transferred to the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners. Since I value one Ultimate Rewards point at significantly more than one cent, that’s my preferred use of those points.

Through March 31, 2017, Chase is offering 5x points on gas station and local commuter transportation purchases. However, registration for that category closed yesterday.

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Will The Bonus On The Ink Business Preferred Card Be Increased?

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Reader Shelly asked the following question regarding the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, which Chase first introduced last November:

“I want to apply for the Ink Business Preferred, but have heard rumors that the sign-up bonus on the card will be increased soon. Do you know if this is true, and do you recommend applying now or waiting for a bigger bonus?”

As it stands, the Ink Business Preferred Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That’s a huge sign-up bonus. I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me the sign-up bonus is worth $1,265, even after subtracting the $95 annual fee. By my valuation, that’s the biggest publicly available sign-up bonus being offered on any card at the moment.

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What’s The Best Credit Card For Buying JetBlue Tickets?

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Reader Paul messaged me to ask whether he’s better off using JetBlue Plus Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express for buying a JetBlue ticket.

In general the Amex Platinum Card is the all around best card for airfare purchases — the card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, which is a huge return. I value Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so that’s the equivalent of an ~8.5% return. However, you can potentially get a lot more value out of Amex points that that.

Meanwhile JetBlue Plus Card offers 6x points on JetBlue airfare purchases, which is the most points offered by any airline credit card for airfare purchases.

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Last Chance: Register To Earn 5x Points On Uber, Lyft, Gas Stations, Etc.

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The Chase Freedom is one of my favorite no annual fee credit cards, as it offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, for up to $1,500 of spend per quarter. Most people use this as a cashback card, meaning the 5x points really translates into 5% cashback in these categories.

The best part is that in conjunction with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, points earned on this card can be converted into “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, and be transferred to the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners. Since I value one Ultimate Rewards point at significantly more than one cent, that’s my preferred use of those points.

From January 1 through March 31, 2017, Chase is offering 5x points on gas stations and local commuter transportation.

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You Can Potentially Get ~2.17 Cents Of Value Per Amex Point!!!

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Here’s a very cool development, as outlined by Frequent Miler, and also as discussed in this thread on Reddit.

Last year we saw Amex make some major changes to both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. Specifically:

— The Amex Platinum Personal Card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines or through Amex Travel.
— The Amex Business Platinum Card offers a 50% refund on Pay with Points redemptions, when redeeming on your designated airline in economy, or on any airline in first or business class. Pay with Points ordinarily gets you one cent of value per point, meaning that you’re getting two cents of value after the refund. In the past my preferred use of Membership Rewards points was converting them into partner airline miles, but if I can get two cents of value per point for cash bookings, that’s tough to beat.

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Does It Make Sense To Downgrade To No Annual Fee Chase Cards?

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Three of the best Chase credit cards for maximizing everyday spend are no annual fee cards (which is rare, because typically no annual fee cards don’t offer a competitive return on spend). Specifically, I’m talking about the:

— Chase Freedom® Card, which offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter
— Chase Freedom® Unlimited, which offers 1.5x points on all purchases

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, which offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services, plus 2x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants
These are all technically cash back cards, though in conjunction with a card accruing Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio.

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Should You Pay Your Taxes By Credit Card?

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Tax season is in full swing in the U.S., with federal income taxes due in a bit over a month. Of course people have different ways they pay taxes, so not everyone still has taxes to pay next month. If that’s the case, maybe you can apply this strategy towards a future tax payment.

While a vast majority of people pay their federal income taxes in cash, does it make sense to pay your taxes by credit card instead? I pay all my taxes by credit card, and think it makes sense for a lot of people to do so. In this post I wanted to outline how that works in general?

There are several third party websites that will allow you to make tax payments by credit card. Right now the best option for paying taxes by credit card is Pay1040.com, which charges a 1.87% convenience fee for using a credit card. They let you pay by American Express, MasterCard, Visa, etc.

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How I’m Maximizing The 5x Transportation Bonus This Quarter

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I’ve had the Chase Freedom® Card for several years, since before I even started reading One Mile at a Time. It’s one of the two no-annual-fee cards I actually use (the other is The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express).

The 5% cash back the Freedom Card offers on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 a quarter) is actually 5x Ultimate Rewards points for those of us who pair it with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

This quarter (January through March), the bonus categories are gas stations and local commuter transportation. Gas stations often sell gift cards for future fuel purchases or other things, and many people meet the bonus that way.

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How To Easily Make Citi Prestige Fourth Night Free Bookings By Email

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My single favorite benefit offered by any credit card is the fourth night free on the Citi Prestige Card. This benefit has literally saved me thousands of dollars. For example, in my first year of card membership, the benefit saved me over $2,000.

What’s great is that when you use the fourth night free benefit you still earn points with your hotel loyalty program like you usually would. Furthermore, while some free night benefits are highly restrictive, this one can be used on any publicly available paid rate. That means you can use it on a pre-paid rate, AAA rate, etc.

Furthermore, the cost of the fourth night is reimbursed on the back end, meaning that you earn hotel points for the cost of the entire stay, rather than just the cost of the first three nights.

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Changes Are Coming To The Amex Business Platinum Card As Well!

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Last week we learned about major changes being made to the Amex Personal Platinum Card.

These changes kick in as of March 30, 2017, and include the following:

— 5x points on prepaid hotel stays booked through amextravel.com
— The ability to add Gold Card authorized users at no additional cost
— $200 in Uber credits annually (in increments of $15 per month, plus an additional $20 in December)
— The Priority Pass benefit with the card will offer guesting privileges, which it hasn’t in the past
— A new metal card design
— An annual fee increase from $450 to $550

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How To Maximize Airline Miles With The SPG Amex Sign-Up Bonus

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At the moment we’re seeing the biggest ever sign-up bonuses on the SPG Amex. These cards are offering sign-up bonuses of up to 35,000 Starpoints each upon completing minimum spend.

Personally I value the flexibility of Starpoints, and it’s one of the few currencies I tend to hoard, since I think it’s pretty safe from devaluation. Starpoints can be redeemed efficiently for hotel stays, and can also be converted into airline miles efficiently.

Even the transfer ratio from Starwood Preferred Guest to Marriott Rewards is lucrative, as you can convert points at a 1:3 ratio. With that kind of a transfer ratio, arguably Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages are more lucrative than converting Starpoints directly into airline miles.

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How To Decide Between 1.5x Points And 1.5x Points

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Yesterday I wrote about the three fantastic no annual fee Chase cards that I have — the Chase Freedom® Card, Chase Freedom® Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. These cards really help me boost the number of Ultimate Rewards points I earn, as they all offer some of the best return on spend, depending on the category we’re talking about. In the comments section of that post, reader Stvr asked the following question:

“How do you decide whether to earn 1.5 MR or 1.5 UR? What’s the process? Do you hit 30 transactions every month?”

This is in reference to the value of The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express in comparison to the Chase Freedom® Unlimited. In my opinion, these two cards are hands down the most rewarding for non-bonused spend in the U.S. That’s because:

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