Activate Chase Freedom Q2 Today – Grocery Stores & More!

Category : Uncategorized

[Disclosure: I may earn compensation if you click on any external links].

Yesterday Chase Freedom cardholders could activate their Q2 Freedom categories, which include grocery stores… and more!

Grocery stores is usually a category (and a popular one!) on this card, but per the site, they’ve added BJ’s Wholesale and Sam’s Club. Should be easier for members of those clubs to max out this category.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 1.36.59 PM

Is this 5X bonus capped? 

Yes; Chase Freedom categories are capped at $1,500–per quarter, so you can earn up to 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points.

What can these points be used for?

They can be used for cash back, or if you travel, you’ll get great value out of transferring these points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred (review here) or Ink card(s).

When is this bonus good from?

This bonus starts April 1 and ends on June 30; be sure to activate by June 14, but there’s no reason not to do so now.

$1,500 in groceries may be a lot of some people, but many grocery stores sell visa gift cards (which can then be used later for non-grocery spending) or merchant gift cards (think Amazon, Staples, Fandango, AMC, etc.). It’s an easy way rack up some extra points if you’re going to frequent those merchants anyways.

 

-The Miner


T – Minus… 7 Days

Category : Uncategorized

“Dallas… We have a problem…”

Contest ALERT*

$25 gift card (airline) to the first person who comments correctly on why I substituted ‘Dallas’ for ‘Houston’.

A few weeks back I posted about the upcoming AA Devaluation. And the day is almost here.

I highly encourage you to re-read that post, but as a reminder, here’s the chart:

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Try not to wait to book anything in red (especially first class awards!) and do wait to book the awards in green until March 22.

PRO-TIP:

  • You can book 331 days from today (or March 21) and American will let you change your award dates at no extra cost (as long as the origin and destination remain the same).
  • The agents should not charge you the mileage difference of the old vs. new chart; if they try, ask for a supervisor, or hang up and call again.
  • Example: Today you book a business class ticket from New York to London for 50,000 and then after March 22, you want to change the date and the ticket to First Class, you should only be charged the old award chart rate of 62,500 not 80,000.

What will you book before the devaluation?

-The Miner

Need help booking awards before your miles devalue? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] 

*Rules & restrictions apply: One winner will receive a airline (American, United, Delta, jetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, Spirit, Alaska, or Hawaiian) gift card of $25.00 (twenty-five dollars). First person to comment correctly on this blog post in the comments section will be the winner. Must have verifiable email address.


Getting Creative: Mininmum Spend Requirements

Category : Uncategorized

On Friday I wrote about what I don’t post about, the primary focus being manufactured spending.

One of the most common questions clients and friends ask me is “how do I satisfy the spend requirements for so many new cards?” Though, per my policy, I do not go into heavy detail, some advice I do give can be applied here.

Here are three rules that should govern your ability to reach spend requirements:

  1. Put every purchase on a credit card–avoid the places that have a minimum spend requirement or charge a fee for credit card, because then you’ll end up spending money you aren’t intending to. Putting every purchase on your new card will quickly add up, and thus, satisfy those spending requirements.
  2. Only sign up for cards knowing you can meet the spend–Don’t go hog wild opening up 5 cards and having $15,000 in minimum spends you can’t meet. Sure, this will take you more time to accrue the miles, but you’ll be ensure that you actually earn the bonus.
  3. Sign up for new cards before big purchases–Hopefully, you plan your big purchases: new car, moving to a new apartment/home and need to get new furnishings, planning a wedding, or some other big life milestone moment: these are easy ways to reach your spend.

That being said, here are some everyday creative ways you can meet the spend requirements (some may be pretty obvious/common, some maybe not).

  1. Put every transaction on a credit card–See above.
  2. Prepay your utility bills–some utility companies let you prepay over your currently owed amount. They will charge a flat convenience fee whether you pay $50.00 in gas/electric or prepay $1,500.00.
  3. Charitable donations–sure you can write a check, but most organizations will take a credit card and not pass on the fee.
  4. Medical bills–The health provider wants you to pay your bill, so they also take credit card. As above, a check is easy, but so is credit card. Plus you get points.
  5. AMEX Auto Purchasing Option–Title says it all; up to $2,000 at select retailers.
  6. Work expenses–Travel for work, or dine out on their dollar? Ask if you can charge and be reimbursed.
  7. Dinner with friends–You may already do this, but instead of splitting the bill 36 different ways, get your friends to let you swipe and have them QuickPay or Venmo you their balances.
  8. Peer-to-peer payments–These options should be used as a last resort, as they will charge a fee anywhere from 2 – 3% on top of your charge, but they may be worth it if you have no other way of meeting the spend requirement(s).

Really number 1 is the most important, and you may already be practicing some of these, but if you’re not, and there’s no fee, you’re missing out!

 

-The Miner


[NEWS] The Week That Was – 3.5.16 – 3.12.16

Category : Uncategorized

Miles

  • United miles expiring? Earn 1000 free United miles just by signing up for the dining rewards programs.
  • Signed up for the SPG Personal or Business card at 25,000 or 30,000 points? It’s worth calling the number on the back of your card to see if they’ll goodwill match you 5,000 – 10,000 points to the new 35,000 point offer. Read here.
  • Adding insult to injury on the upcoming AA devaluation, American is increasing their Level 2 awards for Australia and New Zealand.

Credit Cards

Aviation

 

Travel


What I Don’t Post About…

Category : Uncategorized

…Manufactured spending.

Manufactured spending is the process by which one generates, or manufactures money spent to reach a sign-up bonus or generate points with as little as real expenditure as possible,

Why Don’t I Post About… Manufactured Spending?

When bloggers post about these things, they die.

Take for example:

  • Target Redcard by AMEX… Dead
  • Vanilla Reloads… Dead
  • Buying coins from the mint… Dead
  • Amazon payments (I had three of these when I first got started)… Dead
  • Serve by AMEX… On life support

These are just a handful of methods over the past several years that have died. Of course, new methods come and go, as will anything in any hobby, but over the past few weeks the miles and points world has been hit harder than normal.

So how do you discover new methods?

Read. Read a lot. Any hobby takes time, and if you want to be serious about earning and burning, and you need access to fake spending, then you have to take time to do the research, read forums, and join groups.

Is there a happy medium?

There are three approaches one can take with sharing tips/tricks/hacks when it comes to this topic:

  1. Share everything! Why should these methods be limited to a select few? We all want to travel for free!
  2. Share some things… Those things which already are so well known, and will die eventually, with or without blogger intervention. (Amazon payments comes to mind).
  3. Share nothing overtly; drop hints and point people in the right direction, but spoon feeding or methods on life support are never shared.

A majority of blogs I read take the second stance, the “happy medium”, if you will; one blogger (who shall rename nameless) in a bowtie posts everything, such as how he opened up five Alaska airlines credit cards in one day. Now you’re lucky if you get two.

I take the third stance.

Do you agree, or disagree with my decision to not over share? 

 

-The Miner


Sign-up Bonuses That Post Quickest

Category : Uncategorized

When signing up for a new credit card, there is a process of being approved, receiving the card, spending the money to get the bonus, waiting for the statement to close and then finally earning the points.

Are there workarounds to earning your points quicker?

There sure are.

One method, which is hit or miss depending on the bank, is making up the statements closing date. This means, though, that you’ll have had to spend all that money within 20 days (or less). This can be challenging for some people.

So are there any other methods?

Alaska Airlines, personal and business

Both Alaska airlines credit cards award 25,000 bonus points upon approval (of $5,000 in credit or more). The points usually post within a week. It’s a great way to rack up points on a trip you need to take relatively quickly. Though there is no spend requirement, you need to pay the annual fee of $75. Canceling the credit card account after the miles post has been known to lead to clawbacks (when the bank/airline retracts your bonus). $75 is definitely worth last minute miles and the trip you’d take.

I applied for this card Jan. 12, and earned the bonus three days later on Jan. 15!
I applied for this card Jan. 12, and earned the bonus three days later on Jan. 15!

Hyatt 

The Chase Hyatt credit card is one of the best hotel cards out there, offering two-nights at any Hyatt worldwide. The best use of these nights is at high end Hyatt’s can cost anywhere from $400 – $1,200 a night.

The spending requirement is also pretty small at $1,000. The best thing is that right after you spend your thousandth dollar, you’ll qualify to earn the bonus. Hyatt will usually post them to your account with 7 to 10 days after meeting that spend, even before the statement may close.

American Express Membership Rewards Bonuses 

American Express issues Membership Reward bonuses on the following cards:

  • Premier Rewards Gold
  • Business Rewards Gold
  • Green Business Card
  • Green Personal Card
  • EveryDay Preferred
  • EveryDay
  • Platinum Personal
  • Platinum Business Card
  • Mercedes-Benz Platinum Credit Card

In my experience, they award the sign-up bonus within 5-10 days upon completing the required spend. However, the actual base points (so 1000 points for $1,000) can take 1 – 2 statements to post. Sometimes a bit longer, but that’s never been my experience.

 

Have you taken advantage of the quick posting times of the above cards and bonuses to travel?

 

-The Miner


[NEWS] The Week That Was 2.28 – 3.4

Category : Uncategorized

This weekly post will go live every Friday, highlighting news from the world of miles, points, airlines and credit cards that you may have missed. 

Credit Card:

  • Rumors that big changes are coming to the Chase Freedom card in early March. (I covered this here.)
  • SPG Sign-Up increases to 35,000 on both personal and business cards. Ends March 30, 2016. Covered here.
  • Interesting comments from Delta’s incoming president on what they think about “Free” travel.

Aviation

  • As always, Cranky Flier has an excellent analysis of Republic Airlines’ impending bankruptcy
  • The U.S. based airlines have bid for the slots once commercial air travel is set to commence between the U.S. and Cuba. Lucky has an interesting analysis… and I tend to agree.
  • Great article by Julian (the Devil’s Advocate) over at Frequent Miler on paying $25 to get unlimited changes to Virgin America flights… Didn’t know and very useful!

Hotels

  • More news from Marriott on the impending merger between SPG and Marriott
  • Play this game daily to try and earn some extra SPG points! Free points!

[NEWS] Starwood Credit Cards Upped to 35,000

Category : Uncategorized

Coming off the heels of the news of the new Amex churning restrictions , AMEX upped their offers from the usual 25,000 on the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) cards to 35,000 bonus points.

Details

Personal Card

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal card requires $3,000 in spend, for 35,000 bonus points and comes with the following benefits:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 annual fee the first year, then $95
  • Having the card gives gives you 5 nights and 2 qualifying stays towards status with Starwood
  • Unlimited Boingo wifi access

The bonus is currently 35,000 points, or 38,000 after spending $3,000 within three months.

Business Card

The Starwood Preferred Guest business card requires $5,000 in spend, for 35,000 bonus points. It offers the same as above, but includes:

  • Club lounge access when staying at Sheraton properties

Wrapping it up

Now, these benefits are not amazing. They used to be worse, but SPG points are very difficult to come by, as you can only earn them from two cards and staying at their properties.

SPG points also transfer to many airlines at a 1:1 ratio; but for every 20,000 points you transfer, you get a 5,000 bonus.

So, if you got both cards, you’d have 78,000 points–spend a bit extra, get to 80,000. 80,000 would transfer as 100,000 points to a lot of great airlines! (There are 118 airline transfer partners. Notable ones include: Alaska, American, JAL, British Airways, Aeroplan, Miles and More [Lufthansa], and many more).

Or, you could use it for hotels. SPG properties, solid properties, are fairly priced. Some are extraordinary and you’d get no more than 2 or 3 nights from your new stash of SPG point, but others are lower categories and can help you stretch your points. And stretch ’em you should. REMEMBER: Once you sign up for these cards, you’ll never be able to get them again (unless AMEX changes their rules…).

With the new Chase rules, should I get these two cards?

The offer expires March 30, 2016. If you’re on your last two Chase slots, you could apply for the Chase cards March 30 in the morning (two of them, if you would like) and then the AMEX ones the same day. You can also apply for both of these AMEX cards the same day.

Also–this is a limited time offer. It’s never been this high. It occasionally goes up to 30,000 in August, but even 5,000 points is a difference.


Chase Freedom Unlimited – Details Revealed

Category : Uncategorized

Yesterday, Chase revealed its new product to The Points Guy, the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

On Sunday, another blogger revealed this rumor and there was much speculation that the current Chase Freedom which has x5 points on rotating quarters would go away and that a new Chase Freedom product would replace it. This new product, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, would earn 1.5X back on every purchase, but would not have categories and would not have the ability to transfer to the Sapphire or Ink to redeem on travel partners.

<img class="size-full wp-image-356" src="https://miningformiles.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/03/calendar_reminder_eng.jpg" alt="Chase Freedom Quarterly Calendar. Courtesy of creditcards.chase.com" width="640" height="330" srcset="https://miningformiles.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/03/calendar_reminder_eng cymbalta anxiety.jpg 640w, https://miningformiles.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/03/calendar_reminder_eng-300×155.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px” />

Chase Freedom Quarterly Calendar. Courtesy of creditcards.chase.com

However, yesterday, Chase confirmed the following:

  1. The Chase Freedom Unlimited will be a new and additional Chase product; the current Freedom is not going anywhere. Great news.
  2. The 1.5X points per dollar earned on the Freedom Unlimited can be used for cash back, or transferred to the Sapphire/Ink to be redeemed on travel partners. Again, great news.
  3. Current cardholders of the Freedom will be able to convert their products to the Freedom Unlimited. Excellent!

With no actual card available for sign ups just yet (I believe it will be in April), it’s hard to accurately review it and recommend it over another card.

Does converting your Freedom to Freedom Ultimate make sense? 

Scenario 1: Less than 5 cards in 24 months and no Freedom, Sapphire or Ink

  • If you have no credit history, or little credit history, your best bet will be to start off with one of the Freedom products.
  • Which one? Why not both. They’re separate products. They provide great return, one of them offering 5X on common categories every quarter; the other, providing a great return of 1.5X/dollar on everything else.
  • Then, get the Sapphire or Ink so you have the ability to transfer to partners.

Scenario 2: More than 5 cards in 24 months and currently holds Freedom and Sapphire OR Ink.

  • With two Ultimate rewards cards, and only one that has the ability to transfer to airline and hotel partners, this is a bit of a conundrum.
  • If you convert your Sapphire or Ink to the new Freedom Unlimited, you will lose the ability to transfer to partners; if you convert your old Freedom to the New Freedom, you’ll lose the category bonus.
  • Determine if you max out the bonuses:
    • Do you earn ($1,500)(5) = 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points, for a total of 30,000 a year?
    • If not, will you, or do you spend at least $20,000 in unbonused spend? $20,000 in unbonused spend, at an earning rate of 1.5X, will earn 30,000 points.

Scenario 3: More than 5 cards in 24 months, holds the Freedom, Sapphire and Ink

  • You hold all Ultimate Rewards earning cards
  • Keep the old Freedom, convert the Sapphire to Freedom Unlimited and keep the Ink for the ability to transfer to partners.

These are my recommendations. I fall into the second category and need to decide what’s a better rate of return for me: 5X each quarter on different categories, or 1.5X on each dollar, always.

What will you do?

-The Miner

 


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Churning Update: AMEX Pins the Nail on the Coffin

Category : Uncategorized

The Golden Age of Churning has ended.

Earlier this month, I reported that Chase has affectively removed themselves from the churning game.

Back in 2014, AMEX began limiting their sign-ups on personal cards as once per lifetime. Business cards, were safe, but it was only a matter of time when this would carry over to business cards.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it should. Today AMEX changed the terms & conditions to exclude churners on business card products as well: business cards are now once per lifetime.

That being said, you should only apply for AMEX consumer and business cards when they are their highest. Here’s the highest for some of the popular business cards:

  • Business Platinum – 100,000 Membership Rewards
  • Delta Gold Business – 50,000 Delta Skymiles
  • Delta Platinum Business – 50,000 Delta Skymiles
  • Starwood Preferred Guest – 30,000 Starwood points

These offers come and go, but keep an eye out for their high offers as you’re now limited.

So much doom and gloom.

Analysis

There are two approaches people have been taking:

  1. This is not sustainable for banks like AMEX and Chase and they’ll walk back and soften some of their rules.
  2. We will continue to get creative to find work arounds to keep earning miles and flying on pennies to the dollar, but the Golden Age is over.

This is not sustainable for banks like AMEX and Chase and they’ll walk back and soften some of their rules.

Though this is the optimistic point of view, and I hope it would be the case, here is why I am having a hard time believing it:

  • AMEX had a bad year: they lost Costco, jetBlue and will probably lose the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card portfolio, yet their financial analysts determined that they were losing money off of churners.
  • Chase, the big daddy of credit card rewards, recently re-upped their contracts with United and Southwest.
  • It costs a lot of money for banks to acquire customers (customer acquisition) and every time we open and close cards, earn the bonus, etc., they are paying that cost. Over and over.
  • AMEX has had this rule since 2014. Chase’s 5/24 rule started in May 2015. It’s still to early for Chase and AMEX to determine, quantitatively, whether or not these new rules are having an adverse affect.
  • Some bloggers have stated that this is not sustainable for the airlines–as the banks have quotas to fill. Sure, they have quotas, but they’re acquiring new customers all the time.

We will continue to get creative to find work arounds to keep earning miles and flying on pennies to the dollar, but the Golden Age is over.

I’ll admit, it’s a little dramatic, but it’s really to highlight that we all need to get creative and use our points in the most effective ways possible. Use your miles for gift cards and merchandise? Probably not. Maximize every purchase for the greatest return? Definitely.

Branch (pun intended) out to other banks. Barclays and Citi both have solid portfolios and are competing heavily to be in the rewards space. Bank of America has some good cards too.

Moving forward, you should still go for those Chase cards first. After you’ve gotten five, go for AMEX like you’d have done anyways, just be smart about applying when the sign-up is at its highest.

And I do hope that either Chase or AMEX soften their rules, just a bit.

 

-The Miner