Category Archives: Chase

Chase Marriott Premier Bonus now at 100k

The Chase Marriott Premier card I recently reviewed now has an elevated sign-up bonus of 100k pointsThe higher bonus comes with a steeper spending requirement; $5k in the first 3 months.  The $85 annual fee is not waived the first year.

Click here for the Flyertalk wiki containing links to the 100k offer.
Click here to read my review of this card.

Coincidentally, in tomorrow’s update I will report that I cancelled my Marriott card yesterday.  The annual fee had just posted and I didn’t think it would be worth it to keep it another year.  Chase will remove the annual fee since I cancelled within 30 days of the fee posting to my account.  According to many reports, my annual free night will still be credited to my Marriott Rewards account even though I cancelled the card.

What is 100k Marriott Rewards worth?

San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino gardens

When I got the Marriott card the bonus was 80,000 points.  I didn’t do much additional spending so I had around 93,000 points when I went to book a room.  If you book 4 award nights with Marriott, the 5th night is free.  To maximize my bonus points I wanted to find a hotel where I had enough points for 4 nights.

Marriott has price breaks at the 5k point marks.  That meant I was limited to 20k/night hotels.  If I would have earned 100k bonus points instead of the 80k, I could have expanded my search to include 25k/night hotels.  I would have had a lot more options.  Play around with some searches on Award Mapper and Hotel Hustle to see where 100k points could get you!

Is 100k here to stay?

There’s speculation (that I largely agree with) on Flyertalk that 100k might be the new standard bonus for this card.  With Marriott and Starwood now merged, 100k Marriott points equals 33.3k SPG points.  Historically SPG cards have periodically gone up to 35k, so the 100k Marriott bonus would help to keep that card relevant in the post-merger era.

There is also a chance that the elevated bonus will precede a devaluation of Marriott Rewards points, and by extension Starwood Preferred Guest points.  I wouldn’t quite bet on this happening yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me either.

Is now the right time to get this card?

chase marriott smallNow would be a great time to get the Chase Marriott Premier card if you are planning to ever get it. Even if the 100k bonus turns out to be either permanent or regularly recurring, I typically advise people to get Chase cards sooner rather than later.

Any credit card strategy needs to consider the Chase 5/24 rule.  Getting approved for Chase cards becomes virtually impossible once you exceed the rule, so getting your Chase cards approved before other banks’ cards is a sound tactic.

Also notice that there’s a 7.5k point bonus for adding an authorized user.  If your authorized user also plans on applying for any Chase cards, you might want to weigh the cost of that 7.5k bonus.  Authorized user cards also count toward the 5/24 rule.  Adding another household member who isn’t planning on apping any Chase cards soon might be another option for you.

Conclusion

The Chase Marriott 100k bonus is an increase of 20k points above the regular bonus.  The ability to link accounts and transfer Marriott Rewards to Starwood Preferred Guest makes this card even more desirable.  As with any credit card application, make sure it fits into your overall card strategy, and that you’re solid on credit card tactical fundamentals.

Click here for the Flyertalk wiki containing links to the 100k offer.
Click here to read my review of this card.

An Updated Look at Ultimate Rewards Versatility

Over a year ago I wrote a post praising Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) for their versatility.  I gave several examples when Ultimate Rewards were crucial to my trip planning efforts.  In these examples, the versatility of these points made all the difference.

The original blog post: Chase Ultimate Rewards – Versatility Matters

Having a stash of Ultimate Rewards made the following trips possible:

Nicoleen and I in Bad Nauheim, Germany, on our 10 year anniversary trip.

Nicoleen and me in Bad Nauheim, Germany, on our 10 year anniversary trip.

Ultimate Rewards still proving themselves

Since writing the original post on Ultimate Rewards versatility, the incredible usefulness and value of this points currency has continued to manifest itself.  Since publishing that post, Ultimate Rewards have been instrumental in planning the following trips:

  • Our long weekend in Costa Rica.  I used UR to back-fill my Hyatt account so we could book a third free night at the Andaz Papagayo.
  • Nicoleen’s surprise birthday vacation to Miami Beach.  I transferred UR points to British Airways to book the outgoing American Airlines flights and transferred UR points to Southwest to book the return flights.
  • My upcoming summer trip to Europe.  I pumped up my United Airlines account with UR points so I could book a 1-way business class seat to Zürich.
All our airfare (Southwest and American) for our recent Miami Beach trip was paid for with transferred Ultimate Rewards.

All our airfare (Southwest and American) for our recent Miami Beach trip was paid for with transferred Ultimate Rewards.

What makes Ultimate Rewards so valuable?

Chase Ultimate Rewards are considered a transfer point, meaning their most valuable use is to transfer to one of their partner programs.  Partner programs include airline frequent flier and hotel loyalty programs.

How do you get more value by transferring points?

When cashed out, Ultimate Rewards are worth 1 cent each.  1,000 points will get you $10.  When used to book travel through the Chase travel portal, the value per point gets a little better.  Depending on which Chase credit card you have, they are worth 1.25 or 1.5 cents each.  (1.25 for Chase Sapphire Preferred card holders and 1.5 for Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders.)   When transferring to a partner program, the sky’s the limit.

Example 1

Ultimate Rewards transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.  I value Hyatt points around 3 cents each, so in this case, the same 1,000 UR points you could have cashed our for $10 could be worth ~$30 in hotel stays instead.

Example 2

Let’s look at my upcoming one-way United Airlines Polaris Business class seat to Europe.  The flight was 57,500 United miles, most of which I transferred in from Chase at a 1:1 ratio.  Let’s assume for this example that every last United mile I had was transferred in from Chase Ultimate Rewards.  57.5k UR points is worth $575 in cash, or $718.75 – $862.50 when booking airfare through the Chase travel portal.  By transferring to United and booking the flight with miles, I got $3,346,66 worth of airfare with that same 57.5k points.  That’s a whopping 5.8 cents per point!

Intangible value as well

In the above examples it’s easy to see the incredible transfer value of Ultimate Rewards.  But that’s only half the story.  The real value in the variety of transfer programs associated with Chase.

Chase Ultimate Rewards has the most expansive network of partner programs of any transfer point.  Partners occasionally come or go, but most of them have been steady for years.  As of this writing you can transfer UR points to:

Airlines:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Don’t recognize your preferred airline?  Keep in mind some of these airlines belong to huge airline alliances.  For example, you can use United miles to book flights on Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Austrian, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, and 20 more!

You can even use Ultimate Rewards to book flights on United’s competitors.  Korean Air miles can book flights on their partner, Delta.  And British Airways Avios can be used to book American Airlines flights.  Pick almost any destination you have in mind, and Ultimate Rewards can get you there somehow!

Hotels:

  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards®
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®
  • World of Hyatt

Consider all the brands associated with these hotel groups.  Hyatt alone includes: Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Andaz, Hyatt Centric, Unbound Collection, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Ziva, Zilara, Residence Club, and Miraval.

Marriott’s recent merger with Starwood Preferred Guest opens that entire portfolio of hotels up to Marriott Rewards members, and points are transferable between the two programs at a 1:3 ratio.

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to Marriott Rewards, to Starwood Preferred Guest, and book an award stay at the Westin Punta Cana.  (Photo by VT reader Danie)

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to Marriott Rewards, to Starwood Preferred Guest, and book an award stay at the Westin Punta Cana. (Photo by VT reader Danie)

This is where I have found the true value of Ultimate Rewards.  By having a stockpile of these transfer points, I almost never get screwed out of my vacation plans for lack of points.  If I’m short a few thousand points or miles in a particular program, there’s a good chance I can back-fill my account with Ultimate Rewards through one avenue or another.

transferred from

It’s easy to see how Ultimate Rewards have made many of my trips cheaper and more convenient.  Several of them wouldn’t have been possible at all if I had not had a pool of Ultimate Rewards to draw from!

How to get Ultimate Rewards

All the Ultimate Rewards earning cards we’ve had over the years

Some of the Ultimate Rewards earning cards Nicoleen and I have had over the years.

Ultimate Rewards are easy to come by, but you have to be nice to Chase.  More accurately, Chase has to like you.  The UR-earning credit cards from Chase are:

BEWARE THE DREADED 5/24 RULE

It’s impossible to know for sure if you’ll get approved for a Chase credit card.  But there is one way to know for certain that you will not be approved: by violating the 5/24 ruleIf you have opened 5 or more new credit card accounts (from any bank) in the past 24 months, you will be summarily denied any new Chase card. 

Even having an authorized user card for someone else’s credit account will count as a “new account” for determining your 5/24 eligibility.  There are a few exceptions to the rule but they are uncommon.

The value potential and versatility of Ultimate Rewards make them a desirable transfer point to have.  Stocking up on these points early in your free travel career is a wise move.  The difficulty of getting these points once you have a few cards under your belt is yet another reason to get these Chase cards sooner rather than later!

Thanks for reading and remember to “like” the ValueTactics Facebook page and check back often!  I love questions and discussions on all these topics!

Card Review: Chase Hyatt

The Chase Hyatt card is a giant among hotel cards.  A look at online reports of where people have used the free night certificates earned with this card could inspire just about anyone to take up the credit card hobby.  After spending $2000 in the first three months, you will get two certificates good for a free stay at any Hyatt in the world.  There’s also an annual free night bonus good at any Hyatt, category 1-4, for paying the $75 annual fee.  Regular spending on the card earns Hyatt points, which can easily be redeemed for over $0.025 per point.
Hyattcard

Basic Stats

  • Issuer: Chase
  • Logo: Visa Signature
  • Points earned: World of Hyatt (formerly called Hyatt Gold Passport)
  • 1 point per dollar on all purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on airline tickets, car rental, and dining
  • 3 points per dollar on purchases at Hyatt
  • Annual fee: $75

Sign-up Bonus and Annual Free Night

Like most credit cards, the majority of the Hyatt card’s value is in the sign-up bonus.  After spending $2000 within the first 3 months with this card, you get 2 free night certificates for any Hyatt in the world.  Depending on how you use the free nights, this bonus can be incredibly valuable!  (Like $3000+ valuable – read on . . .)

Getting an authorized user card within the first 3 months and making one purchase with that card will also earn you 5,000 bonus points.

The free night certificates are good for 12 months from the date they are issued.  Unlike many sign-up bonuses, these will appear in your Hyatt account a few days after the minimum spend is met.  You don’t have to wait until the statement closes.

Hyatt properties are classified in categories 1-7 and there’s no category limit on the free night certificates.  This means there is enormous potential value with these certificate redemptions.  But, it also means you can really miss out on a lot of value by not doing your homework.

For example, you could use the certificates on a $225 two-night stay at the Hyatt Place in Milwaukee in October (LOW VALUE WARNING).  Or, you could use them on this:
hadahaa-bathroom hadahaa-pool hadahaa-dollars
. . . a $3,153 two-night stay at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.  As you can see, this card’s value can drastically vary, depending on how you plan your certificate redemptions.

My experience with the Chase Hyatt card

I have known about the potential value of the Chase Hyatt card since my earliest days of playing the credit card game.  I put off getting the card until I had a good plan for using the free nights.  My plan all along was to get the card at the same time as my wife so we would have 4 free nights total.  Four free nights would make a nice vacation but 6 would be even better, so I wanted to get another card that came with free hotel stays, the Citi Hilton Reserve, at the same time.

hyatt-hilton-smallEverything lined up nicely in November 2015.  Nicoleen and I both got the Chase Hyatt card and she got the Citi Hilton Reserve at the same time.  This was the set-up I had strategized in order to plan a whole vacation with the free nights from these cards.

There was a promotional deal when we applied for this card.  The annual fee was waived for the first year and there was a $50 statement credit after making the first purchase on the card.  The bonus spend was also lower than the current requirement of $2000.  We only needed to spend $1000 in the first three months to get the free night certificates.

(Read more about our round of card applications here.)

  How we used the free nights

After some thorough planning, we used our combined four free nights at the Andaz Maui at Wailea.  The cash value of our 4-night stay was $2,158.24You can read my full review of this amazing property here.
maui andaz pool 1

  How we used the free anniversary night

When it came time to pay the annual fee on the Hyatt card, we had to decide whether to cancel it or pay the $75 fee and get the anniversary night.  We didn’t have any firm plans to use the Hyatt category 1-4 free night, but we were sure we could find something that would be worth the $75 annual fee.

I ended up throwing together a long weekend trip to Costa Rica, to stay at the wonderful Andaz Peninsula Papagayo.  We used both our anniversary nights and paid for another night with points.  For the full report of this trip, click here.
papagayo

The bottom line – total value of the Chase Hyatt card

Since Nicoleen and I both got this card and used the benefits together, I calculated the value of the card by totaling everything and dividing by 2.  Keep in mind this is the value I received from the card.  It should not by used as an absolute value for the card.  Your mileage may and will vary.

  • Sign-up bonus:  4 nights at Andaz Maui: $2,158.24 – $106.40 for mandatory valet parking = $2,051.84
  • Anniversary night:  2 nights at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo: $994.40 – $150 for annual fees = $844.40
  • Points redemption:  15,000 points for 1 night at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo: $546.92

Between the two cards we earned 19,883 Hyatt points.  Using our one redemption as a model, the points are worth $0.0365 each, so 19,883 points is worth $724.96.

(2,051.84 + 844.40 + 724.96) / 2 = $1,810.60

In our specific case, the value we reaped from each of our Chase Hyatt cards is $1,810.60 each!
The sign-up bonus alone (not counting any points earned) was worth $1,025.92 per card.

Click here for the Flyertalk wiki on the Chase Hyatt card, where you will find links to the application page.

Should you get this card?

IMPORTANT:  Because of the Chase 5/24 rule, when you get this card matters.  Chase summarily declines any credit card application if the applicant has opened 5+ cards from any bank in the past 24 months.  Therefore, carefully place your application for the Chase Hyatt card into your overall credit card strategy.

  If you ever stay at hotels for any reason

YES.  Even if it’s for your great great grandma’s out-of-town funeral or your cousin’s hairdresser’s kid’s graduation party 4 hours away, most of you find SOME reason to stay in a hotel once or twice in a year.  The Hyatt portfolio of hotels is pretty extensive, especially in large cities.  You would be hard pressed to not make your annual fee back by staying two nights free at even the cheapest Hyatt properties.

  If you aspire to free travel greatness

YES.  This should definitely be one of the key cards in any value tactician’s strategy.  BUT, I highly recommend having a good plan in place before you apply for it.  If there are two of you and you can both apply, all the better.  Just take a second look at my experience with this card to see why.

  If you somehow never plan on staying in a hotel, ever

NO.  All of the Chase Hyatt card’s benefits apply to hotel stays.

Click here for the Flyertalk wiki on the Chase Hyatt card, where you will find links to the application page.

As always, feel free to contact me privately or on the ValueTactics Facebook page for personalized advice or discussion on any credit card or points related topics!

 

Card Review: Chase Marriott Rewards Premier

The Marriott Rewards card from Chase can be a very valuable addition to your hotel points portfolio.  It comes with a lucrative 80,000 point sign-up bonus and it has some lasting perks that might make it worth keeping in your wallet.

The Chase Marriott Rewards card has a metal core, just like the Sapphire Preferred!

Basic Stats

  • Issuer: Chase
  • Logo: Visa Signature
  • Points earned: Marriott Rewards
  • 1 point per dollar on all purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on airline tickets, car rental, and dining
  • 5 points per dollar on purchases at Marriott
  • Annual fee: $85 (NOT waived the first year)

Current Sign-up bonus

80,000 Marriott Rewards points after $3000 spend in 3 months.  You also get 7,500 points for adding an authorized user and making one purchase with that card.

However, there are several variations available through public offer pages, according to the Flyertalk wiki on the Chase Marriott Rewards card.  We’ll discuss whether one of these variant sign-up bonuses might be a better value for you below.  Unless otherwise noted, this review will assume we’re talking about the “standard” bonus.  This is the bonus I got on the card, and the same bonus you can get by applying through my referral link.

Adapted from the Flyertalk wiki:

There are currently 3 noteworthy offers. They all have $3k minimum spend in 3 months and do NOT include a one-night category 1-4 certificate the first year, but they do include a category 1-5 certificate in subsequent years:

  • 80k + 7.5k AU, AF not waived first year.
  • 40k + $200 credit for first purchase + 5k AU, AF waived first year.
  • Two initial cat 1-5 certs + $200 credit (both contingent on $3k spend/3mos) + 7.5K AU, AF waived first year

Sign-up Bonus and Annual Free Night

The 80,000 point sign-up bonus is the main reason the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier card is worth considering.  It’s a difficult task to assign values to hotel points, due to the vast differences in redemption options.  That being said, I use 0.85 cents per Marriott point as a rule of thumb.  Using this valuation, if a 10,000 point award night would cost more than $85 cash (don’t forget to include taxes!), you’re getting a good value with your points.

Here’s the current Marriott Reward redemption chart:
marriott-reward-chartIf you add an authorized user you’re up to 87,500.  And by making the minimum spend of $3k to get the bonus, you’ll have at least 90,500, not including any category spending bonuses.  As you can see, you could stretch 90,500 points a long way!

Redemption Example #1

11 nights in February at the AC Hotel in Guadalajara, Mexico
AC-guad
It’s a Category 2 property, so 10,000 points per night. 90,500 points is enough for 9 nights, but every consecutive 4 award nights booked with Marriott gets you a 5th free night. That makes 11 nights in this example. The cash value (with tax) for the same room is $109.48/night, for a total value of $1204.28!

Redemption Example #2

5 nights in October at the Courtyard Orlando at Vista Center, Florida
buena-vista
This Category 4 property is 20,000 points per night.  80,000 points gets you 4 nights and the 5th night is free.  The cash value for the same stay is $587.25.

Redemption Example #3

2 nights in July at Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection, Crete
Crete-resort

Every standard room at Domes Noruz Chania has its own plunge pool.

Every standard room at Domes Noruz Chania has its own plunge pool.

I went all out when looking at this amazing Category 9 resort on Crete.  With the Chase Marriott Rewards card your 90,000 points will get you two nights at this paradise.  A cash value of $777.12. (exchange rate as of this writing)

Click here to apply for the Marriott Rewards premier card from Chase

Do some example searches on www.awardmapper.com or look up hotels by category at the Marriott website to see what this card is worth to you!

Keep or cancel?  After one year of card membership, the second year’s annual fee will be due.  The anniversary night bonus is good for any Category 1-5 property.  With a few quick searches it’s pretty easy to see how you could get more value than the $85 annual fee would cost you.  Of course if you have no use for a free night stay at a Marriott property in the upcoming year, the annual fee might not be worth it for you.  If you already spend a number of paid nights at Marriott properties throughout the year, the 5x category spend bonus will add to the value of keeping this card for more than the first year.

My experience with the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier

In a recent update post I promised to include the total value I personally gained from each of the cards I review.  This post proves me a liar!  I have over 90,000 Marriott points from this card’s bonus and a bit of spending, but I haven’t redeemed them yet.  For a hint on how I plan to redeem these points, look at my example redemption #2 above.  It will be something very similar.  And if you happen to know my kids, KEEP YER MOUTH SHUT!  🙂  (They don’t know yet!)

Should you get this card?

Yes, but with caveats.  It should be pretty evident to you by now that the up-front $85 annual fee is nothing compared to the potential value of this card’s benefits.  I would recommend the Chase Marriott Rewards card to anyone as long as they can find a way to use the bonus points.  This is even easier to do now that Marriott and Starwood are currently undergoing a merger.  You can use Marriott Rewards at a 3:1 ratio to redeem for Starwood award nights from now until the merger is complete.

However, because of the Chase 5/24 rule, when (and if) you get this card matters.  For example, if you’ve already been approved for 4 new credit card accounts in the past 24 months, the 5/24 rule says you can currently only get one Chase card.  If you don’t already have one of the more valuable cards from Chase, like the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve, skip the Marriott card for now.

Which sign-up offer should I take?

Near the top of this post, I listed several alternative sign-up offers currently available.  Links to these offers can by found on the Flyertalk wiki page.  The top offer is identical to the one described in this post, and for which I have a referral link (click below!).

Which offer is right for you is a matter of simple math.  Calculate the value you think you will get for the bonus offerings, and take into account whether or not the annual fee is waived for the first year.  The only way to calculate this is to do some sample hotel searches.  I went with the 80k point bonus with the annual fee not waived the first year.  If you want to apply for the same offer and support your favorite website, ValueTactics.com, at the same time, please use my link to apply!  🙂

Click here to apply for the Marriott Rewards Premier card from Chase

The Best Credit Card Offer. . . Ever

NOTICE: The 100,000 Ultimate Reward sign-up bonus will change to a 50,000 bonus on January 12th.  The 11th is the last day to apply for the 100k offer.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has received a lot of attention since it became available.  I have mentioned it a few times like in this update post, but I haven’t done a full write-up yet.  I figured those of you serious enough to apply for a card with a $450 up-front annual fee would know how to look up the details yourself. 🙂  However, the bonus offer which gives this card its unbelievable value is being reduced, so I feel compelled to alert my audience before it’s too late.

reserve-smallHere’s why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is widely accepted as the best credit card offer ever:

  • 100,000 Ultimate Reward bonus after $4k spend in 3 months
  • 3x Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on dining and travel, including gas station purchases
  • $300 annual travel expense reimbursement, with a generous definition of travel expense
  • $100 toward Global Entry or TSA Pre-check registration
  • Priority Club airport lounge access membership
  • 1.5x Ultimate Reward redemption rate at the Chase travel portal
  • No foreign transaction fee

That’s crazy!!  If you can stomach the $450 up-front annual fee, the benefits of this card could be worth thousands of dollars.  The 100k UR bonus alone is worth a minimum of $1000 (if cashed out – don’t do this).  It’s worth $1,500 at the Chase travel portal.  But by taking advantage of airline and hotel transfer partners I value 100k UR points at well over $2,500!

450fee

The benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve laugh in the face of the scowling $450 fee!

That’s not to mention the travel reimbursement benefit, which is based on the calendar year; not the cardmember year.  It’s pushing it, getting the card in January; but it’s still possible to get the $300 reimbursement for 2017 and 2018, and then cancelling before the next annual fee is due.  That tactic would put you $150 in the black without even considering any other benefits.

If you can’t stomach a $450 up-front annual fee, there are still other great cards that can earn you tons of valuable Ultimate Rewards pointsCheck out my Card Offer Page to see a few.

All good things must come to an end

As I stated, the 100k UR bonus is ending after tomorrow.  I would still recommend this card though.  As I just explained, the other benefits could still easily outweigh the annual fee.  Even the reduced bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards more than makes up for the annual fee.

For those of you who live near Chase branch locations, the 100k deal is extended through March 11th for in-branch applications only.  Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for my fellow Minnesotans, as I point out in this post on the regional nature of deals.

No Reserve for me, but my fair lady. . .

Thanks to Chase’s insidious 5/24 rule, I am disqualified from getting this card with the 100k bonus.  However, Nicoleen got down to 4/24 in November!  I wanted to wait until February, so getting the 2 years’ $300 travel reimbursements would be easier to time.  But as soon as the 100k deal’s end date was announced, we had to pounce!  On Saturday Nicoleen applied online and got the 7-10 day pending message:

The best credit card offer ever!

Annoying, but expected.  She had planned on calling the reconsideration line but then last night (Monday) she got a UPS message that a package was on it’s way.  We logged onto her account and Eureka!  The Reserve had been added to her account:

So beautiful . . .

So beautiful . . .

If you want to get more info on people’s recent experiences applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, check out the Flyertalk thread on the topic.

If you’re ready to apply, here’s the direct link to card offer splash page.

Semi-Monthly Update (November 7th, 2016)

In this update: a 60,000 point card bonus is expiring soon, Nicoleen’s failed retention effort for a usually generous credit card, a trip report preview, and our monthly points and miles activity for October.

CARD NEWS ALERT :

Chase Ink Business ReserveThe Chase Ink Plus business credit card will be discontinued by the end of 2016.  Your last chance to get the card and it’s 60,000 Ultimate Reward bonus will end shortly.  A new card called the Chase Ink Business Reserve will be taking its place but since they are different products, you can get the bonus on both!  (The purported bonus on the new card is 80,000 UR points).  If you have been on the fence about this card, don’t delay any longer!
(News source and more details about the new card offer at Milevalue)

Click here to read my review of the Ink Plus, and to see how a year with the card could easily earn you over 75,000 UR points.  Or, if you’re ready to apply now, please click through my referral bonus link to help support the site.

Household October Points and Miles Activity

In addition to saving $5.27 in gas between two fill-ups, here’s Nicoleen’s and my activity for October:

  • earned 217 airline miles
  • earned 13,330 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 2,261 hotel points

Travel News

The new Park Hyatt on Mallorca, two nights free for our Derek and Danie.

The new Park Hyatt on Mallorca, two nights free for our Derek and Danie.

VT readers Derek and Danie have returned from their value-packed trip to Mallorca, Spain.  Their round trip flights and 6 nights of hotel stays were paid for with points and miles, making the airfare and lodging virtually free!  Stay tuned for a trip overview, along with details on how they got these luxury accommodations with a few credit card bonuses.

Personal Credit Card News

When U.S. Airways merged with American Airlines in 2014, the U.S. Airways credit card from Barclay was transmuted into the American Airlines Aviator card. Until now, this card had always been a pushover when it came to retention offers. When calling to cancel the card because of the annual fee, Nicoleen and I were routinely greeted by a cheerful rep who was willing to waive the $89 annual fee and usually throw in some additional points. Not so this time around. Nicoleen called three times to try for an annual fee waiver, but was thrice shot down. In the end she decided to cancel the card and have the AF refunded. To see a history of Barclay’s generous track record with retention offers for this card, and the recent drop-off of those offers, see the Flyertalk wiki here.

New ValueTactics Blog Posts

Small Business Saturday 2016 . . . Another Year, Another Disappointment is my report on the second year in a row without a good deal for Amex’s Small Business Saturday. There is some strategy in this post about how to capture value before it’s gone!
ValueTactics 100th Blog Post was our milestone hundredth post! It’s a big THANK YOU to my readers, and links to some highlights from the last two years.
Geographically Specific Deals and Offers talks about what you can do if certain value tactics are not available in your country, region or state.

Now you’re updated. Go employ some Value Tactics!

Bi-Weekly Update (August 15, 2016)

In this update: new blog posts, some heavy hitting credit card news, our July points activity report, and a bit of travel news. . .

In the last update I mentioned having almost a million points and miles stored up.  In July I offloaded a nice chunk of those.  Here’s our monthly activity for July:

  • earned 2,439 airline miles
  • earned 2,088 “other” points
  • earned 274 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • redeemed 60,175 “other” points (Capital One cash back) for $601.75 cash

July free gas report: $21.49 in free gas, with an 18% discount running average for the year!

New ValueTactics Blog Posts
Don’t Hoard Points discusses why it’s a liability to carry huge points and miles balances.
SuperAmerica Stops Double Coupon Tuesdays analyzes the news that Double Coupon Tuesdays are being discontinued at the end of the month. This development is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t hoard points!
Card Review: Chase Ink Plus takes a look at one of the heavy hitting cards from Chase.  It’s a business card, but you may still be eligible for it.  Read the review to find out more!  The current 60,000 point bonus is well worth your consideration.

small card offer pageWebsite News
I added a pretty new page featuring current credit card offers.  I also updated a few posts to reflect the current state of bonus promotions for credit cards.  Looks like the free gas tactics page will also need some tweaking after this recent news hit.

Credit Card News
All the buzz right now is about a rumored new card from Chase, the Sapphire Reserve.  The card will supposedly come with a hefty $450 annual fee but if the rumors are even mostly true, the benefits will be well worth the fee.  Several bloggers have done posts on this card, but the most recently updated one is from Milevalue.  Click here to read that post.

Travel News
Nicoleen and I are getting more and more excited for our upcoming trip to Maui!  We got the car rental squared away and we’re crossing our fingers that Delta doesn’t totally melt down again and ruin our trip!  We’ve also started preliminary plans for another warm weather trip for October 2017.  More on that later. . .

ValueTactics reader Derek recently booked a trip with points and miles for him and his wife to stay at the Park Hyatt on Mallorca for a week in October.
Park Hyatt MallorcaIt should be a pretty exciting trip, especially considering it’s almost free! We’ll get the full report from Derek after the vacation, including how he flew and stayed for free using value tactics!

Now you’re updated. Go employ some Value Tactics!

Card Review: Chase Ink Plus

UPDATE: This card has been replaced with the Ink Business Preferred.

chase ink
The Ink Plus is Chase’s Ultimate Rewards earning business credit card. With a new standard sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, this card is a heavy hitter in terms of value potential. And the value of the Ink Plus doesn’t all lie in the sign-up bonus either; it has generous 5x and 2x category bonuses as well, making this card one you may want to keep in your wallet for the long haul.

Basic Stats
– Issuer: Chase
– Logo: Visa Signature
– Points earned: Ultimate Rewards
– 1 pt per dollar on all purchases
– 2 pts per dollar on gas and lodging
– 5 pts per dollar on phone/internet/cable, and at office supply stores
– No foreign transaction fee
– Annual fee: $95 (NOT waived the first year)

Current sign-up bonus
60,000 bonus points after $5000 spend in 3 months

In 2014 I flew to Europe and back for 60,000 United miles, transferred from Ultimate Rewards. The bonus alone on the Ink Plus could get you the same flights!

A planted giant sequoia at Insel Mainau gardens in Konstanz, Germany

A giant sequoia at Insel Mainau gardens in Konstanz, Germany

Click here to apply for the Ink Plus business card from Chase

This card has been replaced with the Ink Business Preferred.

Can I get a business card?

This question probably scares away a lot of potential card holders of this and many other business cards with lucrative sign-up bonuses. Lucky for most of you reading this, we live in the USA, where having a “business” can mean many different things. Basically any side income that you earn that doesn’t show up on a W-2 can count as a business for the purpose of applying for a business credit card.

I have heard of many examples of businesses used to apply for these cards, some more legitimate than others. I have done ceramic tile and stone installation for over 10 years and even though it’s now an form of infrequent weekend income, it definitely qualifies. I have expenses and I earn income; that’s basically all that’s required. Others I have heard of include: bicycle racing expenses and winnings, online sales (amazon and ebay), running a website, and even inconsistent odd jobs. All of these could qualify you for a business card.

When applying, my advice is to embellish where needed, but never outright lie. If you are just starting a business or online sales effort you can use projected or expected income on your application. Be optimistic about your income figures and don’t skimp when you’re asked how much you expect to put on the card. When it comes down to it, unless you have a thriving business with employees, the bank will probably base most of its decision on your personal income and credit score (if you don’t have a federal tax ID, you will use your personal SSN for the application.)

Sign-up and category bonuses

The 60,000 Ultimate Reward bonus is incredible! Even considering you pay the first year’s annual fee up front, this card’s sign-up bonus is more valuable than its non-business counterpart, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. After the initial spend of $5k, you’ll have at least 65,000 UR points. That’s enough for:

. . . And that’s just the minimum points you’ll have after meeting the $5k spend. If you have $250 in monthly cell phone and landline/cable/internet bills on this card, you’ll earn 1250 UR points a month, or 15,000 a year. That doesn’t even consider other spending you may put on the card, including the 2x point earning on gas station purchases and lodging.

My experience with the Ink Plus

When I got the card it had an elevated sign-up bonus of 70,000 points. This deal has been seen before (and even higher, but with higher minimum spends) but the 60,000 UR bonus is one of the best around, so I wouldn’t wait for an elevated bonus. I just had lucky timing.

I have had my Ink Plus for over a year. I calculated the 5x category bonus on our cellphone and internet bills just about paid for the annual fee. So additional value I get from having the card is basically free. I also use this card on business expenses (tile supplies purchased for clients) and some fuel purchases. For me the category bonuses might make this card more of a keeper than the Sapphire Preferred. I will have to make that decision soon, as my Sapphire Preferred annual fee is due soon. (Always remember to transfer your UR points to another UR account in your household before you cancel an UR-earning card!)

Should you get this card?

Yes! The total value from getting this card is easily over $2000 and can be much higher if you redeem your transferred miles tactically. If you have absolutely no travel plans in your future, the card is still worth at least $650 in the cash-out value of your points, all for a $95 annual fee. That’s $555 profit just for getting one card and making sure you meet the minimum spend. (Don’t redeem for cash though . . . the UR points are worth much more when transferred to a partner program!)

Here are some things to consider when working the Ink Plus into your overall card strategy:

  • IMPORTANT: You have to prioritize applications for Chase cards because of the 5/24 rule.
  • Ultimate Rewards points are very versatile so having a stock of them early in your value tactics career would be helpful.
  • The 60,000 UR sign up bonus is worth more than the 50,000 point bonus on the Sapphire Preferred personal card, even when accounting for the up-front $95 fee.
  • The $5000 spending requirement may be a challenge for you to meet, especially if you have other bonus spends cooking at the same time. (REMEMBER, the $95 annual fee does not count toward your bonus spend.)

The Chase Ink Plus is an amazing card for it’s category bonuses, fringe benefits, and extremely valuable sign-up bonus. If you can make the case that you have a business (not very difficult – see above), I would highly recommend that you get this card early in your points career!

Click here to apply for the Ink Plus business card from Chase

This card has been replaced with the Ink Business Preferred.