Category Archives: Weekly Updates

Semi-Annual? Update (December 31, 2018)

Us in August - Anniversary Dinner

Hello folks!  It’s been a long time.  In this update I’ll give an brief explanation as to where I’ve been the last few months.  We’ll summarize the current state of the credit cards/points and miles game.  I’ll list our household December points activity.  And you’ll get to see where we’ve been and where we’re going, travel-wise!

Where have I been?

I’ve been around.  My web silence for the last half a year was due to a combination of other things taking up my time, general busyness, somewhat waning interest in cards and points, and run of the mill writers’ block.

A big part of my periodic lack of interest in recent months has been the constant ratcheting down that banks are imposing on this hobby.  I’m not saying it has become not worth it.  I’m saying it has become increasingly more complicated and difficult to maximize the accrual and the efficient spending of points.  And that ever-shifting complexity is exhausting to even think about writing about.

However, I do want to get writing again.  The new year is right around the corner, and everyone knows the surefire way to follow through with a plan is to make it a New Year’s resolution!  😀

Household Points and Miles Activity for December

Here is our activity summary for the last month of 2018:

  • earned 36,433 airline miles
  • earned 1,364 hotel points
  • earned 1,354 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 1,491 “other” points
  • forfeited 302 Chase Ultimate Rewards due to card cancellation
  • received $66.00 in airline expense reimbursement from my Bank of America Premium Rewards card

That includes a 30,000 mile bonus on Nicoleen’s new Alaska Airlines business card.  The forfeited points were due to the timing of Nicoleen’s card cancellation.  We transferred all of the points out of her account before cancelling but a statement closed after the fact, earning her the 302 doomed points.  (Ultimate Rewards can only be transferred in 1000 point increments.)

Travel News

Last month we took our two boys (5 and 8) to the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was our first time on the island and our second time in Hawaii, after our luxury Maui trip in 2016.  The kids loved the sandy beach and we loved sitting by the pool.  We did a bit of sightseeing and explored the local area north of Kona.  Unfortunately there was no active lava flowing anywhere on the island, so we missed out on that popular experience.

Boys by pool

The next vacation on the schedule is a no-kids, late winter, tropical get-away to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic!  We plan on doing a whole lot of nothing for a few days at the end of February.  It should be a great way to recharge before our always-busy spring.

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

Semi-Monthly Update (May 15, 2018)

Another update, another busy month!  Along with my household points and miles updates, there’s a [non]travel update and some important credit card news, including an offer expiring in the next 24 hours.  To say it’s busy season a work for me is an understatement, so please excuse the delay in getting this update published.

Household Points and Miles Activity for March and April

Here is two months’ worth of points and miles activity for us. Starting with March:

  • earned 4,035 airline miles
  • earned 3,850 hotel points
  • earned 7,598 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 1,099 Citi Thank-You points

And April:

  • earned 246 airline miles
  • earned 879 hotel points
  • earned 3,200 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 1,897 Citi Thank-You points
  • earned 64 “other” points

Credit Card News

Just like my previous update last month, there is far too much going on with credit cards right now to fully detail here.  I’ll list a few highlights that you can research further if desired.

  • The American Express Delta cards (Gold and Platinum) are still available at elevated sign-up bonuses but only through a referral link.  The gold’s bonus is at 50k (not its highest ever) and the Platinum’s is 70k with a $100 statement credit (the highest I’ve seen this card).  The public offers are long gone and the referral offer ends tomorrow.  (Whether that means it is valid through tomorrow or that it expires tomorrow, I do not know.)
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred now has a second option for the sign-up bonus.  The new option offers the regular 50,000 Ultimate Reward bonus after $4,000 in spending in the first 3 months, but also offers an additional 30,000 points after spending $20,000 in the first year.  This seems like a huge spend for the additional points, but might be feasible for some people, especially if it’s your only card.  This second option does not, however, offer the 5k UR bonus for adding an autorized user that the original option comes with.
  • On top of the 5/24 rule and other restrictions, Chase now appears to be stepping up their game when it comes to actively going after churners.  These reports come around from time to time and the reporting bias is very evident, but the comments on this Doctor of Credit post are worth looking into if you’re the burn-and-churn type.  Chase has some of the most valuable credit cards out there in terms of sign-up bonus and other benefits.  My advice is to stay under the radar and try to not bite the hand that feeds.

Delta PlatApply for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved!  This is the 70k offer referred to in the first bullet point above.  The Delta Platinum comes with a 70,000 mile sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.  The card has a $175 annual fee due up-front, but it’s partially offset by a $100 statement credit after a Delta purchase of any amount (baggage fee, award booking taxes and fees, gift card purchase – all count).  The referral offer ends tomorrow and the bonus goes back down.

Travel News


A total black hole.  That’s what Nicoleen’s and my vacation planning has become in the past couple months.  We can’t seem to get a coherent plan together.  We’re considering a family road trip; this fall or next spring might be time for another adults-only trip; and I’m not completely ruling out a summer Europe visit.  It’s all just ideas at this point, and that really bothers me!

Others, however, are not so inept:  ValueTactics guest stars Derek and Danie are leaving soon for a value packed week in Europe.  My parents have a few bucket list destinations in mind and I’ve been coaching them on which cards to get / points to go after to best serve their plans.

Free Travel Photo

In honor of Mother's Day on Sunday, I thought I'd post this photo of my mom and me in Europe in 1996, on my first trip out of the country. It isn't exactly an example of free travel (well, for 14 year old Ross it was!) but it definitely fueled my passion for travel. Thanks, Mom!

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d post this photo of my mom and me in Europe in 1996, on my first trip out of the country. It isn’t exactly an example of free travel (well, for 14 year old Ross it was!) but it definitely fueled my passion for travel. Thanks, Mom!

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

Catch-Up Update (April 11, 2018)

My, oh my!  It’s been a while since my last update post and there is a lot to report.  So much, in fact, that I won’t even get to it all here.  There is a ton of news on the credit card front.  Nicoleen and I had a great time in Costa Rica and are working on some future trip plans.  A ValueTactics reader pulled off an amazing feat of free travel planning. . .  Let’s get into the update!

Household Points and Miles Activity for January and February

Here is two months’ worth of points and miles activity for us.  Starting with January:

  • earned 3,763 airline miles
  • earned 8,794 hotel points
  • earned 5,407 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 975 Citi Thank-You points
  • redeemed free annual IHG night for lodging worth $109.48
  • received $133.76 in travel expense reimbursement from Nicoleen’s Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • received $100 reimbursement (Global Entry application fee) from my Bank of America Premier Rewards card

And February:

  • earned 30,106 hotel points
  • earned 7,559 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 6,071 Citi Thank-You points
  • earned 105 “other” points

Credit Card News

There is a lot going on with travel credit cards at the moment.  It’s too much news to cram into an update post so I’ll simply list the highlights.  If any of these developments catches your eye, I’d encourage you to see what other bloggers and FlyerTalk posters have to say about it.

  • The American Express Delta cards (Gold and Platinum) are currently at 60k and 70k, respectively, for sign-up bonuses.  This is the highest I remember these bonuses ever going, so if you haven’t had one of these cards before, now might be a good time to apply.  The public offer expires tonight (read more here).  A ValueTactics reader currently has a referral link for the same offer on these cards, but it’s good until 5/16/18.  If you don’t apply today and are still interested in these offers, contact me and I will get the referral sent to you.
  • Chase’s IHG Rewards hotel card lost some of its potential value due to changes in the annual free night terms.  Check out my previous blog post for more info.
  • The same Chase IHG Rewards card is being replaced with a $29 annual fee version and an $89 annual fee version.
  • The Barclay Arrival+ went away.
  • Chase recently extended their “One Sapphire Policy” to their Southwest cards.  Getting both personal cards is no longer a possible way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.  One personal and one business card is now the easiest combination good for that tactic.

I’ve been having a lot of credit card discussions with my in-the-game friends and family lately.  Planning card applications is becoming a real science in recent months and years.  Through these discussions some of us have formulated and acted on plans; in the coming weeks I have a feeling I’ll have some card applications of my own to report!

Travel News

cr-relaxYes, we had a great time in Costa Rica last month!  Since we had already stayed at the Andaz Papagayo Peninsula the previous year, we already knew the drill and were able to get right into relaxation mode.  The motto of our trip was:  There’s tons of stuff to do in Costa Rica, and we plan on doing none of it!  🙂  The goal was rest and relaxation and we got our fill.

Derek’s Feat

While their home state refused to let go of winter, Derek and Danie enjoyed the Arizona heat!

While their home state refused to let go of winter, Derek and Danie enjoyed the Arizona heat!

Stalwart ValueTactics readers Derek and Danie just returned from a warm-weather weekend get-away in Arizona.  Being stalwart readers, naturally they paid for their flights and hotel with points.  But that’s not the noteworthy part of this amazing feat of travel planning.

The noteworthy part is that Derek, in a frenzy, called me Friday mid-morning looking for some flight booking advice.  He had hatched a plan to get out of town for the weekend just that morning.  I helped him steer clear of some tactical errors and he continued his searching.  By late afternoon, he and his wife were on a free flight to Phoenix!  That’s hands down the fastest turn-around from concept to execution of a free vacation I have ever heard of!

Great job, Derek.  I’m tagging this post with Extreme Tactics just for you.  🙂

Recent ValueTactics Blog Posts

Major Downgrade to IHG Anniversary Free Night is the latest “big news” devaluation in the points and miles world.  It also marks the end of an era for free hotel nights, as I explain in the article.

Free Travel Photo


I thought it would be fitting to represent the last free free hotel night we used as the free travel photo.  Nicoleen and I used my IHG anniversary free night at the Crowne Plaza Northstar in Minneapolis back in January.  It was a convenient use of the free night but had I known then about the recent IHG free night devaluation I might have looked for a more valuable/interesting redemption.

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

Semi-Monthly Update (January 23, 2018)

You’ll notice the title of this blog post is actually a day behind, and there’s a good reason for that: I fell asleep before I finished writing last night.  :p  I’m falling way behind in my trip reports, hotel reviews, and flight/lounge reviews.  I will try to get some of these completed soon because they are some of my most popular topics.  But I can’t make any promises due to my über-hectic life.

Credit Card News

General News

If you keep track of other points and miles blogs you may have noticed there’s a distinct lack of credit card news lately.  There just aren’t many good offers out there right now.  I think it’s somewhat due to the post-holiday slump.  The most noteworthy card news in recent weeks is the Citi/Amex/Hilton mess.  It’s hard to even summarize this situation, so I won’t try.  If you want to read about it, check out my post on the topic or read MileValue’s recent comments.

Personal News

I recently scored a decent retention bonus on my Citi ThankYou Premier.  Nicoleen and I plan on applying for one or two more cards in the coming week.  I will report as events unfold!

We have a large expense coming up soon so we wanted a new card to put the spend on.  Last week Nicoleen was instantly approved for the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest card.  Generally the advice on American Express cards is to only get them when they are at their highest known sign-up bonus since there’s a once-per-lifetime bonus rule.  We broke that rule in this case.  The current bonus is 25k SPG points after a $3k spend in the first 3 months, with the $95 annual fee waived the first year.  The bonus on this card has been as high as 35k, but there’s some good evidence that the card will become extinct within the next year.  I currently have the card and I have a link good for a 7.5k referral bonus. Including my referral bonus we’ll net 32.5k points, only 2.5k points less than the highest known bonus. In my case, missing out on 2.5k points is worth the added assurance that Nicoleen was able to get the card before it goes bye-bye.

Travel News

Nicoleen and I are really looking forward to our kid-free getaway in early March.  Sitting by the pool in Costa Rica is just what the doctor ordered for our über-hectic life!  I’m sure many of you lie awake at night, wondering what we have planned for our 15th anniversary in 2 1/2 years. . . rest assured, something big is in the works!

Recent ValueTactics Blog Posts

Year in Review – 2017 breaks down the total value (and expenses) Nicoleen and I captured in 2017, primarily by using the credit card and point/miles tactics.  It’s a great report to read if you want a realistic idea of the risk vs. reward in employing Value Tactics!
New Life Breathed into my Citi ThankYou Premier explains how my Citi ThankYou Premier card went from the dumpster to the front of my wallet.  It was a perfect storm of little bonus deals and a retention offer that all added up to a worthwhile reason to keep and use the card.

Free Travel Photo

ValueTactics readers Jared and Derek sent me this photo from their weekend skiing trip to Utah. They're enjoying a free beer and a meal with the airport lounge access that comes as a benefit on Jared's Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Derek had to remind Jared about the free access or they would have walked right on by! Remember your travel perks, people!

ValueTactics readers Jared and Derek sent me this photo from their weekend ski trip to Utah.  They’re enjoying a free beer and a meal with the airport lounge access they had as a benefit on Jared’s Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Derek had to remind Jared about the free access or they would have walked right on by!  Remember your travel perks, people!  CORRECTION:  Derek reminded Jared of this AFTER they had eaten the paid meal pictured here.  Tsk tsk!

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

Semi-Monthly Update (December 31, 2017)

Here we are – the last update of 2017.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  We’re in the post-holiday lull as far as credit card offers are concerned; not much noteworthy to report on that front.  Personally we have a few important “keep or cancel” decisions to make soon, including Nicoleen’s $450 annual fee Chase Sapphire Reserve.

In this update:  I’ll report our extensive December points and miles activity and give an update on Nicoleen’s and my upcoming travel plans.  We’ll cap it off with a holiday message.

Household Points and Miles Activity for December

It was a busy month for points transfers and redemptions! Here’s the breakdown:

  • earned 53,468 airline miles
  • earned 108 hotel points
  • earned 2,527 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 125 “other” points
  • transferred 6,000 Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt points
  • redeemed 51,000 “other” points for  $510.00
  • redeemed 15,000 World of Hyatt points for a one-night stay at Andaz Papagayo (valued at $1,003.73)
  • booked a two-night stay at the Andaz Papagayo with annual free night certificates from our Chase Hyatt cards – lodging worth $1,857.44 (after accounting for $75 annual fee x2)
  • booked a one-night stay at the Dallas Airport Marriott with annual free night certificate from my [now cancelled] Chase Marriott Rewards card – lodging worth $164.44
  • redeemed 60,000 American Airlines miles for airfare worth $1,582.76
  • received $166.24 in travel expense reimbursement from Nicoleen’s Chase Sapphire Reserve

That hefty airline miles number is thanks my Cathay Pacific Visa card; the 50,000 mile bonus finally hit.  The cash redemption was from my Bank of America Premier card.  All those travel related points redemptions are for our upcoming winter get-away!

Travel News

Nicoleen and I are so excited to go back to Costa Rica!  Yes, yes. . . I know it’s kind of lame to go to such an interesting and varied country and then sit around at the pool and beach the whole time.  But hey – we need that kind of a break!  Even though it’s basically repeat of our get-away last winter, this trip is unique in one major way.   Between airfare, luxury accommodations, and ground transportation, the total out of pocket cost for this trip is $0.00!  That’s a first for this value tactician!

Recent ValueTactics Blog Posts

Winter Vacation Plans Revealed is the answer to the teasers I put on Facebook for a few days about the location of our next trip.

Free Travel Photo

The swimming pool terrace at the Andaz Papagayo.  Having just finished planning our return trip to this awesome resort, this scene has been on my mind lately.  It's especially fun to think about as I look over at the exterior thermometer on this New Year's Eve.  It reads -2.7 degrees.

The swimming pool terrace at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica. Having just finished planning our return trip to this awesome resort, this scene has been on my mind lately. It’s especially fun to think about as I look over at the exterior thermometer on this New Year’s Eve. It reads -3.1 degrees.

Happy New Year!

sea-sunset-beach-coupleHave a fun and safe night and may all your hopes for the new year come to pass!  If any of those hopes involve free or virtually free travel, free money, cost savings, or any other value tactical related goals, I hope I can help you fulfill them!

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

Semi-Monthly Update (November 23, 2017)

I’ve been a busy boy, and unfortunately that means I didn’t get a lot of writing got done in the past few weeks.  One thing keeping me occupied has been a handful of short work trips.  Last week I stayed at a questionable hotel in southern MN.  I should probably write a semi-satirical review like the one I did for BUILDING 7-73.  Here’s a preview:

To give you an idea of how swamped I’ve been with non-VT stuff, this post was originally dated November 11th and the date has changed about 5 times.  When it takes several tries and almost 2 weeks to write an update post, you know I’m hurting for time!  And it’s not like there aren’t things to write about. . .

In this update I’ll report on our October points and miles activity, talk about some general and personal credit card news, share some happy reports from readers, and give a travel update.  We’ll top it all off with the latest free travel photo.

Household Points and Miles Activity for October

  • earned 87 hotel points
  • earned 5,710 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 35 Citi Thank-You points
  • earned 55,433 “other” points

I managed to complete the $3000 bonus spend on my new Bank of America Premier Rewards card in the first month (in fact I met the spend with a single purchase), yielding the 50k bonus “other” points.

Credit Card News

General News:

Lately I’ve been infatuated with the idea of free annual nights as a credit card benefit.  This is how I booked one of the two $700+ nights at the Z Ocean Hotel (pictured below in the free travel photo) this spring.  For a mere $49 annual fee, the Chase IHG card gives you a free night at any IHG property worldwide.  Our tropical weekend get-away to Costa Rica in February was also partially booked with free anniversary nights from our Chase Hyatt cards ($75 AF).

One of the few cards offering this type of benefit is about to be replaced with a new version with different benefits.  The present (and last ever) sign-up bonus on the current version of the card is at an all time high of 125,000 points!  I’m talking about the Hilton Surpass from American ExpressCheck out my previous post for a full run-down of the situation with this card.

Personal News:

October 27th, the day before our Florida trip, I applied for the Synchrony Cathay Pacific card during its highest-ever bonus of 50,000 Asia Miles.  I got the “pending” message many applicants have reported.  I received no e-mail communication since I applied but I finally got a letter on November 9th:

cathay pacific letter

And then on the 10th, the card arrived!

(If the FB post isn’t showing up, click here.)

ValueTactics Reader Success

ValueTactics reader Jamie recently told me about an upcoming vacation where she got a sweet deal on airfare to Ft. Myers.  She booked 4 round trip flights for only $44 and 68,000 miles!  That’s an awesome value; great job using the points and miles tactic, Jamie!

Travel News


We’ve been back from our Florida vacation for 3 weeks now.  The trip was so awesome!  I have to admit it was less relaxing than I anticipated, but at the same time it was more fun than I expected.  Disney really does do things above and beyond all of their competition.  After being there it’s easy to see that all other theme parks are trying to imitate what Disney has created.

the club

Besides two theme parks and the Kennedy Space Center we also experienced a free hotel stay and two free airport lounges.  (Well, “two lounges” is a stretch since one of them was a quick grab and go affair.)  This trip should generate a few different blog posts, one of which is mostly finished: a complete outline of how we planned this trip for so little money.

Of course getting back from a vacation also generates the dreaded vacation hangover, and regular readers will know how I like to cure that. . .   🙂

Free Travel Photo

After our family vacation to Disney, Nicoleen and I are ready for

After our family vacation to Disney, Nicoleen and I are ready for a break. . . like maybe a vacation with just the two of us?  Our last adults-only trip was her birthday surprise trip to Miami Beach in April.  I love this photo because I managed to fit everything into one shot from our private rooftop terrace: the moon shining on the ocean, the night lights of lively Ocean Drive, the unique pool at the Z Ocean Hotel, and our complimentary bottle of champagne.  What an awesome free trip that was!

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

Semi-Monthly Update (October 26th, 2017)

Wow!  There have been lots of developments in the ValueTactics sphere of interest in the past couple of weeks.  Some credit card deals have disappeared and others have materialized.  Card issuing banks continue to modify their terms and policies.  An airline announced some potentially exciting news.  Personally, I have been very busy strategizing my own points and miles earning and usage.  Nicoleen and I have almost earned the sign-up bonus on both of our new cards.  And on top of all this, we leave for our family Disney trip in 2 days!

Air Travel News

Southwest Airlines has announced it will begin flying to Hawaii in 2018!  More options are always better than fewer.  This could mean cheaper flights across the board to this destination.  It’s definitely good news for those of us who collect Southwest Rapid Rewards or their surrogate transfer point, Chase Ultimate Rewards.  But I don’t know, could you endure the at least 6-hour flight to the islands with no meal service or assigned seats?  Let me know in the comments below!

Recent ValueTactics Blog Posts

Tighter Rules for Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses explains how to tell if you’re eligible for a particular sign-up bonus on a credit card.  The banks are making it harder and harder to play their game.  Read the post to see the exact rules for each of the main rewards card issuing banks.

Credit Card News

As I reported in the last update post, Nicoleen recently got the Chase Ink Business Preferred and I got the Bank of America Premium Rewards card.  I already hit the minimum spend on my BoA card, earning me $550+ worth of their cash-only rewards points.  Nicoleen still has a bit of spending to do before earning the massively valuable 80,000 Ultimate Reward bonus on the Ink Preferred.  I could use another card already but I’ve been agonizing over the decision of which one to apply for.  The rules and limitations like I describe in the post linked above are really making it a difficult process to maximize the value of the credit card tactic.

There are currently several noteworthy elevated sign-up bonuses on co-branded airline cards:

  • The AAdvantage Aviator Red from Barclay is up to 60k American Airlines miles with no minimum spend requirement (well, actually you have to make one purchase of any amount.)  American Airlines has been notoriously stingy with award space lately, but American miles is still worth having if you have flexible travel dates.  With 60k miles you could fly round trip to Europe or get 2 domestic round trip flights in economy and have points leftover!  Link to offer
  • The United MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase is back up to 40k United Airlines miles after $2k of spending in 90 days.  This offer bounces back and forth between 30k and 50k, but the 50k public offer hasn’t been around for over a year.  Link to offer
  • American Express’s Delta Gold comes with a 60k Skymiles bonus after spending $2k in the first 90 days.  This offer is the highest ever seen for this card.  When Nicoleen and I got this card the bonus was only 35k, and occasionally it goes up to 50k.  With a once-per-lifetime limit on American Express bonuses, now is a great time to apply for the Delta Amex Gold!  Link to offer  EXPIRES 11/08/2017

Travel News

walt-disney-world-2066168_640On Saturday we leave for our trip to Florida!  For our family of 5 (2 kids are staying home) the airfare and hotel combined only cost us $155!  The entertainment and dining, on the other hand. . . let’s just say Orlando is an easy place to nail that required spend for a credit card sign-up bonus.  😉

I’ll try to post a field update or two from our trip.  No promises though; something tells me I won’t have a lot of downtime!

Free Travel Photo

Kids are funny

One kid attempting to strap down the other kid to our luggage rack during our family vacation last summer.  As we prepare for our Florida trip, I am reminded of our last family trip to South Dakota last summer. It had a few value tactics sprinkled in, like a free hotel night and gas savings along the way.

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

Semi-Monthly Update (October 3, 2017)

I love to start my day with a cup of coffee and an online credit card application.  Here’s the lovely sight I was greeted with this morning:
BoAPremiumRewards approved
Ah, the thrill of instant approvals!  It never gets old.  Nicoleen, on the other hand, got the always loathsome “pending” on her application last night for the Chase Ink Preferred.  🙁

This round of new card applications is just the jump start I need to get the website rolling again.  (If you want to hear the rest of my whiny excuses for the recent lack of new material, I put a list at the bottom of this post.)  In this update:  our household points and miles activity for September, a look at the current good credit card deals, some details on our upcoming trip, and another free travel pic!

Here’s our September household activity totals.  Pretty average month with no bonuses and no points spending:

  • earned 456 hotel points
  • earned 5,786 Chase Ultimate Rewards

Credit Card News

  • The Chase Southwest personal card currently has the 60k elevated bonus.
  • The Citi Thank-You Prestige bonus is now at 75k Thank-You points  (permanently or temporarily, no one knows), but with a $7.5k minimum spend and a $450 annual fee.
  • Bank of America just busted on to the scene with a new premium travel card: the Premium Rewards card.  The points can only be redeemed for cash, but with the 50k point bonus and some other benefits I estimate the card is worth $600-750.

The Chase Southwest card is a great deal at 60k, but personally I am waiting on the Southwest cards until I can get the companion pass by earning more than $110k points in a year.  I would be all over the Citi Prestige, but Citi’s newest restriction says that I can’t earn any Thank-You points bonuses until 24 months have passed since my last Thank-You point bonus.  I’m currently at around 22 months.  My new Bank of America Premium Rewards card from this morning should be in the mail soon!

I’ve had several people recently ask me what the best single card is right now.  I’m sticking with the Chase Ink Preferred if you can make the case you have a business.  If not, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still at or near the top of the list due to the generous 50k sign-up bonus of the highly versatile Ultimate Rewards points.  If Southwest Rapid Rewards are valuable to you, the Chase SW card (see link above) is an easy way to earn a lot of those points.

Travel News

nicoleenfloridawarmupWe’re mere days away from revealing our fall Florida trip to the kids!  Nicoleen is incidentally in Orlando this week for work, and she’s getting the place ready for us.  🙂

Free Travel Photo

Big caption

A selfie I took in front of the dolphin pool at Hilton’s Grand Wailea just over a year ago.  I chose this photo because I realized that the two cards we used to get the free hotel stays on our amazing Hawaiian get-away last fall are no longer available.  The bonus on the Chase Hyatt is no longer 2 free nights, and the Citi Hilton Reserve doesn’t exist anymore.  Yet another lesson to take advantage of these deals while they’re around!!  Anything else would be a tactical error.

Excuses for only writing one blog post last month and for not launching the long-promised YouTube channel:

  • We have 3.5 kids who just started the school year (one is 2-day pre-K).
  • I was working on a tile job (my previous profession) for 2 weeks every day after my day job.
  • Fall cleaning around the house and my own bathroom tile project.
  • A lull in enthusiasm for value tactics due to no new vacations on the horizon and no new credit card bonuses.  It happens to everyone once in a while!
  • Solo parenting this week while Nicoleen is in Florida.
  • General lack of focus and a hearty dose of writer’s block.

We’re back at it now though!  The recent credit card apps have fueled my enthusiasm once again.  Our upcoming value-filled trip to Florida should keep me motivated as well.

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