Credit Card

Update from time to time, come back for offers I feel worth to take.

Recent credit card with good promotion offers and I personally applied and approved. Note I am not taking any commission from all the links below: some are direct links to bank credit cards; others such as the points guy which is independent site and it does have affiliated links to the cards (aka the site does get promotion), but I am not affiliated with TPG etc.

Reward calendar (02-Apr-2017)
The q2 2017 5% category: grocery and drug stores for Chase freedom; home improvement store and wholesale clubs (Sam’s club) for Discover Card.

You can click on the google calendar entry and copy it to your own cal.

2017
First National Bank TravElite American Express® Card: looks good from first glance (3x points per $1 spent on travel purchases; 1.5x points per $1 spent on everyday purchases; Earn 25,000 points to redeem for a $250 statement credit, when you spend $2,500 in the first 3 billing cycles; $100 Global Entry Credit)

Amex HHonors cards: it seems Amex is going offensive after losing the Costco contracts. It has some good offers for new and old cardholders, the promotion ranges from 80k to 100k HHonors points. See link to the doctorofcredit and uscreditcards101 (Chinese) here. Note as of 23-Mar-2017 I have not taken up the upgrade offer to get 100k, the 2 things I saw is the $75 annual fee which I don’t have for my current Amex HHonors, and $3000 spending requirement in first 3 months.

Chase Freedom: it has an offer of $150 cash back for new cardholder spending $500 in first 3 months. I’m doing a referral (both of us will get $50 from Chase, via 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points). Note Freedom card has no annual fee, the kicker for Chase Freedom is 5% bonus category for each quarter (2017 calendar here, e.g., gas for q1, grocery for q2.)

Discover Card: Discover Cash Bonus Card has quarterly category 5%, and it has $50 if I refer a friend. Note you will also get $50 from Discover too. Just let me know (see email below). For 2017 Discover has 5% cashback at Wholesale club (Sam’s Club) in Q1 and Q2. Other rotational categories include gas for Q1, and home improvement for Q2. Full 2017 calendar is here. Note for Chase Freedom and Discover quarterly 5% bonus, another requirement is one has to activate the offer, for Freedom it’s just a click from the email reminder, for Discover I believe one has to log into site and activate the offer.

I can also do referral for Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Amex Gold Premier. Email me for more details. My email is minjie dot xu at gmail dot com. Drop me an email and I will send you the link to apply.

Summary of card opening in 2016: the only new card I got is the Amex Premier Gold (see below). 50,000 MR points. I converted 10,000 to the Plenti by the end of last year (1:1.5 promotion).

2016

Currently I am thinking about which card I can get in 2016, both for card opening bonus and daily spending points/rewards.

(08-30-2016) The new Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR), which offers 100,000 ultimate points for spending $4,000 in first 3 months. The annual fee is $450, which can be partially offset by $300 airline credit. A link to the offer here (note I am not taking any commission here).

(08-02-2016) The Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card. I got this offer from email that says 50,000 membership reward points (MRP, worth about $500 for travel), with $100 airline credit and first annual fee waiver (the annual fee is $195 thereafter). The points total is lower than the platinum card offer below (note for platinum card, 100k points offer is also unusual); actually I got an offer from the platinum card for 50k points as well. The spend requirement is higher for platinum: 5k in 3 months vs 2k in 3 month for gold. So this is a plus. Note platinum has higher annual fee as well ($495) with some other perks (TSA Pre, $200 airline credit etc). (Update 09-05-2016) I got this Amex Premier Rewards Gold card today: applied online via the link from my email, was approved instantly, and able to add it to my Amex online account. Now waiting for the card arrival and could use it to buy some airline tickets. This one has $2,000 spending requirement for first 3 months. So I will delay getting the CSR card above, if I ever decide to get one :-)

(07-17-2016) I found two Amex offers to be useful: I found and added both in my Amex HHonors card (through website, you can find the same from their app too). The offer is $20 off $50 for godaddy.com (domain registration), and $5 off $25 for BP (gasoline). The latter one can be used 3 times, so makes the total $15. Thought it’s fun once I added about $24.xx amount of gas, and did not get it.

(05-09-2016) 100,000 Membership Rewards Points from Amex Platinum card, spend $3000 in the first 3 months after account opening to get the 100k pts (link here). (Update 05-10-2016) It looks like the deal is dead around 10:45 EDT time. Back to 40,000 bonus points. I did not apply on time, so I guess I will wait for another year. (per some people, this deal usually does not come often and when it comes, does not last long).

(05-08-2016) Came across two offers for Mercedes Benz Amex card.

Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express: 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you charge $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first three months of Card Membership. Plus some other benefits with annual fee of $95.

Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz. Limited Time Offer: 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you charge $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first three months of Card Membership. Offer expires 06/22/2016. Plus some other benefits with annual fee of $475.

I may get Citi Double Cash, it’s not as exciting as chase sapphire, but rather a simple 2% cash back card. I may just switch my Citi ThankYou card to the Double Cash. Note it does not have any promotions for new card.

I also thought about Wyndham reward card, their current offer, 30,000 points (2 nights) for $69 annual fee (and 6,000 anniversary points), is not attractive enough.

2015
I got those 5 new cards.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in purchases per year (then 1%); Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and U.S. department stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases; Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. (Best Amex cards by nerdwallet). Amex also does offers which one can get in 2 ways: 1) Via the twitter retweet, offers can be seen here (needs link twitter account with an Amex card); 2) By adding the offer from Amex website.

Hyatt Chase: 2 free nights after spending $1000 in first 3 months; 5,000 points adding an authorized user; there is also a bonus $50 statement credit offer (not available to everyone, it’s available to people who stayed at the hotel since May 1st, 2015; I assume the other condition has to apply as well, e.g., new card holder, no bonus in last 24 months etc). I booked Park Hyatt Shanghai for those two free nights (coming June).

Citi HHonors: 75,000 points for spending $2000 in first 3 months (the points guy). Note one HHonors point is roughly .5 cent, it could go up or down depends on the locations. I have seen 10,000 points for Hampton Inn at Collinsville (St. Louis suburban), or 40,000 points for Hilton Anaheim near Disneyland. So your mileage may vary. Also, it appears from HHonors official website, this offer is downgraded to 40,000 points (aka one night at Hilton Anaheim). Also which Hilton credit card is best by the points guy.

PenFed Travel Rewards: $100 statement credit for spending $1500 in first 3 months. 5 points for gas, 3 points for grocery, 1 point for the rest. Needs PenFed membership. They also have good mortgage and auto loan rates. For me I got this offer from email as I am a also their mortgage customer.

Sam’s Club MasterCard (Synchrony Financial): $20 off $50, or $40 off $100 (first purchase), 5 points for gas, 3 points for restaurant, 1 point for the rest. Rebates only issues once a year (like the Amex Costco, good for club house purchase). This offer varies, and they usually give out at the front entrance of Sam’s Club.

Other Good Credit Card offers, I have applied in year 2014 or earlier, still keep some as of now:

Amex hhonors: 60,000 points when I applied years ago. I think 10,000 or 20,000 points for Hampton Inn is good or fair deal. I used 40,000 points for Hilton Anaheim (convention center), it was a bit expensive.

Amex SPG: 30,000 points. I found book the Four Points Shanghai Pudong for 4,000 points is a very good deal.

BoA Alaska air mile: I made a mistake, and did not get the full 50,000 miles, got 25,000 miles instead.

Chase freedom: 5% bonus rotational category per quarter, needs enrollment (activation) each quarter for the extra bonus, no annual fee. This concept is similar to Discover Cash Bonus.

Chase British Airways (BA): 100,000 miles, very good for US short haul. It could be used to redeem for hotel too. I did it for hotels at Las Vegas and Anaheim recently (Dec 2015). Probably not the most efficient way for redemption. I also redeemed airline tickets (American Airlines, BA partner) inside the US in the past.

Chase UA explorer: this is the main UA card nowadays. It was the Continental card before the merger. The benefits are slightly different from the card below, e.g., Explorer card offers 2 lounge passes each year instead of anniversary miles.

Chase UA Select card: this is the older version of UA credit card. I still have it. It gives 5000 miles each anniversary.

Chase IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group, aka the Holiday Inn hotels family):

Chase Marriott: 70,000 points. The place I used more often is a Courtyard near my home (they raised points from 10,000 to 15,000 recently), also Courtyard Shanghai Xujiahui, which is 10,000 points per night. Still remember the first time when I check in, I got special treatment from the clerk/manager.

Chase southwest air: 50,000 miles.

Citi Aadvantage:70,000 miles

Citi Thankyou Points: I converted from premium (annual fee) to regular (no annual fee)

Discover cash bonus: this is one of the oldest credit card I have, my two oldest credit cards were both closed (opened roughly 1.5 years earlier than Discover), one by myself, one by Citi (no activity on Citi Dividend, and they just closed it). One way to maximize the bonus is redeem gift cards, I believe $20 can get $25 Lands End GC, $40 for $45 GC, etc. Sometimes I got lazy and just redeem via Amazon (1:1), this did not maximize the bonus.

My Philosophy regarding credit card rewards

Beginning: 1997 to 2009
My first reward credit card is a GM card, which I never really used its benefits (I did not buy a GM car with that bonus). At that time when I applied the card, there were not many rewards credit cards and I was still a graduate student, which also limited my option. My first meaningful reward card is Discover Cash Bonus, I could not recall whether at the time (1999) there are the rotational 5% reward category. But I still keep it as of today. I do recall their 1% reward needs a spending minimum of $3000 or something. So basically I earned .25% in the beginning, it will bump up rebate as I spend more. I recall I had a Chase Shell gas card, it has 5% gas rewards. And later it changed to Chase freedom card. Also remember the Subaru card from MBNA, and over the years it converted to AAA mastercard. One of my first credit card, a Citi AT&T card, changed to Citi Dividend card at one time, it used to have 5% rebate on grocery, and one can only redeem when the rebates reaches $50. And later it changed to rotational category for the 5% rebate, which I did not like. I forfeited my $38 rebate and they closed my card recently (this also means my credit history got shorten by about 2 years :-( At one time I also had the AAdvantage card from Citi, and I did earned a US China round trip ticket from it.

2010 to present
Fast forward, a few years ago, probably shortly after the financial crisis (2010?), the new credit card promotional offer started took off. I recall I applied for the Continental (later merged with United) Mileage Plus card, which comes with 50,000 miles promotion. I also got some other hotel and airline cards: Marriott, Amex Hilton (no annual fee version), SPG, Priority Club (now IHG); AAdvantage (again), United Selected, Delta, Southwest, Alaska, British Airways. Last but not least, I got the Chase Sapphire Preferred (the 1st metal card) and recently I realized its travel booking feature is very good.

In terms of philosophy, I think my view on credit card bonus, in the rank of preference changed over the years: from “cash back” to “miles/hotel points” to most recent, start appreciate the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards (not all points are equal). This is understandable also consider my own life changed, from a poor student (really appreciate cash) to start working, married with kids, and start to appreciate other aspect of the life, e.g., travel with family and kids. For instance, when I was single, I can sleep in Home Inn in China (which is really cheap and economy), nowadays with two kids, I would rather stay at Courtyard by Marriott, or Four Points by Sheraton in Shanghai, Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express when I travel in the US. In the coming trip to Disneyland, I booked the Hilton Anaheim (used mostly a combination of Chase UR points, BA Avios points, and HHonors points) which is really close to Disney properties. But I still had to use cash for air ticket, because I ran out of Southwest air miles (I did not appreciate their miles earlier when I had them).

Keep a card or not?
I think it’s a very common question, and it’s common for people to close a card after they receive the card opening bonus. It’s probably true the opening bonus (worth $500 or more) is usually bigger than the cash back/points/miles from daily spending. But there are reasons to keep certain cards due to their benefits, besides the Amex card (offers can add up) I mentioned earlier.

Chase Sapphire: I am aware of at least 3 benefits that’s hard to get from this card, one is the flexibility to transfer its points to airline miles (very handy when sometimes we short a few thousand miles); two is the car rental primary insurance; third is from my experience, booking hotels via the points are also good. In my opinion those benefits far outweigh its $95 annual fee.

Chase Freedom and Discover cash bonus: both has no annual fees. Both have 5% bonus for rotational category each quarter. Discover deals offers additional cash bonus for shopping via their website, good for walmart.com etc, it’s 5%, higher than shopping rebate sites such as ebates.com.