Credit Cards

Investing with Rewards

Hey everyone!

You know what I find really interesting?

All the stats on this blog, any blog, really.  Come to think of it, I guess I just like statistics!  (Hey, anyone that tells you travel hacking doesn’t attract folks with a geek side…is lying.)

It’s not a big blog over here in my corner of the internet, by any means, but there are enough people stopping by every month that I’m starting to see some trends.  One of the more interesting trends is seeing which posts are the most popular.

My write-up and first impressions on the American Express Platinum Card for Charles Schwab is still holding down third place for all time popularity!

I wrote that one when I opened up the card in July of 2016, and it continues to bring in an audience.  Last year, it was in 4th place for total views, even though it was only up for less than half the year!  Given the popularity, I thought I’d do some experiments with the Schwab card.

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Thoughts on the Airline Reimbursement Perk from American Express

American Express just isn’t what it used to be.  (Ask your grandfather.)  Sure, there’s this lingering air of prestige* when you pull out the Platinum card, but there are plenty of cards licking at its’ heels.  You can make (and probably win) the case that a card like the Citi Prestige or the Chase Sapphire Reserve has already surpassed the Platinum.

Whether you win that argument with yourself or not, I find myself with an American Express Platinum card, so we might as well see how it works, right?

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First Impressions: Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card

My second business credit card!

When I applied for my first business card, I only based it on my occasional reselling of items on Amazon or on Ebay.  Luckily, American Express was happy to stroke my ego, agreeing that I had a “business” and I snagged a Starwood Preferred Business Credit Card.

Now, I’m happy to say my side hustle is actually holding its own.

So much so, that I had to increase my spending power.  I not only requested (and was approved) for a credit line increase on my Starwood card, but I took out a new Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card from Bank of America!

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Review: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

I recently product changed my Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite card to an AT&T Access More card from Citi (details to come).  The biggest reason I downgraded was the Executive card’s whopping $450 annual fee.  After the first year, I just couldn’t justify paying the high fee.  Originally, the card was compelling simply because of the mileage I could accrue from the sign up bonus.  It’s offered 100,000 AAdvantage miles in the past, but I was only able to snag a 75,000 AAdvantage offer.  Still, after 90 days I was 75,000 miles richer!

Before I get into all the details, a disclaimer:  In my opinion, every card is worth the sign up bonus if you cancel after the first year.  You just need to pick which card works best for you.  Once you have a few, you then need to pick which ones to keep.  There are a lot of factors that go into this – the bonus offer, the long-term benefits, you get the idea.

In an effort to clear up some of the mystery of selecting cards, I’m going to outline my decision and the benefits I was able to use with the AAdvantage Executive.  I’ll break the benefits up into “tangible” and “intangible.”

Tangible:  benefits that I more than likely would have paid for otherwise, or that I will be able to use or well save me money in the future

Intangible:  benefits that I can’t comfortably assign a value to, this is usually because I’d be unwilling to pay upfront for such benefits

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First Impressions: Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard

So, the latest weapons in my arsenal are two new cards from Bank of America.  One personal, one business.  On the personal application, I opted for the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard.

I actually plan on keeping the Amtrak card long-term.  Some of the benefits we’ll discuss below will be great for my long term.

Depending on your local rail scene, this card may not provide much value for you.  Since I live and travel in the Northeast corridor, I’m looking forward to adding more train trips to my itineraries!  There’s something nostalgic about trains to me, and I just took my first trip by train last month!  It wasn’t long, but Amtrak offered an easy way to get from Baltimore Washington Airport into Washington DC’s Union Station.

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After a Year of Travel Hacking…

First off, this post is a bit late!  I’ve been running around a lot September and October, and haven’t had the time to get this post together until today.

I consider the day I applied for the Barclaycard Arrival+ to be the true beginning of my travel hacking journey.  That means as of September 24th, 2016, I’ve been addicted for exactly one year.  So, this post is a month overdue.

It just so happens that I’m wrapping up my year of travel hacking coming from last weekend at the Chicago Seminars.  I’ll write up a bit more about this event soon, but it’s basically a conference for travel hacking, run by some great FlyerTalk folks.  What better way to commemorate one year in the game?

If you remember, I was spurred into this new hobby by my trip to Peru last year.  It was nothing short of eye-opening.  I knew I wanted to travel more.

I had caught the travel bug.

I also knew I didn’t want to pay big money for travel, like everyone else seems to think you have to.  Travel hacking enabled me to meet both of those goals:  travel and frugality.  Using the miles gained from the sign up bonus on that first card, and a bit more everyday spending, I cashed in those Arrival+ miles for $500 towards flights to Florida to see some of the family, and enjoy a few days at Disney World.

Let’s see where I’m at now, shall we?

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First Impressions: American Express Platinum Card for Schwab

Last week, I added a new horse to the stable.

The American Express Platinum, Charles Schwab edition.

I’ll admit, this one was a bit of an impulse.  I’ve been shifting my focus from credit cards to bank bonuses, giving my credit report a bit of time to recover from the inquiries in the last year.  I’ve opened up more than 10 cards since I started travel hacking about 9 months ago.

Hey, go big or go home, right?

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First Impressions: American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business

My first business card!

And shipped overnight, no less.  Long story.

At any rate, I’ve very much enjoyed the opportunity to get started on some business credit history, and have access to some of the benefits of a business card.  I do plenty of little “side-gigs,” and with a dedicated business card, I’ll actually be able to keep them on the side.  When mixing business and personal expenses, things can get a bit tricky, so this is a great addition to my wallet.  Not only for the valuable SPG points, but to help differentiate between business and personal expenses.

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