Saturday, January 21, 2017

Redeeming Barclaycard Arrival+ miles towards an Airbnb stay

Earlier this month, I signed up for my second Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card.  I explained how the sign up bonus for the same card could be churned as long as you don’t have an existing Arrival Plus or regular Arrival card.  Two weeks later, I’ve already received my sign up bonus and redeemed my miles towards $550 worth of travel!
The best thing going for the Arrival+ credit card is the big 50,000 mile sign up bonus after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months.  This card earns 2x miles on every single purchase.  The way these miles can be redeemed is only towards travel expenses of $100 or more made within the last 120 days.  Once a mileage redemption is made, you get a 5% rebate on miles redeemed.  This essentially makes the Arrival+ a 2.1% cash back travel card.  Barclaycard makes it quite a hassle to use this card long term, since minimum redemption of miles is 10,000 miles.  Doctor of Credit does a great write up here on using math to optimize redemption of these miles.  He basically concludes by saying that a normal 2% cash back credit card (such as the Citibank Double Cash card) is better to use long term than the Arrival+ card.
While the Arrival+ card’s annual fee of $89 (charged the second year) makes this a poor card to keep long term, the 50,000 mile sign up bonus is definitely worth a look.  To quickly reach minimum spending, we put a lot of big charges like car insurance ($597 for 6 months of car insurance coverage for 2 vehicles) on the credit card.  For our upcoming Japan trip, we booked an Airbnb stay in Tokyo for 4 nights for $901.  For our big group of 5 adults and 2 children, Airbnb options include excellent location, free portable wifi, clothing washer and other amenities that hotels don’t offer.  Since Airbnb stays count as travel expenses, we used our big 50,000 mile sign up bonus to save money on our Airbnb stay.  If you’ve never stayed at an Airbnb, consider signing up through my referral link here (thank you for your support!).
One of the best things about the Arrival+ card is that points earned show up immediately in your account.  Most credit card rewards points only post when the statement closes.  For the Arrival+, as soon as your credit card charge clears, points show up.  The same happens with the 50,000 sign up miles bonus.  As soon as I received it, I logged into my Arrival+ account and clicked on the “Rewards & Benefits Center.”
Then I went to “Start using my miles”
It was extremely easy to redeem my miles and I used 55,000 miles towards a $550 statement credit.  

Since Barclaycard rebates 5% of miles redeemed, I received a credit of 2,750 miles to add to my balance. 
Barclaycard makes it very easy to redeem miles towards any travel related expense, like our Airbnb booking!  Would I keep this card and pay the $89 annual fee?  Definitely not.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Another year, another AMEX airline fee credit

One great benefit of having an American Express Platinum card or Premier Rewards Gold card is that you get an airline fee credit every calendar year.  With the Platinum card, you get $200 airline fee credit and with the Premier Rewards Gold card, you get $100 airline fee credit.
According to AMEX, eligible incidental fees include:
·                Checked baggage fees
·                Itinerary change fees
·                Phone reservation fees
·                Pet flight fees
·                Seat assignment fees
·                In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, headphones)
·                In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wifi fees)
·                Airport lounge day passes & annual memberships 
Different airlines you can choose include: Alaska, American, US Airways, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Jet Blue, Spirit, United, Southwest and AirTran.  You select an airline here; you can select a different airline every calendar year.  
In the past, I’ve used this airline credit to get a $200 Amazon gift card from my previous Platinum card ($200 Amazon gift card loophole has now been closed) and multiple Southwest Airlines gift cards from my Premier Rewards Gold card.  Since you can no longer get an Amazon gift card with the airline fee credit, I decided to get another $100 Southwest Airlines gift card with my Premier Rewards Gold card.  I closed my Platinum card last year; if I still had it, I would have used it to buy $200 worth of Southwest Airlines gift cards.
I first made sure that I had Southwest Airlines gift card purchases were still being credited by American Express.  I went to this Flyertalk thread to confirm that Southwest gift card purchases were still being credited.  Then I made sure that Southwest Airlines was selected as my airline of choice here.  Finally, I went to purchase a Southwest Airlines gift card here.
2 days after my $100 Southwest Airlines gift card purchase was charged, I received a $100 statement credit.  Woohoo! 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

100,000 Ultimate Reward points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card - this time for my wife!

In case you haven’t read the news on all of the credit card blogs and forums, the 100,000 point Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus offer is set to expire on January 12th online and March 12th in bank branch! 
When this card first came out, I was super excited and applied for it right away.  My wife wasn’t in a hurry to apply for the Sapphire Reserve because we have a nice stash of Chase points already.  However since the 100,000 sign up bonus offer is about to expire, it was time for my wife to apply ASAP!  If you want to sign up for this offer online, you need to apply by January 11th. 
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is hands down the best premium travel card on the market currently.  This card earns 3x points at restaurants and on travel purchases.  The card offers a lot of unique benefits including lounge access with unlimited guest access, $300 yearly travel credit, free Global Entry or TSA Precheck (up to $100 value), roadside assistance up to 4 times a year with $50 credit per incident, and much more.  See this Chase Sapphire Reserve review from Doctor of Credit for a complete rundown of benefits and features of the CSR.  The best part of this card is definitely the hot 100,000 point sign up bonus after spending $4,000 within 3 months.  This is the easiest and fastest way to earn this many Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  I would value this sign up bonus at over $1,500 value. 
The annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is $450, which is quite a bit if you look only at the fee itself.  Looking deeper into the benefits, I would give this card more value than the American Express Platinum card, which also has an annual fee of $450.  Owning this card for the first year is definitely worth it.  You effectively get $600 worth of travel credit ($300 per calendar year – 2017 and 2018).  You get Global Entry, a $100 value.  You get an unbeatable 100,000 point sign up bonus.  Lounge access is also much better with the Sapphire Reserve than the Platinum card because the CSR allows unlimited guests while the Platinum card only allows the cardholder access. 
There are some reasons NOT to apply for the card.  If you have opened 5 or more credit cards from ANY bank within the last 2 years, you will likely get denied unless you get pre-approval in branch (must speak to a Chase banker) or prequalified online (you can find out after logging into the Chase website).  Chase has a new credit score tracker called Credit Journey.  Once you enroll, you can see exactly how many new credit card accounts you have had opened in the last 2 years.  I would not apply for this card if you don’t travel enough to take advantage of the $300 travel credit.  I would definitely not apply for this card if you have ANY credit card debt or don’t feel comfortable paying for a card with a $450 annual fee.  You can always wait until March 11th to apply for the Sapphire Reserve card in a bank branch.  For us, we’d rather not talk to any Chase rep in person and get sales pitches from them.  It’s much less time consuming to apply and get approved online than drive to a local Chase bank branch.
My wife is excited to receive her Chase Sapphire Reserve card, her first card application of 2017.  It’ll be great to have $600 travel credit this year ($300 for each of us).  We are already thinking about our next free international trip!  You can apply for your own Sapphire Reserve card at here. 
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