Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ignoring the noise and staying the course with our investments

The stock market experienced a wild ride over the past week.  On August 24, 2015, the DOW dropped over 1,000 points at the open due to week economic news in China and also due to crashing crude oil prices.  While 1,000 points sounds like a lot, it really amounted to a temporary 6% loss.  By the end of the trading day, the DOW ended up down 588 points.  At one point, the US stock market was down over 10% from its most recent highs.  Our own investment portfolio lost over $15,000 in 5 days.  A friend called me to ask if it was time to sell some stocks.  Many Boglehead forum users made posts asking what to do with this stock market crash. 

Panic was starting to set in for many people.  Then on Wednesday, August 26, the DOW jumped 619 points.  On Thursday, the DOW jumped 369 points.  On Friday, the DOW barely moved with a drop of 11 points.  In those three days, our investment portfolio returned $8,500.  We haven’t sold any of our funds.  In fact, we put in orders to buy more shares at 10% off their normal prices.  Remember that a 10% drop in the market one day, followed by a 10% rise in the market the next day does not mean that you are back to where you started.

I was thinking about writing a response to the latest market volatility and then I remembered that I have previously written about this very topic!  Stock market drops are nothing new, they happen all the time.  I wrote about staying invested back in October 2014 here.  Everything I’ve said is still valid.  I’ve copied and pasted what I’ve written below. 

Staying the course
We have our investments exactly how we want them to be.  We won’t be selling our funds.  In fact, we’re buying up more shares on sale while we can.

“Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”  Warren Buffet

Don’t try to time the market
The stock market will go up and the stock market will go down, this is a fact.  The problem with trying to time the market is that it can’t be done reliably or consistently over time. 

Research consistently finds that investors who buy and hold their investments end up with a lot more wealth than those who panic and sell when their investments start to lose value.  Investors who sell in a panic tend to also be the type of investor that only start buying more stocks once the market starts to rise in value (and get much more expensive).

To truly properly time the market, you need to be right two times: when to get out, and then when to get back in.  Making one, or both mistakes can be costly.

Research shows that typical mutual fund investors perform much worse than the mutual funds they invest in.  This is because they tend to buy after a fund has done well, and sell after the fund has done poorly.  Buying high and selling low is a recipe for poor performance.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

60,000 ThankYou Points with the Citibank ThankYou Premier Card

Citibank has been offering a 50,000 ThankYou point bonus on the Citi ThankYou Premier Card for a while now.  I wrote about the offer 1 month ago here. 

The offer just got better by 10,000 points!  See this Slickdeals thread for more details and discussion on the offer.  Citibank is now offering 60,000 ThankYou point bonus on the Premier Card!  It’s an easy bonus to earn: one just needs to spend $3,500 in the first 3 months of card membership.  60,000 ThankYou points are worth about $600 in gift cards and cash, or $750 in airfare.  This makes the Premier card a strong contender against the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which currently only offers 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in 3 months.  The Premier Card 60,000 ThankYou point bonus is now one of the best credit card offers available!

The ThankYou points program is Citibank’s credit card point currency.  Just like Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards, ThankYou points can be redeemed towards gift cards, cash (via student loan or mortgage payment), airfare, or Hilton HHonors program.   ThankYou points transfer 1:1 to the following airlines: Cathay Pacific, Asia Miles, Malaysia, Qantas, Qatar, Garuda Indonesia, Flying Blue (Air France and KLM), EVA Air, Singapore, Thai Airways, Etihad, and Virgin Atlantic.  ThankYou points transfer 1 point to 1.5 Hilton HHonors point.  I’m not too familiar with most of the airline transfer partners, but they are definitely worth exploring in the future. 

See this Flyertalk thread for more in depth discussion on ThankYou Point transfers.

The ThankYou Premier card easily earns bonus points with 3x points on travel (including gas) and 2x points on dining out and entertainment.  This card has no foreign transaction fees.  This card has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. 

One nice benefit of the ThankYou points program is that the points can be shared with any other ThankYou account.  This is great for families and friends to share points.  For comparison, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can only be shared with one spouse or significant other.  The only downside of ThankYou point sharing is that transferred points expire after 90 days

You can apply for your own card here.  I have no affiliation with Citibank and do not earn a commission from your application.  Go sign up before it’s too late!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

30,000 Starpoints bonus offer from the AMEX SPG credit card is back!

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card sign up bonus has been increased to 30,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of card approval.  The Business SPG card has the same 30,000 Starpoints bonus after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months.  Those that keep track of credit card bonuses know that this 30,000 Starpoints bonus only comes around once per year.  The standard sign up bonus is 25,000 points.

New benefits and changes to the SPG card
The first thing I noticed about this card was that they upgraded the design to a bright purple card.  I actually like the improved look of the card, as I felt like the previous design was quite ugly.  The most important usable benefit is that this card no longer charges any foreign transaction fees on international purchases, a feature that should have been added a long time ago. 

Another new benefit of the SPG card is that it now offers better Wi-Fi options.  You now get free in-room premium Internet access with hotel booking.  Those who want to stay connected online while traveling can now get complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at Boingo hotspots worldwide. 

The biggest downside of the new SPG card is that there is now a $95 annual fee, up from $65.  The fee is waived the first year and the bonus points are worth the sign up.  We keep a personal SPG card and pay the annual fee yearly (when they won't waive it).

Value of Starpoints
Starpoints are one of the most valuable point currencies out there.  They can be used for both hotel stay as well as airline flights.  Most frequent flyers value Starpoints at a minimum of 1.5 cents per point up to 4 cents per point.  This makes the 30,000 Starpoints sign up bonus worth anywhere from $450 to $1,200! 

SPG Hotel brands include the St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Meridien, Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, Element Hotels, Four Points by Sheraton and Tribute.  There are over 1,100 participating hotels in nearly 100 countries.  We’ve used our SPG points for free stays in Seoul (Korea), Tokyo (Japan), Miami, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. 

SPG points can be transferred to over 30 major airlines, most at a ratio of 1 point to 1 mile.  Participating airlines include: Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Hawaiian, US Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic, and more.  When you transfer 20,000 Starpoints, you get a 5,000-mile bonus.  This means transferring 20,000 Starpoints usually gives you 25,000 airline miles. 

This offer ends 9/14/15.  The welcome bonus offer on the personal SPG card is only available once to applicants who have or have had this product.  The business SPG card can be churned.  As with all American Express credit cards, you get excellent customer service, extended warranty protection, purchase protection, and return protection on all purchases made with your credit card.

You can apply for the personal card here. 
You can apply for the business card here.

You can read about what I wrote regarding the 30,000 Starpoints bonus offer last year here. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Using the American Express airline fee credit

My most recent credit card approval was for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.  It offers a 50,000 Membership Rewards point sign up bonus after spending $1,000 within 3 months.  This is such an easy sign up bonus that I had my mom sign up (and get approved for) the same card.  An interesting benefit of the card is that it offers a $100 airline fee credit per calendar year. 

American Express will give you $100 in statement credits for airline fees charged by the airline you select for your card.  You can choose your airline here.  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 

Many Flyertalk members report success with getting the Premier Rewards Gold $100 airline fee statement credit with purchasing airline gift cards.  The American Express Platinum card offers a $200 airline fee credit.  The gift cards most preferred appear to be the ones from American Airlines or Southwest Airlines. 

Since my wife needed a flight from Portland (PDX) to Orange County (SNA), the timing worked out well for me to try getting a statement credit for a Southwest Airlines gift card. 

On Saturday 8.1, I selected Southwest Airlines as my eligible airline fee credit on the American Express website.  I did this for my own Premier Rewards Gold card as well as my mom’s Premier Rewards Gold card (she was nice to let us use her $100 airline fee credit).  

On 8.3, I went to the Southwest Airlines gift card page and purchased a $100 Southwest Airlines gift card with both charge cards. 

I then found the flight that my wife wanted to take, which cost $221.01. 

Before purchasing the ticket, I applied both $100 Southwest gift cards to my account to get $200 off the price of the flight!  

You can apply up to 4 Southwest gift cards per flight booking.  I only had to pay the difference of $21.01.  Best of all, my wife earns more Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points for this flight (since it was paid with cash)!

On 8.5, I was happy to find that both of our AMEX accounts (me and mom) each received a $100 statement credit from American Express.  

AMEX wants you to allow up to 2-4 weeks before the statement credits appear on your account.  Most flyertalk members reports receiving their $100 airline credit only a few days after making an eligible purchase.    

The American Express Premier Rewards Gold $100 airline fee credit is very easy to earn each calendar year.  For those that are not interested in airline gift cards or fee credits, some reports say that you can go through the United Airlines Mileage Plus X mobile app to purchase other gift cards (such as Amazon gift cards).  See this reddit thread for more details.  

When January 2016 comes around, I can earn another $100 in airline fee credits!    
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...