AirlinesAlaska AirlinesAMEX Gold CardAMEX PlatinumBarclay Uber VisaCredit CardsDiningPerks

Why Have the Alaska Card?

If you have taken a flight with Alaska Airlines recently, you have heard about the Alaska Airlines Signature Visa card from Bank of America. Flight attendants, who receive a commission if you apply on-board, will tell you about the exclusive and remarkable benefits available to cardholders, and their inflight entertainment systems even now include commercials advertising the card too. What is the Card? The card itself is one of the most basic on the market. The annual fee is $75.00/year, it earns 3x Alaska Miles on money spent with Alaska and one mile for everything else. Notably however, the card offers a Companion Fare benefit that permits you to add a second ticket to your Alaska reservation for just $121 (taxes and fees) once a year. Should I Use It Everywhere? No!! It ca...

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AirlinesAlaska AirlinesAMEX Hilton AspireAMEX PlatinumCredit CardsDestinationsFlamingoHiltonHotelsLas VegasWaldorf Astoria Las Vegas

A Weekend in Vegas

Ever since I added the Hilton Aspire card to my wallet, I knew I'd be using it to go to Las Vegas. Vegas, and all that comes with it, is undoubtedly my favorite vacation spot. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is an adult playground and I will never get enough of it. To celebrate a milestone birthday later this year, I took advantage of some perks in my arsenal to develop a quick weekend with flair. Airfare Because I have MVP Gold status with Alaska Airlines, I have the ability to complete same day flight changes for free. I also am awarded some first-class advance-award tickets on select flights each year. For my departure, I found a great mile redemption of just 7,500 miles for the one-way ticket. I booked it, and even though the flight departs at an ungodly evening time (arriving ...

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AMEX PlatinumBoA Alaska Air VisaChase Hyatt VisaChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningGasSupermarketsTravelUpgrades

2018 Rewards in Review

Another Year Gone 2018 was a wild year for us with big changes including the relocation of my wife who is now working in Nashville completing a postdoctoral appointment while I have remained in Seattle. As a result of our anticipated increase in travel, we increased our monthly spending for annual fees this year to an average monthly budget of $187. With that, we not only supported a bicoastal living arrangement but even fit in some personal vacations as well, all thanks to our reward points. As in previous years, I meticulously tracked every dollar in and out with regard to credit card annual fees and reward redemptions in 2018 and I'm pleased to say we more than quintupled our budget by using the appropriate mix of cards and redemptions over the last twelve months. 5X Return on Investme

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AMEX Gold CardAMEX PlatinumChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningSupermarkets

Why You’ll Love the New AMEX Gold Card

It's Goldddd! You may remember the recent history of luxury travel cards: A longtime American Express employee left the bank to work for Chase where they worked to develop a luxury travel card that millennials (not American Express' core customer group) could enjoy. Get 'em while they're young, and keep them forever! They developed the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and (until now) have been the go-to card for dining and travel rewards. It took a couple years, but American Express is finally throwing its own punch with the reinvention of its Gold card (currently available in Rose Gold for a limited time only). What's Good About Gold? The Gold card pairs perfectly with the AMEX Platinum card which already offers 5X points on airfare and travel booked directly with AMEXTravel.com. The Gold card

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Alaska AirlinesAMEX PlatinumChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningPerksTravel

Finding Your Next Card

Commitment While I'm no loyalist, I do value commitment in all phases of my life including credit cards. That's because a percentage of your credit score is the average length of your accounts. If you have two cards, one you've had for ten years and the other brand new, your average length of your accounts is five years. If you cancel the card you've had for ten years, you now have a nonexistent average. On the flip side, if you retain the card(s) you've had longest (assuming they have no annual fees or you're still claiming the value from the fees), your score can afford to adopt some new plastic or metal friends into your wallet. Know Yourself and Spot the Fakes Where do you spend your money? For me, it's dining and travel. Nearly 100% of my discretionary income goes to one of those two

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AMEX PlatinumChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningGlobal EntryHiltonInsuranceLoungesMarriottPriority PassRental CarsRideshare AppsSheratonTravelTSA PreCheckUpgradesWestin

Platinum or CSR? Why You May Choose Both.

Choices The American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve: These two cards are the power couple of the premium credit card world. Deciding which one is right for you can be tricky; so why not choose both? I'm Not Crazy While applying for not one, but two premium metal credit cards with a combined $1,000 annual fee may seem absurd to you, I'm here to provide you with the alternate narrative and tell you why we've decided to hold both cards in our wallet in 2018. Read on, and I will explain how $25/month will unlock a plethora of travel benefits for you and your loved ones this year. Sign Up Bonuses With the sign up bonuses offered by both cards, the rewards more than compensate you for the annual fees you incur in that first year. At the laziest redemption level, using points to...

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AMEX PlatinumCredit Cards

Time to Renew

Time flies! Each time we celebrate a birthday or are reminded of a milestone, we recognize this. But when you hold credit cards with annual fees, you may also feel your money is flying away along with it. But fortunately, you budgeted! You recognized the value you receive in exchange for that annual fee and you prepared for the expense in your pro forma. Good on ya! Without a doubt, the loftiest of my annual fees is the $550 renewal for the American Express Platinum card I owe each Spring. But as I've told you before, the card more than pays for itself in perks and benefits, and I will never get tired of relaxing in a luxurious airport lounge before my flight. So I look forward to renewing for another year. But just like I know time flies, I also know it never hurts to ask! So I called A

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AMEX PlatinumBarclay Uber VisaBoA Alaska Air VisaChase Hyatt VisaChase IHG MasterCardCredit CardsDiningFree NightsTravelUpgrades

2017 Rewards in Review

Annual Fees In 2017, we spent almost $800 on annual fees for five credit cards. That number may seem staggering, but we used the rewards associated with those cards to redeem nearly $6,000 in travel! Often times, cards that carry an annual fee also carry several benefits that, when used appropriately, can make for quite the lucrative hobby. By budgeting $66.50/month for travel (used entirely on annual fees), our monthly vacation budget became worth $497.48/month thanks to the reward redemption and associated benefits.   Return on Investment We tracked every dollar spent and earned through this process using Mint, and as you will see from the charts, we netted $5,171.78 in 2017. The largest return was from our AMEX Platinum Card which originated a whopping 36 redemption this year; but th...

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AMEX PlatinumCredit CardsGlobal EntryLoungesPriority PassRideshare AppsTravelTSA PreCheckUpgrades

Why the AMEX Platinum is Worth $550

I've been a happy holder of the American Express Platinum card since the beginning of the year, and despite my original intent to churn the card, I've been surprised to realize its value and I expect to renew it annually. To tell you more about my perceived value of this card, I've developed a Q&A below. What is a quick summary of the top benefits provided to the cardholder?  $200/year in Uber Credits $200/year in Airline Fee reimbursements Gold status with hotels: Marriott, SPG and Hilton Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre Check $100/year in Saks credits Airport lounge access with Centurion Lounge, Delta Sky Club and Preferred Pass which grants access to the Alaska Airline lounges among others I'm worried I won't get the value of $550 I put into the card, should I s

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Alaska AirlinesAMEX PlatinumHiltonLoungesTokyo

8 Nights in Tokyo + Airfare for $237

Earlier this year, we enjoyed a trip to Tokyo, Japan for nine days and eight nights. My wife, mother and I flew round-trip with just one connection, and stayed in the heart of Tokyo's business district at a 4.5 star hotel in Shinjuku. We stayed on the executive floor and enjoyed access to the Executive Lounge offering breakfast, snacks and cocktails; and we did it all for less than $237/person. Breakdown Service Value Paid Hotel – 8 nights w/ Exec Lounge $4,861 $95 Round-trip Airfare for 3 $4,129 $615 Sum $8,990 $710 (92% off!) $236.67 / person The $710 paid was a result of taxes incurred, and annual fees associated with credit cards we acquired solely for this trip. Value It pays to use points for airfare and hotel expenses because not only are the exchange rates favorable, yo

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