Chase IHG MasterCardFree NightsIHGUpgrades

Chase Changes Terms on the IHG Card

As I've told you before, one of my "keepers" has been the IHG Card from Chase due to it offering a free hotel night at any of their properties in exchange for the $49 annual fee each year. Earlier this week, I received a letter from Chase explaining that the "Anniversary Free Nights issued after May 1, 2018 will [only] be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a redemption value up to and including 40,000 points. In addition, a "premier card" is hinted at for the future. My supposition is that Chase would ultimately like to offer two IHG card options: The original $49 card with lower value; and a premium card with a larger annual fee and better benefits for frequent guests. While I don't have a problem with the addition of a premium card, it is very disappointing that Chase is downgrading

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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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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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Get Your Cash Back

I heard on the radio this morning that today is "Dump Day" which signifies the last day to break off your relationship with your significant other before the holidays roll around. Since my wife and I are solid, I decided I would use dump day to finish closing out any cards that had served their purpose in 2017 and who I didn't care to spend the holidays with this season. You may have noticed my new Uber card that arrived this week. I'm very excited about it: A no annual fee card that provides 4% cash back on dining and 3% on hotels in addition to its other perks. It's the latest no-fee cash back card in my wallet, and one that I expect will stay for a while. Most cash back cards don't carry an annual fee, and allow you to use your earned rewards directly on your next statement. Whether...

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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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What’s in my wallet?

If you know me, you know I appreciate The Art And Science Of Rewards Credit Card Churning and the value it produces when done well. But having been asked a few times recently, I wanted to take a brief moment to advocate for the cards I have kept (or plan to keep) despite their annual fees; one of the biggest scare-factors of credit cards for novice users. Today, I’ll tell you about three of the credit cards I keep, how I justify the fees each year, and why you should consider one or more of them. Card The American Express Platinum Card Annual Fee $550 Welcome Offer 60,000 points worth $1,200 in travel Perks 10% back on travel*, $200 airline credit, $200 Uber credit, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PRE✓, Boingo Internet Preferred Plan, airport lounge access inc

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Enhancing a Trip with Plastic

Next week, we depart for a week-long stay in Cancun, Mexico! In late 2014, Alaska Airlines added nonstop flights to Cancun from Seattle; making it one of the more luxurious itineraries available. We also couldn't pass up the opportunity to stay at one of Hyatt's newer properties in the area which opened around the same time. This trip took some planning, but we were each able to secure our airfare for just the cost of the fees ($75.00) after redeeming 60,000 miles in exchange for roundtrip, nonstop, First Class tickets! These same pair of tickets would have cost us nearly $2,500 otherwise. As for the miles, they're easily attainable through Alaska's 25,000 mile bonus upon approval. For the bold: We had some luck explaining to the bank our desire to separate&n...

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One-Week Honeymoon in Maui for under $175.00

When my wife Brianna married me, she knew about my obsession with points and miles acquisition. My plan to fund the honeymoon trip to Maui became clear when she saw we only had $175 budgeted for the trip’s hotel and airfare. Despite her knowing about the wild world of points, she still asked: How will we stay 6 nights in Maui for only $175?? Generally speaking, I had this strategy: Brianna and I would each acquire two airline credit cards (each with a bonus equivalent to a one-way ticket); and 1-2 hotel cards incentivizing new cardholders with free nights. When deciding which cards to pursue, we considered which airlines best met our needs, and whether there were specific hotels in Maui that we particularly wished to stay at. For us, we were traveling from Seattle and it was important to ...

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