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I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for a few months by now. Now here it is!

Yesterday, I made the final payment on my credit cards. Now, I don’t owe a cent of credit card debt!

As you guys know, I charged those puppies up to:

There was a point, a real and scary one, where I felt I’d certainly overleveraged myself.

I wrote about the feeling in Smart Debt: Is carrying a balance ever a good idea?

Side hustle of the millennium

Side hustle of the millennium

And I definitely felt I’d nearly crossed the line into plain ol’ dumb debt.

Digging out of credit card debt is by far one of the most psychologically strenuous exercises I’ve faced. And that moment where I saw the interest get charged felt so wrong, my stomach turned. But I knew I could shoulder a couple of months of interest to make it all back, plus more.

Still, it sucked.

And today is the official turning point where I go full-force into FIRE.

What is FIRE?

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At the risk of turning Out and Out into the official FoundersCard blog, I wanted to share their new American Airlines benefit. It changes quarterly, and some of them have been really good (they’ve had 5% off domestic fares before, and just had a free Platinum Status Challenge this past quarter).

10% off transatlantic fares is a new benny!

10% off transatlantic fares is a new benny!

They’ve never had 10% off fares to the UK and Europe before, so this could be useful to some.

FoundersCard + American

If you have a business class fare (or heck, even an economy fare) to Europe, you could easily save $70-$100+ on a $700-$1,000+ round-trip ticket.  5% off domestically is nice, too.

A few T&Cs to keep in mind:

  • The discount will not be applied to any government or airport imposed taxes, fees, or charges (duh)
  • Discount is only valid on published, round-trip fares
  • You must book on AA.com
  • You must purchase your ticket by November 1st, 2015
  • And travel by January 6th, 2016
  • There are blackout dates around Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/New Year

You can use the benefit as many times as you want. You can request the 5% off code directly through the website (they’ll email it to you instantly), but you must call to get the 10% off code.

About FoundersCard

FoundersCard has a few key relationships I really value (this one with American Airlines, free Gold elite status at Hilton, 15% off AT&T cell phone bills, free TripIt Pro for a year, and a few other goodies).

It’s $395 a year, which I mostly recoup from getting 15% off my AT&T bill. Everything else, like free breakfast and late check-out at Hilton hotels, free TripIt Pro, and discounts like this one, are gravy.

If you have a few trips with American Airlines coming up, especially to Europe, 10% off could easily add up to cover the cost of the annual fee. And then you’d have all the other perks left to enjoy, so it might be worth it for a few peeps.

Bottom line

I was looking forward to seeing what the new American Airlines benefit would be, and this one is the best yet.

Too bad there are blackout dates for the holidays, but every airline has blackout dates around the holidays, so I can’t really blame ’em.

Check out my posts about if FoundersCard is worth it, some of the overall perks, and specifically the ones about travel.

Feel free to sign up using my link. I can also email invites so you can preview the website. Just comment below or email me.

Happy Saturday!

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Add this to apps you should download.

I love handy travel apps and saving money, and this one really impressed me.

Mercez lets you add all your credit cards, and then tells you which one has the best exchange rate abroad!

Mercez lets you add all your credit cards, and then tells you which one has the best exchange rate abroad!

What’s Mercez?

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I’ve written lots about FoundersCard (including the eternal question: is it worth it?).

I noticed that lots of the travel benefits offered by FoundersCard are ancillary benefits of having certain co-branded credit cards. So I thought it’d be fun to explore the benefits you can get from having a FoundersCard membership (which costs $395 a year) instead of having a bunch of credit cards.

This post inspired by the Chase British Airways Visa. RIP, fallen soldier.

I love this little card

I love this little card

18 FoundersCard travel benefits, organized by type

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Update 8/26/15: I have the account set up now as well as email invites. If you’re interested, leave a comment below or shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up – it’s supposed to let you “skip the line!”

I’m always on the hunt for a great new banking product, so when I saw Aspiration’s new Summit checking account with a 1% APY (NOT APR!), I had to check it out.

Aspiration Summit checking account will earn you 1% APY when you have a $2,500 daily balance

Aspiration Summit checking account will earn you 1% APY when you have a $2,500 daily balance

I’ll show you the benefits and highlight one big caveat.

What’s Aspiration?

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In case you guys haven’t heard, IHG has a new fall promo called Accelerate.

I won't be accelerating anywhere

I won’t be “accelerating” anywhere

This is a GREAT promo if you don’t have an IHG Rewards Club account because you can earn 2 free nights at ANY IHG hotel (1 free night for 2 stays, up to 2).

But if you’re an existing member, or Spire Elite, the offers vary from OK to “thanks for nothing.”

Compared to the “Set Your Sights” offer that had me contemplating travel to another state, this one is kinda meh.

Of the next 4 months, IHG wants me to spend 1 of them exclusively in their hotels

Of the next 4 months, IHG wants me to spend 1 of them exclusively in their hotels

Though you can sign up now, the promo runs through September 1st to December 31st, 2015.

My offer basically said spend a month in IHG hotels and we’ll give you a free stay at a Category 9 hotel (earn ~58,000 IHG points).

So I’m like thanks but no thanks.

I wonder if it has to do with my recent accidental acquisition of Spire Elite status.

Peeps on FlyerTalk have been busy posting their offers today, and they’re all really different from one another. Which is kind of interesting.

Newbies take the cake

But the real treasure is for newbies. If you don’t already have an IHG Rewards Club account, you can earn 2 free nights at ANY IHG hotel when you complete 4 separate stays. ANY!

So… you could spent $75 per night ($300) and then get 2 free nights at a hotel that goes for $600+ a night, essentially turning $300 into $1,200?!

Freaking nuts!

And remember you earn a free night certificate when you open the Chase IHG MasterCard. The annual fee is a paltry $49 and comes with IHG Platinum status, which is usually totally worthless, but does earn 50% bonus points on paid stays.

I recently broke down and opened the card and all I’ll say is that 3 free nights in a year is a lot better than just 1. And if you pick hotels that costs $600+ per night like:

… you can get damn near $2,000 of value of that – not to mention the vacation experience of a lifetime.

Don't worry, it's actually ~$781 per night after taxes and fees

Don’t worry, it’s actually ~$781 per night after taxes and fees

So if you know anyone uninitiated to IHG Rewards Club… and you can make a new account… definitely get in on this! Dang newbies. (Bitter, party of one, right here!)

Bottom line

IHG has a new fall promotion called Accelerate. It’s great for newbies/new accounts but various levels of sucky for current members.

That being said, if you have stays coming up anyway, you might as well register (or let someone else book the room for you).

Keep in mind you should sign up before you stay – IHG doesn’t credit stays after the fact.

This will be helpful for some. Between this promo and wanting to burn Hilton points, I’m torn between where to stay on an upcoming trip.

Does this promo rock your world at all? 

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So this is going to sound like an effing advertisement. And I guess it kinda is.

asd

Yes, they are f***ing great

But. If you haven’t already heard of Dollar Shave Club, you should read about it now.

That’s because they’ll ship you razors each month for really cheap. And they travel well.

What’s Dollar Shave Club?

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It’s that time of year when there’s non-stop pumping of links for the SPG AMEX.

Now until September 14th, we have to survive on little points news other than 5,000 extra Starpoints on the SPG AMEX.

*yawn*

Why this card?

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I wrote about an increased offer for 30,000 Membership Rewards points for the AMEX EveryDay Preferred on CardMatch.

Nearly 3 weeks later, the offer is still alive and kicking. And so are other increased offers for AMEX cards.

Here’s a round-up.

AMEX Platinum

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My new Discover It card came in the mail this week, in very nice packaging.

I activated it online and got about to exploring Discover Deals now that I have full access.

And I might have to change my tune now.

I’ve long heralded the Fidelity AMEX as the best cashback card.

But now I’ll refer to it as the best ongoing cashback card. Because, the 1st year at least, the Discover It has it beat by a mile.

I’ll still get great use out of the Discover It card the 2nd year, albeit much reduced.

The 1st year, this card is good for an easy $600, at least. And I’m even thinking this no annual fee card has the potential for over $1,000 back.

Getting the Discover It card

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It looks like Serve has a new prepaid debit card – and it’s already on the front page of their website.

Old blue Serve, meet new green Serve

OBS and NGS (Old Blue Serve and New Green Serve)

AMEX is apparently splitting the “Old Blue Serve” into 2 separate products.

And you can reload the “New Green Serve” at CVS, Family Dollar, Walmart, and 7-Eleven.

asdas

$0 “cash reloads” at CVS, Family Dollar, and 7-Eleven… I wonder if you can pay with a credit card?

And New Green Serve has a $4.95 monthly fee – but not if you’re in Texas, New York, or Vermont.

I’m not sure if you can have both products at the same time – or what the split means for Old Blue Serve, if anything.

Aside from the new monthly fee, and the free cash reloads, it looks like the 2 products are exactly the same.

It would be really awesome if CVS took credit cards for the “cash reloads.”

I’d take my new Hilton credit card for a joyride (as it’s one of the only credit cards left that still earns points at drugstores – 3X Hilton points @ $1,000 a month reload limit would equal 36,000 points annually.  That’s good for a few Hilton Category 2 hotel stays!).

All of the other terms and conditions – reload limits, ATM fees, etc. are identical.

After switching from Bluebird to Serve then to REDbird, then back to Serve again, I’ll keep my eye on this as it seems like AMEX is still rolling this out. This would be a great way (and convenient) way to manufacture some spend and pay bills you can’t ordinarily pay with a credit card.  Especially in the barren wasteland of New York City.

Although if you can’t, I’m perfectly fine collecting my free $240 a year with the Fidelity AMEX.

Mark this one as developing…

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Just a few bits and baubles to follow up on recent posts.

1. Kohl’s $10 Birthday Gift

Also see: 

August is my birthday month, and Kohl’s got their timing perfect.

Because today, in the mail, was a card/gift from Kohl’s. Right after I mentioned how much I love them this morning.

$10 birthday present from Kohl's

$10 birthday present from Kohl’s

I also just received my Yes2Rewards this morning as an email, too.

Kohl’s has a great thing going. Their rewards program is more straightforward than Sears Shop Your Way Rewards and their website is way better, they have frequent discounts (usually 30% off) and promotion codes, often free shipping, and now I get a $10 bonus.

I wish their portal payout on the Discover Deals shopping portal was 10% cashback like Macy’s, Sears, and Kmart (it’s 5%).

But free money is great. I can always buy some new sheets and towels for my Airbnbs.

2. Admirals Club Membership Materials Are In

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