Honest Reviews

Category Archives for Honest Reviews.

Still Available: Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card, $0 the 1st Year and 1.25 Points per $20K Spent

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I wrote back in November how you can get an Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card with a $0 annual fee the first year. The fee on all personal Amex Platinum Cards has since gone up to $550 – but this deal is surprisingly still kicking.

Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card

$0 the first year and 1.25 points on purchases

Even better, you get 5,000 bonus Amex Membership Rewards points for every $20,000 you spend on the card. You can earn 30,000 extra points this way – so it’s good for up to $120,000 in spending each calendar year. You also still get 5X points on airfare and travel booked through Amex.

Get the Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card while you can

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Last Chance to Get the Hilton Surpass Amex for 100,000 Points (And Why I Got It)

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Through May 31st, 2017 (this Wednesday), the Hilton Surpass Amex has its best-ever sign-up bonus. Yes, it’s offered 100,000 Hilton points before. But this go-around, you also get a free weekend night certificate after your first cardmember year.

I wrote how 120,000 Hilton points can easily be worth over $700. But throw in the free night cert, and you’re approaching $1,000 in value from a single sign-up bonus.

hilton surpass amex 100,000

I used Hilton points to stay in colorful Colorado next week

Plus you get Hilton Gold elite status with the card which means… free breakfast! (My fave perk lol.)

I was low on Hilton points and am becoming intensely interested in a trip to Mexico City this year. There are lots of lower-category hotels there – and you get the 5th night free on any award stay.

In general, Hilton points go further at low-tier hotels. But it’s all about how you like to use them.

The Hilton Surpass Amex is worth it if you’ve never had it

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It’s Back: 35,000 Points With Both Amex Starwood Cards

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Well would ya lookit that. I wasn’t expecting to *ever* see a limited-time offer on the Amex Starwood cards again. But now, you can earn 35,000 Starwood points on the personal and small business cards after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements through April 5th, 2017.

spg amex 35000

It’s back, like a heart attack

Marriott has agreed to leave SPG alone until 2018, but then get ready for a butchering. Realistically, Marriott has no incentive to keep the program as it currently is. But, I’m pleased Amex is giving peeps one more stab at this terrific offer.

I broke the seal with the business version of the card last time this offer came ’round in March 2016. Before it ended, I had both versions.

Little did I know I’d hoard the points like a squirrel or ferret until such a time as I’d use them for a Southwest Companion Pass. The hammer drops on that method on March 31st, 2017. But if you applied like *now* and met the minimum spending in short order before the statement closes, you could probably squeak by.

The huge caveat is the bonus on both cards is once per person, per lifetime (AKA 7 years). But if you’ve never had it… I highly doubt this offer will ever come back.

The short

Highest-ever offer returns. If you’ve never had the card, this is probably your last chance to get it.

The long

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This Card Got Me a $500+ Hotel Stay for $49

So, I’m shutting down my last New York Airbnb at the end of this month. This will effectively cut my final tie to that city – finally. I wanted to go for a night or two to turn in the cable box, return the keys, and officially wrap it up.

Of course, I thought about using hotel points because I really didn’t want to pay for it (although I could theoretically write off the expense). Then it occurred to me I had a free night from my Chase IHG card set to expire. Even better, I just earned another one for paying the second year’s $49 annual fee.

chase ihg card

Right where I need to be in town and 100% free

I used them for a ~$539 two-night stay at the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York for $0. Because the annual fee is waived the first year, I basically paid $49 – and got back a stay worth over $500.

Here’s why you might consider picking up the Chase IHG card. Even if you already have lots of other cards.

The Chase IHG card gives easy value year after year

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Honest Review: Chase Ink Preferred 80,000 Point Offer

RIP: Chase Ink Plus was one of the best cards for 5X categories. Yes, you earned 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points at office supply stores, and on phone, cable, and internet service. And 2X on hotels and gas.

chase ink preferred review

Um, what business is he in? Cuz I’d be all up in it

Chase Ink Plus is gone and in its place… the Chase Ink Preferred. But they nerfed the 5X categories! (And kept them on the Chase Ink Cash, thank gods.)

If you’ve opened more than 5 new cards in the last 24 months from ANY bank, go ahead and stop here. And read some of my other posts. Cuz its unlikely you’ll be approved for this one.

Or get one of these cards, which aren’t subject to the 5/24 “guideline”:

  • Chase British Airways
  • Chase Hyatt
  • Chase IHG
  • Chase Fairmont
  • Chase Marriott Business
  • Chase Ritz-Carlton

If you’re on the prowl for a card to use for your small business, the Chase Ink Preferred is still extremely worthwhile.

The short

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Honest Review: Chase Freedom (With Any Sign-Up Offer)

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Let (Chase) Freedom ring!

I love this card. 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on up to $1,5000 in spending per quarter – 7,500 bonus points – in rotating categories? And useful ones to boot? OK!

That’s why I called it the best card for shopping this holiday season

Chase Freedom review

2016 was another strong year for Chase Freedom quarterly bonus categories

This card has been a bastion in my arsenal for years by now. 

And why not? It’s free to keep forever. In fact, it’s my oldest card – I’ve had this account since 2002. So it’s been almost 15 years!

Chase Freedom provides an easy way to rack up an extra 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per year. That’s worth $300 on its own, which is awesome for a card with no annual fee.

Its power lies in pairing though, so be aware. However, 5% cash back – on its own – is nothing to sniff at, either.

The short

If you spend a lot in the rotating bonus categories, this card is an ace in hand. 

The long

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Honest Review: Citi Hilton Visa 75,000 Point Offer

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It’s no secret I’m a Hilton fanboy. I lurve them because they make earning points a breeze. And they actually give you a healthy amount of points for staying at their hotels, unlike Hyatt and Starwood (!).

Are Hilton points inflated? Hell yeah. But so are the earning rates.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

I loved using my Hilton points at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu last month

I’ve found good deals with Hilton points, and not because I looked a long time. They’re out there – as with any type of hotel points.

I love the 5th night free perk on award stays when you have any type of status.

And 75,000 Hilton points can be worth over $1,000, as we’ve seen before.

At a bare minimum, there’s no reason why you can’t get $400+ of value from 75,000 Hilton points. Considering the card has no annual fee (and is therefore free to keep), that’s a great deal – and a decent sign-up bonus.

The short

A handy little card with a decent sign-up bonus, if you have a Hilton stay in mind.

The long

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Honest Review: Citi Prestige 40,000 Point Offer

Oh, Citi Prestige. How prestigious you once made me feel. You’re probably still my favorite card overall, but your shine has tarnished since I fell for you in November 2015.

Since then, you’ve returned well over $2,000 in value for me. And you’re still giving.

citi prestige review

My lagan love, Citi Prestige

But, cruel winter awaits. As of July 23rd, 2017, you can’t have my heart any more. I’ll have to take it back. You’re going to change.

Like a trojan horse, Chase unleashed the Chase Sapphire Reserve which now blows you out of the water.

Citi, you were competing so well. What happened? (My guess is they were losing too much dinero.)

The short

A once-great card that’s now only worth it if you have a lot of paid hotel stays of 4+ nights.

The long

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Honest Review: Amex Starwood Business Card 2 Free Nights Offer

Note: The offer for 2 free nights expires October 19th, 2016, but is valid at the time of publication. 

Well color me surprised. I wasn’t expecting to see any type of limited-time offer on the Amex Starwood cards again. But now we have one, although it’s only on the business version of the card.

And, it’s dumb. Geez, Amex, it’s like you’re on the Titanic, and about halfway across the Atlantic right now…

The short

The most restrictive offer ever on an otherwise so-so card. Either Amex is desperate or thinks we’re stupid… or both. Not worth it for most. 

The long

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Honest Review: Barclaycard Arrival Plus 50,000 Mile Offer

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Interesting offer from Barclaycard.

They’ve had a so-so year with their cards, with a limited-time increase to 50,000 miles on the Miles & More card, the release of 2 decent JetBlue cards, and now this.

The typical sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is 40,000 Arrival miles, so this offer adds an extra $100+ of incentive.

Perhaps Barclaycard is rethinking their strategy with this card, as they should. It used to have a lot more features and benefits – but those have been cut, leaving behind a product that’s unremarkably ordinary.

The new limited-time 50,000 mile offer on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The new limited-time 50,000 mile offer on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

With a ~$500+ sign-up bonus, it might be worth a look.

The short

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Honest Review: Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 Point Offer

For my first Honest Review, I’ll come to a card I haven’t written about yet: the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Make that THE Chase Sapphire Reserve.

I’ve avoided mentioning it because, well, most of us can’t get it because of Chase’s prohibitive 5/24 rule. But, if you’re new to the points & miles world, wow. What a great place to start.

Or, if you can manage to get yourself a pre-approval in-branch (no dice here!), definitely pick it up.

You can tell if you’re really pre-approved is if Chase gives you a definite APR. If they give you a range, you’re pre-qualified, not pre-approved. You want that definite number.

chase sapphire reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is in here, or at least you’d think judging from the publicity

Another strategy would be to say screw it and apply anyway. If you’re denied, have another Chase card waiting in the wings that isn’t covered by 5/24, which are at the time of writing:

  • Chase British Airways
  • Chase Hyatt
  • Chase IHG
  • Chase Fairmont
  • Chase Marriott Business
  • Chase Ritz-Carlton

That way the inquiries will hopefully combine and hey, at least you’ll have something.

The short

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Introducing Honest Reviews

Hidey ho from gorgeous and sunny Honolulu, Hawaii, where I’ve spent the last week doing absolutely nothing!

Well, not entirely nothing. I worked on a new column for Out and Out and wanted to introduce it.

I like applying for new credit cards to boost my points and miles balances (as I’m sure most of us do). And I already write about various offers from time to time.

So I thought it would be a fun exercise to make a format out of it that’s easier to read and follow – and one that’s standardized. So here’s Honest Reviews – my honest take on credit card offers.

How Honest Reviews will work

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