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PSA: Use Your $100 Mercedes-Benz Certificate (and What I Got With Mine)

Lots of folks got the 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards point offer on the Amex Mercedes-Benz card earlier this year (including me).

If that’s you, you should’ve received a certificate in the mail for $100 toward “genuine Mercedes-Benz parts and accessories.”

I frequently pass a M-B dealership in Dallas, and one weekend afternoon, I decided to pop in and see what I could get.

So here goes!

My experience redeeming the $100 certificate

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Last Chance for AMEX SPG 35,000 Point Offers (and Why I Got Both Cards)

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OMG, cringe. Did I just write that headline? Me, Mr. “I Don’t Care About Starpoints?”

I did. A lot has changed since that proclamation nearly 3 years ago. Devaluations, tougher approval rules, and a vastly different landscape for points and miles.

In particular, you can only get an AMEX sign-up bonus once per lifetime on all their cards.

This is the highest bonus there’s ever been – and likely will ever be – on the AMEX SPG cards. I took the bait.

Last days to lock in the bonus

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Is AMEX Hilton Surpass Card Increasing to 100K Offer Soon?

File this under #hypothesis and #gumshoe. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened soon.

Redditors are claiming they’ve seen offers to earn 100,000 Hilton points on the AMEX Hilton Surpass card. 

AYFKM?

AYFKM? Photo source: Reddit

If the offer is indeed real, if will run through May 4th, 2016. And you’ll earn 100,000 Hilton points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. Like previous offers, the $75 annual fee probably won’t be waived. And you’ll get Hilton Gold status just for having the card.

If you have a few breakfasts at Hilton in a year, that covers the annual fee.

This week?

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I Got the SPG AMEX with 35,000 SPG Points – Here’s Why

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Yep, I caved. Because I figured now or never.

I wrote about how I didn’t care about SPG points. But I also used to love Club Carlson. And cozied up to Hyatt.

I also used to be “meh” about Hilton, but I’m enjoying being Hilton Diamond this year.

So, things change. And if anything’s changing, it’s definitely the loyalty industry. And it is an industry.

Why now?

I navigated over to the application page, and looked at it for a little while. (How’s that for an image?)

asd

Hook, line, and sinker

And then, I thought, well, 40,000 Starpoints is worth at least 50,000 Alaska Airlines or American Airlines miles.

It’s true. You get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer (if the airline has a 1:1 transfer ratio with SPG).

I figured I’ll have at least 40,000 Starpoints after meeting the minimum spending requirements. Plus, I have to pay taxes this year and, fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), I can complete it in one go.

That’s worth it for 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles.

Although, Cash & Points is looking mad attractive the more I dig into it.

Plus, you get the 5th night free on award stays at Category 3 and up hotels.

Nights & Flights looks pretty interesting, too.

Suffice it to say: there are a lot of ways to start using 40,000 Starwood points.

Getting the SPG AMEX

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16 Points & Miles Predictions for 2016

Happy New Year! I thought I’d hop on the bandwagon with the predictions. So here’s my effort.

"Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?"

“Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?”

2015 was a crazy year

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

Out and Out’s Points and Miles Predictions for 2016

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Taking Another Look at Hilton, Hyatt, and Diamond Elite Status

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To begin, I must say I’m disappointed I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to receive Hyatt Diamond status. Although I did luck out with Hilton Diamond status.

I realize I’ll likely sound like a spoiled brat whining about something I didn’t get for free. Especially when others have spent much more time and money to actually earn the status. That said, the way Hyatt handled the Diamond status match – from free-for-all to the later restriction to only match SPG Platinum members, and all the missteps in between- was very mishandled.

Booooo

Booooo

Hyatt had an opportunity to capitalize on the SPG/Marriott merger and they blew it – unless you got the match, then you win. I likely would’ve gone out of my way to stay with Hyatt more in 2016 and beyond. This whole thing has left such a bad taste behind that it makes me want to actively avoid Hyatt, and only use them for free award night stays.

Although I think what Hilton is doing is genius, at least from a marketing perspective. And, let’s face it: Hilton has a much larger footprint than Hyatt (4,100+ hotels compared to ~600). And Hilton is in every place there’s a Hyatt with few exceptions.

For example, there are NO Hyatt hotels in Barcelona (where I’ll be in a few weeks). But there were 4 Hilton options:

Furthermore, the next time Hyatt has a Diamond status challenge to stay 12 nights, I won’t even consider doing it (even though you can complete it with only 9 nights if you have Citi Prestige). Why would I spend $1,000 on something so many others got for free?

Anyway, that’s my preamble – just wanted to clear the air here. Again, I completely understand I don’t “deserve” the status in way. It just sucks to see so many get it for free, even though my credentials where enough – at one point – to get me in, too. A case of “early bird gets the worm” if there ever was one.

But now, I’m taking another look at Hilton, as I expect to have more paid stays there, at least for now. And, it’s not as bad as you’d think.

Hilton Diamond Vs Hyatt Diamond

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A Step Beyond Foreign Transaction Fees: Bank Exchange Rates Affect How Much You Pay Abroad

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The other day, when I wrote about my experience booking a hotel room in Martinique, I pulled up the Mercez app to see what exchange rate I’d get on $1,118 Euros with the Citi Prestige card.

Lots of cards advertise “no foreign transaction fees” which means they don’t add extra fees to the amount they convert.

Mercez tells you the real rate for each of your cards

Mercez tells you the real rate for each of your cards

But what’s interesting is not all banks convert cash at the same rate.

The amounts can add up, especially if you spend a lot (or live) abroad.

Rates according to Mercez

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The 2 Best No Annual Fee Cashback Cards: Fidelity AMEX and Discover it® Cashback Match™

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Or, you’re crazy not to get these 2 cards. They’re free money!

I’m reviewing my cards because it’s getting to the end of the year and doing a little maintenance on what needs to get dumped or renewed.

On the dump list is:

I need to clear out some clutter because I recently added:

Out with the old, in with the new as they say.

But, there are 2 cashback cards definitely worth keeping and/or getting. And yes, there’s a distinction.

Keep the Fidelity AMEX forever

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Swapping AMEX for Citi: Bye Platinum, Hello Prestige? And Bye, EveryDay Preferred, Hello ThankYou Premier?

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And, bye EveryDay Preferred, hello ThankYou Premier?

Recently, I’ve seriously been pondering why it is I hang on to my AMEX cards.

I’ve had at least 2 since 2012, and haven’t accumulated enough points to actually do much.

Membership Rewards… meh.

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No Annual Fee Cards + Personal Finance: Why You Need (At Least) One

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Like it or not, in this country you need good credit. It’s as avoidable as death or taxes. As in, not at all.

Starting out with credit cards, you’ll encounter a catch-22: you need good credit to get a credit card, but you need a credit card to build good credit.

No annual fee cards are NOT boring. In fact, they have some innovative rewards!

No annual fee cards are NOT boring. In fact, they have some innovative rewards!

A good place to start is no annual fee cards.

For beginners

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List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

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Spoiler alert. On this list, I find the FIA Fidelity AMEX to be the most valuable. I just love that card so much.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

Thank you for being a friend – and for NOT being issued by American Express

And this post is gonna be focused on Serve.

Note: It is possible to send money between Serve and REDbird, or Serve and Bluebird.

So if you’re managing multiple cards, you can get a Serve card, load it up for $1,000 each month, and send it to Bluebird or REDbird to pay bills that normally don’t accept credit cards. Like student loans, utilities, mortgage payments, or anyone else.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express: 

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Cardmatch Offer: 30K Points for AMEX EveryDay Preferred

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The Points Guy posted about a couple of offers that came up on Cardmatch today:

  • 100K points for AMEX Platinum personal/biz
  • 50K points for AMEX PRG personal / Gold biz

And the commenters mentioned a couple of other offers.

What’s my offer?

So I headed to Cardmatch on CreditCards.com to see what came up… cuz I would’ve totally gone for the 100K Platinum biz offer.

was targeted for the 100K Platinum personal offer, but I already have that card.

Then I scrolled down and noticed:

30K Points for the AMEX EveryDay Preferred

30K Points for the AMEX EveryDay Preferred

That’s a good deal!

I’ve written about the AMEX EveryDay Preferred card before.

I got the card with a 15K bonus over a year ago. Just paid the $95 annual fee on it and can say this one’s definitely a keeper (unlike the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature, Chase British Airways Visa Signature, and Barclaycard Arrival Plus).

I use the card as intended, mostly at grocery stores and Costco (for now), with a couple of other purchases here and there. (I use Amazon Allowance to help me meet 30 transactions per month to trigger 1.5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent.)

I also wrote about my experience getting the card. It’s the only card I’ve ever been straight-up denied for. Until I called AMEX and asked WTF? and then they approved me anyway.

Bottom line

Along with the stellar offers for 100K points for AMEX Platinum and 50K points for AMEX PRG, add this one to the pool.

It’s double the usual sign-up bonus and is a very worthwhile card to have.

Check Cardmatch on CreditCards.com to see if you were targeted (under “Free Interactive Tools” on the right).

I’ve had the card for a year now and really recommend it. It has 0% interest for 15 months to start out, and you can always downgrade it to the no annual fee version after 11 months if you don’t like it.

Were you targeted for anything good on Cardmatch? Was your offer different?