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Is the Fidelity Amex the best cashback card in the universe?

<3

<3

Sorry for the hyperbole slash clickbait-y title. I thought I was being on trend.

But seriously, I love this card. I’m close to being obsessed with it:

We all love our points and miles. But I’ve been reading about straight cashback cards for a sec now, and the poor Fidelity Amex always gets swept under the rug.

Well no longer. This card is a gem. It has so much going for it. And it might just be the ace in the back pocket of cashback cards, which by default makes it the best cashback card in the universe.

Let me extoll the ways

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Exploring Amex Serve for free money and handy uses after April 16th

Also see:

 

Since I’m without REDbird and just have Serve as an option here in NYC, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to best use Serve following its move to Amex-only cards after April 16th.

They’re really not leaving consumers with a whole lot of options, but there are a few ways to get some great value and/or handy uses out of Serve using just American Express cards.

But don’t get them from American Express

In this post, I produced a list of all the Amex cards that are not issued by American Express.

Why?

Credit cards issued by American Express will not earn points and will not count toward minimum spend when used to load Serve. Which is so lame. I’d love to be able to use the Amex EveryDay Preferred to load this puppy up.

But alas, we take what we can get.

The FIA Fidelity Amex (!!!)

Why don’t other bloggers talk about this card more? This is my number one use of this card following April 16th. I’ve written about this card in detail many times before.

The transactions post flawlessly and are coded as purchases and earn free money.

I loaded up my Serve this month with my Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard for $990 to take AAdvantage of the 50% bonus that I was targeted for a few weeks ago to earn some extra free miles.

But then I loaded up the remaining $10 to my FIA Fidelity Amex to see how it would post.

Serve reloads code as purchases with FIA

Serve reloads code as purchases with FIA

And points post without any issue

And points post without any issue

What does this mean?

You can earn an extra completely, totally 100% free $240 to credit toward an IRA, brokerage account, or checking account for 1 minute of “work” each month. I use the Serve iPhone app to blearily load up my Serve account from bed the first 5 days of each month. It takes me literally seconds. This is the easiest money I’ve ever earned in my life, I think. I consider this, by far, the best use of the Serve card after April 16th.

Why?

The FIA Fidelity Amex has no annual fee and earns an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase… including Serve reloads.

Say you get the FIA Fidelity Amex, which is free, and the Serve card, which is also free, and load up $1,000 each month and then pay it off.

You’d be stashing away a free $240 annually into a retirement account with very little effort.

I plugged in my own numbers into Bloomberg’s retirement calculator, and, assuming I contribute nothing but the $240 each year (and it grows at 7% annually) between now and when I’m 68, I’d have a totally free $40,000+ waiting for me on the other side.

My $240 a year would grow to over $40,000 for my retirement

My $240 a year would grow to over $40,000 for my retirement

This whole Serve reload thing probably won’t last for the next 38 years, but take the free money while you can. I like to stash away at least $200-$400 per month into my IRA, and the extra $20 isn’t much but with compound interest on your side, a little truly goes a long way. And this is completely free money. Which is awesome, and there is no reason not to take advantage of this if you can.

Get some free miles

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Earning Points with Serve Reloads After April 16th

Also see:

I haven’t fallen off the earth or anything like that. Real estate in NYC is heating up, and my past few days have been pretty crazy with gearing up for the busy summer season.

I still intend to post the remaining 2 reviews from my recent NOLA excursion and have a few other things in the pipeline for ol’ Out and Out. And of course I’ve been keeping up with the latest points and miles news.

And here is a post in which I clutch at straws.

REDbird Part 2

Boo hissss

Boo hissss

After having a terrible time reloading the REDbird card at my local Target in Brooklyn, I brutally dumped it and opened a new Serve account.

So, I was pretty dismayed when I found out they were going to restrict credit card reloads to only include American Express cards starting April 16th.

“Manufacturing spend” in New York City is already hard enough, and this is definitely an added blow. But there are 2 things I can find here that still might make Serve worth it for some people.

1. Even without earning points, this is a great way to pay bills that would not otherwise accept credit cards

2. There are at least 2 Amex cards that are NOT issued by American Express that may still earn points

The first point. Although there are better ways to pay rent than with Serve, if you need to float your payments through a charge card for a month or so, you can still use your Serve account to pay your bill and give you a little extra wiggle room, which could help a lot with cash flow from month to month.

The second point. It is up to the individual card issuers about whether or not to issue points for a purchase. American Express has decided they will not issue points for their own credit cards. But what about Amex cards that are not issued by American Express?

FIA and Citi + others

Two that I can think of right away are the FIA Fidelity Amex and the Citibank Platinum AAdvantage Amex. Both banks do not currently impose cash advance fees for Serve reloads (someone correct me if I’m wrong here), and both banks should continue to issue points since the reloads code as a purchase.

American Express may not give you points, but FIA and Citi still might. And this might continue to be a good way to get either 12,000 AAdvantage miles per year for minimal effort or $240 free dollars contributed toward an IRA with Fidelity.

Then, going back to the first point, you’d still earn miles and/or points for loading up your Serve card, and then can pay rent, student loans, mortgage payments, etc. to merchants who wouldn’t otherwise accept credit cards.

List of Amex cards not issued by American Express, by issuer

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Bye, REDbird; Hello again, Serve

Also see: 

From the I-knew-if-was-too-good-to-be-true files…

Well, consider this a data point if anything.

Oh, kwitcher cryin'

Oh, kwitcher cryin’

Tonight, I decided I was done messing with the REDbird card in New York City. It’s just too hard. The closest Target to me is the one at Atlantic Terminal, and they no longer accept credit cards for reloads – only cash and debit cards – which makes this product useless to me.

I’ve heard the one in Harlem is still accepting credit cards, but from my vantage point in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, it might as well be on the other side of the moon. I will go far for points and miles – but not that far.

At about 6 hours round-trip (yes, I am serious. New York City is huge and the MTA is a nightmare), I have to weigh my opportunity costs as well as my time. And while loading $5,000 per month is obviously more than $1,000 per month, at least I can run my Serve reloads from the app on my phone while I’m still lying in bed.

Time required: seconds. Opportunity cost: slight delay on coffee in the morning. 

My REDbird story

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Money transfer works between REDbird and Serve

Screenshot 2015-02-02 11.40.35

The funds were sent from REDbird

There’s nothing too remarkable about the image above, except that I received funds in my Serve account – and they were sent from a REDbird account.

It’s not surprising given that it’s literally the exact same interface copy and pasted (and turned red instead of blue).

To send money between Serve and REDbird, you just click “Pay & Transfer” then “Send Money.” Just be sure to use the email address associated with the account, and you should have no issue. The funds transferred right away, and I logged into my Serve account and paid a bill with the online bill pay.

Just make sure the emails or phone numbers match

Just make sure the emails or phone numbers match

This might be useful for some.

I am in the middle of loading up my Serve for the last time (day 2 of 5 right now), after which, I will cancel my account online and activate my own REDcard. The timing is great because I can max out the limits on both cards in February – even if it is a short month!

I know some of you are currently waiting on REDbird to arrive or don’t have a Target nearby – but in case you need to send from from Serve to REDbird, or vice versa, you’ll be totally fine.

Bottom line

Just wanted to throw this up, PSA-style, in case anyone else was in an in-between phase with these two cards and needed to send money to a friend or family member. I suspect it would also work with Bluebird, but I’d do a small transfer (like $5) just to test it out before I went full hog.

Having this transfer capability allowed me to pay my rent on time this month, and I was glad the two cards “talked to each other.”

In any regard, between Serve, REDbird, and PayPal My Cash cards, I am pretty well set for this month.

I *do* want to make sure US Bank cards are good with REDbird at Target because I really love Club Carlson points. I’ve heard US Bank is super weird about the REDbird reloads, so aside from that – now that I’m 100% I can load REDbird in NYC – I’m ready to get my permanent card and start this ball a-rollin’.

Using credit cards + REDbird to pay off large debts – and earn major points

This topic came up a lot last night at the NYC Miles and Points Meetup, so I thought I’d do a post about it.

Lots of people were planning to use REDbird + points/miles credit cards to pay off large sums of debt, meet minimum spend requirements, and reach threshold bonuses offered by certain credit cards.

It’s an incredibly easy but effective idea.

Run all your bill payments through REDbird

REDbird

REDbird

REDbird lets you load up $5,000 per month – for free – using a points or miles credit card.

If you max that out for a year, that’s $60,000 run through a credit card.

My own personal example is my student loan. I’m so tired of it hanging over my head and I’m about ready to turn around and kick that sucker in the face – but I’m gonna get a free vacation out of it!

For roundness or whatever, let’s say you owe $50,000 to:

  • Student loans
  • Your car payment
  • A mortgage
  • Medical bills
  • Credit cards
  • Or any or company or even person

You can add any company as a payee on the REDbird website.

At the top of the site, hover over “Pay & Transfer” and a dropdown menu will appear.

Where to add payees

Where to add payees

From there, click “Add Payee” and get rockin’ and rollin’.

What you get out of it

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Is British Airways planning to eliminate fuel surcharges?

My, my, my. British Airways. Now you’ve gone and done it – changed your award chart again.

I don’t care about the changes they’ve made to mileage earned for the various fare buckets – I mean, it truly sucks if you’re loyal to them as a frequent flyer. My relationship with British Airways is as an earner of Avios and redeemer of short haul flights on partner airlines.

I’ll admit, though, I was enamored of the idea of the Travel Together ticket until I woke up today and tried to get through their mess of an explanation email.

Screenshot 2015-01-28 23.10.11

Wait. What happened?

In the end, I feel relatively unscathed. The only thing I want, as an US-based flyer is those partner short-haul awards. Ooooh, yasss.

But, this does change things

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5% cash back promo from Fidelity Amex – up to $25

Who says the Fidelity American Express doesn’t ever have bonus offers?

Fidelity 5% cash back categories

Now, admittedly, this isn’t an earth-shattering bonus. It’s only offers a bonus for travel-related categories, and only up to $500 in spend until March 31st, 2015.

But, enrollment is easy (literally one click), and it seems like they’re targeting a lot of their cardholders for this.

A quick comparison

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What’s in my wallet? (Evaluating credit cards and travel goals)

As I begin to figure out my points and miles strategy for 2015, I thought it would be helpful assess what I currently have in my wallet.

Pre-warning: this is a very text heavy post. No pretty pictures to look at, just a whole lotta straight talk (1,200 words worth).

By bank:

American Express

  • Platinum Card
  • EveryDay Preferred

I just got a new Platinum Card in hopes that I’ll actually get a bonus for opening it – but I’m not holding my breath. In any regard, I already cashed in the $200 in airline incidentals on AA gift cards in 2014 and will do so again this year, so I will make back most of the annual fee right away.

I occasionally use Priority Pass Select on lounge visits that would otherwise be $50 a pop, and love dipping into the Centurion Lounges where I easily drink over $50 in cocktails alone (not to mention the spa treatments).

I also have utilized the Fine Hotels & Resorts program a time or two, and really love the near-constant Amex sync offers. So, I’m keeping it.

As for the EveryDay Preferred… it really has become by “EveryDay” card – I use it constantly and get 1.5-4.5x Membership Rewards points on everything I buy, which is pretty sweet. The earning is decent for non-bonus spend and is great for groceries, gas, and even more sync offers. (Email me if you’d like a referral to this card!)

If only Amex would up the points-earning power of the Platinum Card, I might actually put a buck or two of spend on it.

Barclaycard

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I found the REDbird to make a (data) point in New York City

First of all, Happy New Year’s Eve! And now…

I HAB THA REDBIRD

I just got back from REDbird Land (AKA the Memphis metro area). I was there visiting family for the holiday and made a point to stop in to a Target to pick up a REDbird card (AKA Target American Express Prepaid REDcard) and load it up with $500 – the max load for a temporary card.

The REDbird experience

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Cut the Crap: The Fidelity Investment Rewards Credit Card is THE BEST cash back card!

Fidelity-Amex

You da best

Had to get this off my chest.

There’s always a lot of talk in the points and miles world about which cashback card is “the best.” The speculation is constant, rampant.

  • Bank of America recently introduced a card where one could get 2.65 points per dollar so long as they dump $100,000 into an investment account.
  • The Barclaycard Arrival always gets mentioned because it’s an effective 2.22% cashback on travel purchases.
  • Citibank has a new one too: the Citi Double Cash card.
  • Freedom gets a mention due to its rotating 5% categories, which yes, is a good deal, and yes you can cash it out (but keep them for Ultimate Rewards transfers!).
  • Then there’s the Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex.

Why it’s the king

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