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Why I Bought a Car With Credit Cards

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I’m targeting late April/early May to be out of NYC and in Dallas full-time.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a silver Subaru Forester. Buying a house and moving to Dallas meant I’d need to buy a car sooner or later.

The budget I had in mind was $6,000 for everything. Tax, title, registration, base price of the vehicle, everything.

I knew car prices tend to rise as it gets warmer, so when I found a great deal on the car I wanted in late February, I went ahead and snagged it.

My new cahhh

My new cahhh. I named him Clyde

Oh! And I wanted to pay for it in full. No financing.

Just an in-shape, reliable used car whose only expenses were maintenance, insurance, and gas. Boom.

Buying a car with credit cards

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What’s with all the crap promotions lately?

As I look out onto the barren fields where credit card crops once grew, I mourn the loss of Chase (with the 5/24 rule). Of Citi (when they shut down so many peeps’ accounts). And definitely of AMEX (1 bonus per lifetime? Um, OK). Barclays and Bank of America are both one-card wonders (Arrival for sign-up bonus and Alaska Visa, respectively).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve received a lot of terrible offers lately. Here are the best of the worst.

AMEX

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Loving Citi More Than Ever – Time to Cancel Other Cards?

The credit card landscape is shifting fast:

  • Chase will apply the 5/24 to all its cards starting in April 2016, including co-branded and business cards
  • Citi has been shutting peeps down for usage they don’t like (multiples of any 1 card, money order payments, etc.)
  • Barclays had a good product with the Arrival Plus card, then butchered it. That was pretty much the only good card they had
  • US Bank is useless
  • Bank of America is only good for the Alaska Visa
  • Wells Fargo is a cantankerous little beast
  • There are a few other niche cards, like the Fidelity Visa and BBVA NBA card, worth looking into, but not many

Card offers come and go. Benefits change. Mergers happen and shake things up. Revenue-based elite status throws a wrench into points-earning calculations.

asd

Could ThankYou become the go-to?

Lately, I’ve been using my Citi cards for most of big purchases. And my trusty Chase Sapphire Preferred for dining.

Non-bonused spend goes on the Fidelity AMEX (I still have the AMEX version). And that’s pretty much it. All the other cards I have are for niche benefits or very specific spending (Chase Hyatt Visa, for example).

Recently, I went ahead and canceled the Chase British Airways Visa.

RIP

Bye, you useless thing

And downgraded my US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature to the no annual fee version just to keep the credit line and history intact (here’s my recent offer to increase my credit line in exchange for 250 Club Carlson Gold points).

Poor AMEX

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Barclaycard Aviator Downgrade Offer + Q1 Bonus Points at Supermarkets

RIP, Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®.

As part of closing on my house, I had to ax this card (I’ll explain why in another post). But, before the boot, I downgraded the card from the Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® (with an $89 annual fee) to the regular ol’ “Aviator card” (with no annual fee), and got it in the mail just in time to say goodbye.

You are lost and gone forever, oh my darlin', Clementine

You are lost and gone forever, oh my darlin’, Clementine

Here are 2 offers I got that might be helpful to some folks. One you have to call to receive, the other is targeted – so be on the lookout if you’re interested.

Downgrade offer

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Earn Triple Miles With Barclays Aviator Cards (Targeted Offer, Just OK)

I got a targeted email offer today on my Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®. It’s not earth-shattering or anything but thought I’d share because it does require registration.

The email subject is “Finish the year strong and earn bonus rewards.”

Triple miles in some pretty good categories

Triple miles in some pretty good categories

It’s worth registering for if you’re targeted.

Deets

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Upgrade Barclays Red Aviator to Silver Automatically Online

Also see:

If you’re interested in upgrading your Barclays Red Aviator card (not open to new applicants), it might be possible to do so directly in online banking.

View from the Wing reported that Barclays was slowly rolling out the upgrades, and listed some reasons why you may NOT want to upgrade the card.

To Upgrade or to Not Upgrade, That Is the Question

Me, I’m not gonna do it.

Because I have 10,000 American miles coming my way when I pay the annual fee again.

Here’s how you can tell:

Click "View Rewards"

Click “View Rewards”

And then…

Click "How my rewards work"

Click “How my rewards work”

There, you’ll see something to this effect:

I only get one round of 10K. But others get 10K EVERY cardmember year. They should NOT upgrade to Aviator Silver

I only get one round of 10K. But others get 10K EVERY cardmember year. They should NOT upgrade to Aviator Silver

I’ll get the 10,000 AA miles once and then consider upgrading to Aviator Silver.

But if you don’t see such language, you might consider making the upgrade now.

Check your account

In my account, the offer was on the right side, under Barclaycard extras:

Click to start, then 2 more clicks to upgrade to Aviator Silver!

Click to start, then 2 more clicks to upgrade to Aviator Silver!

It just says, “Upgrade your Account Benefits.”

When I clicked through, I was invited to upgrade to Aviator Silver.

Click "Tell me more" to proceed

Click “Tell me more” to proceed

After I clicked, I got a long list of details. Including that the upgrade would happen on August 7, 2015.

Page 1 of details

Page 1 of details

Page 2 of details

Page 2 of details

If I’d clicked “Yes, I accept,” the card would’ve been upgraded and the annual fee charged on November 30, 2015.

Should you do it?

I’m holding off to get my 10,000 AA anniversary miles. But if I didn’t have that coming, I’d definitely be tempted by this offer.

When you upgrade, you get:

  • 3X AA miles on AA flights
  • 2X AA miles on hotels and car rentals
  • 1X AA mile everywhere else
  • 5,000 EQMs when you spend $20,000 annually (can get up to 10,000 EQMs)
  • $99 companion certificate when you spend $30,000 annually
  • Free Global Entry (as a statement credit)

So this card is really only worth it if you have a lot of paid flights on American Airlines. Or if you want the opportunity to “buy” EQMs instead of fly to attain/retain status each year. Hey, 10,000 EQMs is 2 round-trip transcons! 

$195 is pretty hefty for an annual fee. But no other card earns 3X AA miles, which are extremely valuable (for now). If you can met the various spending thresholds, EQMs are very valuable, too. And the $99 companion cert if a nice bonus – if you can actually use it.

So it’s a personal decision for a niche crowd. Also consider this card is not available to new applicants. So if you can get it now, go for it.

Bottom line

Barclays is finally loosening the requirements to upgrade from Aviator Red to Silver. I was able to do it in 2 clicks directly in my online banking.

This is great news for a select set of people to whom this card caters.

But if you can wring the benefits out of it, like the EQMs, 3X AA miles, and $99 companion certificate, it would be well worth the $195 annual fee.

Do you have the option to upgrade? If you do… will you?

DTMFA: Barclaycard Arrival Plus. Still a good card?

Also see: 

So torn. Always kinda have been.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus. I’ve always wondered what it was, in the sense that it was a bit of an enigma.

In the crosshairs

In the crosshairs

I got this card in May 2013. The annual fee was waived for the 1st year.

I got a retention offer the 2nd year.

I just paid the $89 annual fee about a month ago. I want to cancel this card. But it has 1 good use left in it…

Is is worth it?

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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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New Barclays AAdvantage Aviator MasterCard: Will you still get the 10,000 mile anniversary bonus if you upgrade?

The new Aviator Red MasterCard

The new Aviator Red MasterCard

I wanna dig into this a little, in part because it’s a topic I don’t know the answer to (spoiler alert!), and in part because I would like to upgrade.

As part of Barclays’ discontinuation of the US Airways credit card products, they’ve sent out materials for which version of the Aviator existing cardholders should expect to receive.

I was selected to get the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard.

Barclays' mailed communication about the product change

Barclays’ mailed communication about the product change

Note that they mention the 50% bonus miles promo at the bottom of the page.

They also included a page of FAQs:

Aviator Red FAQ page

Aviator Red FAQ page

But what about the anniversary bonus?

I’ve done a little digging, and Barclays has confirmed that cardholders will continue to receive the 10,000 mile anniversary bonus if they keep the product they are selected to receive. Which is great news. (I barely eked my way in at the last minute into the card with the 10,000 bonus miles.)

But what about if you want to upgrade from Red to Silver? That’s where the murkiness is coming in, and I’ve read reports that if you upgrade (or downgrade) from what’s been pre-selected for you, you will forfeit your 10,000 mile anniversary bonus. Which is not-so-great news.

The other side of the coin is that since this product is so new, and in fact hasn’t even been sent out yet, we still don’t know exactly what will happen.

So here’s my dilemma.

I want the Aviator Silver

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Barclays Rewards Fan Zone: Earn 500+ FREE Arrival+ Miles

Barclays Arrival+

Barclays Arrival+

Note: this may be a targeted offer, but definitely worth it to see if it’s on your account. 

Barclays is now offering the “Rewards Fan Zone” where you can earn extra Arrival+ miles by completing various (easy) “activities”.

Rewards Fan Zone

To see if you’ve been targeted, simply check your Arrival+ card on the Barclays website. Here’s what showed up for me:

Barclays Arrival+ Rewards Fan Zone

Barclays Arrival+ Rewards Fan Zone

After you log in to the Barclays website, navigate over to the “Barclaycard extras” tab to see what shows up for you.

I was on the cusp of 5,000 Arrival+ miles, and the activities chosen for me to complete were enough to put me over the edge for my next $50 award redemption, with absolutely no spend required.

Rewards Fan Zone interface

Rewards Fan Zone interface

A couple of my tasks

A couple of my activities

As you can see, the activities are super easy to complete, and really only take a second or two per task:

My activities

My activities

It’s stuff like connecting your Barclaycard to social media, following them on Twitter, watching a short video, etc. The miles posted instantly, right after I completed each activity.

My Rewards Fan Zone activity

My Rewards Fan Zone activity

Bottom line

Nothing major, but you can get an extra few bucks worth of travel redemptions for clicking a few buttons.

If you’re on the cusp of your next award redemption, it’s totally worth it to check to see if you’re targeted for this.

More than anything, I’m glad Barclays is continuing to offer enhancements on the Arrival+ cards like:

I’m curious to see what else they continue to roll out for this card and for the new Rewards Fan Zone to make it competitive within the rewards card industry. That curiosity has been my biggest driver for keeping this card as long as I have (along with a great retention offer).

Kudos to Barclays for continuing to innovate in a crowded market, even if it is only for a few extra hundred miles. I’m looking forward to seeing what they roll out next.

Was anyone else targeted for this? Are your offers better than mine? Would love to hear if offers differ from what I’ve posted!

Barclays US Airways MasterCard holders: did you get a 50% bonus?

Very cool. Barclays is offering a 50% bonus on all spend for March through June for up to $20,000 in spend. This equates to 1.5 miles per dollar, which is a pretty nice rate of return for an airline cobranded card.

I value all my miles at 2 cents per dollar, so this is effectively 3% back if you value your miles the same way. At 1.5 miles per dollar, this matches what you’d earn by meeting the minimum transactions on an Amex EveryDay card for non-bonused spending, and obviously exceeds cards where you only earn one mile or point per dollar

With the merger between American and US Airways happening quickly, these miles will be incredibly useful on American pretty soon.

I’ll still give preference to my cards with category bonuses (groceries on the Chase Freedom this quarter, phone bill on the Chase Ink Plus, etc.), but will probably filter some spend onto this card after I max out the bonus I recently got on my US Bank Club Carlson Visa, which also begins in March – and it’s great to see credit card companies rewarding ongoing spending!

To check if you were targeted look under “Barclaycard extras” after you log in to the Barclays website:

The offer will show up here, if you're targeted

The offer will show up here, if you’re targeted

Then just check the box and click “Submit” – easy peezy.

Screenshot 2015-02-25 00.52.19

I’m just happy I made a screenshot before I clicked

Boom - enlarge to read T&Cs

Boom – click to enlarge to read T&Cs

Bottom line

It seems like a lot of US Airways MasterCard holders are being targeted for this offer without regard to account age, so if you’re new to the card or have had it for a while, it might be worth checking.

Were you targeted for this bonus? Will it encourage you to shift spend over to this card for a while? 

HT to Frequent Miler.

Confirmed: CVS accepts credit cards for PayPal My Cash reloads in NYC

I couldn’t wait until February to kick off Manufactured Spend Month: I just got back from CVS, where I successfully purchased two $500 PayPal My Cash reloads with my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

New York can be kind of a barren wasteland for manufactured spending, but today it was a gold mine. It was like the Vanilla Reload days all over again.

I walked into a CVS in East Midtown in Manhattan. The gift cards were on an endcap, prominently displayed, near the registers. I immediately saw the bounty.

cvs paypal my cash credit cards

PayPal My Cash cards at CVS

I grabbed two of them and walked to the register – there was no line (the joy of shopping mid-day on a week day). I pulled out my license and credit card. The cashier looked at them and asked to see both. She didn’t say anything like, “Cash only,” or “We don’t accept credit cards,” which I was kinda bracing for. Whew.

She scanned the reload cards, then my license (because with activation fees, the transaction was over $1,000). I was a little worried that Barclays would flag the transaction like they did when I got my temporary REDbird card last month, but the little signature screen popped up, I signed, and all was good to go.

It was SO EASY and took all of a minute. I walked in, checked out, and was done. It was JUST LIKE Vanilla Reloads in every regard, including the loading up (which I will get to in a sec).

Then, in Brooklyn…

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