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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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Why I Product Changed to the Chase Sapphire Reserve

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I caved. And called Chase. Asked if they’d let me change my Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. And thankfully, they did.

I’m happy to report I’m now the owner of a shiny new Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

chase sapphire reserve product change

Got itttt

Here’s why I did it.

My Chase Sapphire Reserve Product Change

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[EXPIRED] Hurry! ~$500 Moneymaker on Kitchen Appliances at Kohl’s With Discover It or Freedom

Update 10/4/16: It looks like Kohl’s gift card purchases from the MPX app are NOT coding as department store as expected. Peeps in the comments say it didn’t work with their Chase Freedom cards.

No dice here, either

No dice here, either 🙁

It looks to also be true with Discover It. My purchase coded as “Misc. General Merchandise.” So I lost the 10% cashback and will get 2% cashback instead.

I haven’t heard of this happening before now, so I will gather new data points before I recommend this moving forward. Thanks to all who let me know!

I’m bummed about this, but at least we got the 1,500 United miles (worth ~$30) as consolation. Though I would’ve preferred the cashback.

Update 10/3/16: This deal has expired. I plan on writing about my experience with it – here’s how to keep up with the blog so you’ll get the updates!

Need a little rush this weekend? How about buying $600+ worth of appliances at Kohl’s? 

Last year they had a similar appliance deal I didn’t take part in. But this year I did.

Now before you think I’m crazy (although it may be waaay too late for that), let me explain.

This is a moneymaker if you do it right!

Hat tip to Jill Cataldo for blogging about this and my friend Jas for turning me on to this deal!

Build the deal

I feel like I say this every time I write about Kohl’s, but… it’s no secret I freaking love Kohl’s.

Right now, they have a lot of appliances on sale for $17, including:

Lots of appliances for $17

Lots of appliances for $17

In total, there are 8 kitchen appliances at the $17 price. 

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All of the items have a $12 Visa gift card rebate

And, all of the items linked above are eligible for a $12 mail-in rebate. You get a Visa gift card with a limit of 5 per product.

That means if you buy 5 of all 8 items, you can get 40 X $12 back, or $480.

Right now, there’s also a 15% promo code: SMS1871. And it does work for these items.

When you add all of them to your cart and add the promotion code, the total is ~$625. You also get $110 in Kohl’s cash to spend next week.

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I paid ~$625 for all 40 appliances

Note that taxes in your state might be different than mine! In Texas, the taxes came to ~$48.

And, you must purchase the items by tomorrow, October 2nd, 2016, to qualify for the rebate (here’s the rebate form). Cheers to the weekend!

Stack stack stack

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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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Get an Extra 3X on Gift Cards at Staples (So 8X If You Have a 5X Office Supply Card)

Update: Wow, instant response! Chuck from Doctor of Credit let me know this may or may not work. So for now, I think the best thing to do is start slow at your local Staples (like try $5 and see if it works) and go from there, should you decide to try this. Thanks all for any info you want to add!

I was poking around as I am wont to do and assembled an 8X combination that I think will work.

Now, I haven’t done this myself, but it seems totally do-able.

What you’ll need to get started is:

  • The MileagePlus X app (which I’ve written about) AND
  • If you want 8X points, a Visa or MasterCard that earns 5X at office supply stores

Such as:

You can also get 5X on top of what you’ll earn from any other card with the exception of a couple of Amex cards.

Or, if you’re trying to meet a minimum spending requirement and want to get an extra 3X at office supply stores, this should work nicely.

Stack 3X through MileagePlus X with 5X on another card

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Chase OR Costco + Autoslash: Get the Best Price on Car Rentals

I rented a car this past weekend in Albuquerque.

And I’m renting another one this upcoming weekend for a work trip to Austin.

I’ve rented enough cars by this point to rely solely on 2 places to look: the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and Costco Travel. One or the other of them has the best deal almost always.

car rental best price

Laaaa! Behold Costco Travel’s car rental search

For good measure, I usually run a search through Kayak, too – just to be sure.

Last week, I booked through Costco. And this week, I booked through Chase. One of them simply always works out for the best.

A quick comparison

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Just Booked a Trip for Next Weekend in 10 Minutes (Instant Transfers Save the Day!)

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I’ll never forget the thrill and uncertainty of booking my first award ticket. I thought I’d show up to the airport and be turned away for not paying (or something like that). Can a flight really cost ~$11 when you book with… points?

That was a few years ago. But there’s still something so novel about booking award trips. Some of them are planned in advance, like my upcoming trip to Hawaii. And some are aspirational or in the future, like the Brussels Airlines flights I booked with Etihad miles.

Mmm, love the high desert

Love the high desert!

Long story short, I needed to spend a couple of days in New Mexico to get some work done there. Looking at my upcoming weekends:

  • Next one was open
  • After that, Austin for work
  • Labor Day weekend – nothing available with points
  • Hawaii

4 weekends = a month of plans. I started poking around and realized, holy crap, I’m gonna book this trip for next weekend!

Finding flights

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The Top Card for Beginners? Yeah, the Chase Sapphire Preferred

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I’m sure it’s happened to you at some point. A friend asks, “How do you do it?” Take all these trips to places like Hawaii, Tokyo and Osaka, Dublin, Barcelona, and more. How do you get free hotel rooms that cost hundreds of dollars a night?

“I want to travel like you do,” they say. “Where do I start?”

Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can stay at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philly with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

You can stay at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philly with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

And you have that moment where you’re thinking inside, “Well for starters, using that debit card for everything you buy isn’t helping anything.” *cough* Kierstin *cough*

You ask about their spending habits. “Do you shop online?” Definitely use a shopping portalget free miles for clicking a link.

And sign up for dining rewards while you’re at it because you never know when you’ll get some extra miles in your account – especially if you live in a mid-sized to large city.

As far as cards go… where to begin?

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Should You Use a 0% APR Card to Pay Off Debt?

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NOTE: The card APRs in this post are current at the time of writing (July 28th, 2016). Be sure to check the offers for more details.

So here’s an idea I’ve been tossing around.

It absolutely burns me up that I’m still dealing with student loan debt. And it should. Mr. Money Mustache said it best:

YOUR DEBT IS NOT SOMETHING YOU “WORK ON”. IT IS A HUGE, FLAMING EMERGENCY!!!

I’ve put off paying down this debt because there have been other opportunities to earn more: I bought a house, maxed out my IRA, started Airbnbs, and now I’m looking at buying a duplex in the DFW area.

All of these things either appreciate or earn more than the interest I pay on my student loans.

But I’ll be damned if carrying that balance doesn’t give me a red rump.

The idea

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Best Cards to Use for Amazon Prime Day

It’s here – Amazon Prime Day. I was excited to see what Amazon would do today (July 12th, 2016) after the disappointing selection last year.

Prime Day

Prime Day is here, and it’s worth it this year

It looks good – there are many worthwhile deals for items like TVs, tablets, portable readers, clothes, even cleaning supplies.

Discounts are around 25%, with some items even more reduced. So it might be worth it to stock up – or at least see if something catches your eye today.

What’s Prime Day?

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App-O-Rama: 4 New Cards and ~200,000 Points

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Oh man, looking back on my first AOR 3 years ago is such a stroll down memory lane.

Still the best high I've found

Still the best high I’ve found

I was still newish to points and miles, new to blogging, still finding my voice and figuring out my travel goals.

I mentioned them at the time:

My travel goals for this round of apps are Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Dublin, Seattle, Alaska, and eventually, Australia. I’d also LOVE to fit in Vienna/Prague sometime this summer.

I made it to all of those places with the exception of Prague (which I mentioned recently as a possibility with Hilton points, so it’s still on my radar):

It goes to show the power of setting a goal.

But I should take a little wisdom “Three Years Ago Harlan” because my recent round of applications were rather scattershot. After I get settled in Dallas, I’m gonna need to plan a lot of trips with all the points and miles I’ll earn from this newest AOR.

4 new cards!

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