citi

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Yay! Just got Discover it® Cashback Match™ and Citi Hilton 75K cards!

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I took my own advice and got 2 new no annual fee cards.

This morning, I assessed my credit card situation and thought about how I could improve my strategy moving forward.

Both of these cards fit into my financial goals in different ways, and I’m excited to start exploring their features!

Discover It

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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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Complete the Hyatt Diamond Challenge in 9 Nights With the Citi Prestige Card

Random thought of the evening.

I’m going through my cards and want to dump:

And replace them with:

The hitch is that you have to wait ~8 days between applications with Citi, so I’m not sure which of their cards to get first. But I’m warming up to the idea of Category 1 and 2 Hilton hotels – there’s a ton of value to be had there.

Anyway.

Citi Prestige + Hyatt Diamond Challenge

Via The Points Guy, tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the Hyatt Diamond Challenge (something that’s always tempted me). You’ll have 60 days to complete it when you sign up (so until September 30th).

And via View From the Wing, the Citi Prestige card’s 4th night free benefit is “too good” to last. (I agree.)

Hyatt hotels are easily bookable with the Citi Prestige travel program. (Here’s the link to Carlson Wagonlit to search.)

A quick search in Dallas turned up 6 Hyatts, most under $100 a night

A quick search in Dallas turned up 6 Hyatts, most under $100 a night

If you book a 4-night stay for $100 a night, you’d pay $300 (after the Citi Prestige statement credit).

Do this 3 times in 60 days, pay $900, get Hyatt Diamond status. Any many hotels are available for under $100.

If you have Hyatt stays coming up anyway, this might be something to mix-and-match with cash + points stays.

And hotels booked with the Citi Prestige card do earn elite credit.

What’s Hyatt Diamond status worth?

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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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I Use Miles Because I Won’t Pay Revenue Prices… Right?!

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Correct me if I’m being thick because I definitely have my “forest for the trees” moments.

Meaning of value... are you in there? Oh, there you are.

Meaning of value… are you in there? Oh, there you are.

I read an article on Point Me to the Plane about a flight that got 2.5 cents per Delta mile.

Then the comments read: if you wouldn’t pay cash for the flights, that’s not how much the points/miles are worth.

But… I use points and miles for flights and hotels specifically because I won’t pay cash for them.

In fact, I’ve planned entire trips (like Hawaii, Paris, RTW/Australia, and Eurotrip 2014 in Lufthansa First Class) that I would’ve never paid for if it weren’t for points and miles.

I did NOT pay $7,243 for this flight… but I did pay 40,000 Avios + $453 in fuel surcharges. So what are the points worth?

I thought… that was the “point” of points and miles? 

Targeting aspiration AKA value

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My Top 5 Hilton Category 2 Hotels for Award Stays

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I looked through the Hilton Category 2 hotel list to see what gems I could unearth from that piece of barren internet.

I was surprised to find lots of hotels (131, to be exact) all over the US and Europe (and globally). I pulled out my Top 5 picks.

In particular, I’d like to maximize the 5th night free benefit that Hilton gives to all of its elite members.

Here are 5 Hilton Category 2 hotels where I could see myself spending 5 days.

Note: Prices are based on travel in September 2015 and are after taxes as shown on the checkout screen. Read More

Seriously tempted by the 75,000 point Citi Hilton Visa offer

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I sense an app-o-rama coming on after pondering the benefits of the Discover It card. And now the Citi Hilton Visa has its highest-ever 75,000 point bonus. I heard this offer was ending on August 31, 2015.

Some cards simply aren’t worth keeping any longer, like the POS that is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and the completely, utterly, insanely useless Chase British Airways Visa (RIP to both. I’ll bury you next to Club Carlson).

Kinda sorta semi-interesting

Kinda sorta semi-interesting

But, out with the old, in with the new.

What’s so dang special about the Citi Hilton Visa?

For one, its earning structure:

3 Hilton points per $1 at... drugstores?!

3 Hilton points per $1 at… drugstores?!

Are they crazy? 3X at drugstores is asking for it, no?

CVS, here I come!

If I max out the $4,000 limit on PayPal My Cash cards, that’s 144,000 Hilton points per year ($4,000 x 3 points per dollar x 12).

Not bad!

Maximizing Hilton points

If I’m strategic, each month I’d earn 2 nights at a Category 1 property or 1 night at a Category 2 property… and there are a lot of Hilton Category 2 hotels all over the US and Europe.

If I’m doubly strategic, I can save up some points and get the 5th night free on a 5-night award stay.

5 nights at a Category 2 hotel costs 40,000 points. So the sign-up bonus alone would be good for 10 nights at Category 2 hotels.

And 20 nights at Category 1 hotels! Useful if you want to go off the beaten path.

I already have Hilton Gold status through FoundersCard, but this card does offer Hilton Silver status automatically, which unlocks the 5th night free benefit.

I wish it offered an ongoing annual benefit for renewal, but since it’s a Citi card, you can’t rule that out. Citi is known to have generous, aggressive retention offers.

Because it’s a no annual fee card, you can get the points and throw it in a drawer if you hate it. And let it age your credit accounts.

A good deal considering it doesn’t have an annual fee – but not as good as the Amex no annual fee Hilton card.

Still, for 75,000 points… I’m thinking of pulling the trigger on this one.

Bottom line

So interesting to see the sign-up bonuses on various cards come and go, benefits get added and taken away, devaluations, and new perks… and how they all tie in together.

If you can live with Hilton’s categories, maximize the Category 1 and 2 properties, and take advantage of the earning structure, this card might be a good one to add to the arsenal.

If you hate it after the initial sign-up bonus, who cares? Throw it in a drawer and let it age your other credit accounts. And Citi is known for retention bonuses, so you might get an annual injection of Hilton points by calling and asking.

I’m thinking of doing it… 5 nights for the price of 4 at a Category 2 hotel costs 40,000 points, so the sign-up bonus on this card right now would be good for 2 such jaunts.

Is anyone else thinking of getting in on this offer? 

Thank you for using my links! (And yes, the 75K offer is available there!)

Targeted Citi AA Cardholders: 2X Miles in Bonus Categories / 10X Miles with Apple Pay

Just saw this and wanted to put it up.

Keep an eye on your mailbox. It seems Citi is targeting American Airlines credit card holders for bonus offers:

Letter from Citi

Here are the deets: 

  • Earn up to 2,500 bonus miles
  • Earn 2X miles in certain categories (below)
  • Earn 10X miles if you pay with Apple Pay
  • Promo runs through 9/30/15

2X / 10X categories: 

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Drugstores
  • Restaurants
  • Commuter transportation

Couple of thoughts. Citi is going after Barclays in the promo department.

And they’re going after pretty much every other card with the categories. Including drugstores?

If you max out the 10X with Apple Pay, that’s only $250 in spend. So it’s not stellar.

However, Citi sometimes mixes up their promos and sends different offers out.

Did anyone else get one of these recently? Was your offer different? 

Enroll in Citi’s 60-Day Return Guarantee Program

I was trolling around on the Citi website today and decided to look through my Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Amex benefits. Lots of good things in there. I like this card because it’s an American Express card not issued by Amex and is no longer open for enrollment. I can use it for Amex Sync offers, Small Business Saturday, and possibly to load up my Serve account (haven’t gotten that far yet).

As I got to the “Shopping benefits” section, I noticed there was one for which I had to manually enroll in on the website.

The 60-Day Return Guarantee program

There it was, hanging out there in the corner like a creep.

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Citi 60-Day Return Guarantee program

Screenshot 2015-05-15 11.30.58-1

Enrollment screen – good for a year

I clicked on it, and there was a little button that said “Enroll.” If I enrolled, it would be good for a year. 

So I did it. Why not. Then I was told about the benefits:

Citi 60-Day Return Guarantee

How to use the Citi 60-Day Return Guarantee

The benefit is good for $250 per claim and up to $1,000 annually. Things returned must be new and unopened. Fair enough. Really not so shabby at all. But then I thought…

WHERE DO I SEND THE STUFF? 

Apparently to their office in Ohio lol. But whatever. Then I was like… uhhhh… do I pay for the shipping (I think so)?

And then I started to think if I’d ever wanted to return something after a merchant’s return period had run out. Or what if I bought something while traveling and can’t get it back to the shop? Or what if the store doesn’t allow returns?

It hasn’t happened a lot, but here and there… yeah, definitely. Maybe once or twice a year. As long as I put the entire amount of the purchase on this card, I could return it and get the money back. Nice.

This is old news

So I thought I’d stumbled upon something new and exciting but nope. This thing’s been around since 2012. Practically Stone Age for the points and miles crowd.

I wanted to mention it here because I’d never heard of it in all my excavations about terms and conditions. Maybe it’s been around so long that it’s not mentioned any more? In any regard, it lives!

Discover, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Freedom all have similar programs. And the one for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, anyway, is up to $500 per item and you have 90 days to return it. A month more and double the protection that Citi offers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred return protection

However, I couldn’t find much online on the Chase website, so kudos to Citi for making it so easy to find and understand.

Also, apparently, you have to enroll manually for this benefit with Citi – it is not an automatic feature of Citi credit cards. So I wanted to toss it out there in case it might help someone and they’d like to enroll.

Bottom line

Citi has a program that I didn’t know about before today called the 60-Day Return Guarantee.

They’ve kinda hidden under the “Card Benefits” section of the their website, near the bottom. You have to find it and manually enroll to receive the benefit for 1 year for free.

Has anyone else, um, heard of this? Has anyone ever actually used this perk – or something similar offered by another credit card? How was your experience?