FIA

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Kohl’s B’day Gift, Free Admirals Club Membership In, Instant FIA Credit Line Increase + Inquiry

Just a few bits and baubles to follow up on recent posts.

1. Kohl’s $10 Birthday Gift

Also see: 

August is my birthday month, and Kohl’s got their timing perfect.

Because today, in the mail, was a card/gift from Kohl’s. Right after I mentioned how much I love them this morning.

$10 birthday present from Kohl's

$10 birthday present from Kohl’s

I also just received my Yes2Rewards this morning as an email, too.

Kohl’s has a great thing going. Their rewards program is more straightforward than Sears Shop Your Way Rewards and their website is way better, they have frequent discounts (usually 30% off) and promotion codes, often free shipping, and now I get a $10 bonus.

I wish their portal payout on the Discover Deals shopping portal was 10% cashback like Macy’s, Sears, and Kmart (it’s 5%).

But free money is great. I can always buy some new sheets and towels for my Airbnbs.

2. Admirals Club Membership Materials Are In

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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

Also see: 

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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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

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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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Bank of America/FIA WorldPoints Mall Ending in March 2015

From the “nobody cares but me” files… 

I’ve written a lot about the FIA Fidelity American Express in the past. In my opinion, it’s the best cash back card out there for a lot of reasons: no annual fee, eligible for Amex Sync offers, ease of redemption into interest-earning accounts, and until now, the incredible shopping portal that no one ever really talked about anyway.

I check this portal every time I purchase something online, and about every 4th or 5th time, they have the best payouts. I’ve never had any issue with my points posting, although they’ve been known to take their precious time about posting from a few merchants. I’ve earned hundreds of free dollars from the WorldPoints portal just by clicking their links in the past year or two.

As of March 2015, it will be ending.

Saw this on the FIA website

Saw this on the FIA website

Then I went to verify, and sure enough it’s reflected on the Bank of America website as well.

Screenshot 2015-02-02 19.00.27

From the BofA version of the WorldPoints Mall

They routinely paid out nicely for soap.com, which is where I order my dog’s food from (well, from wag.com but I always clicked through to soap.com and still got the portal points).

5 points per dollar for soap.com

5 points per dollar for soap.com

In addition, they often had higher payouts for hotels.com, staples.com, gap.com, The Body Shop, and even a couple of stores that other portals don’t have (soap.com, actually – although it’s on the Barclays RewardsBoost portal at 2 points per dollar).

If anyone wants to get in one more round of shopping in February to get some extra free money, now’s your last chance.

Bottom line

I hate to see Bank of America following in American Express’ footsteps – Amex closed their Membership Rewards portal a couple of years ago.

Chase recently rebranded their portal as “Shop Through Chase” which gives me hope that they’re not going to close it any time soon.

It’s not the end of the world or anything, but always bad to see less options and to see banks retracting programs like this. The economy is getting better (or rather, is already better) and Bank of America/FIA probably figure they can get the extra revenue from somewhere else.

Just hope it doesn’t signal more clawbacks in the near future, or prompt other copycats. I don’t think it will – BofA is one of the stingiest banks for points and miles credit cards, so this just comes off as yet another cut they’ve made. It affects me very peripherally with the FIA card, but still…

Does anyone else use this portal? Oh god, don’t say it’s just me. ::crickets::

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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