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

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?”

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

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

You can stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta for FREE with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

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.

But as far as cards go… where to begin?

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Get the Capital One Savor $500 Sign-Up Offer While You Can (Dropping to $300?)

Update: This offer is no longer available. Check here to see the latest card offers!

Right now, the sign-up bonus for the Capital One Savor card is showing as a $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening on the Capital One website.

But through affiliates like CardRatings, it’s shown with a $500 cash bonus upon meeting the same minimum spending. There’s some speculation it’ll drop to $300 across all channels, although nothing’s confirmed. So if you’ve been thinking about this card, I’d recommend getting the higher bonus while it’s still up, as these links can be pulled at any time.

You’ll also earn:

  • 4% cashback on dining and entertainment
  • 2% cashback at grocery stores
  • 1% cashback everywhere else
  • Free Postmates Unlimited membership through December 2019 (as a statement credit)
  • Learn more here

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year. If you spend even moderately on dining or entertainment, this is a great card to consider with a really generous $500 cash bonus.

If I weren’t trying to stay under 5/24, I’d get this in a heartbeat. Keep in mind Capital One pulls from all 3 credit bureaus when you apply for a new card.

Capital One Savor $500

How about $500 smackaroos right back in your pocket? Hit up this offer sooner rather than later if you’re interested

And I’ll remind you about those bonus categories!

Capital One Savor $300 Bonus

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The 8 Best Chase Credit Cards & 3 Paths to Choose From (Or Mix and Match)

In a couple more months, I’ll be mercifully under 5/24, which means I’m looking at the best Chase credit cards and wondering what I’ll open, as if ordering off a menu. Chase hasn’t been a possibility for so long, it feels a bit like starting over.

It kinda is. I’ll get to retool my card arsenal – and that got me thinking about what’s worth getting – and what to skip (or cancel if it comes to that).

Upon reflection, I realized there are 3 ways to approach Chase cards:

  • Focus on personal cards (especially Ultimate Rewards cards)
  • Focus on small business cards
  • Go for the Southwest Companion Pass

Not to say any of these paths is absolute. I find that generally, peeps have certain travel goals in mind before they start applying, myself included.

And of course, you can mix and match. Here are the ones to start with.

Best Chase Credit Cards

I’ve got the Chase Freedom – and soon I can expand my entire Chase card strategy

Then you can fill-in around the edges with cards from other banks.

8 best Chase credit cards

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Hacking Uber: Earn Points, Cashback, and Credits Every Time You Ride 🚙

Updated 5/23/19.

I’ve been riding Uber more lately because they make it so easy to stack multiple offers when you ride.

earn points with uber

Oh, Uber. I am “getting there”

And, I’m hopeful they’re slowly but surely turning things around.

With Lyft, you can only earn 1X Delta miles – and 30 JetBlue points on airport trips. Which, meh.

I’d rather earn cashback and Drop points, use travel credits, and get Uber credits for shopping around town. And many times you can stack these deals. You know I love a good stack!

1. Earn points and get cashback with Freebird

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Excellent 3X Categories, $200 Bonus, & No Annual Fee: Wells Fargo Propel Amex Review

All sorts of cards are getting my attention with my impending sub-5/24 status looming near.

After I get the Chase cards I want (Ink Business Preferred and Freedom Unlimited are current frontrunners), I’ll turn to other banks, like Wells Fargo and Capital One.

High on the list: the Wells Fargo Propel Amex (learn more here). This card has:

  • A sign-up bonus of 20,000 bonus points (worth $200 in cash back, travel, gift cards, or other rewards) after completing minimum spending requirements
  • Really good 3X bonus categories
  • NO annual fee
  • Up to $600 in cell phone insurance when you pay your wireless bill with the card

While I usually prefer cards that earn points toward award travel, there’s a lot going for this cashback card – especially considering it’s free to keep long-term. It’s a strong card for active lifestyles, and for peeps who don’t want to pay an annual fee.

Wells Fargo Propel Amex review

Eat out, order in, travel, unwind… the Wells Fargo Propel Amex earns 3% cashback in some of the best bonus categories and has NO annual fee

Let’s take stock!

Wells Fargo Propel Amex review – A hidden gem with no annual fee

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I’m Finally Gonna Fall Below Chase 5/24: My Credit Card Plan

I have a below 5/24 plan. How’d that happen?

I can’t get most Amex cards because I’ve already earned the welcome offer, or Citi cards because of their 24-month “family of brands” rule. Plus, I got busy baby-making.

So when I checked Credit Karma, I had to blink again. For the first time in years, I’ll be below 5/24 as of July 19, 2019 – only 4 months away!

I mean yeah, there are non-Chase cards I’d looove to get (I’m drooling for the Amex Hilton Aspire). But heck, if I’m this close, I may as well keep trending. And you bet I’m running right for the Chase Ink Business Preferred – I hope that sweet 80,000-point bonus is still around!

below 5/24 plan

When I think of UR points, alls I see is Hyatt hotel stays. First stop: Ink Business Preferred

More broadly, this might be the beginning of a long-needed credit card overhaul.

My Below 5/24 Plan

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The 12 Best Card-Linked and Cashback Apps (10 Get You Completely Free Rewards)

Lord knows I love playing around with new apps on my phone, especially in the interest of free, passive cashback just for linking my cards one time.

And other apps can save you money too, but require more interaction. I’m happy to click a few buttons to earn a few free bucks.

There are a LOT of card-linked and cashback apps out there.  Here are the 6 best card-linked apps, and 6 best cashback apps.

Between the 12, you stand to gain $95+ right out the gate!

 

best cashback apps

These apps get you ongoing rewards for linking your cards. Set and forget!

Between them all, I’ve gotten back $100s in free rewards in the form of cash and gift cards.

12 Best Apps for Free Rewards

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Is Stash Stock-Back Better Than Earning Points? They Seem to Think So – Do You?

Micro-investing platform Stash introduced a debit card this week with an interesting proposition – earn .125% rewards on every purchase in the form of stock. If you spend at a publicly traded company, you’ll get a slice of their stock.

And if they’re a private company, your rewards go into a low-cost Vanguard ETF.

That’s great, but if you want to earn stocks, just get a Fidelity Visa (learn more here) for 2% back and buy whatever fund you want. Right?

Stash says they make it easier by delivering your rewards instantly and automatically. And sometimes bonuses go up to 5% back.

Today I got an email with the subject line: “Forget points. The Stash debit card has something better.” 😲 That got my attention.

Stash Stock-Back review

Me? Forget points? I think not, especially for such low earning rates

But it does raise an interesting question: travel rewards for Now You, or invest for Future You? And I dunno, but getting 5% back as stock might be worthwhile sometimes. But I wonder how much I could really earn from that…

Stash Stock-Back review – is it worth it?

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Sweet! Citi Rewards+ 10% Rebate Works With Other ThankYou Cards for up to 10,000 Points Back per Year

So this is pretty cool. The Citi Rewards+ card is a new card that:

  • Earns 2X Citi ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1X)
  • Rounds up every purchase to the nearest 10 points (spend $2, earn 10 points, say)
  • Rebates 10% of your redeemed miles on up to 100,000 points per year
  • Has NO annual fee

I product changed my old Citi Diamond Preferred to the Rewards+, and that was that. Until today, when I saw a random 1,600 ThankYou points in my account.

The only activity I’d had recently was transferring 16,000 Citi ThankYou points to Qantas. Then I realized – the Rewards+ card’s 10% rebate worked on the redeemed ThankYou points, even though I earned them with other ThankYou cards.

For a card that’s free to keep, that’s up to 10,000 points back in my account every year – and I value those for $200 at least. An as long as this works, I will 100% keep my Prestige card long-term.

This pairing is pretty awesome – and seems to work with any other ThankYou card and for any type of redemption (points transfer, travel booked directly, etc).

Citi Rewards+ 10% Rebate

Holy crap, this new power-up to my Citi Prestige card is worth an extra 10,000 points per year. Officially keeping

When you combine the rebate with points transfer bonuses and 1.25 cents for travel – it gets all that much better.

Combine Citi Rewards+ with other ThankYou cards for up to 10,000 points back per year

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Trip Report: An Amazing Repeat Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

This time last week, I was at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta – almost 1 year to the day after my February 2018 stay. I originally wanted to try a different Ziva, like Los Cabos, or perhaps return to the Zilara in Cancun – and found tons of award flights from Dallas to all three.

But flights from Chicago to fly down an old friend were scarce. So for whatever reason, the availability lined up and sent us to the Ziva Puerto Vallarta again.

I was open to it, returning to the known. Also curious to see if it had changed – and I knew it would be a sure bet for max relax. We even thought about trying the Hilton all-inclusive there.  But in the end, we settled on a right proper fly n’ flop.

It’s a huge, gorgeous property with:

  • 5 restaurants
  • 5 bars
  • Coffee shop/self-serve deli
  • 4 pools
  • Kids club
  • Tennis club, spa, gym, hot tubs, and swim-up rooms
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

When your hotel room looks like a magazine

Here are my 1-year-later impressions.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review – 2019 version

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Citi ThankYou Points Are My Earn & Burn Currency of the Year! 60,000 UR = 100,000 TYP (Prestige Vs Sapphire Reserve Pt. 2)

I recently emptied my Citi ThankYou points account. Yup, I burned every single last point to stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. For my 4-night stay, I could’ve spent:

  • 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (because it’s 20,000 Hyatt points per night)
  • ~131,000 Citi ThankYou points (with the 4th night free thanks to Citi Prestige)

I asked a friend which would be the better option. “Whichever is easier for you to replenish,” was her advice.

Within my Chase Ultimate Rewards portfolio, I spend most on my Sapphire Reserve for 3X, and sometimes my Freedom for 5X. Within my Citi ThankYou portfolio, I spend most on my Prestige for 5X, and sometimes my AT&T Access More for 3X. And the Prestige 5X category gets the bulk of my attention.

If I spend $10,000 on flights and dining:

  • On Sapphire Reserve at 3X, I get 30,000 points
  • On Prestige at 5X, I get 50,000 points

For my same spending, I get way more rewards. For the hotel stay above, the earn rate was actually equal (80/3 = 131/5). But for transfers to airline miles, that’s the difference between getting 1 award ticket instead of 2 for the same spend.

Match your spending to a 5X category and see what happens.

citi thankyou points

For views like this, just burn Citi ThankYou points if your 5X categories are similar to mine

If you buy a lot of airfare, and eat out often, you’d do well to earn 1.67 more points per $1 – they add up fast!

Citi Prestige Vs Chase Sapphire Reserve (again)

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Citi Prestige Vs Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Ultra-Premium Card Is Better? (Bonus Categories, Perks, Insurance)

Dang, this is hard. I’ll go ahead and say, “It depends.”

But I am going through it, y’all.

Both the newly refreshed Citi Prestige and ever popular Chase Sapphire Reserve have their place in this world. And I know which one I’m using a LOT more (Citi Prestige). But I can’t bring myself to downgrade my Chase Sapphire Reserve because I don’t want to lose specific perks.

As I look at them, side-by-side, I gotta say – it’s a total wash. Do I keep ’em both?

And while I’ll stick with Citi Prestige short-term, I think they’re both keepers. Let’s compare.

Citi Prestige vs Chase Sapphire Reserve – 2 excellent ultra-premium cards

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