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Confirmed: Amex Serve $50 Bonus Works with Amazon Payments + Posts Instantly

Always a good feeling to wake up to an extra $50 when you don’t expect it. Last week, I talked about my experience getting the Amex Serve card after ditching Bluebird. I’m currently testing out different banks to see if they charge cash advance fees + give me points for using credit cards. So far, I’ve confirmed US Bank does not charge any fees and they already posted my Club Carlson points.

Serve’s $50 Bonus Promo

Right now and until the end of June, Serve is running a promo that gives $50 for two direct deposits of $250 or more. The questions in mind when I saw this were:

  • Does Amazon Payments count as direct deposit?
  • When will the bonus post?

Bluebird generates a monthly statement like any other bank account. I thought maybe Serve would do the same thing and post the bonus at the end of a statement cycle, that is, if Amazon Payments counted at all.

I can confirm that Amazon Payments does indeed work as direct deposit AND that the bonus posts as soon as the second direct deposit clears.

All in a day's work

All in a day’s work

I loaded $1,000 to Amazon Payments after getting in on the recent (and current!) 6.6% cashback at the Arrival portal. It’s a great way to generate some points and liquidate Amex gift cards. In fact, I just ordered a second round.

From there, I sent over two direct deposits of $250 to my Serve account simultaneously.

This morning, all the cash was in the account with the bonus $50. Can’t beat that!

Bottom line

If you’re at all interested in getting a Serve account, I highly recommend signing up using this promo link and scoring an extra $50 for doing so.

Serve is a great complement to the points and miles world if you’re far from a Walmart and can’t load up Bluebird at CVS any more. Or if Walmart stops accepting gift cards for Bluebird reloads. (There have been reports that this might be starting to happen.) $1,000 a month is the credit card load limit (on the non-Isis version) for Serve accounts. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to pay a few bills and still get some points rolling in. Every little bit helps. It really does! – I did some quick math on this post.

Amex Serve: Which banks charge cash advance fees?

Update 3/3/15: US Bank credit cards are no good with Serve. It is coding as a cash advance. 

Update 11/2/14: I tried to load up Serve with my Chase British Airways and it is coding as a cash advance! I have also read reports that the Sapphire and Freedom are starting to code as CA, too – so with Chase, beware

I also loaded up $5 with my US Bank Club Carlson Visa. It is still on my account as a pending transaction – will post with an update soon. 

For now, I am using my FIA Fidelity Amex. I couldn’t get the Serve website to accept my Barclaycard Arrival no matter how many times I tried. No idea why. But it took my Fidelity Amex on the first try, so not sure if the website is glitching out or what. Just keep an eye on Serve. I think it’s starting to go the way of Vanilla Reloads, unfortunately.

Update 10/12/14: There is some speculation that US Bank (and possibly other banks) are starting to code Serve reloads as cash advances. These fees destroy any value you get from a points-earning credit card. I have already loaded my $1,000 this month so can’t personally test until November. I’d recommend loading up $5 and giving it a few days – let the transaction post. If you are charged a fee, avoid any other cards issued by that bank. The next step in manufactured spend is hopefully just around the corner!

As you guys know, I just ditched Bluebird and got a Serve card to help manufacture some spend post-Vanilla Reloads at CVS.

From what I understand, you can still purchase Vanilla Visa cards with a credit card at CVS, assign it a PIN with the first purchase, and use a service like Evolve Money to make bill payments. I may employ this method soon to pay student loans and electricity bills (HT: Neil). Just make sure your payee is in their system before you get started.

Why I got Serve

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Bye, Bluebird: My Experience Getting the Serve Card

Yesterday, after writing the post about how to best manufacture spend post-Vanilla, I went ahead and dumped Bluebird. I’ve heard of many ways people have done it, and the different sequences of opening/closing, and all the conflicting rules about switching from Bluebird to Serve.

Here’s how did it:

  • Applied for a Serve card by following this promo link to get a $50 credit after two direct deposits of $250 or more (I plan to do this with Amazon Payments in May)
  • Yes, WITH my Bluebird account still open
  • Of course I got an “account being reviewed” message because you can’t have a Bluebird and a Serve account at the same time
  • So then I called Bluebird CS to close account
  • Then Serve CS to open the pending account
  • Seconds after I hung up, I got a “Welcome to Serve” email

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Switching credit lines / allocations with American Express

Activation notification via email from American Express

Activation notification via email from American Express

I got my new Amex EveryDay Preferred card the other day. Instead of being really excited about, like usual, I was sorta like, “Hrmph.” My credit limit was not… where I wanted it to be. I wasn’t satisfied by how low it was. Not to worry, I can just switch around lines of credit, right?

Denied again

I have two consumer lines of credit with Amex that are not charge cards: the Delta Skymiles Platinum card and now, the EveryDay Preferred card.

On the Delta card, let’s say I have a $10,000 credit limit, and on the EveryDay, let’s say they gave me $2,000. I have $12,000 in total to switch around however I want, in theory. $6,000 for each, for example. No problem, I thought, I’ll give Amex a call. Read More

Review: VIP Lounge @ GDL/Guadalajara Terminal 1

I had the good fortune to visit Guadalajara, Mexico for a night as part of my trip from LAX-GDL then GDL-ATL. (Click to read my experience in Aeromexico’s economy class.)

I wasn’t expecting many (or any) amenities at GDL, but pulled up my Priority Pass app on my phone just for kicks. There is one Priority Pass lounge in Terminal 1, and I was able to go for free thanks to my American Express Platinum card – Priority Pass Select membership comes with the card.

I headed over to the lounge not expecting much, but was very pleasantly surprised (the best kind of surprise?).

Off to Atlanta on Delta!

Off to Atlanta on Delta!

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A Completely Gratuitous Review of the Centurion Lounge @ DFW

Gratuitous? Like this lounge needs another review: 

They all have pictures, describe the space, tell you where it is, what services are offered, the food selections, access requirements, and so on. And they all echo the same sentiment: this is quite possibly the best lounge in the United States. Even Yelp says so – it has 42 reviews, ALL of which are 5 stars. WOW.

(My original pics are below but look just like everyone else’s.)

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Amex Premier Rewards Gold Vs. EveryDay Preferred

I find myself in the dilemma of whether or not to keep the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card or not now that I have the EveryDay Preferred card.

premier-rewards-gold amex

VS

amex-everyday

Premier Rewards Gold

This one is strong for big spenders, as spending over $30K triggers a bonus 15K Membership Rewards points. The earning structure for this one is:

  • 3x on airfare
  • 2x on gas and groceries
  • 1x everywhere else

And the annual fee is $175.

EveryDay Preferred

This one is good for smaller spenders or those that make a lot of “everyday” transactions. I’m definitely in this category. Living in NYC, it’s easy to acquire the 30 transactions a month needed to trigger the 50% bonus this card gives. The earning structure on this one is:

  • 3x at grocery stores
  • 2x at gas stations
  • 1x everywhere else

And the annual fee is $95.

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My Experience Getting the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card

Also see:

This was my first Amex experience where I was NOT instantly approved. In fact, I was straight up DENIED for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card.

I didn’t take a screen shot of the “denied” decision page because I was kind of shocked and didn’t think to do it. But yes, it said I would receive a letter in the mail… and all that yada yada.

This was to be my sixth Amex card, and the fourth issued directly from Amex (I have the Platinum Card, the Premier Rewards Gold, and Delta Platinum SkyMiles cards). Recently, I’ve been thinking of closing the PRG and/or Delta card because I really don’t use them all that much. I’d need to spend at least $30K on the PRG to make it worthwhile, and you all know how I feel about Delta by now.

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Just got the American Express EveryDay Preferred Card

Yes, another one (following the recent Kohl’s card).

The Amex EveryDay cards weren’t supposed to be live until April 2nd, but for whatever reason, they went ahead and released them early. I’ve been considering dumping one (or two) of my Amex cards after getting screwed out of Membership Rewards bonuses multiple times which caused me to wish Amex to DIAF.

I’ve decided to give them another chance due to this long overdue and solid entry into the premium card market, which pits them directly against my beloved Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, which I just decided to keep for another year.

About the Amex EveryDay Preferred card

This card is truly set up to be an “everyday” card for daily spend. Their marketing people are geniuses. The card earns full Membership Rewards point which are fully transferable to 17 air and hotel partners. The signup bonus is a modest 15,000 Amex Membership points at the time of writing, which, who knows, maybe I’ll actually get this time.

I’m not using the Premier Rewards Gold card as much as I thought I would. Yes, it earns 3 points/dollar for airfare, but the other categories really aren’t much to write home about. The card is truly only worth keeping if you spend $30K in a year, which earns you a bonus 15,000 points.

So I’m glad they’ve put out a new card with a new new points earning structure:

  • 3x at grocery stores
  • 2x at gas stations
  • 1x everywhere else

That’s all fine and good. The kicker is that you get 50% more points if you use the card 30 times or more in a month. And you can track your progress on the mobile app and website. This forces you to constantly interact with the product to make sure you get the bonus each month. How smart is that?! I know I will be checking to make sure I get that bonus. It brings the spend categories to:

  • 4.5x at grocery stores
  • 3x at gas stations
  • 1.5 everywhere else

That is a wonderful earning structure.

By following our axiom of getting 2 cents of value out of every point or mile, we will effectively get this rate of return:

  • 9% back at grocery stores
  • 6% back at gas stations
  • 3% back everywhere else

That gives this card the best rate of return for travel in the industry. And yet, I don’t see it, personally, as a competitor to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The CSP’s big categories are 2x points (4% cash back) at restaurants and on travel purchases, which makes these two cards unlikely complements of each other. Between the new Amex EveryDay Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I’ve got a solid earning strategy for daily spend. But, the Barclay Arrival card is STILL valid thanks to its ease of earning, great shopping portal, free TripIt Pro, and really cool online community.

Bottom line

Overall, this is a very, very good thing and a welcome addition to the credit card market. The more, the merrier in this case.

I will be sure to post more thoughts as I begin to use and interact with the card and the app. But for now, very glad I got this one. It holds a lot of potential.

Unpublished/Secret Benefit of the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card?

You got a hidden benny, buddy?

You got a hidden benny, buddy?

I’ve consistently noticed, month after month, that I receive 3x Membership Rewards from online purchases when I pay with my American Express Premier Rewards Gold card. 

NOWHERE is this written out, but in practice, it has worked for me for nearly a year. The most obvious example is when, one month, I sent $1000 via Amazon Payments and got 3,000 MR points put my account. There have been other, smaller purchases that have triggered this, too. $50 from fab.com. An order at shoes.com. A few other things from drugstore.com and Kohls.com. The thing they all have in common is that they are purchases made online.

I’ve tried this with the Platinum Card – nothing. This little trick seems to be isolated to the PRG card. If so, it might be worth using this for online purchases in conjunction with clicking through portal links.

Has anyone else noticed this? Is this an unpublished/secret benefit of having the PRG card?

One More New Credit Card: Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express

Fidelity_investment_card

This signals a shift in my spending patterns and way of thinking, for sure. I thought about this a lot and decided this would be a good decision, for now and for the future.

The Fidelity® Investment Rewards American Express® offers 2% cash back into an investment account on every purchase: no categories, no minimum spend, no signup bonus, but no annual fee. I thought about it. My average spend is about $5K a month. That’s 10,000 points or $100 in cash each month. But then that $100 will be invested and will turn around a further 6-20+% return, depending on where I invest it. In 20 years, that $100 could be worth a few thousand, which is pretty cool to think about and to behold the power of compound interest.

The reason I got this card now is because I have my travel (and all my vacation days) planned out for the next six months:

And that’s in addition to my courier work. I also have a healthy amount of Avios, AAdvantage miles, Skymiles, and Ultimate Rewards points in case I need/want to go anywhere in the months beyond January. So, I’m set with points and miles for now. But thinking further, much further, I’d like my spend to be working for me even more.

This card is quite a hybrid. It’s an Amex issued by a Bank of America subsidy and partners with Fidelity investments. Pretty cool. It gives me the benefits of Amex and the investment power at Fidelity, a company I really like. It didn’t count for or against my relationship with Chase or Barclays or Citi, which is a positve. And, I  have investments at USAA, Betterment, and MetLife, and would like to diversify even more. So I took the plunge, opened a mutual fund account, and got approved for this card. With my travel set, I can set aside some free money for my future just for using this card. That kind of blows my mind. Literally – FREE money.

With some creative manufactured spend, it truly is free, and though I’m giving up points in favor of invested cash for a while, I feel good that I took some time to make a thoughtful decision.

Anyone else have or heard of this card? Do you like it?