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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?

A combination of things. There was a rumor Discover It would remove Cashback Match after the 12th billing cycle – I held back on my 4th application (they didn’t change anything, btw). Bank of America added application rules for Alaska cards – I held back on my nth card.

And 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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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?

Citi Prestige vs Chase Sapphire Reserve

This year, Citi Prestige gets my vote

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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How Many $400+ Annual Fee Cards Is Too Much (or Just Enough)?

Right now, I have 3 ultra premium credit cards with annual fees of $400 and up:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – $450
  • Citi Prestige – $495 (though mine renewed at $450 for one more year)
  • US Bank Altitude Reserve – $400

That’s $1,345 in annual fees! 😵

Still, I find myself wanting the Amex Platinum biz card ($595, but $450 through January 2019) and Amex Hilton Aspire ($450), both for vastly different reasons.

But I can’t justify getting another ultra premium card with a big annual fee. Am I capping out at 3?

I’m really considering downgrading my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Getting a 4th – or 5th – would be overkill, wouldn’t it?

ultra premium credit cards

No way I’m dumping the best card for Costco shopping! All my high AF cards have a special utility

Here’s a rundown of the major cards with annual fees – and how I get value from them.

Ultra Premium Credit Cards – How Many Does One Need?

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Booking Puerto Vallarta 2.0: $3,000+ Vacation for 131,000 Citi ThankYou Points, Prestige 4th Night Free, & AA Business Extra

Last February, I spent 3 glorious nights at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. And next month, I’ll spend another 4 nights there! For $0 out of pocket, I used:

  • 131,088 Citi ThankYou points + 4th night free to save $1,721 on the hotel stay
  • 4,000 American Airlines Business Extra points for $1,423 flights
  • Citi Prestige annual travel credits to cover ~$187 in taxes and fees

The total cost would’ve been $3,331. And I used ALL my Citi ThankYou points.

But after slipping the Citi Prestige card back into my wallet this week, I can build up my balance with new 5X earning on airfare and dining. Plus, they’d been hanging around for a while.

Learn more about the best travel rewards cards here.

puerto vallarta points 2019

This time, I saved over $3,000 to go back to Puerto Vallarta for 4 nights 🍹

Here’s how I put it together!

A $3,000+ vacation to Puerto Vallarta for $0

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‘Tis the Season to Use 0% APR Cards to Avoid Interest for up to 21 Months (If You HAVE to Carry a Balance)

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2019! I’m working on travel plans and my credit card strategy – and soon I’ll have gigantic news to share.

If you spent too much over the holiday season, and carrying a balance is inevitable, consider transferring your balance to a new card with a 0% APR period.  They vary from 12 months to a staggering 21 months! This will hugely minimize the interest you’ll pay.

Depending which card you get, you won’t have to pay it off until January 2020 at the shorter end – or October 2020 at the longer end. That’s awesome!

Or if you have a big purchase coming up, opening a card with a 0% APR period gives you time to pay it back.

I’ve used both strategies successfully. But beware – pay close attention to the dates (which are listed on every statement you’ll get), or you’ll be right back where you started.

Still, it’s a LOT better than carrying a balance and paying huge interest rates. NEVER carry a balance if you can help it!

balance transfer cards

Paying interest negates any rewards you earn. Your balance will grow and you’ll get stuck on a debt treadmill – don’t do it!

Here are card options for balance transfers and big-ticket purchases. Because yes, life happens. Just try to control the damage as best you can.

Get unstuck with balance transfer cards

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$3,000 or 225,000 Airline Miles From ONE Sign-Up Bonus – But They’re Not for Everyone

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

Capital One shook things up this week when they announced mondo 200,000-mile sign-up offers on their Spark Miles and Spark Cash cards. And on the Spark Miles card, those rewards will become transferable to 12 airlines starting December 2018, which is stellar. It’s always good to have more options – especially with flexible rewards programs.

In fact, peeps looking for a single-card solution to most points dilemmas finally found their match. You can redeem the points for 1 cent each, and with the Spark miles card, transfer them at a 2:1.5 ratio to useful airlines like Air Canada, Etihad, and Qantas.

They’re excellent deals if you want a rewarding small business card without hassle.  You’ll end up with $3,000 or 225,000 airline miles after the minimum spending is complete.

capital one spark miles

The required spending and opportunity cost are high with this one

But they’re NOT for everyone. I’ll explain why.

$3,000 or 225,000 Airline Miles After a Boatload of Spending

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’Tis the Season for New Credit Cards – and Price Protection!

November is here, and in a couple of short weeks, it’ll be Black Friday. Peeps tend to naturally spend more during the holiday season for presents, travel, and organizing parties.

While there’s a moment of calm, consider you can turn all your holiday spending into 1,000s of points & miles by opening a new credit card and using it to meet minimum spending requirements over the next month or so. If you apply now, it’ll arrive in time for the biggest shopping season of the year.

Plus, with all the sales and deals going on, consider a card with 60- or 90-day price protection – and automate it – to save even more money.

Credit Card Price Protection

Turn those Amazon purchases into award travel! Now’s the time to jump on a new card offer

Here are a few worthwhile sign-up offers, and how to set alerts for price drops.

Holiday time now = an award trip in 2019

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Right Now Is a Good Time to Use Yearly Credits (Or Get Them 2X!) on Amex Platinum and Gold Cards

October – chilly autumn air, pumpkins, scary movies, the inevitable return of the holidays, then a new year. And for many cards, mainly the Amex Platinum and Gold cards, the last opportunity to use your statement credits. Such is Q4.

And if there’s a card you want, you still have enough time to apply, use the credits for 2018 – then get a fresh batch of credits to use in 2019. You effectively get double the credits for 1 annual fee, which is awesome.

amex statement credit

Treat yo self to an upgrade, checked bag, or something extra this year AND next for 1 annual fee!

Here are cards for an end of the year double-dip.

Get an Amex statement credit 2X in 2018 and 2019

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10 Easiest Signup Bonuses to Earn (7 Under $500, 3 With a Single Purchase!)

This one’s for peeps who think they can’t earn signup bonuses because the minimum spending requirements are too dang high.

When you think about, spending $3,000 (the usual spending requirement) is, of course, $1,000 per month for 3 months – or $250 per week. These cards tend to have the highest bonuses.

The problem with bank marketing is they throw out huge numbers and scare people off. But when you break it down, it appears way more manageable.

In any regard, there are plenty of cards with much lower minimum spending requirements. And some of them are genuine keepers!

cards with low spending requirements

Or rather, they look high – but most of them aren’t that bad once you break it down

Let’s look at 10 of the easiest signup bonuses you can earn.

10 cards with low spending requirements

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10 Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards – All With a 2% or Better Return

Everyone should have at least 1 credit card without an annual fee. When a card is free to keep forever, you never have to second-guess it. And the card works its powers on your credit report to increase available limits, decrease utilization, and help boost the average age of all your accounts.

My oldest credit card is from 2002 and has no annual fee. No matter how many new cards I open, I’ll always have a 16-year-old card to raise the average age of my accounts higher and therefore, my credit score.

When a card has a fee, it’s harder to justify keeping it – unless you get outsized value.

But having a card without an annual fee doesn’t mean you have to give up solid returns. All of the cards on this list can get you 2% back or better.

best no annual fee credit cards

Discover It is one of the best no annual fee cards – up to 10% cashback the first year. I’ll share my top 10 faves!

Here’s my list.

10 best no annual fee credit cards

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