sapphire reserve

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Using Points for Emergency Travel: Why Having a Stash Is a Huge Relief for Same-Day Flights

What a week. Just got back from Memphis. Last Friday, I got one of those phone calls. One of those drop everything and fly home right this minute phone calls.

My dad was in the ICU with a brain lesion near his optical nerve – and no one knew why. Doctors thought it could be anything from a simple infection all the up to brain cancer. He had to have biopsy surgery to find out.

Tickets home were $659 round-trip, or $329 each way. I didn’t want to spend the cash, so I went to my usual tricks: using miles and points to fly cheap or free.

I threw clothes in a bag and headed to the airport. This was the first time I’d ever had to fly back so quickly. It was a bizarre experience I don’t want to repeat any time soon.

And it showed me why having a stash of points ready to use at all times is so important for these situations.

points for emergency travel

I hate hospitals. Using points got me home the same day my dad went to the ICU

Here’s the series of quick steps I used to fly home right away.

When you have to fly immediately, having points for emergency travel can help so much

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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. 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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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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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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8 Easy Tricks to Earn & Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

This one’s for my friends who say, “I never earn enough points to get a travel reward,” or, “Points are useless once you have them.”

The truth is you don’t have to invest a ton of time into learning how to use your points. You can do well by using 1 or 2 tricks to earn and redeem for travel.

And if you do that, you will still come out way ahead of most people.

I used Chase Ultimate Rewards points to stay in San Francisco this April

These “tricks” require very little finesse – just that you pay attention. Perhaps now is a good time to form a habit loop?

Even if these methods are ALL you ever learn, they’re an incredible place to begin. And once you’re comfortable, you can build from there – baby steps.

4 ways to EARN Chase points

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6 Ways to Save Big on Dining: Find Faves, Get Points + Cashback With Every Visit

Eating out is probably my biggest weakness. I give myself a couple of things to spend relentlessly on. And beyond that, I save like a madman.

My 2 things are: eating out and travel. I do well stocking up at Costco and cooking at home most nights. But my god if a good happy hour deal doesn’t get me.

I pay pennies on the dollar when I travel. Dining is easy, too. By enrolling my cards once and having a few go-to places, I get discounts close to 20% off in the form of points, miles, and cashback – and the savings add up!

save on dining

I love happy hours at this cantina. Plus, I get points, miles, and cashback every time I visit

It’s not hard. Here’s how to do it.

Dining programs + cashback app + points card = big dining discounts

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Which Chase Card Is Best When You’re Starting With Points?

In general, I tell most peeps to start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It’s the quintessential points card, even after all these years. And you can transfer the points you earn directly to airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio – most of them instantly.

If you spend a lot in travel & dining, or if you want lounge access, spring for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here’s how to find the break even point with the annual fees ($95 for the Preferred and $450 for the Reserve, but you get a $300 annual travel credit).

which chase card is best

I transferred Chase points to Hyatt to stay 3 free nights at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

Already have one or the other? Then get the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited. The only difference is the bonus categories. Freedom has 5% rotating quarterly categories. Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 points per $1 spent – and you can combine the points with your Sapphire card points. So they’re an easy way to boost your Ultimate Rewards points balance fast. And both cards have a $0 annual fee!

If you’re looking for a small business card, get the Ink Business Preferred or Ink Business Cash. The former earns points that transfer directly to travel partners and has a $95 annual fee; the latter requires you to have a premium Chase card to access travel partners, but a $0 annual fee.

If you just want to earn cashback, spring for any of the cards with a $0 annual fee (Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, or Ink Business Cash).

But to get awesome travel (think international Business Class flights, upscale hotels, and cheap flights to Hawaii), you want one of the annual fee cards (Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred). The annual fees are worth it for the huge travel savings you can get. It’s how I got a $2,000+ Mexican vacation for $90!

Which Chase card?

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7 Easy Tricks to Use 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Cheap Travel

Right now, a few Chase cards have sign-up bonuses with 50,000 Chase Ultimate Ultimate Rewards points or more. These are by far my favorite kind of points. And the ones I focus on collecting above all others.

The Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Cash all offer a 50,000 point sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements. That got me thinking how I’ve used Chase points in the past.

use chase rewards

I’ve used Chase points to spend time in Austin via British Airways, Hyatt, and Southwest

Here’s more about each card, as they all have different fees and earning rates. And ideas for how to spend those bonus points!

3 Great Chase Offers

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What’s the Break Even Point for Chase Sapphire Cards?

How much do you have to spend each year for a Chase Sapphire annual fee to be worth it? The answer depends on:

  • Whether you spend in the bonus categories often
  • How much you value Chase Ultimate Rewards points
chase sapphire annual fee

It depends on your spending habits, but let’s take a looky-loo

I’ll break down spending in 3 scenarios:

  • Half bonus/half non-bonus spending with points worth their base rate for each card
  • Half bonus/half non-bonus spending with points worth 2 cents each
  • All bonus spending with points worth 2 cents each

Boom!

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

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I Had to Use (My Chase Visa’s) Primary Rental Car Insurance – and Saved $692!

It finally happened – I had to file a claim to use my card’s collision damage waiver benefit. I knew the day would arrive sooner or later.

After I hiked down from Granite Park Chalet, I found my rental car had a little *DING* on the front passenger side door. The parking lot was packed, and it was obvious someone parked too close and opened their door too hard into my rental car. It was nearly imperceptible to the point where I thought about not saying anything about it.

Primary Rental Car Insurance

See that little dent? Yeah, I nearly didn’t either… *grumble*

But, I was responsible and filed a proper report when I returned the car. I wasn’t expecting to ever hear anything about it again. Until one day, I got a random call saying they filed a claim against me. In a near-panic, I filed my own claim online through Chase in just a few minutes.

THANK GODS I waived the CDW and put the charge on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Taking those small steps saved me nearly $700 – for a little ding on a car door.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Primary Rental Car Insurance

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