ultimate rewards

Tag Archives for ultimate rewards.

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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3 Chase Ink Small Business Cards: Which Is Right for You? (One Bonus Is Worth $1,000)

Chase has 3 Ink cards targeted at small business owners:

  • Preferred
  • Cash
  • Unlimited

Each accomplishes a different business goals by way of awarding bonus points in certain categories. And they all earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points – one of, if not the, most valuable rewards currency.

But only 1 of them gives you direct access to Chase’s travel transfer partners (it’s also the only one with an annual fee – the Ink Preferred).

chase ink business cards

The Chase Ink Preferred (formerly called the Plus) is the only Ink card with transfer partners

Let’s look at what makes these cards compelling.

Chase Ink Business Cards – What’s Alike and Different

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Is It Worth Getting (or Converting to) the Chase Ink Business Preferred Just for 3X Plastiq Payments?

Update 8/19/18: 3X on Plastiq payments with the Chase Ink  Business Preferred stopped working on 8/16/18. So the method below doesn’t work any more. I’m glad I kept my trusty Chase Ink Plus after all!

There’s a bit of a known secret about the Chase Ink Business Preferred card – you earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on ALL Plastiq payments (that is, the ones you can use a Visa card for).

I currently have the old Chase Ink Plus card (no longer available) that earns 5X at office supply stores, and on cable, internet, and phone service.

But month after month, I find myself spending way more on Plastiq payments than on “office supplies” or my internet bills. I’m heavily considering converting to the Ink Business Preferred to get that sweet 3X. When I run the numbers, I know I can earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards points this way. But, I’m afraid:

  • Chase will change the 3X any second now
  • Of losing the Chase Ink Plus card – once I convert, I can never go back

Is it worth a risk long-term for a short-term gain? Ah, isn’t that always top of mind with this hobby (and everything, really)?

chase 3x plastiq

I’ve had the Chase Ink Plus since it was a MasterCard… but if I convert, it’ll go the way of my Blockbuster card: SO TOTALLY OVER

Along the same thinking, would it be worth opening the Chase Ink Preferred to earn 3X on Plastiq payments… for as long as the gettin’s good?

Chase 3X Plastiq payments

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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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This Month: Save 10+% on Shell & Exxon Gas With These Cards

There are a couple of good offers to save at the pump these next few weeks. I’ve been using them to fill up – and found it’s cheaper than buying gas at Costco, where I usually get gas in conjunction with a shopping trip.

You can get 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points with Chase Pay with the Chase Freedom card (compare it here) on up to $1,500 in spending through June 30th, 2018 – and Shell is a Chase Pay merchant. Chase Freedom cardholders also get free Gold Status with Shell Fuel Rewards, which saves 6 cents per gallon through the end of 2018.

And Amex has an offer to get 10% cashback at Exxon through the end of November. Plus, when you pay through their Speedpass app, you can save 10 cents a gallon. And when you add your Amex card in the Dosh app, you’ll get another 2% cashback through July 10th, 2018.

save on gas

Combine apps and offers to save on Shell and Exxon gas

Either offer also gets you savings for most of 2018. And for the next few weeks, you can combine offers to save over 10% at Shell or Exxon.

Here’s how they work!

Stack credit card offers to save on gas

1. Chase Freedom + Chase Pay at Shell

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How I Got Started With Points & Miles 6 Years Ago

TL;DR: Had crappy credit. Used points cards as motivation to improve my credit score. Hooked ever since.

I’ve taken a server job a few nights a week to get out of the house, stay active, and be social. I see people using credit cards more than ever. I’m shocked by how many people still throw down debit cards. Most of them are millennials.

getting started with points

Google has the tea on millennials and CCs

My generation is a complicated story of student loan debt, job-hopping, delaying children, unable to afford or save to buy homes, living longer than ever – and definitely NOT wanting to get sucked into credit cards.

I see cool metal cards here and there – but most millennials are using well-worn debit cards from local banks.

If you can use credit responsibly and pay the balance in full every month, then you’re leaving money on the table by using debit cards. Even a 2% cashback card with no annual fee is free to use and earns literally free money.

I started college in rural Vermont – and promptly got into credit card debt

I remember the sting of credit cards: opened a student credit card when I was 18, charged textbooks I couldn’t afford, and fell into the soul-crushing cycle of debt. Such a slippery slope.

Then I did the unthinkable: defaulted on a student loan. I was so poor, making $120 a week working overtime at retail jobs. And they wanted $500 a month? I ripped up the bills and threw them in the trash. I didn’t have extra money. How was I going to come up with $500 more every month? And that was the “financially burdened” plan. 😑

Getting into rewards credit cards

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Chase Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited: Which Is Better for Your Spending?

Chase has 2 great no annual fee cards that pair nicely with premium Ultimate Rewards cards: Freedom and Freedom Unlimited.

The Freedom card earns 5X in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 per quarter in combined spending. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5X on all purchases with no cap.

Really gonna depend on bonus categories and how much you typically spend

Lots of peeps ask which is better. To which I always answer: it depends on how much you like the bonus categories. But there’s a longer answer even beyond that: how much to you plan to spend on the card each year?

Let’s talk about the break even point and which is better for your finances.

Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited

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A $2,100 Trip to San Francisco and Portland for 30 Cents Out-of-Pocket!

This month’s marked with lots of travel. I just got back from a week in Japan. And tomorrow, I’m off to San Francisco and Portland!

I was tallying up my points totals and comparing what the retail costs would’ve been. This trip would’ve cost over $2,000 had I paid cash.

san francisco with points

I got 30 cents… will this be enough for 5 days in San Fran and Portland? :p

I should disclose ended up paying a little cash, in addition to my points. 30 whole cents. 😹

Here’s how I did it!

5 days on the West Coast for under a buck

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