It is hard to believe that it is almost once again a New Year.
In anticipation of 2013, it is always good to get your Frequent Flyer house in order and tie up any loose ends, so below are some things to take advantage of before 11:59PM December 31, 2012.
1. Chase INK Cards Sign Up With Reduced Minimum Spend
Rumor has it come January 2013, Chase is going to bump up the Minimum Spend on the Chase INK Cards back up to $10,000 in 3 months, instead of the current $5,000 in 3 months.
Although there are no hard details yet, typically these “rumors” are spot on and follow the pattern that Chase has done in the past where they lower the Minimum Spend for a month or two, and then bump it back up.
Right before I left for India last week, I was going through all my Credit Cards Statements and making sure all my bills had been paid.
I am at the tail end of my App-O-Rama and have been feverishly “spending” thousands of dollars on a whole host of different Cards.
Well I was going to go pay my Southwest Business Card and noticed a $915.70 charge on my Chase INK Bold Card.
I had literally just paid off my INK Bold a few weeks ago and outside of Office Depot, I don’t really use my INK Card that much.
I went in and opened my INK Statement and I saw the following charge:
Given how much spending I have been doing on Amazon Payments, CVS, Office Depot, Airline Mistake Fares, etc, I thought that maybe the purchase was related to one of those and I had just forgot about it. In an attempt to jog my memory, I Google’d “TRAVRES*EANBEST 877-283-5585 WA”.
Not surprisingly, the first and second results were other people indicating that the Company that charged the purchase was fake and was part of a scam.
After I saw that I immediately called Chase and had them cancel the Card and flag the transaction as fraud.
Since I use my INK Bold when I travel abroad (no International Transaction Fees), I was afraid Chase might question if this transaction was really fraudulent. Thankfully, they didn’t ask any questions about it and said not to worry.
My new INK Card came the next day, and when I was calling Chase to activate it and tell them I was going to India, the Agent told me there was already a travel notification on the Card…
I told them that I didn’t place the travel notification and asked who did and where was it for. Even though it was in their system, they couldn’t access that information.
I guess if there is a silver lining to this whole story it is that if the Thieves had used my Card abroad, I wouldn’t get charged for International Transaction Fees, so that was really thoughtful of them ; )
I am not sure how the Thieves got my Card information. I am assuming they got it online but who knows, they could have hacked some Retailer database.
The best thing you can do to prevent this type of situation is to be vigilant and ALWAYS CHECK YOUR STATEMENTS!
Thankfully I do, but even then it was by accident that I saw this.
The worst part is that this transaction was timed to hit my account right before the Statement posted, so it literally slipped in under the radar.
Had the transaction been for around $200, I honestly probably wouldn’t have even noticed because I have so many $1,000 App-O-Rama “purchases” going through.
Thankfully, these Thieves decided to go big and charged a big purchase that raised red flags. Had I not noticed the large transaction, I would have paid my $915 Statement and essentially given the Thieves $915.
It is for that reason I suggest that if you use Auto Pay, to still always check your transactions!
Auto Pay is for the benefit of the Bank, not you!
If you blindly use Auto Pay, transactions like this can slip through as well as Annual Fees, Late Fees, etc. The
Banks just want to get paid, so they don’t care if you are paying for fake transactions or if you notice the other nonsense fees they are charging you.
Another suggestion I highly recommend is using Mint.com.
It is free, extremely easy to use, and will even alert you if there are any large transactions that go against your normal spending patterns.
It is unfortunate the penalties for stealing people’s identities are not stiffer.
Back in the day, if you wanted to steal $915, you had to physically go rob a bank and if you got caught, you were screwed.
Now days, some 15 year old on the other side of the world can rob you from the comfort of their bedroom, with little or no fear of getting caught.
Thankfully, I caught the fraud and reported it to Chase without issue but had I not seen it, I basically would have lost $915 because I would have paid the Statement blindly.
All in all, the whole process was annoying but a suttle reminder of the digital world we live in. Although Online Shopping and Credit Cards has brought us added convenience, it can come at a substantial cost if you are not vigilant.
Namaste from Bombay! Only 48 Hours after leaving Chicago, I finally made it to Bombay. All in all the entire experience was awesome and I have already begun the Trip Report for it. There is so much content that the Trip Report is basically going to need its own 8 Part HBO Mini Series to give it justice.
Also as I write this post from India, I’m fairly certain I have inadvertently outsourced my own job. This is great because I can now pay myself less to do the same job!
Internet Access is somewhat sporadic in India, so I am not going to be able to post every day. I am also going on a tour of Rajasthan later in the week and I have no idea what the internet situation will be there. My current plan is type out posts in Microsoft Word and then upload them whenever I can find a internet connection.
Chase INK Cards Minimum Spend Changing
For some reason or the other, Chase is going to change the Minimum Spend Requirements on the Chase INK Bold and INK Plus Cards back up to the original $10,000 in 3 months from the current $5,000 in 3 months!
The date is not set in stone yet, but from what I have heard, it will be sometime after December 31st, 2012.
Normally the Company that manages all the affiliate links never gives any advance notice on the exact date of these changes, so if you have thought about getting an INK Card, now would be the time.
Out of all the Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, the Chase INK Plus and Chase INK Bold currently both offer the highest Sign On Bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after spending $5,000 in 3 months.
Ultimate Rewards are some of the most valuable “frequent flyer currency” out there and can be transferred to United, British Airways (for use on AA), Southwest, Hyatt, Priority Club, Marriott, etc.
Although the $5,000 MSR is high, it is certainly way better than the usual $10,000!
Also for the average family, when you factor in all monthly expenses including food, mortgage, clothes, car insurance, gas, etc, I think most families easily spend around $5,000 over 3 months. The trick is getting all those expenses charged onto your Credit Card.
The Double Play
To anyone that has a future trip planned out in their mind but doesn’t know how to achieve it, the number 1 suggestion I can give is to get both a Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase INK Card.
The reason you can do this is because the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a Personal Card, while the Chase INK Cards are Business Cards.
Even if you don’t have a “traditional” business, you can still apply for a Chase Business Card as a Sole Proprietor. It is extremely easy, you don’t have to file any additional forms or taxes, and you can even use your personal Social Security Number. You can find the step by step tutorial here.
Just this past weekend, I helped my Friend sign up for the Hyatt Card and the Chase INK Plus. Although my Friend has a real job and doesn’t own a “traditional” business, he is a Chicago Bulls season ticket holder and occasionally re-sells his tickets. In an “attempt to keep the transactions separate” for his “business” of re-selling tickets, he applied for the Chase Ink Plus and was approved!
Signing up for both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Chase INK Card can really be an enormous windfall.
If you sign up for both Cards, you will get the following:
50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $5,000 MSR in 3 Months
5,000 Ultimate Reward for completing $5,000 MSR
Total = 98,000 UR Points after $8,000 MSR in 3 Months
With 98,000 Ultimate Rewards Points you can transfer them to United and get 1 Free Economy ticket anywhere in the World or 4 free US Domestic Economy tickets.
If you earn another 2,000 UR Points, you would have 100,000 Ultimate Rewards which would get you 1 Free Business Class ticket to Europe which normally costs close to $6,000.
Additionally, if you have enough Airline Miles and don’t need anymore, 98,000 Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to Hyatt and would be good for 4 FREE nights at any top Hyatt properties including the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome which starts around $1,000 a night…
How To Complete The MSR
For anyone that follows FFU, you are aware last month I did my first App-O-Rama and racked up around 420,000 Miles & Points via 8 Credit Card Sign Ups. However to get all those Miles & Points, I needed to spend around $14,000 in 3 months.
Obviously, I don’t have $14,000 in actual expenses over 3 months, so I had to get creative.
Amazon Payments is my go to for this kind of stuff. It basically allows you to move $1,000 a month from your Credit Card to someone else FOR FREE. So at a minimum, over 3 months, you can “spend” $3,000 for free. If you are crafty and set your family members up with Amazon Payment accounts, you can easily do $3,000 – $4,000 a month for free!
If you can’t set your Family Members up, then the next best thing is to use Bluebird and Vanilla Reload Cards. Although the awesome 5x via Office Depot is long dead, you can still buy the Vanilla Reload Cards at CVS without issue (for the time being).
Bluebird / Vanilla Reload
Before I left for India, I went into my local CVS and bought $4,000 worth of Vanilla Reload Cards across 4 different Credit Cards.
Once I got home, I simply loaded the Vanilla Reload Cards onto my Bluebird and had Bluebird mail the Credit Card companies a check. There is a $3.95 fee per $500 Vanilla Reload Card, but in my eyes, that is a steal!
Putting It All Together
Say you got both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase INK Plus, you would have to spend $8,000 in 3 months to get the full 90,000 Ultimate Rewards Points.
Well using only 1 Amazon Payment account, you can “spend” $3,000 in 3 months for free.
For the remaining $5,000, you could easily buy $5,000 in Vanilla Reload Cards for around $40 in fees.
For those $40 in fees, you would reach the $8,000 Minimum Spend Requirement to earn the full 98,000 Ultimate Rewards Points (including the MSR).
$40 in fees for 98,000 Ultimate Rewards which can get you a free $6,000 Business Class flight to Europe, is not a bad deal!
If you have been thinking about getting a Chase INK Card, now would be the time before the Minimum Spend Requirement goes back up to $10,000.
Although the current $5,000 is high, using Amazon Payments and Vanilla Reload Cards, you can easily hit the Minimum Spend Requirement without much effort.
I think once I get back form India, I am going to get the Chase INK Plus (already have the Bold) and Hyatt Card.
I have depleted my Ultimate Rewards reserves, so I will gladly “spend” $5,000 to fill it back up with 55,000 Ultimate Rewards Points. I will probably go to Europe in the Summer, so at minimum, I can use those UR Points for a free Economy Trip to Europe!
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