Category

Chase INK Plus

Most Recent Round Of Credit Card Applications

Inventory

Last week (pre SEZ-DUB mistake fare), I began thinking about my future travel plans for Fall and Winter 2013 / 2014.

While I have a pretty decent stockpile of miles / points, the one thing I always try to stress is the value of long term planning.

Much like retiring where you don’t just wake up and decide you are ready to retire, you need to slowly save money in your earlier years, the same thing applies to traveling on miles / points.

In order to use miles / points to take a free trip, you need to start earning and saving in advance!

Currently I have the following balances:

Airlines

  • United – 108,000 miles
  • AA – 50,000 miles
  • British Airways – 170,000 miles (family account)
  • US Air – 55,000 miles
  • Delta – 16,500 miles
  • Southwest – 46,000 miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines – 72,000 miles

Hotel Points

  • Hyatt – 7,000 points + 2 free nights in a Suite certificate
  • Club Carlson – 17,000 points + 1 free night certificate
  • Starwood – 18,000 points
  • Hilton – 2,000 points
  • Priority Club – 7,000 points
  • Marriott – 600 points

Although it is a very diverse collection of various miles and points, one big trip could deplete my balances (little did I know how big of a trip it would be…). Therefore I figured last week, it would be a good time to start build a reserve for future travel.

My two big trips planned (prior to SEZ-DUB) for Fall 2013 & Winter 2014 were going to Asia to visit my Brother while he studies abroad in Singapore and going skiing in either Colorado or Canada.

Those trips are still on but now Africa / Europe is included.

Asia

While for most flights to Europe, I will suck it up and fly in Coach.

I have also done Australia and India in Coach and it was not fun. Therefore my rule is anything above 12 hours, I try to do Business Class if possible. I don’t really care about the food, service, or alcohol, I really only care about the seat and if it is a lie-flat.

Typically the difference between Coach (80,000 miles) and Business (120,000 miles) to Asia is only 40,000 miles (or 20,000 each way), so in my opinion it is well worth it to be able to sleep in a lie-flat seat.

I currently have 108,000 United miles, so to fly to Asia in Business Class, I will need another 12,000 United miles.

Depending on availability, I could also do a one way using United miles and come back on Cathay Pacific using British Airways Avios.

As for Hotels, I currently have 3 free night certificates which will be useful in expensive cities like Tokyo.

Skiing

I talked about going skiing last year and all the different options available. Unfortunately those plans fell through, so I will try again this year.

Since the distance to ski resorts isn’t that far, depending on where I am going, I will either use Southwest Points (in the US) or British Airways to Canada.

Given how expensive ski resorts in Colorado and Canada can be during the peak winter season, this also would be a great use of hotel points or free night certificates!

Africa / Middle East / Europe

Given that the SEZ – DUB fare just happened, I haven’t really begun researching much for it. Given we will probably be gone for close to two weeks, hotel points and free night certificates are going to be a necessity to minimize our out of pocket expenses.

To fly Business Class to Africa will take 60,000 United miles (One Way) and coming back from Dublin should be around 25,000 – 35,000 Avios in Business Class on Aer Lingus. Just finding availability will be tricky!

Credit Card Applications

I actually applied for all the Cards below last week with the belief I was going to use them for Asia and skiing.

Plans obviously changed but because I am always working towards to collecting miles and points even if i don’t have a destination in mind, I should still be fine.

Chase

Chase INK Plus – 50,000 points after $5,000 minimum spend requirement in 3 months

Link To Application

Since I currently only have 108,000 United miles, I know I will need another 12,000 United miles to redeem for a Business Class ticket to Asia.

I picked up this Chase INK card because it earns Ultimate Rewards Points that can be transferred to United. As for the leftover 38,000 Ultimate Rewards Points, I might transfer them to Hyatt for a 2 free night hotel nights.

To complete the $5,000 minimum spend requirement, I plan on buying Chase giftcards for free and then loading them onto Bluebird.

Fairmont – 2 free nights after $1,000 minimum spend requirement in 3 months

Link To Application

While this Fairmont Card is not heavily advertised on travel blogs (primarily because there is no affiliate link…), in my opinion the Fairmont Card is as good as the Hyatt Card.

There certainly aren’t as many Fairmont properties (map) in the world compared to Hyatt, but what Fairmont lacks in quantity they make up in quality.

There is a really nice Fairmont property in Whistler that I have visited (not stayed at unfortunately), which could be a good use of the 2 free nights.

Also Fairmont has these cool Safari Resorts in Africa that look pretty amazing. I am not sure if you can use the 2 free nights at those properties because the safari in included in the price, but if you could that would be unreal!

American Express

Delta Gold AMEX – 30,000 miles after $500 minimum spend in 3 months

Link To Application (if you aren’t seeing the offer, try clearing your cookies or using a new browser. I was having problems earlier)

To be honest, I have never gotten a Delta credit card before.

This is because it is fairly common knowledge that Delta SkyMiles are called SkyPesos for a reason.

That being said, there weren’t really any great AMEX offers available that I hadn’t already applied for. Also given that the minimum spend was only $500, it was a hard offer to pass up.

Since I currently have 16,500 SkyMiles, might as well add another 30,000 and hopefully be able to use them for something in the future.

Bank of America

Alaska Airlines – 25,000 miles after 1st purchase

Link To Application

Alaska Airlines is probably one of the strangest frequent flyer programs out there, in that they aren’t part of an alliance but seem to be partners with every airline.

This Card was also like the Delta AMEX in that I don’t really have a need for Alaska miles but I figure they are good to have since they can be redeemed on Delta and American Airlines.

In addition, the card comes with a $99 companion certificate that could be useful.

Since there wasn’t any minimum spend requirement and the Card is issued by Bank of America, there wasn’t any really downsize to getting this card.

US Bank

Club Carlson – 85,000 points after $2,500 minimum spend in 3 months

Link To Application

US Bank just recently got into the hotel credit card business with their Club Carlson card.

While Club Carlson’s brand of hotels isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, their card is fairly lucrative in that 85,000 points can get you 2 – 4 free nights at some of their Radisson Blu properties.

In addition, with the card if you redeem points for 2 nights or more, you get the last night free! So if you only stay for 2 nights, then the 2nd night is free!

Not to mention that every year you renew the card, you get 40,000 additional points!

While the card is great, unfortunately US Bank is EXTREMELY STRICT and won’t approve you if you have too many credit card applications, regardless of your credit score.

Unfortunately I fell into that category and was denied for this card which stinks because I could really use the points in Europe and Middle East!

I am guessing this credit vigilance by US Bank is to stop people who just sign up for credit cards for the sign up bonus and then cancel them later.

However the irony is that this card is so lucrative with the 40,000 point annual renewal bonus and “Stay 2, Get 1” perk, that most people (including myself) would probably pay the annual fee and keep that card.

Barclays

US Airways – 30,000 miles after 1st purchase

Link To Application

For those of you paying attention, this is the same exact US Airways card I got back in November during my last round of apps.

From what I have heard, Barclays will approve you for the same US Airways card again if you tell them you need the new card to keep your “expenses separate”.

For me, I didn’t even have to call in and was approved online!

The best part is that there is no minimum spend on the card!

I already have 55,000 US Airway miles so another 35,000 will be nice.

Worst case is that my 90,000 US Airway miles turn into AA miles after the merger, which wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Citibank

Hilton Reserve – 2 free weekend nights after $2,500 minimum spend in 4 months

Link To Application

While Hilton has severely devalued their hotel points program, this Hilton Card comes with 2 free weekend night certificates.

There are some limitations on where you can’t use the weekend night certificates (full list here), but it actually is a fairly small list and mostly covers Hilton Vacation Club properties and all inclusive properties.

That being said, from my understanding you can use the free weekend night certificates at any of the non-excluded properties like the Conrad Maldives, which is famous for its underwater restaurant, not to mention the ridiculous scenery.

Recap

All in all, I was approved for 6 out of 7 applications.

Besides for the Fairmont card, all the other cards were approved without having to call the reconsideration line!

In total, I will receive around 135,000 miles / points and 4 free night certificates after completing $9,000 in minimum spend requirement in 3 months.

While this round of applications wasn’t as lucrative as last time (due to the 85,000 point Club Carlson denial), the 4 free hotel nights will be useful for my future trips and it will be good to diversify some of my other accounts like Delta, US Airways, and Alaska.

Thankfully, the minimum spend requirement isn’t as steep as last time. I should be able to do almost all of it with Chase giftcards / Bluebird, Amazon Payments, and the new Google Wallet service. If I am a little short, I can always hit up CVS and buy some Vanilla Reloads.

All in all, although it wasn’t the best round of credit card applications, I am glad I did it because I am going to need more miles and hotel points for the new Africa / Europe trip.

Although I applied for these cards without knowing of the upcoming trip, it just goes to show you the importance of long term planning.

You never know what deal could be coming down the pipeline, so it is best to be prepared!

-Parag

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Things To Do Before The Ball Drops On 2012

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.

I have talked about the INK Cards many times before, and if you have thought about getting one, now would be the time.

Link To Chase INK Bold

Link To Chase INK Plus

Although $5,000 sounds like a lot, with Amazon Payments and Vanilla Reload Cards, you can complete the Minimum Spend with minimal effort and easily earn 55,000 Ultimate Rewards.

My Friend was interested in the Card so he signed up 2 weeks ago, and using Amazon Payments and Vanilla Reload Cards, he was able to do the entire $5,000 Minimum Spend in 5 days!

This is an extremely easy way to get 55,000 Ultimate Rewards, which you can transfer to United, British Airways, Southwest, Hyatt, etc.

Do not be one of those people who waits to see what happens and then is disapointed when the Minimum Spend returns to $10,000!

2. AMEX $200 Airline Credit Reimbursement

If you have an AMEX Platinum Card and haven’t already taken advantage of your annual $200 Airline Credit Reimbursement, I suggest you do so.

The reason why it is important to do so in 2012 is because the $200 Credit resets every Calendar Year. That means you can get $200 this year (2012) and also in (2013).

I have written about the entire process here, as well as my success getting $200 in United Gift Cards.

This is an easy $200 in Airline Gift Cards, so make sure you take advantage of it for 2012!

3. Mail In Your Sky Guide Executive Club Receipts

If you have been on a mad year-end dash to buy 12 Airline Lounge Passes for Sky Guide, remember to submit your receipts before January 1, 2013, so they count towards 2012.

Unfortunately, the terms for Sky Guide Executive Club are changing come January 1, 2013, so make sure you get your receipts in so they count towards 2012 or you might not be able to get them reimbursed in 2013.

Recap

Hopefully everyone takes advantage of all the above offers. If I am forgetting anything, please remind me and I will update the post!

Hope everyone has a Happy New Years!

-Parag

Chase INK Cards Minimum Spend To Change

2 Days In The Sky Comes To An End

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.

Link To Chase Ink Plus

Link To Chase Ink Bold

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:

Link To Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • 40,000 Ultimate Rewards after $3,000 MSR in 3 Months
  • 3,000 Ultimate Reward for completing $3,000 MSR

Link To Chase INK Plus

  • 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

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!

A full guide on doing this can be found here.

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!

Recap

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!

-Parag

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