Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred 50k Point Sign-on Bonus – A Limited Time Offer?

Rick at Frugal Travel Guy posted today that he was informed to add the verbiage “Limited Time Offer” to his Chase Sapphire Preferred links. It is hard to know if Chase is just trying to encourage more people to sign up by including this phrase or if they really means business.

Due to Chase’s heavy marketing on TV and Print projecting the Sapphire Preferred card as a better alternative to American Express’s Membership Rewards program and the many AMEX cards that carry a hefty fee, I would be surprised if they pulled this 50,000 point offer. This is especially true since there is still a $3,000 spend required to get the 50,000 points.

However to be fair, they also have been pushing the new United MileagePlus Explorer card with a targeted 60,000 point sign up bonus, so you never know.

Bottom Line: If you are on the fence about getting the Sapphire Preferred card, from my personal experiences with this card, I can tell you that it has some really great benefits and it can be used as an all around everyday spend card. I just signed up girlfriend up for it the other day, and she was so impressed by the no wait / actual English-speaking call center representatives that she said she would actually consider paying the annual fee in the future. Luckily she has me to stop her from making such silly mistakes, but it does speak volumes about what a strong card it is.

I don’t get any referrals off of recommending any credit cards, however if you do want to sign up for the Sapphire Preferred card please use The Points Guy or Million Mile Secrets credit card links. Just from my last few days of re-entering the blogging world, I have re-realized what a labor of love blogging about free travel is. So if you have a particular blog that you read everyday that has helped you earn hundreds of thousands of free points, show them some love and click on their links!


What To Do With Your Continental Card & A New United MileagePlus Explorer 60k Miles Offer

In the spirit of spreading the miles wealth, last year I had told many of my friends and family to sign up for the Continental 50k credit card offer from Chase. It was one of the best deals of last year because it gave 50k miles instantly after your first purchase with no minimum spend requirements and the first year annual fee was waived. Also depending on how poorly Chase managed your account, you most likely received 2 free Continental club passes prior to your anniversary date. (I still received my 2 club passes even though I had closed the card!)

Well now that the United and Continental merger is almost complete and the annual fee is coming due, therefore a lot of people are asking me what to do with their Continental card?

I called Chase the other day to close my Mom’s Continental card and was given the hard sell for keeping the card. They were really insistent that my Mom keep the card open and it is easy to see how people not accustomed to the credit card churning game could easily be pressured to keep the card. Luckily, I was closing the card and not my Mom, so the representative’s persuasiveness got nowhere.

I am not 100% sure but I suspect that once the United / Continental merger is complete, Chase will switch over the Continental card to the new United MileagePlus Explorer card. Typically when these types of forced conversions happen, you don’t receive any miles for switching to the new card.

Therefore, if you currently have the Continental card, I suggest you do either close the card or downgrade it to the Chase Freedom card. In previous posts, I have talked about the many benefits of having the Chase Freedom card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Since the Chase Freedom has no annual fee and some really useful 5% quarterly rotating categories, I personally think it is better to downgrade the Continental card rather than flat-out close it. Also by downgrading, it won’t cause an inquiry on your credit report. (Note: I receive no commissions or revenue from recommending the Chase Freedom card or any cards mentioned in this post.)

If you currently don’t have the Continental card or didn’t recently sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I would suggest signing up for the new United MileagePlus Explorer card. It will net you 50k miles after your first purchase and an additional 10k if you spend $25k in a year (not to mention the additional 25k miles for the $25k spend). Also this is a great offer because there is no minimum spend requirement!

If you are interested in the United MileagePlus Explorer card, Daraius at MillionMilesSecrets and Brian at ThePointsGuy have it all covered and explain in detail how to sign up for it!

What did you do with your Continental credit card? Keep it, close it, or downgrade it?




2011 Credit Cards Strategy & 2012 Strategy

I realized this morning that in my last post about my 2011 trips /miles earned,  I forgot to mention my credit cards situation for 2011 and 2012.


In 2011, I was fairly conservative in my credit card sign up bonus strategy. At the start of 2011, I had a couple hundred thousand UA / CO miles from all the various Chase sign up bonuses & from previous trips, so I wasn’t desperate for anymore of those. Additionally I still had the 100k miles from British Airways in my Mileage Bank.

Capital One Status Match

In March of 2011, Capital One had a promotion where they matched your miles up to 110k points. While it wasn’t the same as say UA matching your miles (if anyone from Chase or UA is reading this, I think I speak for everyone in the community when I say an offer like that would be AMAZING!), 110k Capital One miles translates into $1,100 in travel reimbursement. Luckily when we signed up for this Capital One card, my girlfriend and I both still had our 100k+ miles from the British Airways sign up bonus, so we both jumped at the chance to each get $1,000 in travel credit. In the end, we both were matched up to 110K Capital One points. While on some of the blogs I read about people redeeming the points for Hyatt gift certificates, I personally do not have a ton of hotel points so we gladly used the points on actual travel reimbursements like hotel and site-seeing. Combining both my girlfriend and my 110k points, we had about $2200 to blow over the year. Some people may knock Capital One for their cards and poor customer service, but I’ve had their cards since freshman year of College (2006 to be exact), and I still have it to this day. Capital One is one of the only issuers to have cards that have no annual fee AND no foreign transaction fee. Can’t get much better then that.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Initially I was hesitant on signing up for this card because after seeing the BA sign up bonus, I was hoping that they would also run a 100k sign up bonus for this card. Then over the summer, when word got out that certain individuals were getting 100k sign up offers, I jumped in and signed up. Unfortunately by the time I physically got the card and tried to get the 100k points, it was over so I ended up settling for the normal 50k sign up bonus.

Now after using the card for a few months, it is really starting to grow on me. Not only is the card physically cool to use but the transfer partners are awesome. It’s like having a UA / CO / BA / Hyatt / Marriott / Priority Club card all in one. Plus the fact that they have real agents who are based in the US and pick up the phone instantly when you call is awesome when you have to call and tell them you are traveling abroad.

While the 2x points on Dining and Travel is pretty good, my favorite feature is the link up between the Chase Freedom card. I’ve also had my Chase Freedom for many years and while it typically sat in my drawer, it is fairly obvious Chase is gunning for Discover and their cash back program (and AMEX’s Membership Rewards), so Chase is really stepping up their credit card game. With a Chase Freedom and Sapphire Preferred, you can convert your Freedom points into Ultimate Rewards points. While this may not sound like a big deal, when the rotating Chase Freedom categories were Dining and Clothing stores in quarter 4 of 2011, I earned 5% cash back (which converts to 5 UR points)  per $1 spent on those 2 categories. This is much better than the typical 2x that I would have earned if I had put that spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

2012 Strategy:

The Cards I Currently Have Open:

Discover Cash Back Card – Don’t really use this card but sometimes the rotating quarterly categories are really good. I’ve had the card for years and it’s has always been free, so there is no real reason to close it.

Chase Freedom – Found myself using this card more and more towards the end of 2011. Quarter 1 of 2012 is 5% cash back at Amazon, so I can see myself using it this card especially for that. Given that the card is free, I’ve had it open for many years, and the rotating categories seem to only be improving, this card will definitely be used in 2012.

Capital One Basic Card – While this card earns me NO points and still after 7 years it only has a $1,000 credit limit, I’ve somehow have managed to still kept it for all these years. Since it also has no annual fee and doesn’t hurt my credit score by sitting in the drawer, it will remain open.

Capital One Venture Card – This card I got in March of 2011 with the Status Match promo. For a few months after that promo, I put all my spending on this card because it earns 2x points or essentially 2% cash back. However after the Chase Sapphire arrived in my hand over the summer, this card has found its way to the sock drawer. There is an annual fee due for this card in March, so I will either be closing this card or asking them to downgrade this card to the No Fee Venture card that earns 1 point per $1 spent. While I doubt I will use this card regardless of if it is 2x or 1x the points, it might be a good card to have in the future for any international trips because my current Capital One card above doesn’t earn any miles.

Chase Sapphire Preferred – Now that the Chase Freedom card’s categories have again changed for this new quarter, for most of my basic spending like Rent, Food, Eating Out, etc, I suspect it will probably go on this card. While it only earns 1x-2x points depending on the category, I do have almost 60k+ UR points sitting in my account currently, plus the 7% annual dividend from last year should be posting soon. While I do like the card, it is difficult to justify paying $95 when the fee comes due over the summer, especially when I have the Chase Freedom card which is free. Depending on how I feel, when the fee comes due in the Summer, I may ask them to downgrade me to the basic Chase Sapphire card with no annual fee.

2012 Predictions:

I am fairy conservative about credit cards, so unless there are any exceptional offers (ie 75k-100k+ offers), I doubt I’ll be jumping in on any offers right away unless I need the miles for a trip coming up.

As we have seen in the recent 2 years, due to the Recession and Wall Street Regulation, banks are looking for ways to make money to replace their lost revenue.  Therefore, they have no problem shelling out a few thousand more miles up front to convince you to sign up for a credit card, all in the hopes that you will be unable to pay your bills and have to pay them back lots of interest and fees. That being said, I suspect we will see some more 100k+ offers this year (most likely with $5k-$10k spend requirements) and slowly what is now the average 50k point offer will creep up closer to 75k.