If used strategically, the new app can enable triple or even quadruple stacking of bonus MileagePlus miles.
Many readers take advantage of bonus cash back or miles by doing their online shopping through portals likeFatWallet, or the United MileagePlus Shopping portal. With MileagePlus X, you can now earn extra points when paying for in-store purchases.
The bonus points range from 2-4 extra points for purchases from national retailers such as Lowe’s, Sears, Gap, AMC Theaters, and restaurants chains, up to to 20-24 points for purchases at local restaurants, spas, beauty shops, exercise studios, entertainment, nightclubs, and other activiites.
Earn Bonus Points Up To Four Ways With MileagePlus X
Here’s how it works. The app indicates participating businesses near your location, and the amount of miles you can earn.
At the register, customers enter the total dollar amount of their purchase via the app, and purchase a digital merchant gift card.
The cashier scans the barcode to complete the digital gift card purchase. Award miles instantly appear in members’ accounts in addition to any miles the customer may earn purchasing the digital gift card with a MileagePlus Credit Card from Chase.
Chase United® MileagePlus Credit Card holders earn a 25% bonus on the miles for purchases made through MileagePlus X.
The MileagePlus X app can also be used for online purchases with many merchants. While you are checking out, use the MileagePlus X app for the amount due and enter the gift card number and PIN that is generated to pay with a gift card at the merchant’s web site.
The Considerable Downsides to MileagePlusX
Because you are purchasing and paying with a gift card, many of the consumer protections of credit cards, such as extended warranty and loss replacement do not apply to these purchases.
Your ability to return items will also be limited, most likely to store credit.
The MileagePlus X Triple Dip
If you use your MileagePlus credit card, your purchases will earn:
traditional mileage for using your MileagePlus credit card
miles for paying with MileagePlus X
a 25% cardmember bonus.
The 25 percent cardmember bonus does not apply to authorized users of the credit card.
How to Do The MileagePlus X Quadruple Dip
If a merchant is included in both MileagePlus X and the MileagePlus Shopping portal, use your MileagePlus credit card within MileagePlus X, and then pay for your purchase online with the gift card number and PIN from MileagePlus X after clicking through to the merchant at MileagePlusShopping.com.
Have you received an email inviting you to test the MileagePlus X app? What has your experience been? Please share in the comments!
Click here to compare current rewards credit card offers.
You can never be too careful. The other day I was checking my credit card accounts online, when I noticed an unfamiliar charge for $440. This was very strange, because the charge appeared on a closed account! (A couple of months ago, Chase had closed my MasterCard Ink Plus card and swapped it for a Visa Ink Plus.)
I called Chase bank, and we determined that the charge for a car rental in the Ukraine was indeed fraudulent. I was assured by the customer service rep that I would not be liable for the charge and that the account would in fact be permanently closed.
A week later, the Ukrainian car rental charge appeared on my statement. I called again, and this time I was referred to the fraud department, and then to the investigations department, to rectify the situation. Again, I was told that account would be closed and that I would not be responsible for the fraudulent charge.
The Gigantic JP Morgan Chase Hack
Chase told me that this fraudulent charge had nothing to do with the hackers that broke into JP Morgan Chase’s computer systems and stole more than 80 million customers’ personal information, including their names, emails, physical addresses and phone numbers. According to the bank, hackers didn’t manage to steal usernames, passwords, account numbers or Social Security numbers. This was not very reassuring!
Guard Against Credit Card Fraud
Here’s a word for the wise: check your online statements frequently and be on the lookout for unfamiliar charges. This is especially true if your credit card bills are on automatic pay.
The App is your key to finding special offers and discounts at restaurants at select locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Most of the restaurants included to date are fancy steak houses or expensive French bistros, but there are also Japanese, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern offerings.
The typical offer is for a free glass of sparkling wine or a free dessert to accompany your meal.
You’re not going to get rich off these offers.
But the Concierge app may come in handy some day if you find yourself headed to a participating restaurant in a big city like Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Montreal, or Las Vegas.
You must call or email the MasterCard Concierge to access the offers.
Credit Cards Eligible for the MasterCard Concierge Program
Examples of cards that may be eligible include the Barclaycard Arrival and Arrival Plus, as well as the The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® and the The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®.
The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee.
This is a pretty good deal for accruing U.S. Airways Dividend Miles, because there is no minimum spend requirement to worry about. 40,000 Dividend Miles could come in handy with the American/USAir merger underway, and the upcoming merger of their frequent flyer programs. I got this card for that very reason.
The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®offers 35,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
I’ll cut to the chase. If you ever miss a credit card payment and are socked with big fees and interest charges, you can call the bank and ask them to waive the fees and charges.
Don’t make a habit of this. But if it is a rare occurrence, and a genuine mistake, the bank may forgive your lapse.
If You Miss a Payment, Call the Bank
This month, my husband was set to pay his Chase United Mileage Plus card via an electronic payment. He had scheduled the payment, but failed to “verify the details.”
As a result, he missed the payment deadline, and was socked with a $25 late payment fee and over $32 in interest charges.
The statement warned that if he was late on another payment, they could charge him a $35 late fee and an interest rate of 29.99 percent. What’s more, a lapse like this could adversely impact his credit score.
In this case, he called the bank and offered to pay the bill in full immediately, The customer service rep said they would remove all the fees and interest charges, and that they would not report anything to the credit bureaus. Phew!
If you are prone to this kind of error, the points and miles game is not for you. You will end up paying more in fees than you earn in rewards.
To be frank, I have also made this mistake. Last summer, when we were traveling, a bill came due and I missed the payment deadline. Since it was a one-time mistake, the bank graciously waived my excess fees.
Just remember, most everything in life is negotiable, especially when dealing with banks.
Have you made a similar mistake? What was your outcome?
Click here to compare current rewards credit card offers.
There is a rewards credit card flying under the radar that pays 5% cash back on gas, 3% cash back on all travel, and dining out, and 1% cash back on everything else.
Can you guess which card this is?
Here’s a hint:
it is a no annual fee card;
it requires you to be a member;
membership is open to everyone but costs $45.
This Card Pays Higher Cash Back on Travel Than Better Known Rewards Credit Cards
No, it is not the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card. The PenFed card earns 5x points on airline tickets, and 1x point on other purchases. It offers a signup bonus of $200 after spending $2500 in the first three months and has no annual fee.
No, it is not the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® which pays 2x points on restaurant meals and all travel expenses, and redeposits 10 percent of redeemed miles back into your account. The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® card offers 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and has no annual fee.
No, it is not the Chase Sapphire card which pays 2x points on dining, 1x points on other penes, and an extra point on hotels and air fares booked via Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Sapphire card offers 10,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months and has no annual fee.
Meet the Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard
The Sam’s Club 5:3:1 MasterCard pays 5x points on gas purchases, 3x points on all travel, 3x points on restaurants, and 1x points on other purchases.
I don’t know of no other no annual fee rewards credit card that pays 3 percent cash back on restaurants, hotels, rental cars, airline tickets, train tickets, buses, cruises, tours, and timeshares! (If you have any contenders, please share in the comments.)
Some cards pay bonus points on car rental and hotels, others on restaurants or air tickets. But the general travel rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire or the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® pay 2 or 2.2 percent respectively on travel and dining.
The Sam’s Club credit card comes with the latest chip technology for added security. The card will be PIN enabled, meaning it can be used in situations such as overseas train stations where a PIN is required.
If you apply by August 31, 2014, and you will earn a $20 statement credit after spending $50.
There is no annual fee for the card, but membership in Sam’s Club is required, and membership costs $45.
There is a maximum of $5,000 in cash back rewards during any “reward period” which is a calendar year. You’d have to be a real big spender to exceed that cap!
Here are some specifics:
5 percent cash back on fuel at gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent on fuel each calendar year). That’s good at all gas stations in the U.S. (except gas stations run by other warehouse clubs and super centers.) After the first $6,000 in fuel spending each year, you earn 1 percent back.
3 percent cash back on restaurants worldwide (including fast food, bars, and catering, but excluding purchases at other warehouse clubs).
3 percent cash back on all travel. Travel includes: rental cars; airlines; hotels; passenger rail; bus lines; cruise lines; time shares; travel agencies (although not those offered by other warehouse clubs); travel sites; and tour operators.
I love to read those silly What’s in My Wallet blog posts. I guess it’s because before I got into points and miles, I would not have believed that you could open an insane number of rewards credit cards without ruining your credit.
It does raise some questions, though:
How could the banks keep extending you credit?
How many times can you earn big bonuses?
How do you remember which card to use for which purchases?
How could you possibly keep track of all those credit cards without missing a payment?
15 is My Limit on Schnitzengruben, I mean Credit Cards
I recently counted 14 credit cards in my wallet from five different banks. That is crazy! I don’t recommend that for anyone.
Miss a single payment and you will be socked with a $35 fee and a major ding to your credit score.
With fourteen active credit card accounts, it is taking too much of my time to track expenses and pay the bills. Let’s face it; my office is cluttered and my wallet barely closes.
I am looking to thin out my collection.
Rewards Credit Cards Aren’t for Everyone
Travel rewards credit cards aren’t for everybody.
First off, you need to have a stellar credit score to be eligible for the best offers.
Most people prefer to carry only one or two cards, to simplify things and minimize the hassle. There is merit to this approach, particularly if you are disorganized and don’t keep current with paying your bills.
A perfectly reasonable strategy is to earn free travel is to focus on one airline or one type of flexible rewards such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points or cash back travel cards like the Capitol One Venture Card, or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.
But if you have a credit score in the excellent range, and you pay your bills on time and in full every month, rewards credit cards can be incredibly lucrative.
Once you have experienced the large bonus offers for opening a new credit card, which can be worth $500 or more, it is easy to get sucked into to opening more and more accounts to earn free travel.
Know Your Credit Score
From personal experience, I have watched my credit score progressively improve the further along I got in this game. Barclay’s bank offers its credit card customers free access to their official FICO credit score once every three months.
My most recent FICO score is 837, with 14 open accounts, and five additional credit card accounts that I have closed in the past year or so.
That is because my credit line has increased dramatically with all these cards, and my monthly spending is just a small fraction of the available credit.
The banks appear willing to extend me credit well beyond my annual income. Be careful. Like with the mortgage crisis, a lot of people get in debt over their heads from credit cards and can’t make the payments, or end up paying exorbitant amounts of interest, at rate as high as 28 percent annually.
This much is clear: the banks are making plenty of money, but probably not from people like me.
Starting Out with Rewards Credit Cards: The Chase Freedom Card
When I started my environmental consulting business 15 years ago, I opened the Chase Freedom credit card in order to keep my business expenses separate from my personal expenses. Chase Freedom is a personal, not a business credit card but I was using it for business purposes. It carries no annual fee, and earns 5x rewards on select categories of spending. This is a card that I would highly recommend for someone just starting out. The points can be taken as cash back on your next statement, or used as Ultimate Rewards Points. Ultimate Rewards Points are quite flexible and can be transferred to many airline and hotel loyalty programs but you need to have one of the premium credit cards from Chase to enable transfers.
If you are just starting out with travel hacking, the Chase Freedom card is a great place to begin because you can earn cash back or travel rewards, depending on your needs. Because the card has no annual fee, you can keep it forever, thus increasing the length of your credit history over time. This card earns 1x points on all purchases, and 5x points on select categories, that vary each quarter on up to $1500 of purchases per quarter. Generally, the 5x points is good for gas purchases for six months of the year. This spring, the card offered 5x points on restaurants, and sometimes you can get 5x points on Amazon.com, Lowes, or Kohls.
Right now, Chase is offering a $100 bonus for new applications, but I have seen this bonus go as high as $200 after spending $500 on initial purchases within three months. From time to time there is an extra $25 incentive for adding an authorized user to your account. There are cards with bigger bonuses but they usually entail annual fees and larger initial spending requirements.
Pick a Card, Any Card!
Whenever I show anyone what credit cards are in my real wallet, they look at me like I am crazy. I often get looks as I fumble through my wallet looking for the card that earns bonus points at this store or that.
Because I run a small business, I am eligible to apply for business credit cards. This allow me to “double dip” on account bonuses. I travel for both business and personal reasons and must keep my expenses separate for tax purposes. I caution you that business cards can only be used for genuine business expenses and they lack some of the consumer protections of personal credit cards.
What’s in My Wallet?
Here’s a quick rundown of what is in my wallet and why, and which cards are candidates for culling.
Chase Rewards Credit Cards
Quicken Rewards,personal (authorized user): The credit card I’ve had the longest is the Quicken Card issued by Chase Bank. We opened this card over 15 years ago because at the time, it was the one of the few cards that allowed you to download your statements into the Quicken personal accounting software. The Quicken Rewards card pays cash back rewards and carries no annual fee. This cash back card pays 2x drugstores, restaurants, and office supply stores, and 1x points on other purchases. Redemptions for airline tickets can be worth up to 1.25 cents per point, but only if you redeem at the top of a price bracket, e.g. a $500 ticket for 40,000 points. This is a keeper.
Freedom,personal:I love the Chase Freedom card because I can earn 5x points on practical things like gas and restaurants and there is no annual fee. It is a keeper because it pads my Ultimate Rewards point balance, and contributes to the length of my credit history, which is a factor that improves my credit score.
Ink Plus,business: The Chase Ink Plus is my primary business credit card. When I opened the card, I earned 50K Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months. This card pays 5x points at office supply stores and on telecommunications and 2 points on gas stations and hotels. The points easily transfer to Amtrak, Southwest Airlines, and United — three of my preferred carriers. Chase offered me a fabulous retention offer which I declined, but I plan to keep the card open.
Ink Bold,business: This is a charge card, not a credit card. The differences is that balances must be paid off every month. I opened this card for my blog business in June 2014 when there was a special bonus offer of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in three months. This card has a $95 annual fee which is waived the first year. This card has the same bonus categories as the Ink Plus. The usual bonus is 50K points.
Southwest Rapid Rewards,business:I opened the Southwest Rapid Rewards card for the 50,000 mile bonus. That is an offer that rolls around every couple of months. Southwest claims that you can get two roundtrip flights for 50K miles, and that has been my experience. The Southwest Rapid Rewards card has a $69 annual fee that is not waived the first year. You get 3,000 bonus miles every subsequent year. Last year, I was offered an additional 3,000 points as a retention bonus, and this year I received this offer again! I highly recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards card for budget domestic travelers because of the excellent availability of award tickets on Southwest Airlines.
United Mileage Plus Explorer,personal (authorized user): This is my husband’s card. He opened it because there was a targeted offer for 50,000 miles. The card carries an annual fee of $95 which is waived the first year. When the fee came due, he was offered a retention bonus of 15,000 miles which offset the annual fee, and then some.
Barclays Reward Credit Cards
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®, personal: I have the no annual fee version of the Barclaycard Arrival. I opened it because of a targeted offer for 40,000 bonus miles and the ongoing benefits including 2x points on restaurant and travel spending. You get a ten percent rebate on your travel redemptions, so this card effectively pays 2.2 percent cash back. I love the access to my free credit score and the free TripIt Pro subscription. The card now pays a bonus of 20,000 miles for new applicants. This is another keeper.
The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, personal:I opened this card because it offered me 35,000 miles after making a single purchase. There is an $89 annual fee which is waived the first year. My version of the card awarded 10,000 bonus miles on your anniversary. It has a number of additional benefits such as one free checked bag for up to four family members, a free lounge pass, and 5,000 fewer miles needed for reward tickets. With this card, you can get 2 companion passes for $99 each, but there are lots of strings attached. I just received the 10,000 mile annual bonus. I called to cancel the card because I did not want to pay the annual fee. This card currently pays a 40,000 mile bonus after the first purchase, but does not offer the annual 10,000 bonus points. It has an $89 annual fee which is waived the first year.
US Airways Dividend Miles,business:I opened this card by “accident.” I had applied for a different version of the US Airways card, but was informed that that it was not possible to have two different personal cards. I was able to switch my application to this business card, and earn 25,000 Dividend Miles upon the first purchase. The annual fee of $89 is waived the first year.
I’ve been married almost 20 years but my husband never fails to surprise me.
Today we were coming home from the 4th of July picnic at my Mom’s nursing home when he mentioned something about a Kohl’s charge card.
You have got to be kidding! Store-branded credit cards are almost always a bad idea:
the rewards are limited to the store at hand
the opening bonus is insubstantial
you are taking a hit on your credit score for a very limited benefit
If you have a good to excellent credit score, and you pay your bills on time and in full every month, there are far better offers out there.
This is the same guy that has been refusing for months to consider applying for a travel rewards credit card — one that would provide a sign-up bonus worth hundreds of dollars and put us not the path to our next vacation.
Travel Rewards Credit Cards and the Noncompliant Spouse
Okay, so this is my hobby, not my his. After 20 years, I’ve learned to live and let live.
But lordy, lordy, a Kohl’s charge card?
There are a million and one better options that provide flexible rewards that can be redeemed for travel.
My husband is an independent thinker who has his own opinions about things. He has told me he didn’t want to keep track of another credit card and that is that.
The Six Worst Reasons, Ever, to Open a Kohl’s Charge Card
Here are the reasons my husband offered for opening the Kohl’s Charge Card.
the 20 percent discount on that day’s purchase
a 15 percent discount for a future purchase
cardholders get special coupons
he shops at Kohl’s four or five times a year
the card is a nice color
the checkout girl was cute
Do the Math, Folks
We probably spend $500 to $600 per year at Kohl’s, if that. Generously assuming a 20 percent discount on all purchases, we would be saving $120 per year at most.
Contrast that with the $400 bonus and cash back savings on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. This card pays 2x points on all purchases!
Plus you get 10 percent of your redemptions credited back to your account.
Say we charge $10,000 of purchases in a year. That would be $200 cash back when redeemed for travel expenses.
So, in the first year, when the annual fee is waived, we’re looking at $400 plus $200, plus $60 for a total $660 in rewards toward travel expenses. You can read my full review of the pros and cons of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® here.
There are numerous other bonus offers that may be even more lucrative, and other credit cards like the Amex Blue Cash Preferred that offer 3x bonus points on all department store purchases, including Kohl’s.
As a Reston, Virginia local, I was pretty psyched about the news this week that Frontier Airlines will be flying a regular schedule of flights to 14 popular destinations out of Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, DC.
Grab Introductory Fares on Frontier Airlines Now!
Frontier is a low-cost airline and they capped their announcement with a 12 hour sale with fares as low as $15 one way! I didn’t get in on the sale — I heard the website was pretty overwhelmed — but there is still a chance for introductory fares as low as $39 if you buy your tickets by May 17, 2014.
Beginning August 19, 2014, Frontier will offer nonstop service to:
Beginning September 8, 2014, Frontier will begin nonstop service to:
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fort Myers, FL
St. Augustine/Jacksonville, FL
Frontier’s service from Washington-Dulles will operate on 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.
Cranky Flyer has a great analysis today about the tortured history of low cost airlines at Dulles Airport and it’s not a pretty story. Hopefully, Frontier’s entry into this market will create some price competition.
Frontier Credit Card Sign Up Good for Two Free Round Trips
Frontier Airlines has a pretty generous standard award chart, with 20,000 miles required for a roundtrip for travel within the U.S., including Alaska. The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 90 days.
So the current credit card offer is good for two round trips, and then some. That’s because you can travel with a companion for just 15,000 per round trip.
That’s a pretty generous bonus for a very low spend requirement!
There is a $69 annual fee which is not waived in the first year. Note that Barclay’s advertises this offer as a 50,000 mile bonus, but that includes the balance transfer provision, which is never a good deal because of the fees charged.
What’s more, look at all the cute animals that you can get on your credit card!