$50 Uber Rebate for Amex Business Cardholders

$50 Rebate on Uber
$50 Rebate on Uber

Uber is on a marketing binge and their latest offer is for American Express business cardholders.

This latest offer is for up to a $50 rebate, the most generous promotion I have seen.

To qualify, you must sign up for an “Uber for Business” account and enroll two additional employees.  You must use a Business Card from American Express OPEN to sign up.

If you or your employees take at least two rides via the Uber app by September 30, 2015, you will receive a statement credit for up to $50 on your linked Amex business card account.

Terms and Conditions of the Uber for Business $50 Rebate Offer


I have yet to try Uber.  Readers, will you take advantage of this offer?  

Third Night Free at Fairmont Hotels

Third Night Free at Select Fairmont Hotels
Third Night Free at Select Fairmont Hotels

Fairmont Hotels is running a third night free offer in conjunction with Amex, through the end of 2015.

Here’s the deal:

“Book and pay with any American Express Card using promo code PMXX and receive a complimentary consecutive 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th night depending on the property, plus a $25 hotel credit at participating Fairmont Hotels & Resorts worldwide.”

Click here to see the full list of participating properties, and to read the Terms and Conditions. 

The offer valid at participating Fairmont Hotels & Resorts for bookings from July 16 to December 31, 2015 and stays through December 31, 2015. The offer is subject to availability and requires a minimum 3, 4, 5 or 6 consecutive night stay depending upon property.

The best deal here is for a three night stay.

Why Does Luxury Travel Sell?

I don’t usually write about luxury hotels.  My feeling is that most middle class  families stay in mid-priced hotels.  To me, luxury is having free wifi, a laundromat and a swimming pool on the premises!  I am writing about this deal because it may have utility for some readers planning a getaway for a very special occasion.

The North American cities with Fairmont Hotels participating in the third night free offer include:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Newport Beach
  • Pittsburgh
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Washington, DC
  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Quebec City
  • Montreal
  • Ottawa
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
  • Victoria
  • Winnipeg

In Asia:

  • Beijing
  • Jaipur
  • Kunshan
  • Makati City
  • Nanjing
  • Shanghai
  • Singapore

In Europe:

  • Baku
  • Hamburg
  • Kyiv
  • Monte Carlo

In the Middle East

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Cairo
  • Dubai

Dozens of other Fairmonts in more sought out locations are offering the 4th or 5th night free.

$5 off $25 at Clydes Restaurants in DC Area

$5 off $25 at Clyde's Restaurants
$5 off $25 at Clyde’s Restaurants

Normally I wouldn’t blog about a $5 discount, but this deal for Amex cardholders amounts to a 20 percent savings at my favorite restaurant — Clyde’s.

Clyde’s has 14 restaurants in the metro DC area.
While each has a unique atmosphere and decor, the food is uniformly excellent.  The menu changes frequently and features locally sourced ingredients.

Through July 27, 2015, Amex is running a “Plate of Metro DC” offer.

You can get a $5 statement credit every time after you charge $25 or more in a single transaction at participating restaurants.  You can enroll here:   www.amexnetwork.com/plateofmetrodc.

July Monthly Special at Clyde's
July Monthly Special at Clyde’s

I was able to enroll both my Amex SPG card and my Bluebird card.

To maximize your savings, you can purchase $25 gift cards at Clyde’s restaurants, that can combined or be used for future meals.

Other participating restaurants are listed here:



15 is My Limit on Schnitzengruben, ahem, Rewards Credit Cards

Fifteen is my Limit
Fifteen is my limit . . .

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

FICO credit score
Barclay’s Offers Free Access to Your Transunion 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.

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50,000 Membership Reward Points with $1,000 Spend

My daughter received a terrific offer from American Express in the mail the other day.

The offer was for the Amex Premier Rewards Gold charge card.  

On the envelope, printed in big, gold letters, was this message:


“The Sky is not the Limit,” the letter inside proclaims.

Targeted Offer for Amex Premier Rewards Gold charge card

The offer of 50,000 Membership Reward points requires just $1000 in spending in the first three months, and the annual fee ($175) is waived the first year.

What’s more, the card earns 3x points on airfare, 2x points at gas stations and supermarkets, and 1x points on everything else.


The only problem is that my daughter is in eleventh grade.  She is a part-time hostess at a chain Mexican restaurant and is hoping to pick up some babysitting gigs this summer.

$500 sounds like a lot of money to a high school kid.  This is a pretty enticing offer.

  • I wonder what kind of “credit limit” she would qualify for?
  • I wonder what kind of balance she could run up, and how she could ever pay it off?
  • I wonder what kind of fees, interest charges, and penalties there are if you miss a payment?

All of which reminds me of a song by children’s poet Shel Silverstein:

Your Credit Card Won’t Get You Into Heaven

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Beware Free Shipping by MasterCard!

Free Shipping from Major Retailers with MasterCard

MasterCard offers a nice little perk to cardholders to pick up the tab on shipping charges from five popular online retailers.

The Free Shipping by MasterCard offer provides rebates of up to $20 on two-day shipping charges for purchases from Macy’s, Best Buy, QVC, Kohl’s, and Walmart.  

You can get up to $500 in rebates over a six month period.

To be eligible for a rebate you must:

  • register your MasterCard with the free shipping program
  • begin your purchase from the Free Shipping by MasterCard shopping website
  • choose the retailer’s two-day shipping option at check-out
  • pay for the entire purchase, including two-day shipping, using the registered credit card
  • Email the order confirmation to MasterCard within 30 days of the original purchase date

If you follow these steps, a rebate of up to $20 will be credited to your account and appear on your billing statement in one to two billing cycles.

A variety of MasterCards are eligible for the program, such as the popular Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®,  the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® and the The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®, among others.

Beware the Jabberwock, My Son!

Sound good?  Tread carefully.  Like the Amex ShopRunner program that also offers free shipping, participation in this MasterCard rebate program means that you will forgo any cash back or points payouts that you could have earned by going through an online shopping portal like FatWallet, Ebates, or the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.

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Amex “Offers for You” — $75 off Virgin America

Amex Offers for You:   $75 off Virgin America
Amex Offer: $75 off Virgin America

American Express is offering some cardholders a credit of $75 on their bill if they make a purchase of $375 or more at Virgin America.

That amounts to a 20 percent discount on air travel!

You can check to see if you have been targeted for this offer by logging in to your American Express account and looking under the “Offers for You” tab.   You must select the offer to apply it to your credit card account.

In my experience, credits on qualified “Offers for You” purchases post immediately to your account.

The offer runs through March 10, 2014.

Delta Amex Credit Card 45K Mile Sign-up Bonus

Every once in a while, a terrific offer pops up on CreditCards.com — such as the amazing one-day offer earlier this year for 100K Amex Membership Reward Points.  I did not get in on that offer, because, frankly, a $450 annual fee is way out of my league.

Now there is a new, special offer available from CreditCards.com for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex credit card with a 45,000 mile signup bonus.  This is a better offer than the publicly  available offers on the American Express or the Delta websites.  Hat tip to View from the Wing.

The offer is available exclusively via CreditCards.com’s “Offers Matched for You” option (found at the top of the left sidebar on their website.)  To access the offer, you need to enter your name and address in the form on the CardMatch page.  The form asks for a social security number, but you can leave that field blank.  This offer is likely targeted at people with excellent credit.  Filling out the inquiry form constitutes a soft pull which is not recorded on your credit report.

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A Sneak Peek into the AMEX Retention Department

I opened a boatload of travel rewards credit cards in 2012 — and now it’s time to pay the piper.  For many rewards cards, the annual fee is waived the first year, but the fee is due in full on the one year anniversary.American Express Credit Cards

I read about retention bonuses, and wanted to give it a try.  If you call the number on the back of your card to say that you are considering canceling  — because you are concerned about the annual fee coming due –the bank may offer you a variety of incentives to keep you as a customer.  If you tell them you want to cancel the card because you no longer need it — they will probably just cancel it without offering any retention incentive.

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Amex Sweetens Deal on “Blue Cash Preferred” Rewards Credit Card

If you have your eye on an Amex Blue Cash Preferred credit card for the 6 percent cash back on supermarket purchases – American Express just sweetened the deal.  Amex has upped the sign up bonus from $150 to $250 cash back dollars after spending $1000 in the first three months, for selected applicants.  This increased reward effectively offsets the $75 annual fee for three years.

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