You’ve probably seen commercials advertising credit cards that earn 5% cash back or 5 points per dollar spent. Compared with standard cards that often earn just 1% cash back or 1 point per dollar spent, these 5x cards seem amazing. But are they? Should you get them?
In this post I’ll cover the 4 main cards that earn 5x rewards. I’ll then provide my recommendation for whether to get them. (more…)
A reader named Blake wrote in to ask me the following question about credit card rewards: If your intent is to travel, would you rather have travel points rewarded you or straight cash? My thought is that with cash I have more freedom to search the cheapest flight, at the right time, going to the right place. Do you think this is a true assumption?
It’s a great question—one that probably a lot of folks have. Years ago, I agreed with Blake’s assumption. “Cash is king,” I thought. Often, it is. But sometimes, you can do better—even much better—with miles and points. Let me explain. (more…)
My family of five and my folks returned last week from a great vacation to Cabo San Lucas. I’ll tell you a bit about the trip via the pictures and captions in this post. But mostly I want to share how the seven of us paid a total of $42 for roundtrip flights and 5 nights at a 4-star resort. I want to give you ideas for how you can do the same. Because you can.
My family attempting to pose for a picture on our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas
We had expenses on the ground such as transportation and food that went beyond the $42. But that’s how much we spent on hotel and flights. Here’s how: (more…)
The Chase Sapphire Reserve ranks #1 on my list of Best Credit Card Signup Offers. Indeed, with its lucrative 100,000 point signup bonus, it is arguably the best credit card ever offered.
As I detailed in this post, the card will net most folks at least $1,650 of value toward travel.
To get the 100k points, you need to spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months of card membership. Getting $1,650 of value by spending $4,000 is like getting 41% back on that $4,000 of spend. (more…)
To fuel free travel in the manner I’ve described in this series of posts, you need to open credit cards with big signup bonuses on an ongoing basis. The question then arises: should you ever close a credit card you open and, if so, when?
Overwater bungalows, Bora Bora
My basic rule is this: You should close a credit card if its annual benefits do not outweigh its annual fee. Otherwise, you should leave it open.
Let me unpack that rule a bit. (more…)
Throughout this series of posts I’ve argued that miles and points are useful not only for free travel but also for freeing up money you would otherwise have spent on travel. To maximize your savings, there are two basic considerations. First, earn the most miles and points for the least expenditure of time and money. Second, redeem miles and points for the most value.
My advice on earning the most miles and points is straightforward. Go for Chase cards first (provided you have opened fewer than 5 cards in the previous 24 months). Then, open the most lucrative signup offers on my Best Credit Card Signup Offers page.
A couple months ago a friend approached me with a frantic look on her face. Ready to change a tire, use my knife, or recommend a brand of scotch (hey, I thought it might be a real emergency), I sprang to my feet. “I’m afraid,” she stammered. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet the minimum spend on my new United card….”
France, a great miles and points destination
Knife and pride restored to their proper place, I reassured her: there are many creative ways to meet the minimum spend. (more…)
In the previous posts in this series, I’ve shared an approach to getting a lot of free travel by taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses. I also explained why doing so usually has a positive, not negative, effect on one’s long-term credit score (provided you pay your credit card off each month)—a conclusion that would surprise most people. Two questions then arise: how often can I sign up for credit cards and which ones should I sign up for?
How Often Can I Sign up for Credit Cards?
There is no cut and dry answer to this question. But I would offer these three points by way of reply:
In my previous post I discussed how you can earn a lot of free travel quickly by signing up for a credit card with a big sign-up bonus. A question that arises for many people is: what effect does signing up for credit cards have on one’s credit score?
It is an important question. A good credit score is key to getting loans, such as for a home mortgage, at the lowest rate possible. A quarter point swing in the interest rate on a 30-year home loan can easily be the difference in $10,000, $20,000, or even more over the life of the loan.
In most cases it would be foolish to earn credit card bonuses if doing so meant you would miss the lowest rate on a home loan. But does it?
In my last post I shared some of the amazing travel opportunities that can be enjoyed for pennies on the dollar or even for free. Free travel can enable the enthusiast to travel more. But it can also enable those of us who would pay some amount to travel anyway to divert those funds to other priorities.
There are lots of tricks that help enable free travel. But today I want to share the single most powerful technique by far: signing up for a credit card that is offering a big sign-up bonus.