Citi Prestige Possibly the Best Thing to Happen to Mattress Running Since???

The Citi Prestige card is getting lots of virtual ink out there with the new 50,000 point sign up bonus–and rightfully so.  50,000 Thank You Points are worth $800 worth of flights on AA/US Airways or can be transferred to Citi’s transfer partners:

  • Hilton (1.5:1)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Eva Air Infinity
  • Etihad Guest
  • Air France/KLM FlyingBlue
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flier (side note: Garuda should hire a branding expert)
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flier (maybe they should too?)
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Citi Prestige Card

Citi Prestige Card

[Read more…]

Getting the US Airways card this week is almost a no brainer … but I’m not doing it

The Barclaycard US Airways card is going away after this week when the US Airways and American frequent flier programs merge, and everyone that has one is going to be issued a new American Airlines card.  But Barclays will no longer have the rights to issue *new* American cards, so this is your last chance to get it.

Use AA miles to book Etihad first class

Use AA miles to book Etihad first class

In an effort to ramp up applications before they’re shut out, they’ve increased the sign up bonus from the typical 40,000 miles to 50,000 (after paying $89 annual fee).  The other benefits include things like free checked bag, zone 2 boarding, etc.

Getting it now, before it goes away is almost a no brainer because:

  • It doesn’t preclude you from getting any sign-up bonus on a Citi-issued card at a later date (or even today).
  • The card is going away, so it’s truly your last chance this week.
  • The 50,000 miles requires no spend at all (just payment of annual fee).
  • Barclays usually pulls your Transunion credit report, which almost no other bank uses (for credit card purposes), so it’s a “free” credit pull.

So, essentially, you’re just buying 50,000 miles for $89–a cost of 0.18 cents per mile–since you’re not really incurring much in the way of an opportunity cost as it pertains to other methods of earning AA miles.

Here’s the Application Link: US Airways Mastercard

However, I’m still not applying for the card.   [Read more…]

Start Today! 5 Cards to Get You Started

One of the most common questions I get is, “OK if I’m just starting out, what should I do?”  The short answer is: apply for credit cards and learn how to maximize their use.

But which cards?  

Here’s the 5 cards I’d apply for if I were starting today.  Not only are they good cards, but they’re good cards to get together for a few reasons as well.  The goal here is to earn a diverse portfolio of points with as mild of a spend requirement as possible, get you set up for daily spending, and to affect your credit as little as possible. [Read more…]

5 Cards You Should Consider Now-ish

These are roughly in the order in which I would prioritize them personally, but your calculation may be different based on the pro/cons of each.

1.  Citi Executive AAdvantage Card – 100,000 AA Miles – 100,00 mile offers are pretty rare these days, so being able to rack up enough miles for a round trip business class ticket to Europe or Japan in one card application is pretty killer.  The catch is that the $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year, however they do offer a $200 “statement credit” which seems to mean the annual fee is effectively $250.  Given that it gives you full Admirals Club membership (and, you know, 100,000 miles), however, that’s a very good deal–particularly for Amex Platinum Card customers who will be losing access in just a couple months.

Link – Citi AAdvantage Executive 100k Offer

2. Bank of America Alaska Airlines Card – 40,000 Miles – This is a large bonus and represents a 15,000 mile premium above the “normal” offer for this card.  Alaska miles are tremendously valuable due to the large number of partners they have.  We used Alaska Airlines miles to book 2 first class tickets to Seychelles on Emirates for this Summer.  The $75 annual fee is not waived, but if you’re a Bank of America wealth management client (which you may even be eligible for if they are your mortgage provider) they may give you an offsetting statement credit if you call the wealth management department.

Link – Alaska Airlines 40k Offer

3. Barclays US Airways Card – 30,000 Miles – This isn’t an eye popping number and doesn’t represent a bonus compared to the normal offer, but this one is based on merger timing.  The post-merger credit card picture is a bit murky.  So far, Barclays says they’re not going to re-brand this card as an Arrival or other non-cobranded card.  So that means you may still be eligible for grandfathered benefits even after this card is no longer issued… including a 5,000 mile discount on all award bookings.  Given that the Citi Aadvantage cards also offer 10% of redeemed miles back (up to 10k), stacking the two discounts could be extremely lucrative.  A 100,000 mile business class ticket comes down to ~85,000 in that case.  Another interesting thing to watch is whether you’ll continue to get the $99 companion certificate.  I’ve personally [re-] applied for the card hoping that all of the above is the case.

Link – US Airways World Mastercard 30k Offer

4. Citi American Airlines Business Card – 50,000 Miles – Who knows how long this card will be around, but to me the most valuable benefits of this card are: 1) It doesn’t sit on your personal credit report because it’s a business card, so applying for it has very little effect on your credit and doesn’t really preclude you from applying for other cards; 2) you can apply for and receive this card and the bonus several times (I have 3 and have gotten the 50,000 mile bonus each time); and 3) the retention offers are, in my experience, much better than the retention offers on the personal card and very much worth the annual fee.   I would consider it now if for no other reason than so you can get it again sooner.

Link – American Airlines Business 50k Offer

5. Barclays Arrival Card – 40,000 “Miles” – With United’s devaluation beginning tomorrow and US Airways leaving Star Alliance, our options for redeeming Star Alliance miles without fuel surcharges gets pretty bleak very soon.   I think this makes ANA, Aeroplan and Singapore miles the currency of choice for some redemptions going forward, though unfortunately all of them impose fuel surcharges on many Star Alliance carriers.  I think Arrival miles, which can be redeemed against the cost of fuel surcharges, are going to be a pretty compelling option for lots of folks.  Not to mention the double miles on every purchase and 10% rebate on every redemption (raising the effective total to 2.2 miles per dollar assuming you redeem 100% of your miles).

Link – Barclays Arrival World Mastercard 40k Offer

Reader Question: American Merger & Credit Cards

I’d gotten this question a few times in the past few weeks, but reader Alex contacted me and asked:

“With the merger of AA and US Airways finally approved, is now the time to get the US airways card since the miles will roll over to American? It seems like a slam dunk, but I am also wondering if I need to get BOTH the US and AA cards now because I am worried if I get a US card they will grandfather me in, and then when I in the future apply for an AA card they will say I already ‘have’ one, and be restricted from some signup bonuses. Whats your view?”

Not everything is known yet about what the credit card picture will look like after the merger, but what we do know is that Citi will issue the credit card for the new, merged airline.

Also, we know that as of January 7, 2014, that the airlines will be offering “reciprocal frequent flier benefits,” though we don’t exactly know what that means (h/t Lucky).  The best case scenario is that they’ll allow you to transfer miles between accounts and redeem with either US Airways or American, so it’s possible you’ll be able to combine your balances very soon–and hopefully before any devaluation.

And this one is pure speculation on my part, but given that the combined airline is basically one of three major international airlines left in the post-merger world (the others being United and Delta), and as of February both of those airlines have some pretty expensive award charts, I think we can expect the combined airline to offer their first “joint” award chart that more closely mimics their competitors than their current, more reasonable award charts.

So my plan of action would be to get whatever you are eligible for right now, and continue to earn & burn as fast as possible.  This may be the best opportunity to earn in two different programs to combine for a single award which is a great advantage.

It’s also possible that the “new” AA gets an entirely different card lineup from Citi, so the current lineup may not be available anymore (and their bonuses gone with them).  But regardless, getting the US Airways card now will not prevent you from getting the AA card in the future, because the card follows the issuing bank more so than the airline.  When there is no more US Airways, Barclays US Airways cards will be converted into other Barclays cards (I would guess the Arrival card), not the Citi AA card.

What cards are available?  What are the application rules and best practices?
[Read more…]

Getting to Europe with a Single Credit Card Application

A question I get all the time is about traveling “for free” to Europe… how can I do it? Are there any strings attached? What’s the best time to go, etc?

So I thought I’d go ahead and summarize my thoughts and list a few cards which offer the ability to get to Europe simply by applying for them and attaining the sign up bonus.

However, all of the ways I can think of require a compromise in some way.  You have to travel in specific months, on specific carriers, from specific cities, or pay large cash fuel surcharges.  There’s no carte blanche to travel whenever, however and for no fuel surcharge.
[Read more…]

Credit Card Churning SUCCESS!

Credit card “churning” refers to apply for, and getting, the sign up bonus for a credit card you already have or recently cancelled.

In general, this is not possible with most cards these days.  Amex language generally says you can’t have had the card (or one in the same “card family”) for one year previous to be eligible for the bonus.  Chase officially will never give you the bonus again on the same card, though reports are you can get it again around ~2 years.  Citi is a loose 2 years with some people reporting getting the bonus again as early as ~18 months.

However, two cards that I have that are reported to be churnable (among others) are the Bank of America Alaska Airlines card and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card.  So I wanted to see if it was true.
[Read more…]

Advanced Credit Card Application Methods: Bureau Shopping

In applying for credit cards, everyone pursues a different strategy and different comfort level.  It’s important to understand how your credit score is calculated so you can leverage your credit for lots of sign up bonuses.

FICO Pie Chart

According to FICO, “new credit” makes up 10% of your credit profile.  This is why your score dips slightly when you apply for new cards.  And it’s important to know that it’s done instantly.  As soon as a lender pulls your report, you could apply for another card right after that and that “inquiry” (also known as a “hard pull” of your credit) will already be on your credit report.
[Read more…]

Citi AA Business Retention Offer

I just wrote about my “retention” offer on my Chase Ink Bold account which was a healthy 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points to “offset” the annual fee.  As I said in that post, I really don’t like threatening to cancel cards unless I really don’t mind cancelling them in case I get an agent with a quick trigger finger who doesn’t offer me anything to stay.

But my Citi AA Business card was one such card where I really didn’t care if they cancelled it without offering me anything.  So I figured I’d give them a call and see what happens.   I didn’t expect much since I’ve barely used the card since unlocking the bonus.
[Read more…]

Let’s Get Absurd: Award Chart Sweet Spots Mini-RTW

The last two days, I’ve written about two award chart sweet spots — redemptions that I feel are undervalued for how expensive the cash ticket is. (Post #1 & Post #2)  While one of them is not confirmed to exist yet, I’m pretending that it does, because I want to put together a dream trip attainable on one round of credit card applications (+ a tiny bit of credit card spend perhaps).
[Read more…]