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TheScholar

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  1. The value you get out of the points depends on how and where you use them. For example, I used 30k points a night to stay in the Hilton attached to the Olympic swimming trials in Omaha this past year. I had breakfast in the lounge next to Michael Phelps's family. As a Hilton Diamond member, I got upgraded to an executive floor room that was going for more than $600 a night before taxes for the last few nights of the trials. Did I get to $0.02 per point in value? Not really, but I got to walk back and forth to the trials in just a couple of minutes and hang out in the lounge with some current and former swimmers. Kinda neat. I also got about half a penny a point for the Conrad Dubai For an upcoming stay. Although it's 70k points a night, rooms at this point about a month in advance are going for over $400. Again, questionable math on exactly how much in value I got, but there are soft values as well. We love the Conrad Dubai. The staff is fantastic, the line offerings are great and the breakfast in the restaurant is absolutely terrific. Would I pay the retail price for it? Not most of the time. But points makes it possible to enjoy a lifestyle that I wouldn't ordinarily pay for. If you're looking for a Hampton Inn in Elkhart Indiana you're never going to get the most amazing value. I take that back. I have no idea how much the Hampton Inn in Elkhart Indiana is. My point is, if you look for events or experiences and use your points to do things that you wouldn't ordinarily do, you might reap more value than you expected. For example, the room I have booked for New Year's Eve is a two-room suite that costs more than $500 for New Year's Eve but only cost me 30,000 points. Would I have gone and stayed on New Year's Eve if I had to pay cash? No. But can I? Of course I can, thanks to points. I've actually been very impressed with Hilton over the past year. Customer service has been fantastic with me and we've had some great stays. Couple that with the fact that I've been earning 42 points per dollar on paid stays and I can't imagine why someone would booked through Expedia. It would have to be one heck of a difference in price. I earned Hyatt Diamond status this year based on stays and I'll enjoy the globalist status for year one next year, but moving forward I'll be focusing on Hilton as my core hotel loyalty program. I'll keep Marriott Gold one way or another as a backup, but Hilton has earned my loyalty this year.
  2. Actually, just ran the numbers. Let's assume I spend $50k total in year 1 as that's where the Blue Cash for Biz caps out on the 2.3x. EDP: If I max out the 6k on grocery at 4.5, that's 27k MRs. If I spend $2k at gas stations (about all I'd spend), that's 6k MRs. If I then spend $42k at 1.5x, that's about 63k MRs. The sign-up bonus is 30k (got it in Google incognito) Adding that up, that's 126k MRs in year 1. Blue Cash for Biz: $48k spent at 2.3x = 110.4k MRs $2k spent at 10x restaurants in first 6mo = 20k MRs Sign up bonus is 10k+ Adding that up, that's 140.4k MRs in year 1. So the Blue Cash for Biz comes out 14.4k ahead for year 1.....though then at 1x it's a sock drawer card just for Amex Offers after year 1. Still not sure whether to go for the long game or the short game on this one.
  3. Hey everyone, Just looking for an opinion or two. My wife just opened a Biz Plat with my referral (25k for me and 100k for her after hitting spend). Looking to do a revolver for the 2fer. We don't have an Everyday Preferred and I've been thinking we need one (starting to use Biz Plat points for paid int'l biz). Obviously looking for more return in MRs than 1x on the Biz Plat. The Blue Cash sounds nice at 2.3 per dollar for up to $50k 1st year on non-bonused spend. That said, long-term, 1.5 on non-bonused plus 4.5 grocery and 3 gas sounds nice on the EDP. Not sure which to go for right now. If you had to choose (yeah, I know -- we don't necessarily have to choose) -- what would you say? (Scores are 800+, though she only has three personal CCs with limits between 3k-25k and a couple of old AU cards).
  4. Thank you for the feedback. I was more or less thinking the same as everyone said above, just wanted to run by some people. I guess we'll go SPG. Thanks.
  5. Perhaps more of an advanced credit topic, but I figured I'd put it here. I know a lot of things are urban legend, but I've read in enough places about Amex getting itchy for FR/AA when people start putting medical bills on their Amex, so I just don't put medical bills on any of my Amex cards (and I don't have many medical bills, so no biggie). However, I've got a very large vet bill coming up. Actually, it's my sister-in-law's bill. After we took the family for a free vacation in Hawaii this year, they've started to realize the value of points and miles and they offer to let us put more and more things on our CCs that they plan to pay in cash. The vet bill is going to be around $6k (or perhaps a bit more). The craziness of spending $6k at the vet aside, anyone have an opinion about whether or not putting this on an Amex is a safe move? Obviously, I'll be paying it off right away. I've got about a $20k limit on my SPG card, so it's not a util issue. Unfortunately, the vet is not on the small business map (so no 2x). My other option is to put it on my Citi Hilton Reserve as I've got some spending to do to hit my annual $10k for my free night there. The only other card I'm working on hitting a specific spend on is an Amex Biz Gold that I upgraded to Platinum for 50k MR points on $10k spend, and I know that many people do some amount of personal spending on their biz CCs, but $6k at the vet seems like it might be pushing that a bit. I have lots of other CCs, but those are the ones I'm considering. Any thoughts?
  6. Yeah, there sure are. Chase's transfer partners make UR points more valuable than 2% cash back if you like to travel and place any value on traveling in a higher "class" / "style" than you would normally be willing to pay for. The myriad of transfer partners means that you can average out to a nice return on your spending -- especially if you place any value on traveling in premium cabins or nicer-than-average hotels. Until a few years ago, I didn't place value on those things. Then I went to a travel conference. I saw a speaker ask the room how many people use miles & points to primarily fly in premium cabins (business/first) internationally. When I saw the quantity of hands go up, I was perplexed. Why would anyone waste more points than the minimum they needed to get to where they're going? Then I started checking it out....and man, I'd much rather use 45k points to fly 14 hours in first class than 22.5k points to fly the same distance in economy class (the upgrade from 22.5k economy to 30k business was even more palpable...but believe me that first was worth it). As everyone will tell you, having the CSR means that you''re averaging *at least* 2.25% towards travel with the Freedom Unlimited. And that's obviously usually a backup strategy as I will always first look to get better value out of the points. The fact that you can transfer to all of the major alliances (British Airways for One World / United and Singapore for Star Alliance / Flying Blue and Korean for Skyteam.....and then even transfer to Southwest in a pinch) means you can fly just about anywhere you want. For hotels, you'll obviously get the most value out of Hyatt -- but there are times (think New Year's Eve and other major celebrations) where even IHG and Marriott points get better than 1 cent per point. I'm doing NYE in a major city this year -- mostly to hit my favorite football team play my brother-in-law's team on New Year's Day. Last I checked, there were rooms available at better than 1cpp with all of the chains in that city. To me, that's the beauty of points. When my sister-in-law said, "Hey, you wanna go to X for NYE and see an NFL game the next day?", I said, "We're in. I'll get the hotels" -- because I don't have to think about how expensive hotels would be for NYE. All that said, we're pretty flexible people. We're not the type you are like, "We want to go to Boise, ID on June 15th next summer and we want to book our tickets this week." If that's the way you plan travel, points in general aren't a great option -- but with the Freedom Unlimited/CSR combo, you're still guaranteed to do better than you would if you used a 2% CB card, and that's what makes the system beautiful. It's failsafe. The worst you'll do is better than the next best option. The best you'll do could be pretty darn well. Even if you only want to travel domestically, you can take advantage of some of the international carriers' better award pricing on US domestic flights and better (read: MUCH LOWER) change fees. I can't imagine why I'd close a CSP rather than converting it to Freedom Unlimited (or regular freedom if that better matches your patterns).
  7. Thanks. She hasn't applied for anything in years and only has 2 CCs and 1 AU acct (all from long ago), so she was literally at 0/24 with an 800+ score. I didn't expect an issue. They gave a nice limit, too -- mid 20's. Much higher than her other two cards. So that's why we're thinking Ink+. Might as well get a biz card today also. And if someone can earn 5k points on that, so be it. I expect it to be as easy an Ink approval as is possible these days (so by that I mean it'll be at least a week, but I don't anticipate an issue).
  8. I've never had a single referral offer on any of my 5 Chase cards via the stinkin' refer-a-friend site. Grr. Anyway, my better half did the CSR today for 100k points. Might as well go for an Ink+ today as well. Anyone have a referral link for it? Send me a PM if you have an actual link. If it's an email referral, I'll have to pass as I'm looking to get the app in today. Thanks!
  9. I think you misunderstand earn and burn -- and you haven't made a logical argument as to why earning points and using them sooner rather than later has changed. I have more than a dozen separate trips booked over the next 12 months. Some of them are trips where I've booked, for example, an outbound flight and I'm still earning the rest of the points for a return (or I'm still checking availability for it for the 6 people I'm bringing). Earn and burn doesn't mean one trip at a time -- it means earn them and use them before they devalue. Nobody -- and I mean absolutely nobody in the travel blogging sphere or miles & points community -- is telling you to get a 50k point sign up bonus and immediately use it for two round trip domestic economy tickets. Nobody is giving that advice because it's stupid and we all know it. It's not about burning as soon as you have enough points for something. It's about earning them with a focus on what you'll use them for sooner rather than later and where you'll get more value than the opportunity cost involved in earning them. Whether you're doing regular spending or M$ or buying and selling or business spending or whatever the case may be --that is completely irrelevant to "earn and burn". It doesn't matter how you earn. Earn and burn was never about the method of earning. The idea is you shouldn't hold points for an extended period expecting them to maintain their value. They won't. If we've learned anything, it's that their value could change overnight. Again, all you are arguing is that sign up bonuses are becoming less lucrative. They are. If you're booking a trip for more than 1 or 2 people, you always needed more than one method of accumulating points. No news there. Accumulating massive amounts of points by signing up for the same card six times is just about dead. That's all that has died. You should still use your points before they devalue. All you really seem to be arguing is that earning two sign up bonuses in a month to burn them immediately on one trip is dead. That doesn't mean the entire philosophy is dead -- just one method of earning. If I told you that you could either save your money in a savings account earning 0.5% interest or you could buy Ty Beanie Babies that are hot right now and hope that they're still hot four years from now when you want to sell them, which option would you take? I know people who held a lot of those dang beanie babies too long and got burnt. You have to strike while the iron is hot or take the sure thing (in the form of cash back). Encouraging someone to continuously buy enough beanie babies to maybe be able to take their family on vacation three or four years from now is, in my humble opinion, awful advice. Again, I think the fundamental misunderstanding here is that you're twisting earn and burn to mean to use your points the second you earn them and without an eye to greater redemption value. Who ever advocated that? People advocate not waiting and expecting to be able to hold your Alaska miles for three years to be able to bring your family to Dubai in Emirates First Class -- because if you tried that, you would have been sorely disappointed. And if you're only earning points from everyday spend, you're unlikely to earn a meaningful amount of points just filling your gas tank and buying an occasional candy bar. If you want to be able to use the points for big rewards, you're going to have to find the techniques that yield those points. If one is focused on only earning "free" travel, that is definitely becoming highly challenging with no methods beyond your average monthly spend. But, again, that's separate from earn and burn. I obviously fully subscribe to the earn & burn philosophy. But I'm not booking one trip at a time. I have my MR's mentally burnt before I've earned them. I am thinking three or four (or a dozen) trips ahead. Earn & burn is the most forward-thinking strategy there is -- it's thinking forward to the fact that these points are going to devalue faster than cash, so I need to know how I'm going to use them if I'm going to spend the time and accept the devaluation risk inherent in earning them. I'm not sure where you think earn and burn fails to take advantage of easy opportunities - of course you want to take advantage of easy opportunities....with an eye as to how those opportunities will benefit you. If I buy every item on sale at the store just to "take advantage of opportunities", that's a waste if I don't know how I will use the products. If my wife goes grocery shopping and buys every piece of produce in the flyer just because it's a good deal, it's not really a good deal as that food will rot before we eat all of it. You don't want to let your points rot -- you want to plan the dinner menu for the week before you go shopping. Maybe buy 2 cans of tomato sauce because they are on sale 2-for-1 and you know you'll have pasta once this week and you'll definitely have pasta again before it expires. But don't buy 8 pineapples because they're a good deal if you don't know how or when you're going to eat them -- you want to go after things you know you can and will use and have a plan for how that will happen. You don't need to know which night is going to be spaghetti for sure and maybe you'll use the tomato sauce for stuffed shells instead because that fits your needs better, but you know generally how you're going to use it and that you're going to use it before it goes bad. That's earn & burn.
  10. I'm going to totally disagree with you on multiple accounts. The philosophy of "earn and burn" is not outdated nor will it ever be -- nor should it be -- nor does your article even really make any argument as to why that philosophy would be dead. All it explains is that earning a lot of points through sign up bonuses is dead. Nobody can argue with that -- but that's not connected to "earn a burn" apart from being one of the methods to earn. One method to earn is dying -- that's all. The idea of "earn and burn" is that you want to accumulate points with a use in mind and put them to use before their value drops (since you presumably accrued them with a value in mind and decided to earn those points versus cash back or some other points because of the value you assigned to the points you chose to earn). That philosophy will always be valid and best practice because we are playing with a volatile currency that can change at any moment. Earning without an eye towards burning will always be foolish. Counting on your points to be worth the same thing four years from now that they are today isn't an advisable way to make accumulation decisions. Planning to spend four years earning Miles & More points to take your family of four or six on vacation isn't that likely to work out as the goal will keep shifting farther and farther away as devaluations come every year or two. Note that I'm not arguing value in diversifying -- just that diversifying with no end in mind for the points isn't a sound strategy. I'm also not arguing that every point earned needs to have a definite and unchangeable use in mind from the day you earn it to the day you use it. I think there is value in accumulating flexible currencies to maximize your ability to redeem for a number of different plausible uses. I'd accumulate Chase UR points knowing that I will definitely use them. I wouldn't work on accumulating Korean Skypass points because I don't know enough about using them nor do I have a ton of use for Skyteam redemptions in my travel patterns -- I wouldn't mind collecting a currency I can turn into Skypass miles,but I wouldn't accumulate Skypass miles without an idea as to how I'll be using them in the next 12-maybe 18 months. If I didn't know how I was going to burn them in that timeframe, I'd have a hard time justifying earning them. Again, I'm not arguing against diversification or having large balances -- just that I wouldn't want to be sitting on large balances waiting for two years to redeem them for a specific vacation. But as for sign up bonuses, a sign up bonus is just one avenue for earning. Counting on those to be your main method of earning is certainly dying. I think I signed up for 23 credit cards in 2015 -- one being the 150k offer on the Amex BizPlat, shout out to the parties responsible for helping me with that -- point being that I earned a lot of points from sign ups. But I didn't earn nearly as many points from sign up bonuses as I did through shopping portals. Finally learning to use and abuse my Alaska companion certificates next year is going to yield me more points one one ticket than the sign up bonus on the card. A couple of cheap (and mistake) paid premium cabin fares will yield another nice haul. People are going to have to adjust how they earn if sign up bonuses were their core method previously -- but using the slowdown on sign up bonuses to call "earn & burn" and outdated concept is just poor logic. It's like this -- say my doctor tells me to eat right and exercise to maximize my health by keeping my weight down. So I start snacking on bananas instead of hohos. But then, next week, the WHO comes out with a study saying that bananas aren't healthy anymore and might even cause weight gain. Does that mean my doctor's health advice -- to eat right and exercise -- is outdated? Obviously not. It means that snacking on bananas isn't going to be my method of "eating right" anymore. I'm going to pick up an orange. Or some nuts. Or a carrot. But I'm not going to stop eating right and I'm not going to stop exercising and I'm not going to say that eating right and exercising isn't the best way to stay healthy and lose weight -- it's sound advice. The core concept of earning & burning is that you're better off with a cash back strategy if you don't have the knowledge/time/ability to burn the points & miles. The philosophy doesn't say you need to earn 50k points via a sign up bonus tomorrow and burn them next week -- it says that holding them for years and expecting constant value is foolish and an unwise investment. In my personal opinion, an interesting article would be on how a family of four or six can earn the points they need to take the trip they want in a year's time or less. The methods of earning those points -- buying and selling, gift cards, MO's, etc -- might not appeal to all, but neither does working 80 hours a week at Goldman Sachs to earn a million a year. Different strokes for different folks as to how much effort is worth putting in and for what result. But if we're talking about miles methods, I think the methods one would use apart from sign up bonuses would be the next frontier to tackle. And before anyone accuses me of being harsh in my disagreement, let me say that I took the click bait that was being offered with a headline that was looking for opposition. I'm just obliging :-).
  11. It's not about it being usable. $1,500 was more than enough to cover monthly car rentals for me and get the benefit of primary coverage while still being able to enjoy the other benefits of my RC card like $300 in AA GC's. Long time no post. Glad to see everyone is keeping up with the game :-). So I just read about the shenanigans above. Quick question -- I thought the RC card was only available as a Visa Signature (in the past - I know it's an Infinite now) -- and I thought Chase wouldn't let you have a CL under $5k on a Visa Sig? Or is that only for an initial limit? I haven't shifted limits from a couple of cards under the assumption that they had to be $5k or I'd have to PC/close. Anyone know what the deal is? Zoelle -- is yours getting the Visa Infinite air credit deal? IMO, the Visa Infinite airfare discount (which it seems isn't going to be offered on the CSR) is an amazing value that makes the Ritz card worthwhile no matter what the opening bonus is. With the ridiculous ~$80 RT domestic airfares we've seen between a bunch of cities, it comes down to $30 per person round trip. It costs more than that to get to the airport in some cities. As a companion pass holder, I rarely book domestic airfare that isn't on Southwest -- but man, the wife and I have considered moving to Dallas for six months just to fly around for $30 each round trip for a while. Anyway, I came here to say that if and when people start apping the CSR, I'd love to hear about experiences regarding 5/24 and I always appreciate seeing data added to the CPD. That info really helped me when I was rebuilding. My wife will be apping the CSR as she hasn't opened anything in years and is 800+. Contemplating an Ink for her as well in order to hopefully combine INQs while only showing 1 new acct. That or maybe a Marriott biz to combine our annual free nights and stack with the 250k+ I've got from the long-ago Ritz 140k and a Marriott 80k. Waiting those points out to redeem for a 2017/18 companion pass and hotel combo (might try for the 5-night hotel packages). Bummer that transfer isn't instant -- we've actually got a flight for 1/1/17 and no companion pass for it. On the CSR topic, I initially didn't care about the 1.5cpp travel redemptions, but I've since seen the light on that in terms of value. There was a lot of Hyatts in the 20k category that can regularly be had for $220-$250/night. While I won't usually spend that much (unless booking through something like FHR where I'm getting a decent amount of value), the 20k points price doesn't make sense either. Now a hotel like that will cost 17k UR points (assuming a $255 price tag) and at 6.5 points a dollar as a Hyatt Diamond member, one would get ~1500 Hyatt points to boot. And one could presumably use a DSU on that, right? I'm sure that's not the best example of value in this benefit, but I'm much more intrigued by the prospect of finding the outsized value. The CSR is going to be a beast in combo with an Ink. So much so that I might contemplate a PC from my CSP if need be.
  12. Hey guys, Has anyone added an AU to a biz card as a sole proprietor? I've got an Amex Biz Platinum. I'd like to add my wife as an AU (both because she does occasionally purchase things for me and for the ancillary Platinum benefits). I'm wondering if this would cause an issue as I'm a sole prop? Also, I've never added an AU with Amex. I understand from reading that they require SSN for personal AU's. If they do for biz cards, I want to make sure it won't show anything on her personal reports if I add her on the Amex Biz Plat. I imagine the card won't report (as it doesn't on mine), but no sort of INQ either, right? Thnx for any insight someone has.
  13. I didn't talk to a human -- I just used the phone system to make my payment. It was automated. But what you say makes some sense. I had a lot of trouble linking one of my CC accounts to my user ID a while back and it took several tech people to sort it out. You're probably right that it's a back end problem. I was more concerned if this was a known sign of a shut down or something. Seems just a glitch with me. Thanks!
  14. Yeah, I've tried 3 different browsers. Odd. (I tried different browsers before posting here, of course)
  15. I'm not a pump-and-dump user myself, but I'm certainly not offended by discussion of it. Some folks get hammered and drive the wrong way on the highway and kill a family of 7, but I don't think we need to eliminate discussion of beer. Plenty of folks can enjoy a cold one or two now and then without ruining their lives. If someone got all the way to this thread, they likely understand not to drink a case of beer and a handle of gin before hopping behind the wheel.

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