Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why the Chase Ink Plus Business Card is the best credit card for churning points

Earlier this year, Chase introduced their Ink Plus Business Card, which offers a generous 50,000 point sign-up bonus.  The sign-up bonus became even more lucrative this past month when Chase lowered the spending threshold requirement from $10,000 to $5,000 within the first 3 months.  This is in contrast to the 40k points after $3k in purchases offered by their Sapphire Preferred card, which still stands as the best card on the market for everyday purchases.  Both cards carry the same annual fee that is waived for the first year ($95), no foreign exchange transaction fees, and Ultimate Rewards points earnings which can be transferred to various frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio.  However, the Ink Plus card has a definitive edge when it comes to points accrual as you earn 5X at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, Internet, and cable TV services along with 2X on gas and hotels.  The Ink Plus also carries a 0% intro APR for the first 6 months.  And no, you don't actually have to own a business to be eligible for the card despite its label as a "business card".
Whereas a 50k sign-up bonus is already lucrative in itself, the Ink Plus is also one of the few cards that offers the potential for continuous churning.  Many office supply stores, such as Office Depot, Staples, and Office Max, sell credit card gift cards for a nominal fee.  For example, you can purchase a $500 Visa gift card for as low as $504.95, which would land you 2,525 points for a cost of $4.95, or 0.196 cents each.  Seeing how 100k points can land you a free roundtrip business class flight to Europe by transferring your Chase points to United Airlines miles, that's like paying $196 for a business class ticket that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars.
As with all credit card offers, use but don't abuse.  Though it's uncommon, Chase has closed accounts and voided all points for churners who were deemed as abusers.  Over the past few months, churners have taken advantage of Vanilla Reload cards from Office Depot, which allowed them to land points for <0.157 cents each.  However, Office Depot recently pulled them likely due to abuse from churners.  That being said, pick your spots carefully, and you'll be off on a free roundtrip biz class flight to Europe in no time courtesy of your Ink Plus Card and your local Office Depot(s).
Lufthansa's, a United Airlines mileage redemption partner, transatlantic business class hard product: definitely worth your $196 in credit card churning.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shop Small today with your American Express card

After the mad Black Friday shopping dash, it's time to support your local small business that has worked so hard to stay alive against big bad Walmart.  As I mentioned in my previous post, American Express is offering their annual promo of a $25 statement credit for spending $25+ at a small business today.  If you have registered your Amex card for the $25 statement credit, be sure to hit up a small business today and spend $25+ to get your free credit.  Check out Amex's Shop Small map to find an eligible small business near you.
Now get out and support your Mom and Pop's small biz.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

American Express Small Business Saturday $25 statement credit

It's that time of year again: Thanksgiving, which means that American Express' annual Small Business Saturday promo is back.  Spend $25+ at any small business on Saturday, November 24th with your Amex card and receive a $25 statement credit.  Amex corporate, prepaid, and gift cards are not eligible, but pretty much all Amex personal and small business credit cards including but not limited to the following are: Costco True Earnings, Platinum, Gold, Blue, Green, Centurion, Starwood, Hilton, Delta, AA, JetBlue, etc.  Registration is required and limited, so register your Amex card(s) now.  Only one $25 statement credit per card, but you can register and receive multiple $25 credits if you have multiple Amex cards (ie. register both Costco and Starwood card and spend $25+ with both and receive $25 credits for both cards).  Use Amex's "Shop Small map" to find a qualifying small biz near you.
Last year for Small Biz Saturday, I treated my friend to a nice sushi buffet in San Jose with my two Amex cards.  Which small biz are you going to shop at to earn your $25 statement credit?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Air New Zealand's ingenious safety video staring Peter Jackon's The Hobbit

You tired of watching the same boring and uneventful airline safety videos over and over again before takeoff?  Air New Zealand has decided to make the taxiing portion of your flight an epic adventure with their new safety video staring characters and actors from Peter Jackson's upcoming movie: The Hobbit.
This ingenious safety video will actually get passengers to pay attention instead of dozing off or illegally fiddling with the iPhones.  Air New Zealand's new slogan: The airline of Middle-earth.  Gandalf won't need his ginormous eagles anymore with these new wings.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy donations update

A couple of days ago, I posted about United and American Airlines offering bonus award miles for donating to several non-profit relief groups.  United, who originally pledged to match the first $50,000 donated to the Red Cross, AmeriCares, and Feeding America, has since upped their pledge to match the first $100,000 donated to the relief groups.  Red Cross donations blew through the $100k threshold, but AmeriCares and Feeding America are still significantly short, so if you haven't done so already, I'd recommend donating to them as your donation will be effectively doubled by United.  Not only will you be helping millions of people in desperate need, you'll also receive 250 award miles for donations of $50+ and 500 miles for donations of $100+.
Hilton has since joined in on their effort to encourage their customers to donate to Hurricane Sandy disaster relief by partnering with GlobalGiving and offering 10 Hilton Honors bonus points per $1 donated.  Like United, Hilton will also match the first $100,000 donated.  The maximum you can receive is 100,000 bonus points, which amounts to $10,000 in donations. Since there's no minimum requirement aside from the $1, this is ideal for members wishing to donate <$50 as AA and United will only offer bonus miles for donations of $50+.  Regardless, it's encouraging to see all these travel corporations getting involved and encouraging us to do our part in making a positive difference.

Friday, November 2, 2012

American Airlines offering double elite/redeemable miles through end of year!!

American Airlines is at it again: fessing up to their mistakes and rewarding their customers for their loyalty.  Through December 31st, 2012, AA is offering double elite qualifying miles (EQMs) for all flyers and double redeemable miles (RDMs) for all elite status flyers.  Non-elite flyers also earn double RDMs for flights from November 16th through November 26th.
This is easily the most generous airline promotion of the year as travelers closing in on their next tier of elite status will be able to do it with a breeze.  Assuming you're starting with zero miles for the year, AA Gold elite status, which includes perks such as priority access, 25% bonus miles, and 2 free checked bags, can be attained with a single roundtrip flight from Chicago to Tokyo or 2 1/2 transcontinental flights.  Similarly, AA Platinum, which includes additional perks such as lounge access and double RDMs, can be attained with 2 flights to Tokyo or 5 transcontinental flights.  This is also a good way for you to stock up on RDMs as Executive Platinum and Platinum members will be earning an astounding 300% RDMs on all flights!

All previous flights qualify for this promo as long as you flew after November 1st.  Codeshare and partner flights are not eligible; only AA metal, which includes AA, American Eagle, and American Connection are eligible.  Registration is required at AA by using code AATHX.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Earn miles for Hurricane Sandy donations

By now, you've most likely seen the severe devastation that Hurricane Sandy has wrought upon the East Coast.  In an effort to encourage you to make a difference, American Airlines and United Airlines are offering 250 bonus miles for donations of $50+ and 500 bonus miles for donations of $100+ to the American Red Cross.  United is also partnering with AmeriCares and Feeding America and matching the first $50,000 donated to all the relief groups.  And if you have award miles to spare, The Salvation Army accepts donations of United and Delta miles.
Do your part to make a difference, because we're all in this together.