Fair warning – this is a mega-long post. So much has happened in the points and miles credit card world these past few months that I am just starting to catch up. Along with my “catching up” on current offers, I spent a fair deal of time going through what’s in my wallet – deciding what cards to cancel, what cards to keep… you know the drill.
Last year I also wrote a pretty lengthy post titled: Year in Review: Examining the “Health” of My Credit Score With 11 Active Credit Cards - consider this a follow up (this time around I have 14 cards and an even higher credit score). This week alone, I filtered through my cards – said goodbye to some and got lucky with others to have my annual fees waived. I also added two new babies to my collection. You’ll find all of that info below, so grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever tickles your fancy and enjoy!
Credit Card Offer Updates
It seems like it’s the time of year where changes to offers of some of our favorite travel credit cards are happening; the good news is that in the majority of changes are better than what was offered before. Here’s what’s going on:
No Fee Hyatt Credit Card (Chase): There’s some buzz about a great public offer that’s currently available for the Hyatt Credit Card that awards two free nights at any Hyatt in the world after spending $1,000 in the first three months. This card normally has an annual fee of $75 a year, but with this offer, the fee is waived for the first year! I got my Hyatt Credit Card back in April of 2012 and have used my free night certificates at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. I gladly pay the $75 annual fee because by doing so I receive a yearly free night certificate to use at category 1-4 properties.
50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Credit Card is Back (Chase): The good news is that the awesome 50,000-point sign up bonus is back on the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card (check out my recent post for the full details about this offer). The bad news is that Southwest recently announced a 15% program devaluation. Here’s what’s happening: Wanna Get Away® reward flight bookings made on or after March 31, 2014 will require 70 points per dollar. This is an increase from the 60 points per dollar currently required. Sure, that news is a bummer, but changes are not happening over night either, so if you have a nice stash of Rapid Rewards points, I’d consider researching fun destinations to travel to ASAP (at least think about making your bookings before 3/31/14).
No Foreign Transaction Fees on United MileagePlus Explorer Card: It’s always a nice enhancement when a card jumps on the no-foreign-transaction fee bandwagon. After all, we all travel abroad, no?
First Year Annual Fee Now Waived on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card: Yay, 50,000 Avios after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months – now without having to pay the pesky $95 up front for the first year.
$50 Statement Credit with Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (American Express): Delta is clearly not my focus, so this card probably will never make it into my wallet, but I wanted to point out some changes to the offer. First off there is an increased minimum spend requirement (now $1,000 in the first 3 months instead of $500 in the past) to receive 30,000 SkyMiles. Another new addition is that you can now get $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within the first 3 months.
Increased Sign-Up Bonus with FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature (US Bank): This is not a card I personally have [yet], but after giving it a good look, it could be a nice addition to the wallet. 20,000 FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in spending in the first 150 days (~5 months). 20,000 FlexPoints can get you an airline ticket worth up to $400, essentially making each FlexPoint worth up to 2 cents each. With each redemption, you also receive a $25 airline allowance to cover incidentals such as in-flight food/drink or baggage fees. Even better is that the redemption is for a “paid” ticket (no black-out dates either), allowing you to earn valuable frequent flyer miles by completing travel. Here are the complete details about the offer:
Get 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 150 days
Award travel starts at just 20,000 FlexPoints (up to a $400 ticket value) on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates or redemption fees
Earn one FlexPoint for every $1 of eligible net purchases charged to your card
Earn two FlexPoints for every $1 spent on gas, grocery or airline purchases – whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle – and on most cell phone expenses
Earn Triple FlexPoints for your charitable donations
$0 Annual Fee* the first year, after that $49*
Earn 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each year when you spend $24,000 in Net Purchases. You can redeem these FlexPoints for your annual fee or combine them with other FlexPoints for travel
The Quest for Retention Bonuses
As much as I hate doing card-cancellation calls, it has to be done. I think it has more to do with me hating to talk on the phone, period. Here’s how I did this year:
Cards I Said Goodbye To:
- Chase Continental OnePass MasterCard: Since I already have top-tier elite status with United and I book all of my travel for double points using the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I really didn’t see much value in paying the annual fee or keeping this card. Sadly, I was not offered any retention bonus of any kind when I called the cancel; however, the agent did move the vast majority of my credit line over to another Chase account, so it wasn’t a huge loss. I might consider applying for the United MileagePlus Explorer Card next year (I have been frequently getting 50,000-point targeted offers in the mail) because with United’s new stinky elite minimum spend requirement in place for 2014 (example: $10,000 + 100,000 flown miles for 1K), the only way I would ever come close to achieving elite status again would be to be a cardholder so that the premier qualifying dollars requirement would be waived (only up to Platinum level, but that is a sufficient status).
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: Shocking, right? Well in my defense, I had both this card -and- the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card. My logic was: if I can’t get the annual fee waived, then I’ll cancel the card and keep the business version of the card. When I called American Express to cancel, they offered me a $10 retention bonus. I declined, and a friendly agent moved the majority of my credit to another AmEx account to preserve the credit lines I had been approved for.
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card: I was fortunate to have this card’s annual fee waived in 2012, but I wasn’t realistically expecting to get another free year, so I kind of knew my fate when calling. I was not offered any retention bonus, so I closed the account while moving my credit line to another Chase account.
Retention Bonus Success:
- Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card: Back in July 2011, I applied for this card and the Citi Business AAdvantage Visa simultaneously when the sign-up offer was at a lovely 75,000 miles per card. When it was almost time for renewal, I called Citi and was offered an $85 statement credit to neutralize the annual fee if I kept the card open. I somehow lucked out again – the friendly agent offered me a $95 statement credit to cover the annual fee if I used the card 5 times within the following 30 days. Easy peasy.
- The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®: I opened this card in August of 2012 to get the 30,000 free miles that came with the card after the first purchase. I rarely used the card after that and wasn’t planning on keeping the account open or paying the $89 fee. After a quick call, I was able to get the agent to waive the fee for me so I could have the card account open for another year.
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card: By paying the $95 annual fee up front, I was able to unlock the ability to get 2-free weekend stay certificates at any Hilton property worldwide after meeting the minimum spend; however, we all know that the HHonors program faced a major devaluation earlier this year and there’s just no incentive for me to chase Hilton points anymore. So to avoid paying the annual fee this time around, I had the account specialists convert this card to the no-annual-fee Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card this way I won’t lose any of my credit.
What’s in My Wallet Now
Here’s the crazy list of what I’ve got in my wallet at the moment:
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card (soon to be Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card)
- Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card
- The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®
- $400 Cash Back NFL Barclays Card (related post)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN (related post)
- Blue Sky from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card
- Ink Plus® Business Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Hyatt Credit Card
- Chase Freedom®
- Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- IHG Rewards Visa *NEW Addition* (came with a great 80,000-point sign-up bonus with a $49 annual fee starting the second year that nets me a free night at any IHG property)
- Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card *NEW Addition* (probably the best hotel co-branded credit card out there, in my opinion)
So there it is, all things credit cards laid out on the table – can’t believe I’m up to 14 cards (PS – my credit score is 783 as of the time of this post)! How does your collection compare? What cards did you open, say goodbye to, and have on your radar for this year and next? Please feel free to share and discuss below in the comments!
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