Author Archives: Grant

About Grant

Grant is an expert in frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points, credit card rewards, and cash back deals. He also has a pretty cool travel blog. Find him on Twitter @travelwithgrant.

Ask Me (Almost) Anything Friday

Good morning everyone, happy Friday!  I am looking forward to my MLK Jr. 3 day weekend and hope you are too.  Travel with Grant has always been about writing blog posts that interest me and I write blog posts that I would want to read (hopefully readers want to read those posts too).  My inspiration to write comes from first hand experiences with travel and rewards credit cards, in addition to reading other miles & points blogs and listening to miles & points podcasts.  I don’t have any blog posts at the forefront of my mind right now, so I am looking to my readers for some inspiration.  What are you interested in right now?  Do you have any questions about traveling, miles and points, or credit card rewards?

If you do, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer them all.  I should be able to answer some of them in the comments section, but others may lead to full on blog posts of their own.  My only request is that you do not ask me any complicated award booking questions like, “I want to get 25 people to Australia for Christmas in first class.”  Trust me, I’m not sitting on the greatest award booking secrets ever known, so my short answer will be to reach out to an award booking service and pray that they can help you out.  That is my one and only request, but I welcome all other questions.

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and enjoy your long weekend!

I Paid $3,820 in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2020 – Was it Worth it?

Good morning everyone, happy Friday!  After I published How Much Did I Pay in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2020?, several readers asked if I could share how much value I received from each credit card in 2020.  Today’s post is also a sequel to my 2019 post (I Paid $4,588 in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2019 – Was it Worth it?).  All 24 of these credit cards were opened before January 1, 2020, and no sign up bonus is included.  For simplicity, I did not include the value of miles or points earned from credit card spend, since that is somewhat subjective (and most of the miles and points were not spent in 2020).  I counted all credits, reimbursements, retention offers, and referral bonuses at dollar face value.  For hotel free night certificates, I have several from 2020 that expire in 2021 and 2022, so I am using a standard value of $100 for each hotel free night certificate.

I went through all of my credit card statements and online accounts to see which Credit Card Benefits I used in 2020 and those values are summed up in the CCB $ column.  If I received a retention offer, that is listed in the RO $ column.  I listed the credit card annual fee in the AF $ column.  Lastly, I used this formula to calculate the Profit or Loss (P / L column) for each credit card: CCB $ + RO $ – AF $ = P / L

I sorted the credit cards alphabetically and split them up into 3 smaller groups.  Here are some thoughts from the first group:

  • The first 3 AMEX cards were big money makers due to the standard card benefit credits and the temporary pandemic benefits.  It will be hard to beat these numbers in 2021.
  • I never planned on keeping the American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card long term and only signed up for the 70,000 Delta SkyMiles sign up bonus in 2019.
  • In most years, we are easily able to use the $99 Alaska Airlines Companion Fare, but due to the pandemic and very cheap Alaska Airlines flight, we did not use the Companion Fare in 2020.  I am hoping to use the Companion Fare this year.
  • I’m glad Laura (LT) was able to get a $59 retention offer on her Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and a $100 referral bonus.
Credit Card Name Credit Card Benefits CCB $ RO $ AF $ P / L
AMEX Business Platinum $400 Dell credit; $198 airline reimbursement; $160 wireless phone credit; $158 shipping credit; $96 AMEX Offers for Dell & AT&T $1,012 $200 $595 $617
AMEX Gold $120 dining credit; $100 airline reimbursement; $60 AMEX Offer for Shop Small $280 $0 $250 $30
AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire $250 airline reimbursement; $250 resort credit (used at restaurants); 1 Free Night Certificate (expires 7/2/22) (worth $100) $600 $0 $450 $150
AMEX Platinum Delta SkyMiles Downgraded to no annual fee American Express Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card to avoid paying annual fee $0 $0 $250 $0
Bank of America Alaska Airlines (LT) Alaska Airlines $99 Companion Fare expired in 2020 $0 $0 $75 -$75
Capital One Venture Rewards (LT) $100 referral bonus $100 $59 $59 $100

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How Much Did I Pay in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2020?

Updated at 9:20am PT on 1/4/21: I went through my credit card statements and found 2 more retention offers, so I updated the second table below.


Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend is going well.  In December 2019, I wrote I Paid $4,588 in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2019 – Was it Worth it?  In that post, I listed all of our credit cards that had annual fees and I attempted to justify why paying over $4,500 in annual fees was worth it.  Unfortunately, 2020 made it very difficult to get a ton of value out of our travel reward credit cards, so in March 2020, I wrote Reconsideration Strategy for Credit Card Annual Fees During Coronavirus Pandemic.  I decided to list all of our credit cards that have annual fees, sort them by when the annual fee posted / will post, and called for retention offers every time a new annual fee posted.  At the beginning of 2020, we had 25 credit cards with annual fees and would pay $4,845 in annual fees if we made no changes or retention offer calls.  In this post, I will share what retention offers we received, which credit cards we closed, and which credit cards we product changed.

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My Best Practices for Closing a Credit Card

Good morning everyone, I hope you had a great New Year’s Day!  A few weeks ago, I wrote My Best Practices for New Credit Cards and Sign Up Bonuses.  In that post, I shared a variety of tips and tricks to stay organized and squeeze out the most value from your new credit cards.  In today’s post, I will talk about the other side of the coin – best practices for closing credit cards.  There are many things you need to do before you call to close your credit card.  Here are some tips and tricks to follow:

Is the Credit Card Worth the Annual Fee?

Whenever a credit card has an annual fee, you need to ask yourself, “Does the value you receive from the credit card benefits meet or exceed the cost of the annual fee?”  Most credit card benefits are intangible (you cannot touch them), but you must assign a value to them.  For example, if your credit card offers these benefits, how much are the benefits worth to you?

  • Airline Elite Status – you must fly in order to use your status.
  • Free Checked Bags – you must check bags on flights.
  • More Award Seats / Better Award Availability / Lower Pricing – you must search and book award tickets using miles and points.
  • Hotel Elite Status – you must stay at the hotel chain (or match to another hotel elite status).
  • Free Night Certificate – you must find participating hotels and award availability to use your free night certificates.
  • Rebated Points – you must have enough points to redeem for an award in order to get rebated points.
  • Statement Credits – you must spend money (hopefully on something you want / need) in order to get the statement credits.
  • Airline Travel / Incidental Reimbursement Credits – you must find qualifying charges to make in order to trigger the credits.
  • Refer a Friend Bonuses – you must have friends, family, or blog readers who will apply for new credit cards with your referral links.

If you are interested, check out my Keep, Cancel, or Convert? Series to see how I decide which credit cards are worth keeping and paying the annual fees.

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How Much Money Did I Make from Bank Account Bonuses in 2020?

Good morning everyone, happy New Year’s Eve!  Doctor of Credit has a Best Bank Account Bonuses page that he keeps up to date with the best offers each month.  In that master post, he links to individual bank account bonuses with helpful information regarding the bonus details, how to avoid monthly fees, when to close the account, how often you can open a new account, and much more.  For the last 6 years, I have been opening new checking accounts for the new member bonuses.  And at the end of each year, I share my results on the blog.  Over the last 6 years, I have made $12,250 in bank account bonuses.  You will receive 1099-INT tax forms every year, so you have to pay taxes on the bank account bonuses, but sometimes you can fund the opening deposit with a credit card and earn miles, points, or cash back.  If you are lucky, you can meet a minimum spending requirement by funding a new checking account or reach a high spending target to earn more rewards.  Here are my results from the last 6 years with links to corresponding blog post summaries:

Drum roll please… Here are the 3 new checking accounts I opened in 2020:

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