Category Archives: Credit Cards

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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My Top 10 Most Read Blog Posts of 2020

Good afternoon everyone, I hope your week is going well.  Every year, I like to check out my stats from Google Analytics to see which blog posts were the most popular.  I created 2 lists by looking at all blog posts written in 2020 and then I looked at which posts were read the most in 2020, but written in a previous year (#stayingpower).  I will list the blog posts from top to bottom based on pageviews, share the original published date, and provide a short summary of each blog post.  If you are curious, here were the most popular posts from 2019, 20182017, and 2016.

2020’s Most Read Posts (Written in 2020)

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How Many Transferrable Points Did I Earn & Spend with AMEX, Chase and Citi in 2020?

Good afternoon everyone, I hope your week is going well.  I don’t know about you, but 2020 was the year I earned a lot more transferrable points than I spent.  I am hoping that in 2021, I will be able to spend a lot more points than I did in 2020.  For this post, I looked at my 3 favorite transferrable points programs (American Express Membership Rewards Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, and Citi ThankYou Points).  I looked at my starting balances on January 1, the number of points I earned in 2020, miscellaneous point transfers in/out, the number of points I redeemed in 2020, and the ending balance on December 31 (I don’t have any plans on redeeming any points in the next few days).  For a quick calculation, I earned 350K points across the 3 programs and spent a total of 211K points (most were with Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature).

American Express Membership Rewards Points

  • Starting Balance on Jan 1: 240K
  • Points Earned in 2020: 201K
  • Points Redeemed in 2020: 4K
  • Ending Balance on Dec 31: 438K

With American Express, I earned 201K AMEX MRs with 3 cards (American Express Business Platinum Card, American Express Gold Card, and American Express Blue Business Plus Credit Card).  The Biz Plat had many pandemic bonus categories like wireless phones, shipping charges, and Dell purchases.  The Gold Card had bonus categories for restaurants and grocery stores, along with high referral bonuses.  And the Blue Biz Plus offered 2x everywhere and was my go to card when I wasn’t working on meeting minimum spending requirements on new CCs.  Across all 3 CCs, I received a total of 65K AMEX MRs from referral bonuses.  To view your points summary, click here.  To view your redemption history, click the View Redemption History link.

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My Rock Solid 2021 Airline, Hotel & Credit Card Predictions

Good morning everyone, I hope you got a good laugh out of my post from yesterday: Reviewing my Embarrassingly Wrong 2020 Travel Predictions.  Long story short, my 2020 predictions were terrible (I had 3 correct and 12 wrong predictions).  I am hoping to redeem myself today with my super-solid, 100% guaranteed-to-happen predictions for 2021.  My crystal ball just got back from the crystal ball repair store and here are my airline, hotel, and credit card predictions for 2021.

My 2021 Airline Predictions

  • Alaska Airlines or Southwest Airlines will make their “convert travel funds to airline miles” feature a permanent feature on their site.
  • American Airlines will finally become a Citi ThankYou Points airline transfer partner.
  • Delta Airlines or United Airlines will introduce a “Cash and Miles” payment option for award tickets (pay 10,000 miles or pay 8,000 miles + $40).

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