Tag Archives: American Express Membership Rewards Points

On My Mind: Using Chase Sapphire Reserve for Restaurants & Grocery Purchases Instead of AMEX Gold

Good evening everyone, I hope your week is going well.  A few weeks ago, I started using my Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card as my go to restaurant and grocery store card.  Both categories earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on the CSR.  That sounds pretty good until I explain that I could use my American Express Gold Card to earn 4x American Express Membership Rewards Points on those same categories.  Why would I want to earn 3x instead of 4x?  The answer is simple: Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are much easier for me to redeem.

As you can see by these screenshots that I took today, I only have 1,235 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, compared to 364K Citi ThankYou Points and 479K American Express Membership Rewards Points.  Let me dig a little deeper into the reasons why the points balances are so different.

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American Express Changes: $25 Account Reopening Fee, Forfeiting Points on Late Payments & Old Blue Cash Redemptions

Good afternoon everyone.  I was reviewing my recent American Express credit card statements and spotted a few changes that I wanted you to be aware of.  The first 2 changes were shown on my American Express Blue Business Plus Credit Card and the last change was specific to my AMEX Old Blue Cash Credit Card (no longer available).  The first 2 changes affect small business credit and charge cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards Points.  With that said, let’s go through the first change.

Effectively immediately, if your American Express card is closed (presumably by you), then you change your mind and want to reopen the card, you will now have to pay a $25 reopening fee.  Before you close your card, call American Express to see if you can get a retention offer, see if you can convert that card to another card, and redeem any points tied to that card.  If you do those steps, you should not need to reopen an account and incur the $25 reopening fee.

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Turnaround Time for 5x Shipping AMEX Offer on American Express Business Platinum (Slow or Very Fast?)

Good afternoon everyone.  2 weeks ago, American Express rolled out a bunch of new AMEX Offers on their American Express Business Platinum Card.  Those AMEX Offers included earning 5x Membership Rewards Points on Wireless, Shipping, Advertising, Gas and Office Supply purchases.  I added / activated those AMEX Offers and was especially excited about the 5x shipping AMEX Offer since I sell stuff on eBay and ship a few packages every month (mainly USPS and UPS).  When my Chase Ink Plus Business Credit Card was offering 5x on shipping last year, I racked up a ton of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.  Since that deal ended a few months ago, I was excited to start using my AMEX Business Platinum to earn 5x Membership Rewards Points on shipping purchases.

AMEX handles these AMEX Business Platinum AMEX Offers slightly differently where you earn the base rate (1x on shipping) and then earn the 4x bonus points later.  According to the 5x shipping AMEX Offer terms, eligible purchases are “made in the U.S. for courier, postal, and freight shipping services” and the additional bonus points “will be credited to your Membership Rewards program account within 90 days after 6/30/2021.”  With that info in mind, I wanted to share the turnaround time for the 5x shipping AMEX Offer.

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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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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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