Tag Archives: American Express Membership Rewards Points

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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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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My December Credit Card Retention Calls: 2 out of 4 Successes ($300 Statement Credits Total)

Good afternoon everyone, I hope you had a great weekend.  I called about retention offers on a few different credit cards today and wanted to share my results.  Please make sure to scroll to the bottom of this post and read my tips on making retention calls.  I took a page out of Frequent Miler’s playbook (My $575 phone call (complete in 20 minutes)) and called about these 4 credit cards:

  • Chase Hyatt Credit Card ($75 annual fee posted December 1)
  • JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton Visa Infinite Credit Card ($450 annual fee posted July 1)
  • Chase Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Credit Card ($99 annual fee posted May 1)
  • American Express Business Platinum Charge Card ($595 annual fee posted December 2)

Since the old Chase Hyatt Credit Card is product changing to the new Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card on January 11, 2021, I decided to call Chase and ask about a retention offer.  This is a huge ask that I knew was never going to fly, but I tried anyways.  I told the Chase rep that I was planning on closing my old Hyatt credit card and was going to apply for the new World of Hyatt credit card in a few weeks since I could earn up to 50,000 World of Hyatt Points with the new sign up bonus.  Instead of going through the process of closing one card and applying for the other card, I asked if Chase could provide some bonus World of Hyatt Points to forgo the sign up bonus.  Nope, that was not possible.  At that point, I asked the rep to close that credit card and transfer the credit limit over to another Chase personal call.  I am 0 for 1 at this point, onto the next call.

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