I know watching the news stories about the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey can make you feel helpless. The scope of this event just causes you to feel numb and you want to do something but don’t know how you can help.
Luckily, most of the airline and hotel programs are making it easy to contribute in any way you can. Even if you don’t have cash to spare, you can donate those random points you have here and there to the recovery effort. Face it, it’s better to donate them than redeem them for some magazines that you’ll never read. Personally, I have points with LaQuinta and Choice that I’m going to donate right now.
Here are the links to the program pages where you can make donations.
(Thanks to our reader John B. for the tip on this way that you can to contribute to the relief effort)
Going on an international trip is very exciting but it can also be very expensive. Using a credit card to pay for purchases when traveling internationally is often the best way to get a good exchange rate and the rate your bank gets will be better than the one you’ll get on your own if you exchange cash. Using a card also means that you don’t have to carry around a bunch of cash with you. However, many cards will add on a “foreign transaction fee” to any transactions made with anything except your home currency. Here’s an easy way to keep from paying that extra 2-3 percent on all of your purchases while away.
I’m at the point where I am ready to sign up for a new credit card. It’s always an exciting time when we’re almost finished with the spending requirements for our most recent cards. I’ve read many articles listing the “Best sign up bonuses” so I have an idea of what is available. Instead of making yet another list, I’ll give you some insight into the things I take into consideration when making a decision like this.
I’m almost finished with meeting the spending requirement for the last credit card we were approved for, so that means it’s time to find and apply for a new card. As always, you should not be bothering with this if you have credit card debt. If that’s the case, your main goal should be to pay off the debt and increase your credit score, and THEN you can start applying for credit cards.
When applying for credit cards, it’s important to know the rules that you’ll need to follow for each bank when applying for a credit card, because they’re all different. Knowing these rules will allow you to continue to get approved for cards and collect the bonuses that will add to your balances. That will, in turn, will allow you to meet your travel goals.
I’ve talked about the American Express Everyday Preferred before, as it’s one of our wallet go-to cards. The Citi Prestige isn’t a card I use for everyday purchases but instead is more of a “special teams player,” wherein I will pull it out of the drawer when I make specific purchases for the benefits it provides.
The Citi Prestige is one of the premium credit cards on the market and you need to have good credit to be approved for one. It also carries a hefty $450 annual fee. I’m willing to pay the fee for this card because of the benefits I get from it: Continue reading “Credit Card Review: Citi Prestige”
Sharon and I have been Disney fans for most of our lives. That being said, it should be no surprise that we each have the Disney Rewards Visa credit card offered by Chase.
Back when it was introduced, you can bet I had my application in even before the card was released. In fact, my card still says Cardmember since DAY 1. It’s not the first Disney card that I’ve had in my life. As you see, I’ve had several.
I still have my account open and use it sporadically, just to make sure that Chase doesn’t close my account for inactivity. Why keep a card that you don’t use? There are several reasons:
The card has valuable benefits for someone who visits Disney Theme Parks
The card has no annual fee
I’ve had the card for a long time so it helps my credit score
I still like having a Disney card
Chase lists these benefits on their website:
$50 Disney Gift Card after first purchase if you have not received the bonus in the last 24 months
1% in reward dollars on everyday purchases
10% savings on shopping of purchases of $50 or more at Disney Store or DisneyStore.com
10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland
Disney Character Experiences and Star Wars Character Experiences at our private Cardmember locations at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. You’ll receive downloads of your photos to mark your visit
10% off select dining locations most days at Disneyland and Walt Disney World
15% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts
0% interest for the first 6 months following the purchase of select Disney vacation packages or Disney Vacation Club real estate interest
Let’s look at these benefits, one by one, to figure out if they’re good or not.
The $50 gift card for a no annual fee card with no spending requirement isn’t bad.
Signing up for a card for $50 is better than some offers I’ve seen like this one for a 2 liter soda for applying for a Walmart card (Sharon saw this picture and said she got a 2 liter bottle of Coke for filling out an application for a Discover card in the mid-1980s). Chase does offer me a chance to refer my friends for this card since I have it myself. You can apply by clickingthis link. The referral offer is slightly different and better in my opinion, if you can make the spending requirement. You will get a $200 Disney Gift Card when you spend $500 on the card within 3 months of opening the account. This is the same sign up bonus that Chase offers for the Disney Premier Credit Card but that card has a $49 a year fee. (Full Disclosure – if you use my referral and are approved, I do get a $50 credit.)
The 1% in reward dollars on purchases is really poor. If you had a different card from Chase, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you would earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, so earning only 1% back is disappointing in comparison. I look back at the time when I used a $200 credit I earned by using this card for a Disney Cruise. That means I put $20,000 of charges on this card over the period of several years. That spending could have been placed on a card which would have earned me so much more if I knew better back then. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
10% savings on Disney purchases might be of a great value to you but we don’t buy many things at Disney anymore. If we do, it’s rarely over $50. YMMV.
Disney and Star Wars Character Experiences. This is a perk that can save you a bunch of time. When we went, the line for the Star Wars Experience was around 45 minutes. By showing my Disney Visa, we were escorted to a special line and waited 5 minutes before our audience with Darth Vader. I’m keeping the card for this benefit alone.
The 10% off dining overlaps with a discount that I get from my Disney Vacation Club membership and from being an Annual Passholder so I don’t get any additional value from it.
We’ve done all the Disney tours we’ve wanted to see so the 15% off the non-discounted price of tours isn’t helpful to us.
I have used the 0% interest when paying for a cruise one time since I’ve had the card.
I do value some of the perks the card offers and I end up keeping it because it has no annual fee. You see, keeping cards that cost you nothing can be a good thing. This is because one of the things that goes into determining your credit score is your average account age. Holding a card for a long time increases the average age of your accounts (and when getting started in this hobby, you can open several cards quickly. If you have a thin credit history, that average account age can drop fast). I’ve had this card since 2003 and have no intention of getting rid of it.
Finally, I really do like having a Disney Credit Card. It’s something I think I’ve had as long as I’ve had credit. Now, I’m not totally thrilled of the card design I currently have (Sharon and I both have cards on the account and I picked the design with her in mind – she was a huge Tinker Bell fan at the time). I don’t use it much so it’s fine. I have a Tinker Bell card. I’m totally OK with that.
I mentioned the Disney Premier Card earlier and the $200 bonus offered for signing up. It’s worth mentioning since they also keep pushing for me to upgrade. It has the same benefits as the regular card but it also carries a $49 a year fee. The main advantage they tout for it is you can earn 2% back on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations. You still earn 1% back at all other locations. Sounds appealing right? Well, it’s not really all that great when you think about it. I get 3x points for all our dining purchases with our Chase Sapphire Reserve card, including those at Disney locations (like the 195 points we got for our Nautilus drink and snacks at Trader Sam’s at the Polynesian Resort).
I place a higher value on Chase Ultimate Rewards points than I do for Disney Rewards because I can change Ultimate Rewards points into hotel points or airline miles. With Disney Rewards I am only able to use them to get a Disney gift card. For our grocery store purchases we earn 4.5x back and for gas stations I get 3x from American Express. As far as getting discounts at Disney locations, I have most of that spending covered, too. I just got back 2x Citi Thank You points for the purchase of our annual passes. For us, nothing about the Disney Premier card beats other cards we already have. Even if you didn’t have a card which is better for everything, you could still get a Citi Double Cash card with no annual fee and earn 2% cash back on every purchase and use that money to pay for your Disney vacation. Now I’m not recommending you go out and sign up for a bunch of cards right away. Remember, you need to have goals and signing up for the right cards is part of that strategy.
So for me, I’m going to keep my no annual fee Disney card with Tinker Bell on it. If you’re a big Disney fan, it’s a worthwhile thing to think about…it’s just not a great card to put your spending on. I’ve introduced you to some of them in this article and we’ll get more into that in a future post.
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