FAQ Basics

How to Get a Credit Card Retention Offer

One of the most commonly asked questions this week is how to get retention offers. In case you're not familiar with what a retention offer is, the idea is you call in, and the credit issuer gives you an offer for you to keep the card.

Why do retention offers exist?

For example, let's say you have the Platinum Card from American Express and you came out ahead in Year 1. In Year 2 and onwards, the effective annual fee is usually $150 if you can take advantage of all of the travel credits and benefits.

Credit card companies make money off transaction fees every time you use the card. This also means that retention offers are based on how much you spend on your card, meaning if you only hit the minimum spend, you'll have a smaller retention offer (if any). On their end, it's a math equation to see if they can get positive expected value from your spend.

When you call into the retention department, the typical offer is $50-$200 for the Amex Platinum. My goal is to get an offer that is worth at least $150 to break even from the annual fee or come out ahead.

If you don't break even, then you can either downgrade or cancel the card. If you don't have any other premium cards, then it may be worth keeping, depending on how much you enjoy lounge access at airports, status at hotels, and benefits.

To illustrate another example of why companies have retention offers,  let's look at internet/cable companies. In the SF Bay Area, there's Xfinity and AT&T. When you signup, the contract is usually a year long contract.

In the first year, there's usually a promotional offer, let's say $50/month. After the first year, the price goes up to the regular $80/month. When the first contract is up, you have a decision to make:

1. Cancel the contract and go with another provider
2. Negotiate another offer

Retention offers with credit cards is the same idea. Instead of being a service you're paying for, it's based on how much spend you put on the credit card.

How to get a retention offer

Most banks have a retention department. When you call the number on the back of your card, tell them you're thinking about canceling, and you want to talk to someone about retention offers.

Once you're in the retentions department, you'll need to explain your story again. Depending on who you're calling, you want them to bid against each other. For example, if you're calling American Express, you ought to mention you're spending most of your money on the Citi Prestige (or another competitor), which is why you want to cancel the Amex card. YMMV.

Important: be sure to call when the retention department is open during regular business hours. For most credit issuers, the retention department is by phone only and not chat or email. It's worth a call, especially if you use the card often.

  • American Express Retention Department Direct Number: 1-800-452-3945
  • Hours of operation: 9:00am -10:30pm EST

One thing to consider is retention offers are based on the credit issuer and the card. Some issuers like Bank of America don't have retention offers at all.

My Retention Offer Script

It’s important that you don’t start the phone call with “I want to cancel my credit card,” unless that’s what you actually want to do. Some customer service agents won’t even bother to try keeping you and cancel the card because that’s what you wanted.

Here’s my exact script that I use when I call in for a retention offer:

Agent: Hello, thanks for calling [ credit issuer here ]. How can we help you today?

Me: Hi there, I’m thinking about canceling my [ card name here ]; just wanted to see if any retention offers are available or associated with my account.

Agent: What makes you want to cancel?

Me: It’s mainly the annual fee.

Agent: Did you know about x,y,z benefit?

Me: Yes, I have used the benefits, but I just wanted to see if it makes sense to keep the card or not since I also have [ insert competing card here ]. Do you see any retention offers in the system for me?

Agent: You can use points to pay the annual fee…

Me: I have a low point balance that wouldn’t even cover the annual fee [ or insert any other excuse here ]

Agent: Will [offer ] convince you to keep the card?

Me: Yes, the bonus [offer ] would be great!

Agent: Anything else we can help with today?

[ Get a reference # here if you want it ]

Me: Is there a reference number I can have in case the [offer ] doesn’t post?

Agent: [ reference info ]

Me: Great, thank you for your help! :)

Bottom line

The main takeaway is that if you have a credit card with an annual fee coming up, and you won't get positive expected value in Year 2, it doesn't hurt to call the retention line.

A lot of people are scared to call in because they're afraid of getting rejected, but there's not a downside. Worst case, nothing happens.

Want to help the community? We're gathering data points to keep track of retention offers people receive from different credit issuers. Feel free to tell us about your experience in the survey below. Responses will be made public here.

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Amex Platinum Authorized User Gold Card Benefits
American Express

Note: Some of the offers/products mentioned  below are no longer available.

Important: the Gold authorized user cards from the Amex Platinum are NOT the same as the (old) Amex Premier Rewards (PRG) cards and (new) Amex Gold Card.

As an American Express Platinum cardholder, you can add two types of authorized users:

1) Amex Platinum authorized user cards

  • Normal (vanilla) Amex Platinum is $175 for the first three authorized users
  • Includes many Platinum benefits

2) Gold authorized user cards

  • $0 for up to 99 authorized users
  • Includes only a few perks
  • NOT the same card as the “new” Amex Gold Card. You will NOT get the same perks (4X at U.S. restaurants, U.S. grocery stores, etc.). Confusing, I know.

Perks of Adding Gold Authorized User Cards (for Amex Platinum)

There are a few main benefits of adding Gold authorized user cards to your account.

1) Same Multipliers as the Amex Platinum

  • 5x on airfare (direct or via Amex Travel)
  • 5x on hotels via Amex Travel

If you're an employer and your team travels often, then you can earn 5x back on airfare when you issue employee authorized user cards.

2) More Amex Offers

  • Double dip relevant offers/deals
  • Access to deals for family members

If your family members don't have an American Express card, you can add them as an authorized user, and they can access deals.

3) Global Entry / TSA Precheck

  • Each authorized user card gets a $100 credit applied towards GE/TSA Precheck charges
  • It's a "credit" you get after a completed charge making it a net $0 effect; no charge = no credit

A handful of new cards are offering the $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit benefit. With the Gold authorized user card, there's not a need to get a new card solely for the $100 credit anymore. You can simply add authorized users to take advantage of the credits.

Gold Card Authorized User FAQ

Will Gold card authorized users be issued their own $200 Uber credits?

  • No

Do Gold card authorized users get their own travel incidental credits?

  • No

Do Gold card authorized users have access to airport lounges (Priority Pass, Centurion Lounge, Delta Lounge)?

  • No

Do Gold card authorized users have access to hotel status ((Hilton Gold, Marriott/SPG Gold)?

  • No

If the authorized user would like to have any of the above benefits, it might be worth issuing them an Amex Platinum authorized user card. The fee is $175 for up to three authorized users, so if you add one, you might want to add up to three since it's the same price. Obviously, only add people you can trust.

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How to Get into the Capital One Lounge
Airport Lounges

How to Get into the Capital One Lounge

Capital One has become more involved in the travel industry in recent years. In 2018, the issuer introduced airline and hotel transfer partners to its credit card rewards program, and more recently, it upgraded its partner transfer ratios and expanded its travel site to drive reservations and establish itself as a serious contender in travel and loyalty programs.

Now, the issuer is venturing into airport lounges for the first time. As of Nov. 4 2021, Capital One has formally opened the doors to its first-ever lounge at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport. 

The lounge provides passengers with a variety of amenities that they won't find at other lounges in the United States, helping to establish Capital One from its legacy lounge rivals in a number of ways.

Where to Find Capital One Lounges?

As mentioned, there’s one Capital One Lounge open in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at the moment. According to Capital One Travel, two more lounges will open in major airports in 2022, at Denver, Colorado and Washington, DC. 

Here are the details of what we know so far.

Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Airport, Texas

Opened November 4, 2021

Location: Terminal D Near Gate D22

Daily Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Size: 10,000 sq. ft.


Source: Capital One Travel Terminal Map

What Type of Lounge Amenities Are There?

Capital One has adopted a deliberate design approach to the lounge experience, using technology, consumer data, and industry trends. 

While all airport lounges vary, the issuer tells us to expect the following amenities–all accessible for free for eligible cardholders and are categorized into three themes.

Focus

  • High-Speed Wi-Fi
  • Luggage Lockers
  • Quiet Work Zones with Charge-Up Areas

Wellness

  • Relaxation Rooms
  • Cycling and Yoga Rooms
  • Shower Suites
  • Multi-Faith Rooms
  • Family-Friendly Environment
  • Parent’s Rooms
  • Nursing Room

Taste

  • Grab-and-Go Food
  • Dining Stations
  • Fully Stocked Bars
  • Coffee Bars

Capital One Lounge Menus

If you want to learn more about the new DFW premium in-lounge dining menus, see screenshots below.

Source: Capital One Travel Food and Drink Menu
Source: Capital One Travel Food and Drink Menu
Source: Capital One Travel Food and Drink Menu

What Cards Can Get You In Capital One Lounges?

Capital One airport lounge admission is free or discounted for travelers who have qualified Capital One credit cards. The chart below shows which Capital One credit cards entitle you to its lounge access, including the guest policy and how much it will cost per visit.

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Priority Pass Select FAQ
Airport Lounges

Priority Pass Select is a benefit that’s offered with select premium travel credit cards. Be aware that the benefit level may vary based on the credit cards you have.

For example, some premium travel cards have unlimited access for you and two guests, while other credit cards may only give you 10 Priority Pass tickets per year. Always check your card’s benefit guide for the most up to date information.

Priority Pass FAQ

1. How do you get multiple Priority Pass Select cards?

If you have more than one premium credit card that offers Priority Pass as a benefit, you will most likely end up with the respective number of Priority Pass cards.

To obtain the cards, you’ll need to log in your online account or call the number on the back of your credit card to request the Priority Pass card. Not all credit issuers will automatically send the Priority Pass card.

Pro-tip: Label your Priority Pass cards to keep track of them. I usually write which card the pass is associated with on the back, so I don’t confuse them.

Your credit card will not grant you access into Priority Pass lounges. You MUST present the physical (unexpired) Priority Pass card. Some lounges will also accept the card if it’s linked to the Priority Pass app.

For example, I hold both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express. Both of these cards give me access to Priority Pass, so I have two separate membership cards. The great thing about Priority Pass is that the card number is different for each credit card, and not tied to your name.

At restaurants, I usually use one Priority Pass card for food, close out the tab, and then use the second card to get drinks. Be sure to carry cash to leave a tip since it’s not included in the credits.

Important note: Not all Priority Pass Select cards are created equal. For example, the Priority Pass from The Platinum Card and other Amex cards does NOT grant you access to restaurants. Double check the benefits of your respective card before using it.

2. How many guests can you bring into the Priority Pass lounge?

When the benefit says “you and two guests” that means you can bring yourself AND two additional people into the lounge.

The answer varies based on your credit card agreement with Priority Pass. Always check your card benefit guide for the most up to date information.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve - Complimentary visit for you + 2 guests
  • Amex Platinum - Complimentary visit  for you + 2 guests
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve - Complimentary visit for the first 4 visits and 4 individual accompanying guests per membership year. Each visit and guest after that will be subject to the $27 fee.

3. Can you use the Priority Pass Lounge upon arrival?

In my experience, yes, but your mileage may vary. Technically, you can enter a lounge if you have the Priority Pass card and a same-day boarding pass. However, it mainly depends on the front desk reception if they want to let you in, and how busy the lounge is.

One pro-tip is to check the Priority Pass app to see if there is an arrival’s lounge. Hong Kong International Airport has an arrival’s lounge after you clear customs and pickup your luggage.

The only exception is if you have to clear security to visit the lounge - you will not be able to visit.

4. Why would you want to use the Priority Pass upon arrival?

If you have a morning flight, the lounge is a good place to stay until you are ready to explore the city.

In Singapore, my flight landed at  6 AM and hotel check-in was at 12 PM, so I  visited every single Priority Pass lounge in the airport.

Another example is if your flight lands during rush hour. I would rather spend an hour relaxing in the lounge instead of sitting in rush hour traffic.

5. How long does it take to get the Priority Pass card?

It depends on the credit issuer. In my experience, it usually takes 2-3 weeks.

6. What about checked bags?

One important note is that if you check your bags, I don’t recommend staying in the lounge for a long time because you don’t want to “lose” your luggage.

I usually don’t check a bag when I travel domestically.

7. The Priority Pass fee increased from $27 to $32?

I don’t talk about this because most people reading this post or watching our videos most likely are not affected by the price increase. Most readers have complimentary Priority Pass access, and if they don’t, it’s usually not worth paying the entrance fee.

8. Why do you hate Priority Pass lounges in the U.S.?

In my experience, Priority Pass lounges in the U.S. only offer bar snacks and drinks. If you visit a Priority Pass lounge in Asia or Europe, there is usually at least one hot food offering, in addition to drinks and snacks.

I’m a fan of the restaurant additions to the network since I can get a hot meal before my flight.

9. Are the food and alcohol free?

It depends on the lounge and their rules. Most lounges will have complimentary food and drink, but there are exceptions.

Some lounges may have a voucher system for a set limit, and others may have a premium menu that you can order from. The front desk reception will usually notify you if there are any additional charges.

10. Can you use multiple Priority Pass cards for the same meal at the restaurant?

Technically, no. You’re only supposed to use one Priority Pass card per table. However, you can always ask the server to split the tab between two cards so they know what to do accordingly.

On the other hand, you can order food on one card, and come back and use another card for drinks.

Important: Be sure to let your server know that you’re using a Priority Pass card BEFORE you order. They will have to swipe the Priority Pass card to put it in the system.

YouTube Video

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Amex Centurion Lounge FAQs
Airport Lounges

Whenever we create a video about the Centurion Lounge, a few common questions seem to be asked. We'll answer them all in this post.

Are the food and drinks complimentary?

Yes, food and drink is complimentary and unlimited. Rule of thumb, don't take more than you can eat. I hate wasting food. The food at the lounge is well stocked and refilled often.

If you visit during peak lunch or dinner hours, there might be a line because everyone is waiting for the entrees. Wait 15 minutes, and the line will most likely disappear.

One thing to consider is that hot breakfast is served after 5:30 am, and hot dinner is served until 9 pm.

Who can access the lounge?

The Platinum Card® from American Express and Amex Centurion cardholders can access the lounge for free. Each card grants complimentary admission for you and two guests. Cardholders have unlimited access.

Amex Platinum card variations like the Charles Schwab, Ameriprise, and the Mercedes-Benz cards also have complimentary access to the Centurion Lounge.

If you don't have an Amex Platinum or Centurion card, then you cannot pay to access the lounge.

Cards that can access the lounge:

  • Platinum Card® Members
  • Business Platinum Card® Members
  • Corporate Platinum Card® Members
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card Members
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business Card Members
  • Centurion® Members

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card Members are only eligible to visit The Centurion Lounges located in the United States, Hong Kong, and London when flying on a same-day Delta marketed or Delta-operated flight.

Guest Policy Changes in 2023

Important Note: Centurion Lounge complimentary guest access will change on February 1, 2023. Cardholders will be charged a $50 fee for each guest ($30 for children aged 2-17). U.S. Platinum and U.S. Business Platinum Cardholders can qualify for complimentary guest access for two guest per visit after spending $75,000 in eligible purchases on their card between Jan 1-Dec 31, 2022, and in each calendar year after.

What are the Centurion locations and hours?

A: You can find a full list of locations and hours here. Note that lounge hours and openings are subject to change based on COVID restrictions and renovations. Check the Centurion website or American Express app for the most up to date information.

Are drinks free?

Yes, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are complimentary. Each lounge has a unique signature cocktail menu.

What do the lunch/dinner menus look like?

You can find sample menus for each location on the Centurion Lounge's website: https://www.thecenturionlounge.com/

Lunch and dinner usually consist of a main entree, sides, and soup. A salad bar is always available. From my experience, fried chicken is served on the weekends and the weekday entree varies.

Does the Centurion Lounge have free wifi?

Yes, ask the front desk for the wifi password.

Can you visit the lounge when you depart and arrive from the airport?

You can access the lounge a maximum of three hours before your departure flight. Entry upon arrival is not permitted.

If you have a connecting flight or layover with a same day departure, you can access the lounge.

Some lounges also have a shower. Ask the front desk for availability.

Do you need an airline ticket to access the lounge?

Yes, you can only access the lounge if you're flying the same day. You will need to present your boarding pass to the front desk to enter the lounge.

Is there a dress code?

No, it's a casual environment and there is not a formal dress code.

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What Is Bust-Out Fraud? 4 Tips to Avoid Credit Card Shutdowns
Credit Cards 101

What is bust-out fraud?

Bust-out fraud is when someone builds up a good credit profile, creates a pattern of normal usage and satisfactory repayment history, and then racks up a massive balance with no intention of paying the bill.

The person committing bust-out fraud usually has the goal of getting as much "free" things they can by maxing out their credit cards and running away.

4 Tips to Avoid Credit Card Account Shutdowns

Tip #1: Don't write bad checks

At the late stage of bust-out fraud, a common behavior is to write bad checks to pay off the card balances. Often times, writing a bad check to a credit card company will result in an account freeze or shut down.

Most people have multiple checking and savings accounts. Before you write a check, double-check the account balance to make sure the check will clear.

The last thing you want to do is accidentally display bust-out fraud behavior.

Tip #2: Decrease your credit limits

Some banks are comfortable issuing up to 50% of your income as your total credit limit. If you're approaching your maximum credit limit allowance, consider lowering your credit limits.

If you're someone who has multiple loan products (i.e., student loans, mortgage, auto loan) with a specific banking institution, then the bank is more exposed to you, imposing a higher risk. You can de-risk your profile by lowering your credit card limits.

On the other hand, some people want higher credit limits because it lowers their credit utilization. If you're under 10% utilization, then you should be fine.

If you're a business owner and you need a high credit limit for business purposes, be sure to ease into spending on the card. For example, if you recently opened a new business credit card, I don't recommend putting a $20,000 on the second day of having the card. This would raise a red flag, especially if you didn't have a previous relationship with the credit issuer.

Tip #3: If you do need a high credit limit, pre-pay your cards

If you need a high credit limit and your utilization is high, I recommend routinely paying the balance down to seem low-risk.

Another method is to slowly work your way up to a higher credit limit. Some credit issuers will automatically issue more credit limit if they see you use 60% of the limit and pay it off. I don't recommend calling in to ask for a credit limit increase right away, especially if it's a new credit card.

Tip #4: Pre-pay your cards before applying for a new credit card

When a balance is close or over the credit limit (70% or above), credit issuers will view this behavior as high-risk.

This is also true if your credit limit utilization is 70% or higher for multiple credit institutions.

If you pre-pay your cards before applying for a new credit card, it will lower the utilization and de-risk your profile.

YouTube Video

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Should You Move from Chase to Amex Cards?
Chase

With the recent changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, a lot of people are questioning whether they should stick with the Chase card system or move on to American Express. Before making any major changes to your card setup, let’s run through a few scenarios.

1. If you’re someone under Chase 5/24

Chase has an unwritten rule that you will be automatically denied for a credit card if you have opened 5 or more personal credit or charge cards in the past 24 months from any credit issuer.

If you’re under the Chase 5/24 rule, I recommend adding the Chase cards you want first before moving on to American Express. By adding other issuers first, you’re leaving money on the table.

Chase cards aren’t limited to Ultimate Reward earning cards. There are also co-branded cards like The World of Hyatt Credit Card, United℠ Explorer Card, and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.

Each Chase card can easily yield $500-$1,000 in value, depending on how you redeem the points. Watch the video below for a detailed explanation on the value of Chase “slots.”

Card Options

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Chase Cash Back Setup

If you’re someone who doesn’t care about travel and prefers to focus on cash back, there’s still value in the core Ultimate Rewards cards.

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2. Pros and Cons of American Express Charge Cards

If you are someone that is over Chase 5/24 or you don’t care for Chase cards, then American Express is a good alternative.

The Platinum Card® from American Express card was one of my favorite card picks of 2019 since it has a strong intro bonus and benefits that I use often.

The Platinum Card® from American Express 

See if the Amex Platinum is worth it for you: https://www.asksebby.com/credit-cards/the-platinum-card-from-american-express-worth-the-550-annual-fee

Check if you're targeted for the 100k offer via CardMatch: http://bit.ly/2zqinrc

Another reason to go for American Express cards is that you can usually get a retention offer every other year. Your mileage may vary based on your profile with Amex. Chase rarely gives out retention offers.

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Before jumping in to get the Platinum card or any other charge card, there are a few reasons why you might want to avoid it:

  1. The Platinum card doesn’t have a no annual fee downgrade option.
  2. If you’re someone who wasn’t happy with the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee increase to $550, it seems like Amex just got the green light to increase the annual fee again. The Platinum card recently increased the annual fee to $695. Rates and fees.
  3. If you’re someone who doesn’t use rideshare or food delivery services, it might be hard to derive value from the card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has Lyft and DoorDash, while the Platinum card has Uber/UberEats and Saks credits.
  4. The airline incidental credits from the Amex charge cards are harder to use. You cannot buy airline gift cards anymore.

Overall, I don’t recommend getting an American Express charge card if you don’t have a strong foundation of cards to fall back on. The economy can take a turn, and if you need to cancel, your credit history will take a hit.

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Can You Have Two of the Same Credit Card?
Credit Cards 101

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, "Why do you have multiple of the same credit card?" In this post, we'll cover which cards you can have multiples of, the general policies, and the cards I have.

Can You Have Two of the Same Credit Card?

Yes, depending on the credit issuer.  With most major issuers, it's possible to hold two of the same credit card. The main issue is HOW you obtain multiple of these cards.

In most cases, you'll need to product change a card to hold two of the same credit card.

Important: You do NOT receive an intro bonus when you product change a card.

For example, if you product change a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you do not receive a bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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Some people obtain a second Chase Freedom Flex℠ card from getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred and product changing the card after the first year. You will not receive an intro bonus for the second Chase Freedom Flex.

For some credit issuers, if you currently have the card, you cannot apply for the same card. The application will automatically get rejected. Always check the card offer details and terms for the most accurate information.

Bank of America

Bank of America is more flexible with having multiple cards, but restrictions do apply for select products. You can have multiple Better Balance Rewards and Cash Rewards cards.

Be sure to read the Bank of America card application rules post to see if you qualify to apply for additional cards: https://www.asksebby.com/blog/bank-of-america-adds-24-month-rule-to-some-credit-cards

For example, the Bank of America Alaska card is not available to you if you currently have or have had the card in the past 24 months.

One product that is no longer available is the Better Balance Rewards card. The system allowed me to apply for multiple at the same time, and they were approved. However, Bank of America did close two of the accounts after enforcing their new application rules.

American Express

American Express lets you apply for the same product, but you will not receive the intro bonus again due to the "once in a lifetime" rule.

I don't recommend submitting multiple applications all at once; otherwise, the system may view them as duplicate applications and automatically reject them. Space the applications out by a few months.

Keep in mind that applying for a card is different from upgrading a card. When you upgrade a card, there are often upgrade offers after you spend "x" amount in "x" months.

I only recommend doing the product change if you currently have or had the card for the intro bonus in the past, otherwise, you might not qualify in the future.

Watch the video below for the Amex product change strategies.

Chase

Chase allows you to earn an intro bonus for a product once every two years, except for the Sapphire cards, which are once every four years.

However, it is possible to product change to a card you already have.

Reminder: You do NOT receive an intro bonus when you product change.

For example, you can sign up for a Chase Freedom card and earn an intro bonus. If you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred that you no longer get positive expected value from, you can product change the Sapphire to a second Chase Freedom card.

Why Would You Want Two of the Same Credit Card?

There are two main reasons for why I have multiple of the same credit card:

  1. No annual fee cards with high category point multipliers
  2. Cards with an annual fee that offer a free hotel night each year or travel credits

No Annual Fee Cards with Categories

Rotating category cards are some of my favorite cards to have duplicates. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex card earns 5% on up to $1,500 in combined category purchases each quarter you activate.

There are some categories that I can easily maximize, so having a secondary card helps me earn more points.

Another example is the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card that earns 5% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases on office supply stores; internet, cable, and phone services. Some office managers who carry the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card can easily maximize the $25,000 in combined category spend each year. Having a secondary Ink Business Cash® Credit Card would help earn points faster.

You can product change the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card or Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card to a secondary Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. Business cards can only be changed to business products, and not personal cards.

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Annual Fee Cards with Free Nights or Travel Credits

The second group of cards is ones that have annual fees, but you don't need to spend a lot on the card to derive positive expected value.

The best example is the Amex Hilton Aspire that has a $450 annual fee and comes with a free weekend certificate and resort credits. Since I can redeem the free weekend certificate at high-value properties, I derive more than $450 in value each year.

The automatic Diamond status has also saved me hundreds of dollars on breakfast and executive lounge access.

Your mileage may vary depending on where you plan to redeem the free weekend night. I currently hold two Amex Hilton Aspire cards.

Overall Thoughts

Having multiple of the same credit card isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a specific use case like maximizing spend categories or utilizing travel benefits.

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Should You Keep or Cancel the American Express Gold Card?
American Express

The one year anniversary of the revamped American Express® Gold Card is quickly approaching, and people are starting to wonder if they should renew their card membership for another year.

Product Change Options

It’s important to note that the American Express Gold Card is a charge card, and not a credit card. You can only product change an Amex charge card to another charge card within the same family:

  • The Platinum Card from American Express ($695 annual fee)
  • American Express Gold Card ($250 annual fee)
  • American Express Green Card ($150 annual fee)

There isn’t a product change option available that does not have an annual fee. If you don’t want to keep paying annual fees on a charge card, you’ll need to cancel.

Before you cancel, make sure you have a way to keep the Membership Reward points “alive.” Either have another open charge card that earns MR points or the Amex EveryDay card.

American Express® Gold Card Breakeven Calculator

Ask Sebby crunches the numbers for you to calculate the Expected Value of the American Express® Gold Card. For the expected value of points, we derive the approximate dollar value based on the numbers you enter in the calculator. Scroll down to the end of the post to see our methodology.

The calculator below contains default figures and serve as an example only. Users should insert their own data for the most accurate results.    

Should You Keep or Cancel the Amex Gold Credit Card?

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Chase Sapphire Reserve Increases Annual Fee to $550 and Adds New Benefits
Chase

Huge changes are coming to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®  starting on Jan 12, 2020. The most significant change is that the card’s annual fee will jump from $450 to $550 — a $100 increase.

Quick overview of changes effective Jan 12,2020:

  • Annual fee increase to $550
  • One free year of Lyft Pink (retail value of $19.99/month)
  • Earn 10x points on all Lyft rides when you pay with the Chase Sapphire  Reserve
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass 12-month membership
  • $120 in Door Dash credits
  • Up to $60 in DoorDash credits in 2020 and $60 in DoorDash credits in 2021

New $550 Annual Fee

The new Chase Sapphire Reserve $550 annual fee kicks in on Jan 12, 2020. There’s still time to lock in the $450 annual fee and enjoy the new benefits if you apply before Jan 11, 2020.

Existing cardholders will be able to renew at the $450 annual fee, as long as the card anniversary renewal date is before to April 1, 2020. After April 1, all accounts will renew at the increased $550 annual fee.

Lyft Pink

Lyft Pink is Lyft’s membership program that gives you an elevated Lyft experience with preferred pricing.

Sapphire Reserve cardholders must activate the Lyft Pink membership via the Lyft app to qualify.

Lyft Pink:

  • Retail value: $19.99/month or $239.88/year
  • 15% savings on all car rides, priority airport pickups, surprise offers, relaxed cancellations, and more

Earn 10x on Lyft Rides

Now through March 2022, Sapphire Reserve cardmembers will automatically earn 10x total points every time they use their card for a Lyft car, bike, or scooter.

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers will earn 5x total points on Lyft rides.

Lyft gift card purchases do not qualify for the increased multipliers.

DoorDash DashPass Membership

With the new Chase x DoorDash partnership, select Chase credit cards will receive significant discounts on the DashPass membership.

Both the Sapphire Reserve and the Sapphire Preferred members will receive a complimentary DashPass for at least one year.

To register for DashPass, add your eligible card to the DoorDash app and click to add the offer anytime between now and Dec 31, 2021. Membership is valid for 12 months from the date of activation. For example, if you activate the complimentary DashPass in June 2020, it'll be free until June 2021.

Activate your DashPass membership here: https://www.doordash.com/dashpass-v2/Chase/card/

$120 DoorDash Credits

Starting on Jan 12, $120 in DoorDash credits will be automatically issued as statement credits of up to $60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021.

You must use the Sapphire Reserve card on the DoorDash purchases to qualify, and no activation is required.

The DoorDash statement credits will automatically be awarded when the transaction is posted to your Sapphire Reserve.

Overall Thoughts

The increased annual fee might be a deal breaker for some cardholders if you can’t maximize the Lyft and DoorDash benefits. If you’re someone who’s locked into the $450 annual fee for another year, it’s worth keeping the card to test drive the new benefits.

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Amex Upgrade Offers: Should You Upgrade Your American Express Card?
American Express

Should You Upgrade Your American Express Card?

Does it make sense to upgrade your American Express card when you receive an offer? In this post, we are going to use the American Express Gold® Card as an example.

A few American Express Gold Card cardholders received an offer to upgrade to The Platinum Card® from American Express. The offer is to spend $1,000 to receive a 25,000 point upgrade bonus.

On the surface, it seems like a good deal, but it's more complicated because American Express limits your ability to get a intro bonus if you already had the product.

This means that if you take the upgrade bonus, you will not be eligible for a Platinum Card intro bonus in the future because you already have the card.

Why does this matter? We’ve seen Platinum Card intro bonuses range from 60,000-125,000 Membership Rewards points. By taking the upgrade offer, you’re effectively setting 35,000+ points on fire.

On the other hand, if you were not planning on applying for the Platinum Card in the future OR you previously had the Platinum Card, then taking the upgrade offer might be the optimal strategy.

TLDR: Don’t take an upgrade offer unless you previously earned an intro bonus for the card you’re upgrading to. You disqualify yourself from future intro bonuses (for the card you’re upgrading to) due to the “once in a lifetime rule” if you have or had the card, regardless of if you received a bonus.

Optimal Strategy

Scenario A (1 Card)

  1. Signup for the American Express Gold Card and get the intro bonus
  2. Wait until you receive an upgrade offer from Amex to upgrade the American Express Gold Card  to the Platinum Card

Scenario B (2 Cards)

  1. Signup for the American Express Gold Card and earn the intro bonus (either cancel or keep for step 3)
  2. Signup for the Platinum Card and get the intro bonus
  3. Wait until you receive an upgrade offer from Amex to upgrade the Gold Card to Platinum bonus
  • You can downgrade one or both = Amex Gold Card/The Platinum Card OR Amex Gold  Card/Amex Gold Card
  • You can also cancel one or both if they don't make sense to keep

The main difference between the two scenarios is one intro bonus. I wouldn't recommend going through the hassle unless it’s a high value bonus, but I think it's important to understand the game theory since this is technically a min-max problem.

These scenarios also apply to downgrades.

When you request a downgrade, you also disqualify yourself from receiving an intro bonus from the respective card.

Bottom Line

It's not optimal to upgrade your card unless you don't plan on getting the respective card in the future because it will disqualify you from receiving an intro bonus in the future.

For other credit card issuers, these scenarios aren't applicable because they're more forgiving than American Express. With Chase, you can receive an intro bonus for a product once every 24 months.

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