Starting May 31, 2020, Chase added a new temporary benefit for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® members to “Pay Yourself Back.”
Note: The “Pay Yourself Back” feature is not available to the no annual fee Chase Sapphire card.
The Pay Yourself Back Program lets Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cardholders redeem Ultimate Rewards to offset select category purchases at a favorable rate.
Pay Yourself Back Categories:
The current promotion is valid through September 30, 2020, but it’s possible that it may be extended due to uncertain times.
[ March 30 Update ] Pay Yourself Back is extended until Sept 30, 2021.
Sign into your online Chase account and navigate to the Ultimate Rewards tab located on the bottom of the left column.
Select the card you’d like to access. If you have multiple Ultimate Reward earning cards, you can choose to pool points to the Sapphire card to redeem.
In our example, we choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Navigate to the left hand column and select the “Pay Yourself Back” menu item. Clicking the main promotional banner also works, as seen in the screenshot below.
The current categories for pay yourself back are: restaurant and grocery stores (including take out and eligible delivery services), home improvement stores, and select charitable organizations.
After each purChase posts, you have 90 days to pay yourself back. Check the respective box to select the purChase.
Enter the dollar amount you’d like to receive as a statement credit by using some or all of your available Ultimate Rewards points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred redemption rate is 1.25 cents per point, and the Sapphire Reserve is 1.50 cents per point.
After setting the cash value, click “Confirm & Submit” to redeem!
One of the main benefits of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is that you can transfer them out to partners if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Ink Preferred.
You can view credit card offers by going to the "Credit Card Offers" tab. Find offers for the respective cards in "Travel Rewards Credit Cards" and "Business Credit Cards." You don't have to use our links, but we're grateful when you do. Thank you for supporting AskSebby!
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer at a rate of 1:1. On average, you can get up to two cents per point when you use transfer partners.
If you're looking for the most value possible, then airline partners are the way to go for first class redemption. This also works well for last minute flights.
The way I redeem points for "best value" is hotels because everyone in your travel group can benefit.
For example, if I transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to United:
On the other hand, if I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt:
For the cost of a round trip United Polaris flight to Asia, I can get four nights at a top tier Hyatt property.
IHG is not an ideal transfer partner because of the cost of the points, and you typically need more points for a redemption.
In my experience, Hyatt has the best redemption value for transfer partners. The Category 1 Hyatt properties start at 5,000 Hyatt points.
Category 1 = 5,000 Hyatt points / 5,000 Chase UR points
Check out the video below for more redemption ideas.
Building a strong foundation of credit cards is essential for a healthy credit score. In this post, we’ll walk through the first 5 credit cards to consider if you’re starting out in your credit journey.
A few guidelines:
Since Chase typically likes to see at least 12 months of personal credit history, your first credit card should be a student credit card (if you qualify), a starter card, or a secured card.
I strongly recommend picking a card that does not have an annual fee since you should plan on keeping the card long-term. This card is the foundation of your credit card history, and the last thing you want to do is cancel your oldest card due to the annual fee.
Capital One, Bank of America, and Citi have good beginner card options.
After holding credit card #1 for at least 12 months, I recommend going for a Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited to start building a credit relationship with Chase.
I’ve seen people get approved for a Chase card with less than 12 months of credit history, but they usually have a higher income ($80k+) or other credit mixes.
Chase starter cards:
If you have a lot of miscellaneous expenses like home improvement, taxes, or tuition, I recommend going for the Freedom Unlimited.
You can product change between the Chase Freedom Flex and the Freedom Unlimited.
Depending on what your income is and if you have plans to travel, I recommend going for either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Sapphire Reserve.
Wait at least 3 months of having the Freedom card before applying. If you apply sooner, it could raise flags due to the velocity of card applications.
The following rules apply to the Sapphire cards:
Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card, you need to have the ability to get approved for a minimum of $10,000 credit line. I recommend having an income of at least $35,000+ to increase your chances of approval.
If you don’t have plans to travel in the near future or you value Chase travel partners, I suggest going for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Sapphire Preferred has a higher intro bonus of 100,000 points, and a lower annual fee.
Worst case, you can cash out the 100,000 points for a net $905. After a year, you can product change the Sapphire Preferred to a Sapphire Reserve.
Chase business cards do not count towards Chase 5/24, but they’re affected by it. You must be at 4/24 or under to get approved for a Chase business credit card.
If you qualify for business credit cards, I recommend adding them here.
You can qualify for a business credit card if you generate any type of income outside of your full-time job. Examples would be tutoring, rental income, selling online, or babysitting. Depending on the state you live in, you could qualify as a sole proprietor.
Chased on your travel goals, I recommend filling in slots #4 and #5 with the remaining Chase credit cards that are on your list.
A strong hotel keeper card that I’ve kept long term is the The World of Hyatt Credit Card since redemption nights start at 5,000. You also get a free night certificate each card anniversary.
A few other cards worth considering:
Pick the cards based on your airline or hotel preferences.
If you are not a fan of Chase or you’re not eligible for Chase credit cards, I recommend going for Capital One first since they’re inquiry sensitive.
Barclays has a soft 6/24 rule that is not always enforced. If you open more than 6 credit cards in the past 24 months from any credit issuer, then you’re likely to get denied.
Barclays credit cards worth considering:
Although some of the Barclays cards have no annual fee products in the same family tree, some people have had trouble requesting a downgrade. I recommend building a strong foundation of cards first before moving on to Barclays.
American Express is not sensitive to velocity or inquiries, so I would save Amex cards as the last cards you get.
Important note: I do not recommend getting an Amex card with an annual fee as your first credit card. If the Amex card does not have a no annual fee downgrade path, and you choose to cancel in the future, you lose the credit history.
For people with a lot of assets with Bank of America, I suggest checking out our post on the Bank of America Duo to maximize your points: https://www.asksebby.com/blog/bank-of-america-duo-credit-cards-for-high-net-worth-individuals
One of the best redemptions for the Hilton Weekend Night Reward certificate from the American Express Aspire and Surpass cards is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives.
A few important notes to consider before jumping to book the property:
Even if your room rate is covered, a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives is expensive. Now that the sticker shock warning is out of the way, let’s dive into how we booked the room.
The retail rate for an overwater villa is ~$3,000/night. We booked our four-night stay using three free weekend night certificates, and 120,000 Hilton Honors points for the fourth night.
For each Weekend Night Reward, you’ll need to create a separate reservation. The hotel can combine them afterward. We created four consecutive day bookings.
We didn’t end up booking a fifth night since the booking doesn’t qualify for the 5th night free promotion. To qualify for 5th night free, you must book your entire stay using points. Weekend Night Rewards do not qualify.
If you want to increase your chances of getting an overwater villa, I recommend visiting during off-season or shoulder season.
We booked the standard base beach room villa and received a complimentary upgrade due to having Diamond status. Upgrades are NOT guaranteed.
If you want to guarantee an overwater villa, I suggest booking one directly or inquiring to pay out of pocket for the upgrade.
It’s worth mentioning that the beach villas are also huge (2,500 square feet) with the same standard room layouts.
Before your stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, I highly recommend having Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond status to get complimentary access to the breakfast buffet. Without Gold or Diamond status, you’ll end up paying a hefty price tag for the a la carte menu. To put things in perspective, a basic plate of eggs costs $30 + tax and tip.
The easiest way to earn automatic Hilton Honors elite status is via credit cards.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by AskSebby.com. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through AskSebby.com.
Beginning on April 1, 2021, American Express is adding cell phone protection on select premium cards. This is a big deal because it was a weakness in the American Express core setup compared to other issuers like Chase and Citi.
The following cards have the cell phone protection benefit:
Amex cell phone protection covers theft and damage of your cell phone.
The maximum liability is $800, per claim, per Eligible Card Account. Each claim is subject to a $50 deductible. Coverage is limited to two (2) claims per Eligible Card Account per 12 month period.
Many of the blogs that received the press release mention that screen damage is covered, but I don't see that mentioned in the terms. Cosmetic damage is NOT covered if it doesn't impact the phone’s ability to make or receive phone calls. However, if there is significant damage to the screen and the phone is not functional, it would be covered.
According to the benefit terms and conditions, the following items are not covered:
The idea is that you can't just swap this in when your phone breaks. If you don't pay subsequent bills, you will lose coverage.
To file a claim, you’ll need to contact the benefits administrator within 90 days of the loss or as soon as reasonably possible. Once the claim process is initiated, you’ll have 120 days to submit all necessary paperwork; otherwise, the claim may not be honored.
You’ll need the following documents:
Pay Over Time was always a feature for American Express charge cards. Cardholders can choose to pay their statements in full or carry a balance on eligible charges, up to their Pay Over Time Limit.
However, it was recently brought to my attention that some of my cards were auto-enrolled in Pay Over Time, which makes them act like credit cards.
Cards auto-enrolled in Pay Over Time:
You can check your Pay Over Time status by logging into your Amex account -> Account Services -> Pay Charges Over Time. All of my cards had a default Pay Over Time limit of $10,000.
An important note is that although there is a Pay Over Time Limit, it’s not the same as a credit limit. While the cards technically don’t have a credit limit, if your Pay Over Time Limit is $10,000, you can carry a balance of up to $10,000 and pay the remainder in full.
Important note: Although Pay Over Time is an option, I recommend avoiding it since paying interest usually negates any points value. Always pay off the credit card balance in full, and don’t get a credit card if it tempts you to spend more than you normally would.
The negative impact of being auto-enrolled in Pay Over Time is that cardholders are no longer eligible for the 10,000 MR bonus. In the past, Amex sent out targeted offers to enroll in the optional feature. My guess is that the bonus no longer exists.
I had my fair share of enrollment bonuses since I have multiple Amex Platinum and Gold cards.
The elephant in the room is why American Express would change their charge cards to credit cards. To answer this question, let’s dive into their Q4 2019 financial statements.
Since Amex is a publicly traded company, its earnings report is publicly available: https://ir.americanexpress.com/Cache/IRCache/1ef02650-2d57-1ac2-cedb-51e6bc3ad90a.PDF?O=PDF&T=&Y=&D=&FID=1ef02650-2d57-1ac2-cedb-51e6bc3ad90a&iid=102700
If you flip over to page 8 in the earnings report, you can see that the charge net write-off rates jump from 1.4% to 1.9% within 12 months. However, it looks like the 30+ days past due percentage has little change.
My guess is that since the charge net write-off rates have increased, Amex would rather collect interest on outstanding balances instead of writing them off.
By auto-enrolling cardholders in the Pay Over Time program, Amex can earn more interest income instead of chasing after delinquent accounts.
Provisions for losses is money set aside for write-offs. Total provisions for losses jumped from $809 million in Q1 2019 to $1.024 billion in Q4 2019.
It’s no secret that American Express makes a large percentage of their revenue via swipe fees, which increased by 6% in Q4 2019. Other notable increases are net card fees (annual fees) and net interest income.
My prediction is that more people were getting the cards due to good marketing, and they ended up paying interest as opposed to paying the card off in full each month.
By auto-enrolling cardholders in Pay Over Time, Amex is cutting back on potential write-offs and making money on the interest. Only time will tell if their strategy is more profitable.
What if you could save time and find multiple credit card offers that you're prequalified for without impacting your credit score? Sometimes, you may even get targeted for special offers (not publicly available) based on your credit profile when you use the CardMatch Tool.
CardMatch is a tool that shows you pre-approved and special targeted offers (sometimes) from select credit issuers. The tool conducts a soft pull so that it won't affect your credit score. See your matched offers in less than 60 seconds.
Every so often, the CardMatch tool has great offers for select cards. For example, not everyone will be targeted, but sometimes you can find The Platinum Card® from American Express with 125,000-150,000 point welcome offers after you spend $6,000 within the first 6 months. Terms apply. A couple of AskSebby subscribers have reported they were able to apply for and get the offer. YMMV.
Users may not be matched with all offers or banks, and matches are based on your credit profile.
To take advantage of targeted offers available, simply go to the CardMatch Tool. Enter your information, agree to the terms of service, and the system will search for offers.
Be sure to view "All Matches" to see everything you're targeted for.
Want to see if you're pre-qualified for any great offers? Try it out yourself!
On July 23, 2017, Citi removed their card benefits like trip protection and insurances.
A lot of cardholders are wondering what their options are — should they cancel or product change the Citi Prestige?
A significant factor in determining which route to take is the annual fee. The annual fee is $450, but it comes with a $250 travel credit, making the effective annual fee $200.
In some cases, you can apply in-branch to receive a lower annual fee of $350, making the effective annual fee $100 after the travel credit.
The main question is if the lower $350 annual fee will be honored the second year, or if the fee will increase to $450.
We’re hesitant to keep the card with an effective $200 annual fee because there are alternative luxury cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum that provide the same, if not better, value.
Before considering downgrade/product change options, we need to consider if this card is worth keeping.
The best perk the Citi Prestige is known for is book 3 consecutive nights, get the 4th night free. In order to redeem this perk, you have to book through the Citi Prestige Concierge.
Effective July 23, 2017, Citi will rebate the average room rate across your stay of 4 or more nights, not including taxes.
My main concern is that if I cancel or product change the card, I won’t be able to receive an intro bonus for a Citi card (that earns ThankYou points) in the next 2 years.
Citi has a rule that you can qualify for an intro bonus every 2 years across the same product family. For example, if you were approved for the Citi ThankYou Preferred card in 2015, you would not receive an intro bonus for the Citi Prestige if you applied the same year. You would have to wait until 2017 to qualify for another Citi intro bonus.
Since I signed up for the Citi Prestige in September 2016, that means I won’t be eligible for another ThankYou bonus until September 2018. If I cancel the card now, it resets the clock meaning I won’t be eligible for another bonus until September 2019.
In terms of product changes, there are 3 cards I’m considering:
To request a product change, call the number on the back of your Citi Prestige credit card. Let the agent know which product you'd like to switch the card to.
Disclaimer: Don't be that person who is obnoxious and demands an upgrade. You are not entitled to an upgrade — they're usually given based upon availability.
We've been traveling a lot the past month and tested a few methods to see how to get free hotel upgrades. Here are our learnings about what you can do to increase the chance of getting an upgrade, depending on availability. These tips do not guarantee an upgrade.
If you have status with the hotel group you're staying at, your chances of getting a free upgrade increases. Traditionally, people earn status from hotel stays. In order to earn Gold status at the Ritz-Carlton, you'll need 50 nights or 5 meetings. That's a lot of nights!
To get around this, certain credit cards like the Ritz-Carlton, Amex SPG, and the Amex Platinum card will give you certain status levels for free.
There are a ton of people who approach the front desk staff acting like they're entitled to an upgrade. Being nice increases your chances of getting an upgrade.
Follow the Golden Rule: treat people how you would want to be treated.
This one is a bit grey area, but if you have a special occasion to celebrate like an anniversary or honeymoon, it may increase your chances of getting a free upgrade, depending on availability. We don't personally do this, but we have heard success stories from friends.
It's counter-intuitive, but for all of our stays where we received a free upgrade, we checked-in on a weekday and relatively late (after 8 pm).
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Nigel: Checked-in at 10pm, we were offered 3 different complimentary upgrade options.
The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles: Checked-in at 6pm, got a free upgrade to a corner room junior suite.
Hilton Double Tree, NYC: Checked-in at 7pm, booked through Hotels.com because there was a good deal, but we were denied a free upgrade because it wasn't booked directly through Hilton. We showed Gold status through the Hilton app on our phone and we were still denied an upgrade.
They assigned us a room on a lower floor, and when we requested a room on a higher floor, the staff granted us a free upgrade to the Hhonors floor.
Some hotel groups won't honor status if you book a reservation through a third-party website. Whenever possible, book the reservation directly with the hotel and be sure to enter your status.
We recently hopped on a private jet to make the most of our JetSmarter membership and ended up in Vegas. Here's our list of what to do in 48 hours in Las Vegas.
Lotus of Siam was crowned the "Best Thai Food in America." Order the crispy duck, soft shell crab over drunken noodles, and garlic prawns.
Be sure to make a reservation at least two weeks in advance. Since this was a last minute trip, we called the Amex Platinum concierge and they were able to secure a reservation with a few days notice.
Visit the Downtown Las Vegas Container Park, which is filled with local boutique shops, a playground, restaurants, and a giant fire breathing pray mantis.
Take a stroll in the old Vegas by walking down Fremont Street. There's a light show, zipline, and tons of restaurants and casinos to see.
Seven Magic Mountains is a temporary public art installation consisting of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than 25 feet high. The exhibit will be available until May 2018. You'll need to rent a car to drive there; it's located 20 minutes outside The Strip.
To me, Vegas is synonymous to buffets. I can't leave Vegas without eating at a buffet at least once. My favorite is the Wicked Spoon located inside the Cosmopolitan hotel.
The buffet consists of tapas style plates with offerings like bone marrow, crab, fresh oysters, oxtail pho, and prime rib.
Pro-tip: go 10 minutes before dinner starts to lock-in the brunch/lunch pricing and enjoy the best of both worlds.
The Bellagio's fountains run every 30 minutes from 3pm to 8pm and every 15 minutes from 8pm to 12am Monday through Friday.
On Saturday, Sundays, and holidays, the fountains run every 30 minutes from 12pm-8pm and every 15 minutes 8pm-12am.
The LINQ Promenade is filled with novelty shops including Sprinkles Cupcakes, In-N-Out Burger, and Gordan Ramsay Fish n' Chips. The Promenade also leads to the High Roller (Ferris Wheel).
On our recent trip to see the Canadian Rockies, we flew into Calgary International Airport (YYC) and rented a car to drive to Banff. We spent 24 hours in Calgary and stayed at the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel (watch the video at the end of the post for hotel details).
Calgary Tower is located in the heart of downtown. The tower has a 360° panoramic view of the city, and there's also a revolving restaurant. If you dine at the restaurant, you can gain complimentary access to the observation deck.
101 9 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 1J9
Stephen Avenue Walk is a historic pedestrian mall located steps away from Calgary Tower.
Stephen Avenue Walk
8 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 1B3
The Galleria Trees sculptures are an iconic part of Stephens Avenue and located between 2nd and 3rd Street SW. There are ten metal trees designed to reduce the wind gusts on the block. The Galleria Trees are also equipped with an audio system and LED lights.
The Devonian Gardens is a large indoor park and botanical garden located in the CORE Shopping Centre (entrance is where the Galleria Trees are on Stephen Ave). Take the escalators up to the 4th floor to explore the gardens.
317 7 Ave SW | CORE Shopping Centre
Calgary, Alberta T6G 2E1
The Gardens were closed for renovations when we visited, so hopefully, they'll re-open soon!
Alberta is famous for their steak. Charcut Roast House is the brainchild of Chefs John Jackson and Connie Desousa (a Top Chef Canada finalist). The restaurant has a rustic-chic vibe and a farm-to-table ethos.
Charcut Roast House
101-899 Centre Street S
Calgary, AB T2G 1B8
We ordered one too many items, but it was all delicious. Get the duck fat fried poutine, prime rib of Alberta beef, and the CHARCUT sausage share burger. All the items are farm-to-table and the servers are incredibly knowledgable about the farms each ingredient was sourced from.
Somehow we managed to clear the whole board. It was THAT good.
Prince's Island Park is an urban park near downtown Calgary. There are plenty of picnic areas, hiking trails, and flower gardens.
Prince's Island Park
200 Barclay Parade SW, Calgary, AB T2P 4R5
The Peace Bridge is a pedestrian and bike bridge designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It's located on the far west side of Price's Island Park.
River Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants in Calgary. It's located in the heart of Prince's Island Park and has a great view of the Bow River. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
25 Prince's Island Park
Calgary, AB T2P 0R1
Take a stroll in Calgary's Chinatown and grab a bite to eat. Chinatown is located along Centre Street in the northeast area of downtown.
If you're craving Hong Kong style food, stop by Calgary Court Restaurant. I recommend the lunch specials or a classic bowl of wonton noodles.
The lunch special that day was Portuguese baked chicken and pork with spaghetti, milk tea, mushroom soup, and garlic toast, all for CAD $10!
Bow Falls is located in the backyard of the Fairmont Banff Springs. If you're in Downtown Banff and want to go for a light hike, Bow Falls is just a short 5-minute walk away.
Banff National Park
Downtown Banff is lined with tons of restaurants, bars, and shops. Take a stroll and enjoy some Canadian cuisine.
Park Distillery is a distillery, restaurant, and bar located in Banff National Park. They offer a free distillery tour daily at 3:30 pm.
Park is also great lunch spot; try the rotisserie chicken.
Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar
219 Banff Ave
Banff, AB T1L 1A7, Canada
The Vermilion Lakes are a series of lakes located a short 5-minute drive from Downtown Banff. Vermilion Lakes consists of three lakes formed in the Bow River valley.
BeaverTails is a chain store, but it's a novelty. Think Nutella covered pastry topped with fruit or candy. Stop by for a quick snack or dessert.
120 Banff Ave
Banff, AB T1L 1E7, Canada
After a long day of hiking, take a soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs. The water flow consists of 100% natural mineral water. Banff Upper Hot Springs is commercialized, but it's the closest one in vicinity to Downtown Banff.
Feeling adventurous? You can rent a historic swim suit for $1.90.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
1 Mountain Ave
Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
Cave and Basin National Historic site is the birthplace of Canada's national parks. Start your visit with a Discovery Tour, and then explore the historic architecture, bubbling mineral waters, and underground cave.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
311 Cave Ave
Banff, AB T0L 0C0, Canada