Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: Get 100,000 Ultimate Rewards Points

If you’re looking to give your Ultimate Rewards point balance a serious boost, consider the soon to be released “Chase Sapphire Reserve” credit card.

It’s still just a rumor (now it’s a fact and is live), but the details keep rolling in to the point where it seems almost certain it is a sure thing.

Here’s what we know about the new iteration of Chase Sapphire so far (take with a grain of salt until confirmed). It is now confirmed!

100K Opening Bonus with Chase Sapphire Reserve

sapphire reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card that comes with a 100,000 Ultimate Rewards point sign-up bonus if you spend a certain amount of money in I’m assuming the first three months of account opening.

This minimum spend amount is unknown at the moment, but I would guess at least $5,000 seeing that Chase Sapphire Preferred is $4,000 for just 50,000 UR points.

I’m actually kind of worried it might be more than $5,000, but something like $7,500 seems a bit excessive. If it is, there are plenty of ways to boost spending to hit the minimum without going broke.

I usually try to time the opening of a credit card with a big minimum spend to a large purchase I have just to make life easier.

Update: The bonus spend is only $4,000 for the 100,000 UR points, which to me is a steal. I assumed they’d ask cardholders to spend a lot more, but the pricey annual fee may be one reason why.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Comes with $450 Annual Fee

Does the number $450 ring a bell? Think American Express Platinum and you’re on the right track.

It appears the Chase Sapphire Reserve will come with a hefty annual fee of $450 like Amex Platinum, and $75 annually for each additional card.

It kind of makes sense seeing that the Amex often floats a 100k sign-up bonus.

Now you just have to determine if you value Amex MR points more than Chase UR points.

All in all, it’s pricey and I don’t think that annual fee is waived the first year. So if you can’t hit the minimum spend you probably shouldn’t bother with this card.

If you’re patient, there might be an in-branch offer that waives the annual fee the first year, as was done with Chase Ink. I am going to hold out for something like that before I jump in on this.

Besides, I’ve got some spending to do on a new Chase Ink card that will give me 75,000+ Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Has a $300 Travel Credit

You can easily offset some (or all) of the costly Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee thanks to the annual travel credit.

The good news is there’s a $300 annual travel credit that you can probably earn twice in 365 days (over two different calendar years) to more than offset the one annual fee.

The big question is what the airline credit can be used toward. If you can buy airline gift cards it’s a no-brainer.

If you can only use it for incidentals on flights it might not be as worthwhile. Still, if properly maxed out you could come out $150 ahead if you hit the credit twice in less than a year.

Update: You get a $300 credit annually for purchases in the travel category, meaning it could hypothetically be used for anything from hotel rooms to airfare to even ridesharing purchases like Uber and Lyft. If that’s the case this card is a steal!

And the statement credit will apparently post the same day your purchase posts to your account.

Over roughly two years (one annual fee charge) that equates to $150 in free travel and 104,000+ UR points, all for spending just $4,000. That’s pretty rad.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Offers 3X on Travel & Dining Worldwide

One great thing about Chase Sapphire Reserve is the rumored bonus categories. We’re talking 3X on both dining and travel worldwide, with dining the more interesting one for me. I eat out a lot so it’d be an efficient way to earn lots of UR points.

The only easier way to earn UR points is via Chase Ink and its 5X categories on things like internet, cable, cell phone, and office supplies. But if you had both cards open you could earn a boatload of UR points in a hurry with just plain old everyday spending.

The card is also expected to come with Priority Pass Select, which is airport lounge access that competitors like Citi offer via their Citi Prestige card. And things like a rebate for Global Entry and/or TSA Pre.

So in summary, the Chase Sapphire Reserve appears to be an ultra premium travel rewards credit card with one of the highest sign-up bonuses I’ve ever seen from Chase, which could be its greatest appeal.

Should You Apply for Chase Sapphire Reserve?

I don’t know if most savvy credit card churners would keep this card for more than a year, but I know a ton of them (if not all) would want to get their hands on 100,000 UR points for meeting a relatively low minimum spend.

This card is expected to be rolled out on August 21, 2016, so we should know in a few weeks if the rumors are all true. And what that pesky minimum spend is…it has been confirmed at just $4,000.

The $300 travel credit certainly makes the annual fee a lot less painful, if not icing on the cake of an already stellar deal.

I noted that I’m waiting because I’m working on a Chase Ink card spend at the moment, and also curious if this bonus could go even higher. Is it possible it could go to 150,000 UR points?

If you’re close to Chase’s 5/24 credit card cutoff, you may want to wait on applying for other credit cards to see if you can get approved for this special offer first.

My only concern in waiting is if the 100k sign-up bonus is lowered after the initial launch period. There’s no indication it will be, but we also don’t know if this is some sort of special bonus coinciding with the card’s launch.

We could find out in a few months that it was, and that the bonus is just 75,000, 50,000, or some other lower number. I wouldn’t wait if you don’t have any other cards on your radar, even if it does somehow get better. Besides, Chase is good about matching public offers.

Why Aren’t Credit Cards Instantly Approved?

It seems everyone wants things instantly, including approval for their newly applied for credit cards. But we aren’t always told right away if we’ve been approved or not, even if it’s a so-called pre-approved offer.

While it’s frustrating not to receive the “Congratulations!” e-mail in your inbox within seconds of applying for a credit card, there are reasons why credit card issuers sometimes send the dreaded “Thanks for your application.” one instead.

Reasons You Weren’t Instantly Approved for a Credit Card

[badlist]

  • Applied for too many credit cards recently
  • Have lots of open credit cards
  • Have too much credit with specific card issuer
  • Have too much outstanding credit card debt
  • Recently changed jobs
  • Recently moved
  • New or undefined business (if biz card application)

[/badlist]

There are many reasons why you might not get approved instantly for a credit card, some of which I’ve listed above.

Let’s talk about a few of them to understand why. If you’ve applied for a lot of credit cards lately, but still have an excellent 800 credit score, the issuer may not approve you right away.

You’ll either have to wait the 7-10 business days for a response, or call them immediately via the reconsideration line.

Tip: Each credit card issuer has a reconsideration phone number. Use Google to find the one you need if applicable.

Anyway, you might have to explain why you want yet another credit card if you already have a bunch. I had to do this with my Discover it Miles card because I already had the regular Discover it card.

Along those same lines, you might not get instantly approved if you already have the max credit limit with the issuer. A given credit card company will only provide a certain amount of aggregate credit.

For example, say Chase will only provide you with $40,000 in total credit, but you already have three Chase cards totaling that amount.

If you apply for a fourth Chase card, you might not be instantly approved because you’ve reached the max credit limit they’re willing to dole out.

Instead of simply giving up, you can ask that they move some of your existing credit line to the newly applied for credit card. So if an existing Chase card has a $25,000 credit limit and you barely use any of it, ask for $10,000 to go to the new card.

Who Are You, They Wonder?

You might not be approved instantly with an issuer you’ve never done business with because of credit cards you have open with other banks.

To get around this, you may have to call and speak to the issuer and explain why you want their card (so bad). Usually it just requires a friendly and professional phone call to explain yourself and you’ll be on your way.

I remember shortly after I purchased a new house I applied for a credit card and didn’t get instantly approved. I was annoyed because I wanted to meet minimum spend with new furnishings and other stuff I knew would be necessary to adorn my new digs.

The issue that time had to do with the address change – my credit report didn’t have any information regarding the new address so I had to explain myself to gain the approval.

You could also encounter this type of delayed approval if you were recently hired at a new company and it shows up on your credit report, or if it doesn’t. The issuer will want to get the facts straight to determine an appropriate credit line.

When it comes to business credit cards, it’s very common not to get instantly approved, often because individuals either get a card for their own self-employed company, or because their business credit isn’t established.

Don’t be surprised if you have to call the reconsideration line to explain your business. Be prepared to answer questions such as what exactly your business is and does, how long it’s been established, and how much it makes.

Don’t Put Your Head in the Sand

At the end of the day, an instant credit card approval is clearly ideal but often it just takes a single quick phone call to get approved. Sure, it may not be instant, but it’s still same day approval.

So don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen for you. Know what action(s) to take and don’t just sit around waiting for a denial letter to show up at your door.

Find the appropriate reconsideration phone number and call immediately after receiving the not-so-encouraging “Thank you.” e-mail.

Often it just takes some clarification on your part to turn a suspended application into an approved one. And you may never know what could have been if you don’t take the time to plead your case.

Just sitting around and hoping probably won’t get the job done. It’ll also mean less time to meet minimum spend if you delay your application any more than it needs to be.

Tip: Sometimes you just won’t get approved and there’s no way around it. The Chase 5/24 rule is very rigid and difficult to circumvent.

American Express Offering 10% Cash Back on Gas All Summer Long

We’ve all seen the rotating 5% cash back categories that often include gas stations, but how about 10% cash back instead?

Well, when I logged onto one of my Amex accounts this morning I was greeted by a surprising offer. A full 10% cash back on gas all summer long.

Specifically, you can earn up to $25 in statement credits on $250 in total purchases at U.S. gas stations until September 30th, 2016.

It’s one of the latest Amex Offers to hit one of my accounts and it’s clearly one of the better ones to come along after what has seemed like a bit of a lull.

10% Cash Back on Gas Purchases with Amex

10 offer

As you can see from the fine print, you get three months to use the Amex Offer once you add it to your eligible card, and the purchases have no minimum.

So you can make a ton of small purchases and still earn the 10% cash back. It’s a bit of a bummer that the maximum is $250 because most folks spend that amount on gas in a month, if not a week if they commute a lot.

It’s also unfortunate that this Amex Offer was only available on one of my many American Express credit cards.

I found it on my wife’s Amex Blue Cash card, but it wasn’t on any of my other cards, including my Blue Cash or my Amex EveryDay cards.

It’s also kind of weird that it was offered on a card that already earns 5% cash back on gas, but that could make this offer really sweet.

Can I Earn 15% Cash Back on Gas?

15 off

If I’m interpreting this offer correctly, I’ll earn 15% cash back on my gas purchases until the end of September, or $37.50 on $250 in gas purchases. Not too shabby!

Why? Because my card already earns 5% cash back on all gas purchases since I unlocked the higher cash back by spending $6,500.

I was expecting to earn just $12.50 on $250 in gas purchases, but confirmed with American Express that this offer works with my existing cash back structure.

This offer is good at merchants that primarily sell gasoline, though they “may sell other convenience items,” per American Express.

In other words, there’s a chance you could earn 15% cash back on other items if you get creative and find a gas station with a good mini market.

Be sure to check all your American Express cards ASAP to see if this offer is in one or more of your accounts. The offer is limited so it could fill up faster than your tank.

Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers Are Utter Nonsense

So you got a letter in the mail saying you were “pre-approved for a credit card.” Or an e-mail inviting you to apply for the latest credit card.

You jump at the chance to get approved for a credit card and apply immediately assuming you’ll be given the thumbs up in a matter of seconds. But after filling out the online application form you see the dreaded “Thanks, we’ll let you know…” page.

What went wrong? After all, you were pre-approved and “invited,” so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be instantly approved, right?

Why do they need more time? They already said you were approved so what gives?

Pre-Approved Does Not Equal Approved

Well, the truth is, pre-approved does not mean approved. Otherwise it would just say approved wouldn’t it?

What credit card issuers mean by “pre-approved” is that based on the information they have at the time of sending you the invitation, you should be approved for their credit card.

Unfortunately, the information they have may not be all-encompassing or totally current, especially depending on when they got the info and when you subsequently apply.

A credit score (and credit report) is a moving target that can change from day to day based on all sorts of stuff.

Once you apply for the credit card in question, the card issuer will still pull your credit and it will result in a hard inquiry.

From there they’ll be able to see if you still have the excellent credit they were expecting you to have, or the excellent credit you had when they bought your info from the credit reporting bureaus.

If you don’t for any reason, you might not actually get approved. You’re still pre-approved though…if that’s any consolation…it’s not, I just felt like being cheeky.

What Went Wrong?

Well, there are a number of things that can happen between the time credit card issuers get your info and you apply for one of their offers.

Perhaps you missed a credit card payment or ran up a bunch of debt. Or, maybe you applied for too many credit cards in a short span of time. That new 5/24 rule from Chase is a perfect example of how pre-approved can be utter nonsense.

I will use my own personal story to illustrate. I recently applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred after receiving an e-mail from Chase inviting me to apply.

I knew I had opened 5+ credit cards in the past 24 months, so I assumed I’d get rejected. But I wanted to test it just to be sure. I don’t really care about the inquiry. My credit scores are just fine.

Unsurprisingly, I was rejected. I got that annoying screen saying they’d let me know, and an equally annoying e-mail from Chase thanking me for submitting an application. Way to let me down easy…

Ultimately I knew my application was DOA because of their new rule regarding too many accounts opened in recent history.

To test the rule even further, I went to a Chase branch and spoke to a banker I know fairly well there. She tried to push my application through using a special consideration form.

This form basically highlights your other accounts with Chase in hope of garnering approval as an existing, valued customer.

Rejected Three Times!

I knew it was a shot in the dark and it did turn out to be a waste of time, other than creating content for this post. I essentially got rejected a second time in-person and was put on the phone with a Chase rep who wanted to tell me so a third time.

I asked why I was rejected (I knew, but I still love to ask) and was told I had opened too many accounts. I prodded further, asking how many was too many.

There was a moment of silence, then the rep asked if he could put me on hold. I said something to the effect of, “Why do you need to put me on hold? How many is too many?”

He hesitated, then reluctantly (but quickly) told me five was probably the magic number. I already knew this, but it’s always nice to hear it uttered.

I followed with something like, “But you guys sent me an e-mail telling me to apply.” And he said something like, “Yes, but we didn’t know the contents of your credit report. And now that we do, we can’t approve your application.”

So there you have it folks. Even if you are “pre-approved” you may well get rejected. Don’t be surprised if you do.

To avoid such surprises, check your credit report before applying (you can do this for free now using services like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame).

I believe in August a couple of credit cards will be older than 24 months and I should get approved for Chase Sapphire Preferred. Looking forward to trying again…

How to Get Your Credit Card Annual Fee Refunded

There are plenty of folks out there who are down on credit cards, and even more who are down on credit cards with annual fees, for obvious reasons.

But one perhaps lesser known fact about credit card annual fees is that they’re often refundable.

Like other fees you might pay in advance, such as insurance or a cable bill, you can get a prorated refund if you cancel or downgrade your credit card before the year is up.

So take the Citi Prestige card for example. It has a hefty $450 annual fee, which is a big turnoff for a lot of people. The good news is that you get a healthy sign-up bonus and $250 in airline credits each calendar year.

In practice, you can get a ton of value out of this card and more than offset the annual fee.

You Can Come Out Way Ahead

Say you open the card late in the year, maybe October. You spend the required amount to hit the sign-up bonus and buy $250 in airline gift cards, which is quickly refunded by way of statement credit.

The $450 annual fee is charged during your second statement and must be paid in full to avoid any finance charges.

Still, you’re only down $200 at that point because you took advantage of the $250 airline credit. Fast forward to January and you get another $250 airline credit. If you use it, you’re now $50 in the black.

But it can get even better if you cancel the card well before the year is up. If you cancel before your anniversary rolls around, you’re looking at some portion of that $450 back in the form of a check when you close your account.

Obviously, the faster you cancel, the larger the amount of the refund. However, Citi may also frown upon you canceling the card right away after grabbing statement credits for airfare and TSA Pre.

You’ll also want to make sure that you get your ThankYou Points out of there before canceling the card, and get the account balance down to zero to avoid any hiccups along the way.

The takeaway here is that the annual fee may not be as high as advertised if you don’t actually keep the credit card a full year.

Annual Fee Refunds Vary by Issuer (and Maybe Even by Card)

Just note that credit card annual fee refunds vary by card issuer, and they may in fact even vary from card to card.

Most credit card issuers will issue you a full refund if you cancel the credit card within 30 days (one statement period) from the date the annual fee posts.

So even if you goof and forget to cancel the card in time, you generally have some sort of grace period to cancel the card and get the annual fee reimbursed in full.

Some issuers, such as Barclaycard and Chase, may give you a full 60 days to get the annual fee reimbursed.

Once you’ve gone beyond that time period, you might get an annual fee refund on a prorated basis, as I already addressed above. As noted, the quicker you close the higher the refund.

Ways to Get the Credit Card Annual Fee Refunded (In Full or Partially)

[checklist]

  • Cancel the card before the annual fee is due
  • Cancel the card during the grace period (30-60 days after annual fee fee posts)
  • Cancel the card before a year passes and receive a prorated refund
  • Downgrade the card to a no annual fee version
  • Ask for the annual fee to be waived

[/checklist]

How to Increase Your Discover Credit Limit in 30 Seconds

Discover is quickly becoming the most beloved credit card issuer out there because they’re so customer friendly. The ability to redeem any amount of cash back is awesome and unmatched!

However, they also tend to be one of the most conservative credit card companies in terms of doling out credit card limits.

For example, when I applied for the Discover it Miles card last year to take advantage of the Apple Pay promo and the double miles the first year deal, I only received a $5,000 credit line.

Typically, I receive a credit limit north of $20,000 on my newly opened credit cards so it was a bit disappointing to receive a limit this low. It was also entirely expected.

I wasn’t at all surprised because I knew Discover had a reputation for delivering low credit card limits. But it was semi-annoying in that I had to pay down my balance mid-statement to free up credit while going after that promo.

I did still get the job done and walked away with about $1,600, but Discover didn’t make my life any easier with their paltry credit limit.

How to Increase Your Discover Credit Limit

credit line increase

The good news is that this issue can be easily fixed in a matter of seconds, literally.

To increase your Discover credit card limit, simply log on to the Discover website and hover over “Account” on the top menu then click on “Credit Line Increase.”

You’ll be directed to the page above where you simply need to enter your total annual gross income, your employer name (self if you’re self-employed), and your monthly housing or rental payment.

Once you fill in those fairly straightforward responses, you simply hit submit and within seconds your credit limit is increased.

complete

I did this today and increased my credit limit from $5,000 to $8,000. Still pretty low overall, but I never get close to using my limit and it’s still a 60% increase. For the record, they don’t let you choose an amount.

If you’re looking to boost their credit score in a hurry, this credit line increase should certainly help, especially if you’ve got a balance on your Discover card.

It will help your credit utilization, which could be quite high seeing that Discover credit limits are so low. And as mentioned, it literally takes less than a minute to do it.

I actually increased my regular Discover it card as well and it took me less than 30 seconds from start to finish. Yes, I timed it to be sure.

So if you have multiple Discover cards you are able to increase the credit limits on both in the same day. Just be consistent in your answers to ensure a smooth process.

And don’t expect a giant increase; similar to the opening credit limits, the increases are pretty conservative as well. But it’s better than nothing!

Lastly, because these cards carry no annual fee, they can stay in your wallet for as long as you’d like, building positive credit history over time and helping to keep utilization ratios down.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students Isn’t Very Preferred

Students Should Shop Around

So Citi launched a new credit card for college students aptly named the “Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to live up to its name, and you can even blame Citi’s other credit card offerings for that.

You see, it just isn’t a very good option when you compare it to other credit cards, including other Citi credit cards.

For one, the opening bonus is a rather weak 2,500 bonus points, which is worth about $25 depending on how you redeem your TYP. And you need to spend $500 to get that measly bonus.

Take the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which offers a $150 cash back bonus once you spend $500. It also earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

With the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, you earn 2X TYP on dining out and entertainment, but just one point per dollar everywhere else. So it’ll be tough to earn enough TYP to do anything worthwhile, especially with that weak opening bonus doing you very few favors.

For example, say you spend the required $500 in the first three months to get the 2,500 TYP bonus. And assume you spent that entire $500 in the 2X categories.

That would equate to just 3,500 TYP total, or roughly $35. It might not even be enough points for a minimum redemption at most places.

There’s No Annual Fee on the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

I guess the upside to this new credit card for college students is that there’s no annual fee. The Citi ThankYou Premier Card for adults has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. But it also comes with additional point-earning categories and a handsome sign up bonus (when it does come around again).

The Preferred Card for College Students also offers 0% APR for seven months on purchases, which again is pretty weak and well below what you’ll find with other credit cards. Again, the Chase Freedom cards offer 15 months of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

For me, the Citi card is only really beneficial if you can’t get approved for a big-boy credit card and you don’t care much about earning rewards. Because chances are you’ll never earn many TYP with regular spending and a presumably conservative spending limit.

If You’re a Student, Look at Discover Instead

Instead, you might want to consider the Discover it for Students, or Discover it chrome for Students card. Both come with at least 1% cash back on all purchases, along with higher-earning multiples in certain categories like gas and restaurants.

Additionally, you might be able to get your cash back doubled the first year as a new cardmember.

In summary, there are a lot of better options floating around for college students, especially for those who want to earn cash back as opposed to gift cards and other nonsense. The last thing you need is more stuff!

Additionally, Discover doesn’t have a minimum redemption amount, so for students who generally don’t spend a lot on their cards, they can still cash in their earned rewards at any time. With the Citi card, you might not earn enough points to get what you want.

The downside to Discover is that it’s not accepted everywhere, which could be a problem if it’s your only credit card, perhaps the norm for a student. The company also tends to be pretty conservative when doling out credit lines.

Still, I think you can do better than this new Citi card.

Chip Cards Are Super Slow and Now Visa Is Trying to Fix That

If you’ve used a credit card lately, you’ve likely made the mistake of trying to swipe it (even though it has a magnetic stripe) because it also contains an EMV chip.

I do it all the time and feel like a dummy, especially as a credit card blogger that should know better. It’s a sense of pride and I always kind of chuckle to myself when I do it.

The other day I caught myself at the last minute and managed to impress the clerk by not swiping my chip card at a local CVS.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice it took so long for the transaction to complete. As it stands now, you kind of stand around awkwardly while the clerk kind of looks at their register awkwardly as 10 seconds or more go by.

Then you finally hear that welcoming, yet deafening alarm sound go off. Ironically, the alarm sound means your transaction was processed successfully!

[The Best Credit Cards to Use When Traveling Abroad]

Enter Quick Chip for EMV

Well, apparently Visa was aware of this long, awful process, and decided to do something about it, thankfully. This week, they launched the so-called “Quick Chip for EMV,” a technology that aims to speed up checkout times when using chip-enabled credit cards.

Instead of waiting for what seems like forever, you’ll soon be able to just dip your card in the slot and pull it out “typically in two seconds or less.” The trick is that you won’t have to wait for the transaction to be finalized before pulling out.

I think the current setup requires the entire transaction to go through before you can touch a thing – and it’s so hard to stand there without pulling the card out…no one likes to be away from their credit card for that long!

Even better, this “simple software update” to a merchant’s point of sale system will allow customers to check out while the shopping cart is still being rung up, similar to what you can do with the magnetic stripe credit cards (I still like to wait to see my total).

Visa says merchants can easily download the free software update to the payment terminal so the existing hardware can remain in place. And no change to the chip card is necessary either, fortunately.

[Debit vs. Credit: Which Is Better?]

This Only Applies to Visa Credit Cards

Now the bad news, at least for now. The Quick Chip for EMV software is only for Visa credit cards. Those with American Express, Discover, or MasterCard credit cards may continue to experience long waits at the counter when using a chip card.

I’m assuming the others will follow suit sooner rather than later, but in the meantime you might have to wait that brutal ~10 seconds for so.

Visa has already issued more than 265 million Visa credit and debit chip cards to U.S. consumers, which makes it the largest chip card market in the world (pretty amazing considering we had zero a year or so ago).

Additionally, the company said more than one million merchants have enabled chip card terminals, so roughly 20% of all merchant locations are now on board.

I’m still swiping and dipping, and I’ve come across some merchants that have the chip terminals with tape blocking the bay. Clearly some merchants all still figuring it all out…now if only they could do something about that startling alarm sound when a transaction is approved.

How to Find Hidden Citi Credit Card Cash Back Offers

So Citi finally started offering cash back deals with select merchants you may visit, but they sure aren’t making them easy to find.

For example, those with an American Express card know where to find Amex Offers. They’re right there on the main page when you log in to your credit card management page.

The same goes for Bank of America users. There are easily accessible cash back offers you can load to your BankAmericard to save 10% or more at places like Starbucks, AT&T, Bristol Farms, Red Robin, etc.

I use the Bank of America cash back deals all the time…in fact, it’s probably the only reason I use the card to begin with since I earn more cash back with other cards I carry. So it’s a good thing they make their deals easy to find.

Citi Smart Savings Deals

citi smart savings

Now let’s talk about Citi and their seemingly impossible to find “Citi Smart Savings” offers.

Once you log in to the Citi credit card website you won’t see anything about any cash back offers. Instead, you’ll see your credit card(s) listed, the balance(s), minimum payment(s), etc.

You’ll also see your ThankYou Points balance off to the right. That’s great but where are the cash back offers?

Well, if you scroll down below the fold (depending on screen size and number of Citi cards you have open), you’ll see a section titled, “Get the Most From Your Cards.”

If you click on “View More Offers” from within this section, you’ll be taken to the Citi Smart Savings area of the site, as pictured above in the screenshot.

From there you can add targeted cash back offers to your Citi credit card(s) similar to the offers at Amex and Bank of America.

I currently have Citi cash back offers for Red Robin, Five Guys, Panera, and some other spots tied to my Citi ThankYou Premier card. They’re all 10% cash back. Obviously these offers make your Citi card(s) much more attractive if you already shop at the merchants listed. It’s pretty hard to beat 10% cash back.

By the way, if you don’t see the Get the Most From Your Cards section on the landing page once you log in at Citi, you can also find the Citi Smart Savings by clicking on “Card Benefits” on the menu at the top of the page.

Once you click that you have to scroll down and click on “Offers For You” on the right sidebar. That link will take you to same place, the Citi Smart Savings dashboard. I don’t know why they make them so hard to find?

Get Savings via the Citi Mobile App Too!

If you’re using the Citi mobile app, they’ve now added an “Offers for You” link at the top of the screen once you’re logged on.

It’s a lot more straightforward than the website but wasn’t visible until recently. You’ll see the same cash back offers there, but they’ll also tell you how far they are from your current location and allow you to map them.

So if you’ve got a 10% cash back offer for Panera and want to use it, it’ll show you the nearest one relative to your present location.

It took Citi a little bit longer than others in the industry to get these commonplace cash back offers going, and they’re still doing a decent job hiding them, but they’ll likely make them a lot more visible over time.

Blispay Visa Offers No Interest and No Payments on Purchases Over $199 for 6 Months

The new “Blispay Visa Card,” issued by First Electronic Bank out of Utah, wants to completely change the credit card game. And yes, there’s only one “S” in their name, it’s not a typo.

It’s a somewhat odd proposal but one that could certainly separate the Blispay Visa from the credit card crowd. Allow me to explain how it works because it’s a bit complex.

2% Cash Back Automatically with Blispay Visa Card

First off, they’re offering 2% cash back on all purchases. This matches similar offers from Fidelity Amex and Citi Double Cash, but beats several other cards that only offer 1.5% cash back, such as the new Chase Freedom Unlimited.

However, they’re making that 2% redemption rate even better by rebating your cash back automatically in the form of a statement credit. So you don’t need to spend a minimum amount to get your cash back, nor are you required to manually redeem your cash back.

That’s the first unique aspect of the Blispay Visa Card. But there’s something even more interesting, yet potentially dangerous for cardholders.

Purchases Over $199 = No Interest + No Payments for 6 Months

If you make a purchase over $199 with your Blispay Visa, you’ll get six months of no payments and no interest if it’s eventually paid in full within six months.

In other words, if your purchases are always over $199, you get six months to pay them off each time without incurring finance charges.

They refer to this type of transaction as a “No Payments No Interest purchase” and you can view these purchases in the Promos section of your account at Blispay to ensure they qualify.

Here’s the hitch. If you don’t pay off these purchases in full within the six-month period, interest will be charged to your account at the card’s APR of 19.99% from the date it posted.

So they will essentially charge you interest retroactively at a rate of 19.99% for the entire six months if it’s not paid off in time.

Obviously this can cost you a pretty penny if you’ve got a large purchase that you failed to make a dent on.

Further complicating the whole deal is the fact that you can make normal purchases at the same time with the Blispay Visa. These are subject to the 19.99% APR as well, but don’t have the payment grace period.

The problem is that once they get commingled it could get confusing determining when each needs to be paid off, especially if you have multiple interest-deferred large purchases mixed with small everyday purchases.

However, Blispay does provide some leeway. If you happen to forget to pay off the promotional balance by the expiration date, you can still make a payment between the expiration date and the next payment due date.

For example, if one of your $200 purchases has an expiration date of June 5th and your payment due date is June 15th, you get those 10 extra days to pay it off in full without being charged the accrued interest.

This Is Getting Really Confusing…

But that leads us to payment allocation, which determines where payments you make wind up.

If you simply make a minimum payment each month it will go toward the highest interest balance first, as dictated by law.

Assuming you have a No Payments No Interest purchase on your Blispay Card, any amount above the minimum payment will go toward that balance first if it’s made during the last two months before the expiration date. Otherwise it goes toward your higher interest balances first.

Confused yet? I am, which I why I think this hybrid store card/credit card could land some less sophisticated spenders in trouble.

It’s certainly a novel idea, and one that could give consumers breathing room to make larger purchases and avoid paying interest entirely. But you need to be really disciplined to avoid any missteps here.

If I were to use the Blispay Visa, I’d probably only use it for one No Payments No Interest purchase at a time to avoid any confusion or misallocation of payments.

For me, it’s simply too confusing to use it as an everyday credit card and also a store card with special financing. I see too many potential gotchas if you’re not extremely careful.

But, as mentioned, if you use it for one purchase at a time, you essentially get 0% APR for six months and 2% cash back. That’s pretty sweet!