Chase Ultimate Rewards Points vs. Amex Membership Rewards

If you’re in the market for a new rewards credit card, you’ve probably compared options from Chase and American Express, as they offer the biggest sign-up bonuses out there.

But their rewards points are very different, so you can’t just say one is offering more points and is therefore the better option.

Instead, you need to determine what you’ll use the points for before applying for the card in question to avoid any wastage.

Assuming you want to book a trip, namely a flight, both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards are transferable to airline partners.

Both allow you to convert your credit card points to airline miles at a 1:1 ratio. So if you have 100,000 points with either issuer, those are effectively 100,000 miles with a number of different airline partners like United or British Airways.

That’s the good news. However, you have to look at the airline partners before you make grand travel plans.

Amex Has More Airline Partners than Chase

At first glance, you’ll notice that American Express has more airline partners to transfer to than Chase.

However, the way airlines work these days, it’s pretty easy to book flights on just about every carrier thanks to code sharing.

For example, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards from Chase to United, then use those United miles to book flights on Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, etc., even though they’re not explicitly listed as travel partners with Chase.

The same goes for Membership Rewards points with Amex. Their list of airline partners can be expanded similarly once you start doing award searches with partner carriers.

So they’re still basically offering the same benefit when it comes to travel. Plenty of airline partners and the same transfer rate.

Amex Might Charge a Fee

One negative for Amex MR points is that they charge a small fee when transferring points to a U.S. airline ($0.0006 per point transferred with a maximum fee of $99).

Chase doesn’t charge this fee when moving UR points to an airline. That’s one win for Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Another win for Chase UR is the fact that the points can be transferred into cash at a 1:1 ratio. In other words, 100,000 UR points are worth $1,000 cash. Yes, just cash them in and use the money as you wish.

With Amex MR points, you can’t do that. The best you can do cash-wise is convert the points to an Amex gift card, and the ratio is a less than favorable 2:1. That means 100,000 MR points are worth just $500 in gift card value.

Chase is the big winner here because any excess points can be used for straight cash with no hoops to jump through. And there’s a very good chance you’ll have some extra points lying around after redeeming for airline miles.

Really, if you don’t transfer your Amex MR points to airlines, you basically lose out because every other redemption value is less than 1 cent per point except a few things like Uber, third-party gift cards, and some flights booked via the Amex Travel website.

Chase Offers a Redemption Bonus on Flights Booked via Their Portal

Meanwhile, Chase will give you a bonus when you redeem UR points via their travel portal. With Chase Sapphire Preferred, a $625 flight booked via their portal requires only 50,000 points. That’s a 25% bonus.

With Chase Sapphire Reserve, the bonus jumps to 50%, so 100,000 points are worth $1,500 toward travel.

The new Ink Business Preferred offers the same 50% bonus.

It should be noted that Amex finally caught up to Chase on this by offering a 50% point refund when you use Pay with Points to book travel with an Amex Business Platinum. That means it only costs 50,000 MR points to book a $1,000 flight, a value of 2 cents per point.

However, this feature is only found on the biz version of Amex Platinum…the good news is all your MR points can enjoy this redemption rate, even if they weren’t earned via the Amex Platinum Biz card.

Chase vs. American Express: Other Travel Benefits

If you consider other travel benefits, like the $300 travel credit with Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. the $200 with Amex Platinum, Chase wins again.

Chase gives you instant statement credits for any travel purchase, while Amex asks that you designate an airline first and only reimburses airline incidentals like baggage fees (not airfare unless you buy a gift card that triggers the credit).

Additionally, Chase UR points can be easily transferred to a spouse or relative, whereas Amex MR points can only be transferred to an authorized user account. And authorized user accounts often come with hefty annual fees.

This means it’s easier to pool together Chase UR points than it is Amex MR points, another advantage for Chase cardholders that need a higher point total for a certain redemption.

Ultimately, Chase UR points are worth more than Amex MR points in many situations, though it does depend on your specific travel goals, assuming travel is your redemption of choice.

But one last thing to consider is how easy it is for you to earn points in the two programs. If you can earn points more easily in certain categories like office supply stores and on certain utilities, Chase might allow you to earn many more points much quicker.

Conversely, if you can score tons of MR points at grocery stores and gas stations, Amex might be the way to go for you.

You really have to sit down and map it all out to determine which points mean more to you. For me personally, Chase UR points are more valuable, but that’s because I like the flexibility and the lower annual fees.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Advantages

– Large sign-up bonuses with relatively low annual fees
– Easier to transfer to spouse or family member
– More 1:1 redemption options including cash
– Better travel credits to offset annual fee
– Lots of ways to earn 5X UR points per $1 spent
– Points can be worth 50% more than used on Chase Travel website

Chase Ultimate Rewards Disadvantages

– Fewer transfer partners

American Express Membership Rewards Advantages

– Large sign-up bonuses to earn lots of points fast
– Tons of travel partners to transfer points to
– Amex Biz Platinum now offers 50% points back when used at Amex Travel website

American Express Membership Rewards Advantages

– High annual fees
– Bonus categories not as good as Chase for most cards
– Harder to combine points across different user accounts
– Fees charged for certain point transfers
– Redemption values generally poor if not used for travel
– Travel credit not as lucrative/flexible

Good Time of Year to Apply for Credit Cards with Calendar Year Benefits

Did you know that fall is a great time to apply for a new credit card? If not, allow me to explain.

Many credit cards these days come with an annual calendar year benefit, such as an airline credit or a travel credit.

These benefits aren’t based on when your card anniversary is – rather, they’re simply based on the calendar year so all customers are in the same boat, regardless of when they got the card.

This means everyone gets a use it or lose it benefit annually, no matter when they applied for a credit card.

Take the $300 travel category credit from the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

It’s a calendar year benefit, meaning you get $300 in statement credits every calendar year. So if you applied for the card sometime in 2016, you’d get $300 in credits until December 31st.

Then the credit resets on January 1st, 2017.

$600 in Credits with One Annual Fee

For the savvy credit cardholder, this is an ideal time to apply for a card like Sapphire Reserve. Why?

In short, you can get $300 in travel credits in 2016 and another $300 in 2017, all while only paying one annual fee of $450.

Assuming you max out the credit, you’d come out $150 to the good, eclipsing that pesky annual fee and giving yourself time to enjoy the benefits of the card before canceling when the second annual fee comes up late in the year.

You could do the same thing if you applied in say June of a given year, but then you’d only get six months to use the subsequent year’s credit before the next annual was due, instead of nearly 12 months.

Of course, you do have to have a plan for using the credit this year to ensure you don’t miss out, or waste some of it with just a month or so remaining.

But you can also use two credits in a short period (e.g. December 16 and January 17) for the same vacation, instead of waiting a year for the credit to reset.

For example, book the flight in late 2016 and the hotel for that same trip in early 2017.

Holiday Shopping Helps Too

Aside from giving yourself more time to enjoy the credit, this time of year is also a heavy spending period for most folks.

That means it’s also a good time to hit the minimum spend on a new credit card.

Sometimes people struggle to come up with ways to spend X amount in three months, but with holiday shopping virtually unavoidable, it’s a good way to knock out some of the burden.

There also happens to be a lot of holiday travel, and since these annual credits are travel-related, it’s probably a good time to use them.

Sure, you can just buy airline gift cards or take lots of Uber trips to get the credits, but it’s nice to use them for something you were going to spend regardless in one fell swoop.

Anyway, once you get two year’s worth of credits, you can cancel the card while paying a single annual fee, assuming you have little use for the card thereafter.

Yes, the benefits on these cards are good, but at $450 per year, most will probably balk at keeping them in their wallets long-term, especially when there are always competitive alternatives popping up.

Credit Cards with Calendar Year Benefits

Amex Platinum ($200 airline credit with chosen airline)
Amex Biz Platinum ($200 airline credit with chosen airline)
Amex Premier Rewards Gold ($100 airline credit with chosen airline)
Chase Sapphire Reserve ($300 travel category credit)
Citi Prestige ($250 airline credit)

(photo: joelanman)

You Have to Opt-in to the Lounge Access with Chase Sapphire Reserve

Just wanted to throw out a Public Service Announcement (PSA) regarding the lounge benefit associated with Chase Sapphire Reserve.

While you probably remember hearing about “complimentary airport lounge access” when you applied, you might be wondering how you enter the lounges.

Do you just flash your metallic credit card and saunter through the door? Or do you stop at the front desk and tell them you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder and ask them to look you up?

Well, if you guessed either of these you’d be wrong. The lounge access benefit isn’t automatic. Instead, you have to enroll by visiting the Chase website.

This differs from Citi Prestige, which is an automatic benefit that is mailed to you once you get approved for the card.

How to Enroll in Lounge Access with Chase Sapphire Reserve

travel benefits

While you may have been disappointed if you made assumptions and just showed up at the airport lounge, it’s fortunately an easy fix.

All you have to do is head over to the Chase website and login. Then click on the Ultimate Rewards box on the right sidebar and select your Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

At that point you’ll be presented with Your Rewards Dashboard. Above that you should see something about elevating your travel and a big green “Learn More” button.

Simply click on that button and you’ll see the many travel benefits associated with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, including airport lounge access.

Mouse over to it and click to activate. That’s it, you’re done. Now you just have to wait for the Priority Pass Select card to arrive in the mail.

You’re All Set!


It can take a couple weeks to receive the card so activate as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

If that method doesn’t work for you, there’s also this link that takes you to the Travel Benefits section of Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Just scroll down to Complimentary Airport Lounge Access and click on it to expand the section, then click on Learn More. You’ll be prompted to login and then you have to select your Reserve card, then activate the lounge benefit.

Once you receive the card in the mail, you’re good to go. Just be sure to take it with you on your travels. While Priority Pass does allow you to put a digital copy of the card in your smartphone’s wallet, it isn’t accepted at all lounges.

Also note that your Chase Sapphire Reserve must be open and not in default to maintain membership in Priority Pass. Now go and enjoy those free drinks, food, Wi-Fi, and all that peace and quiet at the airport that is anything but. It completely changes the travel experience!

Tip: The Travel Benefits page also contains information about Global Entry and TSA Preè, the hotel benefits you receive when using your Reserve card, and the car rental privileges you can take advantage of.

(photo: Michael Coghlan)

How to Track Your Ultimate Rewards with Chase

For a long time, it was next to impossible to see how many Ultimate Rewards you had earned with Chase until your statement closed and the points posted to your account.

This was frustrating for a lot of people who wanted to keep a close eye on things and make sure they were swiping as efficiently as possible.

After all, no sense in continuing to charge one card if it no longer earns bonus points, or if there’s a different card that is earning at a higher rate.

Unfortunately, Chase didn’t make it easy to see all these details. In fact, it was hard to see if a purchase earned points in a bonus category, even after the statement posted.

But that has totally changed thanks to a retooling of the Chase Ultimate Rewards website. If you’re a Chase cardmember with a UR-earning card, you should definitely check out the new changes.

Chase Finally Makes It Easy to Track Rewards

bonus earn

Once you log in to the Chase website, simply click on the Ultimate Rewards box on the right sidebar.

Then choose one of your accounts (if you have multiple UR-earning credit cards) and you’ll see a summary of your points and upcoming points.

You can also can see how many points you have remaining in bonus categories that are capped, which is super helpful to avoid any wastage.

For example, my Chase Ink Plus card now shows how many of the 50,000 bonus points I’ve amassed for the 2X categories and the 200k bonus points for the 5X categories.

ink spend

It does so from your account anniversary date so you can see if they’re close to being maxed out for the year. If they are, you can move spend to a different card as you see fit.

Additionally, Chase now lets you easily see which purchases were in bonus categories with a handy “Bonus earn” listed next to each purchase. That is pictured above.

So I can clearly see that my Time Warner Cable bill earned 5X Ultimate Rewards points. It even shows the exact amount, which should put any neurotic mind at ease.

Chase Freedom Quarterlies Tracked to a T

freedom bonus

If you happen to have Chase Freedom, you can see how much of the 5% cash back category has been earned each quarter.

Same concept here with a nice little progress bar to show how close you are to the $75 quarterly cap.

You can also drill down into your activity and see which transactions earned the “Bonus earn” like I demonstrated with the Chase Ink Plus card.

I also have Chase Sapphire Reserve, and I’m assuming a lot of readers do too. Sure enough, you can track rewards in all the bonus categories and also see if you’ve spent enough to earn that 100,000 point sign-up bonus.

It’ll tell you what you’re expected to earn on your next statement, and if it’s six-digits, you’ve likely spent enough for the bonus.

Also, you can track your $300 annual travel credit to ensure you use it all up each year and don’t overuse it. Each time a qualifying purchase is made, the little circle will get a little more complete until it’s full.

travel credit

Remember, it resets each calendar year, so you can earn $600 in less than 365 days, enough to offset that pesky $450 annual fee.

I’m glad Chase finally did this. I wish American Express would do it too, especially with the Old Blue Cash card that can be real tough to track.

Sometimes Using the Wrong Credit Card Is the Right Choice

A while back, I applied for the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business card from Chase because it was offering a generous 100,000 points when I spent $3,000.

That was a 25% premium over the current 80k offer, so I jumped on it, knowing I’d be able to use the points haul for a nice little vacation.

I wound up with around 110,000 points when everything was said and done because I spent in some bonus categories and spent more than necessary to hit the bonus.

However, the particular Marriott hotel I have my eye on costs 40,000 points per night. And because Marriott gives you the 5th night free, you might as well try to stay at least four nights.

That meant I needed 160,000 points to get five free nights at the hotel in question. Unfortunately, I was short some ~50,000 Marriott points.

The cool thing is Marriott lets you reserve the booking as long as the point shortfall is taken care of at least eight days before your scheduled arrival.

Now let’s talk about earning those necessary points…

Keep the Marriott Card in the Sock Drawer

point shortage

Your first thought in this situation might be to spend more with the Marriott credit card to up your point balance. It is, after all, the card that got you all those points to begin with.

But it turns out you might be better off leaving it in the sock drawer and swiping and dipping with a different card instead.

For example, the Chase Ink Plus card earns 5X points on things like office supplies, internet, wireless, cable TV, and landline.

Meanwhile, the Chase Marriott card only earns 5X points at Marriott locations worldwide. And the next highest earning category only earns 2X.

Chances are you won’t be spending money at a Marriott before your trip to a Marriott, unless you’re a big time traveler.

So in this case, it might be better to keep spending with a card like the Chase Ink Plus in the higher bonus categories and then transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott.

Indeed, you can transfer your UR points at a 1:1 ratio to Marriott, so it’s basically the same value, though with the added step (work) of transferring the points.

More Flexibility, Less Waste

However, that means you’ve got a lot more flexibility too. And it means the points won’t go to waste.

If you overspend on your Marriott card and wind up with too many points, you’ll be stuck with some random amount of points, probably not enough for a free night or anything spectacular.

Conversely, if you wind up with too many UR points (is such a thing possible), you’ll be able to redeem them for any number of things, or combine them with your other points to redeem a large reward.

In summary, there are two benefits to spending with other credit cards. Flexibility in redemption and a quicker way to earn points.

Take the time to think through your point-earning strategy before limiting yourself to the loyalty program you’re trying to earn points in.

Tip: You can earn points to send to Marriott via the Chase Sapphire Reserve card as well, and even Chase Freedom if you have one of the aforementioned cards.

USAA Limitless Visa: Earn 2.5% Cash Back on Every Purchase

We all know 2% cash back credit cards exist, and rotating 5% cash back categories are also widely available, though annoying because they’re capped and only good for three months.

Maybe that’s why USAA is introducing something even better – a credit card that earns 2.5% cash back on every purchase. It’s apparently in beta right now and being sent out as a targeted offer to certain customers.

It’s clearly a better deal if you’re currently earning 2% or less on your credit card purchases, but there are some strings attached.

USAA Limitless 2.5% Cash Back Requires Direct Deposit

For one, it only appears to be available in four states at the moment, including Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

Secondly, you have to be a member of USAA with a checking account that brings in at least $1,000 per month via direct deposit from your employer, the government, or an external financial institution.

So in that sense, you might be losing out on interest if the money has to stay with USAA earning a lower yield.

I don’t know what the APY is for their checking account, but I doubt it’s as good as the 1% or more you can earn in so-called high-yield savings accounts.

I suppose you could just transfer your paychecks right out and into a high yield account each month, so it’s not a huge negative.

And if for some reason you can’t muster the recurring direct deposit, your cash back will fall to 1.5% on every purchase, which is still pretty competitive.

What Is Another 0.5% Cash Back Worth?

Now let’s get down to brass tacks and determine if you should apply for this new limitless credit card from USAA.

If you already have a 2% cash back credit card, this would give you another 0.5% cash back per purchase.

Let’s just pretend that you spend $5,000 a month using the card. I chose a large amount to illustrate the potential earnings, or lack thereof.

That $5,000 per month multiplied by 0.5% is just $25. Doesn’t sound as great now does it?

Now that’s assume you don’t charge $5,000 a month on the card because you’re a normal human being and you’ve got multiple credit cards you use for a variety of different category bonuses.

Let’s say you put a more reasonable $2,000 on the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards credit card each month instead. That’s an extra $10 per month.

Now it’s getting way less exciting. Throw in the fact that you’ve got to maintain a direct deposit and a checking account, and likely shuffle money to a higher yielding savings account to avoid missing out on interest and it’s a lot less compelling.

One could also argue to just go after a sign-up bonus instead that gives you a couple hundred bucks for making a few hundred dollars in purchases. Or a bank account bonus that does the same.

The upside to this USAA credit card is that there’s no annual fee, and no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Per the terms and conditions, you get 90 days from account opening to make your initial direct deposit to qualify for the 2.5% cash back.

Additionally, you can redeem the cash back for a statement credit or deposit it straight into your checking account. So redemption seems to be a breeze.

Still, as demonstrated above, you might just be better off going after credit card sign-up bonuses and/or bank account bonuses. Both would probably yield more value with similar/less work.

American Express Offering 2X Rewards for Shop Small This Year

In past years, the American Express Shop Small promotion typically offered statement credits when you used your Amex at small businesses on a specified day.

This was known as Small Business Saturday, which is set to take place on November 26th of this year.

It was actually quite lucrative a couple years ago because they offered three statement credits per Amex card, which translated to maybe 20+ credits per household, depending on how many cards you had.

But last year American Express toned things down and only offered a single credit via its Amex Offers to targeted cardmembers. I think I got one $15 credit, which paled in comparison to the prior year.

2X Rewards Through December


This year they want to drum up excitement again with a 2X rewards offer from now until the end of 2016.

Once you enroll your eligible Amex card(s), you can earn 2X rewards on all purchases at qualifying small businesses through 12/31/16.

If it happens to be a card that earns 1% cash back, you’ll earn 2% cash back on those qualifying purchases for the next few months.

If it’s a card that earns Membership Rewards points, they’ll be doubled at small businesses through December.

Virtually every credit card and charge card is eligible for this promotion aside from a few legacy cards like Old Blue Cash, the Plum Card, Clear, and some others.

When you visit this page to enroll, it will let you know if your card is eligible or not.

It’s basically a no-brainer to sign up for the promo with all your Amex cards to earn double rewards until the end of the year.

How Lucrative Is This Offer?

As for it being lucrative, that really depends on what you charge with your Amex cards over the next several months.

Remember, it only works at merchants known as small businesses, so you won’t earn the double rewards everywhere.

Additionally, it only doubles your 1X category, so earning 2% cash back or 2X rewards isn’t necessarily amazing.

I’m sure some folks will figure out how to maximize it, but for many cardholders it likely won’t result in any major rewards boost.

For you big spenders, there’s actually a limit to how much you can get doubled.

If you somehow manage to spend $100,000 with a personal Amex you’ll be capped out. The same goes for those who muster $250,000 in spending via an Amex business card.

After that, you’re back to 1X for each purchase at small businesses.

There is at least one company already milking the promotion.

Plastiq, which allows you to pay rent or the mortgage with a credit card, is advertising the 2X rewards offer as an eligible merchant.

Remember, the small business category is pretty broad, so even seemingly large companies qualify in many cases, not just your neighborhood convenience store.

For those who use the company to make large rent/mortgage payments, double rewards is certainly helpful.

Still, it won’t offset the full fee 2.5% fee that they charge per transaction. But it will make it a little less painful if you’re trying to meet minimum spend or just increase your MR balance.

All in all, I’m not too impressed with this year’s offer. I enrolled my cards, but I don’t know if I’ll actually use them at small businesses.

I already have credit cards that earn 2X all year and I’m not a huge fan of MR points anyway.

Tip: Only the primary cardholder can enroll in this offer, so authorized users need not apply.

Are You Better Off Paying Fees to Meet Minimum Credit Card Spend?

I’ve been working on some minimum spend lately, thanks to a new Chase Ink card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Those two cards mean I have to spend $9,000 in the span of 90 days, which can be a bit harrowing for some and a breeze for others.

Once I was approved, and had yet to receive the cards, I began brainstorming ways to meet the spend to earn the bonuses.

Whenever I’m faced with a spending challenge, my mind gets going like it’s some sort of exciting new adventure. It will consume me until the job is done. And usually I overshoot the target.

But something occurred to me recently – was I spending unnecessarily to meet these spending thresholds?

Was I going out of my way to find new methods to spend money, and in effect, losing at the game of credit card bonuses?

Most importantly, was I wasting time?

Be Careful How You Spend

When you’re faced with a big spending requirement, you might throw caution to the wind and get cavalier with your cash.

For example, you might agree to buy everyone a round of drinks, or pay for dinner, knowing you’ve got to spend $4,000 in a hurry.

Hey, I can earn 3X on dining so let me pick up the tab. Fail.

You might even be excited when the price tag is higher than you expected. If that’s the case, you might want to give pause.

After all, if you just agree to pay some small fees you can accomplish the spending without buying anything you don’t need. Or without buying things for other people, not that generosity is a terrible thing.

There are numerous ways to meet spending requirements that are free, but also many others that require a small fee.

If you want to avoid getting in over your head, you can just pay the fees and move on with your life. And it won’t really be so bad.

Just Pay the Fees and Move On?

Take Plastiq. The service allows you to pay your rent or mortgage for a small fee. Without the promo, it’s 2.5%. If you happen to spend the entire $4,000 on it to pay rent you’ll be set back $100.

Yes, $100 is money and it’s not free. But at the same time, you’d be done and earn your bonus. And you wouldn’t have to research ways to meet the spend, drive around town buying gift cards, go shopping, etc.

Then you’d have your 100,000+ Ultimate Rewards points in your account and you could move on with your life.

While it may be cliché, time is indeed money, and if you’re spending a lot of time figuring out how to spend your money, is that not a double whammy?

As noted, you could get careless and overspend in one place and easily drop $100 or more on something you don’t need.

So sometimes it might just make sense to bite the bullet and pay the fee.

Another example is, which allows you to contribute to a 529 account for $5.95 per $500. If you really wanted to beef up your kid’s college account, you’d be looking at $47.60 in fees.

I’m sure you wouldn’t need to do all $4,000 because of regular spending on bills and other stuff, but just to illustrate, that’s less than $50 to hit the bonus.

Again, one stupid move trying to meet the spend could easily cost you more than $50.

My point here is that sometimes it might just make sense to pay the fee and move on with your life…because you’ve got better things to do, and it might just save you some money.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Review: 80k Sign-Up Bonus

News just broke of yet another new credit card from Chase, the “Chase Ink Business Preferred,” which is expected to be released later this year.

It’s a new version of the existing Chase Ink card, so nothing too mind-blowing, just some important differences to take note of.

In what sounds like an ode to the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the business-minded credit cardholder, it will come with solid multiples in a variety of new spending categories and a slightly larger sign-up bonus.

Additionally, the limits to earn points in said bonus categories will be lifted quite a bit to suit the big spenders.

80,000 Ultimate Rewards Bonus with Chase Ink Business Preferred

chase ink business preferred

First and foremost, the new business card is expected to come with 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months of account opening.

This beats the current 70k bonus that you can earn via the limited time in-branch Chase Ink Plus offer, or the 60k public offer available via the Chase website.

So another 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points for the same amount of spending is the first plus to this new credit card.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Offers 3X Points in 4 Categories

Secondly, the yet-to-be-released Chase Ink Business Preferred card will come with four 3X bonus categories geared toward business owners.

They include:

  • Travel
  • Telecommunications (I’m assuming wireless service)
  • Shipping
  • Advertising on social media and search engines

Perhaps more importantly, the cap in these 3X categories will be a combined $150,000 annually. In other words, you can spend $150,000 in these categories before they revert to 1X per dollar spent.

The existing Chase Ink Plus has an annual limit of $50,000 combined in its bonus categories, which for some might seem a bit on the low end.

For the record, the Chase Ink Plus categories earn 5x at office supply stores and on wireless, landline, internet, and cable services. So maxed out you’re looking at 250,000 UR points each year.

With the categories on the new version of Ink maxed out, you’d be looking at 450,000 UR points.

Of course, it would require three times the spending to get there for less than double the amount of points…

The decision of which card to pick will ultimately (no pun intended) be dictated by which spending categories you favor.

I like the travel category because it’s pretty wide open in terms of what qualifies (e.g. Uber, Lyft, plane tickets, hotels, etc.).

And for some business owners that might be huge if they don’t want to spend $450 annually on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, though the net cost is only $150 with the $300 travel credit factored in.

For those who maximize the office supply store category by purchasing gift cards, the original Ink Plus is probably still the best card.

It will also depend on how Chase defines telecommunications…if it’s all the common utilities like wireless and internet it’ll be more lucrative.

The good news is that the same $95 annual fee applies to Chase Ink Business Preferred, and it’s waived the first year.

The only question I have now is if it’ll be plain old plastic or some kind of metal alloy. Based on them running out of materials for the Sapphire card, it’s probably the former.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Highlights

  • 80,000 UR points if you spend $5k in first 3 months
  • $95 annual fee (waived during year one)
  • 3X categories include travel, shipping, advertising, and telecommunications
  • $150,000 annual aggregate limit in bonus categories

An Easy Way to Earn 3,300 Bonus Amex Membership Rewards Points

Are you looking for a quick and easy way to earn a small handful of American Express Membership Rewards points?

Well, look no further. There is a targeted (my guess) Amex Offer that gives you 1,000 MR points every time you spend $100 or more on your cell phone bill between now and January 1st, 2017.

That’s 10X points per dollar spent on your wireless bill. Hard to beat.

In other words, if you make your enrolled Amex card the payment card of choice for your cell phone bill you’ll likely earn at least 3,300 MR points over the next few months.

My assumption is everyone pays $100+ per month for their cell phone bill – for those of you who do not, more power to you.

Anyway, the terms of the deal are as follows:

10x wireless

You earn a 1,000 Membership Rewards® points award each time you use that enrolled card to make a single purchase of $100+ online at participating U.S. cell phone carriers by 1/31/17.

There is a limit of 3,000 additional Membership Rewards points earned via the promotion, which is why I noted that 3,300 points would be the total haul. Perhaps some more points if your actual cell phone bill is over $100.

The major carriers Amex lists are T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T Wireless, US Cellular and Verizon.

For the record, it says you must make cell phone bill payments directly to these accepting major U.S. carriers online or via mobile app. So I don’t know if buying a phone or accessories will work.

Nor do I know if paying your bill at a store will work – I wouldn’t chance it.

However, it does say “other services” that might be bundled with your wireless bill could be eligible. So perhaps someone with DirecTV that has an AT&T wireless account.

How to Maximize the Deal

In any case, it shouldn’t be hard to spend $100 three times between now and mid-January on your wireless bill.

If you want to maximize the deal, look for other Amex cards in the family (or household) that also earn the promotion. Check each account online to see if the offer is listed. Do so in separate browsers at the same time to avoid it disappearing from the other accounts.

If you’re lucky, you might be able to eke out 10,000 bonus points if it’s on three of your Amex cards and you’ve got three cell phone bills to pay.

Or if the bill is an all-in-one deal, you might be able to make split payments of $100 each as many times are you’re eligible to get the 1,000 bonus points each time.

And who knows, it might be just enough points to get you on that trip you’re looking for if you happen to be short a few thousand miles.