This past week there was a blitzkrieg of posts from every other points blogger under the sun about the lower spending requirements on the Starwood American Express credit card. Of course most bloggers that I follow (with the exception of Miles to Memories) highly recommended applying for the card now while the spending requirement was only $3,000 in 3 months vs. the standard requirement of $5,000 in 6 months. I can’t argue that compared to the regular offer, this new offer is no doubt an improvement but it is nothing that makes me jumps to apply for the card. Today’s advice is real simple – I think you can wait to apply for this card & you will most likely be able to score an offer that is 20% better.
What I am talking about? I am talking about how once a year (usually around summertime), for the past several years, American Express has annually raised the signup bonus on the Starwood American Express card to 30,000 Starpoints. Here is a list of when over the past few years the publicly available bonus has increased to 30,000 Starpoints. Anyone spot a trend?
- June 2014
- August 2013
- August 2012
- August 2011
- July 2010
That’s a pretty serious pattern and while I have no inside knowledge to it, I would wager it happens again in the next few months (or sooner). I’m sure some of you might be questioning why I’m recommending you should wait a few months for an offer that is only 5k points higher and will most likely revert back to the $5k spending requirement. I do have a few reasons:
- Starpoints are incredibly difficult to earn – the only feasible way to earn them is via the Starwood credit card and staying at SPG hotels. Since it is difficult to earn these points in bulk, an extra 5k Starpoints is a big difference to me. And to the average person who doesn’t manufacture spend that equates to spending an extra $5,000 on your SPG Amex to make up that extra 5k points.
- American Express limits you to one bonus per lifetime on the personal card. Basically you only get one shot to signup for this card to earn a bonus so you better make it count. I won’t signup for a personal American Express card unless I know at that point in time, that is the highest ever known offer on a card.
- Starpoints are one of the most valuable, if not most valuable, points out there. Great flexibility with dozens of airline transfer partners, a transfer bonus of 5k when transferring in 20k increments and some great hotel redemptions in the Starwood chain. Weekend nights for 2k or 3k points a night? Yes please.
Look, I know it sounds like I’m selling the card above but I’m not (not a single link in this post from this no affiliate links blogger) – I’m simply trying to point out the virtues of waiting. American Express reduced the spending requirement to entice some new members to signup but since American Express limits you to one bonus a lifetime, you need to get each Amex card at its peak signup bonus offer. That’s why my PSA is to resist the temptation to signup today and hold out for the better offer which will most likely be coming in weeks or months. I can’t guarantee it but as a man with an undiagnosed gambling problem, I’d bet on it.
I have some good news to share in regards to the 30,000 American Airlines miles promotion that Citibank offered earlier this year for opening a Citigold account. As I’ve mentioned previously, my plan was to wait until the 30,000 AA miles posted and then immediately downgrade my account to a Basic checking account to avoid any fees. In order to waive the $30 monthly fee for a Citigold account, you need to hold $50,000 in the account and that wasn’t an option for me.
The first bit of good news is my 30,000 miles have finally posted to my AA account on 5/14 (though they were backdated to 5/11 as I have been checking daily). I funded the account on 2/11 so it took a little over 3 months for the miles to post.
Since my goal was to get the miles as quickly as possible (again to avoid any fees), I completed the requirements which were $750 in debit card purchases and two months of bill pay pretty quickly. To do this, I loaded $750 to my RedBird card at Target (you can still do this with RedBird) and paid my wife’s car loan for two months. Below is my whole account activity for the 3 months the account has been open. As you can see, I did the bare minimum to meet the requirement for the bonus and I never was charged a monthly service fee. Citibank does automatically waive the fee for the first two months but I have no idea why I wasn’t charged for April.
The other good bit of news I have to share is that I was able to easily downgrade my account to a Basic checking account just days after my miles posted. In fact, I was able to do it in 7 minutes over secure chat with Citibank! I’ve copied my whole conservation (except for the 3 long statements the rep sent me) to show you just how easy it was.
My account is now a Basic account and as long as I keep $1,500 in the account, I will not be charged any monthly fees. Interestingly when I called in with a question on my Prestige card, I was still recognized as a Citigold account holder (which is expected for now per the rep’s comments). From what others have said, reps still see the account as a Citigold account even after this transition period lapses and I hope this remains the case. I’m curious to see what will happen next year when my Prestige is due for renewal as I would love the $100 discount on the annual fee again for being a Citigold account holder.
I’m very happy I took advantage of this deal as for just the tiniest bit of work I was able to score 30,000 AA miles plus another 2,000 Barclay Arrival points for funding this account with a credit card when I opened it. All of this came without any out of pocket costs so these were truly free miles. I plan on taking advantage of the 30k AA offer for my wife when she gets her next AA card (per Doctor of Credit both the 30k AA and 40k TYP offers are currently available so I could go for the 40k TYP now but I’d rather have the AA miles) and I will be much more aggressive in funding the account with a credit card (i.e more than just $1,000).
Have others seen their miles post and downgrade their account successfully?
Programming Note: These PSA posts will become a weekly post effective immediately as I have lots of little tidbits that I think are worth reminding others about so they don’t do something dumb. My past PSA posts have been pretty popular so I’ll see how the response is to a weekly post.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – it really annoys me when big, prominent bloggers push inferior offers to their readers and do not share the best offer on a particular product because it doesn’t offer them a commission. The latest and greatest example of this is The Points Guy posting (after discussing with others I took away my link to his post but I’m sure you can find it) about earning a $250 bonus for opening a Chase checking ($150) and savings account ($100). I’m sure at face to the uneducated reader that seems like a great offer but you can do much better – in fact I can show you how to get a bonus of $300 on just the checking account alone.
So what’s the trick to getting these better offers?
1. Know the landscape of all current offers – Similar to credit cards, you want to get an idea of if a particular bonus is high or low relative to the historical bonus offered on that product. I think the best resource to follow bank bonuses is Doctor of Credit who covers bank bonuses pretty in-depth including both nationwide banks and smaller state specific banks. In this case, I see a wide range of offers topping out at $600! for both a checking and savings account at Chase. Yes, the deposit requirements might be different but its worth checking them all until you find one that works for you.
2. eBay is your friend – I’m surprised more people don’t know about this but on eBay you can buy Chase checking and savings account coupons. A quick eBay search shows several coupons available for $2-$15 dollars for offers up to $500 from Chase. Some of the most prevalent ones:
- Chase Checking ($300) and Chase Savings ($200) – This requires direct deposit (checking account) and deposit of $15,000 (savings account). The checking account bonus alone is higher than The Points Guy offer even if you choose not to do the savings account offer!
- Chase Checking ($200) and Chase Savings ($100) – This requires direct deposit (checking) and deposit of $10,000 (savings). Same as requirements as The Points Guy offer but $50 better to you!
- Chase Checking ($200) and Chase Savings ($50) – This requires direct deposit (checking) and deposit of $5,000 (savings). Same bonus from The Points Guy offer but deposit requirement are not as high.
3. Google can also be your friend – A quick Google search for “Chase checking account bonuses” returned many hits (obviously) but one of the top ones was a link to Hustler Money Blog who is giving away $300 checking account bonus & a $200 savings account bonus to all his readers with no cost involved. There were also other sites either giving them away or giving readers instructions on how to get a higher bonus. I think the 5 minutes of Googling to pocket a possible extra $50-$350 dollars is worth it.
4. If all else fails, wait – Let’s say you checked all the resources above and either didn’t find an offer you were comfortable with or didn’t want to pay a trivial amount of money for a code off eBay. That’s fine so I would recommend to sit back and wait for a targeted offer (if you have a Chase credit card you will eventually get an offer at some point) or for the public offer to increase. Again, this is just like credit cards. If the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred was cut to 20,000 points tomorrow, you would wait to apply until the bonus was 40,000 points again right? Take the same approach here with bank accounts.
The Points Guy is obviously too busy playing with his Apple Watch (seriously how many posts has he had on it?!?) as this is yet another example of his inability to post about the best offers on a particular product. Would you want to do business with a financial advisor who pushes substandard investments because it paid him a fancy commission? Of course not. But that’s why I have these PSA posts to help others avoid this mistake. Sure, my readership is about 1/10000 of The Points Guy but if I helped one person get a few hundred more dollars in their pocket, then this PSA post has done its job.
This deal has been around in mostly underground channels for a while now but now that it has been publicly outed on mainstream forums and blogs, I wanted to share it in case my readers could benefit. Additionally, the offer expires tomorrow so I don’t believe there is much harm in sharing this offer on my small blog at this point.
The signup bonus is for 150,000 points on the American Express Business Platinum if you spend $20,000 in 3 months. The annual fee of $450 is not waived and this offer expires tomorrow (5/15/15).This is by far the largest signup bonus ever on this card.
There is no online application for this offer – you must call American Express at 877-628-6737 and provide the offer code of L081-994-816-5743.
The obvious drawback is the $20k spend requirement in 3 months – this will deter most people. I fully expect the majority of my readers will not be able to benefit from this offer. However if you have legitimate business spending in that ballpark or can manufacture spend near this amount, I would jump on this offer right away. I picked up this card when you could call in for a 100k offer so I am not eligibile to get this card (otherwise I would). If this spend requirement is too high, the 100k offer I received I believe is still available with a $10k spend requirement. Read my post (linked above) for more details.
A real quick post but I broke the news Sunday that it was once again possible to get a $100 statement credit when applying for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit card. In order to get the offer with the $100 credit attached, you had to pretend to book a flight and click a link to the offer on the final payments page as I couldn’t find a working link to the offer. However, I’m happy to say Maximizing Money did me one better and has found a direct working link to the offer!
Click here for the link to apply.
My advice from my previous post on this offer remains the same – you can (or rather should) pick up multiple Alaska cards in one day and it will result in just one pull. Don’t be discouraged by the small signup bonus of 25,000 miles – Alaska miles are valuable as they can be used on Delta or American but more interestingly can be used to fly Emirates and other premium carriers like Cathay Pacific. In fact, if you acquired four of these bad boys Bank of America would be paying you $100 to fly to the Middle East/Maldives/India/Asia in first class with an onboard shower on some routes. That my friends is a pretty good deal and why you should care about this card.