Rumor: Starwood American Express Card Signup Bonus Possibly Increasing in Two Weeks

Update (9/22): So my source was kind of right as the offer did change today but I’m not sure it is a better offer. Here is my analysis of the new offer of two free nights at category 1-5 hotels. 

I want to stress the following information is simply a rumor but I believe the signup on the American Express Starwood personal and business cards will increase to either 30k or 35k Starpoints in the next two weeks. I have a friend of a friend who is “connected” at American Express and he claims that the go live date for this offer is the week of September 19th. He didn’t know whether the offer would be for 30k or 35k like it was in March.

The offer from March 2016

The offer from March 2016

Could this information be accurate? Well in years past usually around summertime, though there was a curveball with the 35k offer in March this year, American Express has typically increased the signup bonus on the SPG cards. I went back and put a list together of when over the past few years the publicly available bonus has increased to 30k or 35k Starpoints. Anyone spot a trend?

  • March 2016
  • August 2015
  • June 2014
  • August 2013
  • August 2012
  • August 2011
  • July 2010

That is some serious consistency and only further makes me believe the information I received could very well be accurate. The current signup bonus is 25k for both the personal and business cards so I’m sure some of you might be questioning why I’m recommending you should wait a few weeks for an offer that is only 5k-10k points higher. Here are some of my 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 their cards. 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 an 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. You can redeem points for weekend nights at lower tier SPG hotels for 2k or 3k points a night.

My advice is to resist the temptation to signup for the next two weeks just in case the offer is increased unless you have an absolute urgent need for this card. While American Express might very well match you to the new bonus anyway, remember that American Express limits you to one bonus a lifetime, so you always want to get each Amex card at its peak signup bonus offer. Again I do want to stress this is only a rumor (some will argue I shouldn’t even post unconfirmed information like this) but based on past history, there could be some merit to this information.

I’ll be sure to post an update in two weeks if/when the offer is increased. If my information is correct & you plan to apply for this card at that time, I hope you will consider using my referral links for either the personal or business card (for being a current cardmember, not an affiliate link) for possibly earning you an extra 5k to 10k Starpoints by advising you to wait.

Advertisements

Ranking the New, Increased Signup Bonuses on Various Credit Cards This Week

If you read any major blog over the past week or so, you undoubtedly know that several credit cards have new, increased signup offers. Instead of rehashing them individually in separate posts, I am going to rank them all in a single post and give my quick thoughts on each one. And since I don’t have affiliate links or have to worry about selling these cards to you, I can give you my honest opinion about each offer.

1. United Explorer MileagePlus – 75,000 United Miles + $50 Statement Credit (Targeted Offer), 75,000 United Miles (Targeted Offer) or 55,000 United Miles (Public Offer) 

United Offer

Offer Details – You will earn 70,000 United miles if you are targeted (try this link with the $50 statement credit and this link without the $50 statement credit) or 50,000 miles (that link is a publicly available offer) for spending $3,000 in 3 months. You will also earn 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user in all cases. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year on the targeted offer with the $50 statement credit but not waived on the other targeted offer or the public offer.

Verdict There are 3 separate offers now on this card and while it is targeted, the 75k offer + $50 statement credit with no first year annual fee is by far the best offer on this card and in my opinion of the best current signup bonuses on any card on the market right now. The 75k offer without the statement credit & the public 55k offer are still upgraded offers over the old public signup bonus of 35k and worth applying for in my opinion. United miles are among my favorite miles for travel to Europe and Asia due to the wide array of partners in Star Alliance and you can easily supplement United miles with Chase UR points. The only big downside with these offers is that the public offer is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rules while it is unclear if the targeted offers are (there are mixed reports that if you are targeted for an offer you might get around Chase’s 5/24 rule). If you violate the 5/24 rule for the public offer, than unfortunately you must pass on this card. If you are targeted for one of those offers, be prepared for the possibility of a denial thought it is not guaranteed.

2. Alaska Airlines Visa – 30,000 Alaska Miles + $100 Statement Credit 

Alaska Offer

Offer Details – You will earn 30,000 Alaska MileagePlan miles + a $100 Statement credit for spending $1,000 in 3 months. The annual fee of $75 is NOT waived for the first year. Direct link to offer.

Verdict – Previously the best publicly available offer was 25,000 miles + a $100 statement so it’s nice to see the offer increase by 5,000 miles. The annual fee is covered with the statement credit so BofA is paying you $25 for every 30,000 Alaska miles you earn. Notice how I said every 30,000 Alaska miles you can earn – this card is churnable and while I won’t go into specific in this post, it’s fairly easy to signup for 3+ of these cards every year. More if you include the business credit card version (though that card is still at just a 25,000 mile signup bonus). Even with the recent devaluation of Emirates awards using Alaska miles, there is still good value in this program. You can book AA and Delta awards in addition to other high value awards such as Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways and Hainan.

3. American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Card – 50,000 Delta SkyMiles + $50 Statement Credit

Snapshot includes picture of offer #4 below

Snapshot includes picture of offer below

Updated (6/5): There is a better offer of 50,000 SkyMiles + $100 statement credit if you go to Delta.com and shop for a flight. Before you reach the final payment page, you should see an ad on the page for this offer. As such, there is no direct link to this offer.

Offer Details – You will earn 50,000 Delta SkyMiles for spending $2,000 in 3 months + a $50 statement credit for your first Delta purchase. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year. Direct link to offer.

Verdict – This is a fairly common offer from Amex on this card and it’s not a bad one if you want to increase your Delta SkyMiles balance. There is no fee for the first year and it’s always good to have another Amex card for Amex Offers. But on the other hand, Delta SkyMiles are easily the worst miles out of the 3 big legacy US airlines and there is a reason some people called them SkyPesos. There is value here but have a plan as to why you want to increase your Delta SkyMiles balance.

4. American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card – 60,000 SkyMiles + $100 Statement Credit

Offer Details – You will earn 60,000 Delta SkyMiles & 10,000 Mediallion Qualifying Miles for spending $2,000 in 3 months + a $100 statement credit for your first Delta purchase. The annual fee of $195 is NOT waived for the first year. Direct link to offer. This offer is also available on the business version of this card as well.

Verdict Unless you chase status with Delta (you can earn an additional 10k MQMs for spending $25k on this card) I can’t see why you would choose the Platinum Delta card over the Gold Delta card. You are paying $195 in annual fees for an extra 10,000 miles. If you’ve had almost every other Amex card, then I’d guess I’d consider paying $195 for 60,000 miles as the miles are worth ~$600 to me but still not an amazing offer unless you care about Delta status. My thoughts about SkyMiles in the above offer obviously hold true here as well.

5. Citi AA Executive World Elite MasterCard – 60,000 American Airlines Miles

Citi AA Offer

Offer Details – You will earn 60,000 American Airlines Miles for spending $5,000 in 3 months. The annual fee of $450 is NOT waived for the first year. This card also comes with AA Admirals Club membership. Direct link to offer.

Verdict I don’t get the hoopla with this increased offer. The normal signup bonus is 50,000 miles so it is only a 10,000 mile increase and in the past we have seen both a 100,000 mile and 75,000 mile offer. Why settle for just 60,000 miles? Unless you really plan to use the AA Admirals Club membership for lounge access (and there is a better Citi card to get if you want AA lounge access), you are still out of pocket $450 for 60,000 miles. This offer is a major pass for me.

While I believe my above thoughts hold true for most people, I do offer a consulting service where you work one on one with me to get customized opinions and unbiased advice. Remember when other bloggers send out alerts for some offers on this list (you all know who I am talking about) but fail to mention some of the other increased offers on this list, its because they are focusing on their bottom line with affiliate links and not caring about your bottom line.

My Mini January App-O-Rama – 80,000 Points/Miles + $200 Cash Back

I just completed a mini app-o-rama and I wanted to share the final results as I was not approved automatically for any of these 3 cards but #spoileralert, I ended up getting all 3 cards in the end. I post about my credit card dealings as these posts are always popular with readers but please remember just because I apply for a card (or 3) doesn’t mean you should. In fact, you probably shouldn’t as I know what I am doing and the risks associated with it. We are at different places in the miles/points games and probably have different travel goals/needs. With that disclaimer out of the way, here is what I applied for and why.

1) Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card – 55,000 miles total

Don't settle for the 30k offer!

Don’t settle for the standard 30k offer!

The offer/benefits:

  • 50,000 miles for spending for $2,000 in 3 months (check this post how to get this offer)
  • 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user
  • Additional award availability for United flights (unpublished benefit)
  • Free checked baggage & priority boarding
  • 2 United Club passes annually

This was the first card I applied for in this series of applications since I’ve been able to generate a 50k offer repeatedly but unsurprisingly I was not approved instantly (I never am with Chase anymore). I am running low on United miles and with it being 2+ years since I last got the signup bonus on this card, I wanted to see if Chase would give me my second United Explorer card without an issue. Nowadays I’ve been advising against calling Chase for reconsideration but I wanted to get this card sooner rather than later as I need to book a United award and would most likely need the extra award availability benefit to find the award space I was looking for.

I got grilled during my approximately 15 minute reconsideration call but the agent at the end offered to take a 10k credit line from my IHG card and move it my United card. This effectively forced me to close my IHG card which was fine with me. With the annual fee waived for the first year, this was a great offer for me and fit my upcoming travel plans perfectly (I even have a use for the United club passes I get with the card).

2) American Express Everyday – 25,000 points

The offer/benefits:

  • 25,000 points for spending $2,000 in 3 months
  • No annual fee American Express that keeps Membership Rewards points transferable
  • 2x Points on Supermarket Purchases
  • 1x Point on Other Purchases
Don't settle for the standard 10k offer!

Don’t settle for the standard 10k offer!

I’ve actually had my eye on this card for a while now for two main reasons. The biggest reason is I need a card to keep my Membership Rewards points active and still transferable to airlines/hotels as I plan on closing my Business Gold card when the annual fee is due in March. The other reason I wanted this card is for Amex Offers – as this is a no annual fee card, I know year in and year out I will make money off this card with Amex Offers. I will add a few authorized users to take even more advantage of the Amex Offers. I was not approved instantly but I received an email a few days later congratulating me on my new card without having to call reconsideration.

The normal public offer is only 10,000 points but I was able to generate this better offer of 25,000 points by using the infamous incognito method on this link here. It took several times across several browsers to get this offer to show but finally I tried this link in private mode on Internet Explorer and got the 25k offer. I plan on posting more about this separately but basically you should try opening a link for an Amex card in a private browser and/or mobile device as American Express is unlikely to recognize you as a current customer and thus will occasionally present a better offer. This method is reportedly working to generate a 75k offer on the Business Gold and Business Platinum cards.

3) BBVA Compass NBA Amex – $200 cash back (technically 20,000 points)

The offer/benefits:

  • $200 (technically 20,000 points) for spending $1,000 in 90 days
  • 5x points on ALL purchases during NBA All Star Weekend and the NBA Finals
  • 3x points for purchases for NBA games or purchases at NBA arenas/NBAStore.com
  • 2x points for purchases at Supermarkets and Gas Stations
  • 1x points on everything else
Sadly, I am a Knicks fan

Sadly, I am a Knicks fan

This card is a bit of an outlier for me (and from a bank I never heard of until recently) as I normally don’t focus on cashback cards but I have three very specific reasons for getting this card. The first reason is for the 5x earning ability on all purchases during NBA All Star weekend and the two weeks of the NBA finals – this will help greatly with my increased on manufactured spending/reselling margins during that time period.

Another reason I wanted this card is that this is one of the few cards you can load to Serve online and earn points for it. However, from the time I applied to the time I actually got the card, Amex cancelled thousands of Serve accounts though not mine (for now). I plan to load it monthly to earn 1,000 points (more during the 5x periods above) for $10 until I’m shut down. Lastly, I wanted this card as this is yet another no annual fee American Express like the Everyday card above and thus eligible for Amex Offers, even though it is issued by BBVA Compass. I was not approved instantly for this card but I later received an email about a week later congratulating me on my new card without having to call reconsideration (that is if BBVA has reconsideration?).

This seems like a misfit of cards but I’m actually quite happy with this round of applications. If you noticed, I only applied for cards that had higher than normal signups as I always want to maximize my points/miles – if you are going to get hit with a credit inquiry, might as well make it worthwhile.

In summary, I acquired two no-annual fee cards that I plan on keeping so this will help with the average of my accounts. They are both eligible for Amex Offers so I will continue to make money off them as I’ve racked up hundreds of dollars of savings on my other Amex cards with Amex offers. The United card is good for a quick infusion of 50k miles and I can see myself taking advantage of the extra award availability for United credit card holders.

Lastly, in case you’re wondering these 3 credit cards were my 41st, 42nd and 43rd credit card I’ve had in my own name. And my actual FICO credit score right before I did this series of applications? An outstanding 805 which goes to show if you are know what you are doing, this hobby won’t just fund your travels – it can give you a near perfect credit score.

Actual FICO Score on 12/18/15

Actual FICO Score on 12/18/15

*As always, no affiliate links were used in this post*

So I Guess It Is Finally Time to Get the Chase Fairmont Visa Credit Card

I’m sure many of you saw this make the rounds yesterday in the blogosphere but Accor Hotels will be acquiring Fairmont Hotels (along with Raffles & Swissôtel hotels) and the deal is expected to close sometime in 2016. I was personally was shocked to see this announcement as it came out of left field from a chain, Accor, that many of us know nothing about except that they hand out their worthless top tier stauts like candy. After the annoucement of Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood, it’s safe to say the hotel landscape has got markedly worse for us in the points & miles game.

This leads me to a point that I don’t think is being mentioned enough in light of this news and that is the last opportunity to apply for the Chase Fairmont Visa credit card. Historically, this card hasn’t got much play on the blogs due to it not being a great card to put any spend on, Fairmont’s crappy loyalty program (no other way to earn or transfer points in, a confusing reward program), and was probably also ignored due to the fact it didn’t pay bloggers any commission (just being honest here). Either way, the initial signup bonus of 2 free nights is comparable to the Chase Hyatt Visa or Citi Hilton Reserve credit cards and is a card I am now considering adding to my next round of credit card applications.

Fairmont

Key Details of the Offer:

  • Two Free Nights at Any Fairmont Hotel after spending $3,000 in 3 months
  • Complimentary Fairmont Premier status – Bascially you get 2x $25 food certificates, 1 room upgrade certificate, 1 suite upgrade certificate and some other smaller perks
  • $95 Annual Fee is Waived for the 1st Year
  • 5 Fairmont Reward Points for every $1 spent on Fairmont stays, 2 for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with airlines, at car rental agencies, and on transit and commuting, and 1 for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Free Night after Spending $12,000 or more in a year

Basically if you want to take advantage of two free nights at any Fairmont this card should now be on your radar before Chase is forced to stop accepting applicants for this card. I am recommending this card only for the signup bonus of two free nights and I would not put a dime of spend over $3,000 on it as the rewards program is pretty awful. You earn Fairmont Rewards points but you can’t redeem them for free nights at Fairmont hotels as there is no award chart like most other hotel chains. Instead, you can basically redeem the points for a penny each for gift cards or apply them to the cost of a hotel or airline ticket at the same penny per point value. So that $3,000 of spending, assuming no bonus categories, gets you a $30 gift card somewhere – not enticing and you can do much better with other cards.

Unlike with other hotels mergers (and even airline consolidations) there is no guarantee you will be able to obtain a credit card that will enable you to earn points or free nights for these current Fairmont properites like the Chase Fairmont does now. In fact, Accor doesn’t even have an affiliated credit card that I am aware of and I highly doubt one will ever be made available to the US market. So essentially this is your last chance to get two free nights at any current Fairmont properties. With many Fairmonts being quite expensive and considered high end properties, this could be an easy way to enjoy a luxurious weekend at some premier properties. If both you and your significant other get this card, that’s 4 free nights- definitely enough for a long weekend. 

There are some fantastic Fairmonts around the globe that I would love to enjoy two free nights at. I’ve personally visited the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui which gets great reviews, a friend enjoyed his stayed at the Fairmont Mayakoba, and the ones in Bermuda look inviting for a long weekend (in fact from the East Coast this card plus some Avios makes for an easy & free long weekend).

Fairmont Mayakoba

Fairmont Mayakoba

Fairmont Southampton

Fairmont Southampton

Fairmont Kea Lani

Fairmont Kea Lani

Is anyone applying for this card before the Fairmont brand goes away for good?

What to Consider Before Applying for the British Airways 100k Avios Credit Card Offer

(This post does not contain any affiliate links)

I know you’ve most likely heard about the new 100,000 Avios offer on the Chase British Airways Visa credit card already but I wanted to share a few thoughts on it, specifically on a few different items to evaluate before applying. A lot of digital ink has been spilled expressing how amazing this offer is and while I agree it is a good offer, I’d like to express some words of caution because this offer is NOT for everyone.

BAoffer

Here are the key details of the offer:

  • 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000 in 3 months
  • 25,000 additional Avios for spending $10,000 total in the first year
  • 25,000 additional Avios for spending $20,000 total in the first year (so 100,000 total Avios if you spend $20k or more in a year)
  • $95 annual fee NOT waived

As you can tell that is a LOT of spending to take full advantage of this offer and unlike the normal offer on this card (which is 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000 in 3 months with the annual fee WAIVED) this offer does NOT waive the annual fee. While a 100k offer is normally great, here is a list of items to consider before applying for this card.

  1. If You Are Unsure if You Can Spend $20,000 in a Year on This Card

This is probably the most important point to make. As I mentioned above, the normal offer on this card has the annual fee of $95 waived and you can earn the same 50,000 Avios from this offer (this offer is still available here). If you gamble and think you can spend this much but fail, you would have paid a $95 annual fee on this offer for no reason. Please make sure you have a plan to meet this large minimum spend.

  1. Do You Fly American Airlines or Alaska Air?

It might sound funny to those who aren’t already aware but you don’t actually want to use these points to fly British Airways. That’s because British Airways will tack on hundreds or thousands of dollars of fuel surcharges on award flights on their metal (and most of their partners with some exceptions). Instead you should plan on using these points on American Airlines/Alaska Air domestically or to the Caribbean/Mexico. Since British Airways’ award chart is based on the distance of the flight, a 100,000 Avios can go a long way. See the chart below for flight costs. Basically, if you don’t plan on using a good portion of these points for American or Alaskan flights, I’d rethink if this is the right offer for you.

New British Airways Award Chart P.S. Yes, I am aware of other good uses of Avios (US to South America, Australian domestic flights etc.) but practically speaking the majority of my readers would be using these points for AA or Alaska Air flights.

  1. You Had This Card & Received a Signup Bonus within the Past 24 Months

This is actually a quite simple rule to follow. Chase will not award you the bonus points on this offer if you received the signup bonus within the past 24 months. (Thanks to Justin for catching this!)

  1. Losing the Opportunity to Put Spend on More Rewarding Cards

Assuming you are not into manufactured spending, most people would need to use this card full time for a while to meet the minimum spend requirement. Since this card only earns 1 Avios per dollar spent with no bonus category (except for 3 points per dollar spent on British Airways), you are giving up 2x, 3x or even 5x points earned in certain categories. Without knowing your personal situation and spending habits, does it really make sense to put all your spending on a 1x card whose points have limited usefulness (as described above)? Of course only you can answer that question.

Conclusion:

I don’t mean to sound so negative about this offer as I think this offer works for the right individuals – in fact, I plan to apply for this card myself. I posted this because I know a lot of people are going to see “100k offer” and think it is amazing (and a lot of blogs have written as such). My advice is to analyze your personal situation and ask yourself if it really makes sense for you. I think the four points I presented above are a good starting point for this discussion and if you find yourself wavering on a few, rethink whether this offer is good for you. The old offer of 50,000 Avios with no annual fee for the first year is still available as well.