17 for ’17 — part 1: Chase Ultimate Rewards & Starwood Preferred Guest

2016 was a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it was the year I lost my mind and acquired 17 new credit cards, all bright and shiny for the new year. Yeah. 17. I applied and was approved for the final one today. It wasn’t a goal. it just happened that way. I swear.

I don’t recommend any normal person do this. A normal person should just choose the one or two cards that they are going to use (protip: Chase Sapphire Reserve + Chase Freedom Unlimited) that can get them beaucoup travel or cash back.

Here’s what I can tell you, though, about this insane adventure:  Continue reading

Amex sucks less now

Ivan X   December 28, 2016   No Comments on Amex sucks less now

As you may or may not know, I have historically thought that Amex Membership Rewards are suckier than Chase Ultimate Rewards. I still mostly think that, and the main reason I think that is because the major domestic partner you can transfer Amex points to is Delta, and Delta has shit-tastic award tickets (unless you fly internationally on a partner airline). They cost a ton of points, unless the cash price is super cheap anyway, in which case you might as well just use cash. Whereas Chase points transfer to United, who have pretty good award tickets.

But Amex has upped their game in a meaningful way. They’ve added features to both their personal and business Platinum cards. Continue reading

A different kind of redemption

David Henry, business reporter for Reuters, quoted me in an article about credit card reward competition:

The intense competition over card rewards has its roots in the financial crisis of 2008. Post-crisis reforms reduced the profitability of other businesses such as mortgages and capital markets trading, encouraging banks to turn to cards for profits. And, within that business, the reforms pushed banks from people with lower credit ratings toward creditworthy customers who respond to incentives.

And lately, the banks have had the means to bid more for customers because loan losses have declined to record lows.

At the same time, cardholders have become more savvy about working the incentives.

Ivan Drucker, a New York City-based consultant to Apple computer users, recently used awards from a strategically managed mix of credit cards to travel in luxury to Finland.

Drucker, 46, said he borrowed on cards at high rates in years past, but he’s determined not to do it again.

“For me, there’s personal redemption in this,” Drucker said. “They got the better of me. Now I hope to turn those tables.”

Click here or here to read the whole thing.