United Explorer Business Card Review – 75,000 Bonus Miles Limited-Time Offer

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The United Explorer Business Card is a co-branded business credit card between Chase and United Airlines. This card offers unique perks for regular United customers including free checked bags and expanded award seat availability for redeeming miles. Right now through 3/18/19, there is also a limited-time offer bump, which matches the highest bonus amount I’ve seen. Here are the highlights:

  • Limited-time offer: 75,000 bonus United miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket.
  • Two one-time United Club passes each year ($100+ value)
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights.
  • 2X miles at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores.
  • 2X miles on United purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Your miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Keep in mind the following terms and conditions:

This product is available to you if you do not have this Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus for this Card in the past 24 months.

However, you CAN get this card if you had the consumer version of the United Explorer in the past 24 months (or have one now).

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that they can apply for business credit cards, even if they are not a corporation or LLC. The business type is called a sole proprietorship, and these days many people are full-time or part-time consultants, freelancers, eBay/Amazon/Etsy sellers, Uber/Lyft drivers, or other one-person business owners. This is the simplest business entity, but it is fully legit and recognized by the IRS. On a business credit card application, you should use your own legal name as the business name, and your Social Security Number as the Tax ID.

Note that Chase has an unofficial rule that they will most likely deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years (aka the 5/24 rule). This rule is designed to discourage folks that apply for high numbers of sign-up bonuses. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so in our household one applies to Chase while the other applies at other card issuers.

The good news is that small business cards from Chase hardly ever show up on personal credit reports, so getting this card in itself won’t affect your future 5/24 eligibility. This it makes a “free” application if you are already eligible.

This card is very focused on rewarding you for being a United customer. Before you board, you might use one of your free United Club lounge passes. You have the first checked bag for free on United flights, both for your and a companion traveling on the same reservation. The fee is usually $30 per person, each way, so that this how they get the value of $120 each roundtrip. You also get Priority Boarding, which helps you find space for your carry-on.

Expanded award availability. You earn United miles for all your purchases (double miles on restaurants and hotel stays), but then they also make it easier for you to redeem those miles on Saver level tickets with no blackout dates. Expanded award seat availability is another of the top perks from this card, and it is actually a significant difference. Saver Award ticket redemptions start at 12,500 miles one-way within the continental U.S. and Canada.

Another unique feature of this card is that it offers primary coverage on the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. On many other cards, this coverage is offered as secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your personal auto insurance has been exhausted.

Bottom line. The United Explorer Business card offers valuable perks for folks that fly United even just once or twice a year. The card provides lounge passes, a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts. There are bonus categories to earn more miles, and special expanded award seat inventory for credit card holders to make it easier to actually redeem those miles for flights.

I have added this card to the Top 10 Best Small Business Card Bonus Offers.

Fidelity Rewards Visa Review: 2% Flat Cash Back + $100 Sign-up Bonus

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Updated. Fidelity has condensed their rewards credit card line-up to a single card, the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card issued by Elan Financial Services (subsidiary of US Bank). It earns a flat 2% cash back when directed to an eligible Fidelity Investments account. Right now, there is also a $100 bonus link to get a $100 bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. (Based on the online reviews, they won’t give you the bonus unless you apply specifically through the right link. Be sure to follow-up.) Here are the highlights:

  • Unlimited 2% cash back, when redeemed into an eligible Fidelity account.
  • No annual fee.
  • Visa Signature benefits, like Concierge service.
  • Chip-enabled and works with Apple, Android, and Samsung Pay.

Note that this card charges a 1% foreign transaction fee, leaving you with a 1% cash back card on foreign purchases.

Eligible Fidelity accounts. The 2% rewards value applies only to points redeemed for a deposit into the following active Fidelity accounts:

  • Fidelity Cash Management Account
  • Fidelity Brokerage account
  • Fidelity-managed 529 account
  • Fidelity Retirement account (IRA, Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, Rollover IRA)
  • Fidelity Go account (robo-advisor)
  • Fidelity Charitable Giving Account (donor-advised fund)
  • Fidelity HSA

Points redemption details. You can either choose automatic or manual redemption. With automatic redemption, once you reach $50 of rewards (5,000 points from net spending of $2,500), your balance will be automatically swept into your designated Fidelity account (or split between up to 5 different Fidelity accounts if you wish). You can also redeem your points “on demand” either by calling in or online after you reach the same 5,000 point minimum balance.

Note that the rewards value will be less than 2% cash back if you choose to redeem your points for other rewards such as travel options, merchandise, gift cards, and/or a statement credit.

Previous FIA Cardservices customers. You should have received your new Elan-issued cards by now. If you are not getting 2% cash back, be sure to them as ask. You may need to re-enroll your card.

Bottom line. I think everyone who can handle a cash back credit card (i.e. you carry no high interest credit debt) should have a 2% flat cash back card that applies to all purchases. The Fidelity Rewards Visa can make sense for Fidelity customers because you can set aside your rewards automatically and save money towards a 529 college savings or retirement account. I would try to apply when there is a sign-up bonus. Here are some similar competitor cards:

Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2019

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Updated January 2019. That space in your wallet or purse is more valuable than you think. Credit card companies are fighting it out, offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to encourage you to apply and try it out. These are the top 10 credit card offers that I would apply for right now, if I didn’t already most of them. Recent changes:

  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards – new Companion Pass offer.
  • Chase United Explorer – limited-offer expired.
  • Chase World of Hyatt – limited-offer expired.
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus – new 70,000 mile limited-time offer.

If you pay off your balances every month, then you can join me and many others in funding a huge chunk of your annual travel budget with cash credits, points, and miles. You don’t need to be a “I only fly business class” world traveler. I mostly use my rewards points on domestic economy flights, mid-class hotels, and cheap car rentals. If you have credit card debt, you should focus on paying that off first as the interest charges could offset most of the perks.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Business Card Offers. Small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card

  • 70,000 points (worth $700 towards travel) after $5,000 in purchases in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee. See link for details.
  • Unlimited 2X miles on every purchase.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $89.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $625 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2X points on Travel and Dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. More rewards, more perks including lounge access, $450 annual fee, $300 annual travel credit.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

  • Bonus Companion Pass + 30,000 Southwest points. Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19. See link for details.
  • $69 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

American Express Gold Card

  • 40,000 Membership Rewards points (flexible, worth 50,000 miles at various airlines) after $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • $120 in Grubhub and Seamless credit. $10 in statement credits each month when you pay with this card at participating partners – Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations.
  • $100 airline fee credit. Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits towards checked baggage fees and inflight meals.
  • $250 annual fee.

Citi Premier Card

  • 50,000 ThankYou points (worth $625 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points on Travel, including Gas Stations
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card

  • Up to 50,000 American Airlines miles. 40,000 miles after $2,000 in purchases in first 3 months, another 10,000 after making a total of $6,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic flights perk ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

British Airways Visa Signature Card

  • Up to 100,000 Avios points. 50,000 Avios after $3,000 in purchases within first 3 months. Additional 25,000 Avios for $10,000 in purchases within first year. Additional 25,000 Avios for $20,000 in purchases within first year. See link for details and redemption tips.
  • Free Travel Together companion ticket when you spend $30,000 in calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • NOT subject to 5/24 rule.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

  • 125,000 Hilton Honors points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • Free Weekend Night Reward certificate after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Card

  • 50,000 points (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $100 annual Airline Incidental Statement Credit.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $95 annual fee.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card

  • $500 cash bonus after $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Chase World of Hyatt Card

  • Up to 50,000 Hyatt points. 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • $95 annual fee, free night award upon card anniversary.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase United Explorer Card

  • 40,000 United miles. 40,000 bonus United miles after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your United ticket.
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to find that saver award economy ticket.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Southwest Companion Pass via (a Single) Chase Southwest Credit Card Bonus

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New shorter but easier Companion Pass offer with a single card sign-up. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book your own paid OR award flights. The traditional way to earn a Companion Pass is to either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, after which you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year the following full calendar year.

Southwest has new limited-time offer with a “promotional” Companion Pass, which is easier to achieve but only lasts for the remainder of the current year (through the end of December 2019). You get to skip the 110,000 point requirement. Keep in mind that you can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year. Limited-time offer ends February 11, 2019.

Here are the new offer highlights. There are some slight variations between them:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 3,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $69 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 7,500 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $149 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

30,000 Rapid Rewards points redemptions vary in a narrow range, but a reasonable approximation from my experience is $450 in Wanna Get Away airfare (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. This means that Southwest points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on the traditional airlines. Now, if you use the Companion Pass on every trip that you book with points, that doubles the value to $900.

Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person. The fees on the other airlines have crept up to $30 per bag, each-way. That adds up.

Restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months.

Another option to consider is gift card redemptions. You can still redeem 5,000 points for a $50 a Amazon.com or Wal-Mart gift certificate. That makes 50,000 points still worth $500 in Amazon or Walmart gift cards.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. In this case, the Companion Pass might not be worth anything if you travel alone, or it could be worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Remember, the companion pass works on tickets booked with either points OR cash.

In our case, I like that this makes it much easier to earn two concurrent Companion Passes with just two credit card applications – one for me and one for my spouse – which would mean we could take two kids free.

Extending your Companion Pass with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest points on a 1:1 basis. The idea is is to book an award flight with those Southwest points while you have the Companion Pass, thus doubling the value of your Ultimate Rewards points as well.

Bottom line. Right now, Southwest is offering a promotion for Companion Pass good through the end of 2019 if you sign up for an eligible credit card and meet the spending requirements. The Companion Pass lets you pick one person to fly with free whenever you book your own paid or award flights. This can mean big savings. Southwest also still includes two free checked bags per person.

Which one would I pick? Well, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers 3,000 more anniversary points (6k vs 3k) than the Southwest Plus, but also costs $30 more per year ($99 v. $69). If you are basically willing to buy more points at 1 cent each, then you may want the Premier as you it’s not hard to get more than $30 value out of 3,000 points. However, I would personally just pick the simpler and cheaper option and stick with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card.

Best 0% APR Balance Transfer Credit Cards – January 2019 (Up to 15 Months w/ No Balance Transfer Fee)

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

0aprInterest rates are rising, which applies to credit card APRs as well. Why worry about which card earns the most points or airline miles when you are paying a whopping 20%+ interest in your balances?! One powerful strategy to get out of debt is to first transfer your balance to another issuer via a 0% APR balance transfer offer. Below are the best 0% APR balance transfer offers as of January 2019.

You’ll want the best combination of the longest 0% APR period and the lowest balance transfer fees. For example, if you are paying 20% APR, that’s like paying 1.66% on your balance every month. If you would like to spread out your payments, it may be better to pick a longer term with a modest balance transfer fee. Alternatively, if you are sure you can get it all paid off faster, go for a shorter offer with no balance transfer fee.

1) Amex EveryDay Card from American Express0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of opening the account. Plus, earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. No annual fee.

2) BankAmericard Credit Card0% Introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 billing cycles. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10). No penalty rate. No annual fee.

Slate from Chase Card Art 3) Chase Slate Card0% Introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.99% – 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of opening the account. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 5% ($5 min). No annual fee.

4) First Tech Fed Choice Rewards Card – 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for 12 months. Balances must be transferred during the first 90 days after account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 11.99% – 18.00%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee. There is also a sign-up bonus, but note that there is not an intro 0% APR offer on purchases. You must be an First Tech Federal Credit Union member to obtain this card, but membership is open to everyone who joins a partner organization for a small fee. No annual fee.

CitiSimplicityCard (1) 5) Citi Simplicity® Card – 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for 21 months. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee is either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. This card has no late payment fees and no penalty rate.  No annual fee.

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

Navy Federal Credit Union 1.99% APR No Balance Transfer Fee Promotion

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navyfed0Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) regularly offers a special balance transfer promotion every January that is available to both new and existing NFCU credit cardholders. This year it is 1.99% APR on balance transfers for 12 months with no balance transfer fee. You must transfer a non-Navy Federal credit card balance before February 28, 2019. (They also have a few new banking specials.) Thanks to Victor for the heads up.

Exclusive Offer for Current Cardholders
Pay down your credit card balance and watch it disappear with a 1.99% APR on balance transfers for 12 months. After that, your standard variable APR applies.1 Just transfer your balance from another lender to your existing Navy Federal Credit Card.

Membership eligibility for NavyFed is restricted primarily to military personnel including Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force – including retirees and family members – but also includes some civilian employees in the Department of Defense. Some may have joined through a military-related association in the past, but that window is now closed. If you are not military and wish to join, your best bet may be to ask an affiliated family member to refer you. NavyFed offers a variety of solid financial products including mortgage and home-buying services.

This is offer is nice in that it seems to come around every year for NFCU cardholders and you don’t need to apply for a new card. If you are willing to apply for a new card, be sure to compare first with the best no fee 0% APR balance transfer offers. Here is the current top offer which combines a 0% intro APR for 15 months, no balance transfer fee, and a sign-up bonus:

  • Amex EveryDay Card from American Express0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of opening the account. Plus, earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. No annual fee.

Balance transfer promotions can be good opportunities to lower the interest rate on your existing balances and accelerate any debt payoff plans. Try your best to finish your payments within the introductory period, as the rates will increase significantly after that.

5% Cash Back Cards: Gas Stations, Grocery Stores – January to March 2019

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Last-minute reminder for 2018 Q4. If you haven’t maxed out your 5% cash back, you could buy Costco/Sams gifts card with the Chase Freedom Visa and Amazon gift certificates with the Discover card before the end of the year.

5percentback1st Quarter 2019 registration is now open. The credit cards below offer up to 5% cash back on specific categories that rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but it can add up to $100+ in additional rewards per year without changing your spending habits. You can also buy gift cards with the 5% back now but spend the gift cards later. New cardmembers may also get an upfront sign-up bonus.

Chase Freedom VisaChase Freedom – $150 Bonus

From January 1st through March 31st, 2018 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Drug Stores
  • Tolls

Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com. As long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive. All other purchases earn 1% back, with no tiers or expiration of rewards. Technically, you earn Ultimate Rewards points which can also be converted to frequent flier miles instead of cash. Currently, the Chase Freedom card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in purchases in your first three months. No annual fee.

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover it Card

From January 1st through March 31st, 2018 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Grocery Stores (Target and Walmart excluded)

Enroll after logging into your online account (look on the right-hand side). 5% rewards won’t apply until after you activate your rewards, so it is best to activate now before you forget. No annual fee.

New cardmember bonus details. If you are a new applicant and sign up via my Discover Card referral link, you will get a $50 Cashback Bonus after your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. You will also get Cashback Match for an entire year – a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. During those 12 months, your $50 Cashback Bonus becomes $100, your 5% cash back rewards becomes 10% cash back, and your 1% cash back rewards become 2% cash back. You can verify this on the application by clicking on “See rates, rewards and other info” and searching for this text:

Cashback MatchTM: : No purchase minimums. After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, we will match all of the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the following one or two billing periods. If your account is closed or no longer in the cash back reward program at the time we calculate your potential award, your cash back will not be matched. You’ve earned cash back rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period. This promotional offer may not be offered in the future. This exclusive offer is available only to new cardmembers.

TERMS OF CASHBACK BONUS OFFER: Get a $50 Cashback Bonus after you make your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. Promotional award will be applied within 8 weeks. The promotional award is in addition to the Cashback Bonus earned on all purchases.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card. You get to choose the two 5% cash back categories every quarter, out of a preset selection of specific categories;

  • Fast Food
  • Cell Phone Providers
  • Home Utilities
  • Ground Transportation
  • Select Clothing Stores
  • Electronics Stores
  • Car Rentals
  • Gyms/Fitness Centers
  • Sporting Goods Stores
  • Department Stores
  • Furniture Stores
  • Movie Theaters

Unfortunately, you can’t pick a broad category like gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores. Make sure to choose your categories each quarter, even if you want them to stay the same. If you do not choose your categories, all purchases revert to only earning 1% cash back for that quarter.

Currently, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in eligible net purchases in your first 90 days. No annual fee.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card. This card earns 6% cash back at US supermarkets all year long (on up to $6,000 per year) and 3% cash back at US gas stations. I use this card all year long for groceries, and then in December use up the $6k annual limit on gift cards bought in the supermarket aisle. New cardholders are also eligible for a $200 statement credit after $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. $95 annual fee. See details in link.

Amazon Prime Rewards Card. Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods all year long. Prime membership required. 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores (yawn… see below). New cardholder bonus varies by person. No annual fee.

Citi Dividend Card. This card is no longer available to new applicants, but if you still have the grandfathered card you can activate to get 5% cash back at Gas Stations and Home Depot during Q1 2019. You are capped at $300 cash back for the calendar year. No annual fee.

Don’t settle for the “1% on everything else” that these cards offer. Get 2% cash back or higher. The following cards currently have the ability to offer cash back rewards as high as 2% or even greater. Please read my card-specific reviews for details.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Card Review: Choose Your 3%-5.25% Cash Back Category

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Updated. Bank of America announced some new changes that will take effect January 14th, 2019. Cardholders will be able to choose their 3% cash back category from one of these 6 options: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings. Before it was only gas. You can change your category once each calendar month in-app or online. Do nothing and it will stay the same. Stays the same: The fixed 2% cash back on grocery and wholesale clubs and the limit to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter.

The full review:

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card is the no-annual-fee “cash back” credit card in the Bank of America line-up. In this review, I’ll cover the basic card features but also focus on a lesser-known opportunity – if you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%. For such “relationship” customers, the bonus can change this card from good to great. Here are the highlights:

  • $200 cash rewards bonus after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas (choice category after 1/14/19) up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • 0% Introductory APR offer. See link for details.
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%. See details below.
  • No annual fee.

Preferred Rewards bonus. The Preferred Rewards program is designed to rewards clients with multiple account and higher assets located at Bank of America banking, Merrill Edge online brokerage, and Merrill Lynch investment accounts. Here is a partial table taken from their comparison chart (click to enlarge):

bofa_pref1

Let’s consider the options. Bank of America’s interest rates on cash accounts tend to be lower than highest-available outside banks, so moving cash over to qualify may result in earning less interest on your cash deposits. Merrill Lynch advisory accounts also usually come with management fees. The sweet spot is if you have brokerage assets like stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. In this case, moving them over to Merrill Edge may actually reduce your costs because at the Platinum and Platinum Plus levels they will actually give you 30 to 100 free online stock trades every month.

I recently moved a little over $100k of brokerage assets (Vanguard funds) over to Merrill Edge to qualify for Platinum Honors. I realize not everyone will have this level of assets to move around, but if you do then it is worth considering. Keep in mind that it will take a while for your “3-month average combined balance” to actually reach the $100k level and officially qualify for Platinum Honors. After that, the 25%-75% rewards bonus on credit card rewards kick in.

If you are opening a new Merrill Edge account, check out the current Merrill Edge brokerage sign-up bonus. As of this writing, it is up to $1,000.

Cash Back Rewards after Preferred Rewards bonus:

Recall that the basic structure is “1/2/3”; you get 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% on gas (choice category after 1/14/19) for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter (1/2/3). Here’s how the bonuses work out:

  • Platinum Honors: 1.75% cash back on every purchase, 3.5% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 5.25% on gas (choice category after 1/14/19) for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • Platinum: 1.5% cash back on every purchase, 3% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 4.5% on gas (choice category after 1/14/19) for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • Gold: 1.25% cash back on every purchase, 2.5% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3.75% on gas (choice category after 1/14/19) for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.

Note that the terms state “The Preferred Rewards bonus will replace the customer bonus you may already receive with the card.”, which means that you will lose the 10% bonus for redeeming your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account.

For my personal spending, I like the idea of getting up to 3.5% cash back at Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJs wholesale clubs. Costco only takes Visa while the current application picture indicates a Mastercard (past versions have been Visa). If you have a Mastercard, you could try and call them and request to switch to a Visa version of the card instead of a Mastercard. If the customer service rep says they don’t do that, hang up and call again. Alternatively, you could apply for the Susan G Komen or World Wildlife Fund versions of this card, which do show a Visa.

I also like the idea of getting up to 5.25% cash back on “online shopping” assuming that includes Amazon, although Amazon’s own card already offers 5% back.

This is finally a case where bundling services actually worked out for me. Bank of America has managed to convince me to go from only having a checking account with them to now also having a Merrill Edge brokerage account with 100 free trades per month and a Bank of America credit card.

Not all Bank of America consumer credit cards qualify for Preferred Rewards. Another card that does qualify is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card. The Travel Rewards credit card is actually a better everyday card in my opinion (assuming you have at least some travel purchases to offset), but this card exceeds that card in the special categories.

Bottom line. The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card is an “okay” cash back rewards card with a 1/2/3 structure, but turns into an “excellent” rewards card if you can take full advantage of their Preferred Rewards program. If you transfer $100,000 of existing brokerage assets over to Merrill Edge, you can qualify for the highest Platinum Honors tier. This won’t be a good option for everyone, but something to be aware of if you can swing it.

Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – January 2019

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Do you have small business income or work as an independent contractor? Uber/Lyft, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Airbnb? You are eligible to open a small business credit card, which keeps your personal and business expenses separate. If you are not a corporation or LLC, you can apply as a sole proprietorship, with your name as the business name and your Social Security number as the Tax ID number. I did this for years successfully before incorporating my business.

Small business credit cards are offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to try out a new card. Below are the top 10 credit card offers that I would apply for (or have applied for already) as of January 2019. Recent changes:

  • New United Explorer Business limited-time offer.
  • Updated Alaska Air card offer.
  • Updated Capital One Spark for Business – New limited-time bonus up to $2,000 bonus cash back or 200,000 bonus miles.
  • Updated Hawaiian Airlines Business card – Bonus increased to 60,000 miles.
  • Removed American Express Business Gold card 50k offer.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers for personal cards. Notice that small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,000 towards travel!) after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

United Explorer Business Card

  • 75,000 United miles after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip).
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase Ink Business Cash Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Card

  • Up to $2,000 cash bonus. Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. In addition, you can earn an additional $1,500 cash bonus if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. See link for details.
  • Flat 2% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card

  • Up to 200,000 bonus miles. Earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. In addition, you can earn an additional 150,000 bonus miles if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. 200,000 miles is redeemable for $2,000 towards travel. See link for details.
  • Flat 2X miles per dollar on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points (redeemable for $900+ in Wanna Getaway airfare) after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • $99 annual fee.
  • Combine with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Consumer Card to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

American Express Plum Card

  • $600 cash back. Earn a $200 statement credit after each $10,000 you spend in purchases, up to $30,000, within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 1.5% early pay discount on all purchases which stacks on top of the bonus above.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $250.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card

  • 75,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Points can be used towards Starwood and Marriott hotel stays, or converted to select airlines miles.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95. Receive free night award (up to 35,000 points) upon card anniversary.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard

  • 70,000 American Airlines miles after $4,000 in purchases in the first 4 months. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic flights perk ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard (Barclaycard)

  • 60,000 Hawaiian miles after $1,000 in purchases with the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • One-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and the Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card (Bank of America)

  • 30,000 Alaska miles + BOGO Companion Fare Voucher after $1,000 in purchase within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Companion fare voucher is “Buy one ticket, get one for just taxes and fees” ($0 fare taxes and fees from just $22).
  • Free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation.
  • $50 annual fee for company, $25 per card.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Review: $700 Towards Any Travel + Annual Fee Waived First Year (Limited-Time Offer)

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

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Limited-time offer; Highest bonus ever! The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard® is a travel rewards card that has just increased their sign-up bonus to 70,000 points (worth $700 towards any travel), and the annual fee is also waived for the first year ($89 annual fee after that). This is the highest total incentive ever for this card. Here are the highlights:

  • Limited Time Offer: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Annual fee waived for the first year ($89 annual fee after that).

Rewards program details. With this card, you earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. There are no special categories. These miles (easier to think of them as points, really) are then redeemable towards travel booked from any merchant or retailer classified as Airlines, Travel Agencies & Tour Operators, Hotels, Motels & Resorts, Cruise Lines, Passenger Railways and Car Rental Agencies. You can redeem towards any airline on any date.

To redeem, visit any booking site (Delta.com, AA.com, Southwest.com, Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, Hilton.com, Hotels.com, etc) and buy a ticket with this credit card. You don’t need to use any specific portal. Let’s say you buy an airplane ticket for $250. Then, you visit your Barclaycard account website and you’ll offset your purchase. You’ll redeem 25,000 “miles” and see a $250 statement credit on your statement. I’ve done this multiple times, and it always went smoothly with no issues.

Travel statement credit redemptions start at 10,000 miles for $100 toward a qualifying travel purchase of $100 or more made within the last 120 days. For example, you could use 10,000 points for a $100 credit towards a $200 plane ticket, if you wished.

On top of that, the card gives you a 5% miles rebate when you redeem for any travel. So if you redeemed 50,000 miles, you would get 2,500 back in your account after about a week. Although this is more complicated than just spending less points, you can calculate that getting $500 of value out of 47,500 miles at 2X miles/$ spent works out to 2.11% cash back towards any travel. Everything else (gift cards, merchandise) offers a significantly worse redemption ratio, so I wouldn’t bother.

During the first year, the $89 annual fee is waived. However, in future years it comes back. So I would take the first year and see how you like it. You would have to put over $80,000 in purchases on this card annually in order to get the 0.11% advantage to offset the $89 annual fee (after the 1st-year waiver) when compared to a 2% cash back card. That’s a big number.

Another option is that you are allowed to use 8,900 miles to offset the $89 annual fee. (Minimum increment is 2,500 points for $25 against annual fee.) Finally, you can also ask them to downgrade your card into the “plain” Arrival card with no annual fee (and no 2X miles).

Bottom line. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard® is a travel rewards card that earns double miles on all purchases (even more with the 5% rebate). The sign-up bonus has been raised to 70,000 points – worth $700 in travel statement credits – the highest ever for this card. The $89 annual fee is waived for the first year, but applies in subsequent years. This is a very strong offer as there is a $700 net value over the first year.

Even one or two of these limited-time offers can cover a huge chunk of your annual vacation travel budget. I have added this limited-time offer to my list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

Chase United Explorer Card Review – 40,000 Bonus United Miles

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

United Mileage Plus Explorer CardThe United Explorer Card is a co-branded credit card between Chase and United Airlines. This card offers unique perks for regular United customers including free checked bags and expanded award seat availability for redeeming miles. Here are the highlights:

  • 40,000 bonus United miles after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket.
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to find that saver award economy ticket.
  • Priority boarding + 2 United Club one-time passes every year.
  • 2X miles at restaurants and on hotel stays.
  • 2X miles per on purchases from United.
  • 25% Back on United inflight purchases (Wi-Fi, Food and Drinks).
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Your miles don’t expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn.
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Keep in mind the following terms and conditions:

This product is available to you if you do not have this Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus for this Card in the past 24 months.

This card is very focused on rewarding you for being a United customer. Before you board, you might use one of your free United Club lounge passes. You have the first checked bag for free on United flights, both for your and a companion traveling on the same reservation. The fee is usually $30 per person, each way, so that this how they get the value of $120 each roundtrip. You also get Priority Boarding, which helps you find space for your carry-on. While onboard, you get 25% back on your inflight purchases of WiFi, food, and drinks.

Expanded award availability. You earn United miles for all your purchases (double miles on restaurants and hotel stays), but then they also make it easier for you to redeem those miles on Saver level tickets with no blackout dates. Expanded award seat availability is another of the top perks from this card, and it is actually a significant difference. Saver Award ticket redemptions start at 12,500 miles one-way within the continental U.S. and Canada.

Another unique feature of this card is that it offers primary coverage on the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. On most other consumer cards, this coverage is offered as secondary coverage, meaning it only kicks in after your personal auto insurance has been exhausted.

Bottom line. The United Explorer Card offers great perks for folks that fly United even just once or twice a year. The card provides lounge passes, a free checked bag, priority boarding, and inflight discounts. There are bonus categories to earn more miles, and special expanded award seat inventory for credit card holders to make it easier to actually redeem those miles for flights.

More: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business: $2,000 Bonus Cash Limited-Time Offer

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Limited-time offer. The Capital One Spark Cash for Business is a rewards business card offering a big early spend bonus offer in addition to ongoing 2% cash back rewards. They’ve just added a limited-time offer for businesses with sizable spending, boosting the total bonus value to $2,000. Here are the highlights:

  • Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.
  • Up to $2,000 cash bonus. First, earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. In addition, you can earn another $1,500 cash bonus if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. This is a limited-time offer.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee after that.
  • Cash back rewards don’t expire as long as your account is open.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Free additional employee cards.

Consider that if you meet the $5,000 spending requirement within 3 months, you will end up with $500 + $100 from 2% cash back – that’s $600 on $5,000 spending (12% cash back). If you do meet the $50,000 spending requirement, you’ll earn the $2,000 cash bonus from the limited-time offer and 2% cash back for another $1,000. That is a total of $3,000, amounting to a rate of 6% cash back on $50,000.

Note that “Existing or previous Accountholders may not be eligible for this one-time bonus.” For comparison, there is also a Spark Select for Business and Spark Classic that are different cards with lower sign-up bonuses but no annual fee.

The 2% cash back for all purchases is a strong rewards structure, and you get no annual fee during the first year as well. From the second year onward, you’ll have to weigh that against the $95 annual fee after the first year. The math says that you would have to spend more than $19,000 every year ($1,583 a month) to make the 2% back and $95 annual fee (Spark Cash) pay out more rewards than 1.5% cash back and no annual fee (Spark Cash Select).

Here is some info taken from the Terms and Conditions regarding rewards cash back redemptions:

How do I redeem my rewards?
You can get your cash back upon request in the form of a statement credit or a check. You can also set up an automatic redemption preference; options include: (1) at a set time each calendar year or (2) when a specific threshold ($25, $50, $100 or $200) has been reached. Just go online to capitalone.com or our Rewards Center. You can also redeem for credits for previous purchases, gift cards, and more. Rates for these redemption options may vary and are subject to change without notice.

Alternatively, the Capital One Spark® Miles for Business has a limited-time offer now up to 200,000 miles – redeemable for $2,000 statement credit towards travel. That is broken down into 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and then another 150,000 miles when you spend $50,000 within the first 6 months. The travel can be booked directly through airlines and hotels, and there are no blackout dates or award seat limits to worry about. $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee after that. No foreign transaction fees. Similar to the offer above, the Spark Miles offers 2 miles per dollar with the $95 annual fee but there is also a Spark Miles Select for Business that offers 1.5 miles per dollar with no annual fee.

Capital One now allows you to transfer your “miles” into select airline miles programs as well, on a 2:1.5 ratio (ex. 20,000 Capital One miles = 15,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles). Here are the 12 transfer partners:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France/KLM
  • Alitalia
  • Avianca
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad
  • EVA
  • Finnair
  • Hainan
  • Qantas
  • Qatar

Unless you know how to leverage one of these international airline miles programs, I would prefer earning cash rewards over the “miles”, since these Capital One “miles” only get their maximum value when redeemed against a travel purchase.

If you are looking for a comparison with other strong business cards, check out my updated list of Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers.

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