Category Archives for Travel

Amex PRG Thumbnail

Amex PRG Review – Amex Premier Rewards Gold (Now Amex Gold Card)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

The Amex PRG card (now the Amex Gold Card) is one of the leading credit cards for point-earning on the market right now. Lots of people love using this card and if you’re thinking about it, I’m sure you’ll love it too.

In this post, I’m going to show you why if you’re a foodie and want to rack up lots of MR points, then this probably is the card for you.

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek

Who Should Get the Amex PRG Card?

There are two possible types of people that could really like the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card. Those that like to dine out at restaurants and anyone who spends a good amount at supermarkets. 

Assuming that you eat throughout the day, I assume you fall under one of those categories. We’ll get into the benefits, perks, and more, but if you spend a chunk of your paycheck on these you could be earning 4x bonus points at restaurants and on groceries to sustain yourself. 

Sign-up Bonus

At the current time, the Amex Gold card is offering 35,000 Membership Reward points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months. This can be used to transfer to many of Amex’s transfer partners to get lots of value. It’s not a huge bonus but it is something. 

This bonus is tricky because Amex does run promotions sometimes where referral links and the CardMatch tool can show offers for 40,000 or 50,000 points. American Express is one company that sometimes shows a lower offer on its main website than when you go through a referral. 

This is important because you can only get one sign-up bonus for each card with Amex so you should always make sure you’re maximizing value. 

If you’d like to support ADP and like this post, you can always check if you have a higher referral option with my referral link to the Amex Gold Card here.

Benefits

This card comes with lots of perks but of course, these perks are here to offset the annual fee, which is $250. I’ll show you how you make that money back easily with these benefits. 

$120 Annual Dining Credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and some Shake Shacks. This is a $10 credit monthly. Basically, if you don’t use the credit in a month like July, you won’t be able to use it in August. 

$100 Annual Airline Credit: A credit for incidental charges such as checked bags per calendar year. You have to enroll to use this and can only be used for one qualifying airline. 

Amex Hotel Collection: Booking a stay through their hotel collection gives you 2x points and each stay gives you an upgrade to a better room and a $100 credit to some restaurants or spas on the property. Each hotel is different so make sure to check the fine print. 

You get $220 in credits to use no matter what on airlines and restaurants and then if you use the Amex hotel once, you already are in the green. This, of course, doesn’t bring in the earning factors which we are going to talk about next. 

Earning Rates

The Amex PRG offers great earning rates. You get 4x points on dining across the world and in U.S. Supermarkets. You get 3x points on flights booked directly on the airline’s website or at amextravel.com. Everything else gets 1x points of course. 

4x dining and groceries basically makes this card the best in those two categories across the board in the credit card game. Of course, some people prefer certain points over others but if you have no preference this would definitely become your best card in those circumstances. 

3x on flights is alright but you get a better value with the Amex Platinum and cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred don’t restrict where you can purchase to get bonus points. 

To Wrap It Up

The Amex Gold card can help you rack up lots of points in your eating adventures over the years. This card earns a spot in my favorite credit cards to hold. 

If you'd like to support ADP and sign up for the card with our post, you can here and it's much appreciated!

Do you have the Amex Gold card? Are you thinking about getting it?

Let me know in the comments down below.

If you’re interested in learning everything about travel hacking, I have a post on the Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking for 2019 that will surely help you out so be sure to check that out.

And if you know someone that would enjoy this resource on the Amex PRG card, please share it with them because it will probably help them out. Thank you!

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek

RoomiPay NOT Working Anymore – Closed in Nov. 2018 Here’s Why

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

In Travel Hacking, people are always trying to find different ways to gain lots of credit card points. RoomiPay was one of the best ways to do just that but you’ll learn here why this isn’t an option anymore.

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek

RoomiPay Closed Down

In November 2018, the users of RoomiPay got an email explaining the situation. 

Hey there,

I’m Alex, COO of Roomi, and am writing to let you know that we’ve gone ahead an canceled your auto-payments to RoomiPay. As a startup we’re constantly evaluating all of our products and have decided to put RoomiPay on pause for now. Thank you all for your continued support and we will let you know if/when we decide to start this up again!

Please feel free to get in touch with me directly with any questions.

Thanks,

Alex


There isn’t much reason given on why exactly this happened but people speculate it had something to do with their great promotions where it seemed they weren’t getting the revenue they honestly deserved. 

The end of the email says that there might be a chance to start it up again but this was done almost a year ago so it seems like there’s no chance of a revival. 

What RoomiPay Did

To travel hacking veterans, paying something as big as rent monthly without getting any credit card points hurts. That’s where something like RoomiPay came in. 

The company came out and offered another option to the others we will go through in a little. RoomiPay had some of the best fees with a 2% fixed fee and lots of promotions to lower that from referrals to other ways. 

All of these services have some fees put into their structure (they have to make money someway) but RP had one of the lowest at the point of their shut down. 

Other Options for You

You might be asking that if you are paying fees on these services, why would it be worth it? The reason is that there are some cards that give you better value than the extra bit you are paying for the rent to the service. 

For example, you might pay a 2.5% fee on a $1000 rent which is $25 extra but they get back more than $25 worth of points thanks to multipliers and extra value on redemptions. 

This is a little bit of an extra level tactic for travel hackers but simple math when you really think about it. Spend $25 to get $50 back or any other numbers could work. 

Now for options, there really is only one main option out there as of now.

It’s called Plastiq and it’s kind of the leader in this space. Plastiq comes with a 2.5% fee added on to it.

If you do have a way to get better value than what the 2.5% would cost you then Plastiq would be a great option. 

To Wrap It Up

RoomiPay was a great way to rack up some points on things like rent and other things that couldn't be bought with credit cards. 

But seems like these things couldn't last for the company so they had to shut down.

If you're still looking for a way to rack up points, try Plastiq as it seems they're not going anywhere for now. 

If you’re interested in learning everything about travel hacking, I have a post on the Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking for 2019 that will surely help you out so be sure to check that out.

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek
Reddit Churning

What Is Reddit Churning and Why You Should Check It Out

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

One of the most common questions I get when helping people with travel hacking is “Where can I learn more?”

I give a lot of advice but sometimes people want to be able to learn on their own time. There are blogs, podcasts, Facebook groups and more that help with travel hacking but the best one in my opinion has to be at Reddit Churning. 

At the time of this writing, there are over 165,000 people subscribed to this subreddit and I never see less than 400 people lurking in it at all times.

This community is the best place to learn how to travel cost effectively and still have some of the best vacations of your life. I’m going to explain everything you need to know about r/churning in this post.

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek

What is Travel Hacking?

I feel like I need to explain this for the people who happened to come here and don’t know what travel hacking is. If you don’t know, then the churning subreddit won’t help you.

Travel Hacking is the act of collecting points and miles to get you free flights, hotel rooms, and more. I’ve earned hundreds of thousands of points for myself and used them to go on vacations worth thousands of dollars and I barely pay anything.

You also get upgrades at hotels, first class tickets instead of economy, lounge access at airports and hotels that can save you hundreds on food, and much more.

If you want to learn more about travel hacking, I have an ultimate guide on how to get started travel hacking that will walk you through everything you need to know so be sure to check that out.

Why The Reddit Churning Community Will Help You

Reddit Churning

Like I said earlier, there are a lot of podcasts, YouTube channels, groups, and blogs (like ADP) that will help you learn about travel hacking. But sometimes these aren’t the best things for you.

They only answer questions that are in their posts or videos. So if you have a specific question, which you always will if you get into the game, you can’t really ask it to the big guys most of the time.

If they do answer, they’ll tell you to just read the blog and you’ll have to look through every post to see if they answer your question.

Also, and this is especially with true with the biggest ones, they only really promote the cards that give them the most upside. For example, you have a situation and you’re looking at two Credit Cards, let’s call them A and B.

A is a perfect credit card for your situation. It will give you loads of value and if you learn from the blog that it’s perfect for you and sign up through them, they’ll make $25. (All hypothetical.)

B is a good credit card. It gives you okay value but the blog gets paid $200 everytime someone signs up for it from their blog.

Which brand do you think the blog is going to promote?

You can’t entirely blame them because it is a business but it’s still not morally right and it screws you over in the long-term.

The great thing about this reddit post is 99% of the people there are not making loads of money off other people getting credit cards from them. They have normal jobs and all do this as a hobby.

They have very little if anything to gain by giving you the advice you’re looking for which results in unbiased and (most of the time) factual advice.

Topics

Now one of the best parts about the churn reddit community is how clean they keep everything. I mentioned before that there are over 165,000 people using it so if it was just run like a Facebook group it would be chaos.

The way they keep it in order is they have different posts and subtopics and I’m going to go over some of them and what they are useful for and what not to do in them.

Questions

The questions subtopic is pretty self-explanatory but where a good amount of the action happens.

You honestly can just go in and ask almost any question you want. Maybe you have a question on how to grow your credit score or you want to be able to apply for business credit cards.

Just a couple things to suggest. Reddit isn’t a nice place sometimes in general and it’s filled with a lot of alpha males. If you go in there and ask a basic question like “How do I get a credit card?” you might get some mean answers.

Make sure you use the search option in the subtopic to see if your question has been answered if it seems elementary.

Also if you’re asking questions about specific cards to get, they have their own thread for that so don’t ask it in the questions thread. At the top of the questions thread it will say “If you have questions about what card to get, ask here.”

Click the here part and go to that thread. They are really big in making sure there is structure and won’t answer your question if you put it in the wrong spot.

Discussions

This is the next most popular topic and is kind of a catch all for everything that isn’t a question.

You go to this thread when you want to talk about you getting accepted for a certain card or a certain hack working or not working for you.

I mostly read this thread and never really post in it. I might comment if I can give some guidance to people but this seems more like a thread for the people who stay in the subreddit for hours at a time and just want to talk to each other.

Data Points

The questions and discussions topics are an everyday thing. For example, there will be a July 4th thread for questions or discussions and then they’ll make another thread for July 5th. This is because they are much more popular.

For the next two, these are weekly threads just because they don’t get used as much but I still think they are useful to mention here if you want to start using Reddit Churning.

For those that don’t know, a data point is basically one person talking about their experience for doing a certain action. In the credit card game, this means a lot of these are questions like, “applying for Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 710 credit score, any DPs on people who got accepted?”

Chase Sapphire Preferred

So basically someone asks that question and then people who did that task recently will give their experience on it so they can help the person decide if they should do it or not.

This helps when banks change their rules without advising their customers about it (which happens a lot.)

This happened when Chase expanded their 5/24 rule to almost all cards instead of the basic ones like their Chase Trifecta. These data points helped the community find out what is considered available and unavailable quicker than any other method.

Trip Reports & Success Stories

The last one I’m going to mention is mostly a feel good post that you will find yourself in from time to time after a vacation.

Trust me, the first time you go on a trip that you paid $40 for but you should have paid $1000, you’re going to want to brag about it.

This is a place to do that and get encouragement from other people and also inspire others to do it as well.

I give thanks here when I go on a trip to the people that gave me advice on what routes to take or point redemptions to use back when I used to ask for lots of advice on there.

This isn’t one you use a lot but still a great one to know about. If you ever need inspiration to learn more, see the trips people are going on.

Now, there are some other threads in the subreddit but these are so small that I didn’t think you needed to learn about most of them on this post. If you see another thread in there and want to learn about it, just click on it and there will be a quick description and rules on how to use it right at the top.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Reddit Churning

Here is a good time to take you through why I advise people to use this as a learning tool and also a couple reasons why I make sure people are careful when using it. Just like everything else in life there is a balance and you need to be able to distinguish the good from the bad here.

The three biggest advantages to me are how fast the community will answer your questions, how structured everything is and will stay, and access to people that have been in the game since the start.

I used to ask questions in here all the time and it would only be about five to ten minutes mostly that I’m waiting to get my first response and then I’ll be getting responses all day. Now I like to answer questions to help people out and be one of those responders but either way, this all helps the learning process.

Three of the biggest disadvantages that come with using this is how hostile people are, sometimes you get answers from people who aren’t experts, and you will get some biased advice and messages at times.

Like I said earlier, Reddit can be toxic sometimes. You’re dealing with real people that usually use these platforms over the more popular ones because the way they talk to people isn’t allowed. If you ask a question that is stupid in their eyes or in the wrong thread, you’ll get some colorful comments thrown your way.

Just don’t worry about them and do whatever is necessary to help your situation. Usually when someone talks to you nasty, another member will come in to defend you.  

You also need to be careful about taking advice from only one person. That’s why this group is so great because it’s so big that you’ll always get a consensus. It’s a community that anyone can join, so the first person to answer your question could give you bad advice. If you ask a question, wait until you get a couple of responses before you take action.

And just like everywhere else, there are the bottom feeders. If you give a trip report talking about you living a great life, you could get messages from people asking to give you money or if you ask which credit card to get, someone might message you begging you to sign-up using their link.

This is common on any platform so just move along and don’t worry about it. Just kind of the way of the road.

Other Helpful Subreddits

There are a few more subreddits that I browse along with r/churning that can help you out.

r/awardtravel

This subreddit is all about ways to burn the points that you’re gaining from the churning subreddit. They have their own structure there so check them out.

r/personalfinance

This is more of a place to have general questions about finance. They are kind too conventional for me but I’ve studied personal finance methods for ten years now and like the methods that I use. If you feel like you’d like to learn more about it, then check out this subreddit.

Wrap It Up

Reddit churning can help you out in your travel hacking game almost immediately. Right when you get in, you’ll be able to ask the questions you want to ask or just read what others are saying and take in information without saying one word.

If you want to learn more about getting started with travel hacking, make sure to check out the guide we have here and you’ll always be able to ask me questions in comments on ADP.

Have you ever used the churning subreddit? Let me know in the comments down below what you think of it.

Also, if you know someone else that would benefit from this post, please share it with them because it would probably help them out!

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek
Amex Travel Notification

Setting Up An American Express Travel Notification? Here’s 3 Things You Should Know

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

You’re getting ready to go on a big trip and you realize the last thing you want is your American Express card to get shut down because you’re traveling abroad and they flag it for fraud. If you’re trying to figure out how to fix this situation, you’re in the right place. 

Here are 3 things you should know about setting up an American Express Travel Notification.

Chase Travel Notice

1 (and Probably Most Important): You Don’t Need To

American Express is the leader in this category. While no one is actually sure how they do this, Amex can tell when you’re traveling out of the country.

Obviously, if you buy a plane ticket or hotel stay on their card, we can assume the company will infer that we are going on a trip, but somehow even when we make travel purchases with other cards, Amex can still tell.

They’re actually so advanced in this category that they are confident enough not to even have an option to leave a travel notice unlike Chase.

American Express believes that their “fraud detection capabilities” are able to handle fraud without these notifications.

2: Verify Your Info

Now even though you don’t have to set anything up, you should check to make sure the info you have is correct under your account just in case.

Sign into your account at AmericanExpress.com and press the account services button on the tabs list on the top of the screen.

Amex Homepage

From there, scroll down until you see the personal details section and it will have the “view and edit phone numbers” option right there.

Just verify the numbers are correct. This is important because Amex still might try to contact you if something does go wrong.

3. Download the App

If you don’t have it already, you should download the Amex app onto your phone. Just in case something does go wrong, Amex will send you a push notification if they suspect fraudulent activity.

With this push notification, you will be able to let American Express know if it’s you making purchases in the country you are traveling in or you can tell them it’s not you and they’ll freeze your account for your safety.

This can allow you to fix the problem almost immediately with no damage done so it can really help out the situation.

To Wrap It Up

Amex definitely is raising the bar on travel notifications. Because of their technology, they are able to predict us traveling even if we don’t use their cards to purchase the travel.

There is the topic on if this is something you wish companies wouldn’t know. If American Express knows this about us, do other companies?

Do you think that this is a good thing for banks to know or do you think they shouldn’t have this kind of data?

Personally, I wish all banks were as advanced as Amex in this regard and I understand that this data helps us out.

Either way, let me know down below what you think?

Also, make sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking if you haven’t and learn some new ways that you can use those Amex cards abroad by traveling for free or very cheap.

If you know someone traveling and want to help them out, share this post with them because they’re probably concerned about this. Thank you!

Chase Travel Notice
Chase Travel Notice

4 Steps to Set Up A Chase Travel Notice (Even Do It In The App!)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

There’s nothing worse than planning a vacation abroad, getting there, and your card getting declined when you’re in line to buy something.

The banks do this for our protection. If you live in Arkansas and your bank knows this, but there is a charge on the card in Thailand, they’re going to freeze the card for your account’s safety.

You should always notify Chase of your international travel plans by sending Chase a travel notification.

Luckily, it’s really easy to set up a Chase Travel Notice and here are the four steps to doing it on a computer and your Chase Mobile App.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Setting up your Chase Travel Notice

Step 1: Log-in to your account

First thing you need to do is log-in to your Chase Account on the website or you can go on your app and log-in.

Chase Login Screen

Step 2: Go to Profile & Settings

If you are on a computer, click the three bar menu in the top left and a bigger menu should appear. Find Profile & Settings near the top and click that.

If you are on the app, click the icon that looks like a person in the top right of the main screen. A screen should pop up and click My Settings.

Chase Profile & Settings

Step 3: Find Travel in the menu 

On the computer, you’ll see a scrollable menu on the left side of your screen. Scroll towards the bottom and you’ll see the option to click “Travel” under the More Settings section. Click that.

On the app, once you’re in the My Settings page, scroll down until you see the “Travel” option under my settings as well.

Chase Travel Notice

Step 4: Enter the details of your trip

Click the update button and Chase will ask you for the departure date and the return date as well as the states/countries you are visiting. Don’t worry, you can pick more than one!

If any of the details of your trip changes, you can always come back to this notification and either update it or cancel it altogether. No harm, no foul.

You can also call Chase to send a travel alert

If you like to do things the old fashioned way, you can get this done just by calling the phone number on the back of your Chase card. Tell the operator that you want to set up a travel notice and they’ll guide you on what to do from there.

If you’re already outside the United States, you can call Chase’s international phone number at 1-302-594-8200.

Chase Travel Notice FAQs

Do I need to set up a travel notification? 

You don’t necessarily need to do anything. You can always not do it and run the risk of them declining you or not. In my opinion, it’s just easier to set up the notification that way you won’t get locked out of spending money in a foreign place for a good amount of time.

How long in advance can I set my notice? 

For your credit cards, you can set a notice up to a year in advance and it can only last for a year. So if you’re out of the country for longer than a year, you’ll have to go back in and update the dates once you’re there.

For debit cards, you can only set this up 14 days in advance.

Can I cancel or change my notice after submitting it?

Yes, your notice will stay under this travel section until the return date has been hit. So if you need to change any details like dates or places visiting or even cancel, you just come back to this screen and change what you need.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Some of Chase’s cards like the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited come with foreign transaction fees of 3%.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not have any foreign transaction fees and is a perfect card to start earning miles and points if you haven’t already. It also rounds out our Chase Trifecta nicely.

To Wrap It Up

Now you know how to notify Chase that you’re traveling. You can either use the four steps I listed above or just give them a simple call.

Either way, your account will be safe and you’ll be able to enjoy your travels in peace.

If you want to learn how to earn points and miles and get free vacations, I have an ultimate guide on travel hacking that can definitely help you out.

Leave a comment below if you used this to help you with set up your travel notifications.

Also if you know anyone else that is traveling abroad, send them this post, because it will probably help them out!

Chase Travel Notice
Chase Trifecta

The Chase Trifecta: The Best 3 Credit Card Combo You Must Have in 2019

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

One of the main topics in the credit card rewards game is maximizing the rewards you earn on the spend you already do daily.

Whether you have been earning rewards for years now or you’re just getting started, you shouldn’t change your spend much now that you have rewards credit cards.

In my opinion (along with lots of others), there is no better set-up than the Chase Trifecta.

This trifecta allows you to spend what you normally spend but still rack up tens of thousands of points a year which can mean hundreds to thousands of dollars of vacations and travel to get you enjoying your life even more.

In this post, I’m going to run you through the entire Chase Trifecta and why you should be using it. So let’s get started.

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Why The Chase Trifecta Is Important

The reason why the Chase Trifecta is one of the most popular credit card set-ups out there is because of how versatile it is. If you’re on this post, you probably understand how credit cards rewards systems work.

Depending on what you’re buying, you can get 5 points per dollar when you purchase something, you can get 3 points, 2 points or 1 point, etc. 

Well, we all know that life makes us buy different things almost daily. We go grocery shopping one day of the week, get gas the next day, go to the doctor, and then run out of groceries and eat at restaurants for the rest of the week.

This set-up makes it so you are always earning as many Chase Ultimate Rewards points as possible. We’ll talk later about how valuable these are and what you can get with them.

This game is all about maximizing the spend you are already doing and picking the cards that will give you the most points for your hard earned dollars.

I want to clarify that the Chase Trifecta is probably the best out there but you can only get these cards if you are under the 5/24 rule.

This means if you have been approved for 5 or more credit cards from any provider in the last 24 months, you will automatically be denied for these cards.

Now that we know why getting this trifecta is important and the one rule preventing you from getting it, let’s get to the three cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The first card I’m going to recommend to get is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card is actually the glue sticking all of this trifecta together which is why I’m mentioning it first. 

The reason why this card is so important is because you can take all your Chase UR points and if you book for travel through the Chase Portal, your points get an extra 25% boost.

That could sound intimidating so let me show you what this means.

Let’s say within all your cards you have 25,000 points. If you want to book a plane ticket, your 25,000 points equals a flight worth $250.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, your 25,000 points isn’t worth $250. Chase multiplies the value of those points by 1.25. This makes your 25,000 points actually worth 31,250 or $312.50. 

So in my mind, having this card allows you to basically make an extra 62.50 appear out of thin air. That’s how great this could be. (not to mention the travel partners which I’ll talk about later!)

This only involves the redemption of the points. The card itself is a great deal as well.

You get 2x points on anything dining or travel related and I can vouch that these are my two biggest expense categories out of everything I buy.

This study shows food is our most expensive purchase every year and we all know depending on our lives how expensive travel can be as well.

Wouldn’t you want a card that can give you double the points back every time you used it? This would ultimately allow you to use your UR points on some of your travel, allowing you to save the money that you would have spend anyway. How sweet is that!?

So if you’re a foodie or a roaming traveler, you’re going to end up wanting to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred pronto.

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom Image

Now like I said earlier, the reason why the trifecta is so powerful is because you can capitalize on what you’re buying to get the most points using these three special cards. 

With the Chase Freedom, 5x Chase UR points based on what the rotating category is for that specific quarter. Basically, every quarter (3 months) Chase announces new categories that are covered. 

In recent quarters, there has been gas stations, drug stores, restaurants, and even Amazon.

Chase allows you to earn 5x points on up to $1500 in purchase in these categories per quarter or 7,500 points. When you combine this with the superpower from the Chase Sapphire Preferred where you get 1.25x the points, this equals 9,375 points.

This is an extra $93.75 towards travel that most of us spend anyway on these categories. These points add up to a lot at the end of the year.

Chase Freedom Unlimited 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Now we have your food and travel covered and we have the rotational categories down per quarter. 

Now you’re probably thinking, “what about those doctor appointments and when I need to change the oil in my car? What card do I use then?”

This is where the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes in. 

The Freedom Unlimited is the simplest card out of all of three of these because it earns 1.5x points for every purchase no matter what it is. 

If you’re getting a haircut or paying off your Netflix subscription, you’re going to earn 1.5x UR points for both of these.

And once again, you can pair this up with the Sapphire card and get 2.25 points back basically that can be used on travel.

Basically this card is your last resort card, if you don’t have any card that will get you more, at least you’ll get 1.5x back.

How you could spend your points

Just for fun, now that you’ve learned the three cards that give you the best chance at maximizing your points in the credit card game, let’s see what you can get with these points.

You can fly around the United States and Caribbean for cheap with Southwest points

I’ve found deals for as low as 4,500 points each way. Southwest is tricky because their point value actually changes with the price of their tickets unlike United, but sometimes this can be a good thing.

When Southwest runs their sales of one-way flights for $49 or around there, make sure to check the points values for the flights. They almost always drop as well.

You can stay at a luxury hotel with Hyatt

Transfering your points to Hyatt is one of the best transfers you can make in the travel hacking game.

For example, you can transfer 25,000 points and get a free night at the Park Hyatt Maldives. This can easily be worth $1,000 depending on the time of year you go and would be worth every point.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa


To Wrap It Up

Everyone will have their own opinion on what the best card set-up is. Some only want cash-back cards or some will only want cards that help them with a specific airline or hotel.

In my opinion, if you want a general and diverse travel rewards option, the best one out there is the Chase Trifecta. It really helps you make the most of your everyday purchases.

Do you use the Chase Trifecta? Which cards are you missing if you don’t?

Let me know in the comments down below.

If you’re interested in learning everything about travel hacking, I have a post on the Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking for 2019 that will surely help you out so be sure to check that out.

And if you know someone that would enjoy this resource on the Chase Trifecta, please share it with them because it will probably help them out. Thank you!

Best Cash Back Credit Cards
Cash Back Credit Cards

Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2019 – My Top 4

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

When I sit down and coach people on how to start getting credit card rewards and points, some ask me the question, “What if I just want some easy cash-back credit cards?”

Some people can’t keep up with having 15+ credit cards like I do and changing their strategies every month. Some just want a simple card or two to use and just keep getting back cash so they can live a little better.

Lucky for them, banks know this and offer some cards that are perfect for this kind of user.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

In this post, I’m going to show some credit cards and why they are good cash back cards. Each card is good for different reasons so we need a way to measure how beneficial they would be to you.

That’s why we can focus on these three factors to decide which card or cards would be best for you.

Earning Rates

Let’s start it out simple. How much cash-back will you earn during your purchases? Some cards have a consistent 1.5 - 2% per purchase.

Some earn you extra cash-back depending on what category the purchase is.

Earning Rates can make cash back cards completely different between everyone. There are cards that offer 5% back on Gas but if you don’t own a car then that card really isn’t worth it to you is it. It’s just case to case.

Ease of Redemption

This can easily be as big of a deal to you as the earning rate.

Do you want to earn points like Chase UR that can be used as cash or towards travel?

Do you want to be able to cash out your points and get it deposited into your account?

Some cards only allow you to use them as statement credits against your credit card. Maybe that’s a negative to you. All just depends on how you want your cash-back to actually come back to you.

Extra Perks or Factors

Most cash-back cards won’t come with lounge access or get you status at hotels, but they can offer other things. Maybe you want purchase protection or delay coverage.

Some have foreign transaction fees meaning if you use them out of the United States, you’ll pay even more.

It can also have annual fees that make having the card less valuable to you.

Things like these can be a positive or a negative and affect your plan on picking the card or not.

Which is the best cash back credit card for you?

Now that we know the three factors that we are basing our recommendations on, we can get to the cards. I set it up like this so that you can easily decide if you want or do not want certain cards.

If you want transferable points that you can use for cash or travel, then you can cancel out certain cards that don’t offer it.

If you don’t purchase much gas like our example earlier, then you can cross that off your list.

So let’s get into it!

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom Image

Current Sign-up Bonus: $150 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from opening the card.

On normal purchases, the Chase Freedom card offers 1% back on all purchases. That doesn’t sound very good. However, there is also 5% rotating categories that change every quarter and you can get 5% back on up to $1500 worth of purchases. 

These categories change from things like gas stations and drugstores to groceries and Amazon purchases. Most of the time there is more than one category so you have more options on how to get the cash back.

Now, the Chase Freedom earns you Chase UR points. If you want you can just have the Freedom and earn 1% cash back that you can put towards a statement credit or deposit into your account.

You can also pair it with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and use it towards travel. This is special because the CSP adds an extra 25% to your points turning a maxed out 7,500 point quarter into 9,375 worth of points instead.

This is a special travel hack and beyond just cash back cards but I thought I should point it out especially because that’s what makes this cash-back card so special.

This card also offers purchase protection and an extended warranty but unfortunately has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

We have an article if you want to learn more about getting approved for your first Chase card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited


Current Sign-up Bonus: $150 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from opening the card.

Now, let’s say you want to be part of the Chase family but you don’t want to have to worry about rotating categories and thinking about where to purchase things.

The Freedom Unlimited is for you then.

This card offers 1.5% points on every purchase you make, no matter what you buy. Like the Freedom, this card also gives you Chase UR points so you can use them for travel, as a statement credit, or deposit it into your account.

It has the same extra perks as the Freedom like the purchase protection and extended warranty and has the 3% foreign transaction fee as well.

What some people like to do with these two is have both and use the Freedom Unlimited for all their purchases except the ones that fall under the categories for the regular Freedom card.

That is an easy and almost thoughtless way to maximize your spending without too much brain power into this credit card game.

We have a full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited here. 

Discover It Cash Back

Discover it card

Current Sign-up Bonus: $50 back after just one purchase within the first three months.

You know what’s better than getting 5% back on rotating categories? Getting 10% back.

That’s what you get with the Discover card. Technically, you get that in the first year but it’s still awesome.

Just like the Chase Freedom, this Discover card offers 5% categories each quarter but they also have a promotion that for all new card owners, they match your rewards that you earn in the first year.

This means that your 5% you are earning in rewards turns into 10%. Not only does this happen with the rotating categories but it also happens on the standard earning rate for purchases, making the normal 1% you get 2%.

The Discover doesn’t have transferable points though so you can get the cash back as a statement credit on the card or deposit it into any account you want.

This card also has no foreign transaction fees so could be a great option if you are a consistent traveler outside of the United States.

Citi Double Cash

Citi Double Cash

Current Sign-up Bonus: This card 95% of the time doesn’t have a sign up bonus. You can always check though.

The Citi Double Cash is probably one of the simplest cards for anyone getting started in the credit card rewards game. This card gives you 1% back when you purchase something and 1% back when you pay it off.

So, basically 2% back on all purchases. No categories to pay attention to or hoops to jump through. There is two negatives though.

The first is that there is no sign-up bonus. This is usually a red flag for me because of the 5/24 rule and how the game is right now. If I’m going to sign up for a card, I usually want something substantial within the first three months to make it justifiable.

The second negative is that you can only redeem rewards in $25 or more. That means you also can’t redeem your rewards as a statement credit or a deposit (only into Citi accounts) until you’ve spent $1,250 on the card.

So it has a couple drawbacks but the positive is that it’s a very simple card that you can always use. This can be a valuable card to some depending on their situation.

To Wrap It Up

Cash runs the world. At some point, all these airline miles and hotel points could completely change up the game and make them worthless, but cash will always be the same. It’s simpler and easier to measure how you’re doing in the rewards game.

Hopefully this list of cards has given you some ideas on what you can look for in a cash-back credit card.

Please feel free to use any of the links in this post and sign up for one.

Let us know if you have any of these cards, or are signing up for one because of this post, in the comments down below.

Also if you know anyone else that would benefit from this, feel free to share this post with them to help them out.

If you'd like to learn more about travel hacking and how it allows me to travel in luxury for pennies on the dollar, read our Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking here. 

Approve Chase Card

How to Get Approved for A Chase Credit Card – How Long It Takes & Other Tips

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Whether you are new to credit or you’re just looking to get into the Chase atmosphere of credit cards, you could feel intimidated by getting started. 

But credit card applications don’t have to be difficult. The thing is that the banks hide how they really work to confuse the consumers so they won’t learn how to game the system.

This is why you’re in the right place. I’m going to show you what factors mainly affect getting accepted for the starter cards of Chase along with an action plan on how to get accepted.

I want to preface this post with saying that we are only going to be talking about two beginner cards here, the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

If you are relatively new to credit, Chase doesn’t just hand out access to their top of the line credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. They are more selective because they are higher value cards and that’s just how the game is.

So let’s get started with the three main guesses as to what impacts the application process the most.

Approved First Chase Card

1. Recommended Score

The first thing Chase will look at is obviously your credit score. While there is no known “if you have this number you’ll be approved” answer, we can guess based on the people who post what they have when they applied and if they got approved or denied.

The Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited are both expected to approve most for credit scores over 700. There are reports of people as low as 645 getting approved though.

I signed up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited a couple years ago and believe I had a 690 - 700 score back then. I got instantly approved.

Good Credit Score

I want to clarify that there is a big range for what can be accepted and rejected because your credit score isn’t the only factor that goes into it. You can have a 750 credit score but if some of the next factors aren’t right, you could still get rejected.

I wrote a post on how to increase your credit score that can help you out if you need it. If your application isn't getting accepted and you have a score below these levels, check out the article and get that score up and come back to this later. 

2.  Credit History

This probably affects you less if you have a higher credit score because it takes time to get to the high 700s but Chase likes people who have time on their credit cards.

Now, not as much time as you would think. Most people believe around a year of credit history is recommended to apply for a Chase Card.

This isn’t a hard rule. I had multiple credit cards for years before signing up for my first Chase Card but I know people that got approved for their first without any trouble.

Basically, think of it from the bank’s perspective. You walk in there with no credit history and they can’t tell if you’re responsible or not. Chase doesn’t want to just hand out free cards so people can take advantage and then run.

If they got screwed all the time with people taking advantage they wouldn’t be able to give such great rewards so I think it’s worth it.

Average Age of Accounts


3. Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization is basically the ratio of how much you currently have on your cards divided by how much limit you have on those credit cards.

Let’s say you have $10,000 of total credit limit on two cards and you have $1500 to pay off on one and $500 to pay off on another. That adds up to $2000. 2000 divided by 10,000 equals .20 or 20%.

There is no rule for the limit on what your utilization would be to get approved but most financial experts will tell you to stay lower than 30%.

Myself and other travel hackers will tell you to keep it under 10% and ideally, no utilization at all.

When you have utilization that means you’re accruing interest, and if that’s the case, then all the rewards you’re getting by using credit cards gets wiped by paying that high interest.

This is honestly the easiest factor to change though in the grand scheme of things. It could take a year to get your credit history where you want it to be or your score to go up. You can make one payment though and bring your utilization down to a better rate. It’s that easy.

Credit Utilization Ratio

5/24 Rule

This could be even more important than what I just showed you but I wanted to tell you about those factors because they affect 95% of people who sign up for Chase Credit Cards.

Now, that you know those three things, we have to move onto the Chase 5/24 rule. We will be making an article completely explaining this but to sum it up - the Chase 5/24 rule states that you can’t be accepted for certain Chase Cards if you have applied and been accepted for five credit cards in the past 24 months.

This means even if you have a credit history of 20 years and you have a perfect credit score, if you’ve gone over this 5/24 rule, you’ll automatically get rejected. It’s just programmed into their algorithm that does the applications.

If you don’t sign up for credit cards often, then this doesn’t concern you and you can move on to the next section. But if you do, stay with me.

There are a couple ways to find out if you’re over and some ways that it could be a different number than what you think but I’ll teach you the easiest way to check right now.

Go to your Credit Karma (if you don’t have one, you need to sign up.). Find the accounts tab and under every account, whether it’s a credit card or a student loan, or a car loan, it will say the date that it was started.

Only count the credit cards and see how many were within the last 24 months. This is your X/24 count and will impact how your Chase applications go.

If you are 5/24 or over, you need to wait before trying to get many of the main Chase Cards. Give it some time and come back when you have went a while without signing up for cards. 

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek

Three Phase System

So we learned the factors that most commonly go into a credit card application with Chase and about the 5/24 rule. Now we are ready to apply.

I wanted to think of the easiest way to bring you down this path for applying so this is a three phase system. If you get through one, you can go to another if not there is a way to change it up and try something else to get where you want to be.

Phase 1: Apply for Freedom or Freedom Unlimited

This depends on which card is best for you.

I recommend the Freedom to anyone who wants to earn more points or cash back but have to pay attention every quarter to see what gives them the best ROI.

If you just want a card that you don’t have to think about and can just use, the Freedom Unlimited is the card for you.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Now if you get approved, you actually move to Phase 3 so congratulations.

If you get rejected you’re going to go to Phase 2.

Here’s a different option. If you apply and you get a message coming up saying that they need some time to think about it, there is actually a number to call to talk to a person where they can look at it with you and make the decision.

This option takes computers and formulas out of the picture and let’s you have an influence on it with a person. Now they will ask you questions so make sure your social skills are there and don’t be nervous. They are there to help but they also deal with lots of angry people every day.

Say a couple niceties like “hope your day is going well” and things like that and explain that you want to make a relationship with Chase.

This part of the Phase is actually going to be Phase 1.5.

If 1.5 works and you get approved, you get to be at Phase 3.

If rejected, go to Phase 2.

Phase 2: Apply for a Chase Slate card

Now I didn’t mention this card before this because it’s not really worth mentioning in the rewards game. It actually offers no rewards and no benefits.

The reason I’m telling you to apply for this is because it is a lot easier to get approved for this card than the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited.

You can have a low 600 score and get approved for this. The benefit of this is now Chase has information on you and can know exactly how you are with payments and how responsible you are.

If you get accepted for the Chase Slate, put a couple subscriptions on it like ​Clickfunnels or buy some things on Amazon and just make sure you pay the minimum every month. If you don’t pay it off, they’ll actually know you’re not responsible and this will have a negative effect.

In 3-6 months after getting the Slate, try Phase 1 again.

If you get rejected for the Slate, get your score up to a 700+ and get your credit history over a year. Take about six months or so and then start Phase 1 again.

Phase 3: Other Chase Cards 

Phase 3 is the easy phase. Once you break through to these first two cards, all the other Chase Cards are basically at your disposal.

They are much more likely to approve you for a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred once they have a record of you being responsible in their internal system.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Once you get to Phase 3, the sky's the limit and you can get bonuses and benefits worth 1000s of dollars for signing up for these credit cards. So worth it.

Congratulations! You're in the Chase Circle Now!

Now that we have broken down the things that impact the application process and ways to make sure you are under 5/24, you should have no problem jumping into Phase 1 and seeing where the game takes you.

Once again if you want a no-hassle card that earns you Chase UR points, the Freedom Unlimited is the card for you and we have a review on that card here if you want to learn everything about it.

If you don’t mind taking a couple minutes every quarter and really maximizing your Chase UR points, then the Freedom card is for you.

You can’t go wrong with either of these cards and I recommend everyone to get the Chase Trifecta at some point early in the game anyway.

If you’d like to learn more about travel hacking, we have a post on The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking that I’m sure you’ll love.

Also check out our resource on my Top Credit Card Recommendations for Travel Hacking.

If this process works for you, or you have either of these cards, please let me know with a comment down below.

Also if you know anyone else that would benefit from this, feel free to share this post with them to help them out.

Travel Hacking Joseph Sleek
Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: The Sign-Up Bonus, Benefits & More!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

When you first look at the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you might think that it is a normal cash back card. But once you start looking into how you can use it, the possibilities are endless. 

This is one of the cards I recommend the most in my free card consultations and probably the easiest to start with when you want to start getting into gaining travel points. 

Let’s take a look at what makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it.

Who Should Get The Chase Freedom Unlimited?

Chase Freedom Unlimited

There are a couple different types of credit card users that should get this card. 

The first route is if you really don’t want to think hard about what credit card to use, this is perfect for you.

I have a specific card for dining, a card for hotels, a card for airline purchases, a card for groceries and so on. This isn’t the process everyone wants to go down though. The Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you 1.5x return on all your purchases which is a huge benefit and makes it easy to use in any situation.

The second route that makes this card for perfect is for those that are just getting started wanting to earn points for travel. Not only is this card relatively easy to get approved for, but it can help you have more eligibility when you apply for other Chase cards later.

It has no annual fee so once you open this card, I’ll advise you to never close it and your points on your account will never expire.

One last thing to keep in mind is this card is subject to the 5/24 rule meaning if you have opened 5 or more cards in the last 24 months, you will automatically be denied for this card.

The Sign-Up Bonus

Chase Freedom Unlimited Sign-Up Bonus

Right now, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a sign-up bonus of $150 after spending $500 in the first three months of having the card. You also get an extra $25 bonus if you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months.

One of the great things about this credit card though is even though they say you can get $150 back, it’s actually 15000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. This means that you can always cash out your points at a rate of 1 cent per point.

But you can also pair this card with other cards offered by Chase and use 15000 points toward airline tickets, hotel stays and more.

I just used 14,000 UR points to book two tickets to San Diego that would have cost me $310. I’ll show you how to do all this in a moment.

Vegas & SD & Credit Cards

Ways to Earn

This card earns 1.5x on every purchase, everywhere. So you don’t have to put any brainpower into thinking about if you’re going to hit a spending cap soon or if this is a grocery store or a supermarket.

Just use the Chase Freedom Unlimited every time and your points will always be growing. 1.5% if you’re only looking for cash back isn’t bad at all but there are a couple better options.

If you only want cash back, check out the Citi Double Cash Card which earns you 2% cash back on everything you purchase.

The reason why I offer the Freedom Unlimited to most first is because of what I’m about to show you for when you redeem your points.

Ways to Redeem

Now we’ve already talked about the first way you can redeem points which is turning your points into cash back. If you have 10000 points and each point is worth 1 cent, this means you can cash it out for $100.

There are some other insignificant ways to redeem like buying gift cards that also can be redeemed at 1 cent per point but if you had a choice between $100 cash and a $100 gift card, which one would you want?

The best way to redeem UR points though is by connecting this credit card with one of the other Premium Chase Cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or th Ink Business Preferred.

Combining points across cards can allow you to turn points from your spending into full scale vacations.

Having one of these premium credit cards allows you to book travel through Chase’s Travel Portal.

If you have the Reserve, you can book at a rate of 1.5 cents per point.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Business Preferred, you can book at 1.25 cents per point.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal

This means that your 15000 point sign up bonus can kinda be looked at like 18,750 - 22,500 points if you have one of these cards.

That’s if you use the travel portal.

There is another option though. Chase gives you the opportunity to transfer these points to airline and hotel partners. This opens you up to a lot more opportunities.

Remember how I said I got two tickets for 13,000 points earlier. This is how I did it.

One of Chase’s partners is Southwest Airlines. They had a flight going from my home airport to San Diego at $155 per person. That’s $310 for two people.

What I did instead was looked up the Southwest points it would cost me to get on that same flight. Each ticket would cost me 6,313 points or 13,626 for the two of us.

Because I had points from my Chase Freedom Unlimited Card and I also had a premium card (specifically the Chase Sapphire Preferred), I can transfer my UR points over to Southwest’s program.

So I transferred 14,000 points over and paid for our flight to San Diego with points.

Now, if you’re still following, did I save money or lose money doing this and by how much? If I cashed out 14,000 points back in Chase, I would have got $140 in cash.

By using these points with Southwest, I used that same amount of points to book two tickets for $310.

This means that I more than doubled the value of those points by transferring them out.

Redemptions like this is what makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited so powerful and much more powerful than a generic cashback card.

Recommendations on Credit Score and Credit History

Good Credit Score

Whenever I recommend a card or am giving a free consultation, I have to remember that every person’s situation is different. Some of us have great credit scores and some of us have poor credit scores.

Some of us have had credit cards for 5+ years and some have had cards for 6 months.

All these things play into effect when applying for these cards.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, I recommend you have a credit score of 690+. If you don’t have a score this high, check out our post on how to increase your credit score which will help you out so you can get to the point where you can start applying for cards like this.

I also recommend that you have a credit history of at least 6 months. This means that you’ve held another credit card even a secured or student credit card for at least that time period.

This helps show Chase that you are reliable and trustworthy enough to have card with them. 

Of course, having these factors doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get approved so don’t get mad at me if you don’t. Also these rules aren’t set in stone so you might be below this and get approved as well.

No one knows (besides the banks) how these algorithms work but we can make our best guesses. 

Also one more reminder that this card counts with the 5/24 rule. This means if you have gotten more than 5 new cards in the last 24 months, you won't be eligible for this card. Don't even bother applying because you'll get automatically rejected. 

To Wrap It Up

With a lot of premium cards, you have to be able to know every detail of your card, when to use it, when not to use it, how much you need to spend on it and so on.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, it’s so simple that it is my #1 everyday, non-bonus spending card. This means I use it on things that don’t fall into other categories where I have a better card.

If you’re just starting out with credit cards or you want the simplicity of having an everyday card, I wouldn’t look any further than the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Do you have the Freedom Unlimited or do you want it? Let me know in the comments down below!

Also want to learn everything possible about Travel Hacking? Check out our Ultimate Guide on Travel Hacking post now!

Credit Cards & Vegas & SD