WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET??

Well, I’m always looking for ways to grow my “travel bank” as I’m sure you are if you’re reading this post.  I’m on top of all miles & points deals, big & small.  The little deals are great and I’m always posting about them as I find them but if you really want to get in the game seriously it’s with credit card bonuses & earnings associated with them.  I know for some this is not possible right now and that’s why I write about all the other deals too.   If you have lots of debt, you really need to stay out of this arena and focus on getting that debt down or completely paid off.  If you are trying to repair your credit so you can get into this part of game I have a section of my site specifically to help you there.  Check out Credit Repair under “Resources”.  There are also specific credit cards on my site for college students with no real credit history or credit cards that require very low scored for approval.  These will help you build & establish a good record of credit.  I would suggest starting here if this is your situation.  If on the other hand if your credit us good then you are ready to get into this game.  If you don’t know what your credit is like then I suggest going to Credit Monitoring under “Resources” and finding one of the sites there that you can check your credit for free.
 
So now you are wondering what’s in my wallet.  Well, I don’t carry a ton of cards.  I usually only have two in my wallet at a time.  The rest are in my little desk drawer.  The cards currently in my wallet are the Chase Sapphire and the Starwood Preferred AMEX.  Unless, I’m trying to meet a minimum spend on a card then it will be in my wallet until I’ve done so.  Like currently, I have the Delta Skymiles card because I just got it again in 2011 for the 45k limited time offer.  This offer is not still available but the 30k is still available.
 
So here is the benefit breakdown on why the Starwood Preferred Credit Card & the Chase Sapphire are my go to cards.

STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS

These two offers may not seem like a ton of points but you must understand the Starwood points value.  They are valued at around 2.3 cents per point.  Here I will give you a personal example.  I just booked a category 6 Starwood property for my husband & I to stay at.  The room cost is $600+.  I have booked 2 nights which cost me 27,000 Starwood points.  If I paid cash for the room, it would be $1,200 plus tax. So you can see that in my real life example these points are valued 4.5 cents per dollar (.045 x 27,000 = $1,215).  So basically the way I have maximized my Starwood points in this example, my one Starwood bonus essentially gave me a $1200 plus hotel stay for my husband & I.  Pretty high value, I’d say!  You can also use Cash & Points options for booking hotels and this give you a very high redemption option too.  I’ll discuss this in more detail in a future post regarding getting the best value from your points.
The other awesome benefit of Starwood points is they can be transferred to almost any airline at a 1:1 ratio.  You will also receive a 5,000 miles bonus when you transfer 20,000 points.  So 20,000 points equals 25,000 miles.  The only airlines that are not a good transfer partner are United, Continental & Air New Zealand.  United & Continental transfer at a 2:1 ratio and Air New Zealand transfers at a 65:1 ratio.  Not a good deal! So don’t plan on using Starwood points for these airlines.  You can see why the Starwood AMEX is one of the cards in my wallets now and I only keep two in there.  I do have both personal & business because I wanted both bonuses.

Card Name

Rewards

Annual Fee- $65
Waived first year
  • 10,000 Starpoints with your first purchase
  • 15,000 more Starpoints when you spend $5,000 in 6 months
  • Redeem Starpoints at over 1,000 participating hotels & resortsor for flights on over 350 airlines, all with no blackout dates.Earn one Starpoint per eligible dollar & two Starpoints at participating hotels & resorts when you use the Card.
  • 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to miles
Annual Fee – $65
Waived first year
  • 10,000 Starpoints with your first purchase
  • 15,000 more Starpoints when you spend $5,000 in 6 months
  • Redeem Starpoints at over 1,000 participating hotels & resorts or
    for flights on over 350 airlines, all with no blackout dates.
  • Earn one Starpoint per eligible dollar & two Starpoints at participating hotels & resorts when you use the Card.
  • 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to miles

TOTAL STARWOOD POINTS POSSIBLE:
25,000 Starwood Preferred Guest Card
25,000 Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card
50,000 Starwood Points
Rough Estimated Value:
2 cents per point = $1,000
4 cents per point = $2,000

Chase Sapphire

Card Name

Rewards

Annual Fee- $95
Waived first year
  • Book travel – hotel, airfare, car rental, cruises, airport parking, 
  • buy travel gift cards,
  •  make restaurant reservation
  • book experiences (arts & entertainment, culinary & wine, sports & leisure)
  • shop for merchandise (everything from A to Z)
  • order a cash back check – 1,000 pts = $10.00, 10,000 pts =$100.00 & 100,000 pts = $1,000.00. 
  •  Pay yourself back – Turn your points into a credit on your credit card.  You designate how much the credit you will need and transfer the points.
  • Donate to points to your favorite charity
  • Transfer for on a 1:1 ratio to: Amtrak, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Hyatt, Priority Club, Korean Air, Marriott, & United Mileage Plus & recently added Southwest Airlines
  • No fee to transfer points.  American Express charges $6 per 10,000 points transferred.
  • Points transfer appear instantly in transferred account
  • You don’t need to register an account prior to transferring points like with AMEX.
  • You can transfer to anyone’s frequent flyer or reward account.  Not just your own.  This is sweet!
  • Points from their Ultimate Rewards Mall posts within the week and you receive an email confirming those points.  Sometimes you have to wait forever for points to post and end up having to email vendors to get your points.  Chase is really on the ball on this.
 
FLEXIBILITY is my word when it comes to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program.  You just have so much of it with this program.  There is no question about that!  If you have both Chase Ultimate Reward points and AMEX Membership Reward points, you really are set.  Here is the cash back check I recently order from my account.  I’m investing this money and saving it for european train travel.
chase-saphhire-ckeck_edited-1
 
 
Transfer to so many programs:
ultimate-rewards-partners
 
 
  • You can transfer points to your Ultimate Rewards account from other Chase cards like the Chase Freedom card.  The Freedom card is meant to be a cash back card but you can transfer your points to your Ultimate Rewards account.  The Chase Freedom card does quarterly category points bonuses for spending.  The bonus categories for October through December are: Charities, Dining, Department Stores & Movies.These can really add up and be transferred to your Ultimate Rewards account and at your disposal for all your travel needs.  If you change your mind and want cash, don’t fear because you can also receive a cash back check sent to you from your Ultimate Rewards account too.  Lastly, the Chase Freedom is a no annual fee card so you can hold on to this one.
Really the Ultimate Rewards program is quite superior to many other programs right now even it’s big competitor Membership Rewards through American Express.
 
Check out their demo site to see how the Ultimate Reward program functions and see for yourself the flexibility.
 
FOR MORE DETAILS ON BOTH CARDS:
 

CHASE SAPPHIRE – 40,000 Bonus Points
CHASE FREEDOM – VISA $200 Cash Back (20,000 bonus points)
CHASE FREEDOM – MASTERCARD $200 Cash Back (20,000 bonus points)

So what’s in your wallet?  Love to know you favorite card and why?  Does anyone disagree that Starwood Preferred & Chase Sapphire are one of the “top dogs” in the rewards credit card world?  What’s your opinion?

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