Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2018

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are those of the author, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank advertiser, card issuer, airline or hotel.

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Very Questionable Financial Judgment

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Very Questionable Financial Judgment

Within the last 24 hours, there has been a lot of analysis of required financial disclosures around Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

It is clear that Judge Kavanaugh, together with his wife, has a positive net worth of over $1 million between the equity in their Chevy Chase home, their retirement accounts and their savings accounts.   I personally believe that this is a fair net worth estimate for a Federal Judge who has never worked in private practice.

What I find difficult to fathom is that these same disclosures revealed that he held credit card debt between $15,000 and $50,000 on each of three credit cards at some point in 2017.  In other words, Judge Kavanaugh, at some point in time, held no less than $45,000 in credit card debt and probably much more.   Even if that debt was just transactional – in order to buy Washington Nationals tickets for his friends – it should have been paid off immediately and it was obviously carried for some length of time in order to require federal reporting.

Anyone who reads their credit card disclosures (anyone with a pulse) knows that the rate on credit card debt can easily be above 16%.  Those who are well versed in the law, as is Judge Kavanaugh, will know that such debt easily get as high as 36% without violating most States’ usury laws, and as outlined in the Credit Card Act of 2009 or Marquette National Bank versus First Omaha Corp.

To be clear, credit cards should be used as a financial instrument to generate rewards, particularly travel rewards, and balances should always be paid off by the payment date.  

Find the best credit card sign-up bonuses here.

Find the most valuable credit cards for your spend profile here.

But individuals or couples with a positive net worth of $1 million, especially those who own a home, should not be carrying credit card debt on their credit cards.   Instead, they should look at home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, auto loans or even personal loans for the liquidity required to avoid even a single interest payment at a rate which anyone of sound financial judgment would easily determine to be absurd.

Image: Wikipedia

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are those of the author, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank advertiser, card issuer, airline or hotel.

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Chase Makes the Hyatt Card A Sensible Alternative to Sapphire Reserve

Chase Makes the Hyatt Card A Sensible Alternative to Sapphire Reserve

BestCashCow has been a big fan of the Hyatt program for many, many years.   We’ve always viewed Hyatt points as among the most valuable points that you can accumulate for your credit card spend.  Historically, only your spend on the Starwood card or the Fairmont card can produce more valuable hotel points (and those cards are now both being removed or adjusted downward in value).  See here how we value hotel points today.

The Hyatt card, however, has not really provided more value than several other Chase cards over the last few years, even to loyal Hyatt customers.   Until recently, it gave you only 40,000 Hyatt points for signing up and no more for your spend in any category than you would receive by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.   As Chase points earned through the Sapphire Reserve card as well as the Sapphire Preferred card and many other Chase cards are freely transferrable to Hyatt, there has been little reason to keep a Hyatt card in it your wallet.

Yesterday, Hyatt and Chase announced a revamped card that provides 60,000 Hyatt points for signing up (40,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and an additional 20,000 after spending a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months).   The categories have been changed so that the new card gives 4x the points at Hyatt (more than the 3x that the Reserve provides) as well as 2x for gym membership and ride sharing services (the Reserve only provides 1x here).   The new card, therefore, is one that you might want to keep next the Reserve in your wallet even after meeting the promotional spend.

If you have the old Hyatt card, your point earnings have not changed, although you may get an offer to upgrade to this card.  You could also cancel in and apply for the new card, although Chase only allows one sign-up bonus for all Hyatt cards every 24 months.  The new Hyatt card is not subject to Chase’s 5-24 rule.

Apply for the new Hyatt card here.

Use the BestCashCow credit card tool to find the most valuable travel rewards credit card for your spend profile here

 

Image: Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are those of the author, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank advertiser, card issuer, airline or hotel.

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Years of Earning Points and Miles for My Credit Card Spend With Only a Few Regrets

Years of Earning Points and Miles for My Credit Card Spend With Only a Few Regrets

I have been earning points and miles for my spend – all of my spend – for many, many years.   I know that I have played the system well, earning valuable hotel stays and airline tickets (and transferrable points) that have enabled me and my family to stay at places that I might not otherwise have been able to afford (or that I might have viewed as too costly) had I merely taken cash back for my spend.   There are very, very few regrets, but here are three.

Spending More Money for Points or Miles

Many times, I’ve been sucked into paying more to put something on my credit card rather than paying less in cash (each time I go to a gas station, for example) or rather than a direct withdrawal from my bank account (each time I use PayPal).   I’ve even paid estimated taxes with pay1040.com in order to get travel points on a credit card.   The truth is that unless you are working on getting to a promotional spend amount for a sign up bonus or to meet some sort of other spend threshold, it just doesn’t make sense to ever pay a premium to use your credit card.

Not Using My Point Balance before Devaluations or Expirations

Over the last decade virtually every airline has devalued their travel miles by making valuable redemptions both more costly and availability more restricted.   None has done this more than Delta which has virtually rendered its program worthless.   Since my Delta miles were largely accumulated through many years of loyalty when I lived in Russia and Spain (and not so much through credit cards), the program’s devaluation has been especially painful.   I regret now not having burned their miles as soon as I earned them, as I rarely find attractive redemption opportunities these days.

Devaluations of hotel points haven’t been as severe over the years as those of airline points, except for the Radisson Rewards devaluation three years ago. (At that time, the program was known as Club Carlson).   Three years ago, in an instant, the program moved from providing outstanding value at the Mayfair Hotel in London, where 50,000 points yielded two nights,to yielding only one night for 70,000 points.   On reflection, I should have used all my Radisson points at that hotel before the change, but I was concerned about spending too much time in a hotel where Putin had brought plutonium-210 through the lobby to poison Alexander Litvinenko a few years earlier.

Not Knowing the Benefits of A Credit Card

Some cards, like the Amex Platinum card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, have so many benefits that it is difficult to keep track of them.

The Platinum card gives holders Gold status at Starwood hotels which allows for late checkouts, ungraded rooms, and, until recently, free breakfasts.  I mistakenly failed to realize that Marriott was matching this status immediately after the merger, and stayed countless nights at Marriott where the benefits – especially the breakfast - would have been really nice to have.

Of course, my failure to get this right was probably more attributable to the fact that Amex representatives were consistently unable to answer simple questions about these benefits which I called.  I encountered similar frustrations when Chase’s representatives were unable to explain the Ralais & Chateaux benefits that they advertise (in fact,  Relais’s own customer support was based in Europe and was equally unfamiliar with benefit offers).

All in all, the regrets associated with using travel rewards credit cards have been few and the benefits many.

See the best sign-up bonuses.

See the most valuable travel credit cards for spend.

Explore the most valuable cards for your spend profile.

Image: Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are those of the author, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank advertiser, card issuer, airline or hotel.

Advertising Disclosure: This site may be compensated for hosting offers.