Costco to Discontinue Amex Relationship in April 2016

Costco to Discontinue Amex Relationship in April 2016

One of the principal reasons for many to hold an Amex card is going away.

If you are like many Americans, you do most of your shopping at Costco, and you may only be holding a lower level Amex card in order to get travel and rewards points on your shopping at Costco.  That is because, per an agreement that has been in place for over a decade, Costco today only takes cash and Amex cards.  That is changing in April, when Costco will no longer be accepting Amex at all.  In announcing their failure to renew the Costco agreement, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault said, "We were unable to reach terms that would have made economic sense for our company and shareholders."

Costco already has replaced their exclusive Amex partnership in Canada with one with Capital One.  In the US, it is more likely that Costco will partner directly with Visa or Mastercard from April 2016 onwards.

Under any circumstance, the failure of Costco and Amex to renew their relationship may prompt Costco-shopping Americans to revisit their own relationship with Amex.  The travel and rewards points that you are earning on an Amex card may be increasingly less valuable than the points that you could earn somewhere else, depending on how and where you are redeeming them.  In the hotel space for example, Starwood points earned through Amex's Starwood card are valuable, but BestCashCow's hotel point survey shows that Hyatt points (earned through Chase) and Club Carlson points (earned through US Bank) are more valuable.  Likewise, BestCashCow's airline points survey shows that Delta miles earned through Amex have become substantially less valuable than United miles (earned through Chase) and American miles (earned through Citibank).  Transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to British Airways, however, continues to be a good option, especially during those periods where Amex allows members to transfer them at as high as a 1 Membership rewards to 1.40 Avios ratio.

I, like many, have largely moved my personal Amex spend to Chase in order to accumulate the more valuable United and Hyatt points (Chase also offers British Airways as a transfer partner, but only at a 1:1 ratio).  While I still enjoy the benefits of the Amex Platinum card for my business spend and will not be reconsidering that card, the Costco - Amex chasm will cause me to cancel my personal Amex cards when they come up for renewal. 

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 Unveils New In-Branch 60,000 Offer on Ink Plus

Chase Unveils New In-Branch 60,000 Offer on Ink Plus

Chase is now offering 60,000 points to those who open the Ink Plus card and charge $5,000 within 3 months. While this offer is shy of its recent 70,000 point offer, Chase is now waiving its $95 annual fee for the first year for those opening the card in a branch location.

Editor's Note: The Ink Business Preferred ® card has replaced the Ink Plus ® card for new business card issuances from Chase.  The card offers an 80,000 point sign-up bonus for $5,000 in spend across the first 3 months.  More information on this product and other travel rewards business cards is available here.

The Chase Ink Plus card is rated by BestCashCow as one of the best small business credit cards.     This is due principally to outstanding customer service, to bonus spending categories and to the value of the points when transferred to certain partners.  For example, the 60,000 points if transferred to British Airways are worth as much as $1,680 when transferred to British Airways, $1,200 when transferred to United or $2,100 at Hyatt.   Please note that these valuations are according to BestCashCow’s analysis of the maximum point values and the value in the points that you extract may be less (see airline point values and hotel point values).

One of the most interesting things about the card is that while it is designed for small business use, you do not necessarily need to have established a small business in order to receive it.  Unlike Amex, Chase will allow you to enter your own social security number instead of an federal EIN.   As a result, the card is ideal for those thinking about starting a small business who want to begin to segregate expenses associated with the endeavor.  It is especially ideal when Chase offers you a window to get it without an annual fee for the first year.

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 Produces Its Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonus Ever

Chase Produces Its Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonus Ever

For a limited time, Chase has raised the sign-up bonus for its Ink Plus card, giving 70,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

Chase's 70,000 bonus points on the Ink Plus is clearly designed as a limited time offer.  It is unclear when it will expire, but anyone considering opening a Chase card should act quickly to get in on this offer.

Chase's ordinary offer of the Ink Plus card is 50,000 points.   The limited time offer does not involve a waiver of the $95 annual fee for the first year (as it is with the 50,000 point offer).  Points earned on the Ink Plus card are transferrable to Hyatt and British Airways, among other partners.  BestCashCow.com's hotel program valuation chart values Hyatt points as high as 3.5 cents per point, and the airline rewards program valuation chart values BA points as high as 2,7 cents per point.  Even with recent program valuation declines, most Ink Plus applicants will have no no problem extracting more than $95 out of the additional 20,000 Chase points.

Even those who are not involved with Hyatt's and British Airways' loyalty programs will find applying for the card now to be attractive.  At a minimum, you can redeem points through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center at 1.25 cents per point ($780 in value from the sign up bonus alone, even after accounting for the $95 fee).

BestCashCow.com ranks the Ink Bold credit card as the most valuable small biz credit card.   The Ink Plus card is very, very similar to that card, but adds some additional benefits, including 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, landline, internet and cable TV service.  

BestCashCow.com does not condone or encourage credit card flipping for the purpose  of accruing rewards (even though issuers allow it to be done with impunity).  Those websites that advice customers how to maximize point accruals through opening multiple accounts (such as ThePointsGuy and ViewFromTheWing) point out that the Ink Plus card can be obtained by those who may already have an Ink Bold card, and that Chase often issues these cards to individuals (these sites recommend that their readers open both these cards and the Sapphire card).  Under any circumstance, the current 70,000 point bonus offer makes it well considering right now.


 

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.