It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these monthly points and miles checklists. Since the year is almost up, I thought I’d focus on tasks that need to be completed before January 2018. I’m also including things that are less time-sensitive but that I always need to be reminded of so they don’t fall through the cracks. If you have anything to add, feel free to share it in the comment section:
❑ Prepare for Simon Mall’s fee-free gift card week. I called my local Simon Mall last night to find out when they were running their $0 fee Visa gift card promotion. Last year, this event took place the week of December 10 and I showed up on the last day, with most of my credit cards maxed out. Needless to say, I want to avoid that and am thus being extra vigilant this year.
I was told they’re currently offering $0 fee Visa gift cards to their corporate accounts only. A few people have asked why I don’t have a corporate account despite having a business and it’s because I’ve been asked not to by my local mall reps. When I first started buying gift cards there, I asked if I could open a corporate account and was told in the nicest possible way, no. They reserve corporate accounts for actual businesses who utilize gift cards as incentives for employees and customers. They don’t want those cards getting churned.
It’s fine. Just make sure you’re signed up for the VIP Shoppers Club, check your email for announcements, call your mall, and check this blog. I’ll post when I hear about it and hope you guys will give me a heads up as well.
❑ Register for FTU Seattle. I’ll be presenting at FTU Seattle in February. If you’re new to points and miles, want to up your MS game, or network with fellow point chasers, this event is for you. Tickets are $249 but through the end of today, you can save $30 and get a copy of Chris Guilleabeau’s new book, Side Hustle, with promo code CYBERMONDAY. Chris Guillibeau’s blog was one of the first blogs I came across as a newbie and The Art of Non-Conformiy totally changed my perspective on forging your own way to happiness.
My favorite anecdote of his is when he wrote about his job as a dish washer. He was so bad at it that when it came to the really heavy stuff – greasy pots and pans – he would simply go out back and toss them in the dumpster. Eventually his boss caught on and fired him. That story cracks me up and also made me aware of my tendency to half-ass things I don’t care about…and that I shouldn’t waste time doing them in the first place. Anyway, if you want to attend FTU Seattle, Chris Guillebeau’s talk is sure to be informative. I’m looking forward to it!
❑ Redeem the American Express Platinum Airline Fee Credit. The $200 Amex Airline Fee Credit is issued every calendar year, which means you need to redeem yours before December 31. You don’t have to redeem the credit for airline fees. You can buy airline gift cards and use them to book travel at a later date. My designated airline is Southwest. They fly out of every nearby airport nearby and offer really cheap fares. I know when use the Amex Airline Fee Credit to buy Southwest gift cards, they will not go to waste. When I missed my flight to Detroit for the Ann Arbor DO in July, I used my Southwest gift card to book a convenient flight from Ann Arbor back home. You can change your designated airline between January 1 – 31, 2018.
❑ Use the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit. Did you get your Chase Sapphire Reserve card before May 21? Then you’ll continue to receive your $300 annual travel credit based on calendar year. So make sure you put it to use before December 31. This credit is much more versatile than the Amex Platinum’s. It can be used towards hotel bookings, ride share apps, public transportation, cruises, and more. Basically, anything that Chase codes as travel will qualify for the $300 Sapphire Reserve travel credit.
❑ Limit Your Giftcards.com purchases to $30,000 per month. As I reported this past weekend, on December 1 Giftcards.com, GiftCardMall and Cardpool will limit cash back to $30,000 worth of orders per month. That’s a huge reduction considering you could, in the past, earn cash back on up to $150,000 worth of gift card purchases per month. Not anymore. The positive development here is that while you’ll only earn cash back on $30,000 worth of gift card purchases, shopping portals have already increased cash back rates on MasterCard gift cards to 1.25%. While that may not seem like a huge difference, a $2,500 order will cost you $10.95 as opposed to $17.20.
❑ Cancel credit cards. The end of the years is as good a time as any for a credit card inventory check. You should be tracking annual fee due dates year-round, but if you haven’t, now is the time. Are there any credit cards you may need to cancel in 2018? Have any credit cards lost their value beyond the sign-up bonus? Now is a good time to think about this, tally up your annual fees, and decide which credit cards need to go.
❑ Start milking your Citi Hilton Credit Cards. Speaking of cancelling cards, if you have a Citi Hilton credit card, your account will be transferred to American Express at the end of January. While you should consider cancelling it before the transfer, you should also milk that card for all it’s worth while you still can. There are two billing cycles left and Citi isn’t likely to shut you down this late in the game, so you might want to use it for manufactured spending a little more liberally than you normally would. Unless you have other Citi credit cards you don’t want shut down. In that case, try to restrain yourself.
❑ Take advantage of Amex Offers. American Express has been blowing me away with their Amex Offers selection as of late. I’ve gotten some really awesome statement credit offers for SPG, Hilton, Omni, and MGM. The retail offers were pretty nice too, including discounts from Gap and Banana Republic. My favorite, though, have been the food delivery apps. I got targeted for offers from GrubHub and Delivery.com. Stacked with that really awesome Delivery.com promotion and referral credits, this offer can be a huge money saver. Regardless of which Amex Offers you’ve been targeted for, make sure you keep track and put them to use. Some of mine are expiring before the end of the year, so this acts as a reminder for me to follow through on those offers (for reselling and personal use).
❑ Meet annual spending requirements. Lots of credit cards have generous annual spending bonuses. Whether it’s top-tier hotel elite status, airline elite qualifying miles, free hotel nights, or companion passes, you can get lots of travel freebies by meeting certain credit card spending requirements every year. Now is a good time to check out these credit card spending bonuses, assess how close you are and whether it’s worth it to channel a little extra spending towards earning it. My suggestion? If you have a Citi Hilton card and plan on cancelling it in January (without getting a new Amex Hilton Card), then go ahead and wrap up that $40,000 spending requirement now. Especially, with so many gift card churning opportunities around the corner.
❑ Hit 30 transactions on the Amex Everyday Preferred Card. This isn’t an annual spending bonus, but something I have to constantly remind myself to do. This month I’ve put a good amount of spending on the Amex EveryDay Preferred card, so I’d like to get that 50% bonus. I have, like, three days left to do it. While 30 transactions isn’t that hard to pull off, I’m just not in the habit of doing this. So once again, I’m using this post to reminder myself to get something done. And I hope it’s useful for you too. 🙂