YMMV Amex Blue Offers Upgrade to Preferred with $150 Bonus on $1000+ spend

If you have an American Express Blue credit card, check your AMEX Offers (at their website or app). You may have been offered an Upgrade promotion to the Blue Cash Preferred credit card. The upgrade promo is a $150 statement credit if you make $1000+ in purchases during the first three months of the upgrade.

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You can sign up now for the Discover Q1 2017 Cashback Bonus

Time flies and already, if you have a Discover credit card, you can pre-signup for the Q1 of 2017 5% cashback bonus rewards categories. The earning period is the usual calendar quarter, January 1st until March 31st in 2017. Don’t wait until the last day of the quarter though, as some of the transactions may not get in the system on time to earn the rewards.

Amazon is no longer going to be featured, so if you want to still get 5%, simply buy Amazon gift cards in Q4 2016 (if you are still under $1500 for your card).


The categories are pretty good though for Q1:2017, you get Gas Stations (almost everyone with a car needs gas), wholesale clubs (Costco doesn’t accept Discover, so by default it is not eligible), and ground transportation (but travel agencies or travel aggregators are not eligible). You can find a detailed list of what exactly is eligible and ineligible on the Discover website.

Some of the notable exclusions: gas stations at superstores/supermarkets may not be eligible (only way to tell for sure is try it and do the math in your statement).

If you have multiple Discover credit cards, good news, the $1500 limit is per account, not per person/SSN.

AMEX Blue Preferred Twitter Offer: 10% back on Amazon (up to $200 or 6 mos)

Twitter too is a good place to find deals, case in point, among the various annoying sponsored tweets, you may actually find something useful. American Express is running a Blue Preferred Card promotion that in addition to the regular cashback rewards, you receive 10% back on Amazon purchases, up to $200 in Rewards (= up to $2000 in purchases) or for the next six months, whichever happens first. This is great for the holiday shopping season since most people spend a lot more during that time. In addition, you may be able to qualify for $250 back when you make $1000+ in purchases within the first three months.

NOTE that the Blue PREFERRED has a $95 annual fee. As much as you may find annual fees revolting, this is actually better than the regular no-annual fee AMEX Blue if you make an average of $265+ monthly purchases in groceries (or any other combination of bonus-percent category purchases).

This is because groceries are 3% with the default Blue. With this one, you get 6% (up to $6000 in purchases per year). So for the Preferred to be …preferable (sorry, I couldn’t resist), you need the extra 3% to be higher than $95 per year. Pull up the calculator, and the break even point is $3164 per year or $264 average per month. So if you spend more than that, you get more cashback with the Preferred even with the annual fee.

But you don’t just get more % rewards on groceries. You also get 3% on department stores and gas stations versus 2% with the no-fee Blue.

Discover Card Redemption Special: Use $20, Get $25 Red Robin Gift Card

If you have a Discover Credit Card (or any other Discover account that is eligible for their rewards program), and you have at least $20 of rewards available in your account, they are running a special promotion on Red Robin gift card, you use $20 of your rewards to receive a $25 Red Robin gift card (plastic card by mail or by e-mail). This is highlighted when you go through the various gift card redemption options. Screenshot below:


I do not know when this offer expires.

Discover’s 4th Quarter 5% Cashback is Amazon, Department Stores and Sam’s Club

No Amazon as a 5% 4th quarter category from Chase Freedom, but Discover saves the day with their 4th quarter 5% rewards, continuing on with Amazon that was also a featured category in the third quarter.


Coming along for the ride with Amazon are Department Stores, another very popular category during the holidays (obviously), along with Sam’s Club. Costco doesn’t accept Discover so they couldn’t include them even if they wanted to. Needless to say, between these three categories, it’s not that hard to get to $1500.

Remember, everything you buy from Amazon qualifies for the 5%, including Prime memberships, and monthly subscriptions, and digital content, and gift cards and such.

As usual, the quarterly spending limit is $1500 per credit card, not per person, so if you have two Discovers, you get $1500 per. By $1500 I mean the purchase maximum, so the most you will get rewards-wise from this is $75. After that, it reverts to the standard 1% (or whatever rate your card is at). This applies to Chase and Citibank as well.

Discover does not allow retroactive activation, so make sure you activate it ASAP!

Strategically, you have to triangulate department store purchases between this and Chase, since they both feature them.

Chase 5% 4th Quarter 2016 categories are now LIVE

October 2016 is here, and this means a new round of 5% cashback categories from some of the biggest credit card companies. We start the Q4 round-up with the Chase Freedom / Ultimate Rewards program. Their 5% categories for the period covering October 1st until December 31st in 2016 are:


Yes, this is another holiday shopping season tinged selection, with a variety of Department stores but also Warehouse Clubs joining the party. That includes Costco who is no longer an AMEX-only shop. Warehouse Clubs were also a 5% category in the third quarter, so continue the Sam’s Club and BJ’s and Costco shopping sprees 🙂

Last but not least are the Drugstores, another place of frequent purchases. With all these categories, it’s not hard to reach the quarterly limit of $1500, so plan your purchases according to the various credit card rewards to max out the benefits. Remember the $1500 limit is per credit card, not per person, so if you have two Chase Freedoms, it’s $1500 per card.

The other nice thing Chase does is that you can retroactive earn rewards going back to October 1st even if you active now. There is a deadline before the end of the quarter to activate, but it is very generous. I always pre-activate before the new quarter begins, so I haven’t tested this yet. But they mention it prominently in their FAQs and such.

Here’s the big picture of their 2016 quarterly categories, but keep in mind, there’s no guarantee the exact same line-up will appear in 2017. There’s typically some overlap, but they move things around as well.


YMMV $25 off a $50+ Amazon purchase if you pay with American Express Membership Points

If you have an American Express credit card that is participating in the Membership Points, there’s a hot new promotion running at Amazon until 12/31/16 that gets you $25 off a purchase of $50+ of items sold and shipped by Amazon actual (not by marketplace sellers) IF you pay (at least partially) with your American Express Membership points.

You don’t even have to pay for the full order amount with AMEX points. You can select how many points you want to use. This is important because the exchange rate is not favorable. One AMEX Point is the equivalent of less than a penny.

If you have eligible credit cards in your account, you will see this offer while adding items to your shopping cart or advancing to the checkout page.

NOTE: this promotion is YMMV as it may be targeted to customers with AMEX Membership Points in their account and it may be further sub-targeted based on whatever factors Amazon’s computers use to decide to offer these things. I have no way of knowing how many people are eligible…

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YMMV: 5% Cashback with AT&T Universal Card on Computers/Electronics, Toys, Department Stores, Clothing

If you have the AT&T Universal credit card, check your emails or messages on the website. A new offer was pushed out to members, but I have no way of knowing whether this is available to all or a subset of their card holders…

The offer is this: you can 5% cashback until 11/30/16 on purchases in four different store categories: computers and electronics stores (NICE!), Clothing stores, Department Stores, and Toy stores. Exclusions apply (as usual). This sounds nice but it is capped at a $25 bonus cashback. When you do the month, this means your $625 spending in these categories will get you 5%. Anything about that, will get you the standard 1%.

Screenshot of the offer below, highlighting the important parts:


You MUST MANUALLY ACTIVATE the offer by pressing the One-Click button in your email or message.

Benefit Reduction Alert for Amazon Shop With Points using Chase Ultimate Rewards starting 9/1/16

The benefit reduction trend continues with credit card reward redemptions. It is now Chase’s term to do this, for Ultimate Rewards credit cards. I do not know if this applies to ALL or SOME Freedom credit cards. Starting September 1st, if you want to use your accumulated Chase Rewards to pay directly for Amazon purchases, you will no longer enjoy the favorable 1:1 (1 point = 1 penny) exchange rate.


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YMMV AMEX Offers: 5000 Membership Points on $299+ at Dell

If you have an American Express credit card that has Membership Points rewards (not the AMEX Blue that has cashback rewards), check your offers. You may be eligible for a new Dell offer as you can see in the screenshot below (View Larger):


If you spend $299+ at Dell.com by September 12 in 2016, you will receive 5,000 Membership points, which you can redeem for a $50 gift card at a number of national retailers and restaurants (those that offer 1:1 points to pennies exchange). Based on the text of the offer, you don’t have to make the $299+ purchase in a single transaction, so it can be cumulative. So you don’t have to do it with a PC purchase, it could be random accessories purchased over time.

Before all that happens, you have to add the offer to your card. This is easy, all you have to do is press the “Add to Card” button.

IMPORTANT: even though the offer expires 9/12/16, it doesn’t mean the sign-up will be offered in your account until then. If you think you are going to use it, you must “Add to Card” now. They often have a limited time of sign-ups, so the offer may no longer be available for sign-ups long before it expires.

YMMV: 10% back on Gas Purchases with AMEX

This is a YMMV promotion that may be available as part of the AMEX Offers. Of the two AMEX credit cards I have, only the AMEX Blue showed this promotion in my account, but there’s no guarantee that every Blue cardmember will be offered this promotion. So there’s a big YMMV. The easiest way to find out if you are eligible is to logon to your AMEX account and check the Offers section below the summary. If you are eligible, you should see something like this (screenshot below):


Once you add the offer to your account, you have until the end of September 2016 to use it. You get 10% back every time you make a gas purchase until then. The maximum statement credit you’ll get from this promotion is $25, in other words $250 in gas purchases. This offer is stackable with the Plenti rewards program, so you’ll earn some points there too. I’m assuming it’s also stackable with the 2X Gas Earnings that’s a default feature of the AMEX Blue.

Once you add to your card, you also receive a nice confirmation email from AMEX (screenshot below):


ShopDiscover: 10% back on Samsung Store purchases

If you have a Discover credit card, check the ShopDiscover section of your account. You may be eligible for a promotion that gets you 10% cashback on purchases made at the Samsunng website until 6/30/16. Here’s a screenshot of that. Look at your account for more details.


NOTE however that there are some exceptions to this promotion, as you can see in the screenshot below:

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5% Discover Q3 2016 Credit Card Rewards is Amazon and Home Improvement

The third quarter (July 1 until September 30) of credit card cashback rewards in 2016 is another promising one. We already mentioned that Chase Freedom gets you 5% at Restaurants and Wholesale Clubs. Complementing that is Discover, whose Q3 promotions cover Amazon and Home Improvement stores. They have the same limit of $1500 total spend in those two categories for the quarter.


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Costco launches new VISA credit card for members

If you are a Costco member, the times they are a-changing! It’s goodbye American Express and hello VISA, more specifically, Citibank VISA. That’s the new official credit card for purchases at their stores and website and it comes with a different rewards program. You can see a summary in the screenshot below:


You get the usual 2% cashback for purchases at Costco, except for Gas prices that earn 4% at Costsco but also at other gas stations. Restaurants and travel earn 3%, while everything else that doesn’t fall into the above categories gets the usual 1% default. The gas purchases have an annual cap of $7,000 per year at 4%, and then the usual 1%.

Strategically, you can do better in each of these categories if you participate in the quarterly credit card bonus rewards from Chase, Discover and Citibank. However, those are quarterly and you rarely get enough overlap between them in the various categories to carry you throughout the year. So when you can’t a favorable 5%, Costco’s numbers (on Gas, Restaurants, Travel) are better than a 2% default credit card (eg the Citi Dividend that pays you on the payment end of things).

Remember that Citi Forward has pulled the plug on their generous 5% on Amazon and Restaurants/Entertainment, so the options are more limited now.

5% Chase Freedom Rewards for Third Quarter of 2016 are Restaurants and Wholesale Clubs

The third quarter of 2016 is looking to be another hot one for Chase Freedom Rewards member. Their 5% cashback categories, with the usual $1500 purchase cap, are Restaurants and Wholesale Clubs which includes Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s. As usual, restaurants include a variety, from fast food to fancy restaurants, and in previous iteration, this also included some semi-restaurants, like Starbucks.


You can begin earning these 5% rewards between July 1st and September 30 in 2016. You can activate the promotion now, but the earnings in these categories begin July 1st.

Strategically this works great, because for the second quarter (ending June 30, 2016), you are earning 5% at Restaurants with Discover and Grocery Stores and Wholesale clubs with Chase. In other words, the Wholesale club promotion continues this quarter as well.

NOTE that for WholeSale Clubs, certain purchases (gas/fuel and specialty services) are NOT eligible. If not sure, contact Chase or do a trial-and-error thing by doing the math on your statement.

If you have multiple Chase Freedom credit card, each one has a limit of $1500 in purchases. In other words, the maximum reward you will earn from this promotion during a calendar quarter is $75 (5% of $1500). Any orders above $1500 in those categories will simply earn the usual 1% cashback. So if you have multiple cards, strategically split your orders between them if you are anywhere near the quarterly limits.

UPDATE: Chase has a list of eligible Restaurants, of interest if you are wondering whether your favorite chain stores are eligible. Independent and individual restaurants are NOT listed there but they are eligible.