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Tips

So, you’re thinking about adding some plastic to your wallet. You want to take advantage of as many bonuses and offers as possible, and you definitely want to earn cash back where you can. You may even be thinking about travel hacking, where you open a number of new accounts in order to reel in a number of introductory point, mile, and cash back offers. Where do you look first?

524 rule

Chase offers a wide variety of credit cards with different perks, including low-fee balance transfers, travel rewards, rotating cash back categories, and even 5% back at Amazon. They are one of the more prominent card issuers, and frequently issue large sign-up bonuses to encourage new customers. Chase, however, has an interesting rule that makes them stand out when it comes to travel hacking.

The 5/24 Rule

You may have heard about their 5/24 Rule, especially if you’ve spent any time researching card hacking.

Simply put, if you’ve opened up 5 new accounts in the last 24 months, you’ll be denied for most Chase credit cards. This rule is all but inflexible, even with calls to customer service to beg them to reconsider. This is unfortunate, as it could lead to you missing out on some of the largest sign-up bonuses seen on credit cards to-date.

One important note: there are numerous reports that being pre-approved in a Chase branch for these cards leads to approval for the card. Anecdotally, I traveled to New York City last November and was approved in-branch for the Chase Sapphire Reserve at 12/24 accounts. So, this work-around could be a possibility if you live near a Chase branch.

Check Out Its Brother Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you’re considering taking on the travel hacking game (beware: it requires strong organization skills and a lot of attention to detail!), Chase should be high up on the list of issuers to pursue. You’ll be applying for credit cards regularly, so you’ll quickly exceed the limitations for the 5/24 rule. For example, in the last 24 months, I’ve applied and been approved for 15 cards. In the world of travel hackers, that’s not even on the high side of new accounts.

Cards Not Under 5/24

The following cards are reportedly not under Chase’s 5/24 rule:

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa (I was approved last month at 13/24)
  • British Airways
  • Fairmont
  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Disney (both Rewards and Premier)
  • AARP
  • Marriott Business (note: there are conflicting reports on this but I was approved last October at 11/24)

Note that these credit cards will still result in a hard pull and the opening of a new account. So, if you’re interested in them, you should prioritize them after you’ve put yourself past the 5/24 threshold.

Which Card First?

First of all, a disclaimer: if you’re getting into travel hacking, here’s the criteria you need to meet:

  • Have an excellent credit score (I would put this at 720+, if not 740+)
  • Pay off your credit card statement balances in full each month
  • Be disciplined and organized with your money
  • Be able to meet the minimum spend on a new credit card without being financially irresponsible
  • Be unafraid of spending time doing research — there are no shortcuts here!

I would prioritize Chase cards as follows:

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
  2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
  3. Chase Ink Preferred
  4. Chase United MileagePlus Explorer
  5. Chase Marriott Rewards
  6. Chase Freedom
  7. Chase Freedom Unlimited
  8. Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

Note that there are more than 5 on this list, so you’ll have to do some research as to which card is right for you. The Chase Sapphire and Ink lines earn Ultimate Rewards points. These offer flexible and valuable redemptions across a number of airlines and other travel partners. The Chase Freedom line offers cash back perks as statement credits. The other branded cards like United and Marriott offer brand-specific points and miles.

I’ve prioritized the United and Marriott cards ahead of the Freedom cards for a few reasons. First, it’s possible to change your credit card to the no-fee Freedom cards after some time. So, if you’re a Sapphire Preferred cardholder and you’d like to discontinue paying the fee, it’s possible to change that card over to a Freedom.

Second, the bonuses for those two branded cards are relatively valuable at the moment. The United offer at 50,000 miles is higher than it was in 2016. The Marriott points are now eligible to transfer to Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express at a good rate (3:1).

If I were just getting into travel hacking, I would be going straight down this list. You may be put off by the Ink Preferred being a business card, but applying for a business card isn’t as daunting as it might seem. Many people run small self-owned business through eBay selling or Etsy shops, and it’s perfectly reasonable to have a business line of credit for those expenses. The process is nearly exactly the same as a personal application; you’ll just need to provide some information about the type of business you operate.

To 5/24-ers and Beyond

My advice to the unfortunate folks who are past 5/24: don’t worry about it. While some of these bonuses are stellar (the previous Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus at 100,000 points was great while it lasted), the sheer number of other card issuers and bonuses means that there’s no shortage of great perks to be had.

Lately I’ve been focusing my efforts on airlines like Delta and American, as well as Membership Rewards points through American Express. New cards are constantly being rotated in and out. So, it’s more important to be able to jump on the higher bonuses when available, than to worry about getting back under 5/24.

Best of luck out there, and happy travels!

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This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, Consumerism Commentary staff writer.

The temptation to spend money is everywhere, especially during the holidays. There is something magical about lights glowing, soft Christmas music playing everywhere, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that seems to make money fly right out of everyone’s wallet.

Whether you enjoy the busyness of the holiday as much as I do, or not, it’s likely you have a few gifts to purchase during the week leading up to Christmas. You may, like me, still have some items still unchecked on your list, or you might be one of the 19% of holiday shoppers who haven’t started their holiday shopping. Either way, you can get your holiday shopping faster than Santa can fill stockings by trying these suggestions to curb your holiday spending. (note: the same principles apply year round)

  • Make a list, and check it twice: I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. A holiday shopping list is the ideal way to keep your spending in check. Just like a grocery list it will keep you from forgetting you already bought a gift for Great Aunt Sylvia or worse leaving someone off your list.
  • Take advantage of FREE Shipping Day: Today only, December 17, is “Free Shipping Day” at many etailers. For a complete list go to FreeShipping.com If a retailer isn’t on that list, try calling their stores or customer service line. Some companies, such as Land’s End at Sears, offer free shipping if you order from the store. What could be a better way to finish your gift list from the comfort of your own home.
  • Look, but don’t touch: When you touch an item you are more likely to buy it, according to Time magazine. Keep your hands in your pockets, or if you can’t keep from touching look at the sticker price first, so you can shock yourself into not buying.
  • Concentrate on the recipient: While it should go without saying, putting yourself in your recipient’s shoes will allow you to walk away from overspending. I found myself dreaming of a particular toy that I have not been able to find for one of the kids. After considering a web-wide hunt for said gift, I realized it was my own nostalgia that colored my perception of the “perfect” gift. I could give a gift that was similar for half the cost, and the kiddo would still be thrilled.
  • Shop after the holiday: If you don’t have small children, or will be visiting far-flung relatives after 12/26, consider going shopping on 12/26 when the products in many stores are reduced significantly.
  • Don’t try to do it all! Most of us have precious little free time. Use your free time to be with your family, or friends instead of focusing on hunting down the perfect gift, or squeezing in 5 holiday parties in 2 days.
  • Opt out. Many families are scaling back, but you might consider opting out of gift exchanges altogether. This only works well for adults, or families with older children, so proceed with caution. Some families choose a vacation over exchanging gifts.

Do you have any tips for curbing your spending?

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The $155 That Almost Wasn’t

This article was written by in Tips. 4 comments.

It was only back in April that Flexo wrote about MissingMoney.com. I had heard about it once before through a friend on Twitter who said he’d had some success and so I figured, “What have I got to lose?” They don’t charge anything, it’s just a convenient way to get at some abandoned money that should be yours in the first place.

I searched for myself in the three different states in which I’ve lived and found an entry tied to an old street address of mine for “More than $100”. I had to continue the process on a different site for that State, but since all they really needed was my name, it wasn’t that much of a hassle, and I never felt I was being scammed.

clear-visionIn my case the funds I was missing out on were submitted by Daimler Chrysler, which means it had something to do with the aftermath of totaling my car back in 2001. Ultimately, in order to claim the missing money, I needed to mail (or submit via a form on a Web page) some proof that I used to live at that address. Something like a utility bill or a bank statement. I don’t keep those sorts of things any longer than I have to, which to me means, “throw away as soon as you’re not using them anymore.”

However, crashing your car isn’t just an event, it’s a process that can go on, at a minimum, for weeks. A lot of paperwork is generated. I started keeping everything in a folder so I could prove the facts of the case at a moment’s notice. I figured seven years is a good amount of time to hang on to something that important, so in 2008, while pruning the filing cabinet, I very nearly got rid of the folder. Luckily, something stopped me, and a few months later, I was able to scan and e-mail the actual police report that described the accident, and included my address.

A couple of weeks later I got a check for $155. Naturally, I deposited it and made a $155 payment to one of my two remaining credit cards. If I’d received that money when I was supposed to in 2001… well, I can’t say exactly what I would’ve done with it, but some of it probably would’ve gone toward beer.

(Photo by C.P. Storm)

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College classes have already begun around the country, and it’s not too late to start listening to Ben Stein. He has some great advice for those matriculating. His son is just starting college, so I would imagine Ben has been giving this topic a lot of thought lately.

Make friends with your teachers. While seeing your teachers socially was unacceptable in high school, as adults, the teacher-student relationship takes another form. I had no problem with attending barbecues hosted by my professors, going out for meals, or just relating on a more personal level. We discussed sports and books, music and logic.

Ben goes on to address ways to become friends, but they all pertain to situations in class. While I was in college, a lot of the real relating took place outside of the classroom, but that may be more a result of the type of degree I was pursuing.

Do your assignments neatly, correctly, and timely. Ben Stein mentions that college is about learning to budget your time. Looking back, I wish I had done this better. My time commitments pushed me in a number of different directions and I was always finding it difficult to fir everything I wanted to do inside of the day. I still have this problem now.

I find it hard to believe that people have to be reminded to spell correctly. I’ve encountered horrible spelling from my classmates as a graduate student, and I just don’t understand what the excuse is. Grammar is one thing; there are times when the correct grammatical rules to apply are confusing. Poor spelling is inexcusable. I am sure I’ve made spelling errors in the past, but I would be embarrassed if I spelled as poorly as some of my classmates.

Be well-rounded. I applaud Ben for writing this. Many times, people are encouraged to pick one topic and become an expert without much thought to the larger world around them. Ben Stein wants people to study history, geography, Shakespeare, poetry, literature, biology, physics, and mathematics. Of course, I would add visual and performing arts to his list. All of this teaches more about human understanding than would any business psychology or human resources class.

You probably won’t call upon these subjects in your daily life when you enter the workforce, but they’re vitally important in teaching you how to think. And learning how to think is, above all, the main challenge you face in school. It’s true that you have to know certain basic facts, but you should also know how to approach a problem, break it down, solve it, and write about it. That’s why it’s important to take English composition, and take it seriously.

Join a fraternity or a sorority. Social groups can be positive or negative, so be choosy about which groups you hang out with. My fraternity, which was new on campus when I joined as a freshman, was more of an honor society or service group during the first few years. We didn’t have a house so there are no movies that quite exemplify our dynamic, but we became decent friends as we did as much as we could to follow the fraternity’s national “purpose.”

As Ben notes, the good thing about a group of friends is the support they can provide when it is most needed. Chances are there will be some time during your time in college when you need that support.

Neatness counts. Image is always important.

If you wear sloppy clothes, be clean inside them and have your thoughts especially well-ordered to offset your appearance. You’ll need to work twice as hard so your teachers know you’re smarter on the inside than on the outside.

Don’t smoke or drink to excess. Anything in excess is bad. Aim for moderation and limit any unhealthful habits.

Play a sport. Is marching band a sport? I guess it depends on the marching band.

Have a roommate you like. Personally, I preferred having no roommate and spending most of my time in the dorms with my girlfriend. I never had to worry about disturbing anyone. I did live in a special interest dorm, where everyone on the floor was interested in the same thing. For my floor, that was music. In return for living in the nicest dorms on campus, for which we had to apply separately from the standard housing application, we had service responsibilities to the community. I enjoyed this type of environment.

Try to have a significant other. I am a strong supporter of this idea, but I would suggest not staying with the same significant other for your entire college experience unless you are sure you are going to get married. College is a great time to learn about yourself and determine you compatibilities.

Develop good work habits.

College is where you learn to allocate your time, get your assignments done, and develop a good rapport with your fellow workers (students) and your bosses (teachers), and make them all your friends.

Ben notes that in all likelihood, you’ll spend the rest of your life working. This is the reality, so it is best to make the most of it. I didn’t work as hard as I should have while I was running around leading various organizations. I put my priorities elsewhere when I should have worked for more balance between classwork, practicing (I majored in music education), activities, and socialization.

As a leader among my peers in high school in college, this hasn’t translated as well to the working world as I would like. While I’m happy with my experiences, and changing anything about my personal history would change my identity, there was possibly a little room for improvement when it came to getting the right things done at the right time.

Chances are you won’t get everything exactly right. Ben Stein’s tips will get you started in the right direction.

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Ten Questions to Ask Before Getting Hitched

by Luke Landes

Perhaps she calls you “her sweeitie” and you call her “lover.” Maybe you don’t have cutesy names for each other, but if you’re planning to get married, hopefully you know each other very well. This encompasses a little more than favorite restaurants, medical allergies, and middle names. There should be some serious discussions about life […]

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12 Steps for the Paycheck Type to Become a Millionaire

by Luke Landes

Here is Kiplinger’s predictable 12-step program for becoming a millionaire, which inevitable contains “… and wait” somewhere. This guide is geared towards corporate workers who live and die by the paycheck. 1. Keep your eyes peeled for better ways to do your job. While Milton Wadams was slowly finding himself out of a job, thinking […]

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Tips for Purchasing a Musical Instrument for the Non-Professional

by Luke Landes

As I mentioned earlier, I finally picked up the Martin D-15 acoustic guitar I’ve been planning to buy since August last year. Here are some tips if you’re thinking about buying a musical instrument. First, if you are buying an instrument for your son or daughter just starting out, you may find out later that […]

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Bad Job-Hunting Tips You Must Avoid, Part 2

by Luke Landes

Penelope Trunk from Yahoo Finance published an article busting job-hunting myths. I looked at several of her un-tips yesterday and in Part 2, I’ll finish off my thoughts. Bad Rule No. 5: Don’t have typos in your résumé I’m not recommending that you misspell words on purpose, but I am recommending that you chill out […]

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Suze Orman’s 5 Tips for 2007

by Luke Landes

We’re rolling into the new year, a perfect time for gurus to repeat their favorite nuggets of advice. Suze Orman, who writes a column for Yahoo Finance, has published the five best financial moves for 2007. Here are her tips, which don’t have much relationship to 2007 specifically, but are good ideas in general. 1. […]

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Rule for Building Wealth: Make Saving Automatic

by Luke Landes

In July 2002, I opened an account at ING Direct and created a scheduled transaction. Every two weeks, when my day job paycheck was deposited, a portion of this money was automatically passed through directly into my new Emergency Fund. A few months earlier, I became eligible for investing in my company’s 401(k). This is […]

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