Category: Strategic Spending

16% Cash Back at Bloomingdales TODAY

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Ebates is having an extensive 16% reimbursement event with around 200 partnered sites, including Macy’s and Bloomingdales. I’m most excited about 48% cash back at Magazines.com, 32% back on Proactiv and 16% back at Adidas, James Perse and Saks 5th Avenue.

**16% offer at Bloomy’s and Kohl’s for today only!**

I wrote about Ebates previously and if you haven’t already, you can sign up for Ebates through my referral link.

Julie

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15% Off at Saks 5th Avenue

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Julie here, in desperate need of new sheets (sumptuous, high thread count a given). Made a quick scan through Ebates and Discover Deals in search of ongoing splurgeworthy promotions at Department stores.

Found a 15% reimbursement until May 10th at Saks Fifth Avenue through the Discover Deals portal. This is the highest affiliates rewards offer I’ve seen. When redeeming your cash earnings on your account as giftcards, that’s about 16.5% cash back.

You must enter through the portal link. Offer is not stackable with any promo codes! Use your Discover card at check out.

Julie

Don’t Buy Into Sales

As a guy just tipping 5’7”, clothes shopping is nary ego-polishing or at the very least, dismally satisfactory. For me, rather, it’s decades of mall trips culminating in bagfuls of over-sized devastations. Too-large, too-big, too-long–I longed for a Goldilocksian just right.

J. Crew was a rare solace, offering a slim-fitting line that whittled men’s general sizing down to the uber-small. The brand drastically reduced my weekend errands and the money I spent on alterations. My seamstress, though extraordinarily wizard, charges a bold $15 per pant. Julie claims that her step dad gets his hemming done for $7.

I was absolutely overwhelmed by J. Crew’s well-stocked and varied fitted offerings. I felt at once flattered and militantly supportive of their endeavor. I decided that I would buy from them relentlessly and needlessly so that they would continue to provide and cater to small men. Anytime they hosted a massive sale (or any sale really), I’d splurge hardcore on polos that looked Saran Wrapped to my torso.

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^I’ll take 10 of those…

Julie being the adorable crazy that she is, went through all three of my closets, my storage room and my dresser (maybe I’m the adorable crazy one?) and discovered mountainous stockpiles of shirts and jeans and socks perfectly retained and unworn, in fresh from the factory plastic. This was after the fact that I enlisted familial help to collect and shovel six 30 gallon bags’ worth of clothes out of the kitchen that I’d been accumulating… for reasons. And after the umpteenth time of opening and transporting J. Crew packages from the entryway into the bedroom dresser, Julie spoke in a fit that was more aggressive than passive, “don’t buy shit just because it’s on sale.”

What? Why not? J. Crew isn’t exactly cheap. I’d endlessly regret it and feel as though I missed out if I didn’t take advantage of their limited time discounts. What if, after liquidating current stock, they discontinued XS and slim-fit products? I’d have nothing left. Nothing.

That perspective changed, or is sort of changing, but not before one last anti-splurgist faux pas (12 more cottony-soft broken-in XXXXXS polos). Is it so wrong to buy during sales?

Sales are anti-splurgist because they’re impulsive-buying traps. They actually prevent you from having splurge-worthy things. I spent tens of thousands of dollars on clothes that crowded my kitchen, three separate closets, my bedroom and another whole room. I never wore them and they’re in a landfill somewhere now. I bought reiterations of similarly styled clothes sale after sale after sale and I still don’t have the perfect, confidence-exuding wardrobe that makes me look forward to getting dressed for work or getting ready for the weekend.

Why is it on sale?

How much of a margin are your favorite brands working with if they’re willing to enormously discount their products? As in, how can something originally priced at $50 be reduced to $5?

That store is doing its damndest to clear out old inventory in order to make room for new styles. Are my purchases devalued once new stuff hits the floor? If I think about devaluations from a car viewpoint, I would never buy certain models the year before a new style release.

Am I a proud, willing owner of something that requires a sale to sell? Isn’t the ultimate retrospective compliment for a discounted item: “I would’ve bought this at its full price”?

Maybe the product I am holding is inherently defective, a previously returned item, or even refurbished to resell? While refurbished deals are fantastic when the seller markets it as such and backs the product with some guarantee. However, return fraud is a massive phenomenon and costs billions of dollars. There is no one person that hasn’t worn a shirt or shoes out and sent it right back.

Is it ever acceptable to buy on sale?

Splurgists, off-season and season transitioning sale items should only be bought if they are transcendent, or irrefutably classic. Julie scurries past racks of on-trend or trendy clothes because those silhouettes, prints and colors won’t reappear next year or endure. Those sale items would have limited or short wearability.

Since we live in Florida, we could shop for cold weather gear leisurely and during the off-season. The risk is that we may not have all the sizes and color available to us and we may not have intended or prolonged wear until we take a trip elsewhere. At that point, we may have forgotten about our coats or have even stopped liking them. People evolve their tastes continually and dramatically.

Julie buys discounted clothes by happenstance if the brand/curator’s website does not discriminate between sale and full price items. When merchandise is listed altogether in gallery view and markdowns are intermixed with regularly priced clothes, everything is most likely still in-style and in-season. The markdowns are owed to initial prices being too unaffordable despite consumer interest. If the website has a cornered off “sale” section, they are trying desperately to sell by exploiting deal-justifying shoppers (like me).

It’s fine to bargain hunt when you have the intention to resell for a profit. If you are knowledgeable about the product and its market, you can take advantage of sales by being willing to transport/redeliver, cater to overseas consumers and/or by making adjustments and repairs. Flipping is a fantastic supplemental revenue stream. I’d factor how much cost or losses you’re willing to take on before stocking up.

But I don’t feel comfortable paying full retail?

If you absolutely cannot pay that price, google the item and check multiple stockists for a cheaper offering. Julie professed to her daytime hobby of scouring the net for coupon codes. She also feels strongly about Ebates.

Often, there are exclusive discounts just for subscribing to the shop’s e-mail newsletter. If there’s a shout out for a site-wide discount and you’re in the market for new jeans or something, I would say go ahead and peruse that section for the splurge that you’re wanting. Don’t go out of your way to browse everything that is on sale for the sake of getting it at a discount.

When you buy something at full price, it’s most likely your size and in the color that you like best. I would put it on a card that offers price protection, such as Julie’s Discover it or the Chase Sapphire. The new Citi AT&T Access card is an excellent candidate because it earns 3x ThankYou points per dollar (valued at a 4.5 to 5% reimbursement) spent at online retailers and offers Citi Price Rewind.

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Lastly, Visa Signature and American Express cardholders enjoy benefits that encompass purchase protection and extended warranty which insures your product and enforces returns’ compensation.

Marc

Best Credit Cards for College and After

The credit cards you obtain during your college years should reimburse you at a lucrative rate in order to maintain wallet relevancy after graduation. The following options have staying power, as in zero or justifiable annual fees and can be kept active. Holding onto the same cards for a while lengthens your average age of open accounts. I think that having 2 to 3 for everyday spend will optimize your cash back. Additionally, multiple cards increases your overall spending limits, or the amount of credit available to you, and thus decreases your utilization ratio.

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The ultimate credit card for college and after is the U.S. Bank Cash+ Card. You can elect two picks for 5% earning and one additional pick for 2% earning every quarter. All categories listed here.

  • 5% Bookstores: For textbooks. Don’t hold me to this but I believe Amazon transactions fall under this category.
  • 5% Car Rental: Useful for hauling all the stuff you think you’ll use. And you can drive yourself from the airport and sponsor day trips with frands without having to teleport your car from home.
  • 5% Furniture Stores: Get a slouch-inducing bean bag, fire hazard spider lamp and futon/daybed/sofabed; whichever you feel will best display stains and abuse.
  • 5% Electronics: Laptop, gaming set, Skype webcam, Blu-Ray DVD player, TV and whatever additional niceties you need to make you feel at home at school.
  • 5% Fast Food: For pizza.
  • 5% Sporting Goods Stores: To buy sweats/loungewear from Under Armour, Lululemon, Nike :’)
  • 5% Cell Phone, Movie Theaters, Gym etc. and
  • 2% at Restaurants, Gas or Groceries.

No Annual Fee and Visa Signature Benefits.

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 If this is your elephant, you have a shot.I was approved with a 707 score, my oldest credit line being 15 months old and with all open accounts averaging 10 months.

Next up is the only Annual Fee card on my list. But it is godly. My first year, my greatest expenditure outside of clothes was food. Only wizards honor the compulsory $5000 freshman meal plan and fuel up exclusively on bagels and cold salads.

I am not a wizard. I ate copious amounts of sodium and fat that I went out of my way to purchase.

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Everyone should carve a space for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card6% Supermarkets and 3% Gas Stations and Department Stores. $75 Annual Fee and Amex Benefits.

This card is legendary. Supermarkets stock everything these days. You can buy shampoo, cold medicine and even gift cards at 6% rewards earnings. And while yes, that is cash back on drinks and smokes, think about your mom for a sec. before you do what you need to do.

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The No Annual Fee runner-up to the Blue Cash Preferred is the Bank of America BankAmericard Cash Rewards with 3% Gas Stations and 2% Groceries. Open a Checking/Savings account with Bank of America and earn 3.3% and 2.2%. No Annual Fee and Visa Signature Benefits.

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The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students will go out with you night after night. 2x Restaurants and 2x Entertainment. ThankYou points are worth somewhat more when you redeem for travel, so the 2x earn is a 3% valuation. No Annual Fee and Citi Services such as Price Rewind.

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And I recommend the Chase Amazon.com Rewards card to my fellow dormits (dorm hermits). 3% Amazon.com and 2% Gas, Groceries and Drugstores. No Annual Fee.

If you hate leaving your twin bed, you can get a small lifetime quantity of instant noodles and laundry detergent shipped to your campus mailbox. You might have to skateboard everything back to your room from there. But, you can watch movies on Amazon Instant Video!

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The Chase Freedom and Discover it are 5%ers but with changing reward categories every quarter. These are back-up cards that sulk in the recesses of your pocket until their 5% categories supersede your other cards’ 2% to 3% earn rates and then they’re something special. No Annual Fee.

I personally have the Discover it card and intend to pick up the Chase Freedom later. Because Discover offers a boost when redeeming gift card amounts, I would value the cash back at 5.5%.

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The Citi Double Cash Card earns a flat 2% everywhere and with No Annual Fee. This card is an excellent sweeper for any uncovered bases.👍

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Coming up Marc and I will teach you how to establish and build credit pre-18. Until then,

Julie

CHASING the CHASEIHG

The Chase x IHG Rewards Club card pays for itself. I’m not saying that it pays its own Annual Fee, because it’s free to own the first year. I’m saying that you can earn 100%+ back what you spend on it.

IHG points are in and of themselves a half-cent apiece. The IHG website sells them for a whole cent each at $10 for 1000/$40 for 4000 and more limitedly, at $565 for 100k points. My sweet, sweet Splurgists, don’t fallback onto points-buying unless the circumstances are dire.

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The IHG Rewards Club Select credit card offers a 80,000 sign-up bonus after $1000 spend within 3 months and waives the $49 Annual Fee the first year. Earnings, benefits and fees are as follows:

  • 5x per dollar at IHG
  • 2x per dollar on Gas, Groceries and at Restaurants
  • 1x per dollar towards All Else
  • 10% rebate on points redemption
  • Platinum Elite status for the duration of card membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • $49 Annual Fee waived first year

Platinum status elevates base earn by 50% which is 15x base earn per dollar at InterContinental, Crowne, Indigo, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express and 7.5x base earn per dollar at Staybridge and Candlewood. And 4000, 2600 or 1200 points per qualifying stay at ANA partner hotels.

The $1000 spend is easily met when staying 4 to 5 nights at a domestic InterContinental. That is

($1000 spend x (15 base + 5 card earn) + 80k sign-up) x .005 valuation x 1.1 rebate =

worth $550 in rewards or a 55% reimbursement towards additional stays. If you’re meeting the $1000 qualifying spend in food and gas essentials, it’d be

(($1000 spend x 3 card earn) + 80k sign-up) x .005 valuation x 1.1 rebate =

$457 or 48% reimbursed and still a formidable rewards amount considering the annual fee is waived.

The Anniversary Free Night is given to you after the first year, and at $49 it is worth >$550 depending on how and where you redeem. The stay must be completed within 12 months of receipt and can/should be complemented by the $450 to $550 worth of points earned the previous year. The Chase IHG card can reimburse you over 100% of the $1049 spend requirement through hotel stays.

The card sign-up bonuses can be re-redeemed 24 months after you’ve last earned them if you want to keep cycling in IHG points at 100,000 increments (80k sign up, 20k card earn).

Should you elect to hold onto the card, the $49 annual fee buys you a free night’s stay at any location (and while value can be upwards of $500, you’re susceptible to availability and the stay must be completed within a 12-month timeframe).

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Let’s freaking GO already!!

Julie

HHigher Hilton HHonor Rewards Credit Card

I was previously discouraged from joining Hilton’s loyalty regime because HHonor points are lowly valued at half a cent per and because many existing Hilton members regard their points-accruing program with unveiled contempt.

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I have to be as equitable as possible in my pursuit to brandish a walletful of rewards-earning behemoths so I regrettably cannot pass on the Hilton-partnered Annual Fee cards. Hilton has nice locations, too. Marc and I have an upcoming stay at the Conrad New York that lends us walkish access to boutiques and eateries in the Tribeca-Soho-Chinatown-whatever-area. When booking, I was most impressed by the fact that all rooms at the Conrad are oversized suites (430 sq. ft. with a view of the Hudson in the over-populated, not-so-creatively-developed islandpolis is quasi-mansion in comparison to my parents’ 1 bdrm apt in Queens kiddingkindof).

The Annual Fee pertaining cards gain better rewards. The automatic leap to HHonors Gold tier with either Annual Fee card outweighs the Zero Fee cards’ lesser overall earning potentials. Here’s my no frills analyses on the Citi and the Amex Annual Fee versions.

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The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card awards 2 weekend night certificates after spending $2500 within 4 months. And a limited time offer of a one-time $100 statement reimbursement after a $100 minimum Hilton stay. Points earning, benefits and fees are as such:

  • 10x per dollar at Hilton
  • 5x per dollar at Airlines
  • 3x per dollar All Else
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • HHonors Gold for the duration of card membership.
  • 1 Anniversary Weekend Night per $10k yearly spend.
  • $95 Annual Fee

All goodies associated with the immediate upgrade to Gold can be viewed here. The 25% base boost from Gold paired with the Points & Points earning method charged to the Citi Reserve card nets

10 base x 1.25 gold boost + 5 bonus + 10 card bonus = 27.5 points per dollar at Hilton, or about a 13.75% reimbursement towards your next stay.

Additionally, Gold status wielders stay an extra 5th night free. As in, redeeming 4 nights with your points gets you a 20% kickback.

The $2500 spend on the card supposedly encompasses the $100 minimum Hilton stay. That stay would bring in 2750 points or higher, depending on the dollar amount multiplied by 27.5. Divvying the remaining $2400 spend elsewhere (the least profitable expenditure category) earns a flat 3x rate, 7200 points. The minimum-earn 9950 points from spending are a pitiable $50 (so bulk splurge at Hilton and on airlines!).

The 2 award nights have a maximized value of $950 when you redeem Top Category. Without taking into account a higher proportion of Hilton or Airline spending, the minimum earnings are

$950 award nights + $100 statement credit + $50 spend earning amounts to $1100. Considering you spent $2500 plus a $95 annual fee, that’s a

$1100 rewards / $2595 spend = 42% reimbursement towards Hilton Hotel stays.

If you optimized earnings by splurging all $2500 on Hilton stays, you’d earn $344 from spending, or effectively a

$1394 rewards / $2595 spend = 54% reimbursement on your stays toward future stays.

The Citi Reserve offers an Anniversary 1 Weekend Night Certificate (valued at $475) after spending $10k on the card and with an additional $95 renewal fee. If you want to obtain that 3rd night certificate, spend optimally, Splurgists (meaning on Hilton or to a lesser extent, on flights).

After the $10k spend requirement and $190 fees, spending at the 3x flat earning rate offers a decent 16.4% return. Optimized 27.5x earning at Hilton is an unbeatable 28.5% return, though.

Compare $1425 award nights + $100 statement credit + $149 earnings / $10190 spend with $1425 award nights + $100 statement credit + $1375 optimized earnings / $10190 spend.

The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card is an amicable globetrotter with Zero Foreign Transaction Fees and 5x (2.5%) earnings on flying.

Because the 3rd award night is worth <$500, you’re better hitting the $2500 minimum spend on the card and redirecting the $7500 spend on an airline credit card towards earning a Travel Companion Certificate (worth thousands when flying internationally).

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The Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from Amex offers a 80k points sign-up bonus after spending $3000 within 3 months (offer expires 5/5/15). Points earning, benefits and fees are as such:

  • 12x per dollar at Hilton
  • 6x per dollar on Dining, Groceries and at Gas Stations.
  • 3x per dollar All Else
  • 2.7% Foreign Transaction Fee
  • HHonors Gold for the duration of card membership.
  • $75 Annual Fee

The 25% base boost from Gold paired with the Points & Points earning method charged to the Amex Surpass card nets

10 base x 1.25 gold boost + 5 bonus + 12 card bonus = 29.5 points per dollar at Hilton, or about a 14.75% reimbursement towards your next stay.

Again, the same 20% kickback when redeeming 4 nights.

The 80k sign-up points are worth $400. Spending $3000 at the 6x rate on food and gas earns you $90. I believe you can purchase brand gift cards at supermarkets with the 6x earnings applicable which is less limiting.

So $490 rewards / $3075 spend with the annual fee = 16% savings. If you’re spending optimally on Hilton stays, at the 29.5x rate you would’ve earned $446. That’s 27.5% savings.

Being landlocked by the 2.7% Foreign Transaction Fee yet earning a credible 6x (3%) on food and gas essentials, the Amex Surpass functions as an everyday card.

I personally went for the Amex since Citi has always kicked my teeth in as an applicant. I wasn’t accepted for their Student Preferred card with a 680 score (what with my lack of history lol). But I only felt personally slighted when I was also declined for the Citi Double Cash Back card with a then 715 score. When my jitters calm I’ll probably research and try for some of their generous sign-up cards.

In the meanwhile, my family’s Citi legacy will still thrive through my mother (she’s been working longterm for Citibank, swears by all of their credit cards/customer service and racks up ThankYou points like a champ).

Amex accepted me for the Everyday card at 710 and for the Starwood Preferred Guest card at 720 and for the HHonors Surpass card at 740.

DSCF5611grrr Citi Y U No?

Julie

Best Credit Card for Online Shopping

Splurgists, though I have a second husband in Ebates, I’ve been having a passionate affair with the Discover it credit card. I can’t help the fact that the Discover it is taking me on so many wonderful dates. The 5% cash back at restaurants and movies from now through June incentivizes foodie outings (is it obvious yet how deeply I feel about succulent, odorless cuts of sashimi?) and private matinee attendances.

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The Discover it is a supportive partner and actually cares about my interests. Well, the most important one: online shopping.

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Discover Deals is accessible through the account summary page. Though few affiliates are listed, brands are constantly rotated. The cash back offered is usually very generous. The following deals stood out to me and I provided the current Ebates and Mrrebates offers if any in parentheses for comparison.

  • 10% at Body Shop (Ebates 4%; Mrrebates 8%)
  • 10% at Sephora (Ebates 4%; Mrrebates 7%)
  • 10% at Macys (Ebates 8%; Mrrebates 3%)
  • 10% Under Armour (Ebates 4%; Mrrebates 6%)
  • 10% The North Face (Ebates 4%; Mrrebates 3%)
  • 10% Backcountry (Ebates 5%; Mrrebates 5%)
  • 10% Gaiam (Ebates 5%; Mrrebates 6%)
  • 10% Bluefly (Ebates 3.5%; Mrrebates 5%)
  • 5% Walmart (Ebates 2%; Mrrebates 2%)
  • 5% Apple (Ebates 1%)
  • 5% Anthropologie
  • 5% J. Crew (Ebates 1.5%; Mrrebates 2%)
  • 5% Madewell (Ebates 2%; Mrrebates 2%)

The 5% cash back at Anthropologie and at Apple are especially worthwhile.

I am okay with the fact that Discover Deals cannot be combined with promo codes (as long as free shipping is automatically applied after a purchase minimum and/or ShopRunner) because I am head over heels in like with Discover’s transparent, no strings Price Protection. Splurgists, place impulse buys on this card. I will personally make clothes/shoes purchases with the card through the DD portal because I shop in-season and need to have my exact size.

When you find an identical product being sold at a lower price than the one you paid within 90 days of your purchase (in my case, a $200 Isabel Marant shirt reduced to perhaps $100 off-season), you can file a claim through the 1 800 347 0213 service number. Discover refunds up to $500 of any price difference and up to a generous $2500 total per annum. A call representative confirmed that online stores qualify.

If you purchased multiples of an identical item, Discover only reimburses three and with the $500 cap on each item.

Chase offers price protection on their Sapphire card, but that card charges $95 per year after the first year of account opening. Citi’s Price Rewind does the searching for you, but offers a shorter 60 day coverage.

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^ Discover is famously fee-free.

There is no foreign transaction fee associated with any of Discover’s credit cards. That means a less stressful experience when shopping for European brands and when importing Japanese candies from websites that accept payment in local currency only.

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I like the Discover It card best because of the ongoing $100 Amazon gift card exclusive sign-up offer. If you would instead prefer a $50 cash back sign-up offer applicable towards any purchase, please e-mail me (Julie) at splurgist@gmail.com and I will respond with a referral link. The $50 cash back offer is a referral exclusive.

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Since there’s no annual fee to keep, there’s no pressure to spend on this card when the active 5% categories are lackluster. I can jump back into the arms of my everyday card husband.

Julie

Credit Cards for Travel and Study Abroad

Below are some of the foreign transaction fees charged onto my “Everyday” Amex.

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^ disgusting.

Credit cards for studying abroad should have zero foreign transaction fees and embedded EMV chips. EMV technology is globally standard in credit card processing. You will be better with than without the chip.

EMV cards with No Annual Fee and No Foreign Transaction Fee

The following are absolutely free to keep. If you are studying abroad for a college term, you’re probably around my age (20) and with a nascent credit history. Maintain your account after your trip by intermittently using the card in order to nourish and preserve your credit score.

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The Capital One VentureOne earns 1.25 miles for every dollar and offers a 20,000 mile bonus (worth $200) after spending $1000 on the card within 3 months of account opening. Accrued miles can be redeemed as statement credit towards travel related expenses such as flights, hotels, cruises and car rentals. You can also claim miles by booking through the Capital One Rewards center.

The $1000 is easily met by flight or living arrangement costs. If you spent $8000 over the course of your semester abroad, you will have earned $300 in cash rewards (with the bonus), or saved 3.75%.

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The Bank Americard Travel Rewards earns 1.5 points per dollar. Apply online for an exclusive 10,000 points sign up offer (worth $100) after spending $500 within 90 days of account opening. Similar to the VentureOne, you would redeem points in the form of statement credit towards travel purchases like flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars and baggage fees. Additionally, having a checking or savings account through Bank of America boosts your earning rate to 1.65%.*

Using the same $8000 example spend, you earn $232 in cash rewards (with the bonus and BoA checking) or 2.9% savings. If you decide against pairing the card with the checking account, the potential is as follows: $220 earnings (with the bonus) or 2.75% savings.

The best card to take with you is the VentureOne, hands down. You will continue to come out ahead in cash earnings with the VentureOne because of its sign-up offering until you theoretically charge an exorbitant $30,000-ish sum on the Bank Americard with a BoA checking account. Without a BoA checking account, the Bank Americard will only beat the VentureOne at $40,001 spend.

Both cards are enshrined by Visa Signature Benefits. Having one of these in your pocket gives you 24/7 access to concierge and assistance. If you need help, the number on the back of your credit card is your 911. Visa Signature offers roadside and emergency assistance and insures your travel, rental car and luggage. There is an extensive hotel programme, discounted movie tickets and you may receive complimentary upgrades. They offer extended purchase protection and security–essentially a back-up warranty.

Bank of America has unique safeguarding technologies against fraud and identity theft. SafePass is a 6 digit passcode and ShopSafe generates temporary card numbers to keep your real numbers private.

I like Capital One because they provide a credit tracker on their account summary page. Checking one’s credit rating is a rather noble splurgist quality. It also demonstrates to credit scoring agencies that you are a responsible borrower.

Personally, I feel that either card listed above should be gracefully placed on the backburner (as in, that hidden wallet pocket you shove gum wrappers into) after you get home. A flat 1.25 or 1.5% cash back isn’t deplorable but there are higher cash back earnings cards for everyday splurging.

EMV cards with No Foreign Transaction Fee and a Reasonable Annual Fee

Annual fee cards bait subscribers with higher sign up bonuses and an introductory fee-waived year. However, the fees will cut into your rewards earning over the course of card membership. Marc’s Amex costs $500 annually with an earnings pittance of 1% which is some inexcusable anti-splurgist bs if you ask me. He is tremendously placated by the fact that his go-to card is unfailing… for his sake, I hope so too.

Credit scores are maimed during account closing because it lowers the total amount of credit available to you and raises the portion of credit utilized. For that godly 850, you ideally want your oldest line of credit to be alive and breathing for 25+ years. Being 20, my credit history is pitiably 2 to 3 years long and still volatile.

Anyway, if you have a more resilient credit score and savor the crisp snap of cutting plastic, the following may better serve your needs. I’ll provide comparisons on the estimate cash back potentials when having the cards open for 1 year vs. for 10 years.

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The Chase Sapphire earns 2 points per dollar spent on Travel and Dining with a 40,000 pts bonus (worth $500) after spending $4000 within 3 months of opening. When redeeming towards travel, values are boost to 2.5 points per dollar. Waived annual fee the first year.

Say the trip costs $5000. You will be reimbursed $625 or effectively save 12.5%. Owed to subsequent upkeep fees at $95 each year, the initially impressive 2.5x earnings rate is realistically 1.8% if the bulk of card usage is during that one big trip each year. However, if you dine out a lot and travel frequently, earnings hover in the 2.3% range.

Even though the Chase Sapphire is widely lauded as an everyday card and offers one of the most generous sign-up bonuses, I am only mildly enamored with it. And even then, only for its aesthetics–the metallic blue facets are ceaselessly admirable in person. The double cash back categories (travel and dining), though prudent and relevant, exclude my splurge affairs with shopping and supermarkets. I imagine that jetsetters still visit pharmacies, buy souveniers and shop for groceries occasionally, non?

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The Barclaycard Arrival plus earns 2 miles per dollar with a 40,000 miles bonus (worth $440) after spending $3000 within 3 months. Free for the first year but $89 each year thereafter. Redeeming towards travel expenses ups the earning rate to 2.2 miles per dollar.

Closing the card within the first year after a $5000 trip earns you $550 (with the bonus) or 11% savings. After the first year, the returns are significantly diminished by the $89 annual fee. Keeping the card open for 10 years and limiting its use to travel would only reimburse you at a 1.48% rate. Adopting the Arrival+ as your everyday card would power its cash back to a respectable 2%.

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The Capital One Venture earns 2 miles per dollar with a 40,000 miles bonus (worth $400) after spending $3000 within 3 months of account opening. Free for the first year, $59 per year thereafter.

Closing the card within the first year after a $5000 trip earns you $500 (with the bonus) or 10% savings. Keeping the card open for 10 years and using it exclusively for travel ($50k spend) would reimburse you at a 1.74% rate after annual fees. When used more extensively as your go-to everyday card, earnings are a slightly sweeter 1.93%.

The Venture and Sapphire are Visa Signature products while the Arrival Plus is a Platinum MasterCard. MasterCard provides comparable service although from a quick browse I don’t see any purchase protection. Tsk.

After fastidious deliberation, I would personally rather have either the Venture or Arrival+ in my arsenal because they transition seamlessly off the plane–they’re true lifestyle cards. Once the blinding euphoria from the sign-up bonus dissipates, the Sapphire is, at the end of the day, an expensive wanna-be Diners Club card.

In an upcoming post, I will rave about a solid 2.36% cash back credit card, even after averaging in annual fees.

Julie

*Higher redemption possibilities are available to Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards clients with net assets over $20,000 in BoA holdings. The rewards earnings would be 1.875% at $20k, 2.25% at $50k and 2.625% at $100k.

To Lease or to Finance?

A significant portion of our contemporary lives are spent within the confines of a car. Driving is so thoroughly integrated into our day to day that being able to enjoy that experience is paramount. Splurgists get around in comfort and in their beautifully engineered car.

The definitive method to car drivership is to lease.

I drive this bimmer below. It is made affordable and thusly accessible to me through BMW’s navigable programmes. Leasing wisely allows us to drive the cars we want at lower costs than with financing.

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Flexibility.

First of all, you are not locked into lease terms. Swapalease.com and LeaseTrader.com facilitate lease transfering. Ultimately, the option exists to buy your leased vehicle and resell it at your leisure. You would contact the manufacturer for the buy-out figure and apply for an auto loan to purchase.

Mileage.

Leasing allowances range between 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year. Typically, Americans drive 14,000 to 16,000 miles each year. For high-mileage drivers however, a lease that offered insufficient miles at the beginning can have additional end-of-lease mile charges. You are not limited by the miles stated at time of leasing. Audaciously ask your dealer how they price extra miles and whether they can be added at sign up. For example, BMW sells extra miles upfront as part of their financial services.

New car advantage.

The reassurance I feel when driving a new car is priceless. That sense of security is attributed to the vehicle being under warranty. When leasing, your car and its parts will be guaranteed by the manufacturer’s warranty during the entirety of the lease.

Anti-splurgists consider their cars as investments (albeit depreciating ones) and would rather finance a new car. However, they should take to heart the length of coverage under warranty. After the warranty expires, car owners are monetarily responsible for any and all mechanical failings. Though their beloved car inevitably depreciates, the parts and labor to fix do not become cheaper with time. Anti-splurgists can still spend thousands of dollars fixing their car over the course of ownership.

The cost to fix major issues can even rival the whole value of the car. I had to total my used 2001 Lexus IS300 after it suffered a catastrophic engine failure owed to a headgasket leak. I could not go through with the $8000 repairs because of the then-current value of the car and its susceptibility to additional failures.

Trade-in/resale worth.

Though anti-splurgists purchase to own, they eventually trade in that same car in order to get a new one. Habitually financing and trading in after a few years time hits them with greater losses than when leasing over a comparable period of driving the same vehicle. Leases are frequently subsidized by the manufacturer when they artificially raise the residual value in order to offer lower monthly payments.

Splurgists, you essentially wash your hands once you give the vehicle back to the dealership at lease termination. You’re unencumbered in your next pick of car.

Zero Down

Financing may require a higher down payment upfront with a lower credit score. Initial down payments can be as high as 10% to 20% of the sticker price for a financed purchase, not including taxes and dealer fees. Down payments are anti-splurgist: they’re an awful way to sock dollars away because they obstruct potentially higher savings. While down payments may seem to save you some on the car loan, that amount pales in comparison to dividend earnings from investing that initial dollar amount into stocks and retirement.

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Splurgists, when selecting the best lease deals, look for the highest residual and lowest money factor, or interest rate. Never MSRP, or sort cars by sticker price. Lease specials are subsidized by the manufacturer and displayed their websites. The residual value will be declared, though less noticeably, in the fine print. Aim for residuals over 65%.

While unsubsidized leases have lower residuals of around 50%, you can still negotiate costs down further. Transaction details, such as car value and money factor, should be dictated by you, the emboldened splurgist consumer. I will teach you how to negotiate car purchases in a future post.

To demonstrate leasing superiority, I will compare the cost of leasing a luxury midsize sedan to the cost of financing an everyday midsize sedan.

We’ll be leasing a 2015 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Premium with a MSRP of $37,325 as our luxury vehicle. Its current lease special is $310 a month for 36 months with a $3490 down payment.

For comparison, we’ll finance the purchase of a 2015 Kia Optima LX with a MSRP of $22,565. The manufacturer is offering $2000 off the sticker price which brings the financing cost to $325 a month for 60 months with a $2000 down payment.

There is a negligible monthly difference of $15 between the Audi A4 and the Kia Optima LX. However, the Audi A4 comes standard with a 2.0 L turbocharged engine that powers an AWD drivetrain with 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque that sweeps you to 60 in 6.6 seconds. And with enhanced with leather power front seats, 10 speakers and Xenon headlights.

The Kia Optima is equipped with a larger 2.4 L engine yet produces only 192 hp owed to its lacking a turbocharger. The FWD drivetrain and the sluggish 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds would be noticed and sorely felt by driving enthusiasts. The Optima LX, with its cloth seats, 6 speakers and projection headlamps, is overall mildly unimpressive.

Even with Kia’s 9% generous price cut, the Optima LX still has the higher total cost of $21,500 compared to $14,650 for the lovely Audi A4 you should be driving.

Splurgists, you deserve the most vroom for your buck.

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Marc