I did it! My first Business card!

Finally!

I have long been jealous of the bloggers and travel hackers who get so many extra miles and points by getting business cards.  Unfortunately, stay at home moms do not qualify as “business owners” because nobody actually pays us for our services.  (hmmmpf)

Several years ago, I was a Realtor and could have easily gotten multiple business cards for my real estate business.  But I was not into this game then and let my license expire back in 2007.

So, here I sit, letting millions of miles pass me by because I do not have a business.  But do I?

I live in a subdivision that has a community clubhouse that residents can rent out for parties and meetings.  I am in charge of renting the clubhouse and BUYING SUPPLIES for it.  I am paid a modest fee for every party that I book.  A modest fee, yet still a fee.  I am sent a 1099 tax form every year by the HOA and I have to pay taxes on that modest money that I earn.  Do I have a business?  I thought I might.  So a couple years ago, I applied for a Chase Ink card using that business description.  I was denied.  That broke me.  I was scared of Chase then and stayed away from them until my recent Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  Not sure what went wrong with the Ink card.  Maybe they didn’t like the fact that I only made about $2,500 a year and spent less than $100 a month on supplies.

Gatekeeper Paranormal

 

For several months now, I have been getting letters from American Express OPEN Business credit card, addressed to Gatekeeper Paranormal.  I have no idea how they got our name and my address linked to it.  But they did.  We do not charge a fee for our services so we are a “non-profit”,  but have not registered as such because that costs money and if we don’t make money, we don’t have money.

Recently we started working with Bobby Mackey’s Music World.  This has given us a good deal of exposure and as such we have started investing more in our “business”.  Ordering t-shirts and banners, buying new equipment and vendor tables at conventions.  Unless we get our own “Ghost Hunters” type TV show, we are not going to make much money doing this BUT we are making a small amount and still putting out money and providing a service.

The American Express OPEN card was offering me 50,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $5,000 in 3 months AND an additional 25,000 points for spending another $5,000 in the same 3 months.  That’s A LOT of spend.  Especially considering I want to apply for new Marriott Premier VISA cards this month.

I really need some Delta miles though! I want to go to Europe next summer (!) in business class and I only have 310,000 SkyMiles.  (I need 375,000.  which is ridiculous. but it is what it is)  So I started looking at some other business card offers this morning and saw that the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business card was offering 50,000 miles for spending only $1,000 in the first 3 months!  Wow.  If I had to, I could BUY the remaining 15,000 SkyMiles for about $500.  But hopefully I can manufacture some spending in the next month to lower that significantly.

I was nervous, but I applied for the card using Gatekeeper Paranormal information.  It was quite painless actually.  They asked what kind of business and I marked “other”.  They asked my annual income and provided a drop down box where the first option was “$0-$49,999”.  OK.  That’s honest.

60 seconds later:

first biz card

 

Wow.  I was over the moon.  This opens up a whole new world for me!

And that brings me to this blog.  Most of the BIG guy bloggers have affiliate links for credit cards and make a nice little commission every time somebody clicks on one and is approved.  (I just gave Million Mile Secrets some money this morning.  You’re welcome.)

I do not have any such links and I honestly have no idea how to go about getting them.  Part of me doesn’t want to pimp credit cards all the time and another part of me doesn’t want the banks controlling (or trying to control) my content.   But the opportunity exists that I could get affiliate links.  And of course I want to make money.  So even if I don’t have any now, I could apply for a business card for this blog with the intention of getting paid for advertising credit cards.  I could.  But should I?

So apparently I have 3 businesses that technically should each be eligible for their own business credit card.  Will I do that? I doubt it.  But I will be exploring the business side of this game a bit more now.  I’m still very conservative, both in manufactured spend and credit card churning in general.

Do you have any business credit cards?  Have you tapped that well yet?

I heart you American Express.  Thank you.

Off To Europe

I’m leaving for Europe tomorrow morning so I will not be writing any new posts for the nest week.  I notice many bloggers post while they are on trips, but why waste your time doing that?  Enjoy what you worked so hard to go see!

I am going with a friend of mine from Georgia.  We used to work together at Delta.  She finally decided to use her “One Great Team” pass and asked if I would like to tag along.  Sure! A free flight that won’t even cost me miles? I’m there!  I thought for sure with a pass like that we would get business class but now it doesn’t look like we will.  I am beyond disappointed.  After the horrendous trip to and from Thailand in coach, I vowed to never do that again.  No more economy class tickets on flights lasting more than 4 hours! I thought I could do it, but I can’t.  I thought taking 2 trips in coach was better than 1 in business.  It’s not.

The Positive Space passes she has, are put on the standby list in the order of check-in time.  She had me buy a ticket to Atlanta so we could leave from there and she wouldn’t have to fly back and forth.  Well…if she had come up here today, we could have left at 7am tomorrow and checked in BEFORE the 4 people that checked in at noon today.  It also would have saved me $225 for the ticket to Atlanta.  Oh well.  Whaddya gonna do? Live and learn.

Nice, Free (almost) Hotels

In exchange for the free business class (ahem) ticket to Europe, I agreed to use some hotel points for rooms.  I ended up having to pay for a couple of them, but not much.  For 6 nights in hotels in expensive European cities, we are paying a total of $185 each.

I redeemed 1 Chase anniversary night, 25,000 miles and paid $170 for 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Munich City Center. (retail value $569)

I redeemed 20,000 Starpoints for 2 nights at the Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel (retail value $398)

And we are spending 1 night at the Ibis Munich City hotel for $110 total because there is a convention in Munich on our last night and I was unable to get a room there.

So $1077 for a week’s worth of hotels for $370 total is not bad.  I would have preferred to not pay anything, but it’s not so bad because I am splitting the cost with a friend.

I hope nothing “bad” happens while I am gone.  Seems every time I go away some change occurs with gift cards or Bluebirds or Walmart or….something!

Please “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter(@lauraroland) and Instagram (zinnia7).  I will probably post a few pictures while I am gone.

Happy Travels!

 

 

Laura’s May 2014 App-O-Rama

App-O-Rama Results: 170,000 points

If I haven’t mentioned this before, I am a very conservative App-O-Rama’er.  (is that a new word?) If you are unfamiliar with what an App-O-Rama is, see this post.

Most people do five or six cards at one time, I usually do three or maybe four depending on how good the offers are.  At this time, we seem to be in sort of a drought of good offers so I only applied for three. Continue reading

Is It Worth Keeping the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card?

A few months ago, American Express announced it was increasing the annual fee on the Platinum Delta Skymiles card from $150 a year to $195, effective May 1, 2014.  That is quite a jump! And what were they giving us to justify the fee increase?  Not much.  The only noticeable change was that they are getting rid of Foreign Transaction Fees, which were 2.7%  There are plenty of other cards out there that do not charge a Foreign Transaction Fee so that alone is not enough to keep my business.

deltaplatinum

Is this card worth $195 per year?

Smart Chip Technology

All new Delta American Express cards issued after May 1, 2014 will have the Smart Chip technology.  If you don’t know what a Smart Chip is, read this.

Eventually all US issued cards will convert to Smart Chips, but again this is not a justifiable reason (in my opinion) for a $45 annual fee increase.

Incidentally, on our recent trip to Thailand we used our Citibank AA Executive card with a Smart Chip.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  I was dismayed at the lack of credit card acceptance across Thailand in general, the Smart Chip not working at places that did accept cards, just made it worse.

Companion Certificate

The biggest benefit of the card, for me, is the free companion certificate you receive every year upon renewal of the card.  Of course, it’s not “free” is it?  It costs $150 (or $195 after May 1, 2014)  However, with domestic airfares hovering in the $300-$500 range, you could look at it as a “discounted companion ticket”.  I have used the certificate every year and never let it go to waste.

I have already started thinking about Spring Break next year.  There is a strong possibility we will take a domestic trip.  Grand Canyon and The Keys are two places I’m kicking around right now.  I prefer to save my miles for international travel so I will probably purchase at least 2 tickets for next year’s Spring Break trip.  Right now, fares to PHX are around $555 and MIA is around $288.  I would get a better value on the PHX companion ticket, so Grand Canyon is looking like a strong possibility.  But…sometimes it’s nice to go to the beach.

Whatever we decide, I think I will hang on to the card for one more year.  I will, however, call them and try to cancel.  Hopefully they will offer me something to keep the card and then I will “change my mind”, but I have to be prepared to follow through on the cancel if they don’t try to offer me anything.

I consider Delta to have one of the worst and most difficult to use programs out there, so miles earned on this card are of little value to me.  I have plenty of Delta miles already that I need to burn through.  I have been an American Express card member since 2002, which helps my credit score, but I think it might be time to let this one go.  I will still keep my Starwood American Express card, which is a much more versatile card.

Happy Travels!

Delta Releases New 2015 Award Chart

New Delta Award Chart

 

There is a high probability that Delta chose to release this award chart early, in part, because of all the complaining by passengers and some very negative media reports.   Turns out it’s not as bad as we feared.  At least it’s not as bad as *I* feared.  *I* who is sitting on 300K SkyMiles.  Yikes.  So, without further ado, here it is:

delta2015econawards

There are several blue lines on the chart, which means a decrease in required miles.  That is good news.  The only big problem I see is the 5 levels of award redemptions.  They told us they were going to do this, but I still don’t like seeing it in print.  There is a strong possibility that they will hold all their award availability in the higher levels.  Of course they can (and do) do that anyway.  But now they have 5 levels to play with.

The news was pretty good in the Premium Cabin award chart too.

DLpremawardchart2015

Again, lots of blue lines, which is what we like to see.  I may end up burning my Delta SkyMiles on some business class awards to Europe, so this is good news to me.

These new award charts go into effect January 1, 2015.

There are some silver linings on this newest Delta cloud.  One is that they released it earlier than planned.  But again that may have been a face-saving move on their part.  Like “See guys, it’s not that bad.” Another good thing is that they are now going to allow one-way redemptions.  That can really come in handy! And it’s also a silver lining that they did not raise the mileage requirements for most awards.

The revenue based earning is still a sore spot for many.  Not really for those of us who only collect credit card miles, but for those who actually pay for flights and earn miles, it’s gonna sting.  I have heard a lot of talk about how this will benefit business travelers who often buy last minute tickets at higher fares than your average leisure traveler.  Yes and no.  What some people may not realize is that companies who have employees that travel on a regular basis have contract fares with airlines and end up paying a much lower fare.  So I still don’t see how this move is benefitting anybody, except Delta.

I gave up on Delta many years ago and plan to use up my Delta miles as quickly as I can. They honestly have one of the worst, most restrictive programs out there and their website is a joke.   I am also going to cancel my Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express in a couple months.  They are raising the annual fee from $150 to $195.  I had kept it the past few years because of the “free” Companion Certificate.  Of course it wasn’t free, was it?  It was $150.  Now, the “free” companion pass is $195.  I suppose it could still be worth it if you maximize it on a $600 or $700 fare.  But, who pays that much?  Certainly not me!

So now we just have to wait and see what happens in 2015 when people start trying to redeem awards at these new levels.

Happy Travels!