Three Bookstores Worth Visiting

If there’s one thing I love more than Amtrak, it’s books. Paperbacks, hardcovers, new, used, fiction, nonfiction–LITERALLY ALL OF THEM. Bring me the books. So, naturally, whenever I go somewhere, I try to seek out a bookstore to peruse for a few minutes (or hours). In my mind, no vacation is complete without a trip to one.

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How I feel entering a bookstore

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Saturday Round-Up 12/10

We’re back to our regularly scheduled Saturday Round-Up, so without further ado:

1. Recap:  A Year of AMEX Offers – Let’s look back at my year of savings using American Express Offers. If you’re not sure what these are, here’s a brief description from American Express. Continue reading here.

2. Chase Freedom Q1/Q2 Categories Announced – Yesterday, Chase confirmed their 5% cash back categories for the first two quarters of 2017. Are we in for something new–or a return of the categories we have come to expect? Continue reading here.

3. Why it Pays to Book in Advance – On Monday, I thought about upgrading my Amtrak ticket from Acela Business to Acela First, as I’ve always wanted to try Amtrak’s First Class service. I had originally booked my trip home back in September, a one-way Acela Business class ticket for 4,297 points.Continue reading here.

4. AAA and Amtrak–A Match Made in Heaven? – I am always looking for a way to save money on travel–money I don’t spend on one trip, I can use for another! In today’s post, we’re looking at whether or not it makes sense for someone who rides Amtrak to get an AAA Membership. Continue reading here.

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Why it Pays to Book in Advance

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 18 days away! I’m looking forward to relaxing at home with my family for a couple of weeks–it’s always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. On Monday, I thought about upgrading my Amtrak ticket from Acela Business to Acela First, as I’ve always wanted to try Amtrak’s First Class service.

Continue reading “Why it Pays to Book in Advance”

Chase Freedom Q1/Q2 Categories Announced

Yesterday, Chase confirmed their 5% cash back categories for the first two quarters of 2017. Are we in for something new–or a return of the categories we have come to expect?

According to Doctor of Credit, we’ll see:

  • Quarter 1 (January 1 – March 30):  Gas stations and commuter passes
  • Quarter 2 (April 1 – June 30):  Grocery stores and drugstores

Remember, the Chase Freedom earns you 5% cash back (up to $1,500 per quarter) on the above purchases. For New Yorkers, that means $5.83 back everytime you buy an unlimited monthy Metrocard in January, February, and March.

Interestingly, the 5% cash back category for the Discover it in quarter one is also gas stations, commuter passes, and wholesale clubs.

Recap: A Year of AMEX Offers

Let me preface this post with a PSA:  DON’T BUY THINGS YOU DON’T NEED. American Express offers are a great way to earn some cash back or points on purchases, but don’t buy things for the sake of “free money”–you still had to spend money to get that.

*deep breath* OK, with that out of the way, let’s look back at my year of savings using American Express Offers. If you’re not sure what these are, here’s a brief description from American Express:

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To recap:  AMEX partners with companies to provide coupons/discounts, you add those discounts to your card(s), and once you buy enough to trigger the coupon, you get your discount!

Easy! In my opinion, AMEX Offers are a great way to offset the annual fee on some of their cards. In 2016, I had three American Express cards with annual fees:  Premier Rewards Gold ($195), Delta SkyMiles Gold ($95), and Hilton HHonors Surpass ($75), for a total of $365 in annual fees.

Here are some of the current AMEX Offers I have, which just goes to show you the diversity in them–you’re bound to find something you were already planning on buying!

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To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll be using any of these, but they do provide a visual to how wide-ranging the discounts are.

So, how’d I do? Between 1/1/2016 and 12/5/2016, I saved $501.00 and earned 6,000 Membership Rewards points. Below is a list of where I saved money, I’ve included the number of AMEX Offers I used at that particular store as well:

  • boxed.com – $190 saved, 10 offers used
  • chewy.com – $50 saved, 2 offers used
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – 1,500 Membership Rewards points
  • Google Express – $60 saved, 4 offers used
  • jet.com – $60 saved, 6 offers used
  • minted.com – $30 saved, 1 offer used
  • petco.com – $25 saved, 5 offers used
  • Staples – $75 saved, 3 offers used
  • Verizon – 4,500 Membership Rewards points
  • Miscellaneous places – $11 saved, 2 offers used
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An example of how AMEX Offers look on your credit card statements.

I also have a few more offers I’m planning on using, so that number is only going to go up. Score!

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Approximately how I feel when I use an AMEX Offer

In the end, I earned more than the annual fees cost on my cards and earned 6,000 Membership Rewards points by just paying my cell phone bill and buying coffee. Wahoo!

Again, these were all things we needed, DON’T BUY THINGS YOU DON’T NEED.

Here’s the thing about annual fees:  yeah they suck, like come on who want to PAY for the privilege of using branded plastic??  My response: make it work for you! Maximizing AMEX Offers is just one way of doing that. Make sure you’re alway utilizing ALL the benefits of your cards!