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Citi Premier Card Review: 60,000 Points = $750 in Airfare Booked at ThankYou.com, $95 Annual Fee

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 19:54

The Citi Premier Card has changed up their sign-up bonus to 60,000 bonus points (worth $750 in airfare booked at ThankYou.com) with a $95 annual fee for the first year (not waived). Here are the highlights:

  • 60,000 bonus ThankYou points after $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 3X points on Travel, including Gas Stations
  • 2X points on Dining Out and Entertainment
  • 1X points on All Other Purchases
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee.

3X points include both air/hotel/car rental and daily commute items. “Travel” includes hotels, airfare, taxis, car rental, public transportation, parking, cruises, and gas. When combined with the 25% travel premium, makes that equivalent to a 3.75% reward towards travel booked through Citi Travel Center. The double (2X) on restaurants (includes bars and fast food) and entertainment (sporting events) makes that 2.5% towards travel booked through Citi Travel Center.

Bonus details. The current bonus is 60,000 bonus points and $95 annual fee. 60,000 points are redeemable for $750 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou.com travel portal, or $500 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com. The previous offer was 50,000 points and the first year of annual fee waived, so this can be seen as a slight improvement as 10,000 points can be redeem for $125 in airfare vs. the $95 annual fee. If you got a lower bonus recently, it doesn’t hurt to ask Citi to match the current bonus via their secure message system. The worst they could say is no.

Note the following fine print:

Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Rewards+SM, Citi ThankYou® Preferred, Citi ThankYou® Premier/Citi PremierSM or Citi Prestige®, or if you have closed any of these accounts, in the past 24 months.

ThankYou.com Travel Center redemption details (60,000 points = $750 in travel). With this card, every 10,000 ThankYou points will get you $125 in airfare, hotel nights, car rentals, and cruises book through the ThankYou.com Travel Center, which in my experience has very similar (if not identical) total price with taxes as compared to Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Because you can book any flight that can be otherwise purchased with cash, there are “no blackout dates”.

This can be even more flexible than traditional “miles” redemptions because you can use it across multiple flights, multiple passengers, and you can even do partial redemptions. Let’s say you found a ticket that want for $200 = 16,000 points, but only have 10,000 points available. Citi now lets you pay the difference, so in this case you can get your $200 ticket for 10,000 points and $75. This makes it easy to use up all of your points at the better travel rate without buying anything extra you don’t need.

60,000 ThankYou points = $600 in gift cards, $600 check towards student loan or mortgage. You can view your redemption options at ThankYou.com. I took a quick look and it takes 10,000 ThankYou (TY) points to redeem for a $100 gift card to retailers like Gap, Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Bath and Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond, Cabelas, CVS Pharmacy, Kohl’s, Land’s End, LL Bean, Sears, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Staples, and Walmart. So with 60,000 TY points, you could get six $100 gift cards from different stores.

For a check mailed to you, it is 8,000 points for $50 (1 points = 0.625 cent). A better conversion ratio comes from a check mailed towards your mortgage payment or student loan (it arrives made out to your lender), which is 7,500 points for $75 (1 points = 1 cent).

Hotel points and airline miles transfer options. Citi ThankYou points are also now available to transfer to certain airline mileage programs on a 1:1 basis including JetBlue, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Etihad, Flying Blue by Air France and KLM, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways. For example, 60,000 TY points can get you 60,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles. If you know how to redeem these points wisely and like to fly in international business class, you can get a lot of value. For example, Singapore Airlines has some very nice award options and great customer service.

Bottom line. The Citi Premier Card is a premium travel card with a $95 annual fee. Currently, new cardholders can get a sign-up bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points = $750 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou travel center. Minus the $95 annual fee, and the total first year value is roughly $650. Note the restrictions if you’ve had or closed a similar ThankYou card in the last 24 months.

I do not receive a commission for this card. I will be adding this offer to my ongoing list of Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.


“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Citi Premier Card Review: 60,000 Points = $750 in Airfare Booked at ThankYou.com, $95 Annual Fee from My Money Blog.

Copyright © 2018 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

Categories: Finance

Home Bias Against International Stocks: Lower Past Performance vs. Cheaper Valuations

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 01:00

One the big decisions in portfolio construction is how much to allocate between US stocks and non-US stocks. You won’t find universal agreement on a correct answer, but this Morningstar article Investors Have Fewer Reasons Than Ever for Home Bias by Ben Johnson does a nice job of outlining the factors behind “home bias”:

“Home bias” is the term used to describe investors’ tendency to tilt their portfolios in favor of domestic stocks (bonds, too, but I’m going to focus on stocks). Here, I’ll discuss how home bias is measured, the factors that underpin this phenomenon, and why it’s probably a good idea to expand your horizons a bit.

Sometimes the US outperforms international stocks for a while. Sometimes it lags. Here is a chart from Factor Investor that helps you visualize these past cycles:

Right now, the market cap of the world’s publicly-traded businesses split at roughly 55% US and 45% international. This ratio has been flipped in the past (45% US/55% International) but the US has performed much better in the past decade.

Right now, the US looks great but International stocks have much higher earnings yields. The most interesting chart from the Morningstar article shows the current Shiller P/E Ratio amid the range of historical valuations for major indexes including the S&P 500, MSCI EAFA (Developed International), and MSCI EM (Emerging Markets). You can see that US stocks are currently on the high (expensive) side, while the international stocks are on the low (cheap) side.

It’s a tug of war. US stocks have done better recently. US stocks have a rosier outlook, which results in them being more expensive. International stocks have a bleaker outlook, but the price-to-earning ratios are much cheaper. If you own a Vanguard Target Retirement 20XX Fund or a LifeCycle Fund, you own 60% US/40% International. Most of the other Target Date Funds break it down differently, so you’ll have to check. I am in the market-weight camp and hold either 50/50 for simplicity. I have seen opinions of what is “best” change over time, and that supports the advice of having a written investment policy statement of what you believe and why.


“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Home Bias Against International Stocks: Lower Past Performance vs. Cheaper Valuations from My Money Blog.

Copyright © 2018 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

Categories: Finance

Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – June 2019

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 01:44

Updated June 2019. Do you have small business income or work as an independent contractor? Uber/Lyft, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Airbnb? You are eligible to open a small business credit card, which keeps your personal and business expenses separate. If you are not a corporation or LLC, you can apply as a sole proprietorship, with your name as the business name and your Social Security number as the Tax ID number. I did this for years successfully before incorporating my business.

Small business credit cards are offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to try out a new card. Below are the top 10 credit card offers that I would apply for (or have applied for already). Recent changes:

  • Business Delta – limited-time 70k and 80k offers.
  • Business Hawaiian – improved 75k offer.
  • Business American – limited-time 75k offer.
  • Improved Alaska Air Business 40k + BOGO offer.
  • Updated CitiBusiness AA card offer.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers for personal cards. Notice that small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,000 towards travel!) after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard

  • 75,000 American Airlines miles after $5,000 in purchases in first the 5 months. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express

  • 70,000 Delta Skymiles after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months + $50 statement credit after a Delta purchase within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/2/19. See link for details.
  • 70,000 Skymiles are worth at least $700 in Delta airfare with “Pay with Miles” option.
  • First checked bag free on Delta flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Honorable mention: 80k offer on the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points (redeemable for $900+ in Wanna Getaway airfare) after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • $99 annual fee.
  • Combine with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Consumer Card and go for the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

American Express Plum Card

  • $600 cash back. Earn a $200 statement credit after each $10,000 you spend in purchases, up to $30,000, within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 1.5% early pay discount on all purchases which stacks on top of the bonus above.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $250.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard (Barclaycard)

  • Up to 70,000 Hawaiian miles. Earn 60,000 miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, and an additional 10,000 miles after a purchase is made on an employee card. See link for details.
  • One-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and the Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

United Explorer Business Card

  • 50,000 United miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for both you and a companion (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip).
  • Expanded award availability. Having this card makes it easier to redeem for that saver award economy ticket.
  • Primary rental car coverage when renting for business purposes.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Chase Ink Business Cash Card

  • $500 bonus cash back after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • No annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Card

  • $500 cash bonus after $4,500 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Flat 2% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Card

  • 50,000 bonus miles after $4,500 in purchases in the first 3 months. 50,000 miles is redeemable for $500 towards travel. See link for details.
  • Flat 2X miles per dollar on all purchases with no limit.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

  • 75,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free night award upon card anniversary (worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points). Earn an additional Free Night Award after spending $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Annual fee is $125.

Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card (Bank of America)

  • 40,000 Alaska miles + Companion Fare Voucher after $2,000 in purchase within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Companion fare voucher is “Buy one ticket, get one for $99 plus taxes and fees” ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22).
  • Free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation.
  • $50 annual fee for company, plus $25 per card.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – June 2019 from My Money Blog.

Copyright © 2018 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

Categories: Finance

My Money Blog Portfolio Income and Withdrawal Rate – June 2019 (Q2)

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 03:11

One of the biggest problems in retirement planning is making sure a pile of money lasts through your retirement. I have read hundreds of articles about this topic, and still haven’t a perfect solution to this problem. Most recently, I looked into the idea of buying a ETF that tracks stocks with 10+ year histories of growing dividends.

The imperfect (!) solution I chose is to first build a portfolio designed for total return and enough downside protection such that I can hold through an extended downturn. As you will see below, the total income is a little under 3% of the portfolio annually. I could easily crank out a portfolio with a 4% income rate, or even 5% income. But you have to take some additional risks to get there.

Starting with a more traditional portfolio, only then do I try to only spend the dividends and interest. The analogy I fall back on is owning a rental property. If you are reliably getting rent checks that increase with inflation, you can sit back calmly and ignore what the house might sell for on the open market. With this method, I am more confident that the income cover our expenses for the rest of our lives.

I track the “TTM Yield” or “12 Mo. Yield” from Morningstar, which the sum of a fund’s total trailing 12-month interest and dividend payments divided by the last month’s ending share price (NAV) plus any capital gains distributed over the same period. (Index funds have low turnover and thus little in capital gains.) I like this measure because it is based on historical distributions and not a forecast. Below is a very close approximation of my investment portfolio (2/3rd stocks and 1/3rd bonds).

Asset Class / Fund % of Portfolio Trailing 12-Month Yield (Taken 6/13/19) Yield Contribution US Total Stock
Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund (VTI, VTSAX) 25% 1.99% 0.50% US Small Value
Vanguard Small-Cap Value ETF (VBR) 5% 2.20% 0.11% International Total Stock
Vanguard Total International Stock Market Fund (VXUS, VTIAX) 25% 3.00% 0.75% Emerging Markets
Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) 5% 2.69% 0.13% US Real Estate
Vanguard REIT Index Fund (VNQ, VGSLX) 6% 3.96% 0.24% Intermediate-Term High Quality Bonds
Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt Fund (VWIUX) 17% 2.79% 0.47% Inflation-Linked Treasury Bonds
Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities Fund (VAIPX) 17% 2.66% 0.45% Totals 100% 2.65%

 

Over the last 12 months, my portfolio has distributed 2.65% of its current value as income. One of the things I like about using this number is that when stock prices drop, this percentage metric usually goes up – which makes me feel better in a gloomy market. When stock prices go up, this percentage metric usually goes down, which keeps me from getting too happy. This also applies to the relative performance of US and International stocks. In this way, this serves as a rough form of a valuation-based dynamic withdrawal rate.

In practical terms, I let all of my dividends and interest accumulate without automatic reinvestment. I like to look at this money as my “paycheck” arriving on a regular basis. Then, as with my real paycheck, I can choose to either spend it or reinvest in more stocks and bonds. This gets me used the feeling of living off my portfolio and learning to ignore the price swings.

We are a real 40-year-old couple with three young kids, and this money has to last us a lifetime (without stomach ulcers). This number does not dictate how much we actually spend every year, but it gives me an idea of how comfortable I am with our withdrawal rate. We spend less than this amount now, but I like to plan for the worst while hoping for the best. For now, we are quite fortunate to be able to do work that is meaningful to us, in an amount where we still enjoy it and don’t feel burned out.

Life is not a Monte Carlo simulation, and you need a plan to ride out the rough times. Even if you run a bunch of numbers looking back to 1920 and it tells you some number is “safe”, that’s still trying to use 100 years of history to forecast 50 years into the future. Michael Pollan says that you can sum up his eating advice as “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” You can sum up my thoughts on portfolio income as “Spend mostly dividends and interest. Don’t eat too much principal.” At the same time, live your life. Enjoy your time with family and friends. You may be more likely to run out of time than run out of money.

In the end, I do think using a 3% withdrawal rate is a reasonable target for something retiring young (before age 50) and a 4% withdrawal rate is a reasonable target for one retiring at a more traditional age (closer to 65). If you’re still in the accumulation phase, you don’t really need a more accurate number than that. Focus on your earning potential via better career moves, investing in your skillset, and/or look for entrepreneurial opportunities where you own equity in a business.


“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

My Money Blog Portfolio Income and Withdrawal Rate – June 2019 (Q2) from My Money Blog.

Copyright © 2018 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

Categories: Finance

Free Websites Reveal Your Address History and Names of Relatives (How to Opt Out)

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 00:54

Updated 2019 with more websites. “People would care more about privacy if they knew how exposed they already are online,” says Geoffrey A. Fowler in his WSJ article Your Data Is Way More Exposed Than You Realize.

I hear this all the time: “I have nothing to hide.” The truth is, pretty much everybody does something online they have reason to keep private.

I would have to agree. These days, it just takes a few clicks to find out your age, current and past addresses, phone numbers, and the names of your parents, siblings, children, cousins, and in-laws (and thus all of their information). Try entering your own name and city into one of the first few websites on this list:

  • Peoplefinders.com – Public access to your current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives and associates. Opt out at www.peoplefinders.com/manage.
  • InstantCheckMate.com – Public access to your current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives and associates. Opt out at www.instantcheckmate.com/opt-out.
  • FamilyTreeNow.com – Public access to your current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives and associates. Opt out at www.familytreenow.com/optout.
  • TruePeopleSearch.com – Public access to your current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives and associates. Opt out at www.truepeoplesearch.com/removal.
  • MyHeritage.com – Must e-mail them at privacy@myheritage.com to remove information.
  • Geni.com – Must e-mail them at privacy@geni.com to opt out.
  • Spokeo.com – Public/paid access to birth month, email, current and past addresses, phone numbers, relatives, social networks and court records. Opt out at spokeo.com/optout.
  • Acxiom is a data broker that uses information to target ads and marketing. I found some unique data on there, although supposedly it’s not public (just up for sale). Opt out at acxiom.com/optout.

Opt out. For most of these websites, there is an opt-out option hidden in either their “Terms & Conditions” or “Privacy Policy” pages. Even though many of these sites appears to be clones of each other, you must opt out of each of them individually. The only “good” news is that where available, my opt out requests were fulfilled and I can’t find those records even a year later. It’s like stomping a cockroach but knowing there are more that you just can’t see.

Here are some related resources:

Facebook and Google serve as bottomless vacuums of your personal data. These tools help show you exactly what they keep.

  • StalkScan.com – Not public. Just links to specific parts of your own Facebook profile. Find out everything that Facebook stores about you, even if it’s hard to find otherwise.
  • Google Maps Timeline – Google may be tracking your location all day long and keeping records forever. Not public. You can log in and request your data to be deleted.
  • Google My Activity – Google may be tracking every search and your web browsing history and keeping records. Not public. You can log in and request your data to be deleted.

Free Consumer Reports. You can also get a copy of your data stored at official consumer reporting agencies via the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).


“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Free Websites Reveal Your Address History and Names of Relatives (How to Opt Out) from My Money Blog.

Copyright © 2018 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

Categories: Finance

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