Whitney Tilson’s email discussing car safety and his phone holder and credit car system presented without comment.
1) If you don’t have a phone holder in your car (and also travel with one when you’re renting a car), you’re making a big mistake – it’s SUPER UNSAFE to hold your phone when following Google Maps (or, heaven forbid, doing anything else) while you’re driving.
We have a suction cup on the windshield in our car, but it’s ugly, comes unstuck regularly, and blocks part of the driver’s vision.
Instead, this is what I travel with – with two attachment points, it connects solidly to any air vent, either vertically or horizontally, and only costs $19.95. www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XGC2VGX
2) I estimate that we save/earn benefits of well over $10,000 annually by being smart about credit card perks. The big card issuers are pulling back, as the WSJ article below notes, but there are still plenty of great benefits to be had if you invest a little time to make a few good decisions up front and then are smart about which card you use for which purchases.
For up-to-date, in-depth info, I suggest The Points Guy website. I don’t claim to be an expert because I’m not obsessive about it, but I suspect I have the 80/20 rule right: 20% of the effort yields 80% of the benefits.
In short, here are the five credit cards we use:
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa card for all travel and dining expenses, which earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent (you only get 1 point for every dollar spent on everything else, so ONLY use this card for travel and dining expenses). Note that The Points Guy website values these points at 2 cents each (https://thepointsguy.com/guide/monthly-valuations/), meaning that, if you’re clever in how you use these points, you’re effectively getting 6% back! At the very least, you can transfer them as frequent flyer miles to United, Southwest, JetBlue, AirFrance/KLM, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Air, Iberia and Aer Lingus, but don’t do this until you’ve found a great deal to use them, as The Points Guy rates frequent flyer miles on all of these airlines as worth LESS than 2 cents (1.3-1.5c). $450 annual fee, which is offset by a $300 credit toward travel expenses. 50,000 bonus points when you get the card if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. Also pays $100 for your Global Entry application fee (if you don’t have Global Entry and do any international travel, you’re making a HUGE mistake – it saves SO much time coming through Customs plus you automatically get TSA PreCheck; www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/how-apply). https://creditcards.chase.com/rewards-credit-cards/chase-sapphire-reserve
- Almost all other expenses go on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Mastercard, which effectively earns me 2.1% cash back (2 points for every dollar spent, plus I earn 5% of my miles back as a redemption bonus). To get this requires a tiny bit of effort: every month or two, I have to go to their website and designate certain travel-related charges to remove from my bill, so I need to put a small amount of travel expenses on this card – they must get a lot of “breakage” here. Only an $89 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. 70,000 bonus points when you get the card if you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. It’s almost a toss-up with the Sapphire Reserve card where to put travel and dining expenses: some folks might prefer to have 2.1% in cash vs. 3% in points/miles (come to think of it, now that I have 640,000 points on the Chase card, it makes sense to just take the cash from now on). cards.barclaycardus.com/banking/cards/barclaycard-arrival-plus-world-elite-mastercard/
- The Amazon Chase Prime Rewards Visa Signature card to get 5% off (for Prime members; otherwise 3%) all Amazon and Whole Foods purchases (which for us total $10,000+ per year!). www.chase.com/personal/credit-cards/amazon. No fee.
- The Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi (only available to members) for use at Costco and to save 4% when buying gasoline. No fee. www.citi.com/credit-cards/credit-card-details/citi.action?ID=Citi-costco-anywhere-visa-credit-card
- The Delta Amex platinum card, which for a $195 annual fee gives us one free companion domestic roundtrip ticket each year and no charge for checking the first bag. www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/card/platinum-delta-skymiles
Again, I know that if I opened new cards, switched my spending around like a madman, etc., I could squeeze some extra juice out of this game, but I just can’t be bothered. I think they system we have is pretty good.
Rewards Credit Cards Gained a Fanatic Following - Now Banks Are Pulling Back
Major perks like airfare and cash back were meant to lead to higher returns. But consumers figured out how to game the system
By AnnaMaria Andriotis and Emily Glazer
January 1, 2019
Blake DiCioccio and her husband, Jason, flew around the world in business class in 2017, from San Francisco to Taipei, Tokyo to Belgrade, and Frankfurt back home. They didn’t pay for it. JPMorgan Chase & Co. did.
The DiCioccios signed up for two Sapphire Reserve cards from the bank several months before their trip, on an offer that scored them hundreds of thousands of points, which they combined with points from their other rewards cards. They use credit cards as much as possible—even for small purchases—and strategize when to use Sapphire Reserve versus their other cards based on the points each offers. Mr. DiCioccio recently signed up for an American Express Platinum card, and the couple is now thinking about canceling one of their Sapphire Reserve cards to avoid the $450 annual fee.
“It’s a game really—like poker,” said Ms. DiCioccio, 34 years old. “Some people come to the table knowing all the strategy and they have the best chance to win.”
Read the full article here by The Wall Street Journal