Many thanks to my pal Richie in introducing me to this card. I noticed it because of its unique baby blue edge and it was one of the first EMV Chip and PIN cards, also I creep up on what most other people use to pay and ask them why they put their purchases on that card. Richie is a big fan of the card because of its unique awards structure or earning 2 miles for every $1 and then you can redeem 2,500 miles for $25 back in statement credits on travel. Then they throw 10% miles back at you.
Many thanks to my brother in the states for recommending the Chase Ink Business Plus because it was offering 60,000 Ultimate reward points for $5k in 3 months. (Hit me up if you need a referral) He uses it for his cable, cell phone and internet bill which gains 5x Ultimate Reward Points per dollar. I was pleased to find out today these 5x rewards work for Japanese phone companies as well.
I ended up with a Business Gold card when I called Amex regarding an issue with my Amex Platinum card. I had just paid off $13,000 in charges in a month for the many flights and things for our new house here in Japan. This is unusually high balance for me to rack up, but I don’t know if this flagged me for an offer of 75,000 membership points to make $5,000 in purchases in three months. So why not? They let me get a card as a sole proprietor of my business using my SSN as the tax ID. I got the card and completed the offer and got my 75,000 points, but I also learned a lot about this card, and why it’s much better than the Amex Platinum in terms of earning points.
Japan is very accommodating to foreigners by offering discount airline fares as well as discount train tickets for those who have a foreign passport. However its good to keep in mind the above mentioned discount air and train ticket requires a visitors visa which us SOFA status members do not get. So its good for all those non military foreigners in Japan.
However All Nippon Airlines, a member of star alliance, has their own program called Experience Japan which offers any segment between two Japanese cities for 10,800 yen ($90 USD). The only requirement is you hold a foreign passport and have a ticket going to and from Japan.
You have good credit, because if you didn’t they would of never taken you into the military. You also have a stable recession-proof job that has a steady paycheck. I figure some one at amex saw this as an excellent business opportunity to attract this prime demographic by offering waved annual fees for active duty military. This is well beyond what the SCRA asks of a financial institution to do.
I’m a big Liz Lemon / Tina Fey fan, so it was exciting to see her as the face of the new American Express Everyday Rewards card. However I am going to talk about the Preferred Everyday card which has an annual fee of $75 which is waved for Active Duty. This card is brilliant in the way it makes you want to use it at least 30 times a month in order to get 4.5 points on Groceries at the Commissary and 3 points per dollar on gas on any base (even overseas). Without hitting the 30 transactions you only get 3 points for groceries and 2 for gas which is just okay, but it doesn’t compete with the Blue Cash Preferred at this point with 6% and 3% cash back respectfully.
The new ÆON Rycom Mall just opened in Okinawa which boasts itself to be the largest mall in the Pacific. It’s quite nice, the mall has a Starbucks with a $12,000 Clover coffee machine serving up Starbucks Reserve Line. What is nice is when your enjoying your 500 yen coffee you can earn JAL miles using the Waon JAL Mileage Bank Card which is a joint venture with JAL and Aeon Mall. Most stores in this particular mall take Waon card, but the earning rate is very poor, since you would only earn 2 miles (1 mile for every 200 yen). You would be better off with Chase Sapphire earning 10 points with double points on dining (three points on first fridays).
My commute has been cut in half by using the tollway here in Japan. I went ahead and got a reader in the car in order to get a discount instead of using coins. You can always use credit card, but the metal card that is the chase sapphire will not get read in the toll both machines.
Just got the card in the mail, not a bad design! They have the chip and signature already placed as well as reduction of the signature line to fit entirely behind the logo. The silver square is very reflective and you can almost use it as a mirror.
So I took back both the gold and blue from my wife and I am having her use this card in its place. If we do 30 transactions a month we get a 50% bonus, thus Commissary rewards will be 4.5 points to the dollar and then gas will be 3 points to the dollar. If you value your Amex membership reward points at 2 cents a piece like the points guy then you are getting 9% cash back on groceries and 6% cash back on gas which is higher then Blue Preferred. However if you don’t spend a lot on reward travel, then just stick with 6% with blue cash.
Will let you guys know how it goes.
pictures via www.americanexpress.com
My poor wife has 5 credit cards she must carry around and remember what each one is used for. In the case of shopping for groceries at the on base commissary she knows to use the Amex Blue Cash Preferred which gets 6% back on groceries at the commissary. It also good to note that the Commissary is merchant coded as a American grocery store so the charge shows up in US Dollars as well as not incurring a foreign transaction fee, which is not waved for this particular card. Also the $75 annual fee is waved for active duty military members.