Great Lakes Commissary Coded as “General Store”, but Soyent = Groceries!

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Sadly my plan of using the AmEx Blue for 6% cashback has been foiled as some genius decided that a grocery store is actually a General Retail store. This is unique to only this Commissary as I had enjoyed 3 years of 6% cashback in Okinawa at all four of their commissaries: Courtney, Kadena, Kinser, and Foster. So back up plan is using my Gold Luxury for a general 2% cashback.

Naturally this made me explore my shopping choices, and I found an amazing deal for the Costco across town at the intersection of I-94 and route 60. Costco is offering $50 worth of coupons when you buy a $55 membership for military here. So I might start shopping at one of these big box like every suburban dad is destined to do. The $1.50 hotdogs with drink are legit, but sadly this place doesn’t even take AmEx or Master Card! Tempted to get the Citibank Costco card, but that would violate my personal hatred for all things Citibank. Looks like its going on the Sapphire Preferred.

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Of course there is one last option which is a liquid food replacement called soylent, this surprisingly is coded as a grocery store that takes AmEx Blue Cash Preferred, giving me back 6%! Just a fair warning, its not for everyone, but it sure makes feeding quick and easy (think adult food formula). Use this link for 50% off your first order of course you get 6% off on top of that if you use Blue Cash, which if you use this link you get another $150 when you spend $1k! You don’t have to spend it all of some bland drink, and remember the card fee of $95 is waived for military.

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I have had the AmEx blue since 2006 in some form or another and its generally a good cashback card. You will start to see my blog shifting to maximizing cashback and less points for travel as I slowly transition to my final form of a typical American Suburban Salaryman, taking a single vacation once a year. Next step for me is buying golf clubs at costco, going to bed at 9 pm after drinking a warm glass of milk.

-Derp

Free Go-Go Wifi on JAL, United (as incidental), and American Airline Flights

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Well happy New Year! We just has our local Okinawa churning summit and had some info exchange. I have a new buddy that suggested I look into the Business AmEx platinum, and sure enough it was one of the biggest oversights I have made going out of 2015! I would of had another $200 credit towards United if I had only met him a week earlier.

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Better late than never, Amex is offering Go-Go wireless internet onboard JAL and American Airline flights  up to 10 times per year as a benefit of the card.  This is in addition to Boingo Wireless you get with the normie and MB platinum card. So right now AmEx is offering 40K MB points for a staggering $5,000 spend in 3 months. I am still working on $20,000 spend to get my 100k Avios points so that would be hard to do in a 3 month time frame. However I already have the Business Gold which I only use for Apple and iTunes for the sweet 2x points on a 99 cent song. I was putting flights on there for 3x points that I choses as my category, but have been booking on whatever card I was churning at the moment.

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United Club, Ritz-Carlton, AmEx Platinum What $395 to $450 a year buys you

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This has been a strange month indeed with two new heavy hitter cards coming in the mail, the Ritz-Carlton as well as the United Club Credit card. These things don’t just come in the mail in regular envelopes, but rather giant display boxes suitable for your book shelf.

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United Club Credit Card: Waved $450 annual fee per SCRA

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I called Chase today and inquired on upgrading my Explorer card to a Club card. They first explained that I was covered under the SCRA which includes the waver of the $450 annual fee. So why would I not do it? I think they are trying to take a lot of business away from Amex Platinum by also going above and beyond the SCRA and waiving annual fees for baller credit cards. Additionally Chase prides itself in hiring veterans by advertising a tally on exactly how many veterans they hire. Maybe they read this blog and are using me as some sort of military viral marketing shill. Anyways, I’ll take it!

So I did this as a conversion of an existing account to another (a product change). This has the benefit of not hitting my credit with an inquiry as well as maintaining the age of the account. Since your credit score is based on average account age, you will not lower it with a new account. Downside is you don’t get the sign up bonus. In the case of this card, was a measly $100 statement credit. Not worth opening a new line of credit for that.

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United Mileage Explorer Card: Everybody’s First Card

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When I lived in Chicago and flew out of O’Hare it seemed like the United Credit Card was heavily advertised in the airport and in the seat back pockets of every flight. I don’t know how I ended up with it, but I’ve see many AD members with it because they never looked for another card since getting this one. The card does earn Mileage Plus Miles on United which can be used to book on many Star Alliance flight from Okinawa such as ANA and EVA Air. The card replaced the United Mileage Plus card from Chase, it now offers 2 lounges passes annually as well as a free bag to check (which military get anyways). The only bonus Mileage is that you get 2x Miles on United Airline ticket charges another plus is no foreign transaction fees. Overall this is pretty weak as compared to 3x points on Amex Business Gold or which can be used to book on United via ANA another Star Alliance Partner. Better yet you can earn 2x Ultimate reward points on Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and use those for United.

The only reason I have this card is that on its anniversary I alway negotiate for more miles by suggesting that I have no need for both the Sapphire Preferred and the united card. Usually I get the offer for $150 or 15,000 miles. Go for the miles!

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AmEx Gold Business, pick your 3x category

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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.

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Hacking the Amex Everyday Preffered

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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.

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American Express Everyday Preffered

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.

-Derp

Getting your DeCA fee back at the Commissary and then some

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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.

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