What’s in Your Wallet? Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 8

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Military Money Manual Episode 8 Transcript

[00:00:00] Spencer: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the military money manual podcast. I'm your host Spencer. 

[00:00:05] Jamie: And I'm Jamie. 

[00:00:06] Spencer: And today we are going to give you a glimpse into our personal credit card portfolios and our point accumulation strategies. If you want to sign up for any of the cards you hear about today, make sure you head over to militarymoneymanual.com and you can find all the links for the most current offers on there. Quick disclaimer, any signup bonus offer benefits we talk about on any of the cards in this episode are current as of September, 2021, but are very much subject to change. So if you come back and listen to this later, just head over to my website and you can see the most current offers there. Also, don't forget, I've got a new book coming out, the Military Money Manual Practical Guide to Financial Freedom. And that's at the publisher right now in September, 2021. And it should be available for purchase before Thanksgiving of this year. So head over to militarymoneymanual.com/book. You can pre-order it there, you can have a look at it. It's got a beautiful cover, it covers everything that I've learned about financial freedom in the military, and it's available in audiobook hardcover paperback and ebook, and you can find it all at militarymoneymanual.com/book.

Okay, Jamie, we got a question from one of our readers today, and he's wondering about the Chase 5 out of 24. So his question is if I open up an American Express platinum card and then close it, when does it fall off of my Chase at 5 out of 24? And another good place to start with this is, what is Chase out of five/24?

[00:01:36] Jamie: Really good question and one that comes up a lot, by the way, we did two previous episodes about FAQ, so if you have some of these questions, go back and listen to those, if you haven't yet, and that'll help with this as well. But to start with what is 5/24, it's Chase's policy and that basically says in a 24 month period, you cannot open more than five cards. And that's a limit that Chase places. Including American Express, including other banks and including Chase, if you have five cards open in the last 24 months of the application date, you opened the cards in the last 24 months, Chase will not let you open up another card until the account opening date of of the oldest card is more than 24 months in the past. So let's say you opened the card now, it's September 3rd, 2021, let's say on August 30th, 2019, you opened your oldest card. And so you are like perfect. 

There's a lot of data points that support this, it is to wait until the cycle statement closes out after your 24 month anniversary and then go ahead and apply. What you don't want to do is just get a little bit greedy and open it three or four days too early, and then miss out on that. 

[00:02:47] Spencer: I think that's a really good point that patience is definitely a virtue in this game. So the 24 months is not exactly, whatever 365 times two is, you have to have a little bit of a grace period in there. What I typically do is whatever month, I opened up my last card in, 24 months ago, so let's say it's August, I will wait until not just September, but the following month. And then I know I'm well good in that all the statements have closed and I've dropped off of the Chase 5/24 rule and I can open up another Chase card.

[00:03:18] Jamie: Well there are some other nuances with the 5/24 rule with business cards. If you are trying to play in the business card realm where you have an LLC, you can look up some of that information on the militarymoneymanual.com. Just a quick overview, it's not limited by 5/24, but you have to have a spot open for Chase. And American Express has other more hidden algorithms I'd say of when they're going to approve a signup bonus or new account, but Chases is right out in the open a little bit clearer and easier for us to know what the limits are.

[00:03:45] Spencer: I've noticed that especially American Express. It seems like they've been changing a lot of variables in their algorithm recently. And if you are just getting started in the credit card game, you don't need to worry about these too much. The biggest thing to take away is if you want to focus on your Chase cards first and then move on to American Express. Just because of the Chase 5/24 rule, if you want to optimize. This is if you are going to take it to the Nth degree like Jamie and I have. And, Jamie, how many cards do you have open now? 

[00:04:14] Jamie: So between my wife and I, we have 21 cards open and we don't pay any annual fees on any of them.

[00:04:19] Spencer: That's awesome. As of September 2021, my wife and I have 29, credit cards open and since 2015, we've opened up 43 of them. You can do a little bit of math there. I've closed about 14 of the accounts. I think I'm paying a $95 annual fee on one of my business cards. And other than that, I'm getting about $7,000 of annual fees waived. One question though, that always comes up Jamie and I think we should address this is you've got 21 credit cards open, your credit score must be trash. Is that true?

[00:04:49] Jamie: No, it's not actually. So remember a credit score, if any of you guys have ever done any time listening to Dave Ramsey is just a measure of how well you do debt. So if you are really good at the credit card game, it actually is a good way of doing debt to the banks and to the algorithms of a credit score. What we really want to do is we talked about last time, we want to make sure we are not paying any interest. We always pay off our account in full, we recommend setting up auto pay to make sure that you make your payment each month on time. But if you are paying interest and stuff like that, that's really what you want to worry about. Don't put more spending on there that you can pay off each month, but, it doesn't really affect the credit score that much. It may drop a little bit right after you open up another account. And by a little bit, I mean three points, not very much at all. There's some calculators online you can play with, I think credit Karma and a couple sites like that have, “if I opened up another credit card, what's it going to do to my score?” So you can play around with it if you are interested, but it does not trash your credit as long as you pay off your bills on time, which if you are not doing that, then you can stop listening now. We don't want you playing this game if you are going to rack up credit card debt. 

[00:05:51] Spencer: That's right. 29 credit cards between me and my wife, my current credit score, I think, is 820, 830. And I think hers is almost perfect. I think it's 840 or even better, maybe an 850. The only ‘ding’ that I ever had was one time I missed a payment on one of her cards, because I forgot to set up auto pay and she has never forgiven me for it. And I actually got the credit card company to remove it from the credit report. And I was not allowed to open up any credit cards in her name for a couple years after that. But besides that one ding, if you set up auto pay, you pay all your bills on time. The credit card companies will love to have you, because they're making plenty of money off of other people. 

[00:06:32] Jamie: I've missed one too. So that's a good point. Give yourself a little bit of grace if you make a small mistake here and there, but have plans in place to avoid that. But I think my wife and I are right in the 820's, I think I'm like low 820's and she's high 820's. So it's there. And starting from where we started, when we first got married, her credit score was not very good. So it's actually gotten better with the proof that we can be responsible with debt basically. 

[00:06:55] Spencer: Okay, so the focus of this episode, we are just going to run through, what credit cards do we have in our wallet. And some of our favorite benefits on those cards, the most recent cards we've opened, the next card that we are going to get. And then we are just going to do some rapid fire questions at the end, and talk about the different cards. Jamie and I, as you can tell, we love the travel hacking game and, we are excited to, share the possibilities of what you can do with these cards and where you can take this, where you can take this strategy, especially if you are in the military and you are getting all your annual fees waived. Again, that's all covered in my course, militarymoneymanual.com/umc3. You can sign up there and it's a hundred percent free. I will send you an email every day for five days, and I will walk you through military travel hacking and signing up for your first card and getting your annual fees waived. So Jamie, to get started here, you want to run through your American Express lineup?

[00:07:46] Jamie: I don't have it split by American Express. For American Express, between my wife and I have a regular platinum of vanilla platinum, and my wife has a platinum. I have a Schwab American Express platinum, I have a Delta reserve and my wife has her own Delta reserve- her own account, not an authorized user or additional card member- delta reserve. I have a second Delta reserve that I upgraded from a Delta gold card. I have the Hilton aspire American Express and my wife has a Hilton American Express, the Hilton aspire card. And then I have an American Express gold card, my wife has an American Express gold card and I have an American Express green card, and that is our current American Express portfolio. 

[00:08:29] Spencer: I got a couple questions after you went through that list right there. You were very specific in saying that your wife is not an authorized user on your account. Why is that?

[00:08:37] Jamie: It's really just about maximizing benefits because she's a military dependent and enrolled in DEERS, she appears in the MLA database, that's the military lending act MLA. And we talked about that in previous episodes where the credit card companies like Chase and American Express apply the same active duty service member benefits to a military dependent, as long as they're enrolled in DEERS and appear in the MLA database. Very important, like we talked about before, you have to double check the MLA database and make sure that everything in the military personnel system is showing accurately, so American Express or Chase gets an accurate picture of the military dependence status as well. So if the spouse doesn't have their own card, they're missing out on the benefits, they just have a card to swipe that can help accumulate points. But for example, on the American Express platinum card, they're missing out on the $200 a year in Uber credits, and they're missing out on the $200 airline fee credit. And then right now there's $20 a month towards audible or towards Peacock and things like that. So when they have their own account, which is also completely free for military members and their dependents, then they get all those benefits as well.

So it'd be a waste to not get them their own. 

[00:09:44] Spencer: And when you had your spouse open up her card, did you just have her go to AmericanExpress.com or go through militarymoneymanual.com to open up the account? Or did you refer her from your account?

[00:09:55] Jamie: I had a good friend tell me about the referral tricks, who may or may not be on the other end of this podcast. We refer each other, which is completely legitimate. You don't want to refer yourself, that will get you in trouble and you might see points clawed back or accounts closed, but if you can refer your spouse, someone with their own unique social security number, then that gives you a little kickback in points as well. So we refer each other when she opened those accounts.

[00:10:18] Spencer: That's a great strategy for military spouses to do, because you are both getting the accounts annual fee waived and then you are allowing the points to accumulate even faster. One of the cards that you mentioned. A lot of people might not have heard about the Schwab American Express platinum. Is that the same as the American Express platinum or is it considered a different account? Can you talk a little bit about that?

[00:10:38] Jamie: So it is considered a different account and it's a unique card. We were able to get the signup bonus for the regular American Express platinum, which you might hear referred to as the vanilla platinum. And then we were also able to get the signup bonus for the Schwab platinum and then all the same benefits apply. So the Schwab platinum comes with its own airline credit, its own Uber credit and all those additional things. So for example, right now I have two audible accounts and I switch back and forth. One credit comes from my vanilla platinum, and one credit comes from my Schwab platinum. And both of those are covered by the current benefits. So they're different, but the benefits overlap a lot and then Schwab has some unique benefits, like you can redeem it for investment and things like that with your Charles Schwab account.

[00:11:23] Spencer: That's, that's something that not a lot of people know about. It's different, we call them flavors of the American Express platinum card. There used to be a lot more, Mercedes-Benz Ameriprise platinum, but I think now they've whittled it down to Schwab Morgan Stanley and those are the only two. So you've got how many American Express cards, like over a dozen, over 10 maybe? Do you carry all those daily in your wallet or do you have a daily driver that you tend to use? 

[00:11:51] Jamie: So I'm a nerd when it comes to this and I have this really cool spreadsheet that drives my wife crazy, where for each category of spending, I have, which card is best now that is not necessary or best for everyone's personality. It works for me. So if I'm going to a restaurant and I know I'm going to go out, then I will reference my spreadsheet, which now most of it's in my head and I can be like, okay, I get five X dining with the Citi prestige, or I get four X American Express points with the American Express, gold card. And then I will be like, okay, I'm taking the gold card with me to dinner tonight. Or when I go to a hotel, I know the green gives me three X on travel. Whereas the American Express platinum is only one X on just a regular hotel. So I will take the green with me, even though handing it to the cashier is not as cool as handing a metal card. The green gives me better reward. So I do use a spreadsheet to organize that, in my wallet I typically have, other than my debit card, I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, an American Express gold, usually my platinum as well, and, right now they have the $20 a month dining credit. So I usually have one of those cards with me as well. So if I do end up eating out or something, then that $20 a month will be reimbursed for the dining credit. That's currently on the Bonvoy the Hilton aspire and some of the Delta cards. 

[00:13:06] Spencer: So from my lineup, usually I'm. Not thinking so much about the points I'm going to earn other than like the broad strokes. So I don't have a spreadsheet where I'm keeping track of the optimal card. I take an opposite approach from Jamie here, but I do know that I'm going to use my American Express gold card at the commissary and at whole foods because I'm going to get four X points on, US supermarkets and I'm going to use it a lot of times when I go out to eat or drink, because on the gold card, I'm going to get four X points and I really value membership award points. So I keep track of the broad strokes. If I'm going to book an airline ticket, I'm usually going to use Chase Sapphire reserve or my American Express platinum and earn a lot more points with those cards. But, if I'm trying to meet the minimum spend on a card, then I'm usually just going to use that card for all transactions. And try to meet the minimum spend as quickly as I can. And I'm the same way with my daily drivers. I got the American Express gold card, I got my Chase Sapphire reserve, and I've got my USA ATM card so I can pull out cash if I need it. And recently I've been carrying the American Express platinum card.

And other than that's usually my line up right there. Usually I try to keep a Visa or MasterCard, because I've found that globally you get much better acceptance of those two brands. Whereas American Express is definitely widespread in the states now, but it still hasn't penetrated every market overseas.

[00:14:28] Jamie: I actually have a funny story about that. So I try to do that too, but forget sometimes, the other day I was at Costco getting gas and Costco only accepts Visa now. And one of the cards we were working on our sign up bonus was my wife's newest card, the Chase IHG premier card. So we were working on the signup bonus for that, but it's a MasterCard. So I'm at the pump, like swiping it and it keeps getting denied. And I'm like, do they know that it's me and not my wife? Like, how is it getting denied? Just in case anyone cares, I obviously had her permission, but it's like one of those where it's nice to have a balance between the Visa, MasterCard, American Express sometimes too. Like you said. 

[00:15:04] Spencer: One thing that, besides carrying the cards in my physical wallet, one thing that I also do is carry them in, Google pay. So I have an Android, so I load a lot of my cards, especially the ones that I don't use so often, but do have some benefits, like right now you were saying like the Marriott, is it the Marriott and the Hilton are both doing the $20 on restaurants?

[00:15:22] Jamie: So we have it on our Marriott. It seemed like they targeted different audiences on it from what I could tell from data points online, but we got it from the Marriott Bonvoy, both of our Hilton cards. And then both of our Delta cards. So that's five cards for us, between the two of us that have $20 a month in dining credit. So a hundred dollars a month for free eating out. 

[00:15:43] Spencer: Cool. Alright, sweet. You want to run through your Chase line and we will talk about some of those cards? 

[00:15:49] Jamie: For Chase again, sorry, I didn't quite organize it, by bank. So bear with me if there's any pauses. I have a Chase Sapphire reserve and my wife has a Chase Sapphire reserve or what you may hear us call that a CSR sometimes. I have a second CSR that I upgraded from a Chase freedom, which is another good point we can maybe talk about afterwards, and then my wife has a Chase Southwest priority card, I have a Chase Hyatt card and my wife has a Chase Hyatt card, and then my wife has a Chase freedom card, which we plan to upgrade for her to a CSR after a year. And then, like I said, her newest card is the Chase IHG premier card. So that's our Chase lineup right now. 

[00:16:28] Spencer: You mentioned that you have two Chase Sapphire reserve cards. First of all, why, and second of all, how did you do that?

[00:16:37] Jamie: It's maybe a more advanced strategy, so if you don't want to do that, that's fine. You will lose benefits, but you can still take advantage of your CSR benefits, but basically it doubles the benefits that I get. So you don't get a second signup bonus like we talked about last time, in the previous episode, but I still get, for example, the Chase Sapphire reserve has $300 a year in travel credit and they're pretty generous with what they consider travel, what categorizes travel. So now instead of just $300 a year, plus my wife's $300 a year, I have another $300 a year in travel. So our first $900 a year on any travel related expenses is covered by Chase for free.

[00:17:18] Spencer: I was just going to say, that's huge. If you are just starting out in the military and especially on the enlisted or officer side, but you are not making very much money. A lot of times people in the military travel, because you couldn't be stationed far away from your family. And so you are going to want to go home for Christmas and if you can get $900 of travel completely covered by the credit card companies, why wouldn't you take advantage of that? And then that $900 that you would have spent on travel can now go into your Roth IRA and all of a sudden you are that much closer to achieving financial independence. 

[00:17:49] Jamie: And the second part I think you asked was how did I do that? So what I did is I opened up a lower tier card in this case, my second CSR came from the Chase freedom card and that's currently what my wife has right now. We are waiting for her 12 months to hit and then upgrade. You open a lower tier card and it can even sometimes be one with no annual fee. And then after a year, you just call them or, depending on the bank, you might be able to do it online, but you just call Chase and say, I'd like to upgrade my Chase freedom to another Chase Sapphire reserve. And they'll run through the benefits and the legalese, and that you have to accept the terms and all that. And then, it was approved over the phone. It took seven minutes over the phone for us to do it. And it doubles the benefits, like I said, and still no annual fee under the MLA.

[00:18:36] Spencer: That's awesome. You mentioned a couple hotel cards in there. A lot of people are familiar with the Marriott and the Hilton cards, but some of the smaller chains, well, they're growing rapidly, but Hyatt and international hotel group or IHG, you mentioned those cards. What benefits are you getting off of those cards and why should people think about opening up not just the Marriott Hilton cards?

[00:18:56] Jamie: A lot of times, if you travel with a group they're like, oh, I'm a Hilton guy. Or your coworkers may always go towards Marriott or whatever, but it's nice to have options because I'm sure we've all landed, if you've ever gone TDY or flown yourself somewhere and you land and there's no Hilton available. And so you have to start branching out. So it's nice to have a little bit of diversity, just like we talked about before with your investment portfolio and your travel hacking portfolio as well. So I'm newer to Chase only in the last couple years, but I will say I've been very impressed with Chase hotels so far a couple unique things about the card. First of all, it gives you a free night every year. 

[00:19:31] Spencer: Did you say Chase hotels or Hyatt hotels? 

[00:19:33] Jamie: Oh, sorry. Hyatt. I probably said Chase. Hyatt hotels. So the card from Chase gives you a free reward certificate at Hyatt each year. Because my wife and I each have one free night at a hotel. Also one quick note about Hyatt is that they are nice hotels, and their points valuation is just different. So when you see that a Hyatt hotel night might only be 5,000 or 15,000 or 25,000 points. Whereas a Hampton Inn in the middle of nowhere for Hilton is going to be, 25,000, 30,000 or sometimes 50,000 points. So it doesn't quite value the same in your brain. So just something to be aware of too.

[00:20:10] Spencer: I would just very loosely say Hilton points are the most worthless, then Marriott, and then IHG and then Hyatt I've seen. But I've seen some really good redemptions on the Hyatt card. And I think you are actually allowed to transfer Chase ultimate reward points to Hyatt. And that's one of the best redemptions out there. My wife and I booked the Grand Hyatt Vail for Christmas this year. And we are really stoked about that. We don't stay at Hyatts very often, but we've heard really good things about it. And that's an over $2,000 hotel stay that we booked purely on points. So you can get a lot of value out of Hyatt points.

[00:20:49] Jamie: The first one we stayed at was in Maui. I want to say, in my adult life, I'm sure I've stayed at a Hyatt before. It was a nice hotel right on the beach, nice rooms, very fresh, great staff and things like that. And then sometimes depending on the season, the room, even in Hawaii might only be 5,000 or 8,000 points a night. So when you see a 30,000 point signup bonus or whatever it might be right now, it may not seem like a lot, but you get a lot of value out of 30,000 Hyatt points.

[00:21:17] Spencer: That's definitely true. Okay. So we talked about American Express. We talked about Chase, any smaller banks that you've got cards at, that people might not be tracking that are also waiving annual fees for military. 

[00:21:29] Jamie: So, the one other one that we have is the Citi Prestige cards. I have one of those cards as well. That's on the short list for my wife. That one's really nice because they waive the annual fee. Citibank waves the annual fee for this one as well. And all it takes is a little email. It's the hardest, if you will, to get waived, because it's not quite as automatic, but it was literally just sending an email. And Spencer has that template for an email template on the website. If you just look at ‘Citibank Military’.

[00:21:56] Spencer: If you go, I think it's, Citi credit cards MLA. I think if you Google that I should pop right up. It is a little bit tricky. So besides the email, you also have to have a charge on the card in the month that your fee's going to post. So a lot of people, they just set up like a, recurring donation, to their church or to their charity of choice $5 or $10 a month or whatever. And then they just set it up on auto pay. And then that way they're not worried about not having a charge, during the month when their annual fees are going to be posted. And last year, I actually forgot to put a charge on the card, because I haven't set up that auto pay and that automatic charge system that a lot of people use. And so I had to pay the $95 annual. Just because of my own lax attitude towards it.

[00:22:36] Jamie: If you had a spreadsheet, I bet you would have remembered.

[00:22:39] Spencer: That's right. But if I had a spreadsheet then I definitely would have remembered. That's cool. I'm not going to go through my entire lineup, it's essentially the same as Jamie's 29 credit cards. The only difference with my lineup is I got a lot of platinum cards from American Express. I've upgraded gold cards, I've upgraded green cards to platinum cards, and sometimes I've even gotten welcome bonuses for doing that. So the trick there is to upgrade, green and gold American Express cards to additional platinum cards, and I'm still getting the annual fees waived on them, but you want to move them to their own American Express login. So if you Google, multiple American Express logins or, military money manual multiple American Express logins, it should pop right up. And I walk through exactly how you can, detach your green card or gold card from your primary American Express login profile, and then create a new profile. You put the green or gold card into that profile, and then a link just pops up a day or two later that says, Hey, would you like to upgrade this to an American Express platinum card?

And you usually have to wait about a year. But I've actually had it happen faster, I've opened up a green card and nine months later, they sent me an offer for 20,000 points to upgrade to a platinum. 

[00:23:49] Jamie: And eventually you can move it back over to your main login right? You don't have to remember two American Express logins forever. 

[00:23:53] Spencer: That's right. As soon as I upgrade it, I then detach it from that dummy profile or temporary profile and then I move it back to my primary profile. And then that way in my American Express app, on my phone in AmericanExpress.com, I just have one login for me, one login for my wife and that's our primary login. And we can see all of our cards there. So eight, eight platinum cards, my wife and I both have a gold card. We've got green cards, aspire cards, Marriott, Delta. I've got a business platinum card, which is annual fee waived because I was grandfathered in because I opened it before they switched the rules. Business cards though are not annual fee waived anymore, so unless you want to pay, I think it's $500 or $600, I can't remember what the annual fee is exactly on the business platinum card, but, it's on my website. If you are interested, you can earn a lot of American Express points with it. But I don't always recommend that one to military service members because there's other cards that waive the annual fees.

[00:24:44] Jamie: So they do have huge signup bonuses on the business card sometimes though, Chase does too. 

[00:24:49] Spencer: And that was the other thing I was going to mention is my Chase line is basically the same, couple freedom, unlimited freedom, flexes, Hyatt IHG, but then because I've got a business, I've got an LLC, I'm able to open up the ink business, unlimited the ink business cash, and both of those cards come with big signup bonuses, and actually, pretty good, earnings profiles to bonus categories on certain categories. I'm a big fan of the Chase business cards if you can access those. And again, you will need a 5/24 slot open, but they don't actually count against Chase 5/24; it's a loophole there, for the Chase business card. So they can be pretty powerful as you get further along in the military travel hacking game, but I don't recommend you start there. 

[00:25:31] Jamie: As you start diversifying your card portfolio, what you will find is what we've talked about before is I like earning 1.5 times Chase points on my Chase, freedom card, so it can be almost hard to give it up, but then you are like, okay, but then I'm going to get $300 a year from my CSR or the the green card similar thing, three X on travel. That's way better. It's three times better than what the platinum card offers you. Even the history major can do that math.

[00:25:55] Spencer: Exactly. I mean the credit card companies are banking on basically inertia and decision fatigue and psychology, like people get attached to their cards. And so you will see, like you go out to eat with anybody in the military, and half the guys and girls are going to pull out the American Express platinum card, but that's only earning one American Express point per dollar spent on restaurants and bars. And I tell them like, why don't you guys get the gold card? 

[00:26:21] Jamie: It looks cooler. 

[00:26:23] Spencer: It looks cooler, but I don't know. Honestly, I think my rose gold American Express gold card looks even better than the gold card. Okay so we talked about Chase American Express Citi, US bank also waives annual fees, but I don't have any of their products, so I'm sorry, I'm not going to get too much into them. What were your three most recent cards? And what are you thinking for your next cards? 

[00:26:46] Jamie: My most recent ones were my American Express, Schwab platinum, and a green and a gold. So those are the three newest ones. And, with the green, I probably will end upgrading that to platinum, the gold, I will probably hang on to. And then the Schwab platinum we talked about already. So those are my three newest ones. What's coming up next is American Express Schwab platinum for my wife. And like I mentioned before, that gives her all the same Uber credits, the Audible Peacock, digital entertainment credit, the airline fee credit. So a lot of the benefits of having multiple platinums overlap, like you don't need multiple TSA, precheck, reimbursements, and multiple cards to get in the Centurion lounge right now at least. But there are so many other benefits that are nice to have double of that it's worth it for us. 

[00:27:34] Spencer: I think, for myself, it's actually been a while since I've opened up a card, I think I just got an offer in the mail, to add an additional user to one of my American Express platinum cards for 20,000 points. If they spend $2,000, this is an offer that comes out pretty frequently. I don't know how they target people, but I signed up for that one. So I added my wife as an additional user to one of my American Express platinum cards. And we will earn 20,000 points. That's basically 10 X points for $2,000 of spend. And if that $2,000 is spent on airfare, that could be 30,000 points. So that's a great way to stack up points there.

[00:28:08] Jamie: One thing to mention too, for the Schwab platinum, as of right now, the signup bonus is 100,000 American Express points, which is huge and a very good bonus. Anytime you see a 100,000, you are rarely going to see more than that. I would recommend taking advantage of a hundred thousand. If you see it on Schwab, they're also offering 10 X for restaurant spending in your first six months, which can be a big benefit as well. So that's what we are going to jump on next.

[00:28:33] Spencer: And that's a really good offer that a lot of people should make a move on now. It's usually 60,000 points, and I wouldn't be surprised if next year the economy recovers and we are past the COVID thing. If they drop it back down to 60,000 points, usually they bump up the bonuses when they're trying to gin up new business. And I think that's what's happening right now. All right. You want to do a couple, rapid fire questions?

[00:28:56] Jamie: Let's do it. 

[00:28:58] Spencer: All right. Why don't I ask you a couple of these and then you can ask me a couple. All right. What's your favorite benefit of the American Express platinum card? 

[00:29:05] Jamie: The Uber credit. I like that we can use it for rides, we can use it for meals, and like I mentioned before, if you have multiple platinum cards, you can stack it. And the gold card has, I think it's $10 a month on the gold card. You can end up having a lot of cash in your Uber account each month with multiples. 

[00:29:22] Spencer: I'm going to answer that one too. I think Uber is good, month to month. My wife and I get a hundred dollars a month and that's four, five meals depending on how we split it up. But the Saks credit is actually really fun too for Saks fifth avenue. So it's $100 per card per account. So I've got eight platinum cards, so every six months I go there and buy a $400 gift card and just hand it to my wife and she loves it. She gets to shop at Saks fifth avenue for free basically.

[00:29:49] Jamie: So it's $50 every six months on that one, but it.

[00:29:52] Spencer: If you find the right salesperson at Saks, they can do a split transaction, you can just get one gift card and pay for it for $50 on each of your platinum cards.

[00:30:00] Jamie: One other quick, one for the American Express platinum. It's good for online purchasing, because it has a good return protection or if you have something new and you drop it or break it in 90 days, I think is the term. So I do use the platinum for a lot of online shopping or big purchases to get some of those protections 

[00:30:15] Spencer: That's a really good point too. Which website? American Express, Chase or Citi do you like best? 

[00:30:21] Jamie: Hmm. American Express I think by far is better. 

[00:30:25] Spencer: Chase is really growing on me though, they've made a lot of good changes and the Chase travel portal I think is almost better than the American Express travel portal now.

[00:30:34] Jamie: The American Express chat feature- Citi doesn't have quite the same level of service- so the chat puts it over the finish line for me.

[00:30:40] Spencer: The chat feature is amazing. Usually it's 30 seconds. I'm connected to a representative and they solved the problem in less than five minutes. So really, really good customer service from American Express. Chase it's send them an email through an archaic messaging system from the 1990s and put up a smoke signal and hope the carrier pigeon arrives, it's terrible. 

[00:30:59] Jamie: I will say, Chase does a better job of laying out all your cards and balances and due date on one screen, same with some of their offers. Whereas with American Express, you have to click between cards to see the balance and due date and stuff like that.

[00:31:12] Spencer: So you like the American Express website? How about the app? 

[00:31:16] Jamie: I'm going to go with the American Express again, but I will throw a quick shout out to Chase. So if you get a signup bonus card, like if you apply for a new card with Chase, Chase does a better job of telling you how you are doing on your signup bonus tracking. I think American Express just recently released that on the website, so I think they're getting better at it. Chase's app has that cool, feature, but, American Express's app overall, I think is a little cleaner. 

[00:31:41] Spencer: Especially for managing multiple accounts, it's really nice to open up my American Express app and I can scroll through and see all the balances on all my cards. And, if there's like a random one that I haven't used for a while, that's got a hundred dollars charge on it. It's like, what the heck is that? And it jumps out at you right away. So I really like the American Express app. I don't use the Chase app that frequently honestly, and the American Express app is nice too because you can scroll through all the offers that American Express offers and quickly add them to your card, I really enjoy that. What's the coolest looking card you have? Or that you've seen?

[00:32:10] Jamie: So I don't have a rose gold card, some of the designs are very interesting like the Delta reserve card is purple like the flight attendants uniforms, not a big fan of that. And honestly, I could care less whether it's metal or not, and I feel like the metal cards peel, and separate, they're more prone to damage. But I think the American Express platinum card probably looks the coolest. I get the most comments about that, handing it to a cashier about the platinum card.

[00:32:36] Spencer: I would say the platinum card definitely has the waitress or waiter cache but, I think the Chase- have you seen the new Chase Sapphire preferred design? 

[00:32:46] Jamie: No, we don't have any of those.

[00:32:48] Spencer: It's pretty clean. I like that. And actually the Chase inks, I think it's the ink business cash is metallic looking it's a plastic card, but it has a metallic paint job on it. That looks pretty cool. The IHG card and the Hyatt cards are actually pretty clean looking too. 

[00:33:02] Jamie: The Hyatt card it's a very clean design. 

[00:33:05] Spencer: I appreciate a clean design. I really like that American Express platinum is going to a much more clean design. And they've moved a lot of the stuff to the back of the card. The Centurion card, I've never actually seen one, I think in person, that's the American Express black card. The points actually aren't that great. It's a status symbol and I don't really care about those too much. So, favorite past vacation spot- oh, wait, let me caveat this- that you've book with points.

[00:33:30] Jamie: Okay. We've talked several times about our trip together with you and your wife, and my wife and I to Lanai. and we did half points, half cash for that vacation and that's going to be on the top of our list, I think forever. That was a great vacation and one of the best hotels I've ever been in, for sure. If not the nicest one, what about you? What's your answer to that one? I want to hear. 

[00:33:52] Spencer: Oh, That I booked with points. So there was the Japan trip we had planned that never came through. That was definitely my best redemption, but I didn't actually get to execute the flight, so I don't know if it counts. That was 240,000 American Express points for $27,000 of first class tickets, Honolulu to Tokyo round trip for me and my wife. So two seats in ANA first class on All Nippon Airways would have been my best points trip because we also booked the Kyoto Ritz Carlton. Don't tell my in-laws this, but we booked it for them and us for two nights and that was half a million marathon points. But it was a great redemption. I mean, those rooms were $2,000 a night. And so that was a really good redemption too. I would say, when I was living out in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, I got some really good redemptions on Singapore and Emirates and Etihad, the big, luxury travel airlines out there. For a while there we flew Singapore business class, my wife and I. I think it was a three round trip between Australia and New Zealand in six months. So those were good, Singapore's nice. I really like Singapore.

[00:34:57] Jamie: What I love about the redemption is it allows you- even if your whole vacation is not done with points, but let's say you can redeem some for your flight or only for your hotel and you pay for your flight. It allows you to balance it out and maybe splurge a little bit more in another area, because your hotel is fully covered or something like that right?

[00:35:17] Spencer: That's true. kind of like what you were saying where you booked half your four seasons with points in cash. If you look at just the cash redemption rate, it was $500 a night and I've stayed at much worse hotels for $500 than that. Which card do you swipe the most often? 

[00:35:32] Jamie: Hmm, probably the Chase Sapphire reserve right now, primarily because I have more American Express points since I'm trying to get my Chase points back up, because we redeemed a little bit more Chase recently, so we are trying to get our Chase accounts back up. So I tend to use that one more if I'm not working on a signup bonus.

[00:35:50] Spencer: I would say for myself, American Express gold is my go-to. I use it for almost all my online shopping, which I know is not optimal at all, but I like earning American Express membership reward points. I'm going for a million, I'm almost there. I should actually have it in the next week or so. And then I will figure out how to burn them. In person, usually I'm tapping the American Express gold, my wife usually tends to use the Chase Sapphire reserve, so we get a balance of American Express and Chase points.

[00:36:16] Jamie: I heard flights from Montgomery to Honolulu are really good American Express redemption, you should look that up with Delta. All right, should I ask you some now? Let me jump in on this. We talked a little bit about hotels, but is there a nicest hotel you've ever stayed in? What would you say to that? 

[00:36:33] Spencer: Gosh, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai– know we say it every episode- but that was probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. It was like living in a botanical garden and yet there was no leaf that was out of place and just that level of attention to detail. I appreciate that and the staff was incredible, everything was about the food. Everything was incredible. The Sensei Lanai it's on the same island of Lanai in Hawaii, almost equal. We've had great experiences, Ritz, Carlton, Geneva, fantastic, just absolutely one of the best hotels we've ever stayed in. When we arrived, the staff welcomed us, like we were celebrities, but they were cool about it.

[00:37:08] Jamie: They must have heard your podcast, you are a celebrity.

[00:37:13] Spencer: And immediately upon check in, we were offered a box of chocolates and they were like, would you like to do a wine and chocolate tasting? It starts in 15 minutes. And we were just like, thank you.

[00:37:24] Jamie: It seems like such a small gesture. That's all it takes to win Spencer over, is to offer you some chocolate.

[00:37:30] Spencer: Well, it's kind of like a double tree man, like before COVID like, when you check in then they would open up that hot drawer of cookies and just hand you a cookie. I was a sucker for that.

[00:37:38] Jamie: All right. You mentioned a little bit about some good airlines. Is there a particular flight or experience that you want to highlight as your best airline flight or experience you've had?

[00:37:46] Spencer: It's have to be, it's have to be Singapore business class. That's my top so far. I've flown Emirates business class and had champagne at the bar in the back. That's a pretty unique experience, that was on the 8380. And let me see who else I've flown recently? Let's see, I've flown Etihad business class, there's the daytime life flat experience and then there's the nighttime life flat experience. If you only experience one and you don't experience the other, then it's hard to compare them. But, in Singapore, when we would fly from Dubai to Auckland New Zealand or to Australia, we would have a stop over in Singapore, and that was actually really nice. Sometimes I'd catch a night flight out of Australia, sleep the whole time so you really don't get to experience any of the service on board, but it's amazing sleeping in an actual bed. And then you show up to Singapore and I had purposely booked a longer layover of 12 hours. And I went and explored Singapore for a couple hours and had a beer at a brewery that had been there since the British occupation. It was really cool.

[00:38:52] Jamie: You recently took a flight on Delta One lie-flat, that didn't quite make the cut huh? Was it better than your first experience in Delta at least? 

[00:39:00] Spencer: It was better than the first experience. I'm actually going to do another article, if you Google Delta one experience Honolulu, I should pop up. The first one we did was Honolulu direct to Atlanta. It was not good. It was on their old 767, which is just an old airframe and the seats weren't very nice, but we did one recently on their a330, and that was really nice. And then, my wife just flew from Charlotte to Honolulu in America, their flagship business class. We've flown that before as well to Dallas. I would say the American flagship business class is the best US domestic product available in business or first class.

[00:39:42] Jamie: Nice. All right. We talked earlier about the best redemption you ever had on that Honolulu to Japan, ANA flight. Are there any ones you regret as a worst redemption? We have a good friend who will probably listen to this podcast and he admits freely that he uses all his American Express points on Amazon, which is a terrible redemption, but he doesn't pay for anything on Amazon. Do you have any that you wish you had done better in retrospect?

[00:40:04] Spencer: I tend to forget the bad ones. I think there was one with Chase where I emptied out my points for something stupid. I might have even cashed them out and then a month later we had to book flights and I got 1 cent per point, and I could have gotten two or 3 cents per point. So that stings a little bit, especially if it's 200,000 points and you are missing out and potentially thousands of dollars of travel. 

[00:40:28] Jamie: So but also remember too, the points are free. So if you do a pretty crappy redemption and you end up getting a nice, like date night, a gift card or whatever, you can redeem them for gift cards to, Ruth's Chris and a movie or something. It's still free money for you and your spouse. So if you do it, it's not the end of the world.

I will say I've never redeemed for a gift card. I did, when I was first starting with the Chase freedom card, right when I got into the military, I went on a Dave Ramsey kick and right after college, I was like, I want to simplify my financial life, so I closed all my credit card accounts and I went to a just debit card and I think I eventually opened up a Chase freedom card. And a couple times I used the points to pay off the statement. And I do kick myself about that. But I was not very deep into the game, I didn't really know what I was doing, I didn't know what was possible, I didn't know about the annual fee waivers for the military. So it wasn't optimal, but sometimes you have to pay the price.

You live, you learn there'll be some bumps in the road. No big deal. So, a slightly different flavor of this one. What's your favorite financial podcast other than this one of course? 

[00:41:32] Spencer: Oh man, all right. I don't actually listen to that many other financial podcasts. 

[00:41:38] Jamie: What about other podcasts if it's not financial? 

[00:41:41] Spencer: Tim Ferris. The Tim Ferris show is big- oh, mad Fientist, I think his is the financial independence podcast. He's not updating as much as he used to, but he's got a pretty good back catalog. He's got some big names on his podcast too. Madfientist.com is his website and his is the financial independence podcast. Dough Roller money podcast with Rob Berger. His last episode was 2020, so it looks like he hasn't done any in 2021. But he's got some really good insights on his website, which he's since sold, but his podcast he's still hosted for a long time, I think just because he enjoyed it. So that's the dough roller money podcast. Tim Ferris, huge influence on me. And then, his four hour work week led me to build the website. And he's got Arnold Schwartzenegger and Hugh Jackman on his podcast. We asked Hugh to come on ours, but, no.

[00:42:32] Jamie: We are still waiting for a response.

[00:42:33] Spencer: You know what? I bet he would probably respond, he's a nice guy, or he seems like a nice guy. 

[00:42:37] Jamie: So you mentioned earlier, your book is coming out, before we review that one more time, what's your favorite book about personal finance, that of course you haven't written yourself?

[00:42:46] Spencer: So I think it depends on where you are in your financial journey. I would say if you are just getting started or if you are in that intermediate level, Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. It just summarizes every other finance- as I was listening to it, I was like, oh I remember hearing about this in “Little Book of Common Sense Investing” or “Random Walk Down Wall Street,” it's like every other financial book consolidated into one, and the way he breaks it up into 20 chapters and each stance on its own, and his conclusion is the same as mine, which I write about in my book, the Military Money Manual, which is available at militarymoneymanual.com/book. But the conclusion is the same that it's financial freedom, that's the ultimate goal, and any other sub goal is really just a sub goal of that goal. Of one day that you can do what you want to do with your time. And of course this is because, we live in the west and we have incredible material abundance, but even if you achieve financial freedom, and you get to choose what you do, a lot of people choose to continue helping people.

But if you have that freedom and you don't have to go to a certain job to earn a paycheck and your money earns money and pays for your lifestyle, it's Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel fantastic book. The audio book is really good, it's only six or eight hours long, you can do it in a week, if you've got a 30 minute commute. It's a good one.

[00:44:08] Jamie: You can use your audible credit from your American Express platinum

[00:44:10] Spencer: Yes, exactly. And then the other one, that I recommend is if you are a little bit further along. Especially if you are like me and Jamie, where you are naturally frugal, you don't like to spend money and you've got the game figured out, you are on this trajectory and you can run the numbers and say, to your spouse, honey, probably in the next 10 years or 20 years, we are going to be a financial independent you know barring any, major personal setback. The math is just math. Compounding interest goes to work and it works. One of the books that shook me out of the boring middle of financial independence- there's the exciting part in the beginning where you figure out, oh, I can pay off my debt, oh, I can, increase my savings rate to 50%. And honey, we can be retired in 17 years, this is fantastic. And then 10 years into it, you are like, okay, still 7 years away from retirement, but we are on this track and we are going to do it. But the book that shook me out of that was, Die with Zero. And it's purposely a very click-baity title. But it's written by a guy who was some oil, gas, commodities trader, multi-multimillionaire, if not billionaire.

And, essentially what he's saying is like life short and you don't know how much of it you get. So enjoy it while you have it. And again, if you are in debt, you don't need to read Die With Zero because you are probably already there. But those are two of my favorites. Let me turn it around real quick though and say, what are your financial podcasts that you are listening to, obviously other than the military money manual podcast? You can open it up on your apple podcast, that's what I had to do too. 

[00:45:39] Jamie: Let me start with the books though. I would say on podcasts though, I don't listen to a lot of financial podcasts, I listen to more of, leadership. I do a lot of leadership podcasts and that's pretty much what dominates my library on the podcast app. 

[00:45:55] Spencer: Any ones that jump out at you? I don't listen to any leadership podcasts other than, occasionally if Tim Ferriss has an icon of leadership on there. 

[00:46:03] Jamie: I think my favorite one is the Craig Rochelle leadership podcast. He's a pastor of the largest megachurch in America, but Life Church that's based out of Oklahoma with a million locations. Just the way that he speaks and the way that he can break down complex subjects into digestible, practical application is really, really good. So I think that one, Craig Rochelle leadership podcast is a go to, in my library, but I have so many of them.

[00:46:27] Spencer: Oh, one other one that I didn't mention, but I would feel bad if I didn't is the Sam Harris podcast. I don't know about you, Jamie, but for me, there was that initial excitement, for the first couple of years about learning about financial independence and how to automate your finances, I Will Teach You To Be Rich with Ramit Sethi. And I want to share that excitement with military service members who don't know about it. And that's why I wrote this book, but once you've got it figured out, there's so many other things to be curious about and to explore and to develop in your life. And I think one of the great things about being on the path to financial independence or achieving financial independence, is it frees up your brain to focus on so many more interesting things. because finances are just numbers, it's just math. Somebody asked me the other day, how do you pick your investments? I don't, I picked my investments 10 years ago and now I just throw money into them. And every year I make more and more money and I literally spend zero minutes a year managing my finances or managing my investments, a little bit managing where my money's going and stuff.

But I don't do any research, it's VTSAX and chill. And I think it's funny that if you look at your podcast lineup, my podcast lineup, and we are interested in other things. There's more to life than just- I know it's funny hearing that on a financial podcast- maybe we need to start another podcast.

[00:47:46] Jamie: Well, the other pink pilots are good at talking about ourselves in airplanes, so we could always do that.

[00:47:51] Spencer: Oh man, that would be so much fun. I got to talk about airplanes yesterday for five minutes. Somebody was like, man, you really like talking about this stuff. And I was grinning. I was like, I do, I love this stuff.

[00:48:01] Jamie: That's awesome. The whole point of that, like you mentioned, is just having the freedom to choose whatever you are passionate about, or you want to pick up a skill, you have the time to learn how to play the ukulele, because you don't have to work if you don't want to. So it's cool to be able to have enough freedom to have the freedom to choose what to spend your time on and when. Especially like we have three kids, my wife and I have three kids. And not having to worry about some of that stuff allows me to be more engaged as a dad, as tough as that is sometimes.

[00:48:28] Spencer: Well, you are doing the Lord's work over there, literally. Well, I think that was another great episode in the can, as they say, one final reminder. I've got this military money manual book coming out in a couple weeks. You can pre-order it now, militarymoneymanual.com/book. And I've actually already had two pre-orders, so I'm stoked. And I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but I haven't been advertising, at all really, other than through this podcast. So I'm really stoked to already see some pre-orders coming in. Anything you want to share before we say goodbye? 

[00:49:00] Jamie: Just one more reminder. We talked a lot about the specifics of credit cards today. So just remember for the latest offers to check out the current post on the militarymoneymanual.com. If you are not listening to this in September, 2021, if you are pulling it up a couple years later, because things do change, but that's it.

[00:49:15] Spencer: Yep. Great. All right. I hope you learn something about military travel hacking from me and Jamie's card portfolio talked about our strategies and what our favorite cards are. And until next time, this is the military money manual podcast.

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