How to improve your Credit Score

Do you know your three credit scores 

It costs you about $15 per month to monitor and view your scores however there are free services which can measure your scores pretty accurate

I login to my Credit Karma and Sesame once a week to view my credit activity and monitor my score. CreditKarma has a blog that focuses on credit education. They have summarized good credit strategy via these posts. I recommend reading these posts to clear out any of the credit myth

You are entitled for a free credit report (all three bureaus, once a year) – AnnualCreditReport (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion)

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The Credit Myth

  1. My credit score is decreased when applying for a new credit card – True but only temporarily. The fact is that your score will lower 2-3 points temporarily per credit card application. However, having more credit cards in medium turn will lower your utilization rate (money you owed/total credit limit), which in turn increase your scores.
  2. I don’t need to check my credit report if I pay my bills on time – Not True.  10% of all credit reports have errors on them. Use Credit Karma and Sesame to check your credits for free.
  3. Using my Check or Debit cards help my credit score – Checking accounts and debit cards have no impact on your credit score
  4. If I don’t get approved right away, I won’t get approved – Many card issuers take their time in approving your application and don’t provide an instant approval. Call the application status line 48 hours later for an update on the application, Chase is famous with their helpful reconsideration line.
  5. Don’t cancel credit cards. Length of credit card accounts is a factor in determining credit scores. You can always open a new credit card by asking to shift  old card credit limit to the new card.
  6. Checking my own credit report and score hurts my score – Not a bit true.  Checking your own credit by the way does not affect your credit score.
  7. All credit reports are the same – Each credit reporting agency has a list of credit information in their file. They are not all the same and they give you different scores as well.
  8. I need to carry a credit card balance to have good scores – Initially when starting a credit file, carrying a small balance and handling it properly can speed up establishing your good credit.  Once your credit has been established (740 +) and you have several accounts you should make sure you’re paying your bills off in full each month.

 

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Credit Card Maintenance Strategy

 Steps to increase your score

  • Past credit payment history (always pay on time)
  • Credit utilization (keep the utilization rate under 30%)
  • Length of credit files (save your oldest credit cards and use it once in a while to show activity)
  • Recent Credit Inquiries (have too many inquiries at once will show you need short-term cash)
  • Types of credit (diversify your types of credit with auto loan, credit card, charge card and mortgage types of credit.

(Today Only 04-26-12) The Amex Business Gold Rewards Card 50k bonus

Today only (04-26-12) you can Click on this link to apply for American Express Business Gold Reward Card 

You will earn 50,000 membership reward points after you spend $5k within 4 months

The $175 annual fee is waived for the 1st year and you earn:

  • 3X points on airfare
  • 2X points on advertising, gas, and shipping
  • 1X points on other purchases
Even though, this is a business credit card card, you can always apply with your SSN (self-proprietorship).  You can make up a business story such as you sell stuff on Ebay, you write blogs,  and you start a small trailer.
If you can’t apply today it will actually allow you to enter your email address when you try to leave the page and AMEX will email you a link to the application that expires on 5/26/12

If you don’t know what to do with membership reward points, check out my post about transferring them to Delta or British Airways

If you are worried about the $5k spend in 4 months, rest assured that I detailed a way to meet $4,500 in 4 months here

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My take

I will apply for this card today or enter my email to get the application delayed until May 26th

After meeting spending requirement, you will get at least 54,000 points which can be transferred to Delta at the 50% rate (during promotion) that will net you 81,000 Delta miles enough for a round-trip ticket to Vietnam or 2 round-trip tickets to Hawaii from any US cities.

Austin, Texas — ATX

Austin, Texas (ATX)  has many nicknames: Live Music Capital of the World, Keep Austin Weird, Silicon Hill, and Liberal Oasis of Texas

My friends who are mostly from the East Coast or West Coast ask me what to do in Austin or whether they should visit Austin. Then my answer is “Definitely Yes” and here is why

1. Clubbing scene here is amazing because we have every kind of clubs

  • Fancy traditional club (hip-hop music)
  • Bar/casual clubs with roof top on 6th street
  • House/electronic club on 5th street
  • Country music bar (red river street, Continental Club, Broken Spook)
  • Rainy street full of yuppies and late 20’s crowds
  • Jazz club  (East Side Show Room – my favorite place to be in Austin, you will be wowed when visit this place, the Elephant Room: world class jazz club)
  • Gay clubs in the warehouse district

Austin is a small city but has big club scene.

2. Natural and outdoor parks to visit

  • Mount Bonnell
  • 360 Greenbelt with 3 miles of amazing hiking trail
  • Mckinney Falls state park
  • View points (High way 360 bridge, oasis cafe)

3. Austin has one of the best restaurants in the country and I really mean it

4. You can also visit the popular touristy stuff like the State Capitol, Blanton museum, LBJ library & museum,  and University of Texas campus.

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5. So what are the must do list when you are in Austin?

a. Go to Congress Bridge to see millions of bats flying out before dawn. The bat only comes out during summer months. The viewing time should range from 8 PM to 9 PM depending on the day. You can park at the City Hall (for $5) and walk to Congress Bridge. You can either take the boat tour or just sit under the bridge for the spectacular view.

b. Check out Lake Austin to get on a paddle boat and swim in the lake. Most people will also visit Zilker Park and Barton Spring Pool which is a popular spot for local swimming.

The board walk along Lake Austin is newly built in summer 2014. It is a 3 mile on the water walk from South Shore to East Riverside. City skylines can be viewed fully from the trail.

board walk

c. Go to the Cathedral of Junk and climb to the third level. You will be swamped by trash arts. This is like a revitalization of things you throw away. $5 Donation is recommended to keep the owner going with his good work.

d. Eat BBQ at Franklin’s and prepare to wait in line for two hours before you can get the best BBQ in the United States. There is a trick to skip the line by preordering for pick up. Preordering is limited and you normally need to do a month or two in advance. My top two meats at Franklin are moist brisket and ribs.

e. Go to 6th street to party at Rooftop, The Amped, Bat Bar and many others. Hangover at 2 AM, food trucks such as Chi’lantro (Korean-Mexican fusion), Gourdoughs Speciality Doughnuts, and Kerbey Lane all opens quite late to save your hungry soul. A fun fact: Kerbey Lane has been open 24/7 since 1980 to serve Austinies.

Chilantro-Menu1

f. Don’t forget to check out San Jose hotel Cafe with live music, an accessible pool and candles. This is definitely a romantic spot in South Congress district. Across the street, you can find a world class  country music club – The Continental Club which runs 8 & 10 PM shows every night.

Travel to Austin Texas

g. Go to Oasis Restaurant for the sunset over Lake Travis. The food is just normal therefore you might want to skip the dinner and order some drinks instead.

h. Visit University of Texas tower and have a great view from there

 

i. Visit 360 bridge viewpoint on Highway 360 for a great city view. There are two sides of the viewpoints therefore if you have time I recommend checking out both side and walk on the bridge.

360 Bridge

The exact location of 360 bridge overlook is here

 

There are a lot more great things I can tell you about Austin: the people and the culture

 

Skyteam, One World, Star Alliance

My friend asked me if she doesn’t fly United that often why she should collect their miles.

The answer is very simple – Airlines form alliances  – and you can redeem American/Delta/United/US Airways miles on any of their alliance partners

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There are three biggest airline alliances in the world

SKYTEAM: Delta is the only US-based airline however you can use its miles to fly Korean Airline, China Airlines and Vietnam Airlines to most of Asia. You can use Delta miles to fly Air France and KLM to Europe

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One World: American Airline is the leading airline in this smallest alliance, you can use American Airline miles to fly Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific to Asia or British Airways & Air Berlin to Europe

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Star Alliance: is the biggest alliance with United and US Airways. You can use United and US Airways miles to fly Asiana, ANA, Thai, Air China, Singapore to Asia; Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian to Europe

How to fly to Europe and Vietnam for free

I had an amazing conversation with my friend Jenny a few days when she asked me the best way to search for a ticket to fly from Philly to Paris in August for her trip aborad.

I went directly to this site http://www.milez.biz/en/index.php to find out how many miles does she need. Milez.biz allows you to calculate and compare flight redemption rates of different frequent flyer programs. Have you ever wondered which frequent flyer program has the best award rates … specifically for the flights you are interested in?

Continue reading

United 65,000 miles Explorer Card offer & $50 statement credit

Update Personal Experience

I applied for the Continental Master Card in Jan 2012 which was then converted to United Mileage Explorer Card. I got the 50,000 miles offer at the application time. Recently, I saw these extra offers of $50 statement credit and 5,000 miles for adding an authorized user. I contacted Chase via their secure message and 4 hours later they tell me that the $50 statement credit will be applied next statement and I can add my mom as an authorized user.

The point is if you see the 40,000 miles United through this link (because you have no United mile), you can apply for it then secure message Chase to match the below offer with my screenshot.

Wonder what is the best redemption with 55,000 United miles, check out How to fly to Europe and Vietnam for free

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This is the best credit card right now because

  1. It gives you easily 50k miles after first purchase + 5k miles for adding an authorized user (you can add anyone and it doesn’t affect that person chances of getting the same card in the future). For example, I will add my mom who is not even a US resident because they don’t require an SSN)
  2. $50 statement meaning $50 back on your first purchase. Why not using $50 statement to buy United miles?
  3. First year free

The trick to get this offer is

  1. You have to be logged into your United account first
  2. you need to have at least one mile in your account already before you click the link below

If you don’t have any United mile, you can earn a few miles through

  • Get 1,750 Free united miles
  • If you have miles in any other airlines, you can use points.com to transfer 1 mile to United (Use AA and US Airways miles to transfer low number of miles).
  • Use mileage dining network: register a credit card, find a participating restaurant, buy a can of soda, points will be posted  soon after that.
  • You can buy a product/service online at Mileage Plus shopping portal for example a Groupon deal for 2 mile per dollar.
  • You can join Guilt and make a purchase over $50 to receive the bonus 1,500 United miles.  You also receive $5 miles for every dollar spent in the first 6 months. It is a good way to have some miles in your United Mileage Plus account.
  • Here are other earning opportunities with United
  • Ask a friend who has a Chase Ultimate Reward Cards (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Bold Business) to transfer 1,000 miles to your United accounts.
  • Using TopGuest, you simply have to register your “smart” phone with Top Guest and then use either Facebook or Four Square to make those check-ins. You will earn 50 United miles for every check-in at  participating airports. Topguest will post points a few weeks after check-in. (TopGuest doesn’t seem to offer United miles anymore).

Here’s the link: United Mileage Explorer Card (you have to login into your United account with at least 1 mile before you click this link)

Terms:

Earn up to 65,000 bonus award miles*

    • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after first use and 5,000 additional bonus miles after your first card use and for adding an authorized user within two months of opening your account. Plus earn 10,000 after you spend $25,000 on your Card within the a calendar year.

Receive a $50 statement credit*

    • Enjoy a $50 statement credit after you use your MileagePlus Explorer Card for the first time. This introductory $50 credit is not tied to this United reservation and will be applied to your statement 6-8 weeks after first use of the Card.

Your first year is free†

    • Pay no annual fee for the first year you are a Cardmember, a $95 value.

Check your first bag for free*

    • As a Cardmember, you and your companion can each check your first bag for free when you fly United-operated flights, up to a $50 savings per person round trip.

Enjoy priority boarding privileges*

    • You’ll be invited to board your flight ahead of general boarding with priority boarding (the fast security lane).

Visit the United ClubSM with two passes every year*

    • Relax in style before your flight and enjoy complimentary snacks, beverages and Wi-Fi.

Daily Getaways special – Priority Club deals

I got this special email from Daily Getaways deal which will happen today at 10 AM ET

The link doesn’t seem to be special so I guess everyone can use it

Remember to

  1. Register for Priority club  
  2. Wait until 10 AM ET today
  3. Buy one of the 4 deals with your Amex card
  4. I will buy the 10,000 point deals and use it for Priority Club Point Break 5,000 points per night 
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Dear Customer ,

We are aware you had difficulty purchasing last week’s Priority Club offer and regret the challenges you experienced.  You are of a select group to be notified of new, limited inventory Priority Club offers that will become available through Daily Getaways tomorrow, April 20 at 10 AM ET, while supplies last.

At 10 AM ET, the following offers will go live for sale through the link here.  These offers are available in limited quantities on a first come, first served basis.

·         10,000 Priority Club Points for $67

·         IHG Stay 1 Night for $267 – 40,000 Priority Club Points

·         Stay 1 Night at a Crowne Plaza for $167 – 25,000 Priority Club Points

·         Stay 1-2 Nights at Holiday Inn for $167 – 25,000 Priority Club Points

Use any American Express Card® and receive an additional 10% off the listed price.

Thank you for your interest in Daily Getaways!

Daily Getaways