This post is the third post in my new series on Travel Hacking. In Travel Hacking: Round Two, I was expecting the third round to be about using the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Card. Life happened and I had to amend those plans.
The change in plans was due to an unexpected expense that recently occurred. When you own a house, unexpected bills occur. When you own an older house, they tend to pop up more frequently because things get old, wear out, and break.
These unexpected repairs always seem to occur at inopportune times. Our most recent major repair came when we returned from vacation. We came home and noticed that we did not have hot water.
The lack of hot water was due to our oil furnace not working. It was installed in 1992 and I knew it was on its last leg. Over the years, I replaced valves that wore out, but I was aware that the boiler was getting old and that I was going to have to buy a new furnace soon.
The benefit of having an emergency fund is to cover unexpected expenses. Some people debate that, but I am not one to split hairs about when an emergency fund should be used. In my opinion, if your house does not have heat or hot water, that is an emergency.
The cost to replace my furnace was $6,300. Talk about tossing six grand out the window. The benefit of my new furnace is that it is more efficient. I swapped out a 150 BTU furnace for a smaller 118 BTU furnace. I live in a rural area, so switching to a lower cost heating option like natural gas is not available.
The cash for the repair was sitting in the bank. There was not any panic about this repair. I just did not want to spend that much money without being rewarded.
The next set of credit cards that I was planning on using were the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. Those two cards are set-up for all of my household bills. It is forecasted that I will have enough points to earn the sought-after companion pass soon.
Since I had this large unexpected bill, I wanted to pay for it on a premium credit card. This single purchase was large enough to cover more than the required three month’s worth of spending to qualify for bonus points on a top card. Most of these premium cards reward bonus points are earned when a new cardholder spends $5,000 in three months. I was more than covered.
Another aspect that I had to consider was that I am following a plan similar to the Chase Gauntlet that was made popular by the guys over at the ChooseFI Podcast. As part of the Chase Gauntlet, the Chase 5/24 rule is a major aspect. The Chase 5/24 rule restricts people from opening fewer than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months.
The way that I was able to open another card that did not apply to the Chase 5/24 rule was to open a business card. I was able to open a business card because of this blog. It was created as a business.
The business card that I decided to open was the American Express Business Gold Card. This card had a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year and then $175 per year after that. The welcome offer was 50,000 points with $5,000 of qualifying spend in 3-months (I had more than that with one purchase).
The American Express Business Gold Card had impressive featured benefits. Cardholders have many options to earn 3X points. 3X points can be earned when flights are purchased directly from airlines, on advertising with select media, at U.S. gas stations, U.S. purchases for shipping, and other business expenses including U.S. computer-based purchases from specific providers. 1X points are earned on every other purchase.
Premium Roadside Assistance is a great benefit for cardholders. I will not have to renew my AAA membership this year ($100 in my pocket). The American Express Business Gold Card offers roadside assistance in case of a breakdown or flat time. They will pay for emergency services up to four times per year. They will even come to your home if it is for a jumpstart or flat time.
This card includes some nice travel benefits. It includes car rental and damage insurance. You can receive baggage insurance. Travel insurance is a benefit. There is also a Global Assist Hotline that provides medical, legal, financial, and other emergency assistance services when a cardholder travels more than 100 miles from home.
The American Express Business Gold Card offers shopping benefits. Cardholders can shop with confidence when they use this credit card. Some benefits shoppers receive are extended warranties on eligible purchases, purchase protection, return protection, and entertainment access for presale tickets.
While all of those benefits are nice, the main reason that I signed up for the card was to earn points. How much are those 50,000 points worth? According to the Points Guy, they are worth about $950 in travel rewards. Those points will come in handy when it is time to book next year’s vacation.
As a personal finance blogger, I enjoy saving money and building wealth more than spending money. When I do spend money, I like to do so on things that I enjoy. While I do enjoy hot showers and a warm house in winter, buying a furnace is not an enjoyable purchase. Being able to score over $900 in points reduced the pain of having to replace my furnace.
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