Category Archives: Student

Establish Credit History and Boost Your Credit Score With This No Annual Fee Card

It’s difficult to get approved for most popular miles & points cards without an excellent credit score, or if you have a blemish on your credit report.  That’s why folks sometimes ask if there’s a good card to help build a credit history.  

Besides making you eligible for better rewards cards in the future, establishing a credit history helps if you’re looking to qualify for other types of credit, like car loans and mortgages.

I think the no annual fee Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is a great fit for folks new to the US, recent graduates, or if your credit score is ~650.  But this card is NOT ideal if you’re looking to earn rewards, like cash back or miles & points.

Capital One Platinum Card Review

If You’re Looking to Build Your Credit History, You Might Consider the No Annual Fee Capital One Platinum Card

I’ll share tips if you’re new to applying for credit cards.  And my review of the Capital One Platinum card.

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5 Travel Rewards Cards for College Students

Million Mile Secrets reader, Liz, commented:

After studying abroad last semester, I’ve been bitten by the travel bug.  Although I have a very good credit score, I’m a college student and don’t spend that much, which precludes me from going for cards with sign-up bonuses that require spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.

I would like to get a card to start earning rewards for my purchases and develop a credit history.  But in keeping with the number one rule of paying off my balance each month, there doesn’t seem to be a card out there for me.

Ideally, I’m looking for a travel rewards card that offers a sign-up bonus requiring $1,000 in the first 90 days and has a waived annual fee for the first year, or none at all!  Is there a card that you’d recommend for me?

Welcome to the miles & points hobby, Liz!

I’m so glad to hear Liz is interested in earning rewards for travel.  Miles and points are one of the the best ways to travel cheaply.  They’ve given Emily and I the opportunity to visit amazing destinations around the world!

As a college student, it seems Liz has done her homework about the importance of developing a credit history and not carrying credit card balances!

Credit Cards College Students

There Are Lots of Great Rewards Credit Cards for College Students Looking to Get Started in the Miles & Points Hobby!

The good news is most banks offer credit cards with sign-up bonuses that have relatively small minimum spending requirements.  And these cards tend to waive the annual fee or have none at all.  So they’re great for students on a tight budget!

I’ll share tips for beginners in the miles & points hobby.  And 5 great rewards cards for beginners which have low minimum spending requirements!

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Guide to Credit Cards & Big Travel for College Students

Are you a college student who wants to travel as much as possible?  There are lots of ways to get Big Travel for nearly free!  And it’s not hard to get started.

Guide To Credit Cards Big Travel For College Students

Take a Break From the Books to Travel the World! I’ll Give You Ideas About How to Get Started

I’ll show you how to build your credit and start earning miles and points, so you can see more of the world.  And visit family and friends back home!

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How to Use Bluebird “Pay Bills” to Pay Rent, Mortgage, Credit Cards, Utilities, College Tuition, etc.

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As I wrote yesterday, one of the best uses of American Express Bluebird is the ability to pay for transactions which can’t usually be made with a miles or points earning credit card.

You load your Bluebird card (which you can order online) with a points earning debit card at Wal-Mart.  You can also reload Bluebird with Vanilla Reload cards which you can buy at CVS, Walgreen’s or other locations.  Alternate with other credit cards so that you’re not spending too much at buying Vanilla Reloads with any one credit card.

Here’s a post on other credit cards to use with Bluebird, so that you’re not maxing out on just 1 card.

You may also be able to pay for the Vanilla Reloads with a credit card at Walgreen’s, but this isn’t always the case and could be a bit of wild goose chase.

Here’s a post on what a Vanilla Reload looks like and  how to load a Vanilla Reload card to your Bluebird account.

 

Bluebird Pay Bills

This is a great way to help meet the minimum spending requirement on ANY credit card, or even for earning miles and points for transactions which don’t usually earn miles and points as long as you buy Vanilla Reload cards with your credit card at Office Depot and load them on your Bluebird card.

For example, it will cost you $3.95 for a 500 dollar Vanilla Reload pack.  This means that you are paying $3.95 to earn 500 miles or points (assuming you use a card which gets you 1 mile or point per $1 spent).

This works out to paying 0.79 cents per mile or point or earning 0.21 miles or points per $1 spent AND you get the ability to accelerate your minimum spending to get a sign-on bonus.  I value most airline miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards & American Express Membership Rewards points at around 1 cent, so I don’t mind paying 0.79 cents per mile or point.

There is NO fee for using Bluebird Bill Pay.

Bluebird Bill Pay

You then use your Bluebird card to pay for Rent, Mortgage, Credit Card Bills, Utilities, College Tuition, Payments to contractors, etc.   Continue reading

How to Earn LOTS of Points With American Express Bluebird for Mortgages, ATM Withdrawals, Rent, Loans, & Almost ALL Transactions!

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My American Express Bluebird prepaid card showed up in the mail today and I have lots of good news to share!  Note that if you already have an American Express Serve account, you have to cancel your Serve account before applying for American Express Bluebird.

I successful loaded my Bluebird prepaid card with mile earning debit cards at Wal-Mart for no extra fee.

Load American Express Bluebird with Miles Earning Debit Cards at Wal-Mart!

And I also loaded my Bluebird account using a Vanilla Reload which I bought from Office Depot using my Chase Ink Bold.  Note that this option is no longer available, but you may be able to find Vanilla Reloads at CVS, Walgreen’s or other locations. 

Successfully Loaded American Express Bluebird with Vanilla Reload Cards

Next, I paid $100 towards my Chase credit card bill (as a test) and withdrew money from an ATM using my Bluebird card!

And I was extremely excited to earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which can be transferred to different airlines and hotels including, United, Hyatt & Southwest)  for both these transactions which otherwise would never earn miles and points!

If you earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points on only $2,000 per month (easy to do when you can pay rent, mortgages, loans, credit card bills, and regular purchases) with Bluebird, you earn 120,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points a year.  That is enough for a business class ticket to almost anywhere on United, 5 nights at a top Hyatt category 6 hotel, or ~$2,000 in travel on Southwest!

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Emily’s September 2012 App-O-Rama – 5 Cards. 170,000 Miles & Points + 4 Free Hilton Nights

Update:   This offer is no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.

Emily applied for 5 credit cards in September.  So far, she’s been approved for 4 cards for 120,000 miles and points + 4 free Hilton nights.  In case you’re wondering, Emily has a 6.5 year credit history. Continue reading

How to Earn Points (or Make Money) When You Pay Your Mortgage, Student Loans, & Car Loans! – Using ChargeSmart for Student Loans

 [Disclaimer:  Information in the table below was accurate as of Saturday, September 15, 2012.  Please double check the exact rate for your lender to make sure it is accurate.]

Last week I wrote about how to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points or cash back by using either a Chase Ink Bold / Ink Plus or the American Express Blue Cash Preferred to buy gift cards to pay your loan.

I’ve created a table below with the ChargeSmart fee for paying $100, $250, & $500 towards your student loan.

Paying $100 or $250 towards your loans is almost always going to be unprofitable because of the high fee which ChargeSmart charges.

But paying $500 towards your student loan using a Visa or MasterCard could get you Ultimate Rewards points or cash back even after taking into account the ChargeSmart fee.  But do the math to see if this makes sense for you!

PAYING YOUR Student LOAN OFF

It also appears that most lenders charge a flat fee for a loan payment, so it could very well be profitable to pay your student loan off (or make a large payment) via ChargeSmart using a credit card without having to buy gift cards in $500 increments.

For example, you pay a flat fee of only $9.95 to pay off any amount to Wells Fargo.  So you could use any credit card to pay off, say, a $5,000 loan balance for only a $9.95 fee!

So you’d earn 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points for making a $5,000 payment with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card for only a $9.95 fee.

5,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth, at least, $50 in statement credit or more if you redeem for travel.

Readers have pointed out that ChargeSmart levies a sneaky “Large Payment Fee” in Step 4 of the payment screen for many lenders who charge a flat fee.  So do the math for yourself before making a large payment.

HOW TO SEE IF PAYING $500 VIA CHARGESMART MAKES SENSE Continue reading

How to Earn Points (or Make Money) When You Pay Your Mortgage, Student Loans, & Car Loans! – Using ChargeSmart for Car Loans

 [Disclaimer:  Information in the table below was accurate as of Saturday, September 15, 2012.  Please double check the exact rate for your lender to make sure it is accurate.]

Last week I wrote about how to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points or cash back by using either a Chase Ink Bold / Ink Plus or the American Express Blue Cash Preferred to buy gift cards to pay your loan.

I’ve created a table below with the ChargeSmart fee for paying $100, $250, & $500 towards your car loan.

Paying $100 or $250 towards your loans is almost always going to be unprofitable because of the high fee which ChargeSmart charges.

But paying $500 towards your car loan using a Visa or MasterCard could get you Ultimate Rewards points or cash back even after taking into account the ChargeSmart fee.  But do the math to see if this makes sense for you!

Paying Your Car Loan Off

It also appears that most lenders charge a flat fee for a loan payment, so it could very well be profitable to pay your car loan off (or make a large payment) via ChargeSmart using a credit card without having to buy gift cards in $500 increments.

For example, you pay a flat fee of only $9.95 to pay off any amount to America Honda Finance corporation.  So you could use any credit card to pay off, say, a $5,000 loan balance for only a $9.95 fee!

So you’d earn 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points for making a $5,000 payment with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card for only a $9.95 fee.

5,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth, at least, $50 in statement credit or more if you redeem for travel.

Edit:  Readers have pointed out that ChargeSmart levies a sneaky “Large Payment Fee” in Step 4 of the payment screen for many lenders who charge a flat fee.  So do the math for yourself before making a large payment.

How to See if Paying $500 via ChargeSmart Makes Sense Continue reading

How to Earn Points (or Make Money) When You Pay Your Mortgage, Student Loans, & Car Loans! – Using ChargeSmart for Mortgages

 [Disclaimer:  Information in the table below was accurate as of Saturday, September 15, 2012.  Please double check the exact rate for your lender to make sure it is accurate.]

Last week I wrote about how to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points or cash back by using either a Chase Ink Bold/Ink Plus or the American Express Blue Cash Preferred to buy gift cards to pay your loan.

I’ve created a table below with the ChargeSmart fee for paying $100, $250, & $500 towards your mortgage.

Paying $100 or $250 towards your loans is almost always going to be unprofitable because of the high fee which ChargeSmart charges.

But paying $500 towards your mortgage using a Visa or MasterCard could get you Ultimate Rewards points or cash back even after taking into account the ChargeSmart fee.  But do the math to see if this makes sense for you!

How to See if Paying $500 via ChargeSmart Makes Sense Continue reading

Reader Request: Which Credit Cards for College Students With No Credit History?

Update:   The Citi Forward for College Students is no longer available.

Million Mile Secrets reader Jacob writes in:

I’m sure you get this a lot.  I’m a student with no credit history looking to start off.  I’m wondering which card is best.  The most important things to me are no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fee as I will be doing study abroad for the next 2 semesters.  I also want a card that earns rewards, whether cash back or points.

I want your advice on which card to start with.  I’m turning 20 next summer by which I hope to be getting big time travel rewards 🙂  The Chase Sapphire (not preferred) seems to fit those qualifications but I don’t know if chase will approve me seeing as I have no credit history.

If you don’t have a credit history in the US, you’re almost certainly NOT going to get approved for many of the great miles and points credit cards such as the Citi American Airlines cards with a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus or the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 40,000 point sign-up bonus. Continue reading