Citibank acquires Brooks Brothers credit card

Citibank’s credit card unit, which has been tearing it up as of late, has added another card to its lineup. I received the following email yesterday:

Your Brooks Brothers Credit Card account currently issued by Synchrony Bank is being acquired by Citibank, N. A. on June 19, 2015. Effective June 19, 2015, Citibank, N. A. will become the owner and issuer of your Brooks Brothers Credit Card account, including all balances due on your account.

I recently wrote up Citi’s retail and store-branded credit cards here, so add another one to that list. Interestingly, Citi seems to be copying some of Synchrony’s retail card marketing techniques. In February, I received a Best Buy credit card offer of a $20 reward certificate in exchange for using my credit card three times. This is the sort of offer I’ve seen on things like the Banana Republic card, but never before on a Citi card.

Incidentally, the Dillard’s credit card recently changed hands from Synchrony to Wells Fargo. Is Synchrony in an Amex-like state of decline right now, or are the big banks just paying too much for credit card portfolios?


Want to get rich quick? Start a blog!

In the wake of the closing of the Miles for Family blog, a few other bloggers such as Doc and TBB offered their thoughts about blogging. To hear them tell it, it’s a lot of hard work and headaches. But you know what? Those guys are a bunch of whiners. Blogging is awesome! And even better, it’s a guaranteed way to make easy money–fast!

I’m here today to tell you how it’s done. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you my super-awesome Road to Internet Wealth Version 1.0! [click to continue…]

Foiled by Amex!

I got one of those marketing survey emails from Amex, the one where they ask you about some new product features they’re considering for their credit cards. I was thrilled to be able to share the survey with you, my internet friends, until I saw this:

amex survey


In case you can’t see that, it says, “This survey may contain information about a new product or idea that may not currently be available. Do you agree to keep any information you learn about a new product of new idea confidential and not disclose it to anyone?”

Well shoot! Those Amex lawyers appear to have outsmarted me–damn their oily hides! I’m still going to share the survey with you, but it will be heavily edited so as not to divulge proprietary corporate information Amex chooses to share with strangers it finds on the internet. I mean, I love you guys, but Amex’s legal team makes way more money than mine.

Here’s the card concept they were testing on me:

amex 2

It’s an interesting concept–the combination of [redacted]% back on [redacted] and [redacted] is one that’s not currently available on the market, though keep in mind it is subject to [redacted]. Also, keep in mind you have [redacted] available on non-bonus spending.

But, that’s just my opinion. What do you guys think about this one?

Hilton brand standards, for anybody who’s interested

I was looking around for boring details of how Hilton’s rewards program works and I happened to find the Hilton Brand Standards, which a handful of you may find interesting. It’s interesting to me first of all because it’s 384 pages, which is a lot of fairly dry stuff for a hotel owner to be on top of. It’s also kind of cool to see some of the behind the scenes stuff hotels have to deal with that we never think about (for example, 384-page brand standards manuals). [click to continue…]

Three cheers for Category 1 redemptions!

Every now and then somebody raises the concern that points and miles blogs focus too much on the luxury travel aspect of this hobby. I think there’s something to that, but what bothers me is not that there are a lot of articles on luxury travel–luxury travel is awesome, of course–but that there are relatively few on cheapskate travel. There are good opportunities out there for hotels outside the upper echelon.

Why look to the Category 1 redemptions of the world? Several reasons:

  • Volume. Sometimes you need rooms for a long time, or sometimes you need multiple rooms, or sometimes you need multiple rooms for a long time. That can drain your point balance pretty fast. Finding a good low-end redemption takes some of the sting out of a big trip and can let you take other friends and family members along for the ride.
  • Travel more. Simple arithmetic would suggest that–for a given amount of points–a lower average point cost per night will give you more nights spent in hotels. So even if you are surrounded by friendly drugstores, grocery stores, and Walmart ATMs, you can get more traveling done for a given level of effort if you can find worthwhile lower-end redemptions.
  • Use up leftover points. If you want that Maldives villa, then knock yourself out. But odds are the points you require for any given trip won’t be exactly what you’ve earned. Instead of letting points languish in your account, why not put them to good use?
  • Everything is awesome when you’re five years old. I have four kids, the oldest of whom is seven. I’m sure this will change as they get older, but right now the greatest hotel in the world is the one they’re staying in on any given night. Why? Because hotels are AWESOME when you’re that age. I don’t know why they love hotels so much, but they do, and they don’t care how cheap or expensive it is.
  • If your kids destroy stuff, it’ll hopefully be cheaper at a Category 1. This isn’t so much an argument for low-end hotels as much as a reason why I fear high-end hotels. But still.
  • Staycations are more justifiable. You don’t need a flight or a long roadtrip to get away. If you’re low on energy or time, it’s a nice change of pace to drive for 90 minutes to a nearby city/town/attraction and stay in a hotel. If I were paying for the hotel out of pocket, or paying a lot of points, I doubt I’d do this. But if it’s relatively few points, why not try something a little different?
  • Location, location, location. Lower tier hotels are more likely to be located in the middle of nowhere. But scenic natural areas are also more likely to be located in the middle of nowhere. Look around and you may find a reason to visit a hotel you otherwise might not have considered.
  • Pockets of value exist. Just because something is Category 1 or Category 2 doesn’t mean it’s a lousy hotel. Most of the chain hotels with credit card programs will be, at worst, acceptable. And there may be other reasons beyond cost as to why it’s a low-end redemption–maybe it was just renovated, or just opened, or just put under new management, and the powers that be are trying to get some more customers in. Imagine that smug, self-satisfied feeling you’ll get when the hotel you stayed in last year increased in category. “Yeah, I stayed there when it was only a Cat 2,” you’ll tell everybody. “It was pretty cool before everybody else discovered it.”

That’s all I have, feel free to add your Cat 1 success stories below.