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Here’s How to Stop Missing Out on Business Credit Card Rewards

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It was a small business credit card that finally convinced me to get serious about earning credit card rewards. Although I had been writing about credit for years, I only dabbled in my own efforts to earn rewards. I would enviously read stories about first-class international trips paid for with points, or business owners who managed to earn significant cash back rewards, but I’d find myself too busy to learn how to do the same.

Then I read about how small business owners could use a “travel hack” to earn a Southwest Rapid Rewards Companion Pass, which allows the cardholder to fly a companion with them for free for a year. I can do that, I thought.

Here’s how it worked: I applied for the business and consumer versions of Southwest Rapid Rewards cards—both of which were offering generous welcome bonuses for meeting minimum spending requirements within a certain period of time. By charging everything I could to those cards, I met those thresholds and earned a large number of Rapid Rewards points as well as progress toward the Companion Pass. 

Those points, combined with the points I was earning by flying Southwest for business trips, allowed me to earn enough qualifying points to qualify for a Companion Pass. Even better, I was then able to maintain it for four years. I used it for well over a dozen flights, saving several thousands of dollars in airfare for trips where family members were able to join me. 

Are you maximizing your credit card rewards?

Once I realized how easy it was, I regretted that I didn’t take rewards points more seriously sooner. But I’m not alone. In a January 2022 survey of prominent personal finance bloggers by Uthrive, 69% said they are not confident they are earning the most rewards, even though 80% of them said they actively manage their spending to maximize rewards. 

Uthrive is the first personal finance app to generate customized rewards recommendations as opposed to general advice offered by blogs. It’s the kind of tool that would likely have made me a rewards aficionado a lot sooner. 

“Small business owners are in a particularly good position to make the most of credit card rewards,” says Jason Steele, a credit card expert I have followed for years and who is consulting with Uthrive. “The credit card industry is extremely competitive, and most small business owners leave a lot of money on the table because they are not using the right credit card,” he notes. 

Steele points out that many small business owners will spend far more on their business credit cards than their personal cards, and they may be eligible for spending bonuses on common business purchases, such as advertising, telecommunications, or fuel. But, he says, “It can be hard to memorize which merchants offer benefits for certain purchases. Uthrive enables small business owners to see exactly which card they have will offer the most rewards for a particular purchase, based on their geolocation.” 

If, like me, you’re not sure you’re making the most of your credit card rewards, there are a number of apps, including Uthrive, that can help you choose the right cards, and then maximize the rewards you earn. I asked the creators of these apps to share their apps’ top features and what makes them unique, so that you can make the most of credit card rewards programs. 

Apps to help you earn the most from your credit card rewards

Card Curator

Card Curator is a credit card rewards optimization app that helps users achieve their rewards goals, whether it be for travel or charitable giving, by helping them earn up to five times or more on their average monthly card spending through personalized and unbiased credit card recommendations. The app also offers users guidance on the right card to use for their purchases.

Cost: There are two versions of Card Curator: a free version and a premium version. The free version maximizes rewards for cash back, return [in points and miles], and charitable giving. The premium version maximizes rewards for cash back, return [in points and miles], charitable giving, travel, flights, and hotels.

What makes Card Curator unique? CEO John Garner says: “Users can set as well as track their rewards goals for travel, charitable giving, or cash back. They input their goal into the goal tracker, and sync up their current credit or debit cards into the app; Card Curator’s proprietary algorithm will then recommend which cards to apply for, downgrade, or cancel based on [a user’s] primary goal and spending habits.

“Card Curator also helps users keep up with sign-up bonuses by allowing them to track their bonuses. The app will notify users as well on what is needed to meet the minimum spend. By notifying and tracking the sign-up bonuses for users, the app ensures that users meet the minimum spend for their sign-up bonuses within the designated time frame.

“Furthermore, the app guides users on which credit card to use for every purchase. For instance, if you’re at a grocery store, the app will pick up on your geolocation and will then recommend you use your Amex Gold Card on your purchase as that card earns 4 times the points on groceries.

“Lastly, the app gives recommendations to users on the best way to combine or transfer points, which further maximizes a card’s reward value and minimizes the need to apply for new cards. The app also tells you whether to use your existing points or miles first.”

CardWiz

CardWiz is a hyper-personalized credit card recommendation and comparison app. Users take a short quiz and get matched to cards based on the rewards value specific to them. 

CardWiz can maximize whatever rewards a user is looking for—for both personal and business credit cards. If a user is looking for cash back, it will maximize that; if a user is looking for Delta SkyMiles, it can take into account points transfers and maximize Delta SkyMiles. As credit cards launch that offer alternative types of rewards, such as cryptocurrency, CardWiz will allow users to maximize opportunities to earn those rewards.

Cost: Free

What makes CardWiz unique? Founder Peter Gabbay says: “CardWiz is the only app that factors in the rewards the user already gets from their current cards and allows for high levels of customization like preferred rewards programs or custom point values. It’s simply more personalized and therefore more accurate and rewarding. It’s also the most fun!”

CashFreely

CashFreely is a free app that helps users find the best new credit cards; it also helps users track their credit cards, key dates for sign-up bonuses, and annual fees.

Cost: Free

What makes CashFreely unique? Founder Zac Hood says: “CashFreely’s approach to earning cash back is truly unique. It turns traditional cash back earning upside down by earning more cash back in less time. CashFreely maximizes a person’s regular monthly spending by leveraging big sign-up bonus offers. CashFreely users average $1,500 in cash back every year, while the average American household only earns $230 in cash back.

“CashFreely teaches users how to do this and keeps them organized. Our app is 100% free. We do not ask for bank logins. We do not store any confidential information.”

CashFreely member benefits include:

  • Personalized, ranked card offers 
  • Email reminders and notifications for bonus deadlines or annual fees
  • Ability to track multiple cards (up to two users) in one place
  • Card details—stats, benefits, and spending categories
  • Security—users never have to hand over bank details or passwords

MaxRewards

MaxRewards helps people manage their credit cards, monitor their credit scores, and maximize their rewards, cash back, and benefits. Users can adjust the valuation of points and miles, and translate them into dollars.

Cost: Free to download and most features are also free. MaxRewards Gold, which includes auto-activation of offers, has a choose-your-own-price model. The minimum price is $5/month on annual billing ($60/year) or $9/month on monthly billing.

What makes MaxRewards unique? CEO Anik Khan says: “Most other apps use third-party aggregators, which provide far less data and capability, or lack any connectivity. We’re the only solution that actually automates earning more rewards and cash back.”

Member benefits include:

  • Auto-activation of Amex Offers, BankAmeriDeals, Citi Merchant Offers, Chase Offers, and more
  • Ability to activate the same Amex Offer on multiple Amex cards (which is not possible by manually activating offers)
  • Best card recommendation for nearby merchants
  • Best card recommendation for every category
  • Consolidated view of all credit cards and transactions, including exclusive data points such as rewards that are not available on other personal finance apps like Mint
  • Benefits aggregation and tracking
  • Unified view of credit scores from every issuer
  • Tracking of qualified spend toward sign-up bonus

The Points Guy (TPG) App

Created by The Points Guy, a popular travel site, The Points Guy (TPG) App is a one-stop-shop where users can track all of their airline, hotel, and credit card loyalty points and miles in one place, and create personalized plans to book their dream vacations.

Users are provided with a curated news feed of travel, credit card, and aviation news. They can also monitor their spending habits, track their progress towards meeting their goals, and receive recommendations to help maximize their earning potential.

Note: The app is tailored to consumer cards. Business owners upload their points and miles data from their business credit cards to the TPG App. It is currently available on iOS. 

Cost: Free

TPG App features: Head developer Mitchell Stoutin says: “Users get personalized recommendations on how to quickly rack up points and miles based on their spending habits, and have the ability to track earned rewards and learn how to use them before it’s too late. App users are able to earn, burn, and learn.”

In addition, the TPG App helps users to:

  • Earn points and miles more effectively and efficiently by monitoring spending habits, tracking progress toward a personalized goal, and making recommendations to maximize earning potential (e.g., recommending which card to use when).
  • Burn earned miles by providing personalized guidance and comprehensive booking instructions.
  • Learn about travel news, opportunities, and offers through a curated news feed, as well as learn about points, miles, and loyalty programs.

Travel Freely

Travel Freely helps users find the best new credit cards and track key dates for sign-up bonuses and annual fees. Members are provided with a step-by-step beginner course which can help them earn $2,000 in free travel every year. Users learn how to optimize travel rewards, take control of their credit, and travel for free. The service can be used for both consumer and business credit cards. 

Cost: Free

What makes Travel Freely unique? Founder Zac Hood says: “The Travel Freely approach is all about increasing your travel budget by earning the most amount of free travel in the least amount of time. Travel Freely comes with a simple and easy-to-follow guide. Our beginner’s course ‘Become a Free Traveler’ covers credit score monitoring, organizing rewards programs, and understanding the best practices for applying for credit cards.”

Travel Freely member benefits include:

  • Personalized, ranked rewards card offers
  • Email reminders and notifications for bonus deadlines or annual fees
  • Beginner tools—a step-by-step guide for those new to optimizing free travel earning
  • Ability to track multiple cards (up to two users) in one place
  • Card details—stats, benefits, and spending categories
  • Security—users never have to hand over bank details or passwords

Uthrive

Uthrive offers users personalized advice on how to maximize rewards based on their spending habits. The Uthrive app tells consumers the best card to use at popular merchants.

Cost: Free

What makes Uthrive unique? CEO Sameer Gupta says: “Uthrive recently rolled out a full suite of features for business credit cards so small business owners can also maximize rewards on their business expenses.”

Benefits for both consumers and business owners include: 

  • Advice on all rewards, including cash back, points, and miles
  • Personalized advice on the best card to use—for both existing and new cards
  • Updates on earned rewards and missed rewards for all transactions
  • Prompts for the best card to use at both online and in-store merchants

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Unveiling the Digital Evolution: Web2 vs. Web3 – Understanding the Shift Towards Decentralization and Blockchain

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Introduction:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 marks a significant paradigm shift in the ever-evolving Internet landscape. Web2, characterized by centralized platforms like Facebook and Google, is giving way to Web3, a new era embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. This article delves into the differences between Web2 and Web3, exploring the implications of this digital evolution on our online experiences and interactions.

Understanding Web2:

Web2, the current internet era, is dominated by centralized platforms that control and shape our online activities. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have established themselves as giants, offering services that rely on centralized servers and databases to function. Users interact with these platforms through interfaces designed and controlled by the companies, giving rise to concerns over data privacy, censorship, and control.

The Rise of Web3:

Web3 represents a departure from the centralized model of Web2, embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. In Web3, users have greater control over their data and digital identities, thanks to decentralized networks that operate without a central authority. Blockchain, the underlying technology powering Web3, enables secure and transparent transactions, smart contracts, and decentralized applications (dApps).

Key Differences Between Web2 and Web3:

Centralization vs. Decentralization:

One of the fundamental distinctions between Web2 and Web3 is the approach to centralization. Web2 relies on centralized servers and platforms controlled by a single entity, while Web3 operates on decentralized networks where power is distributed among participants. This shift towards decentralization in Web3 promotes transparency, security, and user empowerment.

Data Ownership and Privacy:

In Web2, users often surrender their data to centralized platforms, which can lead to privacy concerns and data breaches. Web3, on the other hand, prioritizes data ownership and privacy by leveraging blockchain technology to give users control over their personal information. This shift empowers individuals to manage and monetize their data securely.

Trust and Security:

Centralized platforms in Web2 require users to trust the platform provider with their data and transactions. In Web3, trust is established through decentralized consensus mechanisms, such as blockchain’s immutability and transparency. This enhanced security model in Web3 reduces the risk of fraud, censorship, and manipulation, fostering a more trustworthy digital environment.

Implications of Web3 Adoption:

Decentralized Finance (DeFi):

Web3 has paved the way for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications that offer financial services without intermediaries. DeFi platforms leverage blockchain technology to enable peer-to-peer transactions, lending, borrowing, and trading, revolutionizing the traditional financial sector.

NFTs and Digital Ownership:

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have gained popularity in the Web3 space, allowing users to tokenize and trade unique digital assets. From digital art to virtual real estate, NFTs enable creators to establish ownership rights and monetize their creations securely and transparently.

Decentralized Social Networks:

Web3 is fostering the development of decentralized social networks that prioritize user privacy, content ownership, and censorship resistance. These platforms aim to empower users by giving them control over their data and interactions, challenging the centralized model of social media in Web 2.

Conclusion:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 represents a transformative shift in the digital landscape, emphasizing decentralization, blockchain technology, and user empowerment. As we embrace the principles of Web3, we are moving towards a more transparent, secure, and inclusive Internet ecosystem that prioritizes data ownership, privacy, and trust. By understanding the differences between Web2 and Web3, we can navigate this digital evolution with awareness and adaptability, shaping the future of the Internet for generations to come.

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10 Tips to Launch Franchise Business Successfully

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Franchising has become a popular avenue for aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the business world with a proven concept and support system. However, launching a franchise business successfully requires careful planning, strategic execution, and a strong understanding of the franchising landscape. In this article, we’ll explore ten essential tips to help you launch your franchise business on the path to success.

1. Introduction to Franchise Business

Before delving into the tips, it’s crucial to understand the concept of franchising. A franchise is a business model in which an entrepreneur (franchisee) purchases the rights to operate a business under an established company’s brand, systems, and support (franchisor). Franchising offers a balance between independence and guidance, allowing franchisees to leverage the success of a proven business model while receiving ongoing support from the franchisor.

2. Understanding Franchising

What is a franchise?

A franchise is a contractual agreement between the franchisor (the owner of the business concept) and the franchisee (the individual or entity purchasing the rights to operate the business). The franchisee pays an initial fee and ongoing royalties in exchange for the right to use the franchisor’s brand, trademarks, and operating systems.

How does franchising work?

Franchising works by replicating a successful business model across multiple locations through independent entrepreneurs. The franchisor provides the franchisee with training, support, marketing materials, and ongoing guidance to ensure consistency and brand integrity.

3. Research and Analysis

Before diving into franchising, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and analysis. This includes market research to identify potential locations, target demographics, and competitive landscape. Understanding the market demand and consumer preferences will help you choose the right franchise opportunity that aligns with your goals and interests.

4. Choosing the Right Franchise

Assessing personal interests and skills

When selecting a franchise, consider your passions, skills, and experience. Choose a business that resonates with your interests and expertise to increase your chances of long-term success and satisfaction.

Evaluating franchise opportunities

Evaluate franchise opportunities based on various factors such as brand reputation, track record, financial stability, and franchisee support. Look for franchises with a proven concept, strong brand presence, and comprehensive training and support programs.

5. Legal Considerations

Franchise agreements

Review the franchise disclosure document (FDD) and franchise agreement carefully to understand your rights, obligations, and financial commitments. Seek legal counsel to ensure you fully comprehend the terms and conditions outlined in the agreement.

Legal obligations and requirements

Comply with all legal requirements and regulations governing franchising in your jurisdiction. This includes obtaining necessary licenses and permits, adhering to labour laws, and maintaining transparency in your business operations.

6. Financial Planning

Initial investment

Determine the initial investment required to launch your franchise, including franchise fees, equipment, inventory, and marketing expenses. Develop a comprehensive business plan and budget to forecast your financial projections and ensure you have adequate funding to sustain your business until it becomes profitable.

Ongoing costs and expenses

Consider ongoing costs such as royalties, advertising fees, rent, utilities, and employee wages when calculating your expenses. Monitor your financial performance closely and make adjustments as needed to stay within budget and maximize profitability.

7. Marketing and Branding

Developing a marketing strategy

Create a marketing strategy to promote your franchise and attract customers. Utilize a mix of online and offline marketing tactics, including social media, email campaigns, local advertising, and community outreach, to build brand awareness and drive sales.

Building brand awareness

Leverage the franchisor’s brand recognition and marketing resources to establish your presence in the market. Maintain consistency in branding, messaging, and customer experience across all touchpoints to enhance brand loyalty and credibility.

8. Training and Support

Franchisor support programs

Take advantage of the training and support programs offered by the franchisor to learn the ins and outs of running the business successfully. Attend training sessions, workshops, and conferences to enhance your skills and knowledge in areas such as operations, marketing, and customer service.

Training for franchisees

Invest in training for yourself and your staff to ensure everyone is equipped with the skills and expertise required to deliver exceptional products and services. Continuous learning and development are essential for staying competitive and adapting to changing market trends.

9. Launching Your Franchise

Preparing for the grand opening

Plan a grand opening event to generate excitement and attract customers to your new franchise location. Offer special promotions, discounts, and giveaways to encourage attendance and create a memorable experience for your guests.

Implementing marketing campaigns

Execute targeted marketing campaigns leading up to the grand opening to generate buzz and drive foot traffic. Utilize social media, local advertising, and public relations tactics to reach your target audience and maximize attendance at your event.

10. Maintaining Success

Monitoring performance

Track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales, customer satisfaction, and employee productivity to gauge the success of your franchise. Identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to address any challenges or issues that arise.

Adapting to market changes

Stay informed about industry trends, consumer preferences, and competitive developments to adapt your business strategies accordingly. Be flexible and open to change, continuously seeking opportunities for growth and innovation to stay ahead of the curve.

Conclusion

Launching a franchise business can be a rewarding and lucrative venture when done right. By following these ten tips and investing time, effort, and resources into planning, preparation, and execution, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your entrepreneurial goals.

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Unveiling Financial Secrets: The Power of Monitoring Your Tax Code for Maximum Wealth Growth

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Introduction

In the realm of personal finance, one often overlooked yet crucial aspect is ensuring that your tax affairs are in order. Finance expert Laura Pomfret emphasizes the significance of regularly checking your tax code to avoid potential financial discrepancies. In this article, we delve into why it is essential to stay informed about your tax code, the implications of being on the wrong code, and practical tips to maximize your earnings before the tax year-end deadline on 5th April.

Why Checking Your Tax Code Matters

Understanding the Basics:
Your tax code is a unique combination of numbers and letters used by employers and pension providers to calculate how much income tax should be deducted from your pay or pension. It determines your personal allowance and any additional factors that affect your tax liability.

Detecting Errors and Overpayments:
Errors in your tax code can lead to overpayments or underpayments of tax. Being on the wrong tax code can result in you paying more tax than necessary, leading to financial losses. Regularly reviewing your tax code can help identify any discrepancies and rectify them promptly.

The Impact of an Incorrect Tax Code

Financial Losses:
Being on an incorrect tax code can result in overpaying or underpaying taxes, impacting your disposable income. Overpaying taxes means you are losing money that could have been utilized elsewhere, while underpaying can lead to unexpected bills and penalties.

Legal Implications:
Failure to rectify errors in your tax code can have legal consequences. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) may impose fines or interest charges for underpayment of taxes due to incorrect coding. Staying proactive in monitoring your tax affairs can prevent such issues.

Maximizing Your Earnings Before the Deadline

Best Time to Contact HMRC:
Laura Pomfret suggests calling HMRC early in the morning or late in the afternoon for quicker assistance with any tax code-related queries. Avoid peak times when call volumes are high to receive more efficient support.

Utilizing Tax-Efficient Strategies:
Before the end of the tax year on 5th April, consider utilizing tax-efficient strategies such as maximizing contributions to pensions or ISAs, claiming eligible expenses, and reviewing investment portfolios for potential gains.

Conclusion

In conclusion, checking your tax code is a fundamental aspect of managing your finances effectively. By staying vigilant and proactive in monitoring your tax affairs, you can avoid financial losses, and legal implications, and maximize your earnings within the current tax year. Take control of your financial well-being by regularly reviewing your tax code and seeking guidance from experts like Laura Pomfret to ensure you are making the most out of your money.

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