20 Dec MaxRewards Review: Reward and Travel Hacking Made Easy
Latest posts by Thomas Minter (see all)
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- MaxRewards Review: Reward and Travel Hacking Made Easy - December 20, 2018
Welcome to Millennial Money’s “Money Review Series.” Each week, we review a product or service aimed to help you make more, save more, or grow money through investing. Our goal is to provide you with an honest review to help you achieve these goals. Today, we review the MaxRewards app. This is the most legit MaxRewards Review you will find on the internet.
We are thrilled to share our MaxRewards review with the MM community because, honestly, we believe this app is going to be a game changer in the FinTech world. If you are interested in a free app that will help show you how to earn $3,000+ in rewards without changing or spending or churning cards, then keep reading.
Exclusive opportunity for MM readers: At the bottom of this post, you will find an access code to beta test the MaxRewards app. This is only available for MM readers.
But, before we go any further, I’d like to share a quick story about supply and demand (and how we met Anik and David, the co-founders of MaxRewards)
It was 2 am following the final night of FinCon 2018. Grant and I had been out dancing with some rockstars including PT Money, Decon Hayes, Monica Louie, and Bethany Bayless. We were exhausted from an amazing conference and sweaty from the dance floor. Most of all, we were hungry!
But back at the hotel, nothing was open. If only there was food somewhere! The demand was high.
Enter Anik and David.
These guys were celebrating their first place win at FinCon’s FinTech Startup Competition and happened to have the supply we needed. One massive burrito (we realized later it was a sandwich, but we thought it was a burrito at the time).
How much would you pay for the only burrito for miles? Remember it was 2am, and we were desperate.
Limited supply + high demand = $50 burrito. Don’t judge, it was amazing!
What Is Reward and Travel Hacking?
Credit card reward hacking is strategically earning and redeeming credit card rewards to get exceptional value. Since some of the most desirable and valuable redemptions are travel-related (e.g. flights, hotels, vacation bundles), reward hacking is often also referred to as travel hacking.
Reward hacking is NOT just getting a new credit card and redeeming the sign-up bonus for a flight. The reward hacker is strategic; she carefully selects the best cards, always earns the sign-up bonus, consistently uses the best card for each merchant, and brilliantly redeems her rewards for maximum value. For her effort, she may earn 2-4x more in value than a layperson with the same annual spend. That translates to about $2,000–$3,000 in rewards a year, and that’s just for an average spender.
Credit Card Rewards Are More Valuable Than Money
Those of you who proclaim “Cash is King” might consider the above statement blasphemous. But I bet that you paid tax on almost every source of cash you earned. Credit card rewards are one of the few benefits that are still not taxable. When you redeem your rewards for a trip worth $2,000, it’s like getting a $3,000 bonus pre-tax (the $1,000 goes towards FICA, federal income tax, and state income tax).
Another aspect of rewards that can them more valuable than money is their limited redemption options. Yep, you read that right. Limited redemption options mean that you don’t feel guilty when you book a luxury vacation. Every “real” dollar you splurge on an expense can be saved or invested. Rewards. Not so much, so using them doesn’t come with buyers remorse.
Finally, “free” is always better. A $3,000 first-class flight to Europe is nice. Using your rewards to book it–now that’s amazing.
Will Reward Hacking Hurt My Credit?
You may be thinking, “Great! I can vacation in Bali for the low, low cost of busting my credit. 🙃” That’s one of the biggest misconceptions of reward hacking. If you’re doing it right, you will NOT hurt your credit.
Here’s why: Your credit score is based on several factors. One such factor, which contributes to about 10% of your overall score, is the number of recent credit inquiries. When you apply for a new card, a new inquiry is added to your report. For most people, this will temporarily bring down their credit by a small amount.
However, opening a card will also increase your overall credit limit. This helps your credit utilization, which contributes to a much more meaningful 30% of your score. As you pay off your card every month, you add positive data points to your payment history, which contributes to 35% of your overall score. So for most millennials, who typically have a limited credit history, opening new cards will generally increase their credit score with the BIG, BIG caveat that they’re responsibly using them.
One thing everyone should be clear about: earning rewards by getting into credit card debt is NOT reward hacking. That will definitely hurt your credit.
What Is MaxRewards?
At this point, you might be thinking that if reward hacking is so valuable and it won’t hurt your credit, why isn’t everyone doing it? What’s the catch?
Being a legit travel hacker has traditionally required a lot of time and effort. Anik, MaxRewards’ CEO, knows this first hand. He earned over $20,000 in rewards over the past few years! However, he spent a significant amount of time and effort in doing so. From a financial standpoint, it was definitely worth it (and he also genuinely enjoys hacking the system), but he knows most people don’t care for the hassle.
That’s why Anik and team built MaxRewards. It’s an app that makes reward hacking simple, for novices and experts. He wanted to make his own life easier and share the incredible benefits of reward hacking to the other 99.9% of Americans who weren’t credit card gurus.
How Does MaxRewards Work?
First, you connect your existing credit card accounts. The app pulls in your historical transactions and estimates how you spend. You can adjust it to reflect your expected future expenses.
Then, you indicate your preferences, like what cards you don’t want. You can also specify if you’re a student or active duty military. That’s actually all the input you need to provide to get your personalized recommendations.
I have to say, when I found out how they come up with recommendations, I was blown away. It’s legit next level. The app simulates over a million different scenarios to mathematically find the best combination for you! It factors in:
- Everyday base rewards
- Category bonus rewards
- Revolving category rewards
- Bonus limits
- Sign up bonus and expected qualification
- Intro and ongoing annual fees
- And so much more
One of the factors I thought was really cool was the ongoing net rewards rate. Essentially, the app excludes cards that are more expensive than it’s worth (i.e. annual fee > rewards).
After you get your recommendations, the app puts everything you need to do in a dynamic action plan. It factors in rules like Chase 5/24, so you should follow the recommendations exactly to maximize your odds of approval (and rewards).
Once you open a card, you can use the sign-up bonus tracker to track your progress towards the bonus. Once, I was a few dollars short of getting a sign-up bonus worth $1,000+. I called the issuer a few days after the deadline, and they would not budge, even though I had spent thousands more on the card already. I was pissed! I wish I had MaxRewards then.
After you’ve opened all of the recommended cards, you can use the “Best Card to Use” feature to maximize your earned rewards from every transaction. The app accounts for all the nuances like revolving categories, bonus limits, and point valuations so you don’t have to.
Finally, MaxRewards shows your spend, rewards, and credit scores from all of your accounts. There are several apps that pull in your spend, but this is the only app I’ve seen that also pulls in rewards and shows you the expected dollar value of all of your points, miles, etc. I also like how I see a different credit score for every connected bank. Fun fact: the team at MaxRewards actually built their own integrations with issuers so that they could pull in all of this data.
Overall, I really like how MaxRewards works. You don’t need to make any confusing choices like “reward cards vs. travel cards,” you get personalized, objective recommendations in minutes, and you don’t even need to keep up with sign-up bonuses and revolving category bonuses. I also love the fact they built their own integrations so you could get rewards, spend, and credit scores in one app. I think it’s not only going to make travel hacking accessible to pretty much everyone but also help people be on top of their cards.
Are There Any Drawbacks to MaxRewards?
Currently, the app is in beta, so certain functionality is still in development and the app can sometimes be buggy. The developers are selectively giving users access, so most people will have to wait a while before they can actually download it (MM readers can get it before everyone else–details in the bottom of the post).
The team at MaxRewards has an ambitious vision, but like all companies, they have to start somewhere. So the initial release, per MaxRewards, will probably have these limitations:
Reward valuations will be consistent for everyone. Reward valuations are the dollar value of points and miles. While they are updated periodically, it’s the same value for everyone. In the future, the app will adjust valuations based on how a user intends to use her rewards (e.g. for flights or cash back).
Only high-level categories are factored. Most cards offer bonus points at a high-level category, like Dining and Travel. However, certain cards provide bonus points at specific merchants, like Hilton Hotels. Such granular categorization is very hard to implement and prone to errors, so the MaxRewards team has chosen to incorporate it in a future release.
Only personal credit cards from the top issuers will be fully supported. MaxRewards is the only app where you access spend, reward, and credit data for multiple credit cards in one place. To enable this capability, the developers had to build their own custom integrations with issuers. They prioritized the top 10 or so issuers, which represent about 90% of all outstanding cards. In the future, they plan on supporting business cards and cards from many more issuers.
Who Shouldn’t Use MaxRewards?
The team at MaxRewards designed the app to be useful for travel hacker beginners, veterans, and everyone in between. But maximize rewards won’t be valuable if you’re paying 20% interest. In general, if you already have a lot of debt, if you constantly overspend on your credit cards, or you consistently carry a balance, MaxRewards is probably not for you. If you’re struggling with credit card debt, read [Related Article].
MaxRewards is the Personal Capital for Credit Cards
I really like where MaxRewards is going, and I think it can become the Personal Capital of credit cards. As most people know, I think Personal Capital is the best app, hands down, to track my money and wealth. It’s a complete solution, and I think MaxRewards is the complete solution for credit cards. Here’s how they stack up against other popular personal finance apps:
There’s really no competition. When it comes to credit cards, MaxRewards is the app to get.
Special Access for Millennial Money Readers
MaxRewards is a game-changer for reward hacking. The average person will earn over $2,000 in rewards over 2 years, but I think Millennial Money readers will earn over $3,000. I can’t imagine another free app that’s going to give you as much value. Oh, yeah, it’s 100% free. Get on the waitlist today, and be one of the first to know when it comes out.
Want to try it out earlier? MaxRewards is giving MM readers priority access. Just enter the access code MM2018.
Questions for YOU
What are your biggest reward and travel hacking wins? Let us know in the comments. If you have any questions about the app or reward hacking best practice question, please let us know!
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