Speaker 1: You're listening to the Miles To Go podcast, the go-to source for travel tips, news and reviews you can't afford to miss. Now, here's your host, travel expert Ed Pizza.
Ed Pizza: Hey guys. Welcome back to the Miles To Go podcast. After two weeks of answering your questions with Richard Kerr, we're diving into travel news this week. For those of you that are new to the show, that means Richard will offer up unsolicited bad takes. I guess they're not fully unsolicited. But a number of topics today and I will alternate between politely and sarcastically correcting him. How's that sound, Mr. Kerr?
Richard Kerr: Wow. That's quite the confidence boost to come onto the show. Give us all the wrong information so that I can sit here and critique it with my age old wisdom. How old are you again? Pretty old.
Ed Pizza: Just 78. I still love inaudible, since we've talked about your suitcase tendencies, how the Hatfields and the McCoys have come out, because the number of people that have picked me up and said, "I can't believe that Richard buys suitcases from TJ Maxx," is equally rivaled by I'm sure the number of people that have said that you have the winning strategy.
Richard Kerr: Not only that, but it's the people sending me Instagram messages. They have like pictures of their living room that say, "You see this living room that's awesome? Yeah, TJ Maxx, and I got it for $100." So all your people are wrong. This is great. I love America.
Ed Pizza: I didn't buy my living room from TJ Maxx, nor did I buy my suitcase. So I guess I'm going to miss out on that section of our audio.
Richard Kerr: If anybody from TJ Maxx is listening, Ed and I would love to be your official spokesman. He can tell me everything I'm doing wrong about it, and I can tell all of America the tens of people that want to listen, why everything is wonderful that you get from TJ Maxx. crosstalk.
Ed Pizza: I think that'd be great. So Richard will take the discount and I'll take the cash because I don't need a suitcase, mine will last forever and ever.
Richard Kerr: With multiple trips to the store to get refurbished, it sounds fun. Hey, anyways, what are we talking about today?
Ed Pizza: All right. Well, before we get too deep into the show just a couple quick programming notes. I've got a personal update in the final Two Pennies that should be relevant if you're a long time follower of my blog and the podcast. If you just prefer to hear Kerr insult me, well, then you'll absolutely love the first part of the show. And a quick reminder that you guys could shoot us any questions you have. It's where we got all our listener questions from the past handful of episodes. We'll answer those on a future show. Bunch of ways to find us, you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can text us at 571-293-6659, we'll have that in the show notes. And lastly, you can always hit me up on social media, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all @pizzainmotion, or you can find Mr. Kerr @kerrpoints, K-E-R-R.
Richard Kerr: That's right. And you can find me this summer at, oh, almost let it slip.
Ed Pizza: Oh, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, we're so close.
Richard Kerr: crosstalk ladies and gentlemen. We're here with uncle Ed and uncle Richard will drive you into the promised land. Was that weird? That was weird.
Ed Pizza: What is it that weird?
Richard Kerr: I don't know.
Ed Pizza: All right. Well, when we were talking about what we wanted to cover this week, you teed off on wanting to talk about the celebrity cruise incident, I guess we'll call it. And we don't have all the information on this yet, but the high level... I guess one of the first big cruises to take off and not from a US port was a celebrity cruise at, embarked from Aruba recently. And I believe it was their first port of call and with some 600 guests on board and everybody having to provide proof that they were a vaccine... Sorry, not everyone. Everyone who could get a vaccine had to provide proof that they were vaccinated. There were a small portion of people onboard, young kids who couldn't get vaccinated yet, but everybody else had to provide proof of vaccination and they got to their first port of call and two people tested positive for COVID-19.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, you call that an incident, I would call it an absolute certainty played itself out. Because, number one, it was great to see the cruise industry back. I know those people and I've been an avid cruiser my whole life, go Navy, go water, loved the water. Can't wait to get back to it. But if they thought that there was a way that everybody was actually going to be vaccinated, that people wouldn't bend the truth a little bit and maybe fill out a fake card, or... Because there's cross section of the population has proven that we're never going to be at 100% or I don't even think really close to it. And even at that is 95% effective, not 100% effective. So of course somebody was going to test positive. I'll say, if anybody through the comments and the things I've been reading in reaction to the story is outraged, like you didn't think it through, like, of course this was going to happen.
So stop being outraged. It's just silly because we knew this was going to happen. The second part is it seems like the cruise celebrity was ready for this. So there's actually a points guy writer who was on the cruise, and she was one of the people that had contact with two of the passengers that tested positive. She was isolated in a room rather quickly. They did everything they could to take care of... Like they had a game plan, it sounded like, to get going. And then I think since then everybody has been cleared with negative tests except for the two original people that tested positive. So I think this is the way it's going to go from now on. It was just very carefully wording all of this stuff just because, man America is just a crazy cross section of people these days.
We're never going to be 100% vaccinated. And when cruise lines say, "We're going to make proof." The only proof that we have is literally a cardboard card that anybody can print off and fill out, right? So there's no way that people, every single passenger that boards these mega cruise ships are actually going to be vaccinated. So you just need to keep that in mind and remember, "Hey, am I willing to risk this? Hey, do I have kids that can't be vaccinated?" I'm not going to take my kids on a cruise ship until there's a vaccine for kids just because of the close quarters required on a ship. So I mean, all these things to think about, but if you're outraged by the story, just stop because this was a certainty that played out. And if you believe in the all encompassing power of every human passenger on a cruise ship to tell the truth that they were actually vaccinated, stop doing that as well. Because that's not going to be the case when you go on your next cruise and this is my bad take. So tell me why I'm wrong.
Ed Pizza: I will tell you why you're wrong, but it'll be on something else in this episode, because I agree with. I travel to Vegas frequently for work and Vegas dropped their mask mandate just about a month ago. And as one of the larger Vegas Twitter follower accounts that I follow, Vital Vegas, so eloquently put it on the first night after Vegas dropped the mask mandated casinos, he said, "Based on walking around the casinos this evening, happy to report that 99.9% of everyone in Vegas is fully vaccinated."
Richard Kerr: I also saw that and thought that was brilliant.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And so, I mean, look, yeah, I agree with you that they're going to be people on cruise ships that are not going to be vaccinated. I'm right there with you on my kids and waiting for them to be vaccinated to get on board the ship. The only thing I'll say that, I guess I'm not going to be surprised if these pop-up on a frequent basis, this sort of, to me falls in, as you say, in terms of being 100% vaccinated, this falls into the category of Legionnaires and norovirus, a lot of other things that pop up on cruise ships that people get surprised by when they see the story in the news. But if you go back and look at it and you see how many norovirus outbreaks there are over the course of the cruise ship industry, these are just parts of what we deal with.
And so in those situations I mean, nobody's getting tested for norovirus before they come on a ship, but they do all these other things to help make sure they're safe, like the sanitizing, all that stuff. But at the end of the day, I mean as you said, there's very little way to... It's very hard right now to combat somebody who's falsifying a vaccine card. They're so easy to get, they're so easy to produce. And I mean, on top of that too, I mean, just from a... When you hear the story, the news about vaccines that expired and also inaudible stuff, I mean, there's some percentage of people that are getting vaccines right now that the temperature was too high, the vaccine spoiled, they got it too soon, they got it too late, whatever.
I mean, there's going to be some percentage of people who think they're protected as well, and aren't. But at the end of the day, the vast majority of people that are getting vaccinated if they do end up with a case of COVID after the fact, the symptoms are incredibly mild. And I think you brought up a good point. I really feel at least from what I've read so far, I mean, we could find it differently as we get more information. It does seem like celebrity had their stuff together in how to deal with this. They had waste, isolate the people. They were quick to bring meals and drop them at the door and do all the things that they need to do, which by the way, is like the same protocol for when somebody shows up in the infirmary on a ship with 102 degree fever, they immediately isolate that person because they don't want to head back to port with a bunch of people that are sick.
Richard Kerr: I never understand why the cruise industry is so singled out amongst all travel sectors, because if you tested everybody on every flight every day and you did the tracing of flu transmission or whatever disease transmission on metal containers with 13 hours, I know they have HEPA filters, those things aren't running when you're on the ground taxing, ladies and gentlemen, so let's just dispel that rumor right now. Like a good talking point airlines, but that's not the case the entire time, or if you're on a regional with no help. So if they tested everybody before every flight and then showed you the number of transmissions in the airport or an airplane, it would be so outrageous compared to two people on a mega cruise ship. I just do not understand the constant singling out of the cruise industry.
Ed Pizza: No. I mean, if you took and swabbed everybody at one of the day party beaches in Vegas and then kept those people together for 12 days to see who was sick two weeks later-
Richard Kerr: Everybody in the pools where like everybody has a bucket of beer, but somehow in six hours nobody's left the pool to go... I've never been in a Vegas pool. I do not have any plans to be in a Vegas pool. There is only so much chlorine in the world.
Ed Pizza: ... yeah. And I think that's where it ends up with cruise ship industry is just that you have these people together for a period of time, and then when you get multiple cases it's sensational news. So-
Richard Kerr: Next topic.
Ed Pizza: ... yeah. And we're going to stick with large groups of people doing things that we expect. So right before we were scheduled to record this, Disney made an announcement that they were joining the fray of pretty much everyone else in the US, wear masks are now completely optional at Disney World. Not the case at Disneyland yet. I think that one's going to be awhile just based on state politics. But as of June 15th, you can show up at Disney World and you are no longer required to wear a mask anywhere, indoors outdoors, what inaudible. Disney was a little bit late to this, or later to this then Universal, which did the same thing about 10 days ago. When I brought this up originally to you, Richard, your first comment was, "This is great. I'm headed down there this summer, and I don't want to be hot and sweaty in a mask."
Richard Kerr: Yeah, I did Universal on opening day last year. And I think it was like exactly year ago, actually. And it's just freaking hot. So it's hot and your ears get, after 10 hours wearing a mask, don't care who you are, you ear start to hurt, pulling on it. All that to say, I didn't care last summer, because we were in a different place in the world. Now that I'm vaccinated, now that hopefully a large subsection of your fellow guests are vaccinated, now that the majority of the Disney experiences outdoors, and now that going in July with our good friends and not with my kids who are not vaccinated, it's to me, this is a positive in the customer experience.
Now, if I was going indoors with kids who weren't vaccinated, we would obviously all wear masks for their benefits. And any time I make the kids wear a mask, I wear a mask to just to make sure that they don't feel different than me. So it seems a positive because of people going down to Disney, like their number one concern, if that's their chosen trip to summer is not coronavirus anyways, right?
Ed Pizza: Yeah. I think that's right. I also think you're talking about for the folks that can drive to Disney World without even having to get on a plane and obviously lots of people getting on planes and going. But those are some of the states with the lowest vaccine rates and I'm in the same bucket as you in terms of wanting to protect my kids.
inaudible look, generally I'd prefer if Disney still had the vaccine... I'm sorry, the mask mandate in place, because at the end of the day the mask... I'm not really going to protect myself 100% by putting a mask on myself. And that's the same thing, the concern with the kids, like when I'm traveling for work right now, I am wearing a mask still even though I'm fully vaccinated and it's for that small chance of, I just don't want to bring COVID home to my kids. So I think if we went with our kids and... So I do have one kid who's under 12 who can't get vaccinated yet. And he loves Disney. They're saying maybe Thanksgiving for vaccines, like I think we'll be back at the theme parks before that, and I know I will be personally, but I know he'll want to be.
And I struggle with this. I think there's some attractions that if we go sometime in the fall, depending on where transmission rates are at that point, new cases, stuff like that, I could certainly see us bypassing some attractions where I know the lines are going to be packed in tight, and there's likely to be a lot of people who aren't vaccinated just as a precaution to protect my son until he's fully vaccinated.
Richard Kerr: It goes to again, like why is Disney so singled out amongst... And I'm like, I'm not a cruise apologist, I'm not a Disney apologist, it's just interesting to me from a human perspective of why these specific companies or sectors are so singled out. You go to anywhere around here in Georgia and mask wearing in any store or restaurant is down to, inaudible being generous here in saying 10%.
Ed Pizza: Yeah.
Richard Kerr: When you look at the number of Georgians who have been fully vaccinated, it's like a third. So it's like in my head, I'm like, "Wait a minute, we were just saying that if everybody did this, we were all going to get horribly ill, and now that Georgia is "vaccinated" and open when then..." It just none of them make sense to me. And I just have had to stop trying to make sense, because if only a third of the people walking around me are vaccinated, but nobody's wearing a mask or doing social distancing anymore, we should be in the doomsday scenario. I can't comprehend it, so if that's the way life is, and I've been out and traveling almost every single week going, we did RV trips down the Alabama, I've been up to New York several times, we've gone around Georgia, I can't comprehend it anymore.
So, was all safety theater, it's like just every time I fly it still doesn't make sense. So if everybody else is doing that, why should we be outraged that Disney is doing what everybody else is doing? I just don't understand it. And I'm not advocating that. I still wear masks when I go in doors, I still follow all the rules. I have no problem with that. And I make my kids wear masks still every time we go indoors and we are without a doubt the only family with four of us still on mask in any store restaurant we go in here in Georgia.
Ed Pizza: Yeah, I don't doubt that.
Richard Kerr: I just don't understand.
Ed Pizza: I mean, I think two things, one, I think a large cross-section of the people that are not vaccinated are also probably the same cross section of people who got COVID. So that's probably why the numbers aren't spiking, if you will. They are going up in certain places. Vegas transmission rates have been up the last couple of weeks, not super up, but again, I mean, you've got a huge cross-section of people that already got it. And I think Vegas is unique in that you come for three or four days, and then you go home and get COVID, and you're not part of the "Vegas transmission rate numbers" because nobody swabbed you at the casino entrance. I'm not outraged by Disney's decision one way or another. I'm a little bit disappointed because I know there's a big population that goes specifically at Disney World, that for example isn't going to Vegas, that can't get vaccinated, and that's kids under 12 versus Vegas, you know what I mean? Kids under 12 and the casino is more than I'd prefer it to be, but definitely a much smaller number.
Richard Kerr: Emily and her parents, my in-laws were just in Vegas last week. First time my in-laws have ever been in Vegas. Emily, second time ever. And just hearing their perception and stories of Vegas from, I mean, her parents are 65 and 68 or something like that to have never gone is a lot of fun. And actually right after we record this, going down to their house for like an afternoon at the pool and to hear their stories and their impressions of traveling from people. So it should be good times, but yeah, if you have any, still leave lingering COVID anxiety or anything, I don't think Vegas is a place for you.
Ed Pizza: No, definitely not. All right. So next up is a topic that's been covered, I mean, ad nauseum by the travel blogging world over the past roughly week. And we're going to take a little bit of a different tack with this, and I still can't tell if Christian disagree with me or not. Well, they'll disagree with me just whether they'll disagree with me on principle or if he actually disagrees with me, we're going to find that out.
Richard Kerr: Are you questioning my integrity?
Ed Pizza: It's already been called into question. I didn't need to tee that ball up. So unless you were under a rock, you've probably heard that the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which was an incredibly popular card when it was initially released and is still a very popular credit card has a pretty massive signup bonus of 100,000 ultimate rewards points right now. And I mean, it's a bigger sign-up bonus for the car that only has a $95 annual fee versus the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which has a $550 annual fee. And 100,000 ultimate rewards points is a super, super awesome bonus. But the question that I posed to Mr. Kerr when we were talking about podcasting today was other than the signup bonus, is it really still a valuable card to hold on to?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has been my number one recommendation to the hundreds of friends, family, and social media people that have asked what should my first credit card be, assuming they can qualify for it. I think it gives you all the travel protections, the points, earnings bonus categories that people need and want. And for 95 bucks there've been many people who I've just told them, "Get this card, hold onto it. You travel once every two years, this is all you need." So I still think is well worth holding. I would actually argue is probably worth holding more than the Chase Sapphire Reserve anymore for the majority of people who are not hardcore travelers. So I'm curious to hear why you may not think that it's worth holding.
Ed Pizza: So, I mean, I guess it depends on what your spending patterns are, but I feel like... So I guess I could see holding it. I don't love spending on it because I think 2X on dining and 2X on travel is generally speaking pretty weak when it comes to bonus categories. I mean, if you just look at say the Chase Freedom Flex, which is another card in the chase family that I really like as an entry level card for folks, it earns 3% on restaurants versus two, and you can earn 5% on travel if you're booking it through the chase ultimate rewards platform. So-
Richard Kerr: But those points don't transfer by themselves, right?
Ed Pizza: ... I understand they don't. So this is the part where you let me finish talking inaudible. So I think there's two bags, for folks starting out I would absolutely recommend that they start with something like a Chase Freedom Flex. And then from there, I would say, figure out where you want to self-select on your path. So if you're going to travel every year and you're not one-to-one to do all the funky redemption transfer ninja stuff that Richard and I do, then I do think there are some arguments for Chase Sapphire Reserve, which I don't have by the way. I never ended up getting it. But if you're going to travel every year, for starters, you get $300 in travel credit. So it takes the annual fee down from five 550 to 250.
So I think that's one thing right there that makes it more approachable. So now you're looking at the difference between a $250 annual fee and a $95 annual fee that you're trying to cover if you're between preferred and reserve. And so, as you know Richard, you can redeem points to higher value if you're going to use them through the ultimate rewards portal. You get one and a half percent back versus 1.25% with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. And if you do happen to spend on that card, you're getting three points for dining and travel. So for me, I would say honestly, as much as I love Ultimate Rewards points, I think if you're in travel domestically, then yes, I think you want to be in the Ultimate Rewards program because I think United has... Oh, sorry, I think Ultimate Rewards has better domestic options for folks than the American Express brand does.
Not that Delta isn't a good domestic airline, but it's really the only major choice in the American Express family where you've got more options with both United and Southwest in the Ultimate Rewards family. But I think for folks like if you're not sure if you're going to travel every single year, if you're only an occasional traveler, paying 95 bucks for a car that you're just going to hold in your wallet, that I don't think should be a primary spending credit card. Tough to get $100 in value out of it if you're not actually traveling. And if you are traveling, I feel like there are probably enough opportunities that you can probably stretch and make it more worth it to have the reserve. Again, sign up bonus aside.
Richard Kerr: Something I've been reminded of over the last few weeks constantly is trying to look at people who are not credit card holders, who are overwhelmed by credit, and just the more general cross-section of Americans attitudes towards credit cards. I think if you tell the majority of people to get more than one credit card, they're already like, "What? You have more than one credit card?" They get overwhelmed and they get a little bit nervous. And then out of those people, if you then throw out the number $550 annual fee on them, they're gone. Now they're like, "What?" Even though you start explaining like, "No, no, no, let me explain why it's actually 155." They're like, "No way would I ever pay 550 bucks." So generally speaking to the vast majority of Americans who in this situation say, "What card should I get?"
One card in their minds they get bonus points on dining and travel, which is they're like sweet, in their mind they're getting a valuable Ultimate Rewards on everyday spend. They got one card to keep up with and pay off and track on a monthly basis. And it gives them travel protections for those times that they do travel. That's a simple sell to them. They're not overwhelmed. They don't give me that glazed eye look in response of, "What is this crazy guy talking about getting multiple cards?" I just find that it's a better solution to get people into the game first, and then if it clicks and they come back asking you more, then we can talk about card combinations and that kind of stuff.
Ed Pizza: I don't disagree with you about getting them started at an easy level. I just feel like for right now, especially... And we're going to talk about another cashback card here in a second, I just feel like from an entry-level standpoint, I really like Freedom Flex, unless they're actively traveling. Because most of the folks that I talk to, as you say that have one card and two cards is like, "Well, why would I ever need two cards?" I just feel like Freedom Flex has the benefit of, there's no annual fee, and if they do decide they want to graduate in a travel, I feel like Freedom Flex is a better card to be spending everyday purchases on in terms of your earning.
And then ultimately, yeah, if you want to travel, great, add a Sapphire, whether that's Preferred or Reserve, like that's the next thing. But I feel like from an earning standpoint for everyday people, Chase Sapphire Preferred just doesn't have strong enough earnings. Especially if you're talking about somebody just getting to the game and occasional travel, it's got two major earning categories.
One of them is travel that in theory this person really isn't using a whole lot yet. So that's my two cents. I totally get, and I've referred Sapphire Preferred for a number of years like you. I just feel a lot of these folks that I talked to when you talk about giving them the walk before you run strategy, walk before run to me in this case is, "Let's get you a card that just earns a good value, and if you ultimately decide you don't want to use it for travel and you want to use it for cash back, I'm okay with that. That's not the end of the world." And that's where I feel like Freedom Flex has a better entry point for folks than Sapphire Preferred other than the signup bonus, because 100,000 points is juicy and tasty.
Richard Kerr: Right. So it's been at 80,000, and 100,000 so I feel we can't even ignore that. So it's makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred, inaudible start with this. Agree to disagree.
Ed Pizza: Hey, for whatever it's worth, Freedom Flex is $200 cash back when you sign up. crosstalk.
Richard Kerr: Sweet, we'll get $250 in free travel.
Ed Pizza: crosstalk.
Richard Kerr: All right, next card.
Ed Pizza: inaudible that last little ding at the end to try and be crosstalk-
Richard Kerr: I don't get a final Two Pennies, I got to get my Two Pennies in now.
Ed Pizza: ... yeah. So I won't say out of the blue, because I'm not as tied in as others are, so maybe others, so that's coming, but Citi released an interesting credit card that for me was a bit out of the blue called the Citi Custom Cash Card that offers 5% cash back and it's labeled as five thank you points per dollar spent in your category. But for me, I think this is a cash back card. And what's interesting and it's sort of like the double-edged sword is, the big get in the card is you get five thank you points or 5% cash back on a rotating category every month, whichever category you spend most in from like gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement, drug stores, restaurants, all that stuff. And 5% is really solid. The downside is it's only on the first $500 spent in each billing cycle. And you and I haven't talked at all about what you think about the card. So, I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, there's some people out there calling it like the reinvention of the cash back card and these kind like they're really all inspired by this. There are plenty of cards that have done this automatic earnings based on the category you spend the most in on a monthly basis. So I don't think this is a particularly groundbreaking technology or strategy to take. I think it's pretty cool. Have we actually confirmed if these are transferrable or if they're just one cent each? I'm trying to scroll through the blogs to see if anybody's confirmed that, because that would obviously be a big deal if these are transferable right off the bat, then sure 5X is super cool.
I don't really like the $500 a month limit, but for taking a step back to what I just said for the vast majority of Americans, that's probably plenty. But if you got to have another, like if you got to have the preferred card in order to transfer, this becomes a lot less attractive to me. $200 bucks signup's cool, but I don't... It just didn't really catch me for any reason to be like, "Oh, this is awesome. I mean, sweet, great." Like who honestly has got some work to do to catch up in, at least in my opinion, to make themselves any more attractive than they have been, but this doesn't do it for me unless these become transferable, and then they put select in front of every category. So like, what does that really mean? What is select travel? What is select streaming services? What is... And if you call them up guarantee, they won't have a clue what to tell you. So that's the only like, "Eh, what does that really mean?"
Ed Pizza: I'll put a link in the show notes to a post from One Mile at a Time, he had some select lists like there was a list of select streaming services, but like you said, I don't know what select travel is like transit will actually mean. For me, I look at this really just as a cashback play. And this is my bias, I'm not a big thank you points guy, because I think it doesn't appeal to the mass of folks that are listening right now. It doesn't mean it can't be valuable to be clear, but for Citi thank you points to be truly valuable for me, they need to have the one co-brand partner that they don't have that has been a time partner of Citibank which is American Airlines.
That's where I think this thank you points would have more widespread value. And when I think about cashback cards, which I think should have a play in everyone's wallet, you and I have been talking about, I've been looking at the Bank of America cards and Bank of America has a card that I think was just renamed, it's the customized cash rewards card. And just to compare it here to the Custom Cash card, that card earns 3% cash back in your category of choice every month. And that's on $2,500 each quarter, so a higher limit if you will than the Custom Cash card. And that 3% can actually flex up if you have money in Bank of America.
So you can actually get that top category to over 5%. But the other thing too is that card has 2% cash back at grocery stores and Costco and Sam's club as well. But the issue that I have with Custom Cash as an all around cashback card is because that number is $500 on your biggest category if you will, everything else on that Citi Custom Cash card is earning 1%. And I think if we just stayed in the Citi family for just a second, I'd argue that if people sat down and did the math, most people are probably going to get more cash back if they just stuck with Citi Double Cash, which is effectively a 2% card, the little weird you get 1% on the purchase when you make the purchase, and then 1% when you pay the balance off, which for most folks is going to be at the end of the statement.
So you're effectively getting 2% if you pay your balance off every month. And I'd argue that most folks based on normal household spending, probably you're in more cash back, if they just had Citi Double Cash in their wallet versus Citi Custom Cash. So I've seen a bunch of people excited about Custom Cash has it just come out and maybe we'll learn more and be more excited about the future. I kind of feel like, I'd think I'd be in Bank of America Customized Cash first, and then I think for safety purposes for set it and forget it, I think Citi Double Cash would probably be my first choice over Citi Custom Cash.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. And applicable to much more Americans. Because again, to really maximize this card, you've got to have more than one Citi card. And to tell people to go get two cards, you've already lost them, right? So when all these card companies I've heard for years talk about, what can we do to get our card top of wallet? Like getting 5% on your groceries is cool, but then 1% everything else is just huge miss spins. And now you got to start talking about card combinations again. And in this case, it's annoying you've free card that likely doesn't have any ancillary benefits at all so there's not really any reason to put it on. So I mean like great, good, it's cool, but it's just not grabbing me for any reason.
Ed Pizza: No, I was surprised that it was the big talk over the past few days, because I I've read through it, and I've felt, the $500 cap on that 5% category really limits who this card is going to be good for.
Richard Kerr: Yeah, because they have home improvement stores on here, which would be like, there would be a huge subset. If you didn't cap that at $500, even if you raise that up and said, "Hey, everybody who's been spending all of their money at home improvement stores for the last 18 months will probably continue to get this card that's not cap." Because we're going to redo our bathroom and I'm going to drop way more than $500 at Lowe's and Home Depot over the next few weeks. So I looked at this and was like, "Ah, no, because the Chase thing just came out with targeted offer of 5X on home improvement store spend up to $10." Right?
Ed Pizza: Right.
Richard Kerr: So no competition. Yeah, I don't know. But to reiterate what it said, stop overlooking Bank of America. There are some hidden gems with everything Bank of America has got going on. If you want no frills, simple, maximum cash back, there's a lot of options there. So stop overlooking Bank of America.
Ed Pizza: I'm really scared. I feel like we needed a fifth topic because we are actually ending the show agreeing with each other.
Richard Kerr: It was at our last topic. I thought we had other things. I'm sure we have other things to talk about that we'll continue-
Ed Pizza: We always have other things to talk about.
Richard Kerr: ... in text message where it's not recorded for the public to hear.
Ed Pizza: Well, I know what we're going to have to talk about. We've got that super secret special show that's coming up in a certain number of days. But in June you guys will hear some stuff about what Kerr is actually doing followed closely by what will undoubtedly be multiple disasters on my next camping trip with the family. So definitely lots of fun stuff.
Richard Kerr: So sad I'm not going to be there this time.
Ed Pizza: Oh, boom, yeah I know, who's going to set up my camper for me? Thanks for stopping by man. I can't wait to tell people what you're doing because I'm really curious to hear what folks are going to say, and I know we keep teasing it. But we won't be teases on this for much long.
Richard Kerr: No. Everybody's, you should all be juicing nap because I am as well. So look forward to sharing all that news and as always send me any questions, comments or anything else you get probably Instagram DM's the easiest way to get ahold of me these days, because Twitter's just Twitter and I can't say I'm on Facebook that much anymore.
Ed Pizza: Can we just agree we're never going to say choose to amped again?
Richard Kerr: Why?
Ed Pizza: We just leave that there.
Richard Kerr: In your age bracket this referring to like smoothies or whatever elixirs you got to take in the morning to get through the day so, I'm sorry.
Ed Pizza: Or inaudible so whichever way you want to go with that.
Richard Kerr: Also, you've lost everybody that's under 30. They're not old enough to remember.
Ed Pizza: No, they're certainly not. All right, man. Well tell people since you teased the whole Instagram thing, man, tell them the handle on crosstalk-
Richard Kerr: Yeah, KerrPoints, K-E-R-R Points. It's funny, over the last few weeks as I crossed paths with a lot of new people, I've had more people ask me if it's car instead of Kerr, then I can remember. Would you say K-E-R-R is car, is that like C-A-R, that's K-E-R-R? Is that-
Ed Pizza: ... you're asking a guy with an alphabet soup in his name and seven people in the population who can pronounce it correctly, you're asking me if people are pronouncing your name correctly?
Richard Kerr: ... hey, I mean, I just thought it was funny. I don't know if it's like a Northeast thing or what not, he was like, "Car?" I'm like, "No crosstalk."
Ed Pizza: Don't just blanket all of us Northeasterners with not being able to pronounce your name.
Richard Kerr: But I do. There's a specific reason I blanket all of you Northeastners. All right, man. Get out of here.
Ed Pizza: No, it's my show. You get out of here.
Richard Kerr: Fair enough, see you later.
Ed Pizza: Stick with us for the music and the other side of the break for the final Two Pennies. Back to wrap up this week show final Two Pennies. And as I said at the top of the show, I wanted to share some stuff with you guys. It's been going on over the past handful of months. If you're a long time reader of my blog and a long time follow the podcast, you know that I talk about my personal stuff on a pretty regular basis. And it's obviously been a weird year plus for everyone with the pandemic and no travel and trying to keep focused on what's important. So I'll try not to make this too much of a train wreck or a sob story, but I want to update you guys on what's been going on because I haven't been writing a lot on the blog for awhile and the podcast has certainly kept its cadence we'd done every week, but I haven't done the final Two Pennies every week and sort of moved the show format around and there've been some reasons in the background for that.
The short version is back in January, I developed a stiff neck which is something I had for years and years. And my wife who's got a background exercise physiology, just couldn't get this worked out. So I ended up at a physical therapist and had MRI for the first time. I've been a relatively healthy guy, not too much the way of surgery stuff like that. Long and short of it is I ended up with a pretty serious neck and back issue, the one that's not going to go away that's going to need to be dealt with at some point.
But at the outset, I couldn't sit on pretty much anything. I couldn't drive. And so they gave me some medicine and again, I haven't taken medicine that much in my life, could have been fairly healthy. And that led to a heart problem and a bunch of cardiac doctors and tests. And then ultimately I felt like I was getting better. Still couldn't sit or drive or stuff like that. It was just like trying to get by on a day to day basis. In fact there are a couple of shows where you guys might've heard some background noise or rustling in my mic feed, and that was because certain weeks I had to podcast lying down and I was holding the mic in my hand and trying to get comfortable because there were just too much pain.
But I didn't want to stop the show and I didn't want to inaudible reruns, and maybe that was just a stupid, stupid plan. But it's a plan I went with because I love talking to you guys and I love hearing from you guys. It's why I've always written the blog and it's why I've done the podcast. It is a labor of love. I don't make a ton of money off of this. In fact, I've invested far more than I made off of it, but I love that conversation that I have with you guys. And so I kept trying to produce episodes every week. Long and short of what I learned is that there are some pretty serious issues and I'm going to have to deal with at some point, but I did get a bit lucky.
I was scheduled for surgery back in April. A few days before surgery, I got connected with a doctor who took a very individual and specific interest in my case and got me introduced to some excellent neurosurgeons. Bunch of tests. Another procedure that involved an epidural, and I'm back to "normal" or whatever the heck normal is nowadays. We're sort of kicking the can down the road because I am going to have to have some pretty major surgery at some point. But in what can only be described as a bit of irony, I'm not quite old enough for the surgery and that they'd rather not do a minor surgery now and have to do another one later. They'd rather wait and just do one big one later.
I haven't told a lot of people about this, a small handful of friends, mostly because I just didn't know how to really describe it. And it was just very foreign to me to be in a place where I couldn't do everything I wanted to do on daily basis. And in fact, the only other time in my life I can remember that feeling was during the pandemic when I couldn't travel, and it felt unsafe to go out at certain times, and you weren't sure when we were very unsure in the beginning how bad COVID was. So for me, I got a little bit of an extended lapse of something COVID like at the end with trying to figure all this stuff out with surgery and x-rays, and needles in my neck and all these sorts of choices that I just never really had to make before.
And so, the reason to bring it up now is because as I said, I had surgery scheduled and but ultimately through exercise, physical therapy, like an awesome team of people that really... Like doctors, I think that gave much more of a damn than I would expected in my specific personal case, and really went the extra mile. I was given a temporary clean bill of health by all of the neurosurgeons. And so I'm sort of back to square one. Every time there's a twinge in my neck, I get a little bit antsy because I know that there's a problem that needs to be fixed at some point. And the trade-off for not having surgery now is there'll be some things I can't do with my kids. And most of them are things that are acceptable.
Doesn't look like I'm going to be able to ride the new velocity coaster at Universal Orlando, but going to be able to do a lot of other things and live a mostly normal life. So what's the point to this rambling epilogue to the episode this week. It's just to say that I really want to deliver a high quality show to you guys, and I also want to continue to share what's going on in my life. And for whatever reason like I said, I didn't want to give these weekly updates on what the heck's happening with Ed's back, because quite frankly, I'm sure there are a lot of you that just don't care. And some of you do, you're good friends and I appreciate that and I'll appreciate anybody I hear from sharing their own stories.
But at the end of the day, I'm here to bring you something that makes you laugh on a weekly basis and sort of distracts you from life. And also as we're coming out of the pandemic helps you travel and explore the world with your family. The stories that I hear from people when they have that first success are just like rocket fuel for my soul. I love, love, love that stuff. And quite frankly I want to help people and I'm not very good at accepting help or advice or whatever from others, just because I always want to be helping someone else. So bottom line is, if the show wasn't as great as it could have been the last four months, it's because I've been dealing with a lot of stuff, almost daily doctor's appointments for a couple of months and really difficult situations to be able to find a way to record the show in a way that was meaningful for you guys, but something that I could work through given my limitations.
And no question that... With all of the appointments and the pain and the physical therapy, all that stuff, I wrote a lot less. And it was tough to write during parts of the pandemic, but that was somewhat motivation based just with everything else going on in life. Honestly, the last three or four months there just hasn't been... When there was time there wasn't comfort enough to be able to sit at a desk and type. I'm knocking on wood certainly hoping that all that's behind me for some time and that we can manage this process for awhile. Certainly I'll keep you guys updated if I think it's going to affect the show or the blog in a meaningful way going forward.
And I really do hope that this is sort of a return to normalcy that we'll get a normal pattern for the show, and that you'll see more blog posts from me, whether it's how much I hate my RV or whether we're actually traveling again. And you've heard Richard on the show for a number of weeks now, certainly hoping that I can keep him engaged and excited about doing the podcast with me because he and I have a ton of fun making fun of each other. And we're going to roll out some new stuff that I think that will make that even more fun for you guys. Anyway, that's my long rambling monologue epilogue to the episode, and we're closing in on 200 episodes of the podcast which is pretty kick as far as I'm concerned that we've put out that many episodes.
And I love hearing from you guys, love all the questions, love all the comments, love the funny comments on Twitter and Facebook and all those places. So keep all that stuff coming. And thanks for continuing to support the show. The number certainly point out that you guys are still enjoying it, and that's great, especially because like I said, I feel like I really struggled to nail the best content for you guys over the past few months. Thanks for listening to me ramble. If you made it this far, I really appreciate it. Lots of good stuff coming up. We're going to be out on the road camping, so I'm sure there's going to be some hilarious stories about me uttering four letter words in front of my kids and screaming and yelling when things break on the RV. As we've teased a couple of times, Richard's got a pretty cool announcement coming up that that I think you guys are going to like.
And all the other regular stuff, podcasts I'm chasing a segment with my buddy, Jen, from Deals We Like, I'm chasing Gilbert from God Save The Points for a segment. So we'll keep bringing you the best that's out there. Until then, I hope you guys are planning some awesome trips. Don't worry about what may or may not be open. Just find a place that you feel comfortable going and plan something because I steadfastly believe that putting that planning in place and start thinking about the thing you want to get out there and do is such a huge part of feeling more normal.
That's a full wrap on this week's episode. So we'll catch you guys again, next week look for a potential special episode timing. And like I said, tracking down Jen for a segment and that Richard segment as well. Again, thanks so much guys for being supportive of the show. I really, really appreciate it. Oh, yeah, almost forgot. Even after the past four months, all the crap that we've been through, we still have miles to go.
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