Can I Afford to Have a Hot Girl Summer?

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

After a year spent indoors, everyone wants to have a hot girl summer in 2021. But when your financial situation is still recovering from the pandemic, can you really afford to?

Whether you’re struggling to get by or just looking to save a few bucks, use these tips to go big this summer – without going over budget.

Cash in rewards points

Millions of Americans stocked up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants during the pandemic. But many consumers inadvertently hoarded another item: credit card rewards points.

If you’re planning to reunite with high school friends or travel to a bachelorette party, cash in your points and miles to save on the trip. If you had to cancel a vacation due to the pandemic, redeem any remaining travel credit.

If you have more rewards points than you need, you may be able to redeem them for cash or as a statement credit on your card, which you can then use toward your trip.

Don’t have any rewards cards? Now may be a good time to sign up. Chase is currently offering a 100,000-point bonus for new cardholders who apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, or a 60,000-point bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Depending on where you’re going, that’s enough for a couple of flights or hotel stays.

Invite friends over for a swap

My new favorite tradition with friends is to host a swap. Everyone brings items they no longer need, and we take turns picking new-to-us items. Last time I got three dresses, a pair of Madewell overalls, a curling iron, and a dog bed.

You’re not limited to clothes at a swap. I encourage my friends to bring anything, including books, kitchenware, makeup and home decor. It’s a free way to get new items, and it encourages you to declutter your house.

Drink like a college student

Back in college, most people would have a couple drinks at home before venturing to the bars. If you’re going out with friends, consider starting with a drink or two at home.

Another money-saving trick is to eat a full meal before you go out, so you’re not tempted to grab pricey appetizers. If you’re getting drinks with your friends, limit yourself to basic cocktails instead of specialty cocktails, or stick to the draft list instead of buying a fancy bottle.

Create rules for yourself

Now that the world is opening up, it’s tempting to throw your budget away and treat yourself to everything you missed during the pandemic. Before doing that, set up some ground rules to keep yourself from going overboard.

For example, make a rule that if you’re getting dinner or brunch with friends, you won’t get take-out that week. These basic rules will help you spend less without having to give up what really matters.

Use a cash budget

Instead of bringing your credit card with you on a night out, only take the amount of cash you want to spend. You can still use your phone to order an Uber or Lyft, but you won’t have the temptation of a credit card. Decide how much you’re comfortable spending and only bring that amount.

Join a sports league

Group sports leagues like softball, soccer, or kickball are one of the most affordable ways to hang out with friends and get some exercise at the same time.

Most group leagues cost between $50 and $75 a person, depending on the sport, and usually last around six weeks. Sometimes you’ll even get a discount at a local bar where you can hang out afterwards.

Plan a budget-friendly trip

For the past few years, my college friends and I have met up every summer at my in-law’s lake house. The house is located near a small town in Indiana, only a few hour’s drive for most of us.

Instead of picking a more exotic locale, we prioritize saving money. It’s free to stay there, and we split the cost of groceries. I usually spend about $100 on gas, food, and drinks for a three-day trip.

If you’re considering a getaway with friends, get creative. Don’t automatically book a trip to Vegas or Miami. Pick a spot that’s close enough to drive, or near a popular airport where flights will be less expensive.

If you’re not lucky enough to have access to a family vacation home, look on Airbnb and VRBO for affordable destinations. Find a house with a stocked kitchen so you can cook most of your meals.

Pro tip: Use Mint’s free travel budget calculator to help you plan your next adventure.

Budget for it

When the world shut down last year, most of us got used to spending less on gas, bars, and new clothes. But as things start to open up, you may find your spending ramping back up.

Use this time to revise your budget and allocate money toward restaurants, rideshare services, and new outfits. As things return to normal, you may have to change your budget a few times before finding a happy balance. Give yourself some grace, as circumstances may change rapidly.

If you find budgeting for one month at a time difficult, give yourself a weekly allowance to use for non-essential purchases. Redirect some of your pandemic habits, like ordering take-out a few times a week, to your rediscovered social habits, like getting dinner with your friends.

Talk to your friends

While some consumers survived the pandemic without getting laid off, millions of Americans lost their jobs and remained unemployed for months. So while your friends may be ready to party, you might be focused on rebuilding your savings.

If you suffered financially during the pandemic, you may not be able to keep up with your friends this summer. Even though it may seem awkward to discuss your money problems openly, it’s better than making excuses.

If you lie about why you can’t hang out, your friends will think you’re avoiding them. But if you’re honest, they may accommodate you by suggesting budget-friendly activities. Give them the chance to understand, even if it means having an uncomfortable conversation. Who knows – one of them might be struggling as well, but too afraid to speak up.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok


Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards For Apple Products with up to 50% Bonus Value

Update 5/3/22: Deal is back through May 31, 2022. They increased the Freedom tier from 5% bonus to 10% bonus (updated below).

Update 11/1/21: Deal is back and valid 11/01/2021 – 11/30/2021

The Offer

Direct Link to offer (shows in the Ultimate Rewards login)

  • Chase released today a new redemption option of Ultimate Rewards points to get Apple merchandise through the Chase portal with bonus value of up to 50% more on the points.

The bonus is broken down as follows:

  • Sapphire Reserve: 50% bonus
  • Sapphire Preferred: 25% bonus
  • INK Preferred/Plus: 25% bonus
  • Freedom cards and the no-fee Sapphire card: 10% bonus (20% on Airpods)
  • Ink Cash/Unlimited: 10% bonus (20% on Airpods)

Instead of each point being worth 1 cent, it can now worth up to 1.5 cents. For example, if you buy a $600 Apple Watch through the Ultimate Rewards portal, it would typically cost 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, but it’ll now cost just 40,000 points for Sapphire Reserve cardholders.

Our Verdict

For most people, using the Pay Yourself Back feature will make more sense to get the same 1.5%/1.25% value assuming you have enough dining/Airbnb spend to use up your points on. But overall it’s still nice to have an additional option and could be useful for someone with an Apple purchase to make. It also could be a little bonus for Freedom cardholders to bump up their earnings by 10%.


Will Chase Match The New? (Depends, United Quest Being Matched)

Update 4/15/22: Chase is matching to the United Quest 90,000 mile bonus (Hat tip to NoShitDickTracy). So far it’s not looking good for them matching the new 80,000 Sapphire bonus.

Original post: Chase had a long-standing policy to match increased public signup bonuses which come out within 90 days of signup. However, lately it seems to vary by the offer: when a new signup offer comes out, they apparently decide internally whether or not to match the offer, and customers find out by asking and finding out whether they are matching this current offer. We’ve seen them match both business cards and personal cards, yet other times we see them not agreeing to give a match.

Chase just released a new 80,000 points + $50 bonus on the Sapphire Preferred card (previously 60,000 + $50) and a 60,000 points bonus on the Sapphire Reserve card (previously 50,000 points).

Are they matching these offers for those who recently signed up? No. The data points we’ve seen so far from those who called or messaged Chase indicate that this offer is not eligible for matching.

One caveat: it is possible that Chase still hasn’t come out with a decision on this, and eventually they’ll decide to match the offer for those who recently signed up. We’ll certainly update if that happens, but for now the going assumption is that these offers are not eligible for matching. Also worth noting that in previous Sapphire Preferred increased bonuses they never ended up giving the match, so I’d assume they will not match this time either.


[Live] Chase Sapphire Reserve Offers $5/month DoorDash Account Credit & Extends DashPass Benefit

Update 4/4/22: You should now see the $5 Doordash credits in your Doordash account. (It’s not a credit card statement credit – it’s a Doordash credit for accounts with a linked Sapphire Reserve card.) If you’d like, you can wait until June 1st and you should have $15 accumulated which is easier to use for a meal. We’ll try posting a reminder each quarter on the first of June, September, December, and March to use up the credit.

Update 4/1/22: The $5 benefit and the Dashpass benefit are now live. FAQ

Update 2/1/22: Media sources are confirming both of these things: the $5 monthly credit and the DashPass extension through 2024 (for Chase Sapphire Preferred, Reserve & No annual fee Sapphire). Two additional details on the $5 monthly credit:

  • The $5 credit is for Sapphire Reserve cardholders and it will begin in April 2022 and continue through December 2024.
  • The $5 credit expires after 3 months. This makes it possible to easily use them in $15 increments four times per year. Much more useful than $5 expiring each month.

Update 1/31/22: It has now been confirmed that DashPass has been extended until 2024.

Original post (1/29/22): A Reddit member heard from a Chase rep about a renewal of DoorDash benefits coming to the Sapphire Reserve card:

We’ll have to wait and see exactly which Chase cards will have these offerings, but the Sapphire Reserve will certainly be included, per the report.


(Extended through June) New Chase ‘Pay Yourself Back’ Categories: Dining, AirBnb, Away Luggage

Update 3/12/22: Chase has now extended the Dining, Airbnb, and annual fee credit with the 50% bonus through June 30, 2022. The Away category still is showing the March 31, 2022 end date. (ht Eric and anita)

Original Post 9/30/21:

Chase has now revealed the new Pay Yourself Back categories on the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred cards.

Sapphire Reserve: Get 50% more value with Pay Yourself Back® New categories! Get more value when you redeem your points for statement credits toward Airbnb, Away and dining purchases by Mar. 31, 2022.

Sapphire Preferred: Get 25% more value with Pay Yourself Back® New categories! Get more value when you redeem points for statement credits toward Airbnb and Away purchases by Mar. 31, 2022.

Here’s how I understand what’s coming on October 1st:

  • they’re adding AirBnb and Away ( as additional Pay Yourself Back options for October 2021 through March 2022 on both Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve
  • the Dining option (including takeout and eligible delivery services) will be extended through March 2022 only for Sapphire Reserve cards only, not for Sapphire Preferred
  • the Grocery and Home Improvement categories will expire today (September 30)
  • as was showing previously, you can also offset your annual fee through December 31 as an additional Pay Yourself Back option on the Sapphire Reserve card
  • as was showing previously, you can also choose Select Charities to Pay Yourself Back through December 2022 on both Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve
  • (the option to Fund Vaccine through Lyft seems to be expiring on September 30)

We had reported that Chase would be extending Pay Yourself Back through December and that we didn’t know what the categories would be for the consumer card. It now appears that they’ve extended it all the way through March and that the categories are changing, as noted. The categories will remain the same for the business cards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get 1.5¢ in value and Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders get 1.25¢ in value when redeeming points against specific categories. Business cardholders get 1.25¢ on the Business Preferred & Plus and 1.1¢ on the Business Cash & Unlimited.

Our Verdict

Sapphire Reserve still has the useful Dining category, but Sapphire Preferred categories won’t be useful to a lot of people.

(Just to clarify a point some people seem confused about in the comments: my understanding is that PYB redemption dates are the dates that you can actually make the redemption. It doesn’t matter when you make/made the purchase – until the end of today (September 30th) you’ll be able to redeem against groceries and once midnight strikes you won’t be able to do so; and after midnight tonight you should be able to redeem against Airbnb charges that were made in the past 90 days.)

Hat tip to readers James Bond, Bubba, Momo


Chase Offers program guide

If you’re tired of clipping coupons and searching for promo codes but still want to save money, Chase Offers can help you earn cash back at the places you already shop. By taking a few minutes to browse deals and link them to a card, eligible Chase credit and debit cardholders can quickly start racking up statement credits.

What is Chase Offers?

Similar to other card-linked offer programs, Chase Offers gives cardholders deals from popular brands designed to help them save money on purchases such as dining, clothing and travel. There are plenty of deals to choose from and there’s something for every kind of spender.

“We also are featuring offers from partners that are exclusive to Chase customers,” says Maribel Ferrer, communications director of payments at Chase Offers. This makes it easy for users to know that they are getting great value and savings they couldn’t find hunting for a traditional coupon or promo code.

How does Chase Offers work?

Chase Offers is a pretty straightforward program and easily accessible for eligible members.

Ferrer says that Chase Offers doesn’t require customers to sign up and that customers who use the Chase Mobile App will automatically see their offers at the bottom of their home screens.

“All they have to do is simply add offers to their card with a single tap and then shop at the merchant to earn an automatic statement credit,” says Ferrer. There’s also no limit to the amount of deals you can choose and no penalty for not using an offer.

Once you make a qualifying purchase, you’ll receive the offered statement credit in the next seven to 14 business days.

Outside the Chase app offers, these deals are also available on the Chase website, in addition to on the mobile app. You can receive updated Chase Offers online via email, too. These options make it even easier for cardholders to find offers that work for them no matter where they prefer to browse.

Restrictions and drawbacks with Chase Offers

While Chase Offers has some unique features that add value for users, there are also some drawbacks to the program:

Chase Offers vary by eligible card

These exclusive Chase credit card offers are specific to each of your eligible cards, so you can’t use multiple cards to take advantage of the same deal more than once (unless it happens to be offered for both). If you spend differently on different cards, it’s  is likely your available deals will vary.

Keep close watch on the terms and conditions

Each merchant offer also has its own set of terms and conditions that you’ll want to read carefully. Offers might require certain purchase amounts or be limited to one use per card. To make sure you actually earn the statement credit, be careful with how you spend.

Chase Offers is only available in the U.S.

While many similar programs include offers outside of the U.S. – even if your purchase is made in a foreign currency – Chase Offers is only available stateside for now. You won’t be able to rack up extra cash back while you travel.

Types of deals you can find

“Deals vary and there is something for everyone,” says Ferrer, citing examples like pet shops and hardware stores as unique deals on Chase Offers. In addition to travel, dining and retail promotions, Chase Offers users can find exclusive cash back from a wide variety of brands.

To make the experience even more unusual, Chase Offers are tailored to the specific user. When you log into your Chase mobile app, you’ll see recommended deals inspired by your location and spending patterns.

Earn more with Chase rewards cards

Making a purchase to redeem a Chase Offer doesn’t affect your normal credit card rewards earning, so you can use deals to boost your overall rewards rate. If you stack Chase Offers on rewards earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve card – two of our most popular travel cards – you can earn enough for your next trip in no time.

Here’s a quick look at a few of Chase’s rewards cards to give you an idea of what you can earn.

Intro bonus Rewards rate Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 2X points on other travel
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • 10X points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5X points on air travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X points on other travel and restaurant purchases
  • Earn elevated rewards on all travel purchases immediately after spending the $300 annual travel credit
  • 1X point on general purchases
Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on restaurant and drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Chase Freedom Flex℠ review

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • $200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (on up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on restaurant and drugstore purchases
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Ink Business Unlimited

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

$750 if you spend $7,500 in first 3 months
1.5% cash back on all purchases
Ink Business Cash

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

$750 if you spend $7,500 in first 3 months
  • 5% cash back on internet, cable and phone services and at office supply stores ($25,000 in purchases per year)
  • 2% cash back on gas and dining ($25,000 in purchases per year)
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

How to maximize rewards with Chase Offers

To ensure you are getting the most cash back from your Chase Offers, follow a few simple tips:

Combine Chase Offers with paper coupons, promo codes and other deals

Since statement credits for Chase Offers are awarded simply for using an eligible Chase credit card, you can usually still utilize paper coupons or promo codes when you make your purchase. If you take a little extra time to hunt for merchant promotions, you can boost your savings.

And if you have more than one credit card, you can take advantage of multiple card-linked offer programs. For example, if you have another Chase Visa card, you can link it to Uber’s Visa Local Offers program for extra Uber Cash. That’s an especially effective combo with a card that earns rewards on Uber, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and its 3X points on dining and other travel not purchased through the Chase portal (after the annual $300 travel credit – which can also be used on Uber).

Shop using cash back portals to stack offers

Similar to using a promo code, you can shop online using cash back portals to stack promotions. Shop Through Chase is an excellent place to start collecting a few extra Ultimate Rewards points. Other websites like Cashback Monitor clearly show where you can earn rewards from particular merchants. If your Chase Offer applies to online purchases, shop through the cash back portal and use your linked Chase card to pay to earn even more.

Check for a Chase Offer every time you dine out

While Chase Offers range from retail promotions to travel offers, most deals seem to be dining-related. Before you eat out, check your Chase mobile app for an offer at your favorite restaurant to ensure you aren’t missing out on savings.

Amex Offers and BankAmeriDeals.

Bottom line

If you are a Chase customer, it’s no question that you can get great value by taking advantage of Chase Offers. You’ll find exclusive deals without the hassle of hunting down a coupon and automatically receive statement credits quickly.