Episode 27 – Credit Card Perks: Airport Lounges and Boosted Credit Scores

Hello from Chiang Mai! In this episode, I share my experience staying in an airport lounge in Singapore thanks to my credit card rewards. Growing up, I was taught airport lounges were for bad, rich people. That’s not true. Being in airport lounges doesn’t make me a better or worse person. It makes me a more relaxed person! 

Credit cards are just another tool we should be investing in not just for perks, but to boost our credit scores. Planning to get a mortgage or other large loan? Having a better credit score gives you a better interest rate. I’ve used credit cards strategically for years not just for airport lounge perks, but to also get my score to 800+. 

Strategically using credit cards is a part of the millionaire treasure map my clients use in my 1:1 coaching. Join my “Make Credit Cards Your B*tch! masterclass on Sunday, Feb 5th @ 7:30pm et/4:30pm! There will be live coaching with me and all sign ups will have access to the recording. Sign up here. 🏳️‍🌈🦄💳

Podcast transcript below:

Hello everybody. Welcome to the Unicorn Millionaire Podcast. I’m your host, Charly Stoever, a non-binary Latinx money coach, helping my first gen clients become millionaires. I’m a formerly undocumented Mexican American and currently digital nomad traveling all over the worlds. Super excited to have you here along with me on my journey.

I talk about personal finance, money, mindset, twerking, unicorns, rainbows, you name it. We’re here. We’re queer, and we are going to build wealth for ourselves and our communities.

Hey y’all. How’s it going? I am reporting live from Chiang Mai, Thailand. I can’t believe I’ve been traveling solo for almost three months now in Southeast Asia. I’ve spent a month and a half in Taiwan, two months in the Philippines, and I am trying to decide how long I wanna stay here. Google is not always correct when it tells you how long you’ll get for a Visa.

As soon as I flew in, I asked the customs officer what kind of visa he gave me. When he stamped my passport, he was like, hello, quiet. I was given the fingerprints and he was stamping my stuff, wasn’t even asking me anything about the purpose of my travel. And I asked him did I get the 30 day visa?

And he said, no, you got the 45. I was like, oh, thank you. I’m just more and more grateful on my healing journey, and I feel like I have a lot more pleasant surprises, and then he laughed and then he was happy. And I just feel like happiness is contagious. So I chose Chang Mai because it’s a large city, but also because I’ve heard there’s a large digital nomad community and a large queer slash digital nomad community.

So I’m gonna go to my first drag show in months on Friday. I’ve hit up some queer folks on Facebook groups to meet up. I don’t know anybody here yet emphasis on yet, cuz when I travel I realize that it’s so easy to meet people once you get to a place. So I’m really excited to be here. Thailand is a lot quieter than the Philippines, even though you’ll probably hear birds and scooters passing by on the busy street next to me.

Philippines was loud. It was more auditory stimulating, and don’t get me wrong, I love the Philippines. I stayed the full two months and maxed the shit out of my visa. I left like two days, two hours before my visa expired. Love the Philippines.

The people are so warm and friendly and welcoming and even though everybody asked me if I’m a boy or a girl, they never did it out of a place of maliciousness. Just out of curiosity, because you know, non-binary isn’t new, but for different cultures, it’s not something that they have the language for yet.

But there’s lots of trans people in the Philippines. I’ve never seen so many trans women per capita in a place, or maybe it’s just that I’m paying attention more. I don’t know. But Philippines was popping literally all day, all night, music blasting from the taxis, the Jeep knees, just the people were louder.

Reminded me a lot of Nicaragua where I did the Peace Corps, but Philippines definitely felt safer. During my time in Asia, I’ve just felt a lot safer. I don’t feel like it’s as aggressive as both North and South America. And maybe that’s the sense of safety that I’m cultivating for myself. But I also was talking to women backpackers here, or I’m staying, and they also agreed, they said that maybe it has to do with Buddhism.

And that Buddhism is just a part of people’s daily lives. There’s temples everywhere and people go to these temples and make offerings, and they’re just quiet places to reflect. And then I thought that’s true, but the church is everywhere and not America. And in the Philippines, since they were colonized, the Spanish, but Christianity is trying to convert everybody.

Whereas Buddhism, they’re not trying to, I don’t see Buddhist missionaries on the other side of the world trying to convert people. So I think that aggression of assuming that, oh, your religion’s not good enough, you should have mine. Maybe that’s what’s been translating to my feeling of calmness and safety.

It is something that I’m surprised that I felt here, but that’s why I decided to come out here. I decided to come out here to get out of my comfort zone cuz I’ve been traveling in Latin America a lot. I’ve been to Colombia three times. Shout out to my Colombians. I love you. All my therapists.

Colombian life is just better with Colombians and it, but I’m super happy that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and see a new part of the world and a new way of living and thinking. and Thailand is very, so far from what I’ve seen it’s quiet. I was walking down the street talking about how quiet it was and I was whispering because I didn’t want to disturb people.

Definitely did not feel like I was quiet in the Philippines ever. And I went to some temples yesterday. And it is really psychedelic, the dragons and the gold and the designs. I’m loving it out here. And weed is legal here, which is also culture shock because weed is very illegal in Taiwan and in the Philippines.

Like people don’t even joke about drugs. I hadn’t smelled weed since I left San Francisco Airport in mid-October, and then here they sell it. It’s been legalized for not even a year now, but they sell it and all that. So I bought a joint and I smoked some of it and fell asleep, but it was just more of a, oh, I can do this thing.

It wasn’t like, oh my god, weed. If it were like that, I don’t think I would’ve lasted three and a half months without weed. So that’s just another difference that no one really prepared me. But it’s been cool to remember that not all countries have people that are always smoking weed in the states.

It’s just so normal in DC walk out or even you’re in your house and you smell weed from outside. It’s just such a stressful place that people feel like they need to regulate themselves constantly with marijuana. But really, I just think it’s the government should be creating. And social safety nets and a sense of safety for people that people feel like they need to compensate for.

The government’s lack of helping them in this capitalistic country in the US and then they just smoke weed. So capital capitalism stays capitalism in and I’m going to call it out today. I wanted to talk about credit cards. I’m gonna be having my credit cards masterclass, which I do every year.

It’s on February 5th. Grab your tickets, sign up at the link in the show notes. If it’s past February 5th and you’re listening to this, stay with me because I’m still gonna be drop in hella gems as usual about credit cards and my journey. and by the time you listen, I will have posted the recording.

But if you sign up before February 5th, then join live. You’ll have access to the recording as many times as you need, and the recordings are even more useful or just as useful as attending live. If you attend live, you can ask me anything. I do coaching at the end. The recordings, especially for my clients, they find them useful because, You might miss something and it’s okay to go back and watch the recording and if you work with me, you couldn’t ask me, Hey, remember that thing you mentioned in the recording?

Can you explain what you mentioned about bonus intro offers or about if it’s about investing it, the difference between mutual funds and exchange trade funds? And I’m happy to explain these things over and over again cuz the language of finance is hella dry and basic because it was invented by. land owning slave owners in the late 17 hundreds.

The stock market was invented by them, and the stock market is engineered to preserve wealth and the language is used to gate keep that. But we’re all about busting open these freaking gates so that all of us can have access to building generational wealth and to thrive. and so thriving is something that I’ve been thinking of a lot recently on my credit card slash investing financial independence and journey.

A lot of my clients are the first to make the most in their families, and they thought that it would all be good by now, that more money equals positive money mindset and that we’re chilling, but that’s not true. The same money drama that you had when you were in survival mode is going to follow as you try to transition to thriving mode, and I freaking love helping my clients do this because it’s a lot more mindset based than just learning how to buy stocks and make sure you’re making the right investments and all of that.

There’s just so much past-self stuff that you need to let go of as you transition to abundance and thriving mode. There’s a lot of guilt and shame you’ll need to process in order to make the transition easier. So with credit cards, I want to talk about the perks. Credit cards have not only helped me build my credit score to be in the eight hundreds because I pay my shit on time every month, but they’ve also given me access to airport lounges, which I never would’ve set foot in an airport lounge if it weren’t for these credit card bonuses.

Yesterday I had a layover from the Philippines to Thailand in Singapore, which at first I was hella nervous. Singapore, I heard they don’t like gay people. They don’t even like people who chew gum.

Okay. I was nervous. So as a queer traveler, I did what I had to do when I Googled, is it illegal to be gay in Singapore, even though I was just going through on a layover? That’s the stuff that queer travelers have to look into and Google, and luckily I think they repealed the gay sex band less than a year ago in 2022.

Not that I was trying to have gay sex in the airport but hey.

Right, so nothing happened to me in the Singapore airport. In fact, I had a really chill time, and if I weren’t open to making credit cards as an investment or feeling like I deserve to build wealth. I would not have been in the lounge. I had a seven hour layover. Got in at 2:00 AM and because I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I have free access to Priority Pass lounges.

So, that card. I believe the annual fee is 550 bucks, but it’s fine. I see it as an investment and it’s totally worth it. You also get reimbursed like $300 in travel credit, which I get that reimbursed like in the first month or two really quickly because I travel full-time and things like Airbnbs, airplane tickets.

I don’t know if it still applies, but even waters and hotels, that’s counted as a travel expense cause that’s how the item is coded for the credit card company. So definitely worth the investment. I’ve had this card since 2019 when I upgraded from the $95 Blue Chase Sapphire preferred card, and I’m so happy I did that.

It was my favorite perk is access to airport lounge. So what I do is as soon as I land, or even before I get to that airport, I’ll use the priority pass mobile application and I’ll look at for the airport name. I typed in Singapore and then I found two lounges in the international terminal cuz the menu shows you different terminals and it depends where you’re going, where the lounges will be.

I found the, I believe it was called the SATs Premier Lounge and the Marhaba Lounge. The Marhaba Lounge was closed, but the SATs lounge was open 24 hours. So I didn’t even bother going to the Marhaba lounge to see if it was open, cuz according to the app, it was closed. I mind you, these apps are not always up to date, but I prefer just going straight to the 24 hour lounge, so I didn’t have to worry about.

So I rolled up at 2:00 AM They scanned my priority pass barcode. I show them my boarding pass, and the woman up at the counter was really nice. She asked me when my flight was leaving and I said, this isn’t leaving until like eight 30 or nine. I’m going to be here a while. And she said, okay, well you only have three hours to be in the lounge.

And that’s how long the priority pass gives you access. But come back once that expires and I’ll see what I can do. Wink, wink code for if it’s not too busy. If it were busy, I would not have probably said this. But since it’s 2:00 AM and there’s like two people in here, sure, maybe we can see if you can extend, which ended up happening and it was chill.

Because I went at five 30 again and I asked to extend and she let me. So a lot of things you can get just by asking and not feeling like you’re wasting somebody’s time, and especially if you should not be an asshole when you ask for stuff. As somebody who worked in a call center as a stockbroker for over a year, don’t be the asshole, but also don’t be afraid to just call and ask questions.

I can’t tell you how many people would call us and just ask for clarification on things they weren’t a hundred percent sure about. Sometimes they wouldn’t even know what their questions were and they would just call and we’d figure out what they’re trying to ask. So a little bit about my stockbroker life.

So I got up into this lounge at 2:00 AM and there was like a full buffet full of Asian food, like curries and ramen, and the food was okay. You also get free coffee.

And even the bathrooms have showers. Not all lounges are but this is a common trend and um, I’m talking specifically about this lounge in Singapore, there were multiple stalls with showers and they were handing out towels. So around 6:00 AM not even that much later than when I was there, there was hella people in there taking showers.

And what I like about my favorite lounges is that sometimes they’ll have quiet rooms that are literally labeled like quiet. Don’t be a loud ass bitch in here. Calm the fuck down. And I always go to those, as a highly sensitive person. I don’t want to be around the screaming children or babies in the main terminal and these lounges, I don’t treat that as a, oh, I’m going because I’m better than everyone else type place.

I’m gonna go because I want to just be a more relaxed human. I don’t wanna be overly stimulated. Lounges aren’t about like, oh, this is where the, the better people are. Is that, it’s what I was raised to think as the child of immigrants as first gen. I was raised to think that airport lounges were for rich people.

And rich people are bad. Rich people are evil, and that’s not true. Yes, there can be evil rich people but not all of them are. And especially when I become a millionaire, when I become wealthy, I’m gonna be helping so many more people than these other rich white men blasting rockets into space. Same goes with my community cuz we are very community oriented.

Almost all my clients, they want to learn how to build wealth so they can help their family members, so they can help their parents open retirement accounts. It’s my job to remind them that they also deserve to help themselves first actually, so that they can help others over the long term. But there’s nothing wrong with just wanting to help yourself and to just be a happier person.

When you’re making the most money you’ve ever made before making the most in your family, you also deserve to be happy and you deserve to be rich, which is a hot take and I think is very controversial, but not for me and not for my clients. So you deserve all the money, all the happy. As long as you’re using your wealth to help yourself and others, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of mindset shit y’all.

I’m talking about lounges, but all this past self shit comes up because I know there’s people out there who can afford lounges, who would benefit from them, but they have a lot of drama that prevents them from taking advantage of these resources. So that’s why I’m talking about them to normalize. I don’t think lounges are that intimidating anymore because I’ve been to so many.

But when I first went, I remember feeling hella intimidated. Probably like somebody who doesn’t really work out or go to the gym but wants to live a healthier lifestyle and goes to the gym and they’re probably intimidated at first. I’ve been made to go to the gym since I was a kid.

That’s what we would do in the mornings as a family would go to the gym, like on weekends, and play racquetball and everything. So I grew up going to this environment and I was never intimidated because I was conditioned to be made to feel like I belong there, and it was just a normal thing to do. Same goes for airport lounges.

I’ve conditioned myself that it’s normal after going repeatedly but I’ve had to overcome a lot of mindset shit and feelings of, oh, how do I deserve to be here? Am I still a good person? Like, no, going to a lounge doesn’t make you better or worse. It just makes you a more relaxed person. Another thing that I’ll say about, the nice thing about these lounges is that it eliminates decision.

If there weren’t a lounge, and if I were at an airport at 2:00 AM and I happened to be hungry, a lot of the restaurants would be closed and I’d have to pick where I’d go rest. But knowing that there’s a lounge waiting for me also helps me eliminate that decision fatigue. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to get the food or what the prices or pay for the coffee and add extra items.

All of that shit is there for me, and I don’t have to whip out my credit card. I can just grab a beer from the fridge and make myself a mimosa, grab whatever food I want in an unlimited amount, and I don’t have to worry about it. Some lounges, the waiters will, there’s a menu and they’ll get things for you, but this lounge in Singapore, it was a buffet.

You can get whatever the fuck you wanted, and no one cared. So eliminating decision fatigue is another thing on this wealth building journey that I’ve come to appreciate. It’s these words that I was never even familiar with and when I was in survival mode, because I was always deciding and I was always fatigued, and we don’t have to do that anymore.

You know what I’m saying? So, yeah. Airport lounges are my favorite perk of the Chase Sapphire reserve card. I’ve also used the car rental collision damage insurance. One time when I got scammed in Mexico, when I rented a Kia Sorento and went on a road trip to the Yucatan Peninsula into the water that was supposed to be pink, but it was like a small puddle that was not pink cuz it rained and the light didn’t hit it correctly apparently.

It rained a lot and the bottom cardboard cover of the SUV fell down, which is apparently a scam that my Mexican friend told me they do. These car rental companies, especially in these touristic areas, they won’t screw in this cover correctly so that it’ll fall down so that they can get more money out of you.

So I ended up paying several hundred dollars from a mechanic bill, but luckily I paid for that rental with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and I just had to file a claim. I needed a receipt from the mechanic that was itemized to show that yes, I did have to spend money at the mechanic, but I had to go back to this car rental company.

I believe it was a budget multiple times. Luckily I lived there. I had to hound them and go back in person multiple times and be like, can I have the receipt ? After like three days, they finally gave me the. Which I sent to Chase and got reimbursed really quickly. So that $550 annual fee has paid off multiple times from the lounge access, from the car rental, collision insurance, and also just cash back.

Cash back every month that I use. I’m not into like the points conversion game. I don’t have to worry about, oh, 60,000 points is $4 in airline code. Nah, I just get cash back. I use the pay myself back feature for that card. And if you’re in the US the Amex Blue Cash card is a no-brainer. That gives you 6% cash off groceries and streaming, which right now groceries I hear are getting even more expensive in the US.

So with inflation, that’s why it’s super important to, to get this card and get 6% cash back, because I don’t know of any other card that gives that at any grocery store.  If you want to learn more, if you want to learn about how to be strategic about building your credit score over time and going from worried about if a credit card’s gonna ding your credit score, if you open it to not worrying so much about the dings, but focusing more on the long-term growth. Short-term pains for long-term growth. That’s what we’re going to be talking about. during my masterclass on the fifth. Sign up at the link in my show notes.

I hope this episode has resonated with you. I love it when y’all share that you’re listening and tag me on Instagram so that I can see who’s listening and I love re-sharing your shares. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please, please, please. Give me a rating. Hit those five, five stars if you’re on Spotify, if you’re on Apple.

I love seeing y’all’s written reviews. They make me smile and help me keep it going. Okay, I’m going to go meet up with some new friends today in Thailand. Gonna go walk by some temples. Souvenirs here are hella cute. I might actually go clothes shopping here because I’m digging the fashion and the styles out here in Thailand.

I wouldn’t have made it out here and enjoyed my time at the lounge if I weren’t so intentional about using credit card points and boosting my credit score along the way. All these things I’m doing have given me a great credit score so that I can get a popping interest rate when I do take out a mortgage.

So we’re working on our wealth building journeys while we’re living our best lives. So if you wanna work one-on-one with me, I am taking clients for my six months of coaching. If you’re a returning client, I’m doing quarterly meetings. Just hit me up. I’d love to meet you and help you on your transition from first gen survival mode to thriving mode.

And lastly, I will say that yes, I do work with white people. I am white, even though I’m Latinx . So that’s, that’s been something that people have asked me before that I think is so funny. It’s like, yes, I too am white. I know. So don’t let that stop you if you’ve been thinking about working with me, even if you’re not first gen, not all of my clients have been first gen, but I’ve had clients who just want help feeling safer, feeling lighter with their money, investing it, being strategic with it. That’s my shit at the end of the day. That’s why I quit my stockbroker job to start my money coaching business when Covid hit. So I’m off to go explore. Thank you so much for your support and see you at my masterclass. Bye y’all.

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