What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

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freyj6
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What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:49 pm

I figured this would be a good way to give back to the forum since I know an unhealthy amount about credit cards.

Cards, fees and point structures are often confusing and their usefulness varies dramatically depending on your spending, travel plans, credit and so on. Still, given certain spending habits it's usually pretty clear cut which cards are best.

So if you post:
-How much you spend
-In approximately which categories (gas, groceries, restaurants, uncategorized)
-How much you plan to travel and where
-Any other important info/preferences

...then I'll tell you what card makes the most sense for you :)

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g$$
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by g$$ » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:00 am

I'm pretty happy with my current credit cards for spending. I'd be open to a balance transfer card with no balance transfer fee though. Do you know of any? Seems like this could save me a few bucks on some of my student loans.

-g$$

takeshi
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by takeshi » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:26 am

Chase Slate for the first 60 days has no BT fee.

harikaried
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by harikaried » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:09 am

How about cash-ish sign up bonuses over $400? E.g., statement credits, amazon gift card, purchase redemption.

In the last 3 months, we've received 2x each of capital one venture, barclay arrival plus, chase sapphire preferred, amex premier gold, wells fargo propel world for a total of ~$6000 in rewards (including the 1% or 2% cash back in to reach the sign up bonus $3k spend). Anything else we should apply for?

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babington
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by babington » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:26 am

Spending: $1,200/month
Groceries: $360
Restaurants: $75
Gas: $15
Travel: A couple of trips from Texas to Chicago/East Coast each year.
Credit score: excellent.

Currently use Amex Blue, Citi Double, Discover, and Chase Freedom. Better options?

Confused
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Confused » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:40 am

Blanked for privacy
Last edited by Confused on Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:41 pm

@g$$

I think Chase Slate is the only one without any sort of fee.

Here's a list you can look at. Slate shows up as having a fee here because the minimum "keeping time" is 2 years.
http://www.nerdwallet.com/balance-trans ... dit-cards/

@harikaried - I'd shoot for Chase Ink Plus ("business" is very flexible) and if you can use the points, both the business and personal SPG cards.

@Babington - Your spending makes it really close. I'm also not sure whether you mean the old AMEX Blue or one of the Blue Cash cards.

The best card combo for your spending (in addition to what you already have) is most likely Sallie Mae + Blue Cash Everyday. This only beats a solo Blue Cash Preferred by about $5... so if your spending is slightly higher go with that.

Beyond that, it really depends on the value you can get out of MR points. If you can get a value > 1.5 booking your trips, Everyday Preferred will be best.

@Confused - That's a little bit subjective and it's impossible to say for sure. Generally more lines of credit are better, but it's often recommended not to apply for a card too close to a mortgage or loan application. Subjectively, I'd say if you're applying for a mortgage in the next 6-8 months, wait. But any longer than that trying to get a new card with a high limit would probably help.

BogleBooger
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by BogleBooger » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:46 pm

Hey freyj6,

Which card would you recommend for someone who has no credit history?
gas + groceries account for a majority of my spending

Thanks

yakkeryak3
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by yakkeryak3 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:52 pm

Hi, thanks for this.

About me: I fly often between LA and NY, mostly United. Good credit history. Pretty high spending and eat out a lot (i'm not an ideal boglehead). What would you recommend?

Also, when is it safe to CLOSE a credit card without having a negative impact on your credit history?

How many credit cards is ideal?

easye418
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by easye418 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:52 pm

freyj6 wrote:I figured this would be a good way to give back to the forum since I know an unhealthy amount about credit cards.

Cards, fees and point structures are often confusing and their usefulness varies dramatically depending on your spending, travel plans, credit and so on. Still, given certain spending habits it's usually pretty clear cut which cards are best.

So if you post:
-How much you spend
-In approximately which categories (gas, groceries, restaurants, uncategorized)
-How much you plan to travel and where
-Any other important info/preferences

...then I'll tell you what card makes the most sense for you :)
Spending: $2,000/month (all utilities and bills)
Groceries: $300
Restaurants: $100
Gas: $125
Travel: Would love to travel more. We like the caribbeans. However, we are in pay off debt mode like crazy. We do have family in Chicago so use Southwest.
Credit score: Excellent.

Currently use Amex Blue cash for $1,000 of the spending (gas,groceries), Chase Sapphire for bills, have Discover card as well. Also Freedom.

I'm thinking of ditching the Blue cash card for sure. Sapphire is wearing thin on my because they are losing the dividends but I love that you can transfer to Southwest or United.

Better options?
Last edited by easye418 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:58 pm

@boglebooger - Try to get the BarclayCard Rewards MasterCard (2% on gas and groceries, no annual fee). That's probably can do with no credit, although I guess you might as well give Chase Freedom a shot too. If you can't get one of those, you'll probably have to get a secured card through your bank and hold it for a year or two.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:33 pm

Monthly

$300 for gas
$1000 groceries
$500 restaurants
Zero travel

I do churn cc for bonus and ms when it is worth it. So some months, my grocery store spend will jump up to $6k like upcoming s&s 2x gas pts for visa gc.

I will not pay an annual fee

I have no problem using multiple cards and put stickers on them with category and percentage.

Look forward to your recommendation
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

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blueblock
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by blueblock » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:45 pm

Thanks for offering your insight!

I’ve been perfectly happy with my Chase Mileage Plus VISA for 20+ years, but I recently retired and figure there’s a better strategy now.

I have only the one card, with a $24K limit, which credits me one air mile for every dollar spent. Annual fee is $60. Balance paid off monthly.

When I worked, I liked to use mileage points to upgrade to the next class of service. Now that’s not really going to be sustainable, since I’m spending less and am not earning miles for work flights.

New Spending Level: $2-3,000 monthly, more when I’m taking a vacation (I’m planning two a year).

Groceries: $800
Gas: $40
Dining/Entertainment: $200
Vacation Travel (air fare, hotel, restaurants, etc.) (monthly average): $400
AT&T: $85
Uncategorized: $250+

Thanks!

auggiedoggies
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by auggiedoggies » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:35 pm

Confused wrote:I have one credit card. Same one I got as a young-ish college student a decade ago. Limit is $1,100. Spouse has one credit card, limit is $1,400. My median credit score, according to Wells Fargo when we were looking at getting a mortgage a few years back, is 810. Spouse's is lower, like 750.

We ended up not being approved for a mortgage because we didn't have "qualified" jobs. I was a contractor. Spouse had less than two years of work experience. So despite our 20% down and our high credit scores, we didn't get a mortgage. Turned out to be nice, because then I ended up going back to school.

Anyway, we'll start looking for a house again when I finish school in 2016. Should we have more credit cards? I know the underwriters didn't like the fact that we didn't have three lines of credit. They were asking us if we had any student loans, or auto loans, or a couch that we're paying on installments. Of course we had none of those.

If I apply for another card (and/or my spouse does), that will put a hard pull on our credit reports. And it would change my credit utilization from $0 out of $1,100 to $0 out of something higher. So I don't know if I should get another credit card in order to have another line of credit, or if I should open a Line Of Credit or whatever it's called at Wells Fargo, or what to do about that. I don't know what gets me the best chance of being approved for a mortgage in 2016 or 2017.

The card I'm considering is the Sally Mae World Mastercard, because of its rewards. My current card recently added rewards, so I get 1% cash back, but that's up to about nine dollars over the past couple of years.

Any thoughts on what I should do?

Not to jump in on OPs thread here, but I also know an unhealthy amount about CCs.

Personally, I would apply for another card. Your score will get dinged by 2-4 points when you open it, but it will go up due to the favorable debt to credit ratio. You're far enough out where they won't question why you opened the other card, and in fact I bet it would help your case for getting a mortgage. Maybe take a look at the Chase Freedom or the Amex Everyday? Good no fee cards that provide rewards

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CABob
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by CABob » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:36 pm

So what is the deal with the Citi Double Cash card? Since presumably all card balances are eventually paid isn't this really a 2% cash back card? What is Citi getting out of doing it the way they do? Doe this mean the card holder would be getting 1% back on interest charges?
I am mostly interested in cash back rewards. I don't particularly like the rotating categories for additional cash back, but, I tolerate them with Discover and Chase Freedom. The Citi Double sounds interesting and may result in more cash back than the rotating categories with less confusion.
I already have a Citi card and am wondering if I will be able to convert it to the Double card so I don't lose the credit history and credit limits?
Bob

Jack FFR1846
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:46 pm

I use citi double cash for anything that I can't get higher % from another card.
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sharpjm
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by sharpjm » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:01 pm

What would you recommend to replace the Chase Freedom card after its bonus points drop in December 2015? I'm leaning toward the citi double cash card. I'm only interested in cashback cards. Spending is mostly restaurants, groceries, and gas.

auggiedoggies
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by auggiedoggies » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:06 pm

CABob wrote:So what is the deal with the Citi Double Cash card? Since presumably all card balances are eventually paid isn't this really a 2% cash back card? What is Citi getting out of doing it the way they do? Doe this mean the card holder would be getting 1% back on interest charges?
I am mostly interested in cash back rewards. I don't particularly like the rotating categories for additional cash back, but, I tolerate them with Discover and Chase Freedom. The Citi Double sounds interesting and may result in more cash back than the rotating categories with less confusion.
I already have a Citi card and am wondering if I will be able to convert it to the Double card so I don't lose the credit history and credit limits?
Yeah, it's basically a 2% cash back card. No reason not to convert your current card if they allow it. If you don't want to deal with rotating categories and you're not a big proponent of travel rewards, this is really as good as it gets

surfstar
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by surfstar » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:09 pm

The Sallie Mae card should be a baseline that everyone has in their wallet - 5% cashback on gas, groceries, bookstores (amazon usually works), and no AF. No rotating categories. Cashback on first $250 in each category per month.

Then supplement from there. Citi doublecash would be great for all other purchases.

Two cards, done. If you like simple.

We've been chasing sign up bonuses the past year, though, and I often cringe when giving up my 5% cashback earnings in order to make spending requirements (which in effect are earning quite a bit more than 5%, just the thought of not utilizing a card, I guess bothers me)

auggiedoggies
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by auggiedoggies » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:11 pm

sharpjm wrote:What would you recommend to replace the Chase Freedom card after its bonus points drop in December 2015? I'm leaning toward the citi double cash card. I'm only interested in cashback cards. Spending is mostly restaurants, groceries, and gas.
If your spending is mostly restaurants, groceries, and gas, I would go with this combo:

Chase Sapphire (2x back on restaurants, $0 annual fee)

plus one of these two:

Amex Blue Cash ($0 Annual Fee, 3% back on groceries, 2% back on gas/department stores, 1% back everywhere else, $100 sign on bonus)
Amex Blue Cash Preferred ($75 annual fee, 6% back on groceries, 3% back on gas/dept. stores, 1% back everywhere else, $150 sign on bonus)

Picking between the Blue Cash and Blue Cash Preferred is a simple math equation of how much money you will spend each year, and if the additional bonus will cover the annual fee. Be aware that the bonus points on groceries is capped at $6,000 a year

ft2010
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by ft2010 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:16 pm

Agree, applying for a couple new credit cards is likely not problematic if anticipated mortgage application is about one year away. I would suggest the Arrival Plus credit card (great sign-on bonus worth $400+, good on-going rewards for all charges, and no annual fee for first year; after the first year you can downgrade to a no annual fee version to keep the credit line and account history). I also agree with the Chase Freedom (and the Amex Everyday no fee card to some extent) are excellent for long term.

Edit to add: if you are willing to apply for Chase Freedom, today (6/24) is the deadline for the promotional $200 sign-on bonus.
auggiedoggies wrote:
Confused wrote:Anyway, we'll start looking for a house again when I finish school in 2016. Should we have more credit cards?
The card I'm considering is the Sally Mae World Mastercard, because of its rewards. My current card recently added rewards, so I get 1% cash back, but that's up to about nine dollars over the past couple of years.

Not to jump in on OPs thread here, but I also know an unhealthy amount about CCs.

Personally, I would apply for another card. Your score will get dinged by 2-4 points when you open it, but it will go up due to the favorable debt to credit ratio. You're far enough out where they won't question why you opened the other card, and in fact I bet it would help your case for getting a mortgage. Maybe take a look at the Chase Freedom or the Amex Everyday? Good no fee cards that provide rewards

ft2010
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by ft2010 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:34 pm

A naive question - is the Sallie Mae credit card for college/students mostly? I haven't applied because I am not sure if older folks (people retired or in semi-retirement) could be eligible. I may consider applying for it later in the year after I meet my current sign-on bonus spend requirements. Thanks!
surfstar wrote:The Sallie Mae card should be a baseline that everyone has in their wallet - 5% cashback on gas, groceries, bookstores (amazon usually works), and no AF. No rotating categories. Cashback on first $250 in each category per month.

Bill M
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Bill M » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:41 pm

I've been rotating through several cards for the past few years; all the cards are free for the first year and charge an annual fee for second and later years, so I close them after 9-10 months and open a new one. Main point of this game is the bonus airline miles with the new card.

Is the ease of doing this going to change now that I'm retired? Do banks evaluate retirees differently (worse??) than applicants currently employed? Income will be fluctuating; is fluctuation of annual income a negative signal?

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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by grabiner » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:15 pm

yakkeryak3 wrote:About me: I fly often between LA and NY, mostly United. Good credit history. Pretty high spending and eat out a lot (i'm not an ideal boglehead). What would you recommend?
Are you an elite-level frequent flyer on United? If not, a United card will give you one free checked bag when you fly, which may pay for itself that way. (And even if you are elite-level, a United card may help you because you will be able to use the miles if you fly United regularly and will get additional benefits when you do use them.)
Also, when is it safe to CLOSE a credit card without having a negative impact on your credit history?
Closing a card will decrease your number of open accounts, and increase your utilization ratio. Therefore, you can close a card if neither of these will have a significant effect on your score: you have several other cards, and your balance will still be below 20% of your limits when it matters. (Note the "when it matters"; it is OK to charge half your limit in June, pay it off in July, and then apply for a loan in August after your utilization is back down to 10%.)
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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:45 am

Wow, lot's of responses! Glad to have some help from those who have :)

@yakkeryak3 - It's hard to say without knowing specific numbers. If you spend over 10k on dining Chase Sapphire Preferred might be a good choice, of course, depending on how much you can get out of UR points on your trips. Arrival+ and Double Cash are also great options for really big spenders (Arrival+ > Double Cash starting at about 40k spending).

The newer the card is and the more cards you have, the safer it'll be to close. I'd say avoid closing cards if you're looking to get a car or house loan within 6 months or so. If the card has no annual fee, there's little reason to close.

As far as optimal number of cards, that's also subjective. Hard to say. For most people I'd recommend just getting enough to max out your points strategy: 1 or 2 rotating cards for category bonuses, a grocery/gas card, a uncategorized spending card and a fee-based card if you're a big spender.

@Easy - What you have doesn't look so bad actually. I'd keep the no-fee Blue Cash and get Sallie Mae. That'll be the best way you can cover your groceries.

CSP is trickier. Depending on how much you're able to take advantage of Freedom categories, you're probably going to need to be able to get a value of 2.0 or so on UR points to make CSP worth the annual fee in the long run. Southwest seems to give you a value of 1.5-1.9 depending on where you're going and the time of year. United you can get really good value for some international trips like South America, but otherwise it's lower. But if you can use Freedom categories well and get good value, it would be worth keeping.

Given your spending though, I think changing the grocery card is the only clear cut thing. You can also experiment with churning cards like Arrival+, Southwest, United Mileage and Venture. They all have $400-500 sign up bonuses. Just make sure you don't carry a balance -- you mentioned you were in debt so just be aware that points can never overcome carrying a balance.

@Jack - I understand that you don't want to pay annual fees (who does?) but you'll end up with more money if you're willing to.

Blue Cash Preferred's 6% back on groceries pays for itself for any grocery spending over 4.5k/year. If you're spending $1000 a month, I'd highly recommend getting BCP, Sallie Mae AND BCE. There are further ways you can get good value out of grocery shopping, but if you don't travel your options are limited. After those 3, I'd also recommend Chase Freedom for it's occasional 5% groceries quarter and Double Cash for when you hit your limits on the grocery cards.

Now that US Bank+ is dead as a dining card, the only good remaining dining cards are for travel. Since you don't travel, I'd recommend getting both Chase Freedom and Discover It. That'll cover you at 5% on dining for 2 quarters most years. Then Double Cash after that.

So in rough order I'd recommend: BCP -> Sallie Mae -> Freedom - Double Cash -> BCE -> Discover It

@Blueblock - I feel like I keep recommending grocery cards! But here we go again.

Most important are Blue Cash Preferred AND Sallie Mae. You spend about $9,600 per year on groceries. Those will cover you at 6/5% for the first $9000. That's about $500 cash back per year nice and easy.

Next I'd say Chase Sapphire Preferred would probably be a really good choice for you. You can convert the UR points to United Miles like you've been getting, but you'll get 2x on dining and travel, which you spend a lot on. You may then want to see if you can downgrade your Mileage Plus to a similar no-fee card (don't cancel it because it's a big part of your credit history).

Amex EveryDay Preferred is another good option for you, but way more complicated.

@CABob - Double Cash is essentially a 2% card if you pay it off. I've heard people having trouble converting another citi card to it, but if you can definitely do it because DC has no sign up bonus so you won't be missing anything.

It's not really better or worse than Freedom of Discover It, but different. Whether you save more from 2% on everything or rotating categories depends on your spending and what other cards you have.

PS - Discover is doing a secret promotion where you can get twice the cash back on Discover It for 12 months. There's a thread about it on flyertalk. You can send them a private message and they'll sign you up for it. I think it's through June or July when you have to sign up.

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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by sharpjm » Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:57 am

auggiedoggies wrote:
sharpjm wrote:What would you recommend to replace the Chase Freedom card after its bonus points drop in December 2015? I'm leaning toward the citi double cash card. I'm only interested in cashback cards. Spending is mostly restaurants, groceries, and gas.
If your spending is mostly restaurants, groceries, and gas, I would go with this combo:

Chase Sapphire (2x back on restaurants, $0 annual fee)

plus one of these two:

Amex Blue Cash ($0 Annual Fee, 3% back on groceries, 2% back on gas/department stores, 1% back everywhere else, $100 sign on bonus)
Amex Blue Cash Preferred ($75 annual fee, 6% back on groceries, 3% back on gas/dept. stores, 1% back everywhere else, $150 sign on bonus)

Picking between the Blue Cash and Blue Cash Preferred is a simple math equation of how much money you will spend each year, and if the additional bonus will cover the annual fee. Be aware that the bonus points on groceries is capped at $6,000 a year
But sapphire has a $95 annual fee. I would have to do a calculation on that too. Why wouldn't I just want a citi double cash card instead of chase sapphire?

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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by auggiedoggies » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:56 am

sharpjm wrote:
auggiedoggies wrote:
sharpjm wrote:What would you recommend to replace the Chase Freedom card after its bonus points drop in December 2015? I'm leaning toward the citi double cash card. I'm only interested in cashback cards. Spending is mostly restaurants, groceries, and gas.
If your spending is mostly restaurants, groceries, and gas, I would go with this combo:

Chase Sapphire (2x back on restaurants, $0 annual fee)

plus one of these two:

Amex Blue Cash ($0 Annual Fee, 3% back on groceries, 2% back on gas/department stores, 1% back everywhere else, $100 sign on bonus)
Amex Blue Cash Preferred ($75 annual fee, 6% back on groceries, 3% back on gas/dept. stores, 1% back everywhere else, $150 sign on bonus)

Picking between the Blue Cash and Blue Cash Preferred is a simple math equation of how much money you will spend each year, and if the additional bonus will cover the annual fee. Be aware that the bonus points on groceries is capped at $6,000 a year
But sapphire has a $95 annual fee. I would have to do a calculation on that too. Why wouldn't I just want a citi double cash card instead of chase sapphire?
Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee. Regular old Sapphire does not....and now that I'm looking around on the internet, I can't find a link for the regular old Chase Sapphire anywhere....I wonder if they got rid of it? I hadn't heard anything about that...strange.

Well, if the regular Chase Sapphire no longer exists, then a Citi Double Cash would do just fine

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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:45 pm

^Regular Sapphire is gone as far as I know.

Dining cards make little sense these days unless you a) have the card for another reason or b) spend $10k+ on dining each year. I think it's worth holding onto Freedom, and maybe getting Discover It too for the quarterly 5% on dining.

The simplest way to think of grocery/gas cards is like this:

< $3000 per year = Sallie Mae
<$4500 per year = Sallie Mae+BCE
<$6000 per year = BCP
<$9000 per year = BCP + Sallie Mae
>$9000 = all 3

For most people, if you can get a value of 1.5 or greater from MR points, the Everyday Preferred is better than any of the above.

@FT - Anyone can get Sallie Mae and you don't have to use it for student loans.

@BillM - There shouldn't be a significant change other than the income you list when you apply. Still, as always, be careful if you're applying for a big loan soon. You can use Mint, Discover IT or the free version of the Arrival to check your credit score.

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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by vtMaps » Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:36 pm

freyj6 wrote: Now that US Bank+ is dead as a dining card, the only good remaining dining cards are for travel.
My citi Forward card offers 5 thankyou points per dollar on restaurants (and amazon). I transfer the thankyou points to another citi card that offers better points redemption. The redemption for cash is not very good, but the points can be redeemed for gift cards so that I end up getting at least 5% cash back equivalent as gift cards at home depot, lowes, walmart, etc.

Also, I have a couple of business redit cards (chase, amex) that give 3% cashback on restaurants.

--vtMaps
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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:02 pm

^I think Citi Forward is grandfathered in only. I think they stopped accepting new cardmembers a year or two ago.

There are some decent no-fee 3% cards though. AMEX SimplyCash is a good options for dining.

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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by HIinvestor » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:48 pm

Any way to get good bonuses for AmEx points? S says we can get a nice round the world trip if we get enough. H and I both have credit scores >800 and normally spend a few thousand every month on CCs (lots of dining out and Costco). We have the Costco AmEx, but haven't ever gotten bonus AmEx points and don't know which CC to apply for. We generally can get whatever CC we apply for.

Right now, we mostly use the CapitolOne Spark Visa for 2% cashback on all purchases, $59 annual fee. We did open Chase Ink cards for the 60K signing bonus points and like the free travel insurance for everything purchased on the cards. We also use the SallieMae MCard for 5% on gas, groceries & Amazon.

Any card recommendations? We are currently United Silver premier but not sure whether we'll have it next year--depending on travel for the rest of 2015.

sls239
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by sls239 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:49 pm

And if you do spend $10K / year on dining?

And do you think catering from places like Panera would count as dining?

toto238
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by toto238 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 6:23 pm

freyj6 wrote:I figured this would be a good way to give back to the forum since I know an unhealthy amount about credit cards.

Cards, fees and point structures are often confusing and their usefulness varies dramatically depending on your spending, travel plans, credit and so on. Still, given certain spending habits it's usually pretty clear cut which cards are best.

So if you post:
-How much you spend
-In approximately which categories (gas, groceries, restaurants, uncategorized)
-How much you plan to travel and where
-Any other important info/preferences

...then I'll tell you what card makes the most sense for you :)
-Spend $1500-$2000 per month
-Very little on gas, fair bit on groceries/restaurants
-I would like to earn a lot of airline miles as my family is on the east coast
-I will be having a lot of air travel, rental cars, hotel expenses that my work reimburses me for 100%, so I want to get as many miles/benefits from that as possible
-I want the airline miles to be with a good quality airline
-I would like to avoid a yearly fee, but am open to it if it is small and the benefits are big enough

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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:32 pm

@HIinvestor - AMEX tends to have smaller sign up bonuses than other providers. They also tend not to wave annual fees the first year, which really cuts into the bonus.

If you're trying to capitalize on sign up bonuses I'd recommend:
-Statement credit sign up bonuses like Arrival+ and Venture.
-Starwood Guest Preferred
-Citi Premier
-Individual airline cards with 50,000 pt sign up bonuses.

As far as points earned from spending, I'd drop Spark and get Double Cash (no annual fee, same rewards), and look into whether the Amex EveryDay Preferred makes sense for you. If you can get a value of 1.5 cents per point or greater (giving you 6.75% back on groceries and 2.25% back on everything else) it most likely does.

@Sls - Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Premier are good options for dining if you can get good value out of the points (UR generally being more valuable than TY points). Getting both Chase Freedom and Discover It is ideal as well -- 5% back for half the year most years. As I mentioned, AMEX simplycash is good for 3% too.

@Toto - There are virtually no useful miles cards without annual fees, so you have to decide between cash back or an annual fee. Keep in mind that it's really all about value, i.e. whether the excess in point value justifies the annual fee. It's just about saving the most money total.

The specific card depends slightly on how much work-reimbursed travel/hotel/car rental you''ll be doing.

From what you listed though, Chase Sapphire Preferred jumps out at me as a clear winner. UR points are easy to use and extremely flexible, and often worth 1.5-2 cents depending on how you use them. With 2x on dining and travel (including hotels, airfare and car rentals) you can probably get 3-4% back on all the work related travel you do. It's also 2x on restaurants. Citi Thank You Premier is a similar card that offers 3x points on travel, but the points can be harder to use. Still, they have a value of 1.6 if used on AA or US Airways.

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Hayden
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Hayden » Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:24 pm

Currently both my personal card and my business card are Costco Amex

On my personal Amex card, I charge health insurance, haircuts, and other miscellaneous expenses. about $600/month

Business Amex card is various fees, insurance, restaurants, travel. About $5000/year travel; $5000/year computer purchases; about $400/month restaurants; misc about $400/month

AMEX just this minute sent me an offer for $500 statement credit if I sign up with a new business card with them (obviously trying to wean me off of the Costco card).

what makes sense, for business and personal?

rec7
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by rec7 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:45 pm

How many cards would be OK to get in a one month time period. I have no inquires right now on my report.
Last edited by rec7 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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mike143
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by mike143 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:06 pm

Let me know if I can beat what I am currently doing.

2% All: Fidelity Amex, Priceline Visa, Citi Double Cash MasterCard (Sam's Club)
5% Grocery: Sallie Mae
5% Dining and Amazon: Citi Forward
5% Gas: PenFed Cash Rewards

Then I take advantage of credit card signing offers when I have large credit card purchase that will not give a cash discount (hospital bills). Recent was Citi Premier spend $3k in 3 month get $500 cash back. My wife and I have taken advantage of Southwest/Chase three times each. Both have around 800 credit scores according to creditkarma.com.
Nothing is free, someone pays...You can't spend your way to financial freedom.

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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:03 am

@Hayden - That's kind of a tough one. If your business purchases are from office supply stores Ink Plus or Ink Cash might be good options.

Otherwise I'd probably go with AMEX PRG or Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you can't get good value out of points or don't want to deal with them, Citi Double Cash would also be good.

@Rec7 - It depends on how high your credit is and whether you need to apply for a loan soon. If you don't need a loan and you have good credit, you could probably get away with 5+. You'll take a hit to your credit, but it'll bounce back after 6 months to a year.

@Mike - It depends on your spending habits. It looks like you're covered pretty well though.

I'm not sure if you travel much and where, but you might be able to do a bit better with points. Everyday Preferred is the best grocery card if you can get good value out of MR points (1.5+). The other thing that jumps out at me is you could pick up a Chase Freedom and rack up points in the 5% category for a year or two, then cash them all out for 7.5-10% by getting a CSP or Ink card and transferring them over.

Cheers

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mike143
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by mike143 » Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:20 am

freyj6 wrote:@Mike - It depends on your spending habits. It looks like you're covered pretty well though.

I'm not sure if you travel much and where, but you might be able to do a bit better with points. Everyday Preferred is the best grocery card if you can get good value out of MR points (1.5+). The other thing that jumps out at me is you could pick up a Chase Freedom and rack up points in the 5% category for a year or two, then cash them all out for 7.5-10% by getting a CSP or Ink card and transferring them over.

Cheers
No travel, still a young working man. I redeem my point as soon as possible to protect from point value reduction. PenFed did that with on of their cards, reduced the redemption value from 5% to 4%. I do most my grocery shopping at ALDI so I don't have much that qualifies in the grocery category. I couldn't earn past the Blue Cash Preferred annual fee when they capped it. Prior I was buying a $500 VISA gift card every two weeks. The only category card I carry is Discover for the 5% online shopping in the last quarter.
Nothing is free, someone pays...You can't spend your way to financial freedom.

harikaried
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by harikaried » Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:22 pm

mike143 wrote:2% All: Fidelity Amex, Priceline Visa, Citi Double Cash MasterCard (Sam's Club)
5% Grocery: Sallie Mae
5% Dining and Amazon: Citi Forward
5% Gas: PenFed Cash Rewards
That's pretty much what we have:

5% Grocery/Gas: Sallie Mae (up to $250/mo on each of groceries and gas)
6.667% Restaurants/Amazon/Movies: Citi Forward (booking air travel with 33% Premier card bonus)
2.222% Everything Else: Priceline Visa (10% refund bonus redeeming travel/hotel/transportation)

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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:10 am

@Mike

Looks like you're pretty well covered then :) Without the points transfer stuff it's all pretty simple. And yeah, definitely good to cycle through points quickly. Bloggers will tell you to diversify (to get you to get more cards from their affiliate links) but very few people should carry more than one card with an annual fee. And cash back is much better than points if you can get similar value.

...starting to get jealous of you guys who got grandfathered in on citi foward :(

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mike143
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by mike143 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 5:34 am

freyj6 wrote:@Mike

Looks like you're pretty well covered then :) Without the points transfer stuff it's all pretty simple. And yeah, definitely good to cycle through points quickly. Bloggers will tell you to diversify (to get you to get more cards from their affiliate links) but very few people should carry more than one card with an annual fee. And cash back is much better than points if you can get similar value.

...starting to get jealous of you guys who got grandfathered in on citi foward :(
Sallie Mae and Amazon's new card do 5% at Amazon.

https://www.salliemae.com/credit-cards/sallie-mae-card/

http://twocents.lifehacker.com/the-new- ... 1694419150
Nothing is free, someone pays...You can't spend your way to financial freedom.

BahamaMan
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by BahamaMan » Sun Jun 28, 2015 7:58 am

Currently using Capital One Venture Visa.

Charge about $70 Grand a Year.

Travel - $20 Grand
Groceries - $10 Grand
Restaurants - $8 Grand
Gasoline - $5 Grand
Merch /Not Categorized - $27 Grand

Grogs
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Grogs » Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:15 pm

-How much you spend

~15k / yr

-In approximately which categories (gas, groceries, restaurants, uncategorized)

Largest categories are:

Groceries: $5500
Gas: $1200
Amazon: $1500 (Mostly clothes, hiking gear, electronics)
Pet supplies: $1500
Vet. Bills: $2000
Home Improvement: $1000
Dining Out: $500

-How much you plan to travel and where

I do 3-4 domestic trips / yr. for work. I have to put all major expenses (airfare, hotel, rental car, etc) on the corporate card though. No plans for major personal travel in the next couple of years.

-Any other important info/preferences

My only rewards card now is an Amazon Rewards Visa that gives 3% back for Amazon purchases.

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CMartel2
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by CMartel2 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 1:11 pm

Alliant Credit Union also offers a no BT fee and 0% for 12 months. They typically also give you higher limits. Chase Slate gave me 5k. Alliant? 20k

When looking at points, keep in mind where you live. I live in a small town, and airline tickets are expensive. I can get 4-5 cents per point with an airline card with a set points setting (e.g, 30k miles for RT to the Caribbean in coach.) Much better than the 2 cents per dollar.

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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:50 pm

@BahamaMan - You'll want to get several cards since most have spending limits for high rewards rates.

I'd start with Blue Cash Preferred for 6% back on groceries, and then either Sallie Mae or Everyday Preferred for the rest (depending on how easily it is for you to get value out of MR points; the cut off is about 1.5 for EDP to be worth it).

Next I'd pick up either CSP, PRG or Citi Premier for your travel/dining. Which one you get depends on what airlines you use most. If you don't want to deal with points, you could pick up Arrival+ or Double Cash instead.

It all depends on the level of complication you want to put up with. You have the potentially to net almost 3-4 grand in points/cash back each year though.

@Grogs - Blue Cash Preferred would be the first card to get for 6% back on groceries and 3% on gas. Pet supplies will be uncategorized and dining spending is probably a little too low to worry about.

If I were you I'd probably get Chase Freedom and/or Discover IT because they each offer a 5% Amazon quarter most years (which can become as much as 10% with Freedom if you get CSP or Ink at some point). Discover IT offers a home improvement quarter most years and they both often offer 5% dining/gas quarters. A simpler solution however would be to get Sallie Mae, which is a permanent 5% on Amazon and Gas and Groceries.

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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Grogs » Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:12 pm

freyj6 wrote:@Grogs - Blue Cash Preferred would be the first card to get for 6% back on groceries and 3% on gas. Pet supplies will be uncategorized and dining spending is probably a little too low to worry about.

If I were you I'd probably get Chase Freedom and/or Discover IT because they each offer a 5% Amazon quarter most years (which can become as much as 10% with Freedom if you get CSP or Ink at some point). Discover IT offers a home improvement quarter most years and they both often offer 5% dining/gas quarters. A simpler solution however would be to get Sallie Mae, which is a permanent 5% on Amazon and Gas and Groceries.
Great, thanks for the reply. So from what I'm seeing, it looks like BCP would give me ~$330 back on $5500 in groceries annually, minus $75 annual fee, for a net of $255.

For the Sallie Mae card, my annual gas spending is below their $250/mo. limit. 5% of $1200 would be $60. For the Amazon piece, the Sallie Mae says 5% off of books. Are Amazon purchases automatically considered to be books? If so, that would be 5% of $1500, or another $75 / year.

~7k of other categories @ 1% back = $70. Assuming Amazon works, that would be $255 + $60 + $75 + $70 = $460, or ~3.1% back on $15K spent. That's a lot better than I'm doing now.


FWIW, the Discover IT card is currently offering double rewards (i.e., 10% / 2%) for new customers. I'm thinking that could potentially add another $75 - $100 in the first year based on the 10% categories, plus $70 for doubling the reward (1% -> 2%) on the $7k in misc. categories. So $460 + $150 = $610, or 4.1% cash back. After the first year when the double rewards end, it looks like additional benefit for the Discover It will be pretty marginal though.

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ram
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by ram » Sun Jun 28, 2015 10:02 pm

Our family of 4 currently has 11 credit cards. Our annual expenses on credit cards are about 60,000. Both of us have credit ratings between 780 to 810 out of 850. Our two college age kids need at least one Visa/ Mastercard .
Our annual credit card expenses:
Restaurants including workplace and college cafeterias; 5- 6 K
Airline including 2 to 3 overseas and 8 to 10 domestic roundtrips : 7 to 8 K
Hotel Rooms (mostly Hilton or Marriott): 4 to 5 K
Groceries 3 to 4 K
Gas 2 to 3 K
Other: balance

Our cards are:
Fido AmEx 2% cash back, no fee : Default
AmEx everyday, no fee: Oldest card. Will always keep it. $20 for primary car insurance for car rentals. Backup grocery card.
AmEx Hilton, no fee: Gives me silver status. Hardly use it. Was used more in the past. Keeps the average age of my cards higher.
Marriott Visa : $85 fee but get 1 free nite for it so essentially no fee. Use it for Marriott stays.
PenFed Visa, no fee: Used by daughter, paid by me. Her major expense is restaurants and it pays only 1%. Her gas expense is minimal. Used to be my gas card.
Sallie May Mastercard , no fee. : Used for gas, grocery, Amazon. Primary card for college age son. His main expense is Amazon. His cafeteria plan cant be paid by CC.
AA Mastercard (old US airway card) $89 fee. : Paid 89 for 50 K miles. Will cancel within 12 mo. Hope to use miles for overseas by transferring miles from Chase Sapphire preferred. Does it transfer to American airline at 1: 1 ratio. If not will use for domestic travel.
Capital one, no fee in first year. It eliminated $ 400 of airfare from bonus miles . Will close in 12 mo.
Citi Hilton Honors, $ 95 fee but get one nite for it if spending exceeds 10 K annually : Gives wife gold status at Hilton. We typically redeem the points at about 0.6 cents and it gives 6% for stays at Hilton. Gives 3% for restaurants ( at 0.6 cent / point)
Chase Sapphire Preferred: Got 6 mo ago. Plan to use points to top off airline points for free International travel. Question is whether it is good to keep it in second year onward with the fee.
Discover 10%/ 2% : Was approved for it today. Had avoided rotating categories till today but 10% was just too good.

Plan is to keep no more than 10 cards. Any suggestions for improvement without adding too much additional complexity. All are on automatic payment plan and paid in full each month. Once I close the 2 cards noted above I will churn one more. Any suggestions.
Ram

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freyj6
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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by freyj6 » Mon Jun 29, 2015 3:23 am

@Grogs - Yeah you got it. And yes, Amazon is considered a bookstore for Sallie Mae. Discover IT's x2 bonus is really nice, but about once a year they offer a $150 sign up bonus through specific links. You could also wait for that. Freedom offers a $200 sign up bonus about twice a year so wait for that if you get that card.

Citi Double Cash is another option if you're not big on rotating categories.

@Ram - That's a bit too much complication to say anything objective about.

My main recommendation would just be to figure out which 3-5 cards are the best for each category and worth keeping long term, and then set up a churning schedule for uncategorized spending.

Sallie Mae probably makes the most sense for your grocery/gas spending levels, Fidelity covers uncategorized, and CSP, PRG or Citi Premier is going to be best for travel/dining/hotels. You just have to calculate what kind of value you can get out of points.

The hotel cards are super subjective; only you can really decide if they're worth keeping.

Then you have your churn schedule. Focus 50,000 pt sign up bonuses from airlines you'll definitely use in the next year, statement credit travel cards like Arrival+, Chase Ink if you have something you can consider a business, etc.

Basically just get really clear on which cards are best for each type of permanent spending you have. The rest is just grabbing the current 50k offer.

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Re: What credit should you get? (Ask me anything)

Post by Barefootgirl » Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:59 pm

Thanks for this thread.

With the understanding that nothing is guaranteed, which points program /associated credit card appears to be the most stable, least likely to devalue in the future? I am planning near and long term trips and devaluation is the downside to long term trip planning.

My biggest spend categories:

restaurants and groceries - recommended cards?

Know of any ways to pay rent using a credit card?

Also, which card is most churnable? i.e. - which bank/which card do people have the most success in getting approved for successive cards without too much time gap in between?

Thanks!
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