What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

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mickeyd
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby mickeyd » Wed May 25, 2016 3:05 pm

I never thought of it as a strategy, but I guess that's what it is. All cash rewards go to reduce my monthly balance. What's left is paid off automatically with zero balance left. Seems about as cost effective as possible as I always have a monthly balance since I charge close to 100%.
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pennstater2005
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby pennstater2005 » Wed May 25, 2016 3:09 pm

BW1985 wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Currently churning for bonuses. If/when I hit all the bonuses I'll go back to Chase Freedom for 5% categories and Chase Unlimited for 1.5% on everything else, then convert to ultimate rewards.


This. Did the Citi Bank bonus for my wife and myself. Got $1,000 worth of gift cards between Wal Mart and Lowes (both invites for 50k points with 3k in 90 days). Just finished American Express gold card for wife also 50k bonus points for 2k spending in 90 days. Got $500 in Home Depot cards.

Just applied for the Chase Freedom for $150 back after $500 in spending first 90 days.

Usual cards are American Express for 2% and Sallie Mae card for 5% gas/groceries.

I'm done churning for awhile after the Chase card.


My wife thought I was a nut job at first, then she started seeing the gift cards and cash rolling in. Now she's totally on-board. Lol

I don't care about the credit aspect as long as it stays high enough to get approved for new cards to churn. I already have a mortgage and wouldn't borrow money for anything else.


Yeah, my wife was skeptical but she's got it down now. I did get turned down for one with the reasoning, by mail, as too many credit cards opened in last two years :shock:
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munemaker
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby munemaker » Wed May 25, 2016 3:22 pm

pennstater2005 wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Currently churning for bonuses. If/when I hit all the bonuses I'll go back to Chase Freedom for 5% categories and Chase Unlimited for 1.5% on everything else, then convert to ultimate rewards.


This. Did the Citi Bank bonus for my wife and myself. Got $1,000 worth of gift cards between Wal Mart and Lowes (both invites for 50k points with 3k in 90 days). Just finished American Express gold card for wife also 50k bonus points for 2k spending in 90 days. Got $500 in Home Depot cards.

Just applied for the Chase Freedom for $150 back after $500 in spending first 90 days.

Usual cards are American Express for 2% and Sallie Mae card for 5% gas/groceries.

I'm done churning for awhile after the Chase card.


My wife thought I was a nut job at first, then she started seeing the gift cards and cash rolling in. Now she's totally on-board. Lol

I don't care about the credit aspect as long as it stays high enough to get approved for new cards to churn. I already have a mortgage and wouldn't borrow money for anything else.


Yeah, my wife was skeptical but she's got it down now. I did get turned down for one with the reasoning, by mail, as too many credit cards opened in last two years :shock:


That was probably Chase. They are hung up on the 2 year thing.

BW1985
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby BW1985 » Wed May 25, 2016 3:23 pm

pennstater2005 wrote:
Yeah, my wife was skeptical but she's got it down now. I did get turned down for one with the reasoning, by mail, as too many credit cards opened in last two years :shock:


Was it a Chase card? (5/24 rule)
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guitarguy
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Wed May 25, 2016 3:27 pm

traveler90 wrote:My only goal is miles. I get a decent amount of miles on United through work so I want credit card points that I can transfer over to United to use.

Chase Sapphire Preferred - main card
Chase Freedom - for 5% rotating categories

Transfer over points from both to United when I need them, sometimes transfer to Southwest instead.

Right now I am also using the United Mileage Plus Explorer card for the 50k sign up bonus.


This brings up 2 questions for me.

1. For those of you that rock out the miles and travel rewards, do you find that you're also traveling a lot for work as well? It seems to me that a lot of people that do the miles thing also travel for work and they capitalize on earning extra points that way and then combining for personal use. I wonder if just traveling once or twice a year like my wife and I do, along with just moderate household spending and virtually zero work travel, would still be worthwhile to pursue the mileage thing.

2. I'm not sure why but I have always had the notion in my mind about blackout dates and other similar nonsense when trying to redeem miles. Is it just a bad rep? I just picture myself racking up a lot of miles and then only being able to fly to Podunkville Nowhere on a Tuesday at 1am to have the chance to redeem them. :|

Do they really restrict things that much? Or can you really use the miles to fly when and where you want with pretty minimal interference these days?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby BW1985 » Wed May 25, 2016 3:32 pm

guitarguy wrote:
This brings up 2 questions for me.

1. For those of you that rock out the miles and travel rewards, do you find that you're also traveling a lot for work as well? It seems to me that a lot of people that do the miles thing also travel for work and they capitalize on earning extra points that way and then combining for personal use. I wonder if just traveling once or twice a year like my wife and I do, along with just moderate household spending and virtually zero work travel, would still be worthwhile to pursue the mileage thing.

2. I'm not sure why but I have always had the notion in my mind about blackout dates and other similar nonsense when trying to redeem miles. Is it just a bad rep? I just picture myself racking up a lot of miles and then only being able to fly to Podunkville Nowhere on a Tuesday at 1am to have the chance to redeem them. :|

Do they really restrict things that much? Or can you really use the miles to fly when and where you want with pretty minimal interference these days?


I can speak to Southwest, there are no blackout dates or the like.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

guitarguy
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Wed May 25, 2016 3:37 pm

BW1985 wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
This brings up 2 questions for me.

1. For those of you that rock out the miles and travel rewards, do you find that you're also traveling a lot for work as well? It seems to me that a lot of people that do the miles thing also travel for work and they capitalize on earning extra points that way and then combining for personal use. I wonder if just traveling once or twice a year like my wife and I do, along with just moderate household spending and virtually zero work travel, would still be worthwhile to pursue the mileage thing.

2. I'm not sure why but I have always had the notion in my mind about blackout dates and other similar nonsense when trying to redeem miles. Is it just a bad rep? I just picture myself racking up a lot of miles and then only being able to fly to Podunkville Nowhere on a Tuesday at 1am to have the chance to redeem them. :|

Do they really restrict things that much? Or can you really use the miles to fly when and where you want with pretty minimal interference these days?


I can speak to Southwest, there are no blackout dates or the like.


And while we're on that...without assigned seats is it like a madhouse trying to board a plane!!?? :shock:

(I've actually never flown Southwest, not specifically for that reason.)

Joey_Freshwater
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Joey_Freshwater » Wed May 25, 2016 3:40 pm

I always fly Southwest when possible.

No blackout dates, but make sure you fly wanna get away tier as you get the maximum bang for your points there. You can get 3 round trip tickets for 50k points if you play your cards right.

No assigned seats doesn't bother me.

BW1985
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby BW1985 » Wed May 25, 2016 3:52 pm

Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

SRenaeP
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby SRenaeP » Wed May 25, 2016 4:08 pm

guitarguy wrote:This brings up 2 questions for me.

1. For those of you that rock out the miles and travel rewards, do you find that you're also traveling a lot for work as well? It seems to me that a lot of people that do the miles thing also travel for work and they capitalize on earning extra points that way and then combining for personal use. I wonder if just traveling once or twice a year like my wife and I do, along with just moderate household spending and virtually zero work travel, would still be worthwhile to pursue the mileage thing.

2. I'm not sure why but I have always had the notion in my mind about blackout dates and other similar nonsense when trying to redeem miles. Is it just a bad rep? I just picture myself racking up a lot of miles and then only being able to fly to Podunkville Nowhere on a Tuesday at 1am to have the chance to redeem them. :|

Do they really restrict things that much? Or can you really use the miles to fly when and where you want with pretty minimal interference these days?


DH and I travel some for work (typically 2-3 times a year) but more for pleasure. If you only travel once or twice a year, cash back may be a better fit for you than travel rewards. In addition, mileage is good for us because we redeem them for high dollar trips, mostly international.

I primarily fly Delta and there are no blackout dates but of course the miles required vary based on supply and demand. Spending Christmas in Hawaii is going to cost a lot of miles unless you book 331 days out. Also, we're plenty flexible for most trips. We may know we want a beach trip but we're willing to go wherever (that meets our requirements) we can get a good FF flight as well as reduced cost lodging (be it hotel points, VRBO, timeshare, etc).

-Steph

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby SRenaeP » Wed May 25, 2016 4:11 pm

BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


I had the Chase Hyatt card and to me, that was one of the better deals out there. Low minimum spend and the free nights could be used at any Hyatt property unlike some other hotel brands that limit you to a certain category. I can't recall if we still had the card when we took our trip but if the reservation has already been made, the nights shouldn't disappear on you if you cancel the card. IIRC, the free nights had to be used within a year so it may be a moot point anyway.

-Steph

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby bta15 » Wed May 25, 2016 4:20 pm

BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


I have it. Your two free nights expire a year after earned. With a $1k spend you should be able to earn them in your first month. The thing about annual fees is you can ask to have them removed for at least 60 days after they post. So you could cancel 14 months after you apply and still get the annual fee refunded, and by that time you would have had to use your nights or they would have expired.

Marriott points aren't worth much. A night at a decent Marriott is like 40k points where a decent Hyatt might be 12k. That said, 80k points + a free night should be at least 3 nights, so maybe that is better. But the Marriott card does have an $85 annual fee after the first year.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby traveler90 » Wed May 25, 2016 4:20 pm

guitarguy wrote:
traveler90 wrote:My only goal is miles. I get a decent amount of miles on United through work so I want credit card points that I can transfer over to United to use.

Chase Sapphire Preferred - main card
Chase Freedom - for 5% rotating categories

Transfer over points from both to United when I need them, sometimes transfer to Southwest instead.

Right now I am also using the United Mileage Plus Explorer card for the 50k sign up bonus.


This brings up 2 questions for me.

1. For those of you that rock out the miles and travel rewards, do you find that you're also traveling a lot for work as well? It seems to me that a lot of people that do the miles thing also travel for work and they capitalize on earning extra points that way and then combining for personal use. I wonder if just traveling once or twice a year like my wife and I do, along with just moderate household spending and virtually zero work travel, would still be worthwhile to pursue the mileage thing.

2. I'm not sure why but I have always had the notion in my mind about blackout dates and other similar nonsense when trying to redeem miles. Is it just a bad rep? I just picture myself racking up a lot of miles and then only being able to fly to Podunkville Nowhere on a Tuesday at 1am to have the chance to redeem them. :|

Do they really restrict things that much? Or can you really use the miles to fly when and where you want with pretty minimal interference these days?



I do travel for work which makes it much more valuable to me. I'm booking intl business class flights on my CC several times a year which helps generate a lot of points too.

However, I never have too much trouble with blackout dates. It just takes a little searching around. For three years in a row we have booked flights to Europe for 60k round trip per person on United, cheapest possible. I do have status though with United which I think gives me a few more options - not positive.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby SQRT » Wed May 25, 2016 4:23 pm

Use CC's for almost everything. Obviously pay balance monthly. We use our rewards points for business/first class international travel. Usually get 2-4 business class tickets to Europe or Asia every year. These normally cost $5-10k per ticket. We enjoy travel but I'm 6'4" so need more space. Probably works out to 5-10% benefit rate. Depends on what you value, and how much you spend obviously. Retired so very flexible with dates, etc. Don't ever have problems getting good flights but does take patience and experience.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Artsdoctor » Wed May 25, 2016 4:57 pm

SQRT wrote:Use CC's for almost everything. Obviously pay balance monthly. We use our rewards points for business/first class international travel. Usually get 2-4 business class tickets to Europe or Asia every year. These normally cost $5-10k per ticket. We enjoy travel but I'm 6'4" so need more space. Probably works out to 5-10% benefit rate. Depends on what you value, and how much you spend obviously. Retired so very flexible with dates, etc. Don't ever have problems getting good flights but does take patience and experience.


Yes: I use American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card.

The annual fee is $195. Points accrue very quickly and can be transferred directly into many frequent flyer airlines accounts. We also travel internationally and use the points for business class tickets, which can save thousands of dollars as you note. Although I like the idea of getting cash back instead, I'd never be able to get the cash back sufficiently to purchase these tickets unless there were flash sales.*

It used to be a little labor-intensive to transfer points into accounts but this has improved dramatically over the past few years. You can literally have one screen open with the airline and one screen open at AMEX, and the transfer happens instantaneously which allows you to book the flight.

*SQRT, you might also want to keep your eyes open for flash sales. You'll see occasionally for international business class tickets which are less than half the price you're used to seeing, but the flash sales can last for only 2-3 days.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby giesen5 » Wed May 25, 2016 5:24 pm

Just started playing the credit card game in January. Goal was to subsidize tickets for 4 to Italy summer 2017.

Wow, I did not realize that by "subsidize" I really meant "free". By the end of June I will have earned enough points for 4 free tickets to Europe. By the end of summer I will have earned over $1700 to pay for air bnb stays in Italy.

There are two of us playing the game, but my wife has no interest in doing the work, so I am doing it for her.

Cards now:
2 Chase Sapphire (120,000 UR)
1 Chase Freedom (18,000 UR)
1 Chase Freedom Unlimited (18,000 UR)
2 Chase United Explorer (100,000, maybe soon to be 140,000 United miles)
1 Barclay Arrival + ($460 travel spend)
1 AmEx Hilton (75,000 pts)

Next round:
2 Chase IHG (2-4 free hotel nights)
1 Barclay Arrival + (another $460)
2 Capital One Venture ($920 travel spend)

Later:
2 Alaska Airlines (50-60,000 miles)

guitarguy
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Wed May 25, 2016 5:33 pm

SRenaeP wrote:DH and I travel some for work (typically 2-3 times a year) but more for pleasure. If you only travel once or twice a year, cash back may be a better fit for you than travel rewards. In addition, mileage is good for us because we redeem them for high dollar trips, mostly international.


This is why we've gone with cash back for the most part. Just figured since we only fly/travel once or twice a year the cash back will come out ahead.

But that said, with all the sweet signup bonuses out there, maybe it makes sense to start stock piling some Ult Rewards points and plan ahead to cash them in for a nice vacation. We have yet to go to Europe, but have talked about going for our 10th anniversary...still 4 years away haha...prob should start stock piling rewards points now and then churn the Chase Sapphire and the Ink business right before we go, get one of the airline cards which will probably have a sign up bonus too, and transfer everything there. That would provably net us a free trip or close to it. We don't typically churn cards, but travel like these don't seem all that valuable to me after the signup because again, I just don't think we travel enough.

Does anyone else do anything like this? Plan to take a nice vacation and just tactically churn out a card or 2 just for that? Seems like you could do that once a year (alternating with a spouse maybe) and make out pretty good.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby giesen5 » Wed May 25, 2016 5:35 pm

See my post above. We are not churning but are hitting the intro deals HARD. I plan on doing a trip like this every two or three years. Will close many of these accounts to start the 2 year Chase timer.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby biturbo » Wed May 25, 2016 6:04 pm

We don't generally chase signup bonuses, avoid cards with annual fees, and we stick to cash back to keep things simple (and we don't travel much right now). I also opt for cash over gift cards, because I feel like any bonus you get by getting them instead of cash is negated by either odd amounts left over on them and/or spending more than you otherwise would have.

We have a number of cards (probably 8?) and optimize toward whichever one has a bonus for a given category, then everything else goes on our Citi DoubleCash card at 2% cash back. We started out with the Fidelity Amex (2%) as our general card, but a bunch of technical problems with our account made us look at the Citi card and we've been pretty happy with it.

My wife and I just got married a year and a half ago, and getting her on board was tough at first - she'd never had a credit card before, and also didn't like having to keep track of the cards. We use Cashbackoptimizer (http://www.cashbackoptimizer.com/) to find the optimal card for every category and print out a sheet showing which card to use when to make it fairly simple, and once she saw how much we got back (we typically get $75 or so per month), she was ok with it.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby pennstater2005 » Wed May 25, 2016 6:18 pm

munemaker wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Currently churning for bonuses. If/when I hit all the bonuses I'll go back to Chase Freedom for 5% categories and Chase Unlimited for 1.5% on everything else, then convert to ultimate rewards.


This. Did the Citi Bank bonus for my wife and myself. Got $1,000 worth of gift cards between Wal Mart and Lowes (both invites for 50k points with 3k in 90 days). Just finished American Express gold card for wife also 50k bonus points for 2k spending in 90 days. Got $500 in Home Depot cards.

Just applied for the Chase Freedom for $150 back after $500 in spending first 90 days.

Usual cards are American Express for 2% and Sallie Mae card for 5% gas/groceries.

I'm done churning for awhile after the Chase card.


My wife thought I was a nut job at first, then she started seeing the gift cards and cash rolling in. Now she's totally on-board. Lol

I don't care about the credit aspect as long as it stays high enough to get approved for new cards to churn. I already have a mortgage and wouldn't borrow money for anything else.


Yeah, my wife was skeptical but she's got it down now. I did get turned down for one with the reasoning, by mail, as too many credit cards opened in last two years :shock:


That was probably Chase. They are hung up on the 2 year thing.
BW1985 wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:
Yeah, my wife was skeptical but she's got it down now. I did get turned down for one with the reasoning, by mail, as too many credit cards opened in last two years :shock:


Was it a Chase card? (5/24 rule)


Yes it was Chase. I actually just applied for my wife but didn't get an instant decision so I'm assuming the same.
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby tibbitts » Wed May 25, 2016 6:37 pm

bta15 wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


I have it. Your two free nights expire a year after earned. With a $1k spend you should be able to earn them in your first month. The thing about annual fees is you can ask to have them removed for at least 60 days after they post. So you could cancel 14 months after you apply and still get the annual fee refunded, and by that time you would have had to use your nights or they would have expired.

Marriott points aren't worth much. A night at a decent Marriott is like 40k points where a decent Hyatt might be 12k. That said, 80k points + a free night should be at least 3 nights, so maybe that is better. But the Marriott card does have an $85 annual fee after the first year.

I have the Marriott card and will probably renew it for the $85, since you do get one free night at a modest Marriott for that. However if you don't travel a lot it's easy to let rewards (like free nights) expire by mistake. Also Marriott started expiring accounts, so the card gives a way to deal with that without having to buy magazines or do some other activity. I have one free night now that I need to use within a month or so, and I'm not sure what I'll do with it.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Wed May 25, 2016 8:01 pm

giesen5 wrote:See my post above. We are not churning but are hitting the intro deals HARD. I plan on doing a trip like this every two or three years. Will close many of these accounts to start the 2 year Chase timer.


Exactly. I must've missed your post.

What exactly do you mean by close the accounts to reset the timer? Isn't it simply a can't open more than 5 cards in 24 months rule? Why does it matter whether they're closed or not?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby giesen5 » Wed May 25, 2016 8:08 pm

I could be wrong, but I think you cannot have more than 5 Chase accounts, not counting non-branded account (but that may be changing - https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comme ... dit_cards/). So you would need to close an account in order to cash in on the sign-up offers. The Chase timer starts at the day you close the account, so you cannot keep those 5 cards open and expect to open another account in 5 years.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby radiowave » Wed May 25, 2016 8:41 pm

And while we're on that...without assigned seats is it like a madhouse trying to board a plane!!?? :shock:

(I've actually never flown Southwest, not specifically for that reason.)


I'll tell my secret plan when I fly Southwest . . . I get in the A boarding row then take the very last row either window seat. In the past year, I've been batting about 50% that no one sits beside me and had 2 trip I had the entire back row to myself. If you think about it, if you were the last one on the plane, would you want to sit in the middle seat in the last row if you didn't have to? And being in the back row means no crying babies behind me :)

Well I blew it telling my secret strategy. But I do like flying SW, the entire crew seem to enjoy their jobs more.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Wed May 25, 2016 9:03 pm

giesen5 wrote:I could be wrong, but I think you cannot have more than 5 Chase accounts, not counting non-branded account (but that may be changing - https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comme ... dit_cards/). So you would need to close an account in order to cash in on the sign-up offers. The Chase timer starts at the day you close the account, so you cannot keep those 5 cards open and expect to open another account in 5 years.


I don't believe there is a problem with having more than 5 Chase accounts at a time. Their 5/24 rule is that they will deny you a new account if your credit shows that you've opened 5 new lines of credit, from any credit card company, in the last 24 months. The only way to reset the clock is to wait it out, and the clock starts when you open the card, nothing seems to restart when, or if, you close it.

If I'm misunderstanding this rule, I'd appreciate someone else chiming in!

http://www.travelcodex.com/2016/03/why- ... -lifetime/
Last edited by guitarguy on Wed May 25, 2016 9:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

madbrain
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Wed May 25, 2016 9:09 pm

My goal is strictly to earn cash, no other types of rewards.
I only carry 2 credit cards in my wallet :
- Fidelity Amex, 2% cash back . I use it everywhere Amex is accepted.
- Fidelity VISA, 1.5% cash back . I use it everywhere Amex is not accepted, but VISA is

Other credit cards I also use, but don't normally carry :
- CapitalOne World MasterCard, 1.5% cash back, no annual fee.
I use this for all my subscription services, such as cable Internet, satellite TV, cell phones, etc. About $300 - 400/month in charges only.
I stopped using the Fidelity cards because they changed the number on me so many times due to their security issues. I also carry this card while abroad since this has 0% foreign transaction/currency fee
- Chase Freedom. I used it for one quarter in 7 years while they had 5% off at Amazon. This card stays in my drawer. I often don't even bother to look at the new categories as I hate the concept of rotating rewards. Would never carry this card.

This strategy works well for me because :
1) most groceries are purchased from Costco, and the cards that offer higher rewards for groceries don't apply at Costco as it's considered a warehouse/discount club
2) my gas usage is only about $200/year with my Chevrolet Volt. 83% of my miles are electric. So, the cards that offer higher rewards on gas are also fairly useless to me.
3) most of my travel is last minute and there are seldom awards available on the routes I want to take on short notice. I have been burnt with mileage cards before when some airline routes were deleted - never again

I believe it would be hard for me to optimize it further. The main thing I'm likely missing on are the signup bonuses for new cards. I have not played that game for a while. We do spend about $40k on credit cards/year, so that is likely the case. Inertia plays a role. We usually plan our travel last minute, so it's too late to apply for new cards just before then just to capture signup bonuses. Otherwise I feel like there would be too much pressure to meet spending requirements within a given period of time, and our spending would increase and we wouldn't really net anything.

I know both Fidelity FIA cards will go away soon, and be replaced with Fidelity Elan VISA. Not sure if it will be one or new Fidelity Elan Visa cards. But it should earn 2%. I will only carry one, so that will be one less card in my wallet.

My Costco Amex card, which I never use (I carry my Costco membership card instead), is also being converted to Citi Costco Visa, which will have 3% on dining. So I may start carrying that one too just for restaurants, even though it's also a Visa. We do spend about $400/month on restaurants, mostly charged to the Fidelity Amex and getting 2%, so it will be about $50/more per year in rewards by getting 3% on dining instead of 2%.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby BW1985 » Wed May 25, 2016 9:29 pm

guitarguy wrote:
giesen5 wrote:I could be wrong, but I think you cannot have more than 5 Chase accounts, not counting non-branded account (but that may be changing - https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comme ... dit_cards/). So you would need to close an account in order to cash in on the sign-up offers. The Chase timer starts at the day you close the account, so you cannot keep those 5 cards open and expect to open another account in 5 years.


I don't believe there is a problem with having more than 5 Chase accounts at a time. Their 5/24 rule is that they will deny you a new account if your credit shows that you've opened 5 new lines of credit, from any credit card company, in the last 24 months. The only way to reset the clock is to wait it out, and the clock starts when you open the card, nothing seems to restart when, or if, you close it.

If I'm misunderstanding this rule, I'd appreciate someone else chiming in!

http://www.travelcodex.com/2016/03/why- ... -lifetime/


You're right. That's why if you're a churner best to open all Chase cards first then move to the others. Or your spouse can open chase as well that's what I plan to do for future Chase needs like another Saphhire.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby giesen5 » Wed May 25, 2016 9:55 pm

My bad, you are both correct. But it does sound like it is continuing to tighten up and you really need to be strategic about what Chase cards you attempt to get.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed May 25, 2016 9:57 pm

Goals: Our goals are to achieve rewards with maximum simplicity. Keeping it simple is more important than wringing out the last dollar.

Cards. Two cards: The Cap One Venture (2% when redeemed for travel expense), no foreign exchange fees. The other is the Costco Amex (to be replaced by the Costco Citi)

Rewards. We save the 2% Cap One rewards and redeem them after our annual international trip. The Costco reward goes into the Christmas fund.

Final Thoughs. DH isnt going to use one card for gas, one dard for groc etc. Also we want to minimize the # of cards we carry. I also don't want to track any more accounts than necessary.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby radiowave » Wed May 25, 2016 10:49 pm

Postby mickeyd » 25 May 2016, 14:05

I never thought of it as a strategy, but I guess that's what it is. All cash rewards go to reduce my monthly balance. What's left is paid off automatically with zero balance left. Seems about as cost effective as possible as I always have a monthly balance since I charge close to 100%.


Yes, that's our strategy as well. After I cashed in my rewards this month, actually had a $49 credit on my account balance. Nice to know the CC company owes me :)

And thank you for your service.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby HIinvestor » Thu May 26, 2016 4:12 am

We have a CapOne Spark Visa for 2% cash back, no max. It's our main card. We also have a Chase Sapphire, which we like for primary car rental and travel insurance. We book tours and cars on it. We use the UR points to let our D book free flights at the last moment.

We have Barclay 5% cashback on groceries, gas and Amazon. We also have an AmEx that I get 3% back in restaurants (we dine out a lot).

Probably will get a Hilton card, since we have 2 stays coming up with Hilton Hotels very soon.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby lhl12 » Thu May 26, 2016 4:30 am

B of A Travel Rewards card for everything - 2.625% cash back on all purchases. I actually have two of them - one for automated monthly subscription services and one that I carry around.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby oldcomputerguy » Thu May 26, 2016 6:22 am

guitarguy wrote:I thought it might be helpful to have everyone post their strategy they have for earning/redeeming/maximizing credit card rewards.


I guess my "strategy", if you want to call it that, is sort of a Boglehead thing, I find the best card deal I can, stick with it, and "take what the market gives" (i.e. I don't chase return or bonuses). Up until recently, we were using a Capital One card for just about everything we could use it for, it returned 2% as travel points (1% if we wanted to redeem for cash or rewards other than travel), and charged a $45 annual fee. Recently we changed over to the new Fidelity Visa, which also returns 2%, but unlike the Capital One card it returns the reward as cash into my Fidelity account, so we're not limited to redeeming for travel, plus no annual fee (thus following the Boglehead principle of minimizing expenses).
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby DaftInvestor » Thu May 26, 2016 6:40 am

Lindrobe wrote:
Shallowpockets wrote:I am curious about churning cards.
Let's say you get 50,000 miles to an airline card after you spend 3k. First year is free for the card, then $95 year. You spend the 3k, get your miles to your account and then what?
Does the airline honor those miles if you cancel your card so as not to get the $95 charge for the second year? O do you use the miles before that first year expires?


With the Chase Sapphire, you transfer the points to the travel partner of your choice, then close the card. No need to keep it open 1 year. With the Hilton and Marriott cards, the points transfer directly to the hotel partner each month, so you can close the card at any time.


The airline cards work the same way - you can get the United Airlines Chase for 50K miles (don't sign up for 30k - they routinely offer 50K) - spend the $3K - the miles transfer directly into you United ff account and then you can cancel the card well before the annual fee. I did this with American Airlines citi card as well for 50K miles recently.

Generally I use the Citi double cash card for everything and sign up for one new card to churn for the sign up points approximately once per year. Too me it is too much trouble to carry additional cards for specific higher discounts at specific places (but maybe it is because there is no 1 place I frequent enough).

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby DaftInvestor » Thu May 26, 2016 6:45 am

radiowave wrote:
And while we're on that...without assigned seats is it like a madhouse trying to board a plane!!?? :shock:

(I've actually never flown Southwest, not specifically for that reason.)


I'll tell my secret plan when I fly Southwest . . . I get in the A boarding row then take the very last row either window seat. In the past year, I've been batting about 50% that no one sits beside me and had 2 trip I had the entire back row to myself. If you think about it, if you were the last one on the plane, would you want to sit in the middle seat in the last row if you didn't have to? And being in the back row means no crying babies behind me :)

Well I blew it telling my secret strategy. But I do like flying SW, the entire crew seem to enjoy their jobs more.


But aren't you sitting right next to the restroom? I hate it back there...

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby prudent » Thu May 26, 2016 6:55 am

We settled on a 4-card portfolio.
- Fidelity Amex (2% cashback) which I will probably change to a Citi DoubleCash
- Penfed 5% cashback on gas
- Citi Dividend for all online purchases using their Virtual Account Number program (creates single-use credit card numbers) 1% cashback. I give up some cashback for the security of not having any cards compromised online.
- Huntington bank Voice card (3% at Walmart, where she gets gift cards to use at Sam's Club where she does a lot of shopping)

When Discover did 10% cashback using Apple Pay at the end of last year, we used the heck out of that.

We don't usually follow the rotating 5% bonus categories since she does most of the shopping, and says she won't juggle any more cards than she has now.

RIght now we're at a good balance of reward vs complexity.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby azanon » Thu May 26, 2016 6:59 am

AMEX blue cash preferred for groceries (6% back), and non-kroger gas (3% back), and Citi Double Cash for 2% back on everything else. So, my method is to get the most cash back possible. If there's a better deal out there than what I"m doing, please PM me. I want nothing but the best, of course, boglehead style. :mrgreen:

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby SQRT » Thu May 26, 2016 7:58 am

Artsdoctor wrote:
SQRT wrote:Use CC's for almost everything. Obviously pay balance monthly. We use our rewards points for business/first class international travel. Usually get 2-4 business class tickets to Europe or Asia every year. These normally cost $5-10k per ticket. We enjoy travel but I'm 6'4" so need more space. Probably works out to 5-10% benefit rate. Depends on what you value, and how much you spend obviously. Retired so very flexible with dates, etc. Don't ever have problems getting good flights but does take patience and experience.



*SQRT, you might also want to keep your eyes open for flash sales. You'll see occasionally for international business class tickets which are less than half the price you're used to seeing, but the flash sales can last for only 2-3 days.


Thanks for the tip. We do look for these sales and on occasion will pay for flights rather than use points if the price is right. Most of our International flights originate in Toronto so it's basically Air Canada or another internationall carrier. We avoid connecting through the US for international flights as it adds a whole layer of immigration/customs issues. Our best flights are often with Star Alliance partners using our Air Canada points. Going to Italy next week this way as well as Germany in September.
Last edited by SQRT on Thu May 26, 2016 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby azb » Thu May 26, 2016 8:53 am

BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


We have the Hyatt card. As others have said, you need to use the 2 nights within a year so cancelling should not be an issue. But think hard before you cancel. The card offers an anniversary bonus of a free night stay at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotels. We find that the vlaue of using this free night at a category 3 or 4 hotel ($200-$300) is greater than the annual fee.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Deputy Dawg » Thu May 26, 2016 8:55 am

alaskantraveler wrote:I churn regularly,

These days most of my natural spend is on various credit cards that me and the wife are meeting minimum spend requirements. Just picked up two AMEX Plat, 1 Arrival +, 1 Hilton Surpass for $12k spend in 90 days. After I meet minimum spends, I am frequently spending on retention or bonus spend offers for one of my many cards. If all of that is complete then I spend on my Citi Double Cash for CB. To help meet minimum spends I use gc.com with 1.5% cb, leaving me with a cost of $1.63 per $1k of ms.

These days I don't focus much on category bonus spend. I am not a big natural cc spender. between my wife and I approx. $24k per year with most of that not in non bonus categories. I do a lot of my grocery shopping at WM because I am often there liquidating MOs. And they are the cheapest for groceries in my city. I would consider CCs with grocery bonuses, but WM doesn't qualify. Everyone's situation is different, but for me and my wife making sure to use the best cc in every situation whether it is 3x on gas or 6x on grocery or 2x on restaurants just not worth it, when it might yield an extra $250/year in benefits if I utilized the perfect spend strategy. For me, opportunistically chasing the best cc sign up bonuses yields far better returns than focusing on everyday spending. Just picked up 2 Amex Platinums for 200k MRs. That's like 8 years of natural spend with two CCs.


Hi alaskantraveler, could you expand upon what gc.com is and how you use that to conduct MS? I'm interested in expanding my churning horizons!

(Note: I did search gc.com but didn't see the connection with "Game Changer" and MS, I'm pretty sure I'm missing something important :-))

Deputy Dawg

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby BW1985 » Thu May 26, 2016 8:59 am

azb wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


We have the Hyatt card. As others have said, you need to use the 2 nights within a year so cancelling should not be an issue. But think hard before you cancel. The card offers an anniversary bonus of a free night stay at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotels. We find that the vlaue of using this free night at a category 3 or 4 hotel ($200-$300) is greater than the annual fee.


Thanks. I don't like expiring rewards so this one falls to the bottom of my list.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Artsdoctor » Thu May 26, 2016 9:53 am

SQRT wrote:
Artsdoctor wrote:
SQRT wrote:Use CC's for almost everything. Obviously pay balance monthly. We use our rewards points for business/first class international travel. Usually get 2-4 business class tickets to Europe or Asia every year. These normally cost $5-10k per ticket. We enjoy travel but I'm 6'4" so need more space. Probably works out to 5-10% benefit rate. Depends on what you value, and how much you spend obviously. Retired so very flexible with dates, etc. Don't ever have problems getting good flights but does take patience and experience.



*SQRT, you might also want to keep your eyes open for flash sales. You'll see occasionally for international business class tickets which are less than half the price you're used to seeing, but the flash sales can last for only 2-3 days.


Thanks for the tip. We do look for these sales and on occasion will pay for flights rather than use points if the price is right. Most of our International flights originate in Toronto so it's basically Air Canada or another intetnational carrier. We avoid connecting through the US for international flights as it adds a whole layer of immigration/customs issues. Our best flights are often with Star Alliance partners using our Air Canada points. Going to Italy next week this way as well as Germany in September.


Check into Britsh Airways. You'd have to fly to Heathrow, either as the final destination or to transfer, and that alone can be a nuisance. But sometimes they have flash sales which are incredibly low for business class seats (I recently paid 75% less than I would have normally considered reasonable). I don't know I did it but I get email alerts.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby an_asker » Thu May 26, 2016 10:03 am

radiowave wrote:
And while we're on that...without assigned seats is it like a madhouse trying to board a plane!!?? :shock:

(I've actually never flown Southwest, not specifically for that reason.)


I'll tell my secret plan when I fly Southwest . . . I get in the A boarding row then take the very last row either window seat. In the past year, I've been batting about 50% that no one sits beside me and had 2 trip I had the entire back row to myself. If you think about it, if you were the last one on the plane, would you want to sit in the middle seat in the last row if you didn't have to? And being in the back row means no crying babies behind me :)

Well I blew it telling my secret strategy. But I do like flying SW, the entire crew seem to enjoy their jobs more.

The two times we flew SW recently, I screwed up and got high B #s, which meant we were lowest in B priority (but above the C dudes). Managed to get last row window seats (my fav as well, so not really your personal secret!).

However, that is where my luck ran out. Both these flights were full, and I played elbow hockey, which is the favorite sport of the cattle class :oops:

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby an_asker » Thu May 26, 2016 10:05 am

BW1985 wrote:
azb wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


We have the Hyatt card. As others have said, you need to use the 2 nights within a year so cancelling should not be an issue. But think hard before you cancel. The card offers an anniversary bonus of a free night stay at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotels. We find that the vlaue of using this free night at a category 3 or 4 hotel ($200-$300) is greater than the annual fee.


Thanks. I don't like expiring rewards so this one falls to the bottom of my list.

On the contrary, I believe that the IHG and Hyatt should be at the top of anyone's "keep it" list. Unless of course, the person does not take any vacation that involves hotel stays.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Thu May 26, 2016 10:40 am

giesen5 wrote:Just started playing the credit card game in January. Goal was to subsidize tickets for 4 to Italy summer 2017.

Wow, I did not realize that by "subsidize" I really meant "free". By the end of June I will have earned enough points for 4 free tickets to Europe. By the end of summer I will have earned over $1700 to pay for air bnb stays in Italy.

There are two of us playing the game, but my wife has no interest in doing the work, so I am doing it for her.

Cards now:
2 Chase Sapphire (120,000 UR)
1 Chase Freedom (18,000 UR)
1 Chase Freedom Unlimited (18,000 UR)
2 Chase United Explorer (100,000, maybe soon to be 140,000 United miles)
1 Barclay Arrival + ($460 travel spend)
1 AmEx Hilton (75,000 pts)

Next round:
2 Chase IHG (2-4 free hotel nights)
1 Barclay Arrival + (another $460)
2 Capital One Venture ($920 travel spend)

Later:
2 Alaska Airlines (50-60,000 miles)


This is fascinating to me.

How do you plan on combining all these points from all these different carriers to formulate it into ACTUAL booking for flights and hotels and stuff? I assume you'll be flying Alaskan airlines round trip and just building up all of the Ult Reward Points in the meantime to transfer to that to get your tickets?

And then staying at a mix of IHG and Hilton hotels on your trip?

How does Air BnB factor into this?

This type of strategy of getting cards and saving points for one ultimate vacation seems like something you could alternate and do repeatedly.

First plan a trip with Chase cards and transfer to Southwest and combine. Then the following year apply for some Amex travel cards and Delta and take a trip using those points. Etc.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Thu May 26, 2016 10:43 am

an_asker wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
azb wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


We have the Hyatt card. As others have said, you need to use the 2 nights within a year so cancelling should not be an issue. But think hard before you cancel. The card offers an anniversary bonus of a free night stay at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotels. We find that the vlaue of using this free night at a category 3 or 4 hotel ($200-$300) is greater than the annual fee.


Thanks. I don't like expiring rewards so this one falls to the bottom of my list.

On the contrary, I believe that the IHG and Hyatt should be at the top of anyone's "keep it" list. Unless of course, the person does not take any vacation that involves hotel stays.


We have the Hilton Hhonors Amex, which we got basically to get a free night in Toronto with the signup points. Haven't used it since. 11k points sitting there. I dunno. I find it hard to prioritize using this card. No annual fee, but no annual free night stay either.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby an_asker » Thu May 26, 2016 11:57 am

guitarguy wrote:
an_asker wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
azb wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


We have the Hyatt card. As others have said, you need to use the 2 nights within a year so cancelling should not be an issue. But think hard before you cancel. The card offers an anniversary bonus of a free night stay at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotels. We find that the vlaue of using this free night at a category 3 or 4 hotel ($200-$300) is greater than the annual fee.


Thanks. I don't like expiring rewards so this one falls to the bottom of my list.

On the contrary, I believe that the IHG and Hyatt should be at the top of anyone's "keep it" list. Unless of course, the person does not take any vacation that involves hotel stays.


We have the Hilton Hhonors Amex, which we got basically to get a free night in Toronto with the signup points. Haven't used it since. 11k points sitting there. I dunno. I find it hard to prioritize using this card. No annual fee, but no annual free night stay either.

I let my Hilton credit card lapse as well (Citibank closed it for non-use) for the same reason. But I was specifically referring to Chase's IHG and Hyatt cards, as a response to BW1985. These two cards give you one night per year at an IHG/Hyatt hotel for $49/75 respectively. For someone who vacations out of town at least two nights a year, that would be worth it.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby BW1985 » Thu May 26, 2016 12:00 pm

an_asker wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
azb wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Anyone have the Chase Hyatt card? Two free nights after spending $1k but annual fee after the first year. Wondering if you cancel the card during the first year to avoid annual fee would you also lose the two free nights if you haven't used them yet?

Maybe Marriott is a better deal actually, 80k points + free night after $3k spend, no annual fee.


We have the Hyatt card. As others have said, you need to use the 2 nights within a year so cancelling should not be an issue. But think hard before you cancel. The card offers an anniversary bonus of a free night stay at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotels. We find that the vlaue of using this free night at a category 3 or 4 hotel ($200-$300) is greater than the annual fee.


Thanks. I don't like expiring rewards so this one falls to the bottom of my list.

On the contrary, I believe that the IHG and Hyatt should be at the top of anyone's "keep it" list. Unless of course, the person does not take any vacation that involves hotel stays.


I do travel but not every year to places where I need a hotel room. I'm just not a fan of rewards that expire in a year so you're pressured to have to use them and keep track of when things expire. I'd rather just rack up points, miles or cash then hotel stays that expire.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

Bekki
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Bekki » Thu May 26, 2016 1:42 pm

We only use two cards right now, and those are both for our business.

AMEX Business Rewards Gold (1-3% depending on the category). We use this mostly for gas for our work trucks, office supplies, etc. We have enough points saved up right now to get a free weekend away for our anniversary. We just let those points build up until we can do something nice, once a year or so.

We also have a Capital One Spark card, which is 2% cash back. We use this exclusively to pay our supplier (we are a plumbing & HVAC company). We buy anywhere from $10,000 - $50,000 worth of material each month, so that 2% really adds up! We just cash it out once a month.

feh
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby feh » Thu May 26, 2016 1:57 pm

I am unwilling to churn or use different cards for different categories of purchases.

We have 2 cards which provide 2% back on all purchases: Fidelity and Priceline.


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