What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

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

Postby SRenaeP » Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:17 pm

Bfwolf wrote:For the Hyatt card, I can say with certainty that you do not. I have not gotten my one year IHG anniversary free night yet, but I would be extremely surprised if I need to pay for the taxes when I use it. Award stays at all the major chains are 100% free including taxes as far as I know.


I did not pay any taxes for my IHG anniversary night but I did have to pay $8 when using a free Marriott night (MegaBonus though, not anniversary night, not sure if that makes a difference).

-Steph

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

Postby guitarguy » Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:55 am

Bfwolf wrote:
guitarguy wrote:I think me and DW will both plan on getting that Hyatt card. With a free night annually, it will offset the fee easily. More than likely by double. There are several category 3-4 Hyatt hotels that are easily within driving distance for us. Even if we don't do any extended stays we could simply use our annual free nights back to back for free lodging on a weekend getaway every year.


The Hyatt cards intro bonus is fantastic: 2 free nights at any Hyatt. Between you and your wife, that would give you 4 free nights, so you can plan a vacation somewhere with a really fantastic Hyatt property and go for free! Here's several posts that talk about some of the best places to use those free nights.

http://travelsort.com/blog/best-park-hy ... hyatt-visa
http://thepointsguy.com/2015/01/maximiz ... tificates/
http://thepointsguy.com/2015/03/10-hyat ... demptions/

Then as you mention there's the annual free category 1-4 night which is far more useful when you and your wife both have the card so you can make a weekend out of it. Worth the annual fee in general.

You may also want to consider the IHG card, though it's probably lower priority than the Hyatt card. Offers have varied but I was able to get an 80K intro bonus (which is OK but certainly not as good as 2 free Hyatt nights), BUT every year you get a free night at ANY IHG property, which is better IMO than a free night at any category 1-4 Hyatt as there are some nice Intercontinentals out there. And it has a lower annual fee. So it's a great card for a husband and wife to each have so you can get 2 free nights at a very nice hotel every year.


Yes, I saw this! I want to make sure that we both apply for the card at the same time too...that way we will have the longest possible time period to redeem the nights before they expire. This Hyatt card has to be up near the top of our list to get down the road. Because of the awesome 2 free night signup bonus for each, I want to make sure that we plan a vacation around using these nights to stay in a super expensive hotel!! :D

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

Postby desidividend » Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:00 pm

I used to do a churning but now a days i reduced it ,currently only applying for cashback cards like recent bank ofamerica get 200 back when you spend $500.I recently cancelled my hyatt and few other cards.Maybe if there is a travel i go back to applying hotel cards.

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

Postby ChiefIlliniwek » Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:30 pm

We used to do cash back

AMEX Blue Cash Preferred - gas and groceries
Chase Freedom - 5% rotating categories
Fidelity 2% Visa - everything else

But we have recently changed since we are getting married and have some international trips planned and are churning some cards right now. In the last year we have signed up for the Chase United, AMEX Delta Gold, Citi AA Platinum, and 2 AMEX SPG. We currently have about 500,000 points between the two of us and should be able to get another 500,000 points by our wedding next year. This will allow us to help with tickets to our destination wedding for the people that we want there but can't afford the tickets. I have a business and I use that to help meet the minimum spends. When we aren't meeting min spends we are going to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Sapphire Preferred and SPG cards for all business and personal expenses and we should be able to hit our 1 million point goal fairly easily and that doesn't count additional signup bonuses. If you are willing to put in some effort points are much more valuable if you are traveling but I can't wait to go back to the simplicity of our cash back approach.

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

Postby funflex » Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:03 pm

I have a Southwest card for when I travel and just got the Blispay card that I'm going to use for most of my spending everyday because of the 2% cash back on all purchases and because I can get 6 months to pay on any purchases over $199 if I want.

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

Postby mikefixac » Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:07 pm

This has been a wonderful learning experience. Thanks so much everyone.

I've never played the churn game, but looking back, I haven't paid for a flight in over 20 years. Don't fly much, but when I do, it's always been Southwest.

Now, learning how valuable this game can be, I've become excited.

Just recently I received 2 SW cards and already did the minimum spend (I also have had my other SW card for years). Should put me near the 110K points I need to get the companion pass.

Now if I get the CSP card, do the minimum spend and get the 50,000 points, I can transfer that over to my Southwest acct. So instead of 110K points, it'll be 160K points. With the companion pass, that's effectively 320K points.

It almost seems to good to be true, in that all I'm doing is spending dollars on a card that would normally be done anyway.

Regarding those who get the window seat in the last row--the problem I see is being last to leave the airplane. And I think I'd get grossed out by hearing the toilet flush every few minutes.

My main motivation for doing this is for fun and to learn. I found out in the main airports in Los Angeles there is no parking fee for motorcycles. And I looked at SW for their lowest fare to San Francisco. So, I drove my motorcycle to the airport, flew to Oakland and back for ~7500 points. When in Oakland, took the BART into San Fran, and had lunch in China town. I was back home by 5PM. Just a fun day.

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

Postby guitarguy » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:38 am

ChiefIlliniwek wrote:But we have recently changed since we are getting married and have some international trips planned and are churning some cards right now. In the last year we have signed up for the Chase United, AMEX Delta Gold, Citi AA Platinum, and 2 AMEX SPG. We currently have about 500,000 points between the two of us and should be able to get another 500,000 points by our wedding next year. This will allow us to help with tickets to our destination wedding for the people that we want there but can't afford the tickets. I have a business and I use that to help meet the minimum spends. When we aren't meeting min spends we are going to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Sapphire Preferred and SPG cards for all business and personal expenses and we should be able to hit our 1 million point goal fairly easily and that doesn't count additional signup bonuses. If you are willing to put in some effort points are much more valuable if you are traveling but I can't wait to go back to the simplicity of our cash back approach.


With so many different accounts spread across 2 people...does anyone have issues figuring out how to actually redeem these miles? Of course the Chase points are easy to combine and redeem, and hotel points and free stays could be used back to back and probably have the reservations merged by calling the hotel, but what about the airline miles? Do you just book flights/seats/etc separately for you and your spouse?

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

Postby guitarguy » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:45 am

mikefixac wrote:This has been a wonderful learning experience. Thanks so much everyone.

I've never played the churn game, but looking back, I haven't paid for a flight in over 20 years. Don't fly much, but when I do, it's always been Southwest.

Now, learning how valuable this game can be, I've become excited.

Just recently I received 2 SW cards and already did the minimum spend (I also have had my other SW card for years). Should put me near the 110K points I need to get the companion pass.

Now if I get the CSP card, do the minimum spend and get the 50,000 points, I can transfer that over to my Southwest acct. So instead of 110K points, it'll be 160K points. With the companion pass, that's effectively 320K points.

It almost seems to good to be true, in that all I'm doing is spending dollars on a card that would normally be done anyway.


Do you find that your SW card has been worth keeping long term, even with the annual fee? If it's the one I see, at least they give 6k miles per year as an anniversary bonus which helps to offset the fee, but unlike the Hyatt or IHG cards, the reward will not likely fully offset the fee (and then some).

For the most part I think we're going to try and build our Chase UR points, but when we do pick an airline SW will probably be at the top of our list to start building points for, but I could see cancelling the card before the AF becomes due in year 2.

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

Postby ChiefIlliniwek » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:11 am

guitarguy wrote:
ChiefIlliniwek wrote:But we have recently changed since we are getting married and have some international trips planned and are churning some cards right now. In the last year we have signed up for the Chase United, AMEX Delta Gold, Citi AA Platinum, and 2 AMEX SPG. We currently have about 500,000 points between the two of us and should be able to get another 500,000 points by our wedding next year. This will allow us to help with tickets to our destination wedding for the people that we want there but can't afford the tickets. I have a business and I use that to help meet the minimum spends. When we aren't meeting min spends we are going to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Sapphire Preferred and SPG cards for all business and personal expenses and we should be able to hit our 1 million point goal fairly easily and that doesn't count additional signup bonuses. If you are willing to put in some effort points are much more valuable if you are traveling but I can't wait to go back to the simplicity of our cash back approach.


With so many different accounts spread across 2 people...does anyone have issues figuring out how to actually redeem these miles? Of course the Chase points are easy to combine and redeem, and hotel points and free stays could be used back to back and probably have the reservations merged by calling the hotel, but what about the airline miles? Do you just book flights/seats/etc separately for you and your spouse?


We wouldn't be doing the churning if we didn't have a plan for the points. We each have so many points that for the most part we can book travel out of one account, but for a recent trip on Delta we had to book on two accounts. It was really easy. We just pulled up the flights we wanted on two different browsers and made the reservation at the same time and then made sure to select seats that were next to each other. There was nothing to it. We haven't redeemed hotel points yet but you should be able to merge the reservations after booking or at check in. Some programs even let you transfer points for free, so you can just transfer all the points to one person and then use them. I have heard that you can do this with SPG points and Citi TYPs if you both live at the same address but we haven't tried yet.

jay22
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby jay22 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:41 am

Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Drew777 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:45 am

ChiefIlliniwek wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
ChiefIlliniwek wrote:But we have recently changed since we are getting married and have some international trips planned and are churning some cards right now. In the last year we have signed up for the Chase United, AMEX Delta Gold, Citi AA Platinum, and 2 AMEX SPG. We currently have about 500,000 points between the two of us and should be able to get another 500,000 points by our wedding next year. This will allow us to help with tickets to our destination wedding for the people that we want there but can't afford the tickets. I have a business and I use that to help meet the minimum spends. When we aren't meeting min spends we are going to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Sapphire Preferred and SPG cards for all business and personal expenses and we should be able to hit our 1 million point goal fairly easily and that doesn't count additional signup bonuses. If you are willing to put in some effort points are much more valuable if you are traveling but I can't wait to go back to the simplicity of our cash back approach.


With so many different accounts spread across 2 people...does anyone have issues figuring out how to actually redeem these miles? Of course the Chase points are easy to combine and redeem, and hotel points and free stays could be used back to back and probably have the reservations merged by calling the hotel, but what about the airline miles? Do you just book flights/seats/etc separately for you and your spouse?


We wouldn't be doing the churning if we didn't have a plan for the points. We each have so many points that for the most part we can book travel out of one account, but for a recent trip on Delta we had to book on two accounts. It was really easy. We just pulled up the flights we wanted on two different browsers and made the reservation at the same time and then made sure to select seats that were next to each other. There was nothing to it. We haven't redeemed hotel points yet but you should be able to merge the reservations after booking or at check in. Some programs even let you transfer points for free, so you can just transfer all the points to one person and then use them. I have heard that you can do this with SPG points and Citi TYPs if you both live at the same address but we haven't tried yet.


You can transfer points for free to a spouse with Chase UR, Amex MR, and British Airways as well.

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

Postby lostdog » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:46 am

Cash reward and pay off balance in full every month.

Do you think retailers figure in credit card transaction fees into their prices?
"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify." -Thoreau | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meditation-modern-life/201507/henry-david-thoreau-simplify-simplify

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

Postby an_asker » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:48 am

guitarguy wrote:[...]Do you find that your SW card has been worth keeping long term, even with the annual fee? If it's the one I see, at least they give 6k miles per year as an anniversary bonus which helps to offset the fee, but unlike the Hyatt or IHG cards, the reward will not likely fully offset the fee (and then some).

For the most part I think we're going to try and build our Chase UR points, but when we do pick an airline SW will probably be at the top of our list to start building points for, but I could see cancelling the card before the AF becomes due in year 2.

Earlier this year, I had purchased* a one way fare from Orlando to Washington (National/Reagan) for under 3500 points with SW. So, strictly speaking, the annual fee is worth the $69. However, the opportunity cost of keeping the card is much more - if you haven't cancelled it, you cannot churn it after two years :oops:

* Of course it is a different story that because of a schedule conflict, I had to cancel the ticket (without losing the points or the $5.60 I paid for its taxes) :-(

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Drew777 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:50 am

jay22 wrote:Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!


Chase Fairmont - 2 free nights
Chase Hyatt - 2 free nights

That's probably your best bet for staying in nicer hotels/resorts in Hawaii.

jay22
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby jay22 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:36 am

Drew777 wrote:
jay22 wrote:Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!


Chase Fairmont - 2 free nights
Chase Hyatt - 2 free nights

That's probably your best bet for staying in nicer hotels/resorts in Hawaii.

Thank you. Do you know how can I find out if there are any blackout dates/exceptions with these offers?

TheRightKost87
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby TheRightKost87 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:39 am

lostdog wrote:Do you think retailers figure in credit card transaction fees into their prices?


They absolutely do. However, you're paying the slightly inflated price due to transaction fees regardless of whether you're paying by card or not.
"The problem with diversification is that it works, whether or not we want it to"

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

Postby Bfwolf » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:15 pm

jay22 wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
jay22 wrote:Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!


Chase Fairmont - 2 free nights
Chase Hyatt - 2 free nights

That's probably your best bet for staying in nicer hotels/resorts in Hawaii.

Thank you. Do you know how can I find out if there are any blackout dates/exceptions with these offers?


As long as their lowest priced room is available, you'll be able to book there (i.e. you won't be able to use these certificates for one of their fancier rooms). Note that the Fairmont Maui and Andaz Maui make these lists for best uses of Fairmont and Hyatt free night certificates.

http://travelisfree.com/2015/09/14/best ... tificates/
http://thepointsguy.com/2015/03/10-hyat ... demptions/

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

Postby SRenaeP » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:57 pm

Drew777 wrote:
jay22 wrote:Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!


Chase Fairmont - 2 free nights
Chase Hyatt - 2 free nights

That's probably your best bet for staying in nicer hotels/resorts in Hawaii.


+1 for the Hyatt card. The Grand Hyatt Kauai is VERY nice. DH and I did four nights there in September. We wanted to do seven (three paid and four free) until we saw how much the regular room rate was! So we did three nights on the north shore then moved to the Hyatt.

-Steph

jay22
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby jay22 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:21 pm

SRenaeP wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
jay22 wrote:Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!


Chase Fairmont - 2 free nights
Chase Hyatt - 2 free nights

That's probably your best bet for staying in nicer hotels/resorts in Hawaii.


+1 for the Hyatt card. The Grand Hyatt Kauai is VERY nice. DH and I did four nights there in September. We wanted to do seven (three paid and four free) until we saw how much the regular room rate was! So we did three nights on the north shore then moved to the Hyatt.

-Steph

Thank you! I will apply for both of those cards and will stay for 2 nights each. :D

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TdF fan
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby TdF fan » Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:13 pm

Looks like the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred annual fee will increase to $95 starting in August. I suppose it's still a good deal for groceries and gas, but I have reluctance to pay an annual fee even if it does pay for itself eventually.

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

Postby guitarguy » Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:55 am

TdF fan wrote:Looks like the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred annual fee will increase to $95 starting in August. I suppose it's still a good deal for groceries and gas, but I have reluctance to pay an annual fee even if it does pay for itself eventually.


Fortunately, this will only be for new applicants. Those of us already paying $75, will continue that rate. We spend right about $6k every year, and we end up over $100 ahead when compared to if we had the free version.

If we're on the brink at the end of the year, we simply grab a few Amazon, Home Depot, or whatever other gift cards we want for places where we're going to shop anyway

It does suck to pay a fee for a card...but objectively...there are a few cases where the benefits outweigh the fee.

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Drew777 » Fri Jun 10, 2016 8:38 am

jay22 wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
jay22 wrote:Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!


Chase Fairmont - 2 free nights
Chase Hyatt - 2 free nights

That's probably your best bet for staying in nicer hotels/resorts in Hawaii.

Thank you. Do you know how can I find out if there are any blackout dates/exceptions with these offers?


For Hyatt as long as a room is available on points then you can use a free night certificate. You can check availability on their website. With Fairmont it's a little more complicated. I believe you have to call to check availability. I used mine at the Fairmont Montreux Palace in Switzerland, and the dates I booked were the only dates available for the month. You may need to be flexible depending on the property and how busy it is at the time. The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card is another option as well, but the two free nights can only be used on weekends (Fri-Sun nights).

jay22
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby jay22 » Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:11 am

Drew777 wrote:
jay22 wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
jay22 wrote:Can anyone suggest which CC I should apply to if I am aiming for 4-5 night stay in Hawaii in November. Meeting the bonus will not be a problem, so maybe I can apply for 2 instead of one.

Thanks!


Chase Fairmont - 2 free nights
Chase Hyatt - 2 free nights

That's probably your best bet for staying in nicer hotels/resorts in Hawaii.

Thank you. Do you know how can I find out if there are any blackout dates/exceptions with these offers?


For Hyatt as long as a room is available on points then you can use a free night certificate. You can check availability on their website. With Fairmont it's a little more complicated. I believe you have to call to check availability. I used mine at the Fairmont Montreux Palace in Switzerland, and the dates I booked were the only dates available for the month. You may need to be flexible depending on the property and how busy it is at the time. The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card is another option as well, but the two free nights can only be used on weekends (Fri-Sun nights).

I looked at the HHonors card, but it has a $95 annual fees, don't want to pay that.

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

Postby mhop » Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:10 pm

Pretty similar to what others had said. Think the key is to load up on the Freedom when you can as the Amex BCP is closer to 4.4% effective return with the increased fee. Once you go that route, it might make sense to run the numbers and use the Everyday instead for your remaining grocery budget.

  1. Chase Freedom - 5% categories
    - $1500 gas in Q1 - gas + gas gift cards
    - $1500 groceries in Q2 - groceries + grocery gift cards
  2. Amazon Store Card
    - 5% Amazon
    - 5% gift cards (do not see where this is ineligible) - notably Lowe's, Southwest, movies, Starbucks, Hyatt, AirBnb
  3. Amex Blue Cash Preferred/Everyday: Run the numbers. Might make sense to have a Freedom card and then use the Everyday for marginal use. If you're a couple you could have 2 Freedom cards working for you.

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

Postby VictoriaF » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:56 pm

madbrain wrote:...
- 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.


This quarter Freedom pays 5% for stores like Costco. You can use Freedom to buy $1,500 worth of Costco Cash Cards on line, and then use these cash cards for purchases.

Victoria
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VictoriaF
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:59 pm

Bfwolf wrote:I churn. I've opened 23 new credit cards in the last 2 years. 14 are still open. Problem is there are really not a lot of cards left that I'm interested in now that the Chase 5/24 rule is in place.


Do you know if 5/24 applies to Chase Ink Cash?

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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

Postby VictoriaF » Sat Jun 11, 2016 8:16 pm

FitnessNYC wrote:Anyone looking to simplify his credit card strategy may adopt the Capital One Quicksilver card (formerly the Capital One No Hassle Card). The card provides 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has no annual fee. The card allows you to automatically apply the cash back to your next month's statement, so there are no mileage/points/rewards hassles to handle. Another benefit of the automatic application of cash back to your bill is the fact that you won't notice how much cash back you're "earning" by generating expenses. Not knowing how much rewards you're getting may reduce your total expenses, as it is true that people who acquire rewards cards tend to increase their total spending irrationally, due to their expectation of "rewards" cash/points. While I am aware that a strategy of multiple cards with over 1.5% rewards will generate a higher cash back savings, I personally enjoy the simplicity and psychological advantage (as described above, not being reminded of how much I "saved" via cash back) of my cap1 card. Perhaps this strategy won't be useful to most people here, as you probably don't mind spending a significant amount of time managing multiple cards and reaping the rewards they provide. I used to use a 2% fidelity card for all my purchases but I disliked having to move the cash back every month from my fidelity brokerage account (that i never once used) to my cap1 bank account. The final advantage of the cap1 card is being able to log into cap1 and see my bank accounts and credit card in a single institution. Simplicity is great if your time is valuable and/or you aren't good at managing lots of accounts/reward details.


I have the CapitalOne card and use it when I am not working towards a sign-up bonus. In general, I agree with your arguments that:
1) managing multiple cards is a hassle, and
2) bonuses create psychological bias towards more spending.

I can't claim that I am free of these biases, but I am trying to minimize their impact. With respect to #1, it was a steep learning curve for me, and now I hope to remain in the maintenance mode. With respect to #2, I decide on what I need to spend first and then choose the best card to pay for it. Nevertheless, when I have to meet spending bonus requirements, I seem to seek additional spending.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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

Postby siamond » Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:08 pm

mhop wrote:Amazon Store Card
- 5% Amazon
- 5% gift cards (do not see where this is ineligible) - notably Lowe's, Southwest, movies, Starbucks, Hyatt, AirBnb

Hm, this is an interesting idea. I use Airbnb quite often, I was wondering what is the best strategy for it, and a 5% discount is a sweet deal. I just ordered my Amazon Store card and I am a Prime customer.

So... can we buy an Amazon gift card with a 5% discount, then buy an item in Amazon.com and pay with the gift card and get 5% again? I guess that won't work, right... :wink:

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

Postby Bfwolf » Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:00 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I churn. I've opened 23 new credit cards in the last 2 years. 14 are still open. Problem is there are really not a lot of cards left that I'm interested in now that the Chase 5/24 rule is in place.


Do you know if 5/24 applies to Chase Ink Cash?

Victoria


According to Doctor of Credit, yes.

http://www.doctorofcredit.com/chase-524 ... dit-cards/

mega317
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby mega317 » Sun Jun 12, 2016 5:04 pm

siamond wrote:So... can we buy an Amazon gift card with a 5% discount, then buy an item in Amazon.com and pay with the gift card and get 5% again? I guess that won't work, right... :wink:


Not exactly. The 5% is only for purchases on the credit card. Using a gift card doesn't add any charges to the credit card.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby siamond » Sun Jun 12, 2016 5:09 pm

mega317 wrote:
siamond wrote:So... can we buy an Amazon gift card with a 5% discount, then buy an item in Amazon.com and pay with the gift card and get 5% again? I guess that won't work, right... :wink:


Not exactly. The 5% is only for purchases on the credit card. Using a gift card doesn't add any charges to the credit card.

Yes, I know, I was just being facetious... :wink: Thanks for the answer though!

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:02 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I churn. I've opened 23 new credit cards in the last 2 years. 14 are still open. Problem is there are really not a lot of cards left that I'm interested in now that the Chase 5/24 rule is in place.


Do you know if 5/24 applies to Chase Ink Cash?

Victoria


Yes, I read that it does.

Chase supposedly extended the 5/24 rule to all of the business and branded credit cards earlier this year.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:28 am

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I churn. I've opened 23 new credit cards in the last 2 years. 14 are still open. Problem is there are really not a lot of cards left that I'm interested in now that the Chase 5/24 rule is in place.


Do you know if 5/24 applies to Chase Ink Cash?

Victoria


According to Doctor of Credit, yes.

http://www.doctorofcredit.com/chase-524 ... dit-cards/


guitarguy wrote:
Yes, I read that it does.

Chase supposedly extended the 5/24 rule to all of the business and branded credit cards earlier this year.


Thank you. C'est dommage mais c'est la vie.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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

Postby likegarden » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:37 am

Ha, my Credit Card Rewards Strategy is to use the $3,800 credit I have on a GM branded credit card of Capital One to buy the next Buick. But we could not find a GM product fitting our needs last time and bought a Toyota.

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

Postby VirtualCuriosity » Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:36 am

guitarguy wrote:There are lots of threads that talk about what the best credit card deals are, ones specific to travel rewards, best cash back cards, etc. I thought it might be helpful to have everyone post their strategy they have for earning/redeeming/maximizing credit card rewards. This would be good info, and wouldn't be specific to any one type of card or type of reward. It also wouldn't really take into account signup bonuses...rather than churning for bonuses I think it's interesting to know what cards we keep for the long haul and continually use. It could also help those of us who might try to go for both cash back and other perks at the same time because the thread won't be confined to discussing one or the other.

Some good areas to address are:

Goal. Are you out to earn cash back, travel points, hotels, or other perks, airline miles, etc? Anything else you're out to achieve by using rewards credit cards?

Cards. Your cards, their rewards (i.e. what % back on what types of purchases) and other perks, fees, limits, and how you use them strategically (i.e. use this card for that, etc)

Rewards. How you redeem. For cash back it's pretty cut and dry, but could also include when you redeem. Save up all for holiday spending or get it monthly? For points/miles/etc it could be good to know how you transfer them, what specifically you spend them on, etc, to get the most out of them.

Final Thoughs. Any other details we might find interesting. Get your Jerry Springer on.

I'll start.

Goal. We try to maximize cash back. It's easy to follow and it's all earned on stuff we would buy regardless.

Cards. We regularly use 5 cards:

1. Amex BlueCash Preferred
  • 6% back on groceries ($6k limit - which we hover on annually), 3% at dept stores, 1% on everything else
  • $75 annual fee
  • Used for groceries and when we (very rarely) shop at a dept store

2. PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Plus Visa
  • 5% back on gas, no foreign transaction fee
  • $0 annual fee
  • Used for gas and as needed when we travel abroad

3. Chase Amazon Rewards Visa
  • 3% back on Amazon purchases, 2% back on gas, restaurants, drug stores, 1% on everything else
  • $0 annual fee
  • Used for Amazon purchases only

4. Citi Double Cash MasterCard
  • 2% back on all purchases (1% on purchases, and 1% on payments)
  • $0 annual fee
  • Generally used for anything that we buy that can't yield higher than 2% elsewhere

5. Chase Freedom Visa
  • 5% back on quarterly rotating categories up to $1500 per quarter, 1% on everything else
  • $0 annual fee
  • Used for the 5% rotating categories only. The categories are typically some form of gas, grocery, restaurants, and holiday shopping. We skip the gas quarter and just use PenFed as always. Typically we max the out the $1500 limit on Home Depot or other gift cards (for things we will buy anyways) at the grocery store during that quarter, and we use it when we eat at restaurants during that quarter (but we never hit $1500...that would be un-Boglehead-like I suppose :mrgreen: ). For holiday shopping we use it as applicable, and if Amazon is included we use this instead of the Amazon Visa during that timeframe.

Rewards. Redeeming is pretty straight forward for us. I typically redeem on a monthly basis.

Final Thoughs. Overall, although we have to juggle a few cards and I occasionally get a text from the wife about what card should I use today...I think our strategy is pretty sound. Carry one card for groceries, one for gas, one for everything else, now and then mind the quarterly rotating 5% categories, and leave that Amazon visa as the account default. Rewarding and not terribly complicated. 8-)



I will start by saying that we accumulate a lot of rewards and we use them strictly for cash back. For years we have used the rewards that we redeem once per year around Christmas time and we don't even budget for Christmas anymore since. We just use the cards and do the statement credit back to zero balance or obtain gift cards for presents. I haven't gone through the entire thread, so maybe some of these are listed. We have been doing this for years and it's zero effort because we don't stress about what the max rewards are. It is free money (so long as people pay the balances each month), so why not. Most people aren't paying them off so I know I will always be safe in beating the card issuer at their game without them kicking me to the curb for not making enough on me in return. They do get transaction fees from merchants, however.

1. Amex - Used for everyday spending
2. Chase Freedom - Usually stays in the safe, but every once in a while we take it out for a 5% rotating category.
3. Discover IT - Same as Chase above

Here are the interesting uses and I will only name the few just to keep this as short as possible.

4. Barclay's Sallie Mae (X 2) - 5% gas and 5% groceries. We use two of these because they cap at $250 ea. per mo. per category so we need 500 ea.

We don't stress out about the exact dollar amounts spent and we each carry one card. We usually take turns grocery shopping so it works out balanced between the two. We only shop at Kroger, so we also get a fuel bonus points reward at the pump in addition to the card rewards. On Kroger double and x4 fuel rewards weekends, we sometimes buy gift cards to make sure we max out the monthly rewards. We used to also use the card to transfer funds at the register onto a prepaid Amex card that they sell at Target because Target was considered a grocery store. We let the college student daughter have the prepaid card (safer) at school for certain spending. We haven't done this for a while, so not sure if it still works.

5. Huntington Voice - 3% on a you choose categories list. We choose utilities, which includes cell phone, gas/electric, and cable. I forget the max amount per quarter, but we go over anyway and we don't really add it up. We pay the utilities by habit each month with it and pay off anyway. This is one card that I know for sure isn't as popular or well known. I have heard stories in the past that it's only used in certain regions, but not sure. This also stays in the safe and not carried.

So, basically, we only carry 2 cards at once. (Amex and Barclays).

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby giesen5 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:00 pm

Don't forget to activate your Freedom Q3 spending! Restaurants and wholesale stores.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:06 pm

giesen5 wrote:Don't forget to activate your Freedom Q3 spending! Restaurants and wholesale stores.


Thank you for a reminder! In Q2, I purchased $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards on their web site, which Freedom has treated as eligible 5% expenses. I hope that Q3 will be the same. If true, I will get more of Costco cash and continue using Chase Sapphire Preferred for restaurants.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:18 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Thank you for a reminder! In Q2, I purchased $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards on their web site, which Freedom has treated as eligible 5% expenses. I hope that Q3 will be the same. If true, I will get more of Costco cash and continue using Chase Sapphire Preferred for restaurants.

Victoria


Note that you'll be able to get the 5% in the stores too once they take Visa. If you look here https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/activate it includes Costco in the list of warehouse stores. Nerdwallet says that the 5% on warehouses is good until the end of the year too, though I don't see that on the Chase page. They do have some restrictions (not gas, travel, cell phones, etc). Limit is as you say $1500 per quarter...
Last edited by Da5id on Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby giesen5 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:20 pm

Yep, Costco purchases good for Q3 and Q4 for this year.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:21 pm

Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Thank you for a reminder! In Q2, I purchased $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards on their web site, which Freedom has treated as eligible 5% expenses. I hope that Q3 will be the same. If true, I will get more of Costco cash and continue using Chase Sapphire Preferred for restaurants.

Victoria


Note that you'll be able to get the 5% in the stores too once they take Visa. If you look here https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/activate it includes Costco in the list of warehouse stores. Nerdwallet says that the 5% on warehouses is good until the end of the year too, though I don't see that on the Chase page. They do have some restrictions (not gas, travel, cell phones, etc).


Right. But if you have a Costco cash card, I think you can use it for Costco gas.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby technovelist » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:23 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Thank you for a reminder! In Q2, I purchased $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards on their web site, which Freedom has treated as eligible 5% expenses. I hope that Q3 will be the same. If true, I will get more of Costco cash and continue using Chase Sapphire Preferred for restaurants.

Victoria


Note that you'll be able to get the 5% in the stores too once they take Visa. If you look here https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/activate it includes Costco in the list of warehouse stores. Nerdwallet says that the 5% on warehouses is good until the end of the year too, though I don't see that on the Chase page. They do have some restrictions (not gas, travel, cell phones, etc).


Right. But if you have a Costco cash card, I think you can use it for Costco gas.

Victoria


Yes, you can. Even more interesting, you don't even need a Costco membership to use a Costco cash card to shop in Costco! (You do need a Costco membership to buy the card, but you can give it to someone else without a membership and they can use it in Costco.)
In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they often differ.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:24 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Right. But if you have a Costco cash card, I think you can use it for Costco gas.

Victoria


Wonder if they'll allow that forever? Seems like a good way to evade all their restrictions, and get a 5% discount on the travel too (though the $1500 puts a crimp on that). Mind you, the Costco Visa would get you 4% on Costco gas, so not a huge difference. All moot to me, my local Costco doesn't sell gas.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:26 pm

technovelist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Thank you for a reminder! In Q2, I purchased $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards on their web site, which Freedom has treated as eligible 5% expenses. I hope that Q3 will be the same. If true, I will get more of Costco cash and continue using Chase Sapphire Preferred for restaurants.

Victoria


Note that you'll be able to get the 5% in the stores too once they take Visa. If you look here https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/activate it includes Costco in the list of warehouse stores. Nerdwallet says that the 5% on warehouses is good until the end of the year too, though I don't see that on the Chase page. They do have some restrictions (not gas, travel, cell phones, etc).


Right. But if you have a Costco cash card, I think you can use it for Costco gas.

Victoria


Yes, you can. Even more interesting, you don't even need a Costco membership to use a Costco cash card to shop in Costco! (You do need a Costco membership to buy the card, but you can give it to someone else without a membership and they can use it in Costco.)


When I enter Costco, I must show my Costco membership card; and at the checkout, I have to show my Costco membership card before I can use the Costco cash card. How does it work for those without Costco membership?

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:30 pm

VictoriaF wrote:When I enter Costco, I must show my Costco membership card; and at the checkout, I have to show my Costco membership card before I can use the Costco cash card. How does it work for those without Costco membership?

Victoria


Not a problem for gas though according to the costco site. http://www.costco.com/gasoline-q-and-a.html says

Q: How does the pump know the customer is a member?
A: When a customer inserts a membership card the system reads the membership number on the card and confirms the membership is active.

Costco Cash Cards can only be purchased or recharged by members. Anyone can use a Costco Cash Card at the gas station, as it also serves as membership authorization for the pump.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby technovelist » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:38 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
technovelist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Thank you for a reminder! In Q2, I purchased $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards on their web site, which Freedom has treated as eligible 5% expenses. I hope that Q3 will be the same. If true, I will get more of Costco cash and continue using Chase Sapphire Preferred for restaurants.

Victoria


Note that you'll be able to get the 5% in the stores too once they take Visa. If you look here https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/activate it includes Costco in the list of warehouse stores. Nerdwallet says that the 5% on warehouses is good until the end of the year too, though I don't see that on the Chase page. They do have some restrictions (not gas, travel, cell phones, etc).


Right. But if you have a Costco cash card, I think you can use it for Costco gas.

Victoria


Yes, you can. Even more interesting, you don't even need a Costco membership to use a Costco cash card to shop in Costco! (You do need a Costco membership to buy the card, but you can give it to someone else without a membership and they can use it in Costco.)


When I enter Costco, I must show my Costco membership card; and at the checkout, I have to show my Costco membership card before I can use the Costco cash card. How does it work for those without Costco membership?

Victoria


You show the cash card at the door. Note: not all Costco associates may know of this exception, so you may have to ask them to get a manager.

(See http://20somethingfinance.com/shop-cost ... embership/)
In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they often differ.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby an_asker » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:58 pm

siamond wrote:
mega317 wrote:
siamond wrote:So... can we buy an Amazon gift card with a 5% discount, then buy an item in Amazon.com and pay with the gift card and get 5% again? I guess that won't work, right... :wink:


Not exactly. The 5% is only for purchases on the credit card. Using a gift card doesn't add any charges to the credit card.

Yes, I know, I was just being facetious... :wink: Thanks for the answer though!

But you could use your credit card to purchase the walmart gift card, then turn around and use the walmart gift card at their gas station for the discount you get over there. This is a bit complicated for me to do though. I stay with the normal gas card :-)

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby technovelist » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:04 pm

an_asker wrote:
siamond wrote:
mega317 wrote:
siamond wrote:So... can we buy an Amazon gift card with a 5% discount, then buy an item in Amazon.com and pay with the gift card and get 5% again? I guess that won't work, right... :wink:


Not exactly. The 5% is only for purchases on the credit card. Using a gift card doesn't add any charges to the credit card.

Yes, I know, I was just being facetious... :wink: Thanks for the answer though!

But you could use your credit card to purchase the walmart gift card, then turn around and use the walmart gift card at their gas station for the discount you get over there. This is a bit complicated for me to do though. I stay with the normal gas card :-)


I used to do that, but the discount (3 cents, I believe) isn't enough to worry about at this point.

Also, I buy most of my gas at Costco anyway.
In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they often differ.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:24 pm

VictoriaF wrote:[
I have the CapitalOne card and use it when I am not working towards a sign-up bonus. In general, I agree with your arguments that:
1) managing multiple cards is a hassle, and
2) bonuses create psychological bias towards more spending.

I can't claim that I am free of these biases, but I am trying to minimize their impact. With respect to #1, it was a steep learning curve for me, and now I hope to remain in the maintenance mode. With respect to #2, I decide on what I need to spend first and then choose the best card to pay for it. Nevertheless, when I have to meet spending bonus requirements, I seem to seek additional spending.

Victoria


#1 is easy to manage with Quicken. Also, auto-pay is your friend.
#2 is harder. That is one reason I have been avoiding signing up for new cards for the bonuses. But I just gave in recently.
My insurance policies for cars, home and umbrella renews in late july/early august (not all on the exact same date). The insurer accept credit cards, and the policies add up to almost $5000. I think this is an easy and painless way to fulfill the minimum spending requirements on a new card, at least once a year. In previous years, I was charging them to my Fidelity amex 2% which is going away soon. I applied and got approved for a Chase sapphire preferred last week with the 50,000 point signup bonus and $4000 minimum spending in 3 months. It will be satisfied the day the card arrives, and I can leave my card in the drawer after that, where my only other Chase credit card (freedom) has been for years.
At the very least, I can repeat this once a year when insurance is due to get a yearly bonus that way. I may try for more, since we easily have $1500-$2000 spending on our credit cards in any given month.
Last edited by madbrain on Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:30 pm

madbrain wrote:I applied and got approved for a Chase sapphire preferred last week with the 50,000 point signup bonus and $4000 minimum spending in 3 months. It will be satisfied the day the card arrives, and I can leave my card in the drawer after that, where my only other Chase credit card (freedom) has been for years.


After dealing with a couple dozen credit cards in the past two years, I came to a conclusion that I like Chase the best. Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom are my favorite cards. I used CSP in Spain for two months (in places where cards were accepted), and it worked flawlessly. I got all my 2x bonuses.

I know that you don't like Freedom's rotating categories, but if you are willing to make an exception, in 2Q, 3Q (and possibly 4Q) of this year, Freedom gives bonuses for spending in wholesale clubs such as Costco. In 2Q, I used Freedom to purchase $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards, and will do the same in 3Q.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:51 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
madbrain wrote:I applied and got approved for a Chase sapphire preferred last week with the 50,000 point signup bonus and $4000 minimum spending in 3 months. It will be satisfied the day the card arrives, and I can leave my card in the drawer after that, where my only other Chase credit card (freedom) has been for years.


After dealing with a couple dozen credit cards in the past two years, I came to a conclusion that I like Chase the best. Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom are my favorite cards. I used CSP in Spain for two months (in places where cards were accepted), and it worked flawlessly. I got all my 2x bonuses.


The CSP looks interesting for its automatic travel/trip cancellation insurance. I may use it just for those purchases for future trips. I always buy travel insurance and it pays off more than half the time. It may be worth the $95 annual fee in future years. I don't suppose you or anyone has been able to get the annual fee waived ?

I know that you don't like Freedom's rotating categories, but if you are willing to make an exception, in 2Q, 3Q (and possibly 4Q) of this year, Freedom gives bonuses for spending in wholesale clubs such as Costco. In 2Q, I used Freedom to purchase $1,500 worth of Costco cash cards, and will do the


Yeah, I really dislike the rotating categories. I rarely even look at the notifications for what the rotating categories are. Last winter I made an exception when there was 5% off at Amazon - I used the Chase card there for one quarter. Still didn't want to carry it. Those cards with rotating categories - or even fixed categories - invariably have a low rewards rate for "everything else". And then you are at the mercy of what the merchant is using to code the specific transaction and how they categorize it. At least with fixed categories, you can write what they are on the card itself. No such luck with rotating categories.

I am aware of the trick with Costco gift cards, and I do shop a lot at Costco. I don't like to buy high value gift cards, though. They can be lost or stolen, and there is sometimes fraud on gift cards too which is worse than with credit cards. I have been reading about manufactured spending and realize that many people use them for that purpose, but I'm not really convinced the risks outweigh the rewards. And once in a while, I buy items at Costco that I might want to use some of the card benefits on, like extended warranty, which would not be available if purchased with gift cards.
Gift card spending and balances are also much harder to track as I'm not aware of any Quicken download feature for Costco cash cards. Do they have any kind of online access feature ?


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