What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

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MikeG62
Posts: 2238
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:20 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:55 am

THY4373 wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:12 am
MikeG62 wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:44 am

I also have several hundred thousand UR points. Best value has been transferring to Hyatt (and Marriott). Points transferred and used has exceeded 10 cents per dollar spent (to earn the points) at Hyatt and 8-9 cents per dollar at Marriott.
I am just going to say those are some incredible values not saying this didn't happen but they are the long thin tail of the value curve. Folks should not assume they will regularly get even half or a quarter of that. Yes if you hit some hotel when cash rates are insane and there is award availability you may get this but as a day to day thing it seems very unlikely. The general value put on Marriott points is around 0.8 cents (not 8 cents).
Agree that these were fantastic deals. Good Marriott deals much harder to find than Hyatt as well. I check when traveling to places where both have hotels, but as you point out these deals are not the norm. I do not plan to use any significant number of my accumulated points at 4.5 cents per dollar. I’ll hold out for these better deals as I think they can found. It may take time and patience though.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

THY4373
Posts: 1195
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by THY4373 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:56 am

SlowMovingInvestor wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:14 pm
Does anyone have any comment on the Aviana LifeMiles card ? It has good bonuses now.

The card seems to be issued by Banco Popular in Puerto Rico, which is good in a way for those that have reached credit card limits with other banks. But it's also much smaller than the big issuers -- how solid and secure are their systems ?
There is a thread over on FT on this card. I haven't really kept up with it but I seem to recall there were some gotchas. Some folks had to provide paperwork on their income I think and others had a heck of a time getting past all the fraud holds. It sounded like if things went well it was fine but it could be a real hassle if not. Maybe it is better now. You can find it in the credit card sub-forum (the one not dedicated to a particular issuer). Avianca is a great way to redeem for Star Alliance and several of the transferable currencies transfer over to them and you can frequently buy miles fairly cheap. Also make sure you understand their expiration policy I seem to recall some changes and it might be as little as a year now? Not sure going by memory as I have only ever transferred and burned immediately with them.

balbrec2
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:03 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by balbrec2 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:23 am

balbrec2 wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:09 pm
Amex bonvoy for free night, other (reward points)
Amex preferred cash for groceries and gas, other (cash back)
Chase ink cash for office supplies internet and cell phones, other (cash back)
Chase bonvoy boundless for free night and other. (Platinum Bonvoy status) This is a nice perk (rewards points)

Have other store cards but these are the ones I normally carry.

If you're going to use a credit card for convenience, make it work for you.
Just acquired Chase Sapphire Preferred (travel and dining expenses)
This is one of the few cards to offer primary car rental insurance.

TravelGeek
Posts: 3103
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: credit card strategy

Post by TravelGeek » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:25 pm

LearningAlot wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:56 am
[merged into existing thread - moderator prudent]


The older I get, the more I value keeping my life simple but if I could generate an incremental $1K or so annually, I'd be
willing to add some complexity to my credit card strategy.

Would appreciate any suggestions/advice.

Thanks in advance!
I think it would be useful to know how your expenses break down by category. E.g., how much do you spend on dining? Your Amazon card gives you 2%, the Uber Visa card would give you 4%. May not be worth getting if you don’t spend enough on dining, but ultimately only you can make that decision based on your math. $1K extra cash back is quite an ambitious goal for the average spender, I think. But if your dining spend was $50k, the Uber card’s extra 2% would get your extra $1K ;)

decapod10
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:46 pm

Re: credit card strategy

Post by decapod10 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:12 pm

LearningAlot wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:56 am
[merged into existing thread - moderator prudent]

I don't travel (other than day trips by car) and thus credit card travel rewards never interested me. My credit card
strategy has been pretty simple. Run everything I can through my credit cards. I use the Amazon prime card for
everything, except the 5% discounts I get from Discover, which change every quarter.

A friend of mine has suggested I go to a more complicated approach, searching for large cash back offers, divert purchases
to max out the cash reward, and then move on to another card and repeat the process.

The older I get, the more I value keeping my life simple but if I could generate an incremental $1K or so annually, I'd be
willing to add some complexity to my credit card strategy.

Would appreciate any suggestions/advice.

Thanks in advance!
If you have a breakdown of your annual spending, it helps a lot in designing a credit card strategy. The big categories you would want to know would be:

1. Dining (restaurants)
2. Gas
3. Groceries
4. Hotels
5. Airfare
6. Amazon
7. Non-bonus spending

Other less common categories that you can sometimes find include:
8. Entertainment
9. Office Supplies
10. Cable/Telephone

It also makes a big difference whether you are a Bank of America / Merrill Edge customer with $100k in assets (or are willing to transfer) in order to get the Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards status.

Once you have an idea of your spending, you can just apply for cards that give bonuses to your highest areas of spending. If you're willing to jump through some hoops, Groceries and Office Supplies have a bit more power because you can buy gift cards from grocery stores for example to get a bonus (like if you wanted to buy something from Best Buy for $500, you could go to the grocery store and buy a $500 gift card and then get the rewards).

JBTX
Posts: 5531
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: credit card strategy

Post by JBTX » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:39 pm

LearningAlot wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:56 am
[merged into existing thread - moderator prudent]

I don't travel (other than day trips by car) and thus credit card travel rewards never interested me. My credit card
strategy has been pretty simple. Run everything I can through my credit cards. I use the Amazon prime card for
everything, except the 5% discounts I get from Discover, which change every quarter.

A friend of mine has suggested I go to a more complicated approach, searching for large cash back offers, divert purchases
to max out the cash reward, and then move on to another card and repeat the process.

The older I get, the more I value keeping my life simple but if I could generate an incremental $1K or so annually, I'd be
willing to add some complexity to my credit card strategy.

Would appreciate any suggestions/advice.

Thanks in advance!

If you want to play the upfront cash bonus game you can get a lot more than $1000 a year.

Here is a site that does a good job of listing the best bonuses and how to go about it.

https://www.doctorofcredit.com/best-cur ... n-bonuses/

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Admiral Fun
Posts: 64
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:04 pm

BoA Platinum Honors returns vs. my CC system

Post by Admiral Fun » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:47 am

decapod10 wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:12 pm
If you have a breakdown of your annual spending, it helps a lot in designing a credit card strategy. The big categories you would want to know would be:

1. Dining (restaurants)
2. Gas
3. Groceries
4. Hotels
5. Airfare
6. Amazon
7. Non-bonus spending

Other less common categories that you can sometimes find include:
8. Entertainment
9. Office Supplies
10. Cable/Telephone

It also makes a big difference whether you are a Bank of America / Merrill Edge customer with $100k in assets (or are willing to transfer) in order to get the Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards status.

Once you have an idea of your spending, you can just apply for cards that give bonuses to your highest areas of spending. If you're willing to jump through some hoops, Groceries and Office Supplies have a bit more power because you can buy gift cards from grocery stores for example to get a bonus (like if you wanted to buy something from Best Buy for $500, you could go to the grocery store and buy a $500 gift card and then get the rewards).
+1

Adding up the bonus spending, calculating cash back, and then subtracting the annual fees is the way to go.

My current setup is
Chase Sapphire Reserve -- Travel/Dining 3% x1.5 multiplier
AMEX Blue Preferred -- Groceries and Streaming 6%,Gas 3%
Chase Ink Business Cash -- Cell phone/internet 5% x1.5 multiplier
Chase Amazon Visa -- Amazon and Whole Foods 5%
Doublecash -- everything else 2%

I get about 3% return annually using this system after subtracting out the annual fees on the CSR ($150) and AMEX ($95).

I considered switching all to BoA -- the 2.625% minimum return and 5.25% return on online purchases are really compelling and can't be found elsewhere. If you are already in the BoA ecosystem or are willing to put in a lot of time to maximizing return, BoA platinum honors is hard to beat. But once I ran the math with my current spending I decided it was not worth it.

BoA does a little better than my system in most categories but worse with some really big categories (groceries/cell phone/internet). In the end I calculated that I'd get an additional $150 (0.03%) with BoA unless I made major changes to the way I spend (e.g. buying gift cards and things online for store pickup). Plus I'd have to give up my CSR benefits and switch money to BoA. No thanks.

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FrugalProfessor
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:34 am
Contact:

Re: credit card strategy

Post by FrugalProfessor » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:54 am

LearningAlot wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:56 am
[merged into existing thread - moderator prudent]

I don't travel (other than day trips by car) and thus credit card travel rewards never interested me. My credit card
strategy has been pretty simple. Run everything I can through my credit cards. I use the Amazon prime card for
everything, except the 5% discounts I get from Discover, which change every quarter.

A friend of mine has suggested I go to a more complicated approach, searching for large cash back offers, divert purchases
to max out the cash reward, and then move on to another card and repeat the process.

The older I get, the more I value keeping my life simple but if I could generate an incremental $1K or so annually, I'd be
willing to add some complexity to my credit card strategy.

Would appreciate any suggestions/advice.

Thanks in advance!
https://www.frugalprofessor.com/best-cr ... 9-edition/

5.25% cash back at any online merchant + Costco brick & mortar + travel + dining + gas + walmart grocery (i.e. the one you order online & pick up in store).
3.5% cash back at in-store Walmart & other grocery.
2.625% on all else.

Non-trivial hoops to jump through initially. However, once you set it up, it's smooth sailing.

Zero-ish annual fee.
I blog. Taxes are the lowest hanging source of alpha. I eat tax alpha for breakfast.

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changingtimes
Posts: 218
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:28 am

Re: BoA Platinum Honors returns vs. my CC system

Post by changingtimes » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:16 am

Admiral Fun wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:47 am

+1

Adding up the bonus spending, calculating cash back, and then subtracting the annual fees is the way to go.

My current setup is
Chase Sapphire Reserve -- Travel/Dining 3% x1.5 multiplier
AMEX Blue Preferred -- Groceries and Streaming 6%,Gas 3%
Chase Ink Business Cash -- Cell phone/internet 5% x1.5 multiplier
Chase Amazon Visa -- Amazon and Whole Foods 5%
Doublecash -- everything else 2%
Mine is similar, though I'm switching from Doublecash to Chase Freedom Unlimited, which is 1.5% but which I can move into my Sapphire Reserve pool to get 1.5x when redeeming the points. I decided that was more valuable for what I'm going for.

decapod10
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:46 pm

Re: BoA Platinum Honors returns vs. my CC system

Post by decapod10 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:31 pm

Admiral Fun wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:47 am
decapod10 wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:12 pm
If you have a breakdown of your annual spending, it helps a lot in designing a credit card strategy. The big categories you would want to know would be:

1. Dining (restaurants)
2. Gas
3. Groceries
4. Hotels
5. Airfare
6. Amazon
7. Non-bonus spending

Other less common categories that you can sometimes find include:
8. Entertainment
9. Office Supplies
10. Cable/Telephone

It also makes a big difference whether you are a Bank of America / Merrill Edge customer with $100k in assets (or are willing to transfer) in order to get the Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards status.

Once you have an idea of your spending, you can just apply for cards that give bonuses to your highest areas of spending. If you're willing to jump through some hoops, Groceries and Office Supplies have a bit more power because you can buy gift cards from grocery stores for example to get a bonus (like if you wanted to buy something from Best Buy for $500, you could go to the grocery store and buy a $500 gift card and then get the rewards).
+1

Adding up the bonus spending, calculating cash back, and then subtracting the annual fees is the way to go.

My current setup is
Chase Sapphire Reserve -- Travel/Dining 3% x1.5 multiplier
AMEX Blue Preferred -- Groceries and Streaming 6%,Gas 3%
Chase Ink Business Cash -- Cell phone/internet 5% x1.5 multiplier
Chase Amazon Visa -- Amazon and Whole Foods 5%
Doublecash -- everything else 2%

I get about 3% return annually using this system after subtracting out the annual fees on the CSR ($150) and AMEX ($95).

I considered switching all to BoA -- the 2.625% minimum return and 5.25% return on online purchases are really compelling and can't be found elsewhere. If you are already in the BoA ecosystem or are willing to put in a lot of time to maximizing return, BoA platinum honors is hard to beat. But once I ran the math with my current spending I decided it was not worth it.

BoA does a little better than my system in most categories but worse with some really big categories (groceries/cell phone/internet). In the end I calculated that I'd get an additional $150 (0.03%) with BoA unless I made major changes to the way I spend (e.g. buying gift cards and things online for store pickup). Plus I'd have to give up my CSR benefits and switch money to BoA. No thanks.
You could consider mix and matching, you don't necessarily have to go all in on BofA since none of them really have an annual fee (sort of). Like you could swap the DoubleCash for BofA Premium Rewards, which would give you an extra .6% then just add a Cash Rewards for online shopping, and keep everything else.

michaeljc70
Posts: 5782
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: credit card strategy

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:39 pm

decapod10 wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:12 pm
LearningAlot wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:56 am
[merged into existing thread - moderator prudent]

I don't travel (other than day trips by car) and thus credit card travel rewards never interested me. My credit card
strategy has been pretty simple. Run everything I can through my credit cards. I use the Amazon prime card for
everything, except the 5% discounts I get from Discover, which change every quarter.

A friend of mine has suggested I go to a more complicated approach, searching for large cash back offers, divert purchases
to max out the cash reward, and then move on to another card and repeat the process.

The older I get, the more I value keeping my life simple but if I could generate an incremental $1K or so annually, I'd be
willing to add some complexity to my credit card strategy.

Would appreciate any suggestions/advice.

Thanks in advance!
If you have a breakdown of your annual spending, it helps a lot in designing a credit card strategy. The big categories you would want to know would be:

1. Dining (restaurants)
2. Gas
3. Groceries
4. Hotels
5. Airfare
6. Amazon
7. Non-bonus spending

Other less common categories that you can sometimes find include:
8. Entertainment
9. Office Supplies
10. Cable/Telephone

It also makes a big difference whether you are a Bank of America / Merrill Edge customer with $100k in assets (or are willing to transfer) in order to get the Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards status.

Once you have an idea of your spending, you can just apply for cards that give bonuses to your highest areas of spending. If you're willing to jump through some hoops, Groceries and Office Supplies have a bit more power because you can buy gift cards from grocery stores for example to get a bonus (like if you wanted to buy something from Best Buy for $500, you could go to the grocery store and buy a $500 gift card and then get the rewards).
Other categories/stores/pay systems can make it more complicated to really maximize. For example, Discover has 5% cashback using Paypal this quarter. Lots of places take Paypal. Next quarter, they have 5% off Amazon. They include specific stores/pay systems/categories most quarters (like Target, Walmart, home improvement). And as you said, buying gift cards at a place with high rewards can often pay off.

I really don't want my credit card rewards tied to my brokerage account. Frankly, I can make much more moving that around for its own bonuses.

I really try to do the best I can with the least hassle. I generally use my Citi Double for almost everything unless I notice there is a 5% category on something I can remember and spend a decent amount on. I'm not going to keep charts as to what card I need to use for each purchase.

decapod10
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:46 pm

Re: credit card strategy

Post by decapod10 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:50 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:39 pm
decapod10 wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:12 pm
LearningAlot wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:56 am
[merged into existing thread - moderator prudent]

I don't travel (other than day trips by car) and thus credit card travel rewards never interested me. My credit card
strategy has been pretty simple. Run everything I can through my credit cards. I use the Amazon prime card for
everything, except the 5% discounts I get from Discover, which change every quarter.

A friend of mine has suggested I go to a more complicated approach, searching for large cash back offers, divert purchases
to max out the cash reward, and then move on to another card and repeat the process.

The older I get, the more I value keeping my life simple but if I could generate an incremental $1K or so annually, I'd be
willing to add some complexity to my credit card strategy.

Would appreciate any suggestions/advice.

Thanks in advance!
If you have a breakdown of your annual spending, it helps a lot in designing a credit card strategy. The big categories you would want to know would be:

1. Dining (restaurants)
2. Gas
3. Groceries
4. Hotels
5. Airfare
6. Amazon
7. Non-bonus spending

Other less common categories that you can sometimes find include:
8. Entertainment
9. Office Supplies
10. Cable/Telephone

It also makes a big difference whether you are a Bank of America / Merrill Edge customer with $100k in assets (or are willing to transfer) in order to get the Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards status.

Once you have an idea of your spending, you can just apply for cards that give bonuses to your highest areas of spending. If you're willing to jump through some hoops, Groceries and Office Supplies have a bit more power because you can buy gift cards from grocery stores for example to get a bonus (like if you wanted to buy something from Best Buy for $500, you could go to the grocery store and buy a $500 gift card and then get the rewards).
Other categories/stores/pay systems can make it more complicated to really maximize. For example, Discover has 5% cashback using Paypal this quarter. Lots of places take Paypal. Next quarter, they have 5% off Amazon. They include specific stores/pay systems/categories most quarters (like Target, Walmart, home improvement). And as you said, buying gift cards at a place with high rewards can often pay off.

I really don't want my credit card rewards tied to my brokerage account. Frankly, I can make much more moving that around for its own bonuses.

I really try to do the best I can with the least hassle. I generally use my Citi Double for almost everything unless I notice there is a 5% category on something I can remember and spend a decent amount on. I'm not going to keep charts as to what card I need to use for each purchase.
Yeah, different people are willing to jump through different hoops. For example, I refuse to use any rotating category cards, it's just not something I'm willing to do. I'm willing to carry 3-4 cards but not more than that, but I'm ok with having more cards if I don't have to carry them. For example the Chase Ink Cash just sits in my drawer paying for my internet and phone and then gets autopay, so I don't need to think about it much.

I don't mind parking my Roth IRA in Merrill Edge so it's no big deal to me, and the other perks are sort of nice, like free checks, free stops on checks, free cashier checks, etc. but not everyone wants to do that of course. If I had a lot of money and wanted to get brokerage bonuses, I would probably consider leaving $100k in ME then moving around additional funds, but I haven't done this (I don't have enough really).

02nz
Posts: 2481
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by 02nz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:00 pm

decapod10 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:50 pm
Yeah, different people are willing to jump through different hoops. For example, I refuse to use any rotating category cards, it's just not something I'm willing to do.
To each his/her own, but the rotating category cards aren't that hard to use. I have the Freedom, Discover It, Citi Dividend, and U.S. Bank Cash+. Most send me a quarterly reminder (Freedom can be activated with just one click), but basically two weeks before the start of the quarter I activate them all in one go and decide what spend to put on which cards. And the spending is easy, too - e.g., when Chase Freedom had 5X at Amazon, I just put the max on my Amazon gift balance, and use that throughout the year (yes I lose a little due to inflation). Costco is similar - I just order Costco Cash cards and use them at the warehouse and gas station. Discover has 5% on PayPal this quarter, so I just set that up as the default payment. Easy-peasy.

It's maybe 10 minutes of extra work every 3 mos, well worth it for about 5 to 7% in value (7% is based on 5X points at 1.5 cent per point toward airfare on Chase portal, with a deduction for not getting 3X points on travel spend). But as you say everybody has to decide what effort they're willing to put in.

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Ketawa
Posts: 2192
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:11 am
Location: DC

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Ketawa » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:39 pm

This post morphed into something else as I was writing it, less about credit card rewards than about booking travel. It seems like an ok fit for this thread anyway.

I recently used some Marriott points to top off my United Airlines balance enough to purchase a couple transatlantic flights to/from Europe. One was a nonstop return flight so I paid 30K miles and $100 in fees compared to a one-way ticket price through United's site of about $2400. My outbound flight was similar; 30K miles and $40 fees to avoid paying $2000 for a one-way ticket through United. In both cases, I had other alternatives I could have taken totaling about $1000, but the benefit of having a nonstop flight is pretty great and I was happy to use 81K miles + $140 instead of paying $1000 on other airlines. The cities I am flying to/from in Europe are different, so I thought I would have to book one-way tickets.

However, as I was writing this post, I did some more research through Google Flights and found I could book these two tickets as "round trip" through United's site by using a multi-city route through Google Flights. It sent me over to United's site with the exact itinerary I'm using, and I made it all the way to the purchase screen where I would enter my payment details, at a total cost of $1100 for Economy. This is instead of one-way tickets totaling $4400. I think I didn't see this before because I was using a multi-city route including some flights internal to Europe.

Q: Is this some kind of well-known hack to get round-trip prices despite having different cities on my itinerary? Would I actually have been able to get ticketed at this price? I couldn't find any way to do this through United's site. If it's possible to rely on things like this, I'll have to keep it in mind the next time I search for flights for complicated trips.

I'm now less enthused about using my miles at 1.2¢ each if this was an option, although that seems like a reasonable valuation and I'm not the type to burn tons of miles on international business class, so I might as well use them. I've never found a good use for United miles until now since I have a lot of American and Southwest miles, I prefer DCA over IAD for most flights, and I rarely fly anything other than coach.

Q: Is transferring to airlines considered a good way to use Marriott points? I rarely find good opportunities for hotel stays and there are a lot of other chains, or times where I'm traveling in a group, or options like Airbnb, whereas booking these flights on United saved a lot on their (originally) quoted ticket prices for Economy. I'd prefer to fly United rather than the discount airlines that operate transatlantic.

With that in mind, I might need to top off my Marriott balance for potential future trips, since I'm shut out of Chase UR transfer options until at least May 2021 due to the 48 month Sapphire restriction, and any other Chase cards (including their United cards) until October 2020 due to 5/24.

Q: Are there any other good ways to top off Marriott or United points? The only option I'm seeing is to wait for a good signup bonus on the Amex Marriot Bonvoy Brilliant card. (I can get Amex and Chase cards without paying an annual fee because I'm in the military.)

MichCPA
Posts: 828
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:06 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by MichCPA » Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:07 pm

All_About_Benjis wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:10 pm
MichCPA wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:47 pm
Chase UR Order of Ops: (General order YMMV)

1. International premium classes
2. Hyatt
3. International basic fares
4a. CSR travel portal (1.5x)
4b. Domestic air
6. CSP portal (1.25x)
7. Cash out
8. Marriott
Never. IHG, Amazon, other retailers
Thanks for this list, it's very helpful.

From what I can gather, it's probably best for me to start using these points as we take trips where there are some good point options rather than saving them up for one magnificent vacation.
Depending on your situation, I would add a Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Citi Premier to give you 120k points. That would give you an economy flight to a ton of places. Many international airlines accept both point types. (Flying Blue, British Airways, etc.)

User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 9372
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:14 pm

Ketawa wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:39 pm
This post morphed into something else as I was writing it, less about credit card rewards than about booking travel. It seems like an ok fit for this thread anyway.

I recently used some Marriott points to top off my United Airlines balance enough to purchase a couple transatlantic flights to/from Europe. One was a nonstop return flight so I paid 30K miles and $100 in fees compared to a one-way ticket price through United's site of about $2400. My outbound flight was similar; 30K miles and $40 fees to avoid paying $2000 for a one-way ticket through United. In both cases, I had other alternatives I could have taken totaling about $1000, but the benefit of having a nonstop flight is pretty great and I was happy to use 81K miles + $140 instead of paying $1000 on other airlines. The cities I am flying to/from in Europe are different, so I thought I would have to book one-way tickets.

However, as I was writing this post, I did some more research through Google Flights and found I could book these two tickets as "round trip" through United's site by using a multi-city route through Google Flights. It sent me over to United's site with the exact itinerary I'm using, and I made it all the way to the purchase screen where I would enter my payment details, at a total cost of $1100 for Economy. This is instead of one-way tickets totaling $4400. I think I didn't see this before because I was using a multi-city route including some flights internal to Europe.

Q: Is this some kind of well-known hack to get round-trip prices despite having different cities on my itinerary? Would I actually have been able to get ticketed at this price? I couldn't find any way to do this through United's site. If it's possible to rely on things like this, I'll have to keep it in mind the next time I search for flights for complicated trips.

I'm now less enthused about using my miles at 1.2¢ each if this was an option, although that seems like a reasonable valuation and I'm not the type to burn tons of miles on international business class, so I might as well use them. I've never found a good use for United miles until now since I have a lot of American and Southwest miles, I prefer DCA over IAD for most flights, and I rarely fly anything other than coach.

Q: Is transferring to airlines considered a good way to use Marriott points? I rarely find good opportunities for hotel stays and there are a lot of other chains, or times where I'm traveling in a group, or options like Airbnb, whereas booking these flights on United saved a lot on their (originally) quoted ticket prices for Economy. I'd prefer to fly United rather than the discount airlines that operate transatlantic.

With that in mind, I might need to top off my Marriott balance for potential future trips, since I'm shut out of Chase UR transfer options until at least May 2021 due to the 48 month Sapphire restriction, and any other Chase cards (including their United cards) until October 2020 due to 5/24.

Q: Are there any other good ways to top off Marriott or United points? The only option I'm seeing is to wait for a good signup bonus on the Amex Marriot Bonvoy Brilliant card. (I can get Amex and Chase cards without paying an annual fee because I'm in the military.)
Yes, using "round trip" or more accurately, as you've noted, "multi-city" is *the* way to do this.

What you are describing is called an "open jaw" route: A ->B, and then C->A.
International flights are notorious for bad "one way" pricing.

(That's why for trans-ocean cruises, one typically either uses awards for the outbound OR return flight, or uses the special rate through the cruise line.)

We've found that economy/coach flights are not an especially good use of points, but we only fly economy on some domestic flights.
For longer international flights (not counting short "intra-Euro"), we fly in J (business) or F, so the cost of the tickets we would have paid for are *much* higher. That makes using points a much better value.

We would not consider getting a value of 1.2 cents per point a particularly good use. Aren't there some charge cards that offer 1.5 or even 2 cents back? If so, then getting the refund and then buying the ticket for cash would make much more sense.

But you are absolutely correct about doing the math like this, and comparing the costs/values.

RM
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TexasPE
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by TexasPE » Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:34 pm

Ketawa wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:39 pm

Q: Are there any other good ways to top off Marriott or United points? The only option I'm seeing is to wait for a good signup bonus on the Amex Marriot Bonvoy Brilliant card. (I can get Amex and Chase cards without paying an annual fee because I'm in the military.)
The Avianca LifeMiles credit card is offering 60000 'LifeMiles" point bonus for a $195/ year credit card. Avianca is part of the STAR alliance and allows one to book flights on United - often for fewer miles than on the United website. Setting up a frequent flyer account approval has an extra step - they may request a scan of your passport or government ID (they asked for mine).

https://www.doctorofcredit.com/?s=avianca
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by BW1985 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:46 pm

The Avianca card isn't terrible but I wouldn't put it anywhere near the top of the list. It's more of an offer for people who've already blown past 5/24 and have gotten all the other cards.

They also seem to be in trouble cash wise so who knows about their long term outlook. I wouldn't get it unless you have a relatively quick plan to use those bonus miles.
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by BW1985 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:54 pm

MikeG62 wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:44 am
All_About_Benjis wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:21 pm
I'm curious about the best methods to use rewards points once earned - i.e., what are some of the best values?

As background, we have about 600k Chase reward points, and I'd like to use them for a multi-week vacation sometime in the next couple years. Are they best used through the Chase portal? On hotels? Transferred to an airline for an around the world ticket (is that still a thing)? I'd appreciate people's thoughts on this.
I also have several hundred thousand UR points. Best value has been transferring to Hyatt (and Marriott). Points transferred and used has exceeded 10 cents per dollar spent (to earn the points) at Hyatt and 8-9 cents per dollar at Marriott. You need to look around though. Sometimes the point per night rates are outrageous, so it doesn't make sense way more often than it does. But when it does, it's a great value IMHO.

I've yet to see the anywhere near the value in transferring to airline partners I have obtained with hotel partners. However, I am hopeful I will eventually use some points for international business class tickets. I continue to look.
Earning and redeeming should be split up because they are separate things. You can earn a certain multiplier (e.g. 3x on dining) and you can redeem for a certain 'cents per point' value. You want to look at them separately because they are independent of one another (earning and redeeming).

Marriott is almost never a good transfer value unless you're just topping off or getting a 5th night free on points at a very expensive hotel. The points are typically only worth 0.7 - 1 cpp max, which can easily be exceeded by the portal value of 1.25 cpp or 1.5 cpp depending on if you have the CSP or CSR.
"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?

Post by 02nz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:22 pm

Ketawa wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:39 pm
This post morphed into something else as I was writing it, less about credit card rewards than about booking travel. It seems like an ok fit for this thread anyway.

I recently used some Marriott points to top off my United Airlines balance enough to purchase a couple transatlantic flights to/from Europe. One was a nonstop return flight so I paid 30K miles and $100 in fees compared to a one-way ticket price through United's site of about $2400. My outbound flight was similar; 30K miles and $40 fees to avoid paying $2000 for a one-way ticket through United. In both cases, I had other alternatives I could have taken totaling about $1000, but the benefit of having a nonstop flight is pretty great and I was happy to use 81K miles + $140 instead of paying $1000 on other airlines. The cities I am flying to/from in Europe are different, so I thought I would have to book one-way tickets.

However, as I was writing this post, I did some more research through Google Flights and found I could book these two tickets as "round trip" through United's site by using a multi-city route through Google Flights. It sent me over to United's site with the exact itinerary I'm using, and I made it all the way to the purchase screen where I would enter my payment details, at a total cost of $1100 for Economy. This is instead of one-way tickets totaling $4400. I think I didn't see this before because I was using a multi-city route including some flights internal to Europe.

Q: Is this some kind of well-known hack to get round-trip prices despite having different cities on my itinerary? Would I actually have been able to get ticketed at this price? I couldn't find any way to do this through United's site. If it's possible to rely on things like this, I'll have to keep it in mind the next time I search for flights for complicated trips.

I'm now less enthused about using my miles at 1.2¢ each if this was an option, although that seems like a reasonable valuation and I'm not the type to burn tons of miles on international business class, so I might as well use them. I've never found a good use for United miles until now since I have a lot of American and Southwest miles, I prefer DCA over IAD for most flights, and I rarely fly anything other than coach.

Q: Is transferring to airlines considered a good way to use Marriott points? I rarely find good opportunities for hotel stays and there are a lot of other chains, or times where I'm traveling in a group, or options like Airbnb, whereas booking these flights on United saved a lot on their (originally) quoted ticket prices for Economy. I'd prefer to fly United rather than the discount airlines that operate transatlantic.

With that in mind, I might need to top off my Marriott balance for potential future trips, since I'm shut out of Chase UR transfer options until at least May 2021 due to the 48 month Sapphire restriction, and any other Chase cards (including their United cards) until October 2020 due to 5/24.

Q: Are there any other good ways to top off Marriott or United points? The only option I'm seeing is to wait for a good signup bonus on the Amex Marriot Bonvoy Brilliant card. (I can get Amex and Chase cards without paying an annual fee because I'm in the military.)
No, it's not some kind of "hack." It should be possible to get the same results even when starting the search at united.com, but this varies by route and so I always start my search with Google Flights.

I don't consider transfers from Marriott to United to be a great value (these kinds of transfers almost never are), but if you're just doing a small transfer to "top off" for an award, it's ok. Marriott Bonvoy has its issues, but I've found some very good uses of their points. Marriott hasn't gone the way of Hilton, which is pretty close to a fixed-value redemption value of 0.4 cent per point, so it's possible to get outsize value from Bonvoy points (e.g., just booked a $400+/night hotel in Europe for 35,000 points/night, plus 5th night free).

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by MikeG62 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:24 pm

BW1985 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:54 pm
MikeG62 wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:44 am
All_About_Benjis wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:21 pm
I'm curious about the best methods to use rewards points once earned - i.e., what are some of the best values?

As background, we have about 600k Chase reward points, and I'd like to use them for a multi-week vacation sometime in the next couple years. Are they best used through the Chase portal? On hotels? Transferred to an airline for an around the world ticket (is that still a thing)? I'd appreciate people's thoughts on this.
I also have several hundred thousand UR points. Best value has been transferring to Hyatt (and Marriott). Points transferred and used has exceeded 10 cents per dollar spent (to earn the points) at Hyatt and 8-9 cents per dollar at Marriott. You need to look around though. Sometimes the point per night rates are outrageous, so it doesn't make sense way more often than it does. But when it does, it's a great value IMHO.

I've yet to see the anywhere near the value in transferring to airline partners I have obtained with hotel partners. However, I am hopeful I will eventually use some points for international business class tickets. I continue to look.
Earning and redeeming should be split up because they are separate things. You can earn a certain multiplier (e.g. 3x on dining) and you can redeem for a certain 'cents per point' value. You want to look at them separately because they are independent of one another (earning and redeeming).

Marriott is almost never a good transfer value unless you're just topping off or getting a 5th night free on points at a very expensive hotel. The points are typically only worth 0.7 - 1 cpp max, which can easily be exceeded by the portal value of 1.25 cpp or 1.5 cpp depending on if you have the CSP or CSR.
I agree. I do not transfer points to partner hotels until I find a deal and am ready to book it. Agree as well on Marriott - so far only one opportunity of great value. Mostly, the value is poor. We've done I think three transfers to Hyatt so far. All were high single digit or low double digit cents on the dollar spent to earn those points.
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:20 pm

Not to get too far off topic, but I applied for a Capital One Venture card as part of my "rewards strategy". I got the first month's statement and was charged the $95 annual fee though it clearly said it was $0 for the first year. I have a screenshot of the original offer. They seem to have no way to contact them other than calling or snail mail. Annoying. Anyone else experience this?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Ketawa » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:18 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:14 pm
Yes, using "round trip" or more accurately, as you've noted, "multi-city" is *the* way to do this.

What you are describing is called an "open jaw" route: A ->B, and then C->A.
International flights are notorious for bad "one way" pricing.

(That's why for trans-ocean cruises, one typically either uses awards for the outbound OR return flight, or uses the special rate through the cruise line.)
Ah, ok, I now found where I can search for multi-city itineraries directly through United's site. Part of my issue was that Google Flights did not search for the open jaw route when I had additional flights included in the search, and simply gave me all one-way tickets. I didn't think to try an advanced search on United.
ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:14 pm
We've found that economy/coach flights are not an especially good use of points, but we only fly economy on some domestic flights.
For longer international flights (not counting short "intra-Euro"), we fly in J (business) or F, so the cost of the tickets we would have paid for are *much* higher. That makes using points a much better value.
I don't see business class availability, at least at saver rates, for the flights I'm taking. Even if they cost 2x the number of points, I'd have a hard time justifying it when I'm comfortable enough in economy. Even at 6'5" with long legs, I don't have too much trouble sleeping on redeye flights. Regardless, I still wouldn't value points at whatever the business class ticket costs; they should be valued at whatever I would actually consider a fair price for business class.
ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:14 pm
We would not consider getting a value of 1.2 cents per point a particularly good use. Aren't there some charge cards that offer 1.5 or even 2 cents back? If so, then getting the refund and then buying the ticket for cash would make much more sense.
Pointed out by BW1985, there's a difference between the redemption value and the credit card earning rate. I actually put these tickets on an Amex Hilton Honors Aspire card I just upgraded from the Ascend card because I'm hoping some of the airline incidental credit will be used up by the fees and taxes I had to pay. If not, I'll probably pay for Premium Economy.
Last edited by Ketawa on Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Ketawa » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:29 pm

02nz wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:22 pm
I don't consider transfers from Marriott to United to be a great value (these kinds of transfers almost never are), but if you're just doing a small transfer to "top off" for an award, it's ok. Marriott Bonvoy has its issues, but I've found some very good uses of their points. Marriott hasn't gone the way of Hilton, which is pretty close to a fixed-value redemption value of 0.4 cent per point, so it's possible to get outsize value from Bonvoy points (e.g., just booked a $400+/night hotel in Europe for 35,000 points/night, plus 5th night free).
BW1985 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:54 pm
Marriott is almost never a good transfer value unless you're just topping off or getting a 5th night free on points at a very expensive hotel. The points are typically only worth 0.7 - 1 cpp max, which can easily be exceeded by the portal value of 1.25 cpp or 1.5 cpp depending on if you have the CSP or CSR.
Topping off my United balance to pick up a couple awards flights using Marriott points made them worth 0.44 cpp, which is not a great value. If I'd known I could simply book a multi-city itinerary on United rather than one-way tickets, I might have paid cash. However, I never find opportunities to use Marriott points like 02nz's example, which works out to 1.4 cpp. Similarly, I'd been sitting on 75K United miles for almost 5 years and hadn't found a way to use them yet. My only hope for my soon to be over 300K Hilton points is another mistake pricing where they can be redeemed for 0.5 cpp through Amazon.

I guess I won't prioritize finding a way to load up on Marriott points or United miles over the coming years.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by SlowMovingInvestor » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:46 pm

THY4373 wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:56 am
SlowMovingInvestor wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:14 pm
Does anyone have any comment on the Aviana LifeMiles card ? It has good bonuses now.

The card seems to be issued by Banco Popular in Puerto Rico, which is good in a way for those that have reached credit card limits with other banks. But it's also much smaller than the big issuers -- how solid and secure are their systems ?
There is a thread over on FT on this card. I haven't really kept up with it but I seem to recall there were some gotchas. Some folks had to provide paperwork on their income I think and others had a heck of a time getting past all the fraud holds. It sounded like if things went well it was fine but it could be a real hassle if not. Maybe it is better now. You can find it in the credit card sub-forum (the one not dedicated to a particular issuer). Avianca is a great way to redeem for Star Alliance and several of the transferable currencies transfer over to them and you can frequently buy miles fairly cheap. Also make sure you understand their expiration policy I seem to recall some changes and it might be as little as a year now? Not sure going by memory as I have only ever transferred and burned immediately with them.
Prior to applying for a CC, I was trying to create a LifeMiles account, and to my annoyance, it asked me for a lot of info such as 'National ID' number etc. I definitely wouldn't be supplying SS#, but I admit I'm not entirely comfortable even with giving other info such as Passport number, since it's likely I would simply be using it to book tickets on another airline, and would not need to provide passport number to LifeMiles.

I know this is slightly off topic, but anyone have any comments on creating Avianca LifeMiles account with an ID such as driver's license ?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by TexasPE » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:31 pm

SlowMovingInvestor wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:46 pm
.
I'm not entirely comfortable even with giving other info such as Passport number, since it's likely I would simply be using it to book tickets on another airline, and would not need to provide passport number to LifeMiles.

I know this is slightly off topic, but anyone have any comments on creating Avianca LifeMiles account with an ID such as driver's license ?
[/quote]

They sent me an email asking for a scan of either a government ID or my passport before they would activate my account. I sent them scans of my DL and passport.

I'm guessing their business model assumes you plan to fly Avianca using LifeMiles, Columbia government ID requirements to book a flight may be different than other countries. Their website is also buggy and poorly designed... giving unidentified error messages in Spanish. Had to email them to get things resolved.
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by SlowMovingInvestor » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:38 pm

TexasPE wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:31 pm
SlowMovingInvestor wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:46 pm

I'm not entirely comfortable even with giving other info such as Passport number, since it's likely I would simply be using it to book tickets on another airline, and would not need to provide passport number to LifeMiles.

I know this is slightly off topic, but anyone have any comments on creating Avianca LifeMiles account with an ID such as driver's license ?
They sent me an email asking for a scan of either a government ID or my passport before they would activate my account. I sent them scans of my DL and passport.

I'm guessing their business model assumes you plan to fly Avianca using LifeMiles, Columbia government ID requirements to book a flight may be different than other countries. Their website is also buggy and poorly designed... giving unidentified error messages in Spanish. Had to email them to get things resolved.
Ugh. if they asked me for a scan of passport or DL, I would definitely not give it to them. I wonder if Known Traveler number could be used, since it seems like the possibility of id theft with Known Traveler number is limited.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:28 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:20 pm
Not to get too far off topic, but I applied for a Capital One Venture card as part of my "rewards strategy". I got the first month's statement and was charged the $95 annual fee though it clearly said it was $0 for the first year. I have a screenshot of the original offer. They seem to have no way to contact them other than calling or snail mail. Annoying. Anyone else experience this?
Just call them. They are responsive. And when the first year is up, call again and they'll comp you a second year. Not sure if they keep doing this ad infinitum.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by BW1985 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:52 am

Ketawa wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:29 pm
02nz wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:22 pm
I don't consider transfers from Marriott to United to be a great value (these kinds of transfers almost never are), but if you're just doing a small transfer to "top off" for an award, it's ok. Marriott Bonvoy has its issues, but I've found some very good uses of their points. Marriott hasn't gone the way of Hilton, which is pretty close to a fixed-value redemption value of 0.4 cent per point, so it's possible to get outsize value from Bonvoy points (e.g., just booked a $400+/night hotel in Europe for 35,000 points/night, plus 5th night free).
BW1985 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:54 pm
Marriott is almost never a good transfer value unless you're just topping off or getting a 5th night free on points at a very expensive hotel. The points are typically only worth 0.7 - 1 cpp max, which can easily be exceeded by the portal value of 1.25 cpp or 1.5 cpp depending on if you have the CSP or CSR.
Topping off my United balance to pick up a couple awards flights using Marriott points made them worth 0.44 cpp, which is not a great value. If I'd known I could simply book a multi-city itinerary on United rather than one-way tickets, I might have paid cash. However, I never find opportunities to use Marriott points like 02nz's example, which works out to 1.4 cpp. Similarly, I'd been sitting on 75K United miles for almost 5 years and hadn't found a way to use them yet. My only hope for my soon to be over 300K Hilton points is another mistake pricing where they can be redeemed for 0.5 cpp through Amazon.

I guess I won't prioritize finding a way to load up on Marriott points or United miles over the coming years.
Marriott can be transferred to valuable airline programs like Alaska which doesn't have any other transfer partner like UR or MR. That's my plan with my Marriott stash.

I just burned 140k United miles for 2 one ways over to Europe on Air Canada in business class. United still has good value for partner redemptions, for now at least. Domestically they've went the way of Delta and implemented dynamic pricing, so not going to have GREAT value there anymore unfortunately, more like just 'okay'.
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by THY4373 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:48 am

BW1985 wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:52 am
Marriott can be transferred to valuable airline programs like Alaska which doesn't have any other transfer partner like UR or MR. That's my plan with my Marriott stash.
Not quite true as I believe Diner's Club still transfers to Alaska but of course it is nigh on impossible to get a Diner's Club card in the US at this point so unless you already have one you are effectively correct. I still miss earning 3x AS points on my Diner's Club card.

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

Post by mikeinvesting » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:55 pm

Right now my credit cards are:

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature - unlimited 2% cash back on everything
Uber Visa Signature Card - 4% cash back on dining (restaurants, takeout, bars, ubereats, fast food), 3% on hotel and airfare, 2% on online purchases, 1% on everything else
Discover IT - 5% cash back on rotating categories
Chase Freedom - 5% cash back on rotating categories

I really want a travel card, probably the Chase Sapphire Reserve or US Bank Altitude Reserve. Also one of the 5% cash back on gas cards. Would the Chase Freedom Unlimited be better than the Fidelity card due to the value of chase UR points?

decapod10
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by decapod10 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:19 pm

mikeinvesting wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:55 pm
Right now my credit cards are:

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature - unlimited 2% cash back on everything
Uber Visa Signature Card - 4% cash back on dining (restaurants, takeout, bars, ubereats, fast food), 3% on hotel and airfare, 2% on online purchases, 1% on everything else
Discover IT - 5% cash back on rotating categories
Chase Freedom - 5% cash back on rotating categories

I really want a travel card, probably the Chase Sapphire Reserve or US Bank Altitude Reserve. Also one of the 5% cash back on gas cards. Would the Chase Freedom Unlimited be better than the Fidelity card due to the value of chase UR points?
If you get the Chase Reserve, yes I think the Freedom Unlimited would be better than the Fidelity card. The CSR allows you to transfer points to airlines or get 1.5 c/point on the travel portal.

Startled Cat
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Startled Cat » Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:50 pm

Currently pondering which card to apply for next.

I currently have: Citi Dividend, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Chase Freedom, Elan Fidelity 529, Discover It, Wells Fargo Rewards Visa, AMEX Blue Cash Everyday, Capital One, Chase Hyatt, Barclays Aviator Red, US Bank Club Carlson, BofA Cash Rewards, Citi Costco, Chase IHG, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Barclays JetBlue Plus, Amex Everyday, BofA Premium Rewards

I've had most of the usual suspects before, so anti-churning rules limit my options. I'm at 4/24.

Minimum spend can be hard for me. I don't have much chargeable spending, and I hate shifting bonus category spending towards signup bonus minimum spend. I usually end up resorting to overpaying federal taxes, then waiting up to 1.5 years for a refund. This is relatively easy but involves a fee and opportunity cost.

Some options I'm considering:

Chase IHG Premier (125k points, $50 statement credit for $3k spend in 3 months) - $89 fee

Pros:
  • Seems like a decent bonus for this card.
  • Statement credit mitigates the annual fee.
Cons:
  • My partner already has ~300k IHG points and we have no pressing need for more.
Amex Hilton Surpass (130k points + free weekend night for $4k spend 4mo) - $95 fee

Pros:
  • Between the points and the free night, it seems like a good bonus.
  • Might pick up an additional Amex offer here and there that
  • The Priority Pass feature could possibly be handy if I end up cancelling my CSR at the next renewal (its value is marginal for me)
Cons:
  • Spend requirement is a bit high.
  • My partner already has ~300k Hilton points and we have no pressing need for more.
Chase Southwest Plus (40k points for $1k spend in 3 months) - $69 fee

Pros:
  • I love Southwest points as a currency. I often make speculative bookings and cancel them later for a full refund.
  • Very easy spend requirement.
Cons:
  • Not a particularly good bonus for this card.
  • < $500 value from the signup bonus, which wouldn't normally meet my bar.
  • I already have 180k Southwest points and have been spending them very slowly due to limited domestic travel and difficulty finding convenient Southwest options.
US Bank Altitude Reserve (50k points for $4.5k in 3 months) - net $75 fee after travel credit

Pros:
  • $750 bonus value is respectable
  • Card could be a keeper due to effective 4.5% return on travel and mobile wallet purchases (I'd consider cancelling CSR).
Cons:
  • Spend requirement is annoyingly high for me.
  • US Bank is supposedly "inquiry sensitive" and I have a lot of inquiries in the past year from mortgage rate shopping, so I'm not sure I'd get approved.

Capital One Venture (50k points for $3k spend in 3 months) - $95 fee waived first year

Pros:
  • Fee is waived first year
  • Transferable points
Cons:
  • Capital One pulls all 3 credit bureaus
  • I probably wouldn't be able to get full value of the points by transfering them before the annual fee hits.
Citi Premier (60k points for $4k spend in 3 months) - $95 fee

Pros:
  • Transferable points
  • High bonus value
Cons:
  • Spend requirement is a bit high.

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

Post by Bfwolf » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:12 pm

Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:50 pm
Currently pondering which card to apply for next.

I currently have: Citi Dividend, Citi ThankYou Preferred, Chase Freedom, Elan Fidelity 529, Discover It, Wells Fargo Rewards Visa, AMEX Blue Cash Everyday, Capital One, Chase Hyatt, Barclays Aviator Red, US Bank Club Carlson, BofA Cash Rewards, Citi Costco, Chase IHG, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Barclays JetBlue Plus, Amex Everyday, BofA Premium Rewards

I've had most of the usual suspects before, so anti-churning rules limit my options. I'm at 4/24.

Minimum spend can be hard for me. I don't have much chargeable spending, and I hate shifting bonus category spending towards signup bonus minimum spend. I usually end up resorting to overpaying federal taxes, then waiting up to 1.5 years for a refund. This is relatively easy but involves a fee and opportunity cost.

Some options I'm considering:

Chase IHG Premier (125k points, $50 statement credit for $3k spend in 3 months) - $89 fee

Pros:
  • Seems like a decent bonus for this card.
  • Statement credit mitigates the annual fee.
Cons:
  • My partner already has ~300k IHG points and we have no pressing need for more.
Amex Hilton Surpass (130k points + free weekend night for $4k spend 4mo) - $95 fee

Pros:
  • Between the points and the free night, it seems like a good bonus.
  • Might pick up an additional Amex offer here and there that
  • The Priority Pass feature could possibly be handy if I end up cancelling my CSR at the next renewal (its value is marginal for me)
Cons:
  • Spend requirement is a bit high.
  • My partner already has ~300k Hilton points and we have no pressing need for more.
Chase Southwest Plus (40k points for $1k spend in 3 months) - $69 fee

Pros:
  • I love Southwest points as a currency. I often make speculative bookings and cancel them later for a full refund.
  • Very easy spend requirement.
Cons:
  • Not a particularly good bonus for this card.
  • < $500 value from the signup bonus, which wouldn't normally meet my bar.
  • I already have 180k Southwest points and have been spending them very slowly due to limited domestic travel and difficulty finding convenient Southwest options.
US Bank Altitude Reserve (50k points for $4.5k in 3 months) - net $75 fee after travel credit

Pros:
  • $750 bonus value is respectable
  • Card could be a keeper due to effective 4.5% return on travel and mobile wallet purchases (I'd consider cancelling CSR).
Cons:
  • Spend requirement is annoyingly high for me.
  • US Bank is supposedly "inquiry sensitive" and I have a lot of inquiries in the past year from mortgage rate shopping, so I'm not sure I'd get approved.

Capital One Venture (50k points for $3k spend in 3 months) - $95 fee waived first year

Pros:
  • Fee is waived first year
  • Transferable points
Cons:
  • Capital One pulls all 3 credit bureaus
  • I probably wouldn't be able to get full value of the points by transfering them before the annual fee hits.
Citi Premier (60k points for $4k spend in 3 months) - $95 fee

Pros:
  • Transferable points
  • High bonus value
Cons:
  • Spend requirement is a bit high.

Some thoughts:

I got the Citi Premier at the beginning of the year and am finding it surprisingly useful. I'd always thought Thank You points were sorta crap but they actually have some good sweet spots. The ability to transfer to Turkish and then book anywhere in the USA to Hawaii for 7.5K is pretty incredible.

Having said that, if you're at 4/24, it kind of feels like you should go Chase first and then come back for the Citi Premier? Unless you are going to slough another card off your 24 month history soon. I'd rather have 40K Southwest points than 125K IHG points, but 1) 40K is a low bonus for the Chase card and maybe if you wait you'll see a better option and 2) Since you've already got the other IHG card, getting the new one could set you up to have two nights at IHG's <40K points per year with your anniversary, which is much more useful than 1 night.

Startled Cat
Posts: 479
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:54 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Startled Cat » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:01 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:12 pm
Some thoughts:

I got the Citi Premier at the beginning of the year and am finding it surprisingly useful. I'd always thought Thank You points were sorta crap but they actually have some good sweet spots. The ability to transfer to Turkish and then book anywhere in the USA to Hawaii for 7.5K is pretty incredible.

Having said that, if you're at 4/24, it kind of feels like you should go Chase first and then come back for the Citi Premier? Unless you are going to slough another card off your 24 month history soon. I'd rather have 40K Southwest points than 125K IHG points, but 1) 40K is a low bonus for the Chase card and maybe if you wait you'll see a better option and 2) Since you've already got the other IHG card, getting the new one could set you up to have two nights at IHG's <40K points per year with your anniversary, which is much more useful than 1 night.
My next card falls off my 5/24 history in September, another in November, and yet another in February. So there will be opportunities to apply for Chase cards if I want to. I don't know whether the IHG offer will still be available at that time, though. It seems more generous than normal.

I think the Hilton card is superior to the IHG card in terms of the sign-up bonus. The bonus consists of a similar number of points of similar value, but also a free weekend night valid at almost any Hilton (excluding some resorts), which adds a lot to the value. You're probably right that the IHG card has more ongoing benefits. Having the pair of IHG cards and stacking their benefits (2 free nights, 10% of redemeed points back, fourth night free on award stays) seems like a good combo. That said, it's often a struggle to work a free hotel night into our travel plans, and my partner and I already have enough trouble making good use of two Hyatt nights and two IHG nights between us.

I feel like the Citi Premier card is the most compelling card overall from my list. Normally I would get that one first. However, both of the hotel card offers are time-limited, which makes me think maybe I should get one (or both?) before moving on to Citi.

Startled Cat
Posts: 479
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:54 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Startled Cat » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am

Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:01 pm
I feel like the Citi Premier card is the most compelling card overall from my list. Normally I would get that one first. However, both of the hotel card offers are time-limited, which makes me think maybe I should get one (or both?) before moving on to Citi.
I decided it would make sense for my fiancé to get the second IHG card. She has a decent sized stash of IHG points, and the fourth night free benefit plus the additional free night per year will come in handy. Between the two of us we'll have 3 free IHG night annually. She's under 5/24 so I had her go ahead and apply.

I think I'm going to start with the Amex Hilton Surpass card, since that's a limited time offer. Then I'll come back for the Citi Premier card in a few months.

I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.

Bfwolf
Posts: 1962
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am

Startled Cat wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:01 pm
I feel like the Citi Premier card is the most compelling card overall from my list. Normally I would get that one first. However, both of the hotel card offers are time-limited, which makes me think maybe I should get one (or both?) before moving on to Citi.
I decided it would make sense for my fiancé to get the second IHG card. She has a decent sized stash of IHG points, and the fourth night free benefit plus the additional free night per year will come in handy. Between the two of us we'll have 3 free IHG night annually. She's under 5/24 so I had her go ahead and apply.

I think I'm going to start with the Amex Hilton Surpass card, since that's a limited time offer. Then I'll come back for the Citi Premier card in a few months.

I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.
I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.

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

Post by HomeStretch » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am
I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.
I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.
If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).

teamDE
Posts: 265
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by teamDE » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:10 am

Amex Blue Business Plus is a great 2% on everything card. Prob 90% of our purchases are on the Amex Gold + Amex BBP combo. Chase Amazon for Amazon/wholefoods and Chase CIP for travel rounds it out. Also have Chase CSP, but pretty much only for the SUB as its outgunned by other cards for spending.

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heartwood
Posts: 1424
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by heartwood » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am

HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am
Bfwolf wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am
I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.
I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.
If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).
We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.

HomeStretch
Posts: 2877
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by HomeStretch » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:31 am

heartwood wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am
Bfwolf wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am
I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.
I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.
If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).
We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.
Good point about monitoring when the $6k limit is reached. AMEX rewards reporting is one or two periods in arrears of the billing statement and it’s really easy to miss that the $6k limit has been reached.

JBTX
Posts: 5531
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by JBTX » Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:56 pm

HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:31 am
heartwood wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am
Bfwolf wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am
I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.
I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.
If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).
We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.
Good point about monitoring when the $6k limit is reached. AMEX rewards reporting is one or two periods in arrears of the billing statement and it’s really easy to miss that the $6k limit has been reached.
In the past for us the BCP has paid for itself, but this year may not and I may consider downgrading. I've been doing most of the grocery shopping with walmart online pickup which doesn't count. Unless I were going to buy a bunch of gift cards I won't break even, and I'm not a big fan of carry gift cards around to save 3%. Streaming services are also discounted but that doesn't amount to much.

spammagnet
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:42 pm

Re: credit card strategy

Post by spammagnet » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:00 pm

LearningAlot wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:56 am
... if I could generate an incremental $1K or so annually, I'd be
willing to add some complexity to my credit card strategy.

Would appreciate any suggestions/advice.
This card selection algorithm from reddit/r/churning provides a good summary. References to "5/24" means having opened 5 new credit card accounts in the past 24 months. Chase, in particular, uses that guideline in their approval decisions. Other banks have similar strategies.

https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comme ... flowchart/

decapod10
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:46 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by decapod10 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:34 pm

heartwood wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am
Bfwolf wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am
I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.
I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.
If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).
We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.
The groceries bonus category is the main reason I'm trying out the AmEx Gold card. $25k annual limit, 4x points. It's a valuable category (especially if you buy gift cards through your grocery store) but there aren't a lot of great cards for groceries. BofA Cash Rewards is another option at 3.5% back, but it has a $2500 per quarter limit.

jsaver
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:58 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by jsaver » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:55 pm

Up until recently, we were using these cards:

- AmEx Gold ($160/yr): I've had this card for ages and used to use it for everything, but now it's just for recurring charges.
- Chase Amazon: used for Amazon and Whole Foods.
- Chase Sapphire ($95/yr): default card for everything else.
- Chase United ($95/yr): used only for United flights.

The annual fees on the AmEx Gold and Sapphire are no longer worth it. I've almost never been able to use the points when I wanted to for anything other than a pittance. So I'm switching to this:

- Chase Amazon: will still use for Amazon and Whole Foods
- Chase United: keeping this for now. I only fly twice a year, but it gives preferred boarding and provides primary rental car coverage.
- Fidelity Visa Signature: 2% cash back, no annual fee. This will be our new default card.

I also grabbed a Discover card for my 18 y/o kid to use in college. I've added them as an authorized user and this way can keep their charges segregated from the other cards. I might also grab an Apple Card, no fee and 3% back on Apple purchases, 2% when using Apple Pay.

I've acquired an AmEx EveryDay so I can cancel the Gold Card without losing over 200k in points. I'm still trying to figure out how to redeem the AmEx points, but I'll probably end up using the various gift cards which are 1c/point. I'll also be canceling the Sapphire, but I have to dispose of 100k UR points first.

MikeG62
Posts: 2238
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Location: New Jersey

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by MikeG62 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:10 pm

HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:31 am
heartwood wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am
Bfwolf wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am
Startled Cat wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:03 am
I happened to notice that Amex has an upgrade offer for me to switch to the Blue Cash Preferred. The offer is a $250 statement credit after $1000 in spend. I'm not sure it's worth bothering, since that's only $155 after the annual fee. I'd probably want to downgrade at the end of the first year, and that might attract unwanted attention from Amex.
I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.
If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).
We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.
Good point about monitoring when the $6k limit is reached. AMEX rewards reporting is one or two periods in arrears of the billing statement and it’s really easy to miss that the $6k limit has been reached.
Agree with the need to monitor this if using the AMEX card for 6% CB on groceries. We too spend over $6K per year in grocery stores. What I do is use either my Chase Freedom or Discover for groceries whenever either has that as a bonus category for the quarter (AMEX get’s set aside until we spend $1,500 on groceries). Then we flip back to AMEX. With this strategy we get the full 6% with AMEX on $6,000 of spend ($360) and $3,000 on the combo of Chase Freedom and Discover with 5% CB ($150). In fact, I transfer the chase points to my Sapphire Ultimate Reward points, which increases their value by 50%. When the AMEX is maxed out, I just use our general purpose 2% CB for groceries for the remains few months of the year.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

nps
Posts: 714
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:18 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by nps » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:25 pm

MikeG62 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:10 pm
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:31 am
heartwood wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am
Bfwolf wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:02 am


I took the Blue Cash Preferred upgrade offer. Figure it's free money and doesn't add to my 5/24 list. I'll cancel or downgrade after a year....I'm not worried about how that'll look to Amex.
If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).
We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.
Good point about monitoring when the $6k limit is reached. AMEX rewards reporting is one or two periods in arrears of the billing statement and it’s really easy to miss that the $6k limit has been reached.
Agree with the need to monitor this if using the AMEX card for 6% CB on groceries. We too spend over $6K per year in grocery stores. What I do is use either my Chase Freedom or Discover for groceries whenever either has that as a bonus category for the quarter (AMEX get’s set aside until we spend $1,500 on groceries). Then we flip back to AMEX. With this strategy we get the full 6% with AMEX on $6,000 of spend ($360) and $3,000 on the combo of Chase Freedom and Discover with 5% CB ($150). In fact, I transfer the chase points to my Sapphire Ultimate Reward points, which increases their value by 50%. When the AMEX is maxed out, I just use our general purpose 2% CB for groceries for the remains few months of the year.
If you can spend $9000 and still have a few months left of grocery spend that you put on your 2% card it is possible you would get more net cash back with a second AMEX 6% card.

MikeG62
Posts: 2238
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:20 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:56 am

nps wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:25 pm
MikeG62 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:10 pm
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:31 am
heartwood wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:08 am


If you spend $3,200+ on grocery store purchases, the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 is offset by the additional 3% reward on the BCP (6% BCP vs 3% Everyday).
We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.
Good point about monitoring when the $6k limit is reached. AMEX rewards reporting is one or two periods in arrears of the billing statement and it’s really easy to miss that the $6k limit has been reached.
Agree with the need to monitor this if using the AMEX card for 6% CB on groceries. We too spend over $6K per year in grocery stores. What I do is use either my Chase Freedom or Discover for groceries whenever either has that as a bonus category for the quarter (AMEX get’s set aside until we spend $1,500 on groceries). Then we flip back to AMEX. With this strategy we get the full 6% with AMEX on $6,000 of spend ($360) and $3,000 on the combo of Chase Freedom and Discover with 5% CB ($150). In fact, I transfer the chase points to my Sapphire Ultimate Reward points, which increases their value by 50%. When the AMEX is maxed out, I just use our general purpose 2% CB for groceries for the remains few months of the year.
If you can spend $9000 and still have a few months left of grocery spend that you put on your 2% card it is possible you would get more net cash back with a second AMEX 6% card.
Not necessarily. Assume we spend $10,000 on groceries. We put $6,000 on the AMEX (earn $285 net of $75 AF), $1,500 on Discover ($75 CB), $1,500 on Chase Freedom (earn $112 in point value once transferred to CSR UR) and $1,000 on Fidelity 2% VISA ($20). Total CB and point value of $492. If we instead had two AMEX cards, $6,000 on one ($285 CB) and $,4000 on the other ($165 net of second $75 AF) for a total CB value of $450. Even at $11,000 the two AMEX cards come out $2 behind (call it breakeven). We'd come out $18 ahead with the two AMEX cards if we spent $12,000.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

User avatar
heartwood
Posts: 1424
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by heartwood » Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:22 am

MikeG62 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:56 am
nps wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:25 pm
MikeG62 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:10 pm
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:31 am
heartwood wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:18 am


We're a family of two. We do a significant portion of our grocery shop at Costco which doesn't accept or count for the AMEX Blue Cash cards rewards. Nevertheless we always bump up against the annual $6000 limit for 6% AMEX grocery rewards simply with our supermarket shops. Keep an eye out since after the $6k is reached you only get 1% on grocery store buys. I'm considering dropping for that reason and also for having to claim the rewards manually.
Good point about monitoring when the $6k limit is reached. AMEX rewards reporting is one or two periods in arrears of the billing statement and it’s really easy to miss that the $6k limit has been reached.
Agree with the need to monitor this if using the AMEX card for 6% CB on groceries. We too spend over $6K per year in grocery stores. What I do is use either my Chase Freedom or Discover for groceries whenever either has that as a bonus category for the quarter (AMEX get’s set aside until we spend $1,500 on groceries). Then we flip back to AMEX. With this strategy we get the full 6% with AMEX on $6,000 of spend ($360) and $3,000 on the combo of Chase Freedom and Discover with 5% CB ($150). In fact, I transfer the chase points to my Sapphire Ultimate Reward points, which increases their value by 50%. When the AMEX is maxed out, I just use our general purpose 2% CB for groceries for the remains few months of the year.
If you can spend $9000 and still have a few months left of grocery spend that you put on your 2% card it is possible you would get more net cash back with a second AMEX 6% card.
Not necessarily. Assume we spend $10,000 on groceries. We put $6,000 on the AMEX (earn $285 net of $75 AF), $1,500 on Discover ($75 CB), $1,500 on Chase Freedom (earn $112 in point value once transferred to CSR UR) and $1,000 on Fidelity 2% VISA ($20). Total CB and point value of $492. If we instead had two AMEX cards, $6,000 on one ($285 CB) and $,4000 on the other ($165 net of second $75 AF) for a total CB value of $450. Even at $11,000 the two AMEX cards come out $2 behind (call it breakeven). We'd come out $18 ahead with the two AMEX cards if we spent $12,000.
MikeG62, note that the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred has a $95/yr annual fee.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/reviews/cred ... -preferred

MikeG62
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Location: New Jersey

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:28 am

heartwood wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:22 am
MikeG62 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:56 am
nps wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:25 pm
MikeG62 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:10 pm
HomeStretch wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:31 am


Good point about monitoring when the $6k limit is reached. AMEX rewards reporting is one or two periods in arrears of the billing statement and it’s really easy to miss that the $6k limit has been reached.
Agree with the need to monitor this if using the AMEX card for 6% CB on groceries. We too spend over $6K per year in grocery stores. What I do is use either my Chase Freedom or Discover for groceries whenever either has that as a bonus category for the quarter (AMEX get’s set aside until we spend $1,500 on groceries). Then we flip back to AMEX. With this strategy we get the full 6% with AMEX on $6,000 of spend ($360) and $3,000 on the combo of Chase Freedom and Discover with 5% CB ($150). In fact, I transfer the chase points to my Sapphire Ultimate Reward points, which increases their value by 50%. When the AMEX is maxed out, I just use our general purpose 2% CB for groceries for the remains few months of the year.
If you can spend $9000 and still have a few months left of grocery spend that you put on your 2% card it is possible you would get more net cash back with a second AMEX 6% card.
Not necessarily. Assume we spend $10,000 on groceries. We put $6,000 on the AMEX (earn $285 net of $75 AF), $1,500 on Discover ($75 CB), $1,500 on Chase Freedom (earn $112 in point value once transferred to CSR UR) and $1,000 on Fidelity 2% VISA ($20). Total CB and point value of $492. If we instead had two AMEX cards, $6,000 on one ($285 CB) and $,4000 on the other ($165 net of second $75 AF) for a total CB value of $450. Even at $11,000 the two AMEX cards come out $2 behind (call it breakeven). We'd come out $18 ahead with the two AMEX cards if we spent $12,000.
MikeG62, note that the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred has a $95/yr annual fee.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/reviews/cred ... -preferred
I forgot it was $95. Thanks for pointing that out. OK then it would not make sense to get two AMEX cards even if we spent $12K in annul grocery spend. My three card combo would still generate a larger benefit.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

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