Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

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megabad
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Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:25 pm

My family has a bunch of credit cards (mainly chasing rewards). I like to keep them around since they lower our credit utilization and I use them periodically depending on reward category and having a bunch of plastic helps my ego. Lately, I am having trouble keeping track of them all and keeping them active.

On most of them, I need activity every once in while to keep the card issuer off my back as far as shrinking the credit line or closing the account.

Can anyone give me examples/categories of small charges that I can spread out on all the cards that I can use to keep them active. If I can come up with entire categories of expenses to isolate on each card, I think I can remember better (as opposed to just trying to randomly swipe each card every month). I am sort of ashamed to admit I don't keep track of our individual expenses so I can't think of many but I am sure there are some that we have. The only ones I can think of are Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime (we alternate).

On a typical month, we probably have close to 500 charges, most of them small. But I just need categories that I can remember to charge to the inactive cards. Maybe I should just charge all the mexican restaurant eating on one, then the italian on one etc. I just want to keep the charges small so I don't miss out on a bunch of rewards.

runner3081
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by runner3081 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:29 pm

Cell Phone Bill
Cable/Internet Bill

Any utilities that take a credit card?

Self checkout at grocery store, buy one item with the card and the rest on your main card.

02nz
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by 02nz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:30 pm

I have over a dozen cards that I never use. I can only recall one card that was closed by the issuer (not at my request). Haven't had my credit limit reduced on any. And even if that happened and my credit utilization went up a bit, it just doesn't matter. The difference between say 780 and 790 won't matter for the rate you get on a loan. This just isn't worth the bother.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:50 pm

I usually spread my lesser used cards out on purchases that pay only 1% or very small purchases.

Utilities
Netflix, etc
Liquor & beer stores
Walmart
Small purchases from gas station (gas cans for lawnmower, propane tanks, etc)
Home Depot & Lowe's--unless they are a quarterly category on a 5% card
Coffee shops

dustinst22
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by dustinst22 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:53 pm

amazon balance reload. Hit them for $1 each every now and then. Some creditors will cancel the debt.

xb7
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by xb7 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:55 pm

Dues payments or membership fees to various organizations can sometimes be fairly small.

Our garbage bill isn't a lot per month, though they bill it quarterly.

Newspaper subscription.

Possible to donate a fairly small amount on a regular basis to a charity I would think?

I think it really comes down to looking at your budget --- if you keep one --- and sorting out relatively low charges from what you already spend.

renue74
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by renue74 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:01 pm

Monthly drafts:

Spotify
Apple icloud storage (extra space)
Netflix
Playstation VUE
HBO Now
Showtime Now
Hulu

Make it autopilot....have the monthly draft for one of the above hit and also have an auto bill pay from your bank to pay the credit card company...since you'll know the exact amount each month.

livesoft
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by livesoft » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:05 pm

Once in a while when you go to the gas station charge a "click's worth" of gas to a set of cards that you want to keep. You should be able to just do 2 cents per card.

USAA gave me $10 for using its card 3 times. So I clicked 3 times and got $10 for about 6 cents worth of gas.
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123
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by 123 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:08 pm

dustinst22 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:53 pm
amazon balance reload. Hit them for $1 each every now and then. Some creditors will cancel the debt.
+1 I really like this idea. You can sit down once or twice a year and do a bunch of small amount reloads to Amazon (or any other online account) that you would use in your normal activities. Easy peasy.

The not so great part is then having to make sure you get all the statements (whether email or snail mail) and pay them timely. Would be sad to have a significant drop in credit score because you overlooked or forgot about a bill for less than $5.
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stan1
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by stan1 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:12 pm

I just use it for a micro purchase. For example at work a cup of coffee is $1.25.

Also I have two cards I use less frequently set up to earn frequent flyer points for dining at AA and UA. That way I reset my mileage expiration at the same time I used a seldom used card with the purchase of a $8 sandwich around the corner from my house.

dustinst22
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by dustinst22 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:14 pm

always have auto pay statement balance set.

nabakovfan1
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by nabakovfan1 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:29 pm

Parking meters that take credit cards for $0.25.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by xb7 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:58 pm

stan1 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:12 pm
I just use it for a micro purchase. For example at work a cup of coffee is $1.25.
Hmm, this along with one of the mobile payment apps (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, whatever) --- that could be very easy to do "once in a while". I.e., with a mobile payment app, you don't have to carry the physical card to throw a small charge on it infrequently.

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:12 pm

Thanks folks for the ideas.
dustinst22 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:53 pm
amazon balance reload. Hit them for $1 each every now and then. Some creditors will cancel the debt.
This is a great idea! I don't know why I didn't think of this. I actually do this pretty often anyway (gifts for others).
livesoft wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:05 pm
Once in a while when you go to the gas station charge a "click's worth" of gas to a set of cards that you want to keep. You should be able to just do 2 cents per card.

USAA gave me $10 for using its card 3 times. So I clicked 3 times and got $10 for about 6 cents worth of gas.
This is pretty slick too. Now you got me thinking that I can just refill the lawn mower gas can a couple times one one card.
02nz wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:30 pm
I have over a dozen cards that I never use. I can only recall one card that was closed by the issuer (not at my request). Haven't had my credit limit reduced on any. And even if that happened and my credit utilization went up a bit, it just doesn't matter. The difference between say 780 and 790 won't matter for the rate you get on a loan. This just isn't worth the bother.
You might be right but the last mortgage kind of scared me, they ran a different scoring model I guess and it was very close to dropping from the best rate. My "mortgage" credit score is unfortunately consistent a lot lower than the credit karma/credit card provider credit score. I just had the largest limit card cut the limit by 5 figures...so I am just worried about the credit utilization but I want the points so I hate to stop using them just because of that. I was dropped by a card years ago for inactivity, but I don't actually know if my current cards would give me the boot. I just assumed.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:19 pm

First, make sure all the cards have auto payment of the full balance. Now, go to the gas station. First card, put 99 cents into the car. Next card, 99 cents. etc.

Once a month goes by, go look at each card account. Some will have the 99 cents forgiven. Cool, eh?
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J295
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by J295 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:19 pm

500 charges a month… that is nearly 17 per day .... Stick your cards in your car or wallet and make a single charge on each for what comes along.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by vineviz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:32 pm

megabad wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:25 pm
On a typical month, we probably have close to 500 charges, most of them small. But I just need categories that I can remember to charge to the inactive cards. Maybe I should just charge all the mexican restaurant eating on one, then the italian on one etc. I just want to keep the charges small so I don't miss out on a bunch of rewards.
I set up recurring charitable donations on a card we rarely use. $10 or $15 a month for a hand full of charities seems to do the trick.
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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:46 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:19 pm
First, make sure all the cards have auto payment of the full balance. Now, go to the gas station. First card, put 99 cents into the car. Next card, 99 cents. etc.

Once a month goes by, go look at each card account. Some will have the 99 cents forgiven. Cool, eh?
It seems like you are the 2nd person to suggest they might forgive small charges. I didn't know this. I will have to try.
J295 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:19 pm
500 charges a month… that is nearly 17 per day .... Stick your cards in your car or wallet and make a single charge on each for what comes along.
Well it sounds a little high but there are 4 people using the cards and two are for side businesses. Just flipping through all the authorized users and different card apps takes a while which is why I asked for tips. Per person, it is more like a couple charges per day during the week and then a ton on the weekend. Unfortunately, I have a bony rear end and a bad back so I don't carry many cards with me. Fortunately a lot of the charges are online or autopay anyway but keeping track of which card needs to get used is tough.

I can't just go through them one at a time since I have some big purchases crop up and I don't want to lose my best cash back on them. That's why I was just looking for simple categories and ways to get a few bucks on each one. Maybe the right solution is to eventually get rid of some of them, but then I have the credit utilization fear I discussed above.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:50 pm

How about monthly or quarterly charitable contributions? You can contribute to organizations you support, to podcasts you enjoy listening to, to your local NPR affilaofe, etc etc.

Andy.

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:08 pm

vineviz wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:32 pm
I set up recurring charitable donations on a card we rarely use. $10 or $15 a month for a hand full of charities seems to do the trick.
PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:50 pm
How about monthly or quarterly charitable contributions? You can contribute to organizations you support, to podcasts you enjoy listening to, to your local NPR affilaofe, etc etc.
Good suggestions. Most of the bigger ones go through DAF but I am sure we have some smaller ones throughout the year too. Maybe this would encourage me to give a little more which would be a good thing.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by celia » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:22 pm

J295 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:19 pm
500 charges a month… that is nearly 17 per day .... Stick your cards in your car or wallet and make a single charge on each for what comes along.
It sounds like you are putting waaaay too much time into your credit card "plans". Isn't your time worth something? Do you really want to spend it this way? I suggest you simplify your life and get rid of at least half of them. That should free up time to think about something more important and long-lasting. :oops:
megabad wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:25 pm
On most of them, I need activity every once in while to keep the card issuer off my back as far as shrinking the credit line or closing the account.
I've never had a credit card company do this. In fact, I've been trying to get some unused cards (for 10 years) cancelled to decrease the risk of identity theft.

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:35 pm

celia wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:22 pm
J295 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:19 pm
500 charges a month… that is nearly 17 per day .... Stick your cards in your car or wallet and make a single charge on each for what comes along.
It sounds like you are putting waaaay too much time into your credit card "plans". Isn't your time worth something? Do you really want to spend it this way? I suggest you simplify your life and get rid of at least half of them. That should free up time to think about something more important and long-lasting. :oops:
Haha well the spending part doesn't take much time. You would be amazed at how quickly a college kid can use a card...many times per day. Starbucks at 9am...starbucks at 11am...starbucks at 3pm....

As I said, in the long run, maybe I would cancel a few, but I am concerned that I will drop to a worse mortgage rate on my next loan if the credit takes a hit. I have a bunch of mortgages and plan on getting a bunch more so this would not please me. Plus, I like rewards. One alternative would be to apply for a big CLI on my most used cards, but I haven't had good luck with this in the past (I usually get a small amount).

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by michaeljc70 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:07 am

You've gotten some good ideas on charges. In my experience though, you only need to make a purchase once or twice a year to keep the card active. American Express recently reduced my credit line from $19k to $10k since I rarely use it. I didn't care as I don't use the card and my total utilization is never more than a few percent.

I also wouldn't worry about missing out on "a bunch of rewards" if you make a $20 purchase on an old card. How much could the reward be? 40 cents?

How much do you charge a month to need all these extra cards to keep your utilization down?
Last edited by michaeljc70 on Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by dm200 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:08 am

Grocery store
McDonald's
My mail order prescription refills
Gasoline
Online purchases from Amazon

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:55 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:07 am
You've gotten some good ideas on charges. In my experience though, you only need to make a purchase once or twice a year to keep the card active. American Express recently reduced my credit line from $19k to $10k since I rarely use it. I didn't care as I don't use the card and my total utilization is never more than a few percent.

I also wouldn't worry about missing out on "a bunch of rewards" if you make a $20 purchase on an old card. How much could the reward be? 40 cents?

How much do you charge a month to need all these extra cards to keep your utilization down?
Uh yes it is easy not to worry about rewards when you keep the charges down to $20, that's why I asked for ideas for little charges...the rewards aren't my main concern as explained above, I just don't want to lose them if there is an easy way not to.

We charge everything. On some months we are very close to 30% utilization. If you have a material intensive side business and a few young authorized users, this is pretty easy to do without a bunch of high limit cards. There is material effect on credit score as indicated by credit karma and the credit cards. As I said above, perhaps I should try to get more CLIs but they are small so that won't prevent the damage from an instantaneous card closure.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by IowaFarmWife » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:00 pm

vineviz wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:32 pm
megabad wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:25 pm
On a typical month, we probably have close to 500 charges, most of them small. But I just need categories that I can remember to charge to the inactive cards. Maybe I should just charge all the mexican restaurant eating on one, then the italian on one etc. I just want to keep the charges small so I don't miss out on a bunch of rewards.
I set up recurring charitable donations on a card we rarely use. $10 or $15 a month for a hand full of charities seems to do the trick.
This is what I do, too.
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by whodidntante » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:37 pm

Swagbucks just ran promos for buying swagbucks at a discount or for 1:1, $80 a day for several days. Swagbucks are redeemable for paypal deposits. So I used every card in my churning purgatory.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by LadyGeek » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:22 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (credit card).
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by Gnirk » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:31 pm

I have my Netflix charged monthly on one card, and my Good-To-Go pass (bridge tolls) on a different card. Otherwise, I only use those cards when I travel internationally, which isn't very often. I charge everything else, and I mean just about everything, to a third card.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by JackoC » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:04 am

The reason I don't do automatic charges (charity, utility etc) with autopay on the card is that that way the little-used card has a non-zero balance on statement closing date. And the number of cards with such balances, not just the % of total credit lines, affects credit score. I aim for zero balance on statement closing date for all our CC's, active and dormant, except our No.1 card BOA Preferred Rewards Visa where we deliberately keep a big balance, till the due date, for the float (pay est taxes June 15 plus 1.87% convenience fee, card pays 2.625%, interest free loan till August 14). OK, this is gilding the lily, but the whole discussion is. :happy

The simplified approach would be just not to use the cards which don't give you best cash back in any category, and let the issuer cancel them if they want to.

I set a schedule in my credit card spreadsheet which month I'm going to use each of the dormant cards, and just use it for a small purchase like fast food lunch for one, a drink at a convenience store, etc and just pay off that balance from checking right away for zero closing date balance. But, I'm only maintaining as 'active' 3 cards we never really use, soon to be 4, plus there's one in the nominally active line up (Amex Hilton Rewards) with a big reward point balance which I want to make sure remains active, but we don't necessarily book rooms with a Hilton brand in any given 3 month period, and the card isn't optimal to use for anything else.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by cherijoh » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:09 am

megabad wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:25 pm
My family has a bunch of credit cards (mainly chasing rewards). I like to keep them around since they lower our credit utilization and I use them periodically depending on reward category and having a bunch of plastic helps my ego. Lately, I am having trouble keeping track of them all and keeping them active.

On most of them, I need activity every once in while to keep the card issuer off my back as far as shrinking the credit line or closing the account.

Can anyone give me examples/categories of small charges that I can spread out on all the cards that I can use to keep them active. If I can come up with entire categories of expenses to isolate on each card, I think I can remember better (as opposed to just trying to randomly swipe each card every month). I am sort of ashamed to admit I don't keep track of our individual expenses so I can't think of many but I am sure there are some that we have. The only ones I can think of are Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime (we alternate).

On a typical month, we probably have close to 500 charges, most of them small. But I just need categories that I can remember to charge to the inactive cards. Maybe I should just charge all the mexican restaurant eating on one, then the italian on one etc. I just want to keep the charges small so I don't miss out on a bunch of rewards.
I have my gym membership on one card with a long history, high credit line, but middling rewards.

Many charities look for sustaining givers and let you charge as little as $5/month - I'm thinking of "membership" to my local NPR and public TV stations.
Last edited by cherijoh on Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:12 am

JackoC wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:04 am
I aim for zero balance on statement closing date...

I set a schedule in my credit card spreadsheet which month I'm going to use each of the dormant cards...
The zero balance (paying off early thing) is a good point that I am surprised no one called me out on until now. When I kept track of only 3 cards and didn't have so many charges, I used to do this. Now, my laziness has set in and I don't keep track of it well and don't pay very frequently. Even if I pay early, my lack of tracking means that we rack up a balance. I guess I could set up autopay to pay CCs frequently, but I am not an autopay person (maybe I should be). I am definitely trying to avoid yet another spreadsheet for this purpose as this would go against above lazy philosophy. Good points though.

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J G Bankerton
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by J G Bankerton » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:16 am

OP, I hope you are not carrying a balance on any card. With no balance you never have to worry about credit utilization.

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:26 am

J G Bankerton wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:16 am
OP, I hope you are not carrying a balance on any card. With no balance you never have to worry about credit utilization.
Haha, see my post and another poster's just a minute prior. You are right, but this would require more time and management then I care to commit. When you have hundreds of charges and multiple folks charging, the only way I can see to do this would be daily autopays which is not my desired path. It would require even more complexity if my largest limit cards started closing due to inactivity.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by J G Bankerton » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:31 am

megabad wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:26 am
J G Bankerton wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:16 am
OP, I hope you are not carrying a balance on any card. With no balance you never have to worry about credit utilization.
Haha, see my post and another poster's just a minute prior. You are right, but this would require more time and management then I care to commit. When you have hundreds of charges and multiple folks charging, the only way I can see to do this would be daily autopays which is not my desired path. It would require even more complexity if my largest limit cards started closing due to inactivity.
I did read the thread before I posted and they you beat me by two minutes. What interest do you pay? Some of my cards have 23% interest, I never carry a balance though.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by stlutz » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:32 am

Who cares if the issuer closes your card? Most of the best bonuses are on cards with annual fees so don't you close those after a year anyhow?

I guess I don't understand the threat worry about an issuer closing a card you aren't using. Capital One just closed my Quick Silver card that I hadn't used in 5 years. So what? Maybe I'll open a Venture Rewards card now to get a bonus.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by J G Bankerton » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:11 pm

stlutz wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:32 am
Who cares if the issuer closes your card? Most of the best bonuses are on cards with annual fees so don't you close those after a year anyhow?

I guess I don't understand the threat worry about an issuer closing a card you aren't using. Capital One just closed my Quick Silver card that I hadn't used in 5 years. So what? Maybe I'll open a Venture Rewards card now to get a bonus.
It may not look good on a credit report if the lender closes the card even if it doesn't hurt the score.

OP, I'm not going to preach but there are several thing you are doing that are not "Boglehead". Remember every dollar saved becomes ten dollars when it is invested in VTI.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:40 pm

stlutz wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:32 am
Who cares if the issuer closes your card? Most of the best bonuses are on cards with annual fees so don't you close those after a year anyhow?

I guess I don't understand the threat worry about an issuer closing a card you aren't using. Capital One just closed my Quick Silver card that I hadn't used in 5 years. So what? Maybe I'll open a Venture Rewards card now to get a bonus.
Because all open cards, whether used or not, impact your credit utilization which is a factor in your credit score.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by JackoC » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:07 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:40 pm
stlutz wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:32 am
Who cares if the issuer closes your card? Most of the best bonuses are on cards with annual fees so don't you close those after a year anyhow?

I guess I don't understand the threat worry about an issuer closing a card you aren't using. Capital One just closed my Quick Silver card that I hadn't used in 5 years. So what? Maybe I'll open a Venture Rewards card now to get a bonus.
Because all open cards, whether used or not, impact your credit utilization which is a factor in your credit score.
Right, and to clarify with example, I now use a 2.625% cash back card to pay estimated taxes both for the slight net cash back (1.87% convenience fee federal, 2% state) and the float. My card statement closes eg. June 17, a June 15 est tax payment doesn't post till after the statement close, gets included in the July 17 close, which I can pay by August 14 with no interest. Doing that 4 times a year for my estimated tax amounts generates non-negligible float from the interest I get on that money in the meantime in VMFXX, even after tax, compared to paying cash before eg. June 15.

But, that means a pretty big statement closing balance on that card sometimes. Which would hit my credit score more, due to 'high utilization of credit' if not for the ~$100k in combined credit limits on CC's that I no longer really use. So keeping them open is worth something. Whether one should care about a small/moderate ding to credit score could be debated. If somebody else says they don't care at all, that's reasonable. I might not either except my credit is looked at sometimes as the 'warm body' on credit applications for non-recourse borrowing by an LLC I control; I have no personal debt.

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:01 pm

J G Bankerton wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:11 pm
OP, I'm not going to preach but there are several thing you are doing that are not "Boglehead". Remember every dollar saved becomes ten dollars when it is invested in VTI.
Not sure how trying to keep a high credit score and getting a few rewards is not Boglehead? Also not sure what VTI (Vanguard Total Stock ETF) has to do with this topic? Maybe you are caught up by the balance comments. I admit the balance comments were a little confusing. In the prior posts, I was referencing the balance showing up on credit report if you pay bills in full when due (instead of early) not an overdue balance that would cause interest charges. I don’t pay interest. Hope that alleviates your concerns.

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J G Bankerton
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by J G Bankerton » Sat Aug 10, 2019 4:53 pm

megabad wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:01 pm
J G Bankerton wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:11 pm
OP, I'm not going to preach but there are several thing you are doing that are not "Boglehead". Remember every dollar saved becomes ten dollars when it is invested in VTI.
Not sure how trying to keep a high credit score and getting a few rewards is not Boglehead?
Three stops a day at Starbucks is not Boglehead. Last time I was in Starbucks, many years ago, a cup of black coffee was $4. You also carry a balance on credit cards. What percent interest are you paying?

magazinewriter
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by magazinewriter » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:03 pm

Lots of good ideas.

I use NYT digital subscription
Prepaid cell phone
PBS monthly donation

One card I have a hard time keeping current is Target Red Card. Twice, including once this month, they’ve told me the card will be cancelled if I don’t charge something. I don’t shop Target very often but I want to keep it for the 5% discount and free shipping. So I bought a new iPad cover and I’m set for awhile now. (Spine on old iPad cover was half way torn apart so I really needed the new cover.)

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megabad
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by megabad » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:19 pm

J G Bankerton wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 4:53 pm
Three stops a day at Starbucks is not Boglehead. Last time I was in Starbucks, many years ago, a cup of black coffee was $4. You also carry a balance on credit cards. What percent interest are you paying?
Haha, I personally agree with you on the Starbucks but it sounds like you don’t have adopted college age relatives that you have to worry about. Sometimes, especially when they aren’t your sons or daughters, you have to choose your battles. She is actually very responsible otherwise. I would rather the Starbucks than the liquor store. My family dynamic is a little messy but rest assured I can swing the “latte factor”. As I said before, I don’t pay interest.

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dm200
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by dm200 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:01 am

Of the credit cards we have, the one that is not always universally accepted is the American Express Blue card.

I noticed that American Express is accepted at McDonald's - so I occasionally charge my occasional McDonald's Oatmeal - one of the few things on the menu there that is not terrible for my health.

This American Express is an important card for us to keep because it is tied to car rental insurance.

Perhaps not really necessary - but my wife and I try to use every one of our cards every month or two.

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Ice-9
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by Ice-9 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:15 am

I have two cards I normally don't use that I want to keep active. I didn't want to use a Netflix or other streaming subscription for these cards, because then I'd be giving up the 6% cashback I could be earning on such transactions if I instead used my American Express Blue Cash Preferred card.

One card has no usefulness to me other than it is my oldest card and I'd like to keep it contributing to whatever "age" portion of my FICO score exists. I schedule my monthly $1.99 charge from OneDrive for 100 Gb of cloud space on this card. This way, I'm not sacrificing much cashback I could be earning if a better card were used.

The other card that I otherwise don't use but want to keep active is CapitalOne Quicksilver, which earns 1.5% on all purchases. This card mostly became unneeded when I got a Citi Doublecash that gives a total of 2% cashback on all purchases that you pay in full. However, the Quicksilver still has two neat features that make me want to keep it in my arsenal: (1) no foreign transaction fee and (2) ENO creation of one-use virtual account numbers for online transactions. For this account, which isn't as much of a disadvantage cashback-wise, I do two things:

* monthly HP Instant Ink subscription of $2.99/mo

* connected to Facebook via a virtual number for when I make donations to friends' causes, thus Facebook doesn't need to store an official credit card number of mine (Citi Doublecash offers a similar virtual account number feature, but that doesn't work on Mac or Linux without Flash, and I won't use Flash or Windows for anything financial)

junior
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by junior » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:30 pm

Patreon donations- you can even set a different card for each donation on their web site

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by 7eight9 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:49 pm

Twice I year I take all the "sock drawer" credit cards out and use them to make a small addition to my Amazon Gift Card balance. Some random amount between $4 and $5 per card. I know that I'll be buying something from Amazon in the future so it is like putting money in the bank (without interest). To my way of thinking this is a good approach because I don't have to remember which "sock drawer" card I used this month (or set automatically monthly payments on them). I just leave them on the desk for a couple of days and then go in and pay all off (don't wait for statement to close). Then they go back to the sock drawer and take a rest.
I guess it all could be much worse. | They could be warming up my hearse.

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FelixTheCat
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by FelixTheCat » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:57 pm

I primarily use one credit and pay it off immediately. My secondary card is use to pay the Netflix bill to keep the card active.
Felix is a wonderful, wonderful cat.

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dm200
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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by dm200 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:59 pm

A long time acquaintance of mine uses a credit or debit card for as many expenditures as he can. His "theory" is that, somewhere along the way - a charge will be "lost" in the process - and he will get the purchase at no charge to him.

Have not talked to him in a while - I suspect, though, that might have happened in the past with the paper charge slips - but I doubt it today.

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Re: Ideas for Little Charges to keep Cards active

Post by Charon » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:33 pm

megabad wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:35 pm
As I said, in the long run, maybe I would cancel a few, but I am concerned that I will drop to a worse mortgage rate on my next loan if the credit takes a hit. I have a bunch of mortgages and plan on getting a bunch more so this would not please me.
I have a hard time understanding how closing several cards, let alone one, would affect you. A credit utilization rate of 3% vs. 2% on your cards can't possibly impact your credit score. (Getting or losing a credit card seemed to have almost no impact on my credit score when that was the only kind of credit I had, and I only had ~3 cards.)

And in your case, your credit utilization is almost certainly completely dominated by your mortgages. The cards don't even enter into it. If you're near a boundary in terms of mortgage rates, I would suggest that's very likely due to your having a "bunch" of mortgages already.

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