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  • #16
    I never buy anything with a debit card. Much less protected than a credit card

    As long as you do not overspend on the credit card there is no problem with chasing cash back deals. My main problem with the OP's approach would be juggling that many cards. At least it is better than having to track multiple BofA cards constantly to know which ones are about to hit there quarterly maximum.

    For those who do much of their purchasing through Amazon and shop at Whole Foods, the Amazon prime card pays 5% cash back on everything from those sources. No caps no rotating categories.

    Do you keep enough at Schwab to get the annual bonus cash? That makes the still expensive AMEX platinum a bit cheaper.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by afan View Post
      I never buy anything with a debit card. Much less protected than a credit card

      As long as you do not overspend on the credit card there is no problem with chasing cash back deals. My main problem with the OP's approach would be juggling that many cards. At least it is better than having to track multiple BofA cards constantly to know which ones are about to hit there quarterly maximum.

      For those who do much of their purchasing through Amazon and shop at Whole Foods, the Amazon prime card pays 5% cash back on everything from those sources. No caps no rotating categories.

      Do you keep enough at Schwab to get the annual bonus cash? That makes the still expensive AMEX platinum a bit cheaper.
      My budget is my budget and it would not change significantly if I used a debit card, a CC with no rewards, or cash. As for too many cards it's actually super simple.

      If I'm not at work and:

      I buy airfare or travel I pull out the Amex platinum.

      I go out to eat or go to the grocery store I pull out the Amex Gold.

      Everything else I pull out the Fidelity VISA.

      If I'm at work:

      I pull out the Amex Blue specific for the parent LLC or my member LLC depending on what I'm buying.



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      • #18
        Originally posted by PWMDMD View Post

        While Air Canada is giving 1.9 cents pp many are at 1 cent or less pp. This is just an easy way to generate some extra retirement cash with very little work paying for things I'd already be paying for anyway.

        https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/t...x-points-value
        I think you're missing what I'm saying. The cents-per-point value is not fixed, it is variable. At least for the big three US airlines and many other domestic and especially international carriers.

        So for some flights it may make more sense to pay with cash (and collect 5x points in the process), and for some it may make more sense to pay with points transferred to the airline from your AmEx Membership Rewards account.

        With very little effort and simple math, you can easily get >2 cents per point in value, and much more for international business flights, for example.

        This is, at a minimum, double the 1.1 cents per point you get by just taking cash. It also means you are getting an effective 10% cash back on flights purchased in cash with your Platinum card (5x points), and 8% cash back on all food and grocery purchases with your Gold card (4x points). Forever.

        Yes it is slightly more involved than converting points directly to cash, and assumes that you fly from time to time, but again, money is fungible--at some point you will be taking that money you earned by converting points at 1.1 cents each and using it to purchase a flight anyway, so might as well go the efficient route that pays the best and cut out the conversion step where you lose 50% of the value.

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        • #19
          I play the AMEX and Chase games. Has taken our family to Asia in biz (Japan Air is ridiculous!) and will be flying to Europe this summer in Air France biz. The return when flying international business is usually 5 cents or more.

          I get and respect those who don't wanna play this "game." But I enjoy it, finding mileage deals and flying upfront when possible.

          You've definitely thought out your plan PWMDMD!
          Cobin Soelberg, M.D., J.D. - Principal & Owner
          Greeley Wealth Management | [email protected]

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          • #20
            Originally posted by StarTrekDoc View Post
            The sweet spot for rewards isn't cashback....it's premium travel. For those paying for business class or nice hotel stays, points will get you there a lot cheaper and returns are significant. Throw in status upgrades and suites, you're at inspirational travel at cut rates. That's what the points pay off with a little foresight.
            Yes, exactly. That's what I'm saying, if you're going be going on trips like this regardless, it's silly to cash in AmEx points for 1.1 cents each and then pay cash for international airfare. Or any airfare, to be honest, where all it takes is 10 seconds and a calculator to evaluate a fare and decide points versus cash.

            For example, wife and I are going to Lake Como in the fall. Got us RT flights in Emirates business class non-stop into Milan on the Airbus A380--upper deck, with an actual bar and lounge. Pretty sweet.

            Those tickets would be over $10k total, and we got them with 125k points. That's over 8 cents per point.

            Could have also used points to fly in the lower deck too--fewer points for a less expensive ticket--but the principle remains the same.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by altadoc View Post
              I play the AMEX and Chase games. Has taken our family to Asia in biz (Japan Air is ridiculous!) and will be flying to Europe this summer in Air France biz. The return when flying international business is usually 5 cents or more.

              I get and respect those who don't wanna play this "game." But I enjoy it, finding mileage deals and flying upfront when possible.

              You've definitely thought out your plan PWMDMD!
              We're flying a family of 5 on Air France from Boston to Paris and JetBlue from London to Boston this summer - all on a combination of Amex and Chase points. While it was fun figuring it out once...I'd be happy to never do it again - it wasn't as easy as just a calculator and 10 seconds.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by IMinMS View Post
                ...Your point about paying with plastic instead of cold hard cash is reasonable except you said debit card so perhaps that wasn’t what you were getting at or you’re just going for a contrarian take for the sake of it...
                The basic strength of debit/cash are just the balance going down, down, down, "low balance," "overdrawn"...
                ...versus CC rewards going up, up, no consequence for spending.

                I presently have one credit card (relatively low limit) for online purchases at small and potentially insecure websites, and it also makes car rentals quicker. Other than that, it's debit card and auto-pay (or cash a good deal of the time) for everything. It is not really worth my time to be making a bunch of payments monthly, typing in various credit card numbers to enable one-click buying, and making sure I didn't miss any payments just to get roughly 2% "savings" on my increased spending.

                That is not even to mention all of spam you get from the CC companies selling your personal info for marketing more stuff for you to buy with your platinum gold onyx 3% VIP card. The reeeal joy is often the awesome cans of worms "great credit" can bring... cars much more expensive that you need, home loans, home improvements, business expansion/diversification ("hey, they offered the loan and rates were low").

                It's good if we think we are gaining a grand or two per year on CC rewards. It is proven who benefits from these programs, and it's not the cardholders. Again, why do you think the card companies have these rewards programs and advertise them? Hint: the same reason car or vacation or mortgage or insurance companies run commercials.... and it's not to improve your life.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Max Power View Post
                  The basic strength of debit/cash are just the balance going down, down, down, "low balance," "overdrawn"...
                  ...versus CC rewards going up, up, no consequence for spending.

                  I presently have one credit card (relatively low limit) for online purchases at small and potentially insecure websites, and it also makes car rentals quicker. Other than that, it's debit card and auto-pay (or cash a good deal of the time) for everything. It is not really worth my time to be making a bunch of payments monthly, typing in various credit card numbers to enable one-click buying, and making sure I didn't miss any payments just to get roughly 2% "savings" on my increased spending.

                  That is not even to mention all of spam you get from the CC companies selling your personal info for marketing more stuff for you to buy with your platinum gold onyx 3% VIP card. The reeeal joy is often the awesome cans of worms "great credit" can bring... cars much more expensive that you need, home loans, home improvements, business expansion/diversification ("hey, they offered the loan and rates were low").

                  It's good if we think we are gaining a grand or two per year on CC rewards. It is proven who benefits from these programs, and it's not the cardholders. Again, why do you think the card companies have these rewards programs and advertise them? Hint: the same reason car or vacation or mortgage or insurance companies run commercials.... and it's not to improve your life.
                  Many of your general comments are true when considering the population as a whole but not a single point applies to me specifically. While there are A LOT of irresponsible CC users in the world there are still a few responsible users. I haven't paid a finance charge in years and probably more like decades. I do not let my excellent credit dictate my monthly budget or the price of purchasing large items. I don't spend more using CC than a debit card either. I'm also 20 years into using CCs almost exclusively for all daily and monthly purchases - I can go weeks if not months without having a single dollar on me. This isn't a huge moneymaker but as I've said I already run most of my finances through CCs anyway and so may as well make the most of it.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by bovie View Post

                    Yes, exactly. That's what I'm saying, if you're going be going on trips like this regardless, it's silly to cash in AmEx points for 1.1 cents each and then pay cash for international airfare. Or any airfare, to be honest, where all it takes is 10 seconds and a calculator to evaluate a fare and decide points versus cash.

                    For example, wife and I are going to Lake Como in the fall. Got us RT flights in Emirates business class non-stop into Milan on the Airbus A380--upper deck, with an actual bar and lounge. Pretty sweet.

                    Those tickets would be over $10k total, and we got them with 125k points. That's over 8 cents per point.

                    Could have also used points to fly in the lower deck too--fewer points for a less expensive ticket--but the principle remains the same.
                    The beauty of my plan is it will still involve 4 out of 5 CCs in this rotation generating and pooling Amex points. The last step, how I spend those Amex points, can be changed at any time. I guess if we have know we are going to travel in the next year or two I can just pool the Amex points in anticipation for travel.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by PWMDMD View Post

                      The beauty of my plan is it will still involve 4 out of 5 CCs in this rotation generating and pooling Amex points. The last step, how I spend those Amex points, can be changed at any time. I guess if we have know we are going to travel in the next year or two I can just pool the Amex points in anticipation for travel.
                      my concern is your AF is high for the primary purpose of cash redemption in the MR side. .01 is simply a huge drag and you're paying AFs for that too.

                      I would have no trouble with you accumulating for every two three year aspirational travel and doing that with point churning cards while keeping just the gold card with the high food usage.

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                      • #26
                        One point that I think is worthwhile is that points redemptions are commonly most lucrative when spent on deluxe accommodations or international business travel. As someone early in my career, I will often opt for cash back or more mid-range point redemptions for products I would pay cash for rather than using points for a $1000/night hotel or $10,000 business class flight. For ex: I would rather redeem for several free nights at a Hyatt Place at 5k-8k points while on a road trip rather than 1 night at a Grand Hyatt for 25k points. Different people have different goals though so I can respect different approaches.

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                        • #27
                          I agree, doesn't have to be aspirational travel.

                          If one can get at least 0.02 back on a travel redemption then sure, use those points; otherwise probably better efficiency using cash and reap travel rewards for better redemption value downstream.

                          The whole point is efficiency.while keeping it reasonably KIS mentality for the family.

                          We also redeem for Hyatt place though most come at 10-12k these days than 8 anymore and most of our regular travel is chase side with southwest/Hyatt/Sapphire these days for the very same stated reasons

                          That said, we do maintain amex side of things for those aspirational stays. Eg. Hilton stay upcoming at the Del for memorial weekend. Costing us final $200 for the two nights+$100 spend....so really $100 for the two nights.

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