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  • Credit card rewards recommendations

    We are about to embark on a home remodel (in cash..stop judging!) and I want to take advantage of the fact that we will be increasing our spending and could get travel and cash rewards by opening new credit card accounts.  We currently have the Barclay arrival card which we like but was interested in any resources / websites or card recommendations you may have that may have good intro bonuses.  Also, what are the rules for spouses opening cards or opening multiple cards consecutively?  We pay off our credit card in full every month and I plan to cancel the cards asap after the rewards.  I am sure there are people on this forum much more experienced with maximizing credit card rewards programs.  Thanks for any ideas you may have!

  • #2
    I'm not any sort of an expert, but a few sites I have found useful:

    https://www.doctorofcredit.com/ Has a nice, up-to-date listing of the best credit card offers, along with some other useful knowledge.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/ These folks are pretty extreme, I think some of the stuff they promote (manufactured spending, etc.) is a bit shady, but this is definitely the place to learn to min-max.

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    • #3
      Before you start signing up for cards, do some thinking about what sort of rewards you really want.  Airline frequent flyer miles?  (With which airline?) Hotel points? (Again, which hotel chain?) Cash back?  Bank points that offer the flexibility to be used in several different ways?  You don't want to sign up for cards that offer points or miles that won't be very useful to you.

      Also, understand that airline frequent flyer miles have become much harder to use over the past few years.  There's a big learning curve involved.  Unless you do a lot of international travel and want to fly in business class, you probably will do better with either cash back or flexible bank points.

      The best place to learn about the points and miles game is the Flyertalk forums.

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      • #4
        Thanks!  This is why I like the Barclay arrival card so much.  you get 2x points for all purchases then use them to reimburse any travel expense directly from your credit card statement.  We signed up for an american airlines card a few years back and still can't find any way to use the miles to travel where and when we want to go.  I am tempted to just do cash back cards since they are easier.  thanks again

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        • #5
          First of all, any cards that don't have an annual fee should be kept, because higher total credit limits increase your credit score because your total utilization will go down.  I take the cards that I don't use regularly to the supermarket every 5 months and spend $1 with each card so they won't be cancelled due to inactivity.

          I opened 10 new cards in a year, and my FICO score only went down by around 25 points, and that was temporary.  Within a year it was higher than it had been before.

          Most of these cards will offer a sign up bonus for spending, typically $100 to $150 for $3000 spend, or 30,000 miles for the travel cards.

          I use 5 cards regularly:  Amex blue cash for supermarkets: 3% cash back on groceries with no fee ( 6% if you get the card with a $95 fee.)

          Amazon card, no fee, 3% cash back on Amazon, 5% if you have Prime, no fee.

          Fidelity 2% cash back on everything, no fee

          Citi Double cash back: 2% cash back on everything, no fee

          Costco:  4% back on gas, 3% on travel and dining, 1% on all else, no fee, no foreign transaction fee.

          I also have an American Airlines Platinum card, $95 fee,  that i use only because I get 1 free bag for each of 4 travelers, and I fly American once or twice a year.

          So I use the Costco card for gas and restaurants, the Amex for groceries, the Amazon card on Amazon, and the Fidelity and Citi double cash cards for everything else.  It took a month to get used to all the cards, but it's second nature now.

          For travel, the Sapphire Reserve is often highly recommended.  It costs $450 per year, but $300 is reimbursed for travel expenses, and some other perks. 50,000 mile sign up fee ( was 100k a year ago )  No foreign transaction fee.  3 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, and all points are multiplied by 1.5 when used to buy tickets on the Sapphire website.  Apparently you can transfer to other airlines and get good deals.   I got it for the sign up bonus but switched to a no-fee card after a year because it was going to be hard for me to break even on the card going forward, since the Costco is almost as good and has no fee.  If I traveled more and could arbitrage the points, it might be worthwhile.

          I also got a First Tech credit union card because it's a chip and pin card ( as opposed to most US cards that are chip and signature ) so I could use it overseas if at a ticket machine or self serve gas station, which don't take chip and signature cards.  However, most  overseas merchants will accept signature cards.

          Capitol One Quicksilver card is also good for travel, no fee, no foreign transaction fee, 1.5% cash back on everything.  I believe that the Fidelity and Citi cash back cards have foreign transaction fees.

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          • #6
            Alexx covered most of the bases in his post.  My modest contribution would be to consider the Southwest card if you travel by Southwest somewhat frequently.  We have this card for my wife's business.  Doesn't take too much in office and surgical supplies to earn a companion pass for the following year, which means you can bring a second traveler for only $5.60 in mandatory taxes each way.

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            • #7




              Alexx covered most of the bases in his post.  My modest contribution would be to consider the Southwest card if you travel by Southwest somewhat frequently.  We have this card for my wife’s business.  Doesn’t take too much in office and surgical supplies to earn a companion pass for the following year, which means you can bring a second traveler for only $5.60 in mandatory taxes each way.
              Click to expand...


              FYI, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Southwest.  So the combination of the Southwest card (spend only enough on it to get the companion pass) and either Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred (earns fewer points, but has a lower annual fee) plus the no annual fee Chase Freedom (5x bonus categories, change quarterly) and Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5x on everything) cards makes a powerful combination.  Freedom and Freedom Unlimited points can't be transferred to Southwest directly, but they can be transferred to one of the Sapphire cards, and from there then on to Southwest.

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              • #8
                PoF has an excellent travel and cash reward summary here:

                https://www.physicianonfire.com/credit-cards/

                 

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                • #9
                  If I had a big remodel or a few big purchases,  I would research some easy rewards redemptions and go from there and make it a goal rather than collecting for the sake of collecting.

                  For example, I want to do a transpacific business class trip.  What points would I need for that?  Do a search for "best business class to asia with points."  there will be some general instructions on how to do it.  The typical answer is Singapore air from Chase transfer or Cathay Pacific with Alaska miles or JAL with Amex points.  If you don't want to do this level of research and involvement, then go for cash back.  But you can still do some new cards for cash back with sign on bonuses, like Wells Fargo Propel (I think) card.  both you and your wife should do the sign ups for each card.

                  Also, i you  have any intention for doing this for the long haul, get the Chase cards first for the 5/24 rule.

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                  • #10
                    Capital One Venture I find convenient.
                    2x travel rewards that can be applied to past 90 days travel , on current and future travel. Applies air , hotels etc. Lower cash back on all purchases.
                    1) Southwest flights were difficult on other cards since SWA books only on their site.
                    2) All purchases count, so you can get points on any item like homeowners, or auto insurance. I run autopsy’s like cell, toll tags, cable through and just keep miles in the travel bank that doesn’t expire. 50,000 bonus signup.
                    This more a set it and forget it, claim miles when you want, monthly or when you travel, before or after.

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                    • #11




                      For travel, the Sapphire Reserve is often highly recommended.  It costs $450 per year, but $300 is reimbursed for travel expenses, and some other perks. 50,000 mile sign up fee ( was 100k a year ago )  No foreign transaction fee.  3 points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, and all points are multiplied by 1.5 when used to buy tickets on the Sapphire website.  Apparently you can transfer to other airlines and get good deals.   I got it for the sign up bonus but switched to a no-fee card after a year because it was going to be hard for me to break even on the card going forward, since the Costco is almost as good and has no fee.  If I traveled more and could arbitrage the points, it might be worthwhile.
                      Click to expand...


                      Second the Sapphire Reserve - if you get it soon, you'll be able to get 2x $300 travel credits for the $450 annual fee. The annual fee is taken out every 12 months on your anniversary of opening but the $300 travel credit is based on the calendar year so you can get one before the end of 2018 and then one after January 1st presuming you have flights/hotels/etc on either side. They also reimburse the fee for Global Entry ($100), which is good for 5 years, so your $450 annual fee gets you $700 statement credits before even counting the 50,000 point sign up bonus. It comes as Chase Ultimate Reward points, which can be redeemed in multiple ways. I'll be cancelling mine prior to the time my $450 fee kicks in again.

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                      • #12
                        I knew this was the right place to ask!  Thanks to everyone for the recommendations.

                         

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                        • #13


                          you’ll be able to get 2x $300 travel credits for the $450 annual fee.
                          Click to expand...


                          I did that too, when I first got the card in November.  So I got $300 towards a ticket I bought in December, and another $300 when I bought another ticket in February, so I was ahead by $150 after paying the annual fee.  I used the miles to pay $1500 towards tickets, plus I used the Priority Lounge once on that trip, and I got the Global Entry card, which gives me TSA pre-check.  However, the Costco card also gives 3% back on travel and restaurants, and now has no foreign transaction fee.  So the only advantage of the Sapphire card over the Costco is the 1.5 x points you get on their website for tickets.  So that extra 1.5% will cost me $150/year, which requires a $10,000 / year travel spend on the card to break even.  I'm not spending that much now, but I will in a year or two, at which time I'll start the card up again.

                          I also got a Wells Fargo card just for the cash sign up bonus.

                          There are a few other store-branded cards that might pay more than 2% at their stores, and other travel cards, but if a travel card is paying 2 points per dollar, i would rather use a cash back card, but that depends on the specific program.

                          I transferred my Sapphire card over to the Freedom card, with rotating 5% categories, but I don't use it, as I don't spend enough in their category stores to make it worth the hassle.

                           

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                          • #14
                            You will get the biggest bang for your buck from the introductory bonuses, which usually trigger at $3,000 or $5,000.  If the vendors and contractors will allow separate transactions, spread it out among different cards.  Get as many introductory bonuses as you can.  Your score will suffer with the new inquiries and accounts, but it will usually be mild (about 30 points) and temporary.

                            I pay my bill prior the day prior to my billing cycle date being over, so my balances are usually close to zero despite spending thousands each month.  Instead of showing a $4,000 balance or whatever that's always paid, it instead shows near-zero utilization.  IDK how big of an affect that actually has as long as utilization is under 20%.

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                            • #15
                              We for the longest time just had a boring 1% back card.  It had a yearly cap which we now stated to hit so we moved to the amazon card which is also 1% back but some more for some other things Amazon(obviously) and gas, restaurants etc.  I frequently see posts like this in the forums and I wonder if I am missing out.  Are there really large rewards to be had?  Is it worth the hassle of opening and monitoring the cards and using the right one in the right situation? Worry about stolen numbers or losing a card?  Do you invest in a second wallet for the other side to carry the cards and even out your sitting posture?

                              I put a good price on simplicity.  Are these rewards worth it?

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