Author Topic: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?  (Read 4104 times)

Joel

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Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« on: December 19, 2016, 02:37:05 PM »
Does anyone have a better credit card rewards strategy?

My current cash back strategy earns at least 2% cash back on all transactions and up to 5% in some instances:

  • Citi Double Cash - Earns 2% rewards on all purchases. This is our default card for all purchases, unless the rewards for another card are higher.
  • Chase Freedom 5% - Earns 5% rewards on rotating categories. We use this card whenever there is a 5% category where we would normally make purchases. Frequently, that means gasoline, eating out, and Amazon depending on what quarter it is.
  • Discover 5% - Earns 5% rewards on rotating categories. Same as the Chase, we only use this card for planned purchases when the category earns 5%.
  • Target - Earns 5% discount from all Target purchases. My wife loves to shop at Target. It only made sense to get the card and get 5% off all purchases.
  • Costco Citi Card - Earns 4% on gas purchases and 3% on restaurant and travel purchases. We use this for all purchases of gas and restaurants (unless Chase or Discover offers 5% for that quarter). By going through this exercise, I reminded myself that this card earns 3% at restaurants. When we got it, the Chase or Discover card was earning 5% at restaurants, so we used those cards, and I seem to have forgotten.
  • Chase Amazon Card - Earns 3% back on Amazon purchases. We only use this card if Chase or Discover does not offer 5% for that quarter.
  • Capital One Quicksilver - Earns 1.5% on all purchases and has no foreign transaction fees. We only use this card when we are traveling abroad to avoid foreign transaction fees.

Since the wife and I plan to buy a house in the next few years, we do not want to open a bunch of new credit cards for their sign-up bonuses. However, I'm looking into switching over to focusing on travel rewards in place of cash back for my "normal" use of credit cards. Does anyone else have a better strategy?

FLBiker

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2016, 02:42:16 PM »
Personally, I'd encourage you to reconsider going after signup bonuses.  That's all I do, and my credit score is above 800.  I split them with my wife, though, so we each only open 2-3 a year.  And if they don't have an annual fee, we leave them open.

Joel

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2016, 02:59:39 PM »
Personally, I'd encourage you to reconsider going after signup bonuses.  That's all I do, and my credit score is above 800.  I split them with my wife, though, so we each only open 2-3 a year.  And if they don't have an annual fee, we leave them open.

My plan is to do that after we buy a house in the next couple years. Given our house buying time frame is so soon though, I don't think it would make sense.

geekette

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2016, 03:15:46 PM »
If you qualify, though, you should definitely consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  It does have a $450 annual fee, but spend $4,000, get 100,000 points (plus an additional point per dollar spent), and $300 in travel credit (tolls, taxis, and parking, etc. qualify, as well as the usual flights, cruises, car rentals, and lodging).   The points can be cashed out for $1,000+ or used toward booking additional travel at 1.5x that.  Other benefits too (insurance, reimbursement for Global entry for one person, certain lounge access, other stuff I forget).

So a minimum of $1,340 back for that $450 annual fee.  So far the sign up bonus has held steady, but I don't know how long it will continue.

ender

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2016, 04:18:39 PM »
What does "a few years" mean for looking to buy a house?

Honestly, if both you and your wife apply for the CSR card geekette mentioned that will be a single inquiry no your report and if you really have that many cards (looks like 7?) it will barely affect your credit score over 1-2 years. I applied for a mortgage, three credit cards, and had some hard inquiries from Centurylink in about 3 months and my score is within 50 points of where it started less than six months later already.

Of course, if you've applied for more than 5 cards in the past 24 months you won't be able to get the CSR.

Catbert

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2016, 07:18:27 PM »
You could each apply for and churn 1 card a year.  That shouldn't have appreciable impact on your FICO score.  If you each got an airline card for 50k points/miles each that would get you round trip air fare to Europe. 

GetItRight

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2016, 07:45:59 PM »
I have the Citi 2% and the Chase Amazon 3%, that's all I use. I also travel somewhat regularly for work, I funnel hotel and car rentals into airline miles as it's easy and sometimes I travel every other week, other times it may be a long time between, so it's easiest to consolidate it in one place. I won't travel by commercial air for pleasure thanks to the unconstitutional TSA, but I will for work and my SO doesn't mind the TSA poke and grope as much as me so I'll bring her along whenever I have the points and scheduling allows.

Also have another card I've had far longer than any other, I make a couple small purchases every year just to keep it active as it helps on credit age for score while requiring minimal effort. I've considered the 5% rotating category cards like you do but for me it's not worth the effort. Not sure what you could do beyond that to optimize rewards.

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2016, 08:03:32 PM »
I like to keep the juggling to a minimum. AMEX Blue Cash Preferred for groceries (6%) and gas (3℅) and Citi Double Cash for everything else.  I'm not really in to churning but I did recently sign up for the CSR because that was a no brainer.

Ebrat

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2016, 04:28:14 PM »
If you qualify, though, you should definitely consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  It does have a $450 annual fee, but spend $4,000, get 100,000 points (plus an additional point per dollar spent), and $300 in travel credit (tolls, taxis, and parking, etc. qualify, as well as the usual flights, cruises, car rentals, and lodging).   The points can be cashed out for $1,000+ or used toward booking additional travel at 1.5x that.  Other benefits too (insurance, reimbursement for Global entry for one person, certain lounge access, other stuff I forget).

So a minimum of $1,340 back for that $450 annual fee.  So far the sign up bonus has held steady, but I don't know how long it will continue.

Bonus tip: You can transfer points between accounts, so I was able to transfer points from my Chase Freedom (5% back at Costco this quarter) to my CSR. I'll spend the points on travel, so I'll get 1.5X their value.  Essentially getting 7.5% back on my Costco purchases (or whatever the category is that quarter).

DailyGrindFree

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2016, 05:28:52 PM »
If you qualify, though, you should definitely consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  It does have a $450 annual fee, but spend $4,000, get 100,000 points (plus an additional point per dollar spent), and $300 in travel credit (tolls, taxis, and parking, etc. qualify, as well as the usual flights, cruises, car rentals, and lodging).   The points can be cashed out for $1,000+ or used toward booking additional travel at 1.5x that.  Other benefits too (insurance, reimbursement for Global entry for one person, certain lounge access, other stuff I forget).

So a minimum of $1,340 back for that $450 annual fee.  So far the sign up bonus has held steady, but I don't know how long it will continue.

Bonus tip: You can transfer points between accounts, so I was able to transfer points from my Chase Freedom (5% back at Costco this quarter) to my CSR. I'll spend the points on travel, so I'll get 1.5X their value.  Essentially getting 7.5% back on my Costco purchases (or whatever the category is that quarter).

Niceeeee. 7.5%.
My wife and I both got CSR [@10/15 and @11/15]. We just paid our oldest's college tuition, room and board for the next semester a few days ago. Now I am wondering about cancelling my wife's card after getting $300 travel credit for 2017 and transferring all of her points to mine. Or should I down grade her card to no annual fee Chase Card? Is there any advantage for it?

bacchi

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2016, 05:39:44 PM »
My wife and I both got CSR [@10/15 and @11/15]. We just paid our oldest's college tuition, room and board for the next semester a few days ago. Now I am wondering about cancelling my wife's card after getting $300 travel credit for 2017 and transferring all of her points to mine. Or should I down grade her card to no annual fee Chase Card? Is there any advantage for it?

Downgrading helps your AAoA (Average Age of Accounts) since it's the same card number. Interestingly, you can still use your old CSR card after it's been downgraded to a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited.

The downside is that your wife loses the opportunity to get a F/FU by itself for the $150 bonus unless she applies before downgrading.

DailyGrindFree

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2016, 05:45:08 PM »
My wife and I both got CSR [@10/15 and @11/15]. We just paid our oldest's college tuition, room and board for the next semester a few days ago. Now I am wondering about cancelling my wife's card after getting $300 travel credit for 2017 and transferring all of her points to mine. Or should I down grade her card to no annual fee Chase Card? Is there any advantage for it?

Downgrading helps your AAoA (Average Age of Accounts) since it's the same card number. Interestingly, you can still use your old CSR card after it's been downgraded to a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited.

The downside is that your wife loses the opportunity to get a F/FU by itself for the $150 bonus unless she applies before downgrading.

Thanks for the info. I am new to Credit Card churning and acronyms :-) . What is F/FU?

bacchi

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2016, 06:07:29 PM »
My wife and I both got CSR [@10/15 and @11/15]. We just paid our oldest's college tuition, room and board for the next semester a few days ago. Now I am wondering about cancelling my wife's card after getting $300 travel credit for 2017 and transferring all of her points to mine. Or should I down grade her card to no annual fee Chase Card? Is there any advantage for it?

Downgrading helps your AAoA (Average Age of Accounts) since it's the same card number. Interestingly, you can still use your old CSR card after it's been downgraded to a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited.

The downside is that your wife loses the opportunity to get a F/FU by itself for the $150 bonus unless she applies before downgrading.

Thanks for the info. I am new to Credit Card churning and acronyms :-) . What is F/FU?

Freedom/Freedom Unlimited.

She can apply now for the $150 bonus on a Freedom Unlimited. Then, in a few months when the CSR annual payment comes up, she can downgrade to a Freedom Unlimited and have 2 of them. This preserves the CSR card number and gets her the $150.

This won't work the other way. Downgrading and then applying for the same card won't work.

But...you can only apply for 5 cards in 24 months (from any bank), as far as Chase is concerned. If she wants the Chase United & Marriott & Southwest & Ink Plus, skip the Freedom/Freedom Unlimited application and just downgrade when the annual fee shows up.

Yeah, it gets tricky.

DailyGrindFree

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2016, 06:15:50 PM »
My wife and I both got CSR [@10/15 and @11/15]. We just paid our oldest's college tuition, room and board for the next semester a few days ago. Now I am wondering about cancelling my wife's card after getting $300 travel credit for 2017 and transferring all of her points to mine. Or should I down grade her card to no annual fee Chase Card? Is there any advantage for it?

Downgrading helps your AAoA (Average Age of Accounts) since it's the same card number. Interestingly, you can still use your old CSR card after it's been downgraded to a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited.

The downside is that your wife loses the opportunity to get a F/FU by itself for the $150 bonus unless she applies before downgrading.

Thanks for the info. I am new to Credit Card churning and acronyms :-) . What is F/FU?

Freedom/Freedom Unlimited.

She can apply now for the $150 bonus on a Freedom Unlimited. Then, in a few months when the CSR annual payment comes up, she can downgrade to a Freedom Unlimited and have 2 of them. This preserves the CSR card number and gets her the $150.

This won't work the other way. Downgrading and then applying for the same card won't work.

But...you can only apply for 5 cards in 24 months (from any bank), as far as Chase is concerned. If she wants the Chase United & Marriott & Southwest & Ink Plus, skip the Freedom/Freedom Unlimited application and just downgrade when the annual fee shows up.

Yeah, it gets tricky.

@bacchi: Awesome. Thanks for the information and your time.

kpd905

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2016, 07:05:03 PM »
As long as you stop 6-12 months before you buy a house, you are completely fine chasing sign up bonuses right now.  Those will get you somewhere between 10-75% back on all of your spending, which should help you come up with a down payment in the meantime.

Joel

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2016, 09:11:07 PM »
The CSR doesn't be seem like a good deal after the signup bonus. Am I missing something? Or is the recommendation purely due to the signup bonus?

ender

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2016, 09:37:08 PM »
The CSR doesn't be seem like a good deal after the signup bonus. Am I missing something? Or is the recommendation purely due to the signup bonus?

Are you looking for a "I will get one card and just get rewards back from it forever" strategy?


Joel

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2016, 10:32:05 PM »
Ive decided to get a chase sapphire rewards card for the amazing signup offer, since we won't be buying a house for at least 12 months.

I'm looking for the best card(s) after the introductory periods still though. It appears the Citi 2% is the best deal.

Do those of your chasing these signup bonuses close the accounts once you are done so that you can open another one a few years later?

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2016, 07:18:21 AM »
The CSR doesn't be seem like a good deal after the signup bonus. Am I missing something? Or is the recommendation purely due to the signup bonus?

It depends.  If you travel frequently it is definitely worth it.  The  private lounge pass alone makes it worthwhile.  Personally, I will probably ditch it after the first year.

ender

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2016, 04:05:04 PM »
Do those of your chasing these signup bonuses close the accounts once you are done so that you can open another one a few years later?

You can often do a product change to convert an annual fee card to a non-fee card.


superjosh

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Re: Credit Card Rewards Strategies?
« Reply #20 on: December 24, 2016, 04:18:53 PM »
Amex Blue Cash is offering 10% cash back for Amazon purchases (up to $200).


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