Author Topic: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender  (Read 10706 times)

tanzee

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Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« on: September 18, 2015, 08:00:56 AM »
Hey Folks

I've been looking into rewards credit cards a bit lately.  However, it seems my expenses are low enough that it really isn't going to make a big difference (unless of course I delve into the world of churning, which frankly I don't want to).  My expenses are below $1000 per month and a significant portion of those expenses wouldn't be eligible to be paid with credit cards to the best of my knowledge (rent, grocery shopping at Aldi).  In fact, I did basic calculations and for many cards, the cashback rewards for the year wouldn't even beat the yearly fee, given my low expenses.  So it seems my two options would be to just get a basic no fee cashback card and take the ~$70 a year or so in rewards, or engage in some basic hacking and shift through 3-4 cards a year in an effort to get their sign up bonuses and then cancel them. 

Aside from manufacturing spending, am I right that these are my options?   I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the options and the evil banking jargon.  So any insight on how I can best benefit would be greatly appreciated. 

I'll add that my family lives a ways away (mom lives nationally, dad and siblings in Europe), so I would theoretically have the opportunity to cash in on travel rewards as well. 

Thank you fellow mustachians. 

tvan

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2015, 08:23:26 AM »
I would look at low/no fee cards with small minimum spending requirements.  The Chase Freedom comes to mind.  Churning ime just isnt worth the time.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2015, 08:24:23 AM »
I've got a no fee 1% cash back card. I'm keeping my spending low so it's not going to give me anything amazing, but it's 1% less than I get otherwise. I'm in Canada so the specific card isn't relevant to you, but you guys down south typically have better deals and better selection. So you should be able to find something equivalent.

JLee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2015, 08:30:22 AM »

TheGadfly

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2015, 08:41:21 AM »
This article is for you: http://travelisfree.com/2015/09/15/best-no-annual-fee-travel-credit-card-strategy/

If you are interested in collecting rewards for travel, there are several cards out there without an annual fee and plenty more that you can downgrade after 12 months to avoid the fee.

I've also tried manufactured spending and, I agree, it's not really worth the hassle.  There are other ways to meet the minimum spend requirements without MS:

-A simple strategy for buying stuff at Aldi is to buy a $500 gift card with a rewards card.
-Pay for your 6-month car insurance policy (if you have a car) upfront with your card.
-Try to time your large expenditures with the activation of a credit card. Ex. I needed to buy a new bed last month so, three weeks before, I opened up a Hyatt rewards card.  I was easily able to meet the minimum spend requirement and now I get two free nights at any fancy-pants resort/hotel in the world!

JLee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2015, 08:44:20 AM »
This article is for you: http://travelisfree.com/2015/09/15/best-no-annual-fee-travel-credit-card-strategy/

If you are interested in collecting rewards for travel, there are several cards out there without an annual fee and plenty more that you can downgrade after 12 months to avoid the fee.

I've also tried manufactured spending and, I agree, it's not really worth the hassle.  There are other ways to meet the minimum spend requirements without MS:

-A simple strategy for buying stuff at Aldi is to buy a $500 gift card with a rewards card.
-Pay for your 6-month car insurance policy (if you have a car) upfront with your card.
-Try to time your large expenditures with the activation of a credit card. Ex. I needed to buy a new bed last month so, three weeks before, I opened up a Hyatt rewards card.  I was easily able to meet the minimum spend requirement and now I get two free nights at any fancy-pants resort/hotel in the world!

That's how I do it - I will plan opening a new card around an anticipated larger purchase. So far this year, Chase has saved me ~$450 in travel costs and I have 25k points left to use. I haven't touched the 60k AA points yet, and I'll have another 50k in Amex points soon ($1k min spend, will have car insurance renewal and vehicle parts/maintenance plus normal expenses in the next 3mo).

TheGadfly

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2015, 08:51:35 AM »
That's how I do it - I will plan opening a new card around an anticipated larger purchase. So far this year, Chase has saved me ~$450 in travel costs and I have 25k points left to use. I haven't touched the 60k AA points yet, and I'll have another 50k in Amex points soon ($1k min spend, will have car insurance renewal and vehicle parts/maintenance plus normal expenses in the next 3mo).

Nice work!  Yes, slow and steady wins the race.  I've been accumulating points over the last two years and next May my wife and I will be traveling to Hawaii.  The combination of United Rewards, Chase UR points, and hotel card bonuses are allowing us to take a $10,000 vacation for almost nothing.  Seriously, we only have to pay for food.

tvan

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2015, 09:01:28 AM »
I would look at low/no fee cards with small minimum spending requirements.  The Chase Freedom comes to mind.  Churning ime just isnt worth the time.
Pretty much everything I've read on this forum disagrees with you here.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/10/13/credit-card-churning-for-mustachians-or-sucka-consumers/
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/value-of-credit-card-churning/
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/credit-card-churning-without-manufacturing-spending/

I sometimes confuse the terms churning and manufactured spending.  I churn, that's easy.  MS'ing is not worth my time/effort.

marcela

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2015, 09:34:24 AM »
I am in a similiar boat to you, not much spending on the credit cards each month (or out of credit cards for that matter!). I have the citi double cash card which gives you 1% on everything you buy and then another 1% when you make payments. Effectively 2% on everything and no fee or limits on how much cashback you can get. For us cash in hand is more helpful than travel benefits so that's our route. We also have another cashback card that gives 5% on rotating categories, so we pull that one out for specific things.

Cycling Stache

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2015, 09:50:30 AM »
We just about finished the first year trying out a couple different cards for the bonuses, and I just cancelled the last of them.  The bonuses are definitely worth it (we did Chase Sapphire and Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards), but after that, it just wasn't worth the hassle for me.  We're going back to our Chase Freedom cash-back card, and that will be good enough. 

If there's an easy bonus to get and you can match it to your spending like a big ticket item as others mentioned, try it out.  But consider if it's really worth the effort and mental energy for you to try to maximize all the different rewards that are possible.  One of my goals has been to move my finances more to autopilot, and I found dealing with the different credit cards (and trying to remind my wife which one to use!) wasn't worth the effort. 

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2015, 09:57:19 AM »
This article is for you: http://travelisfree.com/2015/09/15/best-no-annual-fee-travel-credit-card-strategy/

If you are interested in collecting rewards for travel, there are several cards out there without an annual fee and plenty more that you can downgrade after 12 months to avoid the fee.

I've also tried manufactured spending and, I agree, it's not really worth the hassle.  There are other ways to meet the minimum spend requirements without MS:

-A simple strategy for buying stuff at Aldi is to buy a $500 gift card with a rewards card.
-Pay for your 6-month car insurance policy (if you have a car) upfront with your card.
-Try to time your large expenditures with the activation of a credit card. Ex. I needed to buy a new bed last month so, three weeks before, I opened up a Hyatt rewards card.  I was easily able to meet the minimum spend requirement and now I get two free nights at any fancy-pants resort/hotel in the world!

Thanks all for the suggestions.  Sometimes I'm just blown away by the knowledge and kind spirits present on this forum.  So that might look like me having one card in my wallet that is my go to, but periodically signing up for a different card when I have a bigger purchase coming up in order to get a sign up bonus periodically?  I'm assuming I want to pick a group of cards that are synergistic, so that I can combine rewards more efficiently, yes? 

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2015, 10:00:57 AM »
I've got a no fee 1% cash back card. I'm keeping my spending low so it's not going to give me anything amazing, but it's 1% less than I get otherwise. I'm in Canada so the specific card isn't relevant to you, but you guys down south typically have better deals and better selection. So you should be able to find something equivalent.

I wonder why this is.  MMM talks about Canadians (at least historically) being more frugally minded.  I wonder if the companies aren't able to offer the same level of rewards to a populace that is less accepting of credit.  Any thoughts?

LAGuy

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2015, 10:02:54 AM »
I would look at low/no fee cards with small minimum spending requirements.  The Chase Freedom comes to mind.  Churning ime just isnt worth the time.

+1 for Chase Freedom. I do a bit of the credit card sign up bonus game, but if you don't have a fair amount of minimum spend or don't want to fool with gift card buying, just use the Chase Freedom for general spend. You'll get a few bucks back that you can turn into a statement credit, or you might even be able to turn them into gift cards a favorable rate (I used to turn mine into Sun Glass Hut gift cards so I could feed my dirty consumer impulse for expensive sun glasses).

LAGuy

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2015, 10:05:12 AM »
I've got a no fee 1% cash back card. I'm keeping my spending low so it's not going to give me anything amazing, but it's 1% less than I get otherwise. I'm in Canada so the specific card isn't relevant to you, but you guys down south typically have better deals and better selection. So you should be able to find something equivalent.

I wonder why this is.  MMM talks about Canadians (at least historically) being more frugally minded.  I wonder if the companies aren't able to offer the same level of rewards to a populace that is less accepting of credit.  Any thoughts?

Other countries have stronger consumer protection laws then the US, making the sign up game not worth it for them. In the US, the credit card companies are making a killing off the financially unsophistcated.

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2015, 10:10:30 AM »
Also, I think I read somewhere that the value of airline miles can be higher in certain circumstances than just a 1 mile = 1 cent equivalent.  Can anyone speak to that?  Are certain types of miles preferable to others, or is it just based on what airline you fly most often. 

JLee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2015, 10:15:43 AM »
Also, I think I read somewhere that the value of airline miles can be higher in certain circumstances than just a 1 mile = 1 cent equivalent.  Can anyone speak to that?  Are certain types of miles preferable to others, or is it just based on what airline you fly most often.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 25% more than 1:1 when used for travel.

Gerard

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2015, 10:18:10 AM »
MMM talks about Canadians (at least historically) being more frugally minded.  I wonder if the companies aren't able to offer the same level of rewards to a populace that is less accepting of credit.  Any thoughts?
Other countries have stronger consumer protection laws then the US, making the sign up game not worth it for them. In the US, the credit card companies are making a killing off the financially unsophistcated.

These two things, plus a market that has fewer players and is thus less competitive. Same deal for cell phones and plane tickets.

I do find that at least a few Canadian cards are worth it for points or cashback signups -- gold amex will give you 25K signup and 10K referral bonus, plus 2 pts/$ on travel purchases; TD aeroplan will give you 25K signup and 1.5 pts/$ on gas/groceries; BMO elite will give you 1.75% cashback. They're cracking down on multiple signups and cancellations, though.

And I would definitely work on the referral bonuses, especially for Amex. I sign up, refer my brother, he refers my other brother, and so on.

norabird

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2015, 10:22:34 AM »
I don't spend enough (or earn enough!!) to hit the $3,000, $4,000 targets for bonuses, but there are cards that offer somewhat lower bonuses for less money--$1,000 or $2,000 over three months. The Capital One Venture One, Delta SkyMiles, and united plus explorer with chase /UA and citi aadvantage cards are all achievable. I might try to apply to the Sapphire card or Barclays Arrivals card if I know I have a big expense (probably a work trip) coming up that I can time properly, but for now the medium reward medium risk is a nice place to be. I got back $200 as a statement credit on the Capital One card when I hit the bonus; I still get statement credits on my ongoing bankAmericard account, but at a much lower rate, so applying for new ones seems worth it. The lower bonus cards are also more likely to have 0% APR and no fee. I do have a ton of cards open now (most with a 0 balance), but my understanding is that it doesn't hurt one's credit since it decreases the overall utilization rate. I haven't yet tried to use my Delta miles (I got 50,000), but they don't expire and it's nice to at least have the option down the line.

Jags4186

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2015, 10:27:41 AM »
I would look at low/no fee cards with small minimum spending requirements.  The Chase Freedom comes to mind.  Churning ime just isnt worth the time.

While I agree not everyone wants to churn, it most definitely is worth the time.

My fiance and I are going to Aruba for the grand total of $0.00 for flights and hotels.  The accommodations we have would have cost over $5000 if we paid cash.  It would take me 5 paychecks to get to $5k take home.  That's 200 hours of work.  I spent maybe 8 hours and $200 of various gift card fees, etc. to get earn $5000 in value.  That's WELL worth the time to me.

OP:  I would recommend Citi Doublecash or Amex Blue Cash Everyday.  You can find a $250 Amex Everyday signup bonus right now (or maybe both!).  No annual fees for either card and you get yourself 2% cashback on everything + 3% on groceries.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 10:30:00 AM by Jags4186 »

Gerard

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2015, 10:32:07 AM »
Also, I think I read somewhere that the value of airline miles can be higher in certain circumstances than just a 1 mile = 1 cent equivalent.  Can anyone speak to that?  Are certain types of miles preferable to others, or is it just based on what airline you fly most often.

Ideally you choose both your cards and your airline points programme based on what you can use, for the most payback. In Canada, that's definitely Aeroplan, if you're willing to learn how to optimize the system. I don't mind doing that, because it feels like a game to me.

I value my aeroplan points at 2 cents per mile, because I make sure to use them for trips that would otherwise be quite expensive, and to take advantage of loopholes (e.g., free stopovers).  For example, Newfoundland-Toronto return lists at about $500, versus 25K points and $100 in fees (=1.6 cents/point); but for the same 25K points (plus $190 in fees) I can fly Newfoundland-Toronto, Toronto-San Diego, San Diego-Toronto, which lists at $975 (=3.14 cents/point).

You can get even higher returns on paper, but largely by flying business class and comparing your "savings" to a rack rate that almost nobody pays.

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2015, 10:43:48 AM »
I would look at low/no fee cards with small minimum spending requirements.  The Chase Freedom comes to mind.  Churning ime just isnt worth the time.

While I agree not everyone wants to churn, it most definitely is worth the time.

My fiance and I are going to Aruba for the grand total of $0.00 for flights and hotels.  The accommodations we have would have cost over $5000 if we paid cash.  It would take me 5 paychecks to get to $5k take home.  That's 200 hours of work.  I spent maybe 8 hours and $200 of various gift card fees, etc. to get earn $5000 in value.  That's WELL worth the time to me.

OP:  I would recommend Citi Doublecash or Amex Blue Cash Everyday.  You can find a $250 Amex Everyday signup bonus right now (or maybe both!).  No annual fees for either card and you get yourself 2% cashback on everything + 3% on groceries.

This is where my mind is as well.  Find a no fee card to be my standard card.  But then occasionally, when there are spendypants expenditures coming up, see if I can't milk some reward out of the fat cats. 

Jeremy E.

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2015, 10:45:43 AM »
alaskan airlines visa signature has a $75 fee that isn't waived the first year, but there's a 25,000 point sign up bonus as well as a $121 coach companion fare. You'll even get an extra $100 if you can spend $1,000 within 3 months.

There are lots of cards that give good bonuses for spending $500-$1000 in 3 months. Right now, I'm using the AMEX PRG which will give me 50k points after i spend $1,000 in 3 months, those points are valued around $600. I'm also able to receive AMEX benefits, for example $15 off an Amazon Purchase, so I bought a $19 item for $4 or $100 off a bed from Tuft and Needle, which are already very well priced beds.

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2015, 10:53:32 AM »
I've also read that CC companies are closing loopholes related to buying gift cards.  Is that true? 

bacchi

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2015, 11:04:07 AM »
I've also read that CC companies are closing loopholes related to buying gift cards.  Is that true?

Yes, especially as it relates to buying Visa (etc.) Gift Cards. MS in general is getting harder and harder.

You can test it by using your go-to card and getting a small ($25) gift card. (TIP: Do this when buying groceries. You don't want the total bill to be exactly $500.00 as that's a huge red flag.) If the charge shows up as it usually does, you're probably good to go.

Fyi, Chase watches for churners. They have a 5/24 policy, meaning you can only have 5 Chase cards within 2 years. Spread 'em out and have your partner help.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2015, 11:06:31 AM »
I've also read that CC companies are closing loopholes related to buying gift cards.  Is that true?

Yes, especially as it relates to buying Visa (etc.) Gift Cards. MS in general is getting harder and harder.

You can test it by using your go-to card and getting a small ($25) gift card. (TIP: Do this when buying groceries. You don't want the total bill to be exactly $500.00 as that's a huge red flag.) If the charge shows up as it usually does, you're probably good to go.

Fyi, Chase watches for churners. They have a 5/24 policy, meaning you can only have 5 Chase cards within 2 years. Spread 'em out and have your partner help.
I didn't know about the 5/24 policy, but I'm on my 5th Chase card in less than a year....

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2015, 11:08:27 AM »
I've also read that CC companies are closing loopholes related to buying gift cards.  Is that true?

Yes, especially as it relates to buying Visa (etc.) Gift Cards. MS in general is getting harder and harder.

You can test it by using your go-to card and getting a small ($25) gift card. (TIP: Do this when buying groceries. You don't want the total bill to be exactly $500.00 as that's a huge red flag.) If the charge shows up as it usually does, you're probably good to go.

Fyi, Chase watches for churners. They have a 5/24 policy, meaning you can only have 5 Chase cards within 2 years. Spread 'em out and have your partner help.

Thankks bacchi!

NotJen

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2015, 11:11:14 AM »
Also, I think I read somewhere that the value of airline miles can be higher in certain circumstances than just a 1 mile = 1 cent equivalent.  Can anyone speak to that?  Are certain types of miles preferable to others, or is it just based on what airline you fly most often.
It depends mostly on who flies out of your local airport(s) and where you want to go, but you also have to pay attention to airline partners.

For example, a few months ago I became aware of what a great deal British Airways miles (Avios) are for short distant flights in the US on American Airlines (now merged with US Airways).  My favorite route to visit my family is a direct flight, and I can get a round trip for 9,000 Avios -- since this flight currently costs $230, I'm getting 2.5 cents value out of each mile.  And this is a real savings, because I visit my family 2-3 times a year any way.  I signed up for a Chase British Airways card (50k bonus for $2,000 spend over 3 months, annual fee waived the first year), and promptly had 52,000 Avios in my account after putting normal spending on that card.  I can add 2k Avios by putting more spend on my card or transferring from another rewards program, and I will get 6 RT flights for $11.20 each, without spending any money I wouldn't have otherwise.

I don't MS, but I do keep opening new cards to get the sign-up bonuses, because that is where the real deals are.  I close cards before the annual fees are due, and have a fee-free card (Chase Freedom) that's my go-to when I'm not working on spending to get a bonus.  My credit score is still pretty high - but I only intend to use it for credit cards - no mortgages or other loans in my future.

AmEx cards are pretty good right now - I have gotten a bunch of free stuff from the Amex Offers they have (some are $X rebate on $Y spend, but sometimes it is $X rebate on $X spend, so it is truly free).  The Blue Cash Everyday is a great deal right now (as someone else mentioned) - $250 cash back for $1,000 spend, and no annual fee, so you can keep it forever.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 11:12:53 AM by NotJen »

bacchi

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2015, 11:16:28 AM »
Fyi, Chase watches for churners. They have a 5/24 policy, meaning you can only have 5 Chase cards within 2 years. Spread 'em out and have your partner help.
I didn't know about the 5/24 policy, but I'm on my 5th Chase card in less than a year....

Correction: http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/06/18/new-rules-for-chase-credit-card-approvals-what-to-do-about-it/

The "5" applies to any card from any bank and it limits getting one of Chase's own points (Ultimate) cards. In other words, if you're planning to get a CSP, get it early. It apparently doesn't apply to co-branded cards.


tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2015, 11:20:39 AM »
Also, I think I read somewhere that the value of airline miles can be higher in certain circumstances than just a 1 mile = 1 cent equivalent.  Can anyone speak to that?  Are certain types of miles preferable to others, or is it just based on what airline you fly most often.
It depends mostly on who flies out of your local airport(s) and where you want to go, but you also have to pay attention to airline partners.

For example, a few months ago I became aware of what a great deal British Airways miles (Avios) are for short distant flights in the US on American Airlines (now merged with US Airways).  My favorite route to visit my family is a direct flight, and I can get a round trip for 9,000 Avios -- since this flight currently costs $230, I'm getting 2.5 cents value out of each mile.  And this is a real savings, because I visit my family 2-3 times a year any way.  I signed up for a Chase British Airways card (50k bonus for $2,000 spend over 3 months, annual fee waived the first year), and promptly had 52,000 Avios in my account after putting normal spending on that card.  I can add 2k Avios by putting more spend on my card or transferring from another rewards program, and I will get 6 RT flights for $11.20 each, without spending any money I wouldn't have otherwise.

I don't MS, but I do keep opening new cards to get the sign-up bonuses, because that is where the real deals are.  I close cards before the annual fees are due, and have a fee-free card (Chase Freedom) that's my go-to when I'm not working on spending to get a bonus.  My credit score is still pretty high - but I only intend to use it for credit cards - no mortgages or other loans in my future.

AmEx cards are pretty good right now - I have gotten a bunch of free stuff from the Amex Offers they have (some are $X rebate on $Y spend, but sometimes it is $X rebate on $X spend, so it is truly free).  The Blue Cash Everyday is a great deal right now (as someone else mentioned) - $250 cash back for $1,000 spend, and no annual fee, so you can keep it forever.

Great info!  So are there any hoops to jump through when redeeming rewards on cards you hope to close.  Or do you just say, "Sorry guys, I'm moving on, send me the rest of my points in a check" and be done with it?

NotJen

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2015, 11:27:35 AM »
Great info!  So are there any hoops to jump through when redeeming rewards on cards you hope to close.  Or do you just say, "Sorry guys, I'm moving on, send me the rest of my points in a check" and be done with it?
It depends on the program, but your rewards should be OUT of the control of the credit card before you close it.  Always read the fine print to learn the policies for each card you have.

For airline miles, you should be fine - once they "hit" the airline program, they shouldn't disappear when you cancel your card.

For cash rewards or proprietary points from the credit card issuer, you want to make sure you use or transfer any rewards before you close your account, or you will lose them.

I do try to keep most cards open for a full year, just in case extra rewards opportunities pop up (I put reminders on my calendar for when I intend to close them so I don't forget), or to keep benefits like free checked baggage.  You can easily close some cards using secure messages, so you don't have to talk to anyone.  But if you might be interested in keeping the card if the fee is waived or more rewards offered, you should call in and see if they want to keep your business.

rmendpara

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #30 on: September 18, 2015, 11:30:44 AM »
Personally, I've found that for a "low" spender (< $1k/mo) on the actual credit card, most cards won't give you anything too significant. Even the special 2% cashback cards (citi double, fidelity amex, etc.) are talking ~$240/yr or less (obviously depends on your spending, but this would be it for a $12k/yr spender). It's good for a little icing on the cake, but let's be honest, not many people get really excited about that small amount of money. But hey, if you do, then go for it!

Personally, I've probably tried a new card every year or so since I turned 18, and recently settled on the capital one quicksilver. No fee and 1.5% cashback on everything, Visa so accepted everywhere, and no foreign fees. Apart from that, it's just one less thing I have to think about. I get offers periodically, but it's just annoying to go out and have to play games to manufacture a few hundred dollars in bonuses by churning cards. It can work well if you enjoy it in some way, but you have to judge whether the effort is worthwhile. I think I average around $1k/month on my credit card for a full yr.

I'm lazy, so prefer convenience. If I had a huge trip or something, I may consider a new card for a quick bonus, but otherwise not very helpful... in my personal case.

bacchi

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #31 on: September 18, 2015, 11:46:49 AM »
I hear ya. I struggle to hit $1000/month using natural spend. It's easier when the car or house insurance bills come due or a business trip happens.

You could still get the Citi and Chase AA cards, for example, which are $1000/3 months. That'll get you 60,000 miles, which can be used for Hawaii or even Europe. You could also do the same with the Chase United and then get the Chase United business for $2000/3 months.

It's only a little trouble to switch your card out for a few months. When you're getting $850 in flight value for $23 total, it'll feel like it's worth it.

Rosy

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #32 on: September 18, 2015, 12:26:18 PM »
I also chose the Chase Freedom as my first forage into the credit card bonus game. Bonus 20,000 pts or $200 cash/gift cards, the requirement was to spend $500 in 90 days. Even I can manage that.

Basically, I used my monthly flex payments (0% interest) from one of the home shopping channels as the main charges on the card. Paid a couple of them off early to reach the $500 spending requirement and earned 1% rewards.
This month I transferred $214.75 to my stash - it will be a while before I can do that again, since I spend so little, but it has to be 2000pts or $20 before you can draw.

I like the approach of buying a gift card to pay at Aldi. I'm considering doing that before the end of this month, because Chase Freedom has a revolving category that receives 5% rewards and this month that includes gas stations. Well, I read at the doctor of credit blog that some of the 7-11s code as gas stations and therefore will give you 5% cash back.
I will test that this weekend with a couple of small purchases to see how they code while I look to see if they carry the generic Visa gift cards I want. I may buy three or four cards for Aldi purchases and I'm thinking of adding a couple of gift cards to use at Christmas.

Signing up for the Chase card also had the extra benefit that I am now receiving bonus offers to open a Chase bank account. I'll wait till I can do the one requiring 15K locked up for 90 days to get a $500 bonus.
Better return than the market and it is guaranteed:)

My next card will be non-Chase related and one that works well for travel to Europe or for hotels in the US. The Amex one Jeremy is talking about sounds terrific, but since I just added this new card and also increased the limit on my old cc I wonder if they would even approve me.

As far as the credit card companies closing loopholes on the gift cards - it is an ever changing game from what I've seen. I'll just do what works for me and I am not worried about the rest - it is like everything else, do your due diligence.
I wouldn't have the nerve to do some of the crazy manufactured spending that some clever people do - I don't want to deal with them shutting down my accounts or any of that.

I mentioned to my gf about opening a bank account for a bonus and she was shocked and alarmed at having to divert a direct deposit or be required to transact x-amt of debit card charges. As a former mystery shopper I did similar things and got paid for it, besides I don't think it hurts to shop around for a better bank or interest or whatever.

Still, I am taking it slow and easy - one new account, because I was unhappy with my CU anyway - $300. I am happy with them and plan to make that my new main account. Even had other bennies that saved us another $45.
May talk Mr. R. into changing his bank next year when the bonus is right and we can both get a referral bonus on top.

yyc-phil

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #33 on: September 18, 2015, 12:41:39 PM »
 
-Try to time your large expenditures with the activation of a credit card. Ex. I needed to buy a new bed last month so, three weeks before, I opened up a Hyatt rewards card.  I was easily able to meet the minimum spend requirement and now I get two free nights at any fancy-pants resort/hotel in the world!

This is one of my strategies to reach quickly the spending thresholds required to get the welcome bonuses. Then I can keep the card in a safe place for a year until I cancel. I knew I needed to purchase some new flooring so I timed my $600 purchase after receiving my new AMEX Gold (no annual fee for the first year, 25,000 Amex points -transferable at no cost to my airline frequent flyer program, after spending $500 in the first 3 months, the other benefits I don't care about). This nice welcome bonus is good enough for one roundtrip ticket to any North American destination. For this trip, I am planning to fly from Yellowknife to one of the most remote destination in the Eastern Arctic, through Calgary (where my wife is) and Montréal (where my parents live). Cheapest airfare would be over $3,000!

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #34 on: September 18, 2015, 02:33:11 PM »
I hear ya. I struggle to hit $1000/month using natural spend. It's easier when the car or house insurance bills come due or a business trip happens.

You could still get the Citi and Chase AA cards, for example, which are $1000/3 months. That'll get you 60,000 miles, which can be used for Hawaii or even Europe. You could also do the same with the Chase United and then get the Chase United business for $2000/3 months.

It's only a little trouble to switch your card out for a few months. When you're getting $850 in flight value for $23 total, it'll feel like it's worth it.

You know, now I'm leaning in this direction...  It seems like a pretty smart plan.  But I'm not finding a Chase AA card after a quick search.  And the Chase Sapphire bonus is out of reach for me in all but the most extreme of spending aberrations (4k in 3 months). 

The point stands nonetheless: just by switching cards a couple times a year, I could knock off a good portion of my travel expenses. 
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 02:36:50 PM by tanzee »

bacchi

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #35 on: September 18, 2015, 02:49:19 PM »
I hear ya. I struggle to hit $1000/month using natural spend. It's easier when the car or house insurance bills come due or a business trip happens.

You could still get the Citi and Chase AA cards, for example, which are $1000/3 months. That'll get you 60,000 miles, which can be used for Hawaii or even Europe. You could also do the same with the Chase United and then get the Chase United business for $2000/3 months.

It's only a little trouble to switch your card out for a few months. When you're getting $850 in flight value for $23 total, it'll feel like it's worth it.

You know, now I'm leaning in this direction...  It seems like a pretty smart plan.  But I'm not finding a Chase AA card after a quick search.  And the Chase Sapphire bonus is out of reach for me in all but the most extreme of spending aberrations (4k in 3 months). 

The point stands nonetheless: just by switching cards a couple times a year, I could knock off a good portion of my travel expenses.

Oh, you're right. It was the US Air card, which became an AA card when they merged. My bad. Looks like Chase doesn't offer an AA card.

Even if you don't do the regular + business card, 30k miles is enough for a domestic trip. Or you could do the 50k AA card with a $3000/3 month minimum:

https://www.aa.com/pubcontent/en_US/disclaimers/BP-PLATHV.jsp


tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #36 on: September 18, 2015, 03:04:01 PM »
Thank you again, bacchi. This thread has been supremely helpful. 

neo von retorch

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #37 on: September 18, 2015, 03:04:38 PM »
Low spending and the Sallie Mae mastercard are a reasonably good fit. 5% on gas up to $250/mo. and additionally 5% on groceries up to $250/mo. (Also 5% on bookstores including Amazon.com up to $750/mo.!) No annual fee. 1% on the rest.

https://www.salliemae.com/credit-cards/sallie-mae-card/

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #38 on: September 18, 2015, 03:15:24 PM »
Low spending and the Sallie Mae mastercard are a reasonably good fit. 5% on gas up to $250/mo. and additionally 5% on groceries up to $250/mo. (Also 5% on bookstores including Amazon.com up to $750/mo.!) No annual fee. 1% on the rest.

https://www.salliemae.com/credit-cards/sallie-mae-card/

Oh yeah, this looks awesome.  I'm almost worried I'll use the 5% cash back as a rationalization for buying more stuff.  Good problem to have, I guess. 

tanzee

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Re: Rewards Credit Cards for the low spender
« Reply #39 on: September 18, 2015, 03:17:34 PM »
For the record, folks, I think I'm going to get a no annual fee cash back card just for the basics (like the Sallie Mae card just mentioned).  Then work a few travel bonus cards with low minimum spends in to help me visit family on the cheap.  Thanks everyone!!!!