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I received an offer in the mail for a "BankAmericard Cash rewards" Visa credit card from Bank of America several weeks ago and finally took a look at it and am now on the fence about whether or not to apply (I am currently using Chase Freedom's 1% on everything for everything except Gas and Restaurants - for those, I use my Costco AMEX, which gives me 3% and 2%, respectively). This is a targeted offer and lists a 15-digit "personal secure code". The card offers the following:
- No annual fee
- 3% CB on gas
- 2% CB on groceries
- 1% CB on everything else (unlimited)
- $100 CB bonus (after $500 spent in first 90 days)
- 10% bonus on all CB if it is deposited into my BofA checking acct
- Can enroll card in "Add It Up"

A bit of background: I don't have a typical FWF income (currently am a bit under $50k), so I can't rack up thousands of dollars in charges consistently every month (and can't pay rent with credit card without getting hit with a $30 fee). My SSN is also very young, but I do have a several-year credit history with BofA and my CK score is around 730. My credit card balances are always paid in full.

I currently have bank accounts with BofA (no physical locations in my current state), WF (they treated me poorly, so I only have the account because I didn't want to close it), and USBank (have treated me very well and have a branch just up the street if I need anything).

My current credit card lineup is:
- (using) Chase Freedom Visa - 1% CB on everything, 5% CB on rotating quarterly categories (currently Amazon.com and gas). This is my primary card and I use it for everything except gas. I like it because I get points instead of direct Cash Back and the points can be used so that they have a greater value than $0.01/point (i.e. getting travel and sale GCs from chase ultimate rewards).
- (using) Costco AMEX - 3% CB on gas, 2% CB on restaurants and travel, 1% CB on everything. I only use this card for gas and dining out. The downside to this card is that I believe the CB is only issued once/year in February or March and it is in the form of something like a merchandise credit that can only be used at Costco. I don't buy much stuff from Costco anymore.
- (not using) USBank FlexPerks Visa - 1% CB on everything. This was my primary card until I got my Chase Freedom card. I don't use this card anymore.
- (not using) Regular BofA visa. No real perks to it other than it can be enrolled in "Add It Up" (buying stuff through their online portal for a discount), which I have never used. I don't use this card anymore.

I am very interested in programs that offer points with more "potential" than a simple 1point:1cent conversion (and that preferably don't expire yearly), which is why the Chase Freedom card appealed to me (not to mention the 30,000 point bonus after spending the first $500!). I remember reading about a BofA Visa offering $200 back with $500 spent and about the Fidelity Visa (AMEX) offering 1.5% (2%) back on everything, but don't know if this is better than either of those. There's also always the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with the 50,000 points after spending $3000 in 3 months that is appealing to me, but I've been hesitant to apply for cards that have annual fees.

Your thoughts are very much appreciated. Please let me know if there is any other information that would help clarify my dilemma. Thanks!

Edit: The terms state that Calendar Quarters are Jan-March, April-June, July-Sept, Oct-Dec. The 2% groceries and 3% gas are "bonus categories" processed as 1% base + 1% (or 2%) bonus and the bonus percentages are available "for the first $1,500 of combined net purchases made during each calendar quarter." Grocery MCC codes are 5411, 5422, 5441, 5451, 5462, and 5499. Gas station MCC codes are 5541 and 5542.

Edit 2: Modified my lineup of current cards to provide more details and make it easier to read.

Member Summary
Cards I think I will apply for:

No annual fee:
--------------
- Citi Forward Visa ($100 after $650 spending and e-bill with additional $1/month when bills are paid on time and monthly balance is > $0)

Annual fee:
-----------


On the Fence:
==============
No annual fee:
--------------

Annual fee:
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- Blue Cash Preferred AMEX
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It's not a horrible offer, but have you checked out AMEX Blue Cash Everyday? If you're looking for an all-in-one card, it gets 3% groceries, 2% gas, 1% everything else. There may be a sign up bonus, but there is no 10% bonus. To me, I'd still prefer it because I spend much more on groceries than on gas, and there's no $1500/quarter cap. With 3% at grocery, you can buy tons of other GCs and get 3% at lots of retailers.

Of course, the Fidelity AMEX gives 2% across the board and is probably the best if-you-can-only-have-1-card card.

dukerau said:   It's not a horrible offer, but have you checked out AMEX Blue Cash Everyday? If you're looking for an all-in-one card, it gets 3% groceries, 2% gas, 1% everything else. There may be a sign up bonus, but there is no 10% bonus. To me, I'd still prefer it because I spend much more on groceries than on gas, and there's no $1500/quarter cap. With 3% at grocery, you can buy tons of other GCs and get 3% at lots of retailers.

Of course, the Fidelity AMEX gives 2% across the board and is probably the best if-you-can-only-have-1-card card.


I have been looking at the different no-annual fee AMEX cards and have actually had the info page for the Blue Cash Everyday card open for about a week. As far as buying GCs, I still have around $800 in Amazon GCs (haven't even scratched off the silver foil) that I bought during a sale back in December that I have yet to use. Oddly enough, while I was spending several hundred/month on Amazon between July and Dec 2011, I have not made a single purchase from there in the last several weeks. I also don't buy a ton in the way of groceries. I pretty much live off a combination of hospital food (we get $2k/year on our ID and I don't eat very much, so I have only used $600 in 6-7 months) and frozen meals (usually $1-3 each). I also eat out at fast food places or restaurants occasionally (I was SO sad when Taco Bell stopped selling their chicken flatbread ). The majority of my purchases these days are random things from Walgreens/CVS/Staples/Target.

It looks like some options are:
- AMEX Blue Cash Everyday for 3% CB on groceries (I pretty much exclusively buy gas at Costco since it's usually $0.12-0.30 cheaper than any other stations, even though it takes 1/3-1/2 gallon each way to get there; I'm supposed to get 3% back with Costco AMEX)
- Fidelity AMEX for 2% on everything

There are a few places (i.e. some Ethnic restaurants) that don't accept AMEX. Is it worth trying for the Fidelity Visa that gives 1.5% CB on everything and replacing my CF with that?

It sounds like you just don't spend a lot, and that worrying too much about CashBack on actual purchases is a waste of time.

I'd stick with one of the following three:
1) AMEX Blue Preferred if you're willing to buy gift cards at grocery stores or start buying from grocery stores rather than target/Walgreens.
2) Citi Forward if your fast food spending is pretty high
3) (my choice for you) Just churn really high credit/bank signup offers--sapphire preferred, AA, united/continental, citi premier, AARP. Use some cash equivalent purchases to meet the spending requirements.

Take the money from signup offers and run; if you're buying food at Walgreens you're probably not earning meaningful CashBack anyways.

Edit: I also think you should change your shopping patterns before you worry about CashBack. You're losing way more buying food at Target and Walgreens than you get from your credit card company.

eron08 said:   It sounds like you just don't spend a lot, and that worrying too much about CashBack on actual purchases is a waste of time.

I'd stick with one of the following three:
1) AMEX Blue Preferred if you're willing to buy gift cards at grocery stores or start buying from grocery stores rather than target/Walgreens.
2) Citi Forward if your fast food spending is pretty high
3) (my choice for you) Just churn really high credit/bank signup offers--sapphire preferred, AA, united/continental, citi premier, AARP. Use some cash equivalent purchases to meet the spending requirements.

Take the money from signup offers and run; if you're buying food at Walgreens you're probably not earning meaningful CashBack anyways.

Edit: I also think you should change your shopping patterns before you worry about CashBack. You're losing way more buying food at Target and Walgreens than you get from your credit card company.

I'd love to change my shopping pattern (not to mention eat real food ), but the only grocery store I'm aware of around here is Byerly's (which is very expensive compared to the SuperTarget that is 1.5 blocks away from it). There is also a Costco and a WalMart, but they're several miles away. The frozen stuff I get costs ~$0.10-0.20 less ($1.75 vs $2 - for two breakfasts) at WalMart than at Target, though WalMart doesn't always carry it. As far as buying food at Walgreens/CVS, I usually only get things that are very well priced (compared to the typical price at other places).

The 6% grocery store CB from AMEX Blue Preferred is attractive, but I don't know that I'd take advantage of it enough to make it worthwhile after the $75 annual fee unless I use it as my primary card and don't churn other offers.

Citi Forward looks good. I think I will probably apply for it.

I've read different threads about churning bonuses, but is there an optimal time to cancel a card/ask for annual fee waiver? I've been thinking about the Sapphire Preferred for a long time. The other ones you mention are also interesting. I'd have to spread them out, though, to make the spending requirements. I have a bad habit of worrying that I'll apply for a card with a decent 50,000 mile/point offer only to have them come up with a 75k promo the following month that I would then be ineligible for (I remember reading a lot about the 75k double/triple AA applications people did last year)! I will have to read up again about the order of doing United/Continental cards.

You should cancel the card between 6-12 months after you open it. If you do it earlier you risk losing the bonus, if you do it later you pay an annual fee. Some cards can be downgraded (citi AA to bronze for sure, maybe sapphire preferred to regular sapphire, etc) if you want to salvage average age of accounts 7 years from now.

You can even secure message them and they'll close the account. Make sure to reconsolidate your credit lines before closing an account--no need to lose the credit line.

If you're young then stick mostly with accounts that you can downgrade or that don't have annual fees.

The only exception might be southwest (another great signup bonus), because you don't necessarily have to cancel it. Annual fee is the same as the value of their annual mileage bonus.

Sallie Mae Visa is 5% on Gas / Groceries (apparently including Super Target) / Bookstores (also apparently including Amazon.com), also with $100 for spending $500:

FatWallet Thread about 5% Sallie Mae Visa card.

I took the offer because I already have a BoA bank account and I'm too lazy to sign in to different websites to view my statements or make payments.
I like how it's directly listed under my checking account when I sign in on BoA.com

growingdollars said:   I took the offer because I already have a BoA bank account and I'm too lazy to sign in to different websites to view my statements or make payments.
I like how it's directly listed under my checking account when I sign in on BoA.com


If you are too lazy to log into separate websites you are too lazy to save money and post here.

eron08 said:   You should cancel the card between 6-12 months after you open it. If you do it earlier you risk losing the bonus, if you do it later you pay an annual fee. Some cards can be downgraded (citi AA to bronze for sure, maybe sapphire preferred to regular sapphire, etc) if you want to salvage average age of accounts 7 years from now.

You can even secure message them and they'll close the account. Make sure to reconsolidate your credit lines before closing an account--no need to lose the credit line.

How important is average age of accounts? (I have one CC that is 2.5 years old and the rest are all just a couple months old)

eron08 said:   If you're young then stick mostly with accounts that you can downgrade or that don't have annual fees.

The only exception might be southwest (another great signup bonus), because you don't necessarily have to cancel it. Annual fee is the same as the value of their annual mileage bonus.

I'm sorta kinda young. It looks like there is only the 25,000 mile offer for the Southwest card. Should I wait until they offer the 50,000 mile signup bonus again?

Thanks for all the replies!
RWAnderson72 said:   Sallie Mae Visa is 5% on Gas / Groceries (apparently including Super Target) / Bookstores (also apparently including Amazon.com), also with $100 for spending $500:

FatWallet Thread about 5% Sallie Mae Visa card.

This card looks great, but it says that I "must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident" (I'm on a Visa).

longwood8 said:   growingdollars said:   I took the offer because I already have a BoA bank account and I'm too lazy to sign in to different websites to view my statements or make payments.
I like how it's directly listed under my checking account when I sign in on BoA.com


If you are too lazy to log into separate websites you are too lazy to save money and post here.


and you can just sign up for Mint.com
?

dukerau said:   Of course, the Fidelity AMEX gives 2% across the board and is probably the best if-you-can-only-have-1-card card.
Applied for the Fidelity 2% AMEX today and was declined. CK score has been stable at just over 730 for the last couple weeks and I haven't applied for any cards since getting my CF and AMEX earlier this year. Online app threw an error, so I found out the result after calling. The first rep told me my app was rejected, said thank you for your business, and hung up right away before I could get a word in. The second rep was friendlier, but unable to explain why my app was declined. I suppose I'll try to call AMEX (she gave the # 888-221-6262) one weekday and find out the reason.

Planning to apply for their 1.5% CB visa, too.

Update: Applied for the Visa Signature card and was automatically declined. Wasted about an hour and a half on the phone. Fidelity put me on hold then said to talk to Visa, Visa put me on hold then said to talk to Fidelity (and gave me the completely wrong number for them lol). Talked to Fidelity again and was told by initial CSR to wait for the letter in 7-10 days. I then spoke with a "senior account analyst" and was told that my account was declined because of limited credit history (apparently the 3-year old student Visa credit card I had with them only counted as "limited" history??). It's silly, but it seemed like their main issue wasn't the amount of credit but the number of accounts (I would have had 3 accounts). So, I offered to transfer that line of credit to the Visa Signature card and close it line and the senior analyst bit. She then transferred me to the same (helpful) lady I spoke with two days ago about my AMEX! By then, I realized that it would be better to keep that original credit line open as it is my longest-running US credit line (all my other credit lines are just a few months old). I explained my reasoning to her, offered to reduce the limit on my original card just for the sake of keeping it open for my credit history (it already had a minimal limit), and she agreed that it made sense.

Summary: I was declined automatically x2 (FIR AMEX x1 and FIR Visa x1), but ended up getting both approved after speaking with a level 2 or 3 account rep. I guess the trick is to be persistent, polite, and not lose your calm (as easy as it would have been after being put on hold by people that didn't know what was going on).

Edit: I opened a Fidelity Cash Management account a couple days ago for those FIR cards and then an AMEX HYSA yesterday (well, not really "HY" with an APY of 0.90% lol). On 1/26, my TransUnion score (per CK) was just above 730; as of today, it has dropped to 700. CK also shows 3 hard pulls (while I don't recall how many I had previously, I'm pretty sure my score wasn't previously so poor in that category). My Experian score (per CS; I just signed up today) was around 730. I'm going to bide my time until Chase (hopefully) comes back with their 100k Sapphire Preferred bonus and hope my score recovers enough by that time for me to get . It seems like April-June and November-December are when the peak bonuses come out.



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