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Confused By Rewards Credit Cards

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I find myself jumping between different reward credit cards. Every time I find one that sounds better or has a big bonus of miles/points for signing up, I get that one. I need to find just ONE card to keep and use so that all miles/points are adding up to one large lump sum and not being spread around on different cards. I have three cards now and would like some opinions on which one is really best for me. I currenty have these three:

Bank Of America Alaska Airlines Visa - I got this one because they had a "Buy 1 ticket and get 1 for just the taxes/fees with Alaska's Famous Companion Fare".

CitiCorp American Airlines MasterCard - It earns 1 mile per each dollar purchased and 2 miles per each American Airlines purchase.

Capitol One Venture - Earns two points for every one dollar purchase on EVERY purchase. I can also redeem the points from any purchase and from any airline.

The main reason I switched the the Capital One card was because of the double points, 2 points for every 1 dollar purchased. Now I am not so sure that it is all that good. It just seems it takes so many points to do anything. They convert at a rate of 1% (20,000 points = $200). Maybe they are all like that?

At least with American Airlines I could use points to upgrade to First Class. I don't mind paying full price for economy if I can then use points to upgrade to First Class. I don't think I can do this with the Capital One Ventures card.

Any suggestions? Right now I feel like I'm on a credit card version of musical chairs.

Thanks!

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Not going to lie--you're probably looking at at least 1,000 hours to totally understand all the ins and outs of the programs and how all the cards work best.

Skip all of this, get a good 2% cash back card, a few good 3-5% back category cards and just buy your flights with the cash back.

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What's a good 2% CB on everything card folks are using these days? Please recommend. Thanks

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Fidelity Rewards Visa and Citi Double Cash. For category spending, I created this spreadsheet. I just saved you 1,000 hours.

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Discover with double cash back for the first year gets you 3 percent on all purchases. A no brainer.

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Thank you both

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I arm myself with the fidelity 2% cash back for all purchases.

Then the citi dividend, Chase freedom, and discover for rotating 5% categories. Sometimes they're the same, sometimes they're worthless, sometimes 5% cash back is the best you will get.

But do a lot of research, there are a bunch of cards out there that benefit everyone's lifestyle more than others.

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The game is in signup bonuses, not spend. Unless you're manufacturing it. Most people's natural spend isn't enough to get excited about.

I do agree that most people are better off with a 2% or better card unless they're manufacturing spend and/or skilled at exotic travel redemptions.

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Alliant 3% for first year then 2.5% + $59 fee (can downgrade to 2% no fee at that point) is good lazy card if you don't want deal with categories etc

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Alliant 3%
Amex Preferred 6% groceries

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you're confused because there are 2 different goals. getting bonuses (where the points/cash back is at) and your go-to card to maximize your everyday use. think of it like dating and marrying. some cards you date for the bonuses and then there is the one you marry and use every day without much fanfare. i'm settled on citi 2% back (this above the fidelity because of price matching and longer extended warranty) but still have a few other cards and always ready to do an AOR when the mood strikes.

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Depending on how much you're using it and the benefits you're getting, one of the cards that allows direct conversions for miles but provides more points for certain categories (Chase Sapphire Reserve/Chase Sapphire Preferred for United or Amex Platinum for Delta) could be worth it, especially with a nice signup bonus.

What you're confused about, though, is that it's pretty hard to spend enough money to get decent levels of rewards. Sure, if you're putting up $50k/year on a card, maybe you'll get 50,000 points, or $1000 back from a Citi Doublecash. You could increase that a little more by using the cards with 5% categories on the appropriate categories, or Amex Blue Preferred for the first $6k/year on groceries. But ultimately, it's hard to get enough points just from spending to really get a lot of benefits, especially travel benefits.

For what it's worth, doing the trifecta of Chase Sapphire Preferred/Reserve/United Explorer would run somewhere around $10k in spending with about $550 in fees (but $300 back on travel expenses, so a net total of $250) and 140-150000 points, of which 40-50k are United miles and 100,000 are Ultimate Rewards, which could be converted to United or some other airline. That's assuming you don't have a separate offer on the United Explorer; not uncommon to get the first year $95 fee waved.

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Alliant is a bit out of my league. According to their webpage:

  • Exclusively designed for those spending $50,000+ a year on their card

That's not me!

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If you do want to spend a couple hundred hours researching the ins and outs of travel rewards cards and keeping up with the changing MS game, you can net a good 4k to 10k or more per year in travel card signup bonuses (with $400 to $1k in annual fees and manufactured spend fees). This has been very lucrative for me this last year with $15k worth in airfare and hotel points and $1k cashback, which paid for my MS fees outright.

Regardless, get a 2% cashback card like citi doublecash for regular spend.

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claybu said:   Alliant is a bit out of my league. According to their webpage:

  • Exclusively designed for those spending $50,000+ a year on their card

That's not me!

It's not a requirement, just an effort to entice big spenders.  I don't spend anywhere near that amount, never have, and it works fine for me. There might have been a year I spent half that amount , but usually I spend less than $18K.   I put health insurance, auto and renters insurance, internet and phone, cell phone, and other recurring bills on the card. I can also pay utilities with the card,.

You can get the card and spend zero if you want.  3% is more than 2% even if you spend $1.00.

Although, just recently, I switched  my cable internet and phone to the Amex Preferred because it is offering 10% back on cable and satellite TV bills until 11-15-17.  Yes, really 10%, and it's actually closer to 11% because they pay the regular 1% on the remainder of what you pay. When that ends, I'll switch  the bill back to Alliant's 3%.

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Argyll said:   
claybu said:   Alliant is a bit out of my league. According to their webpage:

  • Exclusively designed for those spending $50,000+ a year on their card

That's not me!

That's just an ad, not a requirement.  I don't spend anywhere near that amount, never have, and it works fine for me.  3% is more than 2% even if you spend $1.00.  There might have been a year I spent half that amount , but usually I spend less than $18K.   I can put my health insurance, auto and renters insurance, internet and phone, cell phone, and other recurring bills on the card. I can also pay utilities with the card,.

You can get the card and spend zero if you want.

Although, just recently, I switched  my cable internet and phone to the Amex Preferred because it is offering 10% back on cable and satellite TV bills until 11-15-17.  Yes, really 10%, and it's actually closer to 11% because they pay the regular 1% on the remainder of what you pay. When that ends, I'll switch  the bill back to Alliant's 3%.

  Not that big a deal so as to be "yes really!".  Ink is ~8% on that spend every day of the year, along with cell phone bills and office supply stores.  (5UR, 5% if redeemed as straight cash).

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Bend3r said:     Not that big a deal so as to be "yes really!".  Ink is ~8% on that spend every day of the year, along with cell phone bills and office supply stores.  (5UR, 5% if redeemed as straight cash).
  I think you need a business to get the Ink card, right?  (Also, 11% is more than "~8" and 5% )

Last year, Amex Preferred had 10% off cell phone bills for a few months and I took advantage of that as well.
 

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Argyll said:   
Bend3r said:     Not that big a deal so as to be "yes really!".  Ink is ~8% on that spend every day of the year, along with cell phone bills and office supply stores.  (5UR, 5% if redeemed as straight cash).
  I think you need a business to get the Ink card, right?  (Also, 11% is more than "~8" and 5% )

Last year, Amex Preferred had 10% off cell phone bills for a few months and I took advantage of that as well.

Yes,  Ink is a business card.  You need either an EIN or a sole proprietorship(SS#).  Also, if I were to just be opening one now I'd go for the non-5X one that has an annual fee to get the 80k-100k opening bonus and Then convert to the fee-free 5X one later if it's still around.

 But 2% (or 3%) extra for only a couple of months amounts to what for you on cable and phone? $6?  Just saying that's not much to write home about.  Not saying that you shouldn't have put the charges on that card to make use of the offer.

My Chase freedoms routinely earn $100+ on $1500 spend around every other quarter with minimal effort required.  For now Chase has me bought in to their rewards ecosystem between the ink, 2 freedoms, and a CSR.

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