I’m in Florida visiting my parents right now. Let me start by saying that I love them very much. That’s partly why I want to be sure I’m helping them maximize the benefits they get out of credit card spend.
I do what I can to set them on the right path when it comes to credit cards. Rather than getting them credit cards for each possible bonus spend category, I try to keep their wallet simple so that they’ll remember which cards to use for which purchases.
Which leads me to two scenarios I’ve had in the past 24 hours:
Dinner with parents last night
When I’m with my parents I try to pay for dinner. They’ve done so much for me, and it’s the least I can do for them. I manage to win that battle about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time my mom gets stubborn and tells me how she feels horribly if I pay, and that she should be paying. So I give in… once in a while.
Last night my dad pays, and I nearly crapped myself when he pulled out his Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card to pay for dinner.
Me: “Dad… look at the credit card you just put down and tell me what’s wrong with this picture.”
Dad: “Did I miz somesing on za check?”
Me: “No, look at the card you’re using. Don’t you remember which card you’re supposed to be using for dining purchases so you get bonus points?”
Dad: “Yes, zha Alaska Airlines Card I sought?”
Me: “No, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers bonus points on dining.”
Dad: “Oh, okay, I forgot.”
So he puts the Alaska Airlines Visa Card back in his wallet… and replaces it with the Ink Plus® Credit Card!
Me: “Dad, wait a second, that’s not the Sapphire Preferred.”
Dad: “Yez it is, zhis is the Chase Card, Benny.”
Me: “But it’s the wrong Chase Card for dining.”
Dad: “Vhat iz the Chase Sapphire Preferred then?”
So we go through his wallet and find the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and now I’ve realized that he has been making all of his dining purchases on the Alaska Airlines Visa Card. Grrrr!
I love you, dad, and am trying to help you here, but c’mon!
Explaining to mom why she shouldn’t open a Macy’s Credit Card
For some reason we had a family outing to Macy’s yesterday. On the list of things I enjoy doing, shopping ranks only slightly above hearing my dad’s play-by-play of a colonoscopy.
So there’s a sales associate helping us at Macy’s, and he tells my mom that she can save an additional 15% if she opens a Macy’s Card. Her eyes light up and she says “okay I will do this.”
I stop her for a second.
Me: “Mom, how much do you think your purchase will cost?”
Mom: “Maybe $500.”
Me: “So you’re saving maybe $75, that’s totally not worth opening a credit card for.”
Mom: “Why, it’s $75 free dollars.”
Me: “Yes, and that’s all the value you get out of the card. There are so many better cards you could apply for that have bigger bonuses.”
She eventually agrees not to.
Then as we’re checking out the associate tells her that if she applies today she’d actually get 20% off her purchase. At this point my mom’s eyes light up the same way they did the first time around.
Me: “Mom, even for $100 I promise you it’s not worth it.”
Mom: “But it’s $100 free dollars.”
Me: “Well remember the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card we just signed you up for? That got you 100,000 miles which are worth probably $1,500.”
Mom: “Yes, but those are miles and this is money. It’s $100 for free.”
I love my parents. But being a good son can be exhausting sometimes. 😉