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I’m new to this game, but so far, I’m loving it. I’m a huge value shopper so the idea of making my money work for me is ideal. In the last year, I started out with AMEX Blue Cash preferred, and CITI Double Cash. That worked great for awhile…
…but then I learned of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. And my credit card spending world was changed.
Where I’m at now:
AMEX Blue Cash Preferred
CITI 2x Cash
CHASE Sapphire Preferred
My [B]dilemma[/B]: My wife isn’t comfortable adding another 2-3 cards currently. She wants to drop the AMEX completely, use the Chase SP (and get the Chase Freedom/Unlimited for everday spend), and only use the CITI 2x cash when we’re not planning on doing any traveling for awhile in order to build up straight cash back.
I, on the other hand, see the benefit of changing our AMEX product to the Everyday Preferred card (and thus foregoing any signup bonus, but also starting to build points in MR), keeping the CITI card & the Chase SP (obviously…), but I also love the idea of being able to accrue points with Freedom/Unlimited and transfer to Chase UR. Additionally, I’m attracted to “free night offers” from other hotel cards.
(note: obviously, I’d love to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but I don’t believe that we’re at the spot to take full advantage of it at the stage of life we’re in, so I think I’m cooling on the idea…although I’m open to somebody trying to talk me into it again…ha)
My [B]question[/B]: Do I get the Chase Freedom/Chase Freedom Unlimited next in order to focus on building points/miles through Chase? Or do I simply use the Chase SP for travel and dining, and get a high reward card for everyday spend (AMEX everyday pref., and thus, building points slowly in [I]both [/I]reward programs). Am I trying to do too much too soon? Any other clever ideas from others who have been in this world longer?
Thanks for all the help and insight,
I think your first priority is to find the section on most websites that discusses credit scores and prudent spending habits in order to maximize your returns and sit down with your wife to show her the facts and also to really listen to where she is coming from so you can address her concerns and find a unified path forward. Having two people who are both able to apply for cards is a huge advantage but only if you are on the same page.
Second, the CSR offers a MINIMUM return of $550 (100,000 UR pt signup bonus vs fees of $450 for the first year). Personally I think the travel credits are a no brainer even if you just get gift cards for the future so depending on how you value them you are looking at a benefit of between $550-$1150. Plus you are below 5/24 so both of you should be able to take advantage. If you have anything resembling a small business one of you should also take a look at the Ink Plus.
Lastly, your actual question. There is a trade off between flexibility and building usable points balances. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin in multiple programs. AmEx MR points and Chase UR points offer some good options between them so starting to build up balances through spend and targeted sign up bonuses is a good start. With Chase I’d work towards setting up a good set of cards including the Freedom for the quarterly bonuses, Unlimited for non-bonused spending, and the Preferred/Reserve for travel and dining. You can actually downgrade the CSP to the Freedom/Unlimited once you get the Reserve. The AX EDP is a good complement with bonuses on gas and grocery stores.
One more point: there is no need to close the Blue Preferred. You should open a new account for the EDP so that you can get the sign up bonus. The BCP can stay in your wallet and it will help you improve your length of credit.
Also, thanks for putting up with my numerous (and lengthy!) replies/questions. I really do appreciate all of the help and insight that I can get.
I agree, first and foremost, with your first point. This has been an open discussion between my wife and I, and I wouldn’t dream of being overbearing or “telling” her what we’re going to do with our credit cards. Without having done the research that I have, she’s fairly aware of the benefits of most cards, but explains that she wants to “slow down” — at least for a season, and get everything else paid off before we take on another high minimum spend card (like the CSR & $4,000 in 3 months).
[B]Question:[/B] I wonder if you could help me understand something, though. When you say “[I]having two people who are both able to apply for credit cards..[/I].” — is that different than simply applying for a card myself, and adding her as an authorized user, rather than both of us applying separately? I’ve been operating under the assumption (and partial reality) that in order to meet the minimum spend on the cards we get, I need my wife’s spending patterns as well as my own. Is there a different way to approach this, and if so, could you explain? Thanks.
Secondly, I see what you’re saying in regards to the rewards of the CSR being well worth the $450 AF — and I agree. The issue is primarily our hesitancy to take on another high minimum spend w/i 3 months. I understand it can be done by buying gift cards, and other “more creative” approaches, but, for the moment, I don’t think we’re there…yet, as much as I’d like to be. Is the general feeling out there that this offer from Chase for the CSR won’t last? Neither of us have a business, and I understand you can use your SSN as the EIN on the application for business cards, but that seems a bit shady (and an over-whelming minimum spend) for the time being. Ha.
That was kind of my general feeling towards building up Chase UR points with the Trinity of CSP/CSR, Freedom, and Freedom Unlimited.
[B]Main point: [/B][U]Would it be a reasonable strategy, then, to apply for the CSR and, if approved, downgrade CSP to either Freedom or Unlimited, and then apply for either Freedom or Unlimited, and forego the AMEX card altogether for the time being (at least until we clear the other minimum spends for the other cards)?[/U]
I also see what you’re saying with the AMEX BCP and EDP. My initial thought with the product change would be trying to stay under the 5/24 for as long as possible, but if I prolong getting the EDP until after the CSR, then I’d definitely just apply for the EDP and keep the BCP solely for the length of credit.
Again, thanks for the assistance! It’s greatly appreciated!
In the end, whatever works for you (gets you closer to your goals and is practical and achievable) is reasonable.
Re: CSR, no one knows how long the sign up bonus will last but as with all things in this hobby, outsized benefits rarely stay long so getting it sooner rather than later is good. In an ideal world your wife and you would both apply for the CSR separately so that you can both earn the sign up bonus. Adding her to your card firstly will cost you an extra $75 and also affect her ability to get other Chase cards since those AU cards count towards 5/24 (although there are a few data points that people have been able to convince credit analysts to ignore them). Now if you cannot meet sign up bonuses without both of you actively spending on the card then you don’t have a choice but like I said, in an ideal world you’d both apply for your own cards.
Yes, building up your UR balance before moving to MR is perfectly reasonable. I would get all the UR cards you want now because you are close to 5/24. Once you cross that limit, then go for the EDP and other MR cards.
Just one other thing. When you say you’re waiting to pay off your current cards, you’re not paying interest on any of them are you? That would negate all the benefits.
I love this thread, thanks for the great back and forth!! 🙂
Thanks, [USER=7]@Tiffany[/USER]! I’ve enjoyed the insight I’ve received from this forum, as well as the rest of this site. I’ll certainly be utilizing it more as my wife and I have a very unexpected trip to Europe coming up this Spring that I’ll be looking for insight for as well.
Also, thanks again [USER=79]@Gaurav[/USER] for all your input!
Re: CSR, that’s kind of what I figured. And ultimately, that may alter our conversations in favor of (attempting) to get the CSR. And yes, we both rely on each other’s spending in order to meet the minimum spend to get the bonus (same scenario with most cards requiring a minimum spend over $2,000, I’d say), so we’ve pretty much figured we just have to bite the bullet and pay the AU fee.
And no! We are definitely not paying interest on any of our cards. BCP and CITI are almost a year old, so their interest rate will kick in soon, but I plan to not use them heavily enough to not be able to pay them off in full each month. My strategy is essentially to use most cards heavily enough for the first year (enough to make use of the 0% interest), and then not use them too much, unless they bonus spend categories are worth it (ie, CSP, EDP).