Everyday Carry – Fall 2017

Everyday Carry – Fall 2017

When you’re in the points and miles game, at some point you’re going to have a lot of credit cards. A LOT. Beyond remembering to pay my bills, it can be tough remembering which cards to use at which locations. Even though I have over 20 cards, I rarely carry more than three or four–can you image the back pain from sitting on that wallet! In this post, I’m going to share the four cards I’ll be carrying around in my wallet, and my reasons why.

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Which Card for Meg?

Recently, someone I know from college reached out to me to ask which card might be the best to add to her roster as she’s moving to Seattle! Yay moves!

Some background on Meg:  she has two cards already (Capital One Quicksilver and the REI Store Card) and only wants one more card. She also wants to maximize travel expenses, so in my opinion, there are two options for her:  Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Both airlines offer an extensive array of destinations, and because they compete on so many of them, fares tend to be cheaper. Continue reading to see my recommendations.

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Which Card(s) for the NYC-based Traveler?

Recently, I was thinking about general advice that I might give an individual in New York City who was trying to decide on the best credit card option. To be honest, I couldn’t come up with just one answer, so what I decided to do instead was lay out the four best cards to have if you live in New York City.

NOTE:  This is purely my opinion! You may disagree with me, and that’s OK. Take all advice with a grain of salt, and tailor to your unique situation.

That being said, I looked for cards that would create a well-rounded wallet, covering flights, hotels, other travel, and miscellaneous expenses. I also tried to keep annual fees to a minimal cost; however, the four cards outlined below have annual fees totalling $227. I would argue that the benefits of having these cards, detailed below, outweigh, and pay for, the annual fees.

In addition, all of these cards make sense for people living in New York City (or the surrounding area):  jetBlue’s largest hub is at JFK, there is literally a Holiday Inn anywhere you might want to go, and Amtrak can get you anywhere in the country from New York’s Pennsylvania Station.

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Which Card for Tara?

Recently, a friend from college reached out to me to ask for some credit card advice (hi Tara!). She currently lives in Boston and was wondering if the jetBlue Plus credit card by Barclaycard would be a good option for her. She also expressed that she was looking to go New Orleans sometime in October, which I’ll use as the test basis for recommending a card for her.

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Which Card for Suzy?

In the next installment of Which Card, we’ll be helping another one of my coworkers, Suzy, out. Ideally, Suzy would like a card for travel redemptions, ideally on flights to Italy (or Europe in general) or buses and trains from New York City. Additionally, the lower the annual fee, the better. These are two different goals, so my goal was to find a good card for travel to Europe and a good card for buses/trains in the NYC area.

First things first: Italy! One of the best cards for NYC flyers is the Delta Gold SkyMiles card. Right now, the targeted bonus is 60,000 miles for spending $1,000 in 90 days PLUS a $50 statement credit when you make a Delta Air Lines purchase. Check here to see if you’re targeted! If you aren’t targeted, the bonus is only 30,000 points for spending $1,000 in 90 days. This card comes with a $95 fee, which is waived the first year.

If Suzy’s targeted for the 60,000 point bonus, she could be well on her way to a week in Milan in October, courtesy of Delta and Alitalia:

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Sadly, the AMEX does have a sort of high annual fee, but nothing out of the ordinary when compared to similar co-branded airline cards.

Next, staying around NYC and taking the bus and the train. You all know how I feel about Amtrak, so I won’t rehash that here, but another good option might be either the Capital One Venture Rewards card or the Capital One VentureOne Rewards card. Both of these cards earn points that can then be redeemed for travel purchases, such as buses, trains, or even flights! I’ve detailed the differences below:

Attribute Capital One Venture Rewards Capital One VentureOne Rewards
Point Earning 2.0 points earned per dollar spent. 100 points = $1.00 1.25 points earned per dollar spent. 100 points = $1.00
Bonus Points 40,000 ($400 value) 20,000 ($200 value)
Spending Required Spend $3,000 in 90 days Spend $1,000 in 90 days
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, then $59 a year $0

With either of these cards, Suzy can charge trips to her Capital One card, and then use her points as a statement credit to pay for those travel charges. If she travels between New York and Boston (for example), the fare is roughly $60.

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With the Capital One Venture, she can redeem six free roundtrips (The VentureOne is only three roundtrips) with the sign-up bonus. Not too shabby, especially since charging these trips to her card also earns points!

NOTE:  The Venture cards are also good for travel, as you can use points for airlines, and can also do partial redemptions, depending on your point balance.

So there you have it, Suzy! I would recommend either the Delta card for travel to Europe or either one of the Capital One Venture cards for trolling around NYC.

 

Costco Credit Card – New Credit Card

Last year, Citi announced that they would become Costco’s new credit card provider, replacing American Express. This means that come June, American Express cards will no longer be able to be used at Costco, only cards on the Visa network.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 10.35.18 AM.pngBecause of this, the American Express Costco card was discontinued, and customers should be receiving their new card in May.

What makes this new Citi card better than the American Express version is the earning structure of it! If you shop at Costco, this card could be a no brainer for you.  When this card is released later this year, it will earn the following cash back:

  • 4% cash back on gas, up to $7,000 per year
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel
  • 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on everything else

Again, if you shop at Costco, this card could be a no-brainer for you, as the cash back is awarded to you yearly (in February) as what I would consider a Costco gift card or gift certificate. Let’s assume the following spending per month:

  • $35 a month on gas
  • $200 a month on restaurants
  • $150 a month at Costco
  • $215 a month on everything else

That works out to:

  • 35 x 12 x .04 = $16.80
  • 200 x 12 x .03 = $72.00
  • 150 x 12 x .02 = $36.00
  • 215 x 12 x.01 = $25.80

In total, you’ve earned $150.60 in cash back over the course of a year, which is more than your hypothetical monthly trip to Costco! Free groceries, anyone?!

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Costco isn’t very convenient for me here in NYC (I don’t have a car, the space, or the time to make it feasible), but this card could be really beneficial for some people who find Costco convenient.

Which Card Archive

Just a quick post to let you know that I’ve created a special page to archive the “Which Card for…” series. Hopefully it’ll make finding them easier, especially if one of the situations applies to you!

So far, I’ve advised on:

Note:  When I say best, that is my very humble opinion. Take advice at your own risk!

Also, if you are looking for advice, leave a comment, and you may be the next person highlighted in the series!

Happy travels!