…well, do you really care? Seriously. Do you care what credit cards I’ve gotten? I hope not. What credit cards I’ve gotten really have little to do with what credit cards you should get — which is why I keep talking about the free credit card consulting I do. Everyone’s situation is completely different. I’ve worked with 100+ people, and the advice varies widely based on where people want to go, how they spend their money, where they live, etc. Reading lists of cards that people have applied for (and God knows I’ve been guilty of writing those posts), helps, perhaps, to spur ideas of what cards you could apply for. But the question for any of us into the whole credit card thing is this: what’s the best combination of cards that will help me get the trip that I want. You can’t get that without considering your own situation (or getting someone to help you do that).
That said, I decided this time to apply for just 1 card – the Amex Blue Cash Preferred. My thought process was this:
My wife and I have gotten a whole bunch of cards in the past 18 months, and we have significant balances in our frequent flyer accounts that will last us quite a while, considering our travel patterns with the twins. We may be looking at a new apartment in the coming year, and I decided it would be best to be a bit more conservative with our cards. I’ve been aggressive in the recent past, opening 5 or 6 cards at a clip. Yay for me. Whatever.
I know it’s very easy to get wrapped up in some of the stuff you read out there that kinda makes you (me) feel like an idiot if you miss out on any bonus mile opportunity. Don’t listen to that crap. Pick a trip you want to take and work toward it (without driving yourself nuts). Some people have 7 cards and use them all for different things. Some have 1, because that’s all they can bother with. Both are the right answer – you do whatever works for you.
I’ve been kicking myself in the butt for not getting the Amex Blue Cash Preferred earlier (I don’t get a referral fee for the card, I just think it’s a no-brainer). It offers 6% cash back on groceries (as well as some other benefits, but that one benefit is so overwhelmingly awesome, especially if you have some kids you’re buying groceries for, that nothing else is worth mentioning). Oh, except that it’s $75 a year. If you’re new to Amex they’ll throw in $150 credit.
I did the quick math on this for our family – $150/week in groceries (I think I’m probably being conservative here). $7800/year. 6% = $468 (minus the $75 fee), equals a roughly $400 rebate every year. Figure that’s roughly what a roundtrip domestic ticket costs, and it’s the equivalent of getting a credit card that pays a 25,000 mile (perhaps a bit more) bonus every single year.
I’m actually excited for the card to arrive, something I’ve never felt for any miles card. Getting a nice little pile of cash (and a 6% discount on the absolutely ridiculous grocery prices in New York City) is for whatever reason more exciting to me than the idea of getting 50,000 miles (even though I am well aware those 50,000 points can get me to Paris). It’s easy to get your head around cash.
I thought I could actually offer something to help those going through the credit card churn process: I’ve created this spreadsheet you can download to help you manage your churns (I say “I” created it, but reader JC actually did most of the work). It has a list of all of the credit cards that offer miles, along with details about them, application links, and areas to help you keep track of when you applied for the cards. You’ll know which cards you haven’t yet applied for, which will help you plan your next churn. If you have any suggestions about how to improve this, please just let me know.