Changing AmEx cards

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TXviking
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Changing AmEx cards

Postby TXviking » Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:07 pm

I currently have an AmEx Blue Sky that doesn't really make sense for me. I travel a lot for work, but because I'm not fond of freedom gropes, security theater and cramped airplane seats (I'm 6'2") I frequently drive rather than fly. When I do fly, it's out of PBI, mostly on Delta (PBI -> ATL -> anywhere) after I got fed up with United. I do spend at least 2 months per year in hotels, and I eat out most of the time, whether or not I'm traveling. I do still wind up flying maybe 6-8 times per year, mostly FL->WA because my employer is headquartered in Seattle.

I'm looking to change over to a different AmEx card that suits me better. I'm Hilton HHonors Platinum already, so I don't really need points/perks from the HIlton card. I am considering the Delta Skymiles AmEx (which I had years and years ago but closed), but I'm already paying one annual fee (Chase Sapphire) and I'm not sure another one is worth it, in part because I don't know how much I'll use the perks. I've also considered the AmEx Everday Blue Cash. My questions in a nutshell:

1) Given my travel profile above, which AmEx card makes the most sense? I'm not opposed to charge cards (I pay in full every month), but they all seem to have higher fees than the credit cards?

2) Will AmEx let me change cards without another hard hit? I'm ok with soft inquiries, but after having suffered from excessive inquiries in my younger and more careless days, I'm now really sensitive to additional hard hits on my credit. (I'm currently at three inquiries and don't want anymore.)

3) Unrelated, I have a second AmEx Costco card. That's apparently being changed to a CitiBank Visa Costco card because AmEx and Costco are breaking up. AmEx reports both cards as opened in 1997 (when I opened my first AmEx account), so that card is one of my oldest accounts. Will this changeover hurt my credit due to lower average account age?

4) Since I had a Delta Skymiles card previously, will AmEx let me retain the original opening date if I get a new one? (The previous card was closed by me, not by AmEx)

Pertinent credit info: FICO8 roughly 760 give or take 10 points with all three bureaus. Utilization < 3% with all cards paid in full each month. I believe one derogatory item, a shortsale from 2010, is what prevents it from going higher.


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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: Changing AmEx cards

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:14 pm

I'm assuming that your employer pays or reimburses you for the Hilton stays and Delta flights, so you have no incentive to efficiently use any of your points or miles for these trips.

Are you hoping to earn cash back, or points/miles for personal award travel? If travel, would it be with Delta and Hilton, or potentially other programs (and which ones)? With two months at Hilton each year, I could see how you'd have more points than you could realistically use for personal travel. I'm not accustomed to having more points than I could possibly use. If I did, I'd book more luxurious travel.

A breakdown of your anticipated spending ($X on restaurants, $Y on hotels, etc.) would be helpful.

With CSP's broad travel and dining categories, I can see how you'd earn a lot of UR points, but I'm not sure what you'd do with them.
Very useful: SchwabPlat, CSP, IHG, Costco (was AA Plat), Freedom, SPG, Prestige (retention)
Somewhat useful: Discover, ED (was EDP), BCE, Hyatt
SD with activity alerts, might close: Arrival

Might add: Proper business card, CSR, Ritz, Delta Gold, First Tech, BofA Travel PH, Aviator Red

Tubpbs
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Re: Changing AmEx cards

Postby Tubpbs » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:22 pm

I'm not sure if you've done this or are interested in doing this, but in addition to evaluating the things CarefulBuilder said, I would ask Amex what your options are / if it's possible to switch that card to any of the cards that interest you.
Amex - BCP, Platinum, Business Gold
BoA - BankAmericard Cash Rewards
Chase - Freedom, CSP, RC, Ink Plus
Citi - DC, Prestige
Discover - It

TXviking
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Re: Changing AmEx cards

Postby TXviking » Sat Apr 16, 2016 12:08 am

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:I'm assuming that your employer pays or reimburses you for the Hilton stays and Delta flights, so you have no incentive to efficiently use any of your points or miles for these trips.

Are you hoping to earn cash back, or points/miles for personal award travel? If travel, would it be with Delta and Hilton, or potentially other programs (and which ones)? With two months at Hilton each year, I could see how you'd have more points than you could realistically use for personal travel. I'm not accustomed to having more points than I could possibly use. If I did, I'd book more luxurious travel.

A breakdown of your anticipated spending ($X on restaurants, $Y on hotels, etc.) would be helpful.

With CSP's broad travel and dining categories, I can see how you'd earn a lot of UR points, but I'm not sure what you'd do with them.


Your assumption is correct; my employer pays for those expenses. And I am more frugal with personal travel; I probably wouldn't be staying at Hilton if I couldn't pay for it all with points. But right now, yes, I have more HHonors points than I can realistically use -- which is why earning more hotel rewards is not a high priority. And while having a few free flights for personal use would be a nice bonus, I think my preference is for cash rewards.

There are busy times and less busy times at work when it comes to travel, and it's not always predictable. But it would be fair to say my actual spend on hotels is between $12K-$15K/yr. $15K is also a decent ballpark number for annual restaurant spend, as I tend to also eat out (at my own expense) when I'm not traveling for business. I've done some digging since I posted and found out the AmEx Blue Sky card has actually given me some pretty good benefits for my hotel stays; for restaurants, I believe my new Sapphire Preferred card will become my go-to card. I haven't quite figured out the best way to use those UR points, but I figure I might as well start earning them. Plus I'm looking forward to having an actual metal credit card. :D

Tubpbs wrote:I'm not sure if you've done this or are interested in doing this, but in addition to evaluating the things CarefulBuilder said, I would ask Amex what your options are / if it's possible to switch that card to any of the cards that interest you.
I did ask AmEx that question. They told me that I could switch the Blue Sky card to another AmEx revolving account (e.g. Blue Cash) but not to a cobranded card or a traditional AmEx charge card. They also warned me that since Blue Sky is discontinued, I can't change my mind and switch back. Finally, they said that if I were to actually apply for a cobranded card (like the Delta AmEx Gold, where I can apparently get 60K bonus signup miles instead of the regular 30K) they would only have to do a soft credit check, since I'm an existing customer. Information online seems to contradict that, however, so I'm not sure I believe the representative I spoke with. I'll try to verify with their credit department on Monday.

Thanks for the responses so far!

Tubpbs
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Re: Changing AmEx cards

Postby Tubpbs » Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:00 am

TXviking wrote:
CarefulBuilder14 wrote:I'm assuming that your employer pays or reimburses you for the Hilton stays and Delta flights, so you have no incentive to efficiently use any of your points or miles for these trips.

Are you hoping to earn cash back, or points/miles for personal award travel? If travel, would it be with Delta and Hilton, or potentially other programs (and which ones)? With two months at Hilton each year, I could see how you'd have more points than you could realistically use for personal travel. I'm not accustomed to having more points than I could possibly use. If I did, I'd book more luxurious travel.

A breakdown of your anticipated spending ($X on restaurants, $Y on hotels, etc.) would be helpful.

With CSP's broad travel and dining categories, I can see how you'd earn a lot of UR points, but I'm not sure what you'd do with them.


Your assumption is correct; my employer pays for those expenses. And I am more frugal with personal travel; I probably wouldn't be staying at Hilton if I couldn't pay for it all with points. But right now, yes, I have more HHonors points than I can realistically use -- which is why earning more hotel rewards is not a high priority. And while having a few free flights for personal use would be a nice bonus, I think my preference is for cash rewards.

There are busy times and less busy times at work when it comes to travel, and it's not always predictable. But it would be fair to say my actual spend on hotels is between $12K-$15K/yr. $15K is also a decent ballpark number for annual restaurant spend, as I tend to also eat out (at my own expense) when I'm not traveling for business. I've done some digging since I posted and found out the AmEx Blue Sky card has actually given me some pretty good benefits for my hotel stays; for restaurants, I believe my new Sapphire Preferred card will become my go-to card. I haven't quite figured out the best way to use those UR points, but I figure I might as well start earning them. Plus I'm looking forward to having an actual metal credit card. :D

Tubpbs wrote:I'm not sure if you've done this or are interested in doing this, but in addition to evaluating the things CarefulBuilder said, I would ask Amex what your options are / if it's possible to switch that card to any of the cards that interest you.
I did ask AmEx that question. They told me that I could switch the Blue Sky card to another AmEx revolving account (e.g. Blue Cash) but not to a cobranded card or a traditional AmEx charge card. They also warned me that since Blue Sky is discontinued, I can't change my mind and switch back. Finally, they said that if I were to actually apply for a cobranded card (like the Delta AmEx Gold, where I can apparently get 60K bonus signup miles instead of the regular 30K) they would only have to do a soft credit check, since I'm an existing customer. Information online seems to contradict that, however, so I'm not sure I believe the representative I spoke with. I'll try to verify with their credit department on Monday.

Thanks for the responses so far!


Good luck. Keep us posted.
Amex - BCP, Platinum, Business Gold
BoA - BankAmericard Cash Rewards
Chase - Freedom, CSP, RC, Ink Plus
Citi - DC, Prestige
Discover - It

takeshi
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Re: Changing AmEx cards

Postby takeshi » Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:59 pm

TXviking wrote:I'm already paying one annual fee (Chase Sapphire) and I'm not sure another one is worth it, in part because I don't know how much I'll use the perks.

Perks can be tricky to value. Rewards can be a bit easier but you need to run the numbers for your spend and consider total cost/benefit versus just the AF.

TXviking wrote:I've also considered the AmEx Everday Blue Cash.

You mean the Blue Cash Everyday?

It sounds like you need to sort out your priorities and needs/wants as you're mentioning cards that are all over the place. If you sort out your requirements you can use those to narrow down the options to cards that make sense for you. The Blue Cash Everyday, for example, doesn't really make sense unless you have a smaller amount of grocery spend that you're looking to earn rewards on given its structure of 3% on groceries, 2% gas & 1% all else. If you do have a lot of grocery spend then the Blue Cash Preferred may be a better fit despite its AF as it earns 6% with an annual cap.

We'd really need a better understanding of what you're specifically looking for in order to give you recommendations.

TXviking wrote:Given my travel profile above, which AmEx card makes the most sense?

Does it really have to be an AmEx? Where is the majority of the spend for this card going? Are you looking for specific features/benefits?

TXviking wrote:Will AmEx let me change cards without another hard hit?

You can PC but options may be limited.

TXviking wrote:I'm ok with soft inquiries, but after having suffered from excessive inquiries in my younger and more careless days, I'm now really sensitive to additional hard hits on my credit. (I'm currently at three inquiries and don't want anymore.)

Hard Pulls are a small factor. For those with thin profiles or profiles with issues they can have a bigger impact but in such cases the issue isn't the HP. The effect of the HP is just a symptom. The problem is the person's credit profile. If you have an established profile in good standing the hard pulls don't matter like they did when you were younger and starting out with a profile in worse shape. Keep it in perspective. Even 3 HP's is nothing with a good profile. There are other bigger factors that you should really worry about (HP's fall under New Credit).
http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/w ... score.aspx

TXviking wrote:Unrelated, I have a second AmEx Costco card. That's apparently being changed to a CitiBank Visa Costco card because AmEx and Costco are breaking up. AmEx reports both cards as opened in 1997 (when I opened my first AmEx account), so that card is one of my oldest accounts. Will this changeover hurt my credit due to lower average account age?

I don't think anyone knows for certain yet but it doesn't look like the Citi Costco cards will be backdated given how the transition for the Jetblue cards from AmEx to Barclaycard went. Your Citi Costco card should at least report the actual open date of your TrueEarnings card. You can do the math to see how that would impact your AAoA.

TXviking wrote:Since I had a Delta Skymiles card previously, will AmEx let me retain the original opening date if I get a new one? (The previous card was closed by me, not by AmEx)

Nope. Not unless it was very recently closed and even that is a maybe at best.

TXviking wrote:I haven't quite figured out the best way to use those UR points, but I figure I might as well start earning them.

You really should sort out such stuff before applying. Earning is just part of what to consider with programs like UR, MR, TY, etc. Redemptions also have a significant impact and one should really carefully research which redemption options one can use with a given program. It's unfortunate that you're giving up on United as they're one of the better redemption options with UR.

TXviking
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Re: Changing AmEx cards

Postby TXviking » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:28 pm

takeshi wrote:It sounds like you need to sort out your priorities and needs/wants as you're mentioning cards that are all over the place. If you sort out your requirements you can use those to narrow down the options to cards that make sense for you. The Blue Cash Everyday, for example, doesn't really make sense unless you have a smaller amount of grocery spend that you're looking to earn rewards on given its structure of 3% on groceries, 2% gas & 1% all else. If you do have a lot of grocery spend then the Blue Cash Preferred may be a better fit despite its AF as it earns 6% with an annual cap.

We'd really need a better understanding of what you're specifically looking for in order to give you recommendations.

Actually, responses to the posts have been helping me figure out exactly that. Travel benefits are more helpful than I thought at first, and since it looks like my preferred carrier moving forward is going to be Delta, their card would make sense if I were to switch. But I may be ineligible for the signup bonus (I had a Delta Skymiles card years ago, and AmEx is once per lifetime.) And it turns out the benefits on my current Blue Sky card are more useful than I realized. Based on that, I've decided to just keep the Blue Sky for the time being.

takeshi wrote:Does it really have to be an AmEx? Where is the majority of the spend for this card going? Are you looking for specific features/benefits?
The idea was to PC without a hard inquiry. Can't PC to a non-AmEx. But I've decided to stick with the Blue Sky for now.

takeshi wrote:You really should sort out such stuff before applying. Earning is just part of what to consider with programs like UR, MR, TY, etc. Redemptions also have a significant impact and one should really carefully research which redemption options one can use with a given program. It's unfortunate that you're giving up on United as they're one of the better redemption options with UR.


United destroyed an iPad, damaged a MacBook Pro, stiffed me on fees for benefits that were supposed to be included, and basically told me tough luck when I gave them an opportunity to make it right. So I'm done with them. Not that they care about losing 5-10K/yr in revenue, but it makes me feel better. Besides, the way the market is supposed to work is that when you treat your customers that way, you lose business to the competition.

As for sorting out how to use the UR points, I already knew I wanted the CSP for other benefits, primary rental car coverage, no FTF being the biggest ones. So I was already planning to get the card. The UR points are an added bonus. 2x points on dining works especially well for me, since I eat out a lot. All in all, I think I'm going to be happy with this card. And the signup bonus means I could pay the annual fee five times before it really costs me money to have it. :cheers:



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