*NEW AmEx Member! Change of purchase habits question?

American Express forum. Talk about AmEx credit cards like Blue, Gold, Platinum, Centurion, and more.
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Gags1892
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*NEW AmEx Member! Change of purchase habits question?

Postby Gags1892 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:36 pm

Good evening everyone! First of all, I'm beyond glad I found this forum! I'm a 25 year old, second-year teacher. I just recently got engaged, with the wedding next year, and I live with my fiancé in New Jersey. Life is WELL in every aspect (thank God!), and I just have a basic question...

I have a 751 FICO score, have NEVER had a late payment (or minimum) and ALWAYS pay bills in full and IMMEDIATELY. I just recently applied for and got my first American Express ZYNC card! Beyond excited! All of the credit cards I've been using for years, I've TREATED as a charge card -- I pay off each balance in FULL always (and usually EARLY!), so I figured why not apply and see if I can finally get one! Researching all of the AmEx offerings, for my current life situation, the ZYNC card seemed to fit me for an entry-level charge card. Is activated and READY TO GO. I figured I could also apply for another charge card as my lifestyle changes and so forth...

SO my question! I've been reading a lot of articles about using a charge/credit card for DAILY living. Charging everything you buy for the most part, and then just paying the bill in full each month. This, of course, seems like a PERFECT lifestyle change for me in terms of spending. However, I'm a bit apprehensive since I've NEVER spent this way! But it REALLY intrigues me with my ZYNC card and rewards points now in the picture. I figure if I use my card EVERY DAY, pay off the bill -- I can rack up some pretty good rewards over the course of the year, right? My setup:

I currently have two checking accounts:
*Capital One for strictly bills and expenses, which I pay on the 15th of every month
*Ally interest checking, which I've been using for daily expenses
(This system has been workin GREAT for me -- it's such a relief knowing I don't need to keep an eye on "pending transactions" during bill pay times, so spending on personal things, such as food, isn't based on waiting for payments to clear)

I currently also have two credit cards;
-Capital One NEA Rewards (educator-specific rewards card)
-Capital One World card

Does anyone currently utilize their AmEx card as their DAILY, go-to for EVERYTHING, and just pay off the monthly bill? How has it been working out for you? Do I now then get RID of one of my checking accounts since everything will be done on my AmEx card, and I'll be paying one bill?

Also, I'd still pay off my bills and expenses via debit!

Just on the fence, and looking for some insight!

ANY and ALL feedback is GREATLY appreciated!

-Andrew


CC Deville
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Postby CC Deville » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:31 am

Congrats on the Zync approval. Getting an Amex while you are young is a very good thing since subsequent Amex cards will be backdated to your original Member Since year. I opened an Amex Gold when I was 20 and I never regret it as now I have a Blue and Zync that report as opened in 1999 :cool:

As far as your question....if you have another credit card that has better rewards, I would use that card as a "debit" card to earn the rewards. Zync has Membership Rewards Express which is not the best reward program out there; however, if you have the right Packs you can rack up a lot of MRE points. And then, in a year or two if you upgrade or open a higher level charge card like Green or Gold, those MRE points will transfer to regular Membership Rewards points and will then be more valuable.

As for me, I only opened my Zync for the backdating to help my Average Age of Account (AAOA). I have only used it once since January in fact. I prefer the cash back I get on my BofA Cash Rewards Visa and my Chase Freedom Visa. I use them like a debit card for all my everyday purchases and then pay in full. I earn some pretty decent cash back every year. It all comes down to what kind of rewards you are looking for. If points are your thing, the Zync can be a good way to rack them up but I would at some point upgrade to the Green or Gold so that the points are upgraded to the better Membership Rewards program.

Gags1892
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Postby Gags1892 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:57 am

Thanks for the reply! I appreciate all of your feedback!

My idea with the Zync card IS for points. My goal as of now (literally debating making this purchase habit change of AmEx only charging) is to use the points in a year or so for something nice. ANYTHING nice. I'm debating adding the restaurant pack for $25/year as well to maximize points...

If I get the Green card in a year or two, will my points be able to transfer over? And would I then eventually cancel Zync after transferring, since I'd be a moron to pay 2 annual fees right?!

Also, I'd love feedback from people who use AmEx as their DAILY go-to card to help me out with their opinions!

Thank you so much!

DavidNY
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Postby DavidNY » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:55 am

I use my cards for everyday items, especially for large purchases.

I'm not impressed with the Membership Rewards program. I like cash back cards. The only American Express Centurion Bank card I would consider is the Blue Cash Preferred for 6% cash back for grocery stores.

You might want to look at TIAA-CREF to put your cash, their money market rate is a bit higher than Ally.

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Victorleo
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Postby Victorleo » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:52 pm

DavidNY wrote:I use my cards for everyday items, especially for large purchases.

I'm not impressed with the Membership Rewards program. I like cash back cards. The only American Express Centurion Bank card I would consider is the Blue Cash Preferred for 6% cash back for grocery stores.
.


+1 This is the only card I have with AMEX. The points system turned me of on the charge cards.

milkman12
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Postby milkman12 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:26 pm

Congrats on obtaining the Amex Zync card!

I too am not a strong fan of the Amex membership rewards program; but if it works for you, awesome.

Answering your questions:
Does anyone currently utilize their AmEx card as their DAILY, go-to for EVERYTHING, and just pay off the monthly bill? -Yes, I use the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and the Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex for almost all my daily expenses. I have a back-up Visa, if a particular merchant doesn't accept Amex.

How has it been working out for you? - Great, the programs work exactly as advertised and I love their customer service.

Do I now then get RID of one of my checking accounts since everything will be done on my AmEx card, and I'll be paying one bill? - I wasn't quite clear why you have two checking accounts so I can't quite give my opinion on this.
Amex Blue Cash Preferred (groceries, 6%; gas, department store, 3%)
US Bank Cash+ (bills, 5%; restaurants, 5%)
Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex (2% across the board)
Discover Escape (2% across the board)

FutureBillionaire
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Postby FutureBillionaire » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:13 pm

I have an american express prg that I use for everything that doesn't qualify me for bonus cash back or points with another card. I have amassed quite a few points. Amex does specials where you can redeem fewer points than normal for gift cards and other items. I'm going to save up my points for gift cards to Marriott and/or Coach. I get bonus points for airfare, 3x points. This is a good airfare card, imo. Use the zync for all of your purchases that don't qualify for bonus cash back, then thank me later.
Gas: Discover It, Penfed Platinum Rewards x2, Chase freedom, Citi TYP
Plane tickets: CSP
Groceries: AMEX BCP, Penfed Platinum Rewards,Citi TYP
Clothes: Express, Amex BCP, Discover IT
Amazon: Citi Forward, Cash +
Restaurants: Citi Forward, Chase Freedom, Discover IT, CSP
Hotels and other travel: Discover Escape, CSP
Movies: BofA travel rewards visa signature(fandango), Discover IT, Citi Forward, Freedom
Bars, clubs, tomfoolery: CSP, Citi Forward, Discover IT, Freedom
Balance transfers: Kroger 123 rewards
Bill Pay: Chase Ink Plus, Citi Forward
Everyday spending: Bofa Accelerated cash rewards amex, Discover Escape

NYC_Dweller
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Postby NYC_Dweller » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:09 am

i use my platinum for everything, everything from starbucks to business trips to family vacations. use it 99% of the time...

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FastSRT8
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Postby FastSRT8 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:42 am

Same here..... Amex is (where it can be used) the only card I carry


NYC_Dweller wrote:i use my platinum for everything, everything from starbucks to business trips to family vacations. use it 99% of the time...
Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero!

jeffysdad
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Postby jeffysdad » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:53 am

I think charging everything on one or more cards in order to maximize rewards/cashback is the smartest way to pay bills and expenses as long as you pay off the balance on time every month.

Debit cards just are not as secure as credit cards for a variety of reasons, imo at least, and that is discussed elsewhere on this forum.

If you use one or more cards, obviously it's best to pick the one(s) that will give you the best rewards.

Once you select the card(s) consider:
Setting them up for autopay of full balance due via a debit to your checking account;
Setting the payment debit dates for each card to be the same day of the month, the 1st for instance;
Setting the email alerts on the account(s) to notify you of balance thresholds crossed and other events that are important to you;
Keeping track of the cashback/rewards you get as you earn as it can be fun to see how much you're being paid back.
American Express: Blue Cash Preferred (groceries, 6%; gas, department store, 3%); Gold Delta SkyMiles (Delta Air Lines, 2 miles/dollar, free checked bag).
US Bank: Cash+ (utilities, phone, internet, restaurant, 5%; drugstores, 2%).
FIA Card Services: Fidelity Amex (everything, 2%); Fidelity Visa (everything, 1.5%).
Chase: Freedom (rotating, 5%); Amazon (Amazon.com, 3%); PriorityClub (IHG hotels, 5 points/dollar); Sapphire (not in use).

*All cards are registered with PriorityClub IDine program for 8 points/dollar at participating restaurants.



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