USAA Amex, BCP, PRG, Platinum

American Express forum. Talk about AmEx credit cards like Blue, Gold, Platinum, Centurion, and more.
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Spunky
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USAA Amex, BCP, PRG, Platinum

Postby Spunky » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:14 pm

Could use some second thoughts here. I'm only recently paying serious attention to card benefits at all.

A couple years ago I opened a USAA Amex Cash Rewards card and took the route of charging all possible expenditures through it and paying in full. I've got a zero balance WF Visa from forever ago, a closed Chase card with a balance at lifetime 1.9% APR, and just opened a Barclay Arrival for the 40k point bonus and 0% intro on a single big purchase. TU score in 760s.

NOTE: A really interesting thing I've found with this USAA Amex is the protection benefits exceed anything I've found in print on any card including Amex Plat, and I'm surprised to not hear anyone mention them—

Double warranty up to 24 months past manufacture or service warranty and $15,000/$75,000 limits per incident and annum. $2500 Purchase Assurance and $300 Price Protection up to 150 days—I'm actually taking advantage of PA for a damaged smartphone after 90 day point. $1M travel accident + trip interruption/baggage delay. Also has concierge service and a couple other things.

Cash rewards is tiered up to only 1.25% past $17k, not awesome at first glance although that 1.25% is uncapped so theoretically it will eclipse something like BCP at high enough levels. That curve is interesting.


Thing is, I'm going to start traveling quite a bit starting this fall for both work and personal reasons, so I'm looking at putting together a more diversified portfolio for a good mix of benefits + rewards. I've never tried FF programs and historically tend to change up carriers quite a bit.

Long story short I'm contemplating looking into applying for Blue Cash Preferred, PRG or Plat to supplement my USAA card:

- BCP for grocery, gas, and everyday purchases for max cash back or PRG for everyday to accumulate MR points
- Amex USAA for one-off purchases that could benefit from protections
- Potential for Platinum for membership travel benefits + 0 FTF
- Arrival as backup + 0 FTF

It would be a lot easier (or harder decision, maybe, I don't know!) if I could see about snagging some extra bonus points on a PRG; I've got a higher than normal BCP bonus available but apparently am not targeted for their charge cards.

In closing, if we took our going market rates and calculated the cost of time investment belaboring these things, are we still coming out ahead? :cool:
MB Amex Platinum | Amex Premier Gold | Amex Everyday Preferred 25k | Citi Executive 22.5k | Barclay Arrival 12.5k | USAA Amex 10.5k | WF Platinum Visa 5k | Chase Visa | GECRB Visa

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Spunky
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Postby Spunky » Mon Sep 30, 2013 2:04 am

Made my call. Approved tonight for PRG + Mercedes Benz Platinum cards for combined 25k+50k signup bonus opportunities. We'll see how the first year goes!
MB Amex Platinum | Amex Premier Gold | Amex Everyday Preferred 25k | Citi Executive 22.5k | Barclay Arrival 12.5k | USAA Amex 10.5k | WF Platinum Visa 5k | Chase Visa | GECRB Visa

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wizozzie
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I was just about to...

Postby wizozzie » Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:50 am

I was just about to say that you could go the "earner" way by going:

- PRG
- Mercedes Benz

Which together would give you the most amount of MR points as an earner. I miss the Zync paks :(

You haven't yet posted your thought process to get to this. What was your decision thread? I'm sure that a lot of others would find that useful.

-wizozzie
AmEx Platinum
AmEx Premier Rewards Gold
Mercedes Benz American Express
AmEx Zync, the Unicorn of Credit Cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred World MasterCard
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
Discover IT

(wow, I don't have a Visa Credit Card!)
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Spunky
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Postby Spunky » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:24 am

Ask and ye shall receive?

I determined my real goal is to maximize the return for travel, so I put together a spreadsheet model to compare reward values for flights/hotels. I set up fields for hypothetical spend by category (based on historical expenditures and planned budget), and a row for each of the prospective cards with a column for:

- Directly accumulated rewards using category multipliers
- Reward factor (point value, or $1)
- Sign-up bonuses
- Conditional annual bonus (for PRG $30k threshold)
- Annual fee
- Credits

From these I calculate both the initial year "value," and expected value in subsequent years once waived fees, etc kick in for a realistic long-term picture. My findings from this model indicate that I am sitting at a crossroads as a customer, and I'm not surprised that I would be targeted for the BCP. However based on my goal it seemed like the PRG/Plat combo is a strong direction.

Cash Rewards
I'm right at the sweet spot for the Blue Cash Preferred in typical grocery/gas spending which makes it very tempting at first, and is almost exactly 3X the cash rewards I'm currently getting through USAA.

However, USAA updated their cash rewards to bonus gas and groceries; it's tiered up to 2.25% gas/groceries and 1.25% for everything else—but those are uncapped and no fee. If I were staying put somewhere, I think I would go with the refreshed USAA as it would quickly overtake the BCP and with better benefits.

Miles/Points Rewards
The Barclays card actually fairs pretty well, effectively is much better as cash back against travel than USAA or BCP. 0% foreign transaction fees and pretty much universal acceptance make it appealing. For simplicity, predictability, and value it really seems like a good card. I've got it now, I'll take advantage of the bonus and 0% intro, and use as a backup.

However, the Premier Gold Rewards has the chance to rack up a lot of points on airlines and travel, especially if I can arrange for reimbursed business travel. If points can be redeemed for at least $.018 it comes out first in valuation. However what really blows the other options out of the water is the $30K spending bonus, which creates a huge gap after the first year.

Finally, the MB Platinum. Since I will be doing international travel, the benefits seem increasingly useful. I'm trying to only "count" the credits I'd be likely to spend without the card. This also lets me keep earning points with a 0% transaction fee while abroad (won't be doing much gas or groceries anyway). And the 50K bonus outweighs the fee the first year.

Duo
Combining the two really is the best of both worlds, and it is obviously devious now why they've broken the cards up this way. With a 75K combined signup bonus they appear to produce 2-3X the value of the other cards in the first year, and as long as you hit $30K a year and $.018 redemption rate and are traveling enough to make use of the Platinum card credits, you can basically make up that high fee.
However I will need to re-evaluate after this year to see if it's worth it.

Have I chased myself into a hopeless circle of self-reinforcing logic?
MB Amex Platinum | Amex Premier Gold | Amex Everyday Preferred 25k | Citi Executive 22.5k | Barclay Arrival 12.5k | USAA Amex 10.5k | WF Platinum Visa 5k | Chase Visa | GECRB Visa

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takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:38 am

You have to determine what's sufficient for you to make your own decision based on your needs/wants/preferences. I didn't need to go into such detail to determine that the BCP and CSP were worth it for me but my situation is also different as I primarily fly United as I live in a United hub city (formerly Continental's home city). Given that, MR isn't very beneficial to me. I also probably won't exceed the BCP's limit on groceries.

Spunky wrote:[INDENT]NOTE: A really interesting thing I've found with this USAA Amex is the protection benefits exceed anything I've found in print on any card including Amex Plat, and I'm surprised to not hear anyone mention them–

People tend to be more fixated on rewards versus purchase protection, it seems. I can understand that as I've had very little need for purchase protection. Again, each needs to decided based on the individual's priorities.

I have a USAA AX and wasn't aware of that so thanks for mentioning it! Looks like I need to review the other benefits as well.

Spunky
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Postby Spunky » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:58 am

Heh, the detail was a little overboard perhaps, but I was right on the fence in rewards at first glance so it seemed worth investigating given the fees in question, and it was an interesting crash course in understanding (somewhat) the comically convoluted miles/rewards systems.

On a very trivial note, I'm honestly just disappointed in carrying a co-branded MB card, but at least its subtle.

And as a post script to that, I have to give a hat tip to Amex for delivery. Barclay took about 8-9 days to arrive, Amex sent the PRG 2-3 day mail and the Platinum was overnighted.
MB Amex Platinum | Amex Premier Gold | Amex Everyday Preferred 25k | Citi Executive 22.5k | Barclay Arrival 12.5k | USAA Amex 10.5k | WF Platinum Visa 5k | Chase Visa | GECRB Visa

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Spunky
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Postby Spunky » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:00 pm

As a follow-up, another scenario I hadn't run along the lines of combinations was Blue Cash Preferred + Arrival. If you targeted your spending perfectly by shifting groceries past $6K to the Arrival, you effectively get a flat 6/3/2.2% cash back for travel expenses and a $0 no-foreign transaction fee for $164/yr. Assuming $.018 per MR point, it's actually a better value unless you hit the $30K spend, and then earns better again at very high levels. But it all depends on how you redeem the MR points I guess.
MB Amex Platinum | Amex Premier Gold | Amex Everyday Preferred 25k | Citi Executive 22.5k | Barclay Arrival 12.5k | USAA Amex 10.5k | WF Platinum Visa 5k | Chase Visa | GECRB Visa

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rockyrock
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Postby rockyrock » Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:44 am

After reading this post, I realized that now that Discover Q3 is over I have no good gas card...

I also need a good grocery card to add to my lineup so I applied for the USAA Amex Cash Rewards and was approved for $16k. I also applied for BCP but wasn't given an immediate response. I will call the recon line tomorrow and see what I can do. I just got a CLI on my SPG two days ago so they may be wondering why I'm increasing my limits...
American Express (2005): Premier Rewards Gold & Blue Cash Preferred
Chase: Freedom & UA Club USAA: Signature Visa & American Express
Discover it Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines WEMC Synchrony Sam's MC
Navy FCU Platinum Visa Citi Double Cash & AT&T Access MC

Robrus1
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Postby Robrus1 » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:44 pm

rockyrock wrote:After reading this post, I realized that now that Discover Q3 is over I have no good gas card...

I also need a good grocery card to add to my lineup so I applied for the USAA Amex Cash Rewards and was approved for $16k. I also applied for BCP but wasn't given an immediate response. I will call the recon line tomorrow and see what I can do. I just got a CLI on my SPG two days ago so they may be wondering why I'm increasing my limits...


Was the CLI on your SPG an auto? If so, how long have you had it?
Amex Platinum
Amex BCP 21K
Amex SPG 5K
Barclaycard Arrival Plus WEMC 5K
Chase Sapphire Preferred 23.5K
Credit Union 10K
Discover IT 7.75K

rockyrock
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Postby rockyrock » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:28 pm

Robrus1 wrote:Was the CLI on your SPG an auto? If so, how long have you had it?


No it wasn't automatic; I think I've had it since May or so. I did the online CLI request.
American Express (2005): Premier Rewards Gold & Blue Cash Preferred
Chase: Freedom & UA Club USAA: Signature Visa & American Express
Discover it Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines WEMC Synchrony Sam's MC
Navy FCU Platinum Visa Citi Double Cash & AT&T Access MC



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