Credit card reform, advice needed

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mountaindewvoltage
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Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby mountaindewvoltage » Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:48 am

Folks, time to look at my wallet and get rid of excess fat, but I'm having a hard time deciding what to do.

Here's what I have:

AMEX PRG - Used for the 50,000 points bonus and $200 airline credits. I like the flexibility of transfer partners, AMEX offers, the rewards points categories, how I have to pay my bill in full every month, that it's contactless enabled, good dispute resolution, and the roadside assistance feature. The only two things I DISLIKE about this card is that the rewards take an additional month to post and how I have to check before I use the card to see if the purchase will be approved or not.

AMEX Blue Cash Everyday - Great for groceries (3%), gas (2%), department stores (2%), and the fact that I don't have to check to see if it'll be approved every time I use the card. Shoprunner is also a great perk for this card, along with AMEX offers, plus I think it looks cool, and this card also is contactless enabled.

Citi Diamond Preferred - Which is basically a card that I want to product change at some point, but on the other hand, thinking about closing it because Citi doesn't have any cards that would be great for me, except the DC, but I already have plenty of cash back cards. The balance transfer offers I get for this card are worse than what I get for Discover, the rewards are mediocre, but I do like the price rewind feature. I would PC to a ThankYou Premier if I clean up this mess. I also like how when you pay on a Citi credit card, the payment posts instantly.

DiscoverIt Miles- My first year is now up and I redeemed my cashback match. Discover lowered my APR to 18.74% today but I never carry a balance on this card anyways. They also offer me the 0% and 4.99% balance transfer options constantly, which is a great way to borrow money short term or long term depending on my needs, and the U.S based customer service is great. So basically this is a balance transfer card I probably won't get rid of anytime soon.

Amazon Prime Credit Card Metal design is great, but most of my spending is on Amazon.com (5%), dining, drug stores, and gas (2%), plus Chase has the traditional NPSL and Visa Signature benefits.

NavyFed Cash Rewards Visa Signture Of course my highest limit at $5,000 with the potential to grow some more, fee friendly, and the rewards can be redeemed as soon as a transaction posts and instantly after they're redeemed into your checking or savings account.

Empower FCU MasterCard - My best card if I need to carry a balance. Payments are reflected instantly, no FX fees, no late fees unless my payment is 10 days late, and no cash advance fees (plus the APR is my lowest and is the same as purchases), at 13.24% but will go lower the next time I request a CLI, because that's what they do. There's also 1.5 points per dollar earned on purchases.

What should I do to clean up here?


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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:33 pm

Has Amex declined any of your PRG charges? Or told you charges would be declined?

Have you tried taking Amazon over the $3k CL to see just how "NPSL" it really is?

If you weren't concerned about limited spending power on PRG, do you think you'd be more focused on earning 2x MRs instead of 2% cash on dining and gas (or 3% for groceries)? Or PRG wouldn't be getting that spend, anyway?

Have you tried to PC your Discover Miles card to a rotating It? The 5% is currently on gas, ground transport, and warehouse clubs. Occasionally getting 5% cash may be more appealing than having a second (or third?) 1.5% cash card. I'm not sure if going from Miles to 5% is trickier than going from Chrome to 5%.

It may help to develop a sort of "decision tree" to help you determine which cards you'll use in certain situations...and which may actually be useless.

My tree (somewhat simplified...a 100% accurate and thorough one would take ages to write out) is:

1. Do I distrust the merchant, or does the merchant have some very unfavorable return/warranty policy?
If yes, use Platinum.
If no, go to the next step.

2. Do I think I can get a Price Rewind for it?
If yes, use Prestige or AA/Costco. (I occasionally switch between them in case some fortunate surprises bring me near the annual limit on either one.)
If no, use what gives me the most rewards.

Complicating this otherwise simple tree are factors like special offers, limited network acceptance, FTFs, keeping "special use" cards active, categorizing some expenses for simplicity, etc.
Warranties and sketchy merchants: Schwab Platinum
Price rewind: Costco
Travel insurance: Prestige, CSP
Perks: IHG, Hyatt
Rewards/Offers: Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE
Taxes/Misc: SPG

Limited value, might close: Arrival

Might add: First Tech, proper business card

kdm31091
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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby kdm31091 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:44 pm

mountaindewvoltage wrote:Folks, time to look at my wallet and get rid of excess fat, but I'm having a hard time deciding what to do.

Here's what I have:

AMEX PRG - Used for the 50,000 points bonus and $200 airline credits. I like the flexibility of transfer partners, AMEX offers, the rewards points categories, how I have to pay my bill in full every month, that it's contactless enabled, good dispute resolution, and the roadside assistance feature. The only two things I DISLIKE about this card is that the rewards take an additional month to post and how I have to check before I use the card to see if the purchase will be approved or not.

AMEX Blue Cash Everyday - Great for groceries (3%), gas (2%), department stores (2%), and the fact that I don't have to check to see if it'll be approved every time I use the card. Shoprunner is also a great perk for this card, along with AMEX offers, plus I think it looks cool, and this card also is contactless enabled.

Citi Diamond Preferred - Which is basically a card that I want to product change at some point, but on the other hand, thinking about closing it because Citi doesn't have any cards that would be great for me, except the DC, but I already have plenty of cash back cards. The balance transfer offers I get for this card are worse than what I get for Discover, the rewards are mediocre, but I do like the price rewind feature. I would PC to a ThankYou Premier if I clean up this mess. I also like how when you pay on a Citi credit card, the payment posts instantly.

DiscoverIt Miles- My first year is now up and I redeemed my cashback match. Discover lowered my APR to 18.74% today but I never carry a balance on this card anyways. They also offer me the 0% and 4.99% balance transfer options constantly, which is a great way to borrow money short term or long term depending on my needs, and the U.S based customer service is great. So basically this is a balance transfer card I probably won't get rid of anytime soon.

Amazon Prime Credit Card Metal design is great, but most of my spending is on Amazon.com (5%), dining, drug stores, and gas (2%), plus Chase has the traditional NPSL and Visa Signature benefits.

NavyFed Cash Rewards Visa Signture Of course my highest limit at $5,000 with the potential to grow some more, fee friendly, and the rewards can be redeemed as soon as a transaction posts and instantly after they're redeemed into your checking or savings account.

Empower FCU MasterCard - My best card if I need to carry a balance. Payments are reflected instantly, no FX fees, no late fees unless my payment is 10 days late, and no cash advance fees (plus the APR is my lowest and is the same as purchases), at 13.24% but will go lower the next time I request a CLI, because that's what they do. There's also 1.5 points per dollar earned on purchases.

What should I do to clean up here?


To be honest your lineup isn't that "bloated" to me, especially compared to many others. That said I totally get wanting to simplify. I don't generally subscribe to the idea of keeping cards around for only marginal uses or very occasional benefit. One got along just fine without having a card for every possible situation, and can do so in the future.

I am not a big fan of charge cards to be honest. Although they do help keep one disciplined, if you are disciplined you can be the same way without a card forcing you to be so. You have the added annoyance of not knowing your "real" limit, etc. As you mention, the Amex reward system sucks, though it's not unique to the PRG, and generally speaking it's more of a "credit card nerd" annoyance than a practical annoyance unless you like to redeem on short notice. Usually MR points are best for travel and most of the time award travel is planned well in advance anyway. The Blue Cash card is okay, but the 2% on gas/department stores is basically irrelevant to me with baseline 2% everything cards out there. So it's an extra 1% on groceries only at "real" grocery stores where you will often pay more for the items to begin with vs shopping at Walmart/Target. You can almost never realize all of your rewards with the forced $25 increment redemption system, so the realistic payout is probably lower than 3%/2%/1% anyway.

It's nice the Amazon card is metal but as you noted it's really of most benefit for online purchases, so the design is basically irrelevant. I also don't rate Visa Signature benefits high on the list because almost no one actually uses them.

The Diamond Preferred, The Miles, and the Navy Fed card all seem somewhat redundant. The Diamond I would not hesitate to close as it offers more or less nothing. You could convert to Double Cash but if it would see little use you won't reach the $25 cashout threshold very often, making it of limited value. The Miles card is just a 1.5% card which you don't have much reason to use if you are invested in the travel programs.

I'd just think about my future goals and go from there. If you are sticking with travel redemptions, cut some of the redundant cash back cards. If you want to do cash back, stick to one major cash back card, especially if your spend isn't huge.

mountaindewvoltage
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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby mountaindewvoltage » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:45 am

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:Has Amex declined any of your PRG charges? Or told you charges would be declined?

Have you tried taking Amazon over the $3k CL to see just how "NPSL" it really is?

If you weren't concerned about limited spending power on PRG, do you think you'd be more focused on earning 2x MRs instead of 2% cash on dining and gas (or 3% for groceries)? Or PRG wouldn't be getting that spend, anyway?

Have you tried to PC your Discover Miles card to a rotating It? The 5% is currently on gas, ground transport, and warehouse clubs. Occasionally getting 5% cash may be more appealing than having a second (or third?) 1.5% cash card. I'm not sure if going from Miles to 5% is trickier than going from Chrome to 5%.

It may help to develop a sort of "decision tree" to help you determine which cards you'll use in certain situations...and which may actually be useless.

My tree (somewhat simplified...a 100% accurate and thorough one would take ages to write out) is:

1. Do I distrust the merchant, or does the merchant have some very unfavorable return/warranty policy?
If yes, use Platinum.
If no, go to the next step.

2. Do I think I can get a Price Rewind for it?
If yes, use Prestige or AA/Costco. (I occasionally switch between them in case some fortunate surprises bring me near the annual limit on either one.)
If no, use what gives me the most rewards.

Complicating this otherwise simple tree are factors like special offers, limited network acceptance, FTFs, keeping "special use" cards active, categorizing some expenses for simplicity, etc.


AMEX has declined one charge but that was when I checked the spending power on the app, and I believe it was only because of an error when I was transitioning to the contactless card from the non-contactless one. The rep said the card was somehow deactivated due to this transition.

I was just approved for Amazon a week ago, so no, haven't seen how high the NPSL will go, yet.

Good question, not sure how much I value MR vs. cash back, but would probably split it 50/50, it's hard to say because they can both be advantageous in different ways.

I just PC'd my miles FROM the 5% card, because I don't spend much in the categories Discover gives out anyways, and 1% with them is lousy. I mean Amazon will be covered by the Chase Amazon card, and gas isn't exactly a high spend category for me, even though it's one of my main spending areas.

I like your tree idea, but some cards are similar in rewards but different in benefits, which is knotting me up.

mountaindewvoltage
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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby mountaindewvoltage » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:57 am

kdm31091 wrote:
mountaindewvoltage wrote:Folks, time to look at my wallet and get rid of excess fat, but I'm having a hard time deciding what to do.

Here's what I have:

AMEX PRG - Used for the 50,000 points bonus and $200 airline credits. I like the flexibility of transfer partners, AMEX offers, the rewards points categories, how I have to pay my bill in full every month, that it's contactless enabled, good dispute resolution, and the roadside assistance feature. The only two things I DISLIKE about this card is that the rewards take an additional month to post and how I have to check before I use the card to see if the purchase will be approved or not.

AMEX Blue Cash Everyday - Great for groceries (3%), gas (2%), department stores (2%), and the fact that I don't have to check to see if it'll be approved every time I use the card. Shoprunner is also a great perk for this card, along with AMEX offers, plus I think it looks cool, and this card also is contactless enabled.

Citi Diamond Preferred - Which is basically a card that I want to product change at some point, but on the other hand, thinking about closing it because Citi doesn't have any cards that would be great for me, except the DC, but I already have plenty of cash back cards. The balance transfer offers I get for this card are worse than what I get for Discover, the rewards are mediocre, but I do like the price rewind feature. I would PC to a ThankYou Premier if I clean up this mess. I also like how when you pay on a Citi credit card, the payment posts instantly.

DiscoverIt Miles- My first year is now up and I redeemed my cashback match. Discover lowered my APR to 18.74% today but I never carry a balance on this card anyways. They also offer me the 0% and 4.99% balance transfer options constantly, which is a great way to borrow money short term or long term depending on my needs, and the U.S based customer service is great. So basically this is a balance transfer card I probably won't get rid of anytime soon.

Amazon Prime Credit Card Metal design is great, but most of my spending is on Amazon.com (5%), dining, drug stores, and gas (2%), plus Chase has the traditional NPSL and Visa Signature benefits.

NavyFed Cash Rewards Visa Signture Of course my highest limit at $5,000 with the potential to grow some more, fee friendly, and the rewards can be redeemed as soon as a transaction posts and instantly after they're redeemed into your checking or savings account.

Empower FCU MasterCard - My best card if I need to carry a balance. Payments are reflected instantly, no FX fees, no late fees unless my payment is 10 days late, and no cash advance fees (plus the APR is my lowest and is the same as purchases), at 13.24% but will go lower the next time I request a CLI, because that's what they do. There's also 1.5 points per dollar earned on purchases.

What should I do to clean up here?


To be honest your lineup isn't that "bloated" to me, especially compared to many others. That said I totally get wanting to simplify. I don't generally subscribe to the idea of keeping cards around for only marginal uses or very occasional benefit. One got along just fine without having a card for every possible situation, and can do so in the future.

I am not a big fan of charge cards to be honest. Although they do help keep one disciplined, if you are disciplined you can be the same way without a card forcing you to be so. You have the added annoyance of not knowing your "real" limit, etc. As you mention, the Amex reward system sucks, though it's not unique to the PRG, and generally speaking it's more of a "credit card nerd" annoyance than a practical annoyance unless you like to redeem on short notice. Usually MR points are best for travel and most of the time award travel is planned well in advance anyway. The Blue Cash card is okay, but the 2% on gas/department stores is basically irrelevant to me with baseline 2% everything cards out there. So it's an extra 1% on groceries only at "real" grocery stores where you will often pay more for the items to begin with vs shopping at Walmart/Target. You can almost never realize all of your rewards with the forced $25 increment redemption system, so the realistic payout is probably lower than 3%/2%/1% anyway.

It's nice the Amazon card is metal but as you noted it's really of most benefit for online purchases, so the design is basically irrelevant. I also don't rate Visa Signature benefits high on the list because almost no one actually uses them.

The Diamond Preferred, The Miles, and the Navy Fed card all seem somewhat redundant. The Diamond I would not hesitate to close as it offers more or less nothing. You could convert to Double Cash but if it would see little use you won't reach the $25 cashout threshold very often, making it of limited value. The Miles card is just a 1.5% card which you don't have much reason to use if you are invested in the travel programs.

I'd just think about my future goals and go from there. If you are sticking with travel redemptions, cut some of the redundant cash back cards. If you want to do cash back, stick to one major cash back card, especially if your spend isn't huge.


I do like the charge card idea but hate it at the same time, sometimes there's pressure for us folks to pay off the entire balance if our income doesn't fall into the 1% bracket, but then again, I love it because the card means no real debt and requires more thinking before spending, similar to a debit card, but with more benefits, points, and protections. As I've said before, I really wish the Green provided some kind of reduced roadside assistance benefit for $95/year, so folks like myself don't have to pay $195/year. I'd gladly pay $95 a year for purchase protections and roadside assistance, say, twice a year, instead of four like the PRG offers. I also don't like how AMEX actually financial reviews people, I don't think other issuers even do that.

I do agree that their rewards system sucks (just because it's delayed and also the $25 increments), and that it's annoying how AMEX can't tell you what your soft limit is. I feel like if I had the Green card, I would spend less on my AMEX cards without feeling guilty because only only riskier purchases would be put on it and because it's only $95 a year, or $7.91 a month... I'm not sure if the Green has cell phone protection for 90 days like my other AMEX's do, though. I'm kinda stuck between wanting a revolving AMEX and a charge (I have both obviously), so that doesn't help matters either.

I have noticed other Visa Signature benefits I like... I remember Visa running a promo a couple of years ago about buying one Regal movie ticket and getting one free every Friday during the summer months, so they can be beneficial, plus there's hotel discounts and others.

I've kept the Diamond open because Citi is usually nice about product changes and I'm not sure if I'll ever want to use a different card of theirs down the road, and it'll give me an advance of no HP to change over, and then there's always price rewind, which I did save about $30 last year but could've used more aggressively.

I'm keeping Discover open strictly for balance transfers (or temporary low APR loans that I'll pay back in less than a month, like my delayed tax return this year at 0% with a 3% fee or 4.99% with a $0 fee ). I think having 0% offers would be great in the event of an emergency arises and I have to carry a balance, I'd just pay with another card and transfer it over, and then boom, 12 months, 0% interest.

kdm31091
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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby kdm31091 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:09 am

The movie ticket discount is one Visa Signature perk that may be widely useful, and you sound like you benefit from the Amazon Visa anyway, so I wouldn't be rushing to close it. I just mean that most Visa Signature benefits are more marketing vs anything anyone will actually end up using. The hotel discounts are great in theory but they tend to be for less than mainstream hotels so it's again not very likely to be consistently useful,

If you want to PC the Diamond, that makes sense, but I'm curious which cards you are seriously considering getting rid of?

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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:22 am

kdm31091 wrote:The movie ticket discount is one Visa Signature perk that may be widely useful, and you sound like you benefit from the Amazon Visa anyway, so I wouldn't be rushing to close it. I just mean that most Visa Signature benefits are more marketing vs anything anyone will actually end up using. The hotel discounts are great in theory but they tend to be for less than mainstream hotels so it's again not very likely to be consistently useful,

If you want to PC the Diamond, that makes sense, but I'm curious which cards you are seriously considering getting rid of?

I think I read that the VS Fandango perks have been discontinued or nerfed.

Has anyone used it recently?
Warranties and sketchy merchants: Schwab Platinum
Price rewind: Costco
Travel insurance: Prestige, CSP
Perks: IHG, Hyatt
Rewards/Offers: Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE
Taxes/Misc: SPG

Limited value, might close: Arrival

Might add: First Tech, proper business card

kdm31091
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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby kdm31091 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:27 am

You're right, I can't find anything about the Fandango Visa Signature perk anymore. Looks like it is dead at least for the time being.

If that's the case, even less reason to care about Visa Signature

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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:23 am

kdm31091 wrote:You're right, I can't find anything about the Fandango Visa Signature perk anymore. Looks like it is dead at least for the time being.

If that's the case, even less reason to care about Visa Signature

Figures...the most popular perk is what gets removed first.

mountaindewvoltage wrote:AMEX has declined one charge but that was when I checked the spending power on the app, and I believe it was only because of an error when I was transitioning to the contactless card from the non-contactless one. The rep said the card was somehow deactivated due to this transition.

I was just approved for Amazon a week ago, so no, haven't seen how high the NPSL will go, yet.

Good question, not sure how much I value MR vs. cash back, but would probably split it 50/50, it's hard to say because they can both be advantageous in different ways.

I just PC'd my miles FROM the 5% card, because I don't spend much in the categories Discover gives out anyways, and 1% with them is lousy. I mean Amazon will be covered by the Chase Amazon card, and gas isn't exactly a high spend category for me, even though it's one of my main spending areas.

I like your tree idea, but some cards are similar in rewards but different in benefits, which is knotting me up.

Since you've not exceeded $3k on Amazon, and you suspect your Amex decline was just due to technological problems, then I don't see how you're more confident in the spending power of Amazon than PRG.

There's no rush to figure out how you should value MRs, but it's hard to suggest which cards to close without that information. Any amount of cash is good, but there's not much you can do with MRs (and get a decent cent-per-point value) unless you have a lot of them.

Also, I think Amex has a one-month delay before paying out cash (like they do with MRs). I don't use my BCE enough to notice or care. When/why did you switch from OBC to BCE?
Warranties and sketchy merchants: Schwab Platinum
Price rewind: Costco
Travel insurance: Prestige, CSP
Perks: IHG, Hyatt
Rewards/Offers: Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE
Taxes/Misc: SPG

Limited value, might close: Arrival

Might add: First Tech, proper business card

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Re: Credit card reform, advice needed

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:59 pm

mountaindewvoltage wrote:I like your tree idea, but some cards are similar in rewards but different in benefits, which is knotting me up.

You can include benefits in building your tree. It just forces you to decide if Card A's benefit B is enough to make it worth keeping.

You say Empower is your best card is you want to carry a balance, but the 13.24% APR is higher than what Discover offers you on BTs (4.99% APR, presumably for 18 months with no BT fee). So would you realistically carry a balance on Empower, instead of doing the BT to Discover? If you pay Empower 10 days late you may avoid a late payment fee, but I assume you'll still be hit with interest even if you PIF. If you need to carry a balance on any card, you can avoid the late payment fee pretty easily by just paying at least the minimum on time.

Your NFCU card also has no FTFs. If you want to simplify, I just see Empower's value as a cash advance card. Is it worth keeping just for cash advances?

What would be the appeal of a TY Premier? You wouldn't get the bonus by PCing to it. Would you travel enough to justify both a TY Premier and PRG?

DC may be boring, but it beats a post-intro 0% Diamond Preferred. If you decide a transaction is worth trying a Price Rewind, you might as well try to pick up a little cash back, too. Maybe PC to DC now, earn a little cash back, and think about PCing to Premier in the future? I don't see any downside.

PRG has ShopRunner, too. If you PCed DP to DC, BCE would only offer 3% cash (comparable to PRG's 2x MRs) on groceries and occasional Amex offers. Is that enough reason to keep BCE?

There's nothing wrong with keeping both BCE and PRG, and you may feel it's easier to track 2 Amex cards than 2 cards from different banks. I know I don't mind keeping BCE and ED because I'd be keeping Platinum, anyway, and can call the Platinum line with problems on any card. But...I've also noticed that good Amex offers have diminished and BCE and ED really don't provide me with a ton of value. If I was determined to limit my total card count (instead of my issuer/login count) you can bet BCE would be quick to go.
Warranties and sketchy merchants: Schwab Platinum
Price rewind: Costco
Travel insurance: Prestige, CSP
Perks: IHG, Hyatt
Rewards/Offers: Discover, Freedom, ED, BCE
Taxes/Misc: SPG

Limited value, might close: Arrival

Might add: First Tech, proper business card



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