Should I get an American Express card?

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pottedmeat
 
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Should I get an American Express card?

Postby pottedmeat » Mon May 28, 2012 9:03 am

I'm in the middle of re-evaluating what's in my wallet, and I figured the gurus here are a good place to start.

A little about me: Although I don't know my FICO score, I assume my credit is excellent. I have a mortgage and some school debt, but no car or home equity loans. I do occasionally float a balance on my cards but I haven't actually missed a credit card payment in years. Low 6-figure income, very good job security.

Anyway, this is what my wallet is currently packing:

  1. Discover Open Road Card: This is usually my go-to credit card for most online purchases and gas. I remember rewards being better on this, but now it's only 2% for gas and restaurants when I last checked. Open since 2007, 16k limit. Had some problems with fraud not too long ago and CS was top-notch. I also make use of their online shopping portal for the extra cashback. (In short, for the time being, I'm very attached to this one.)
  2. Citi Thank You Card, had since 2004. Use as by backup, doesn't get a lot of action. 20k limit. Low interest but unimpressive rewards, a holdover from an era when my credit history was still young.
  3. Chase Amazon.com - Used exclusively on Amazon since I tend to shop there a lot, usually paid off every month. I think there's an 8k limit, and it's 1-2 years old. I don't even carry the plastic on me.
  4. credit union debit card- When I'm not using credit, I'm using this.
Here's my plan:

I just did the instant approval for a Citi Forward card. Plan to use this as my de facto Amazon card for the 5% rewards points bump. (picture Gimli from LOTR: "And then call it a bookstore! A BOOKSTORE!) and cancel the Chase card once I burn my accrued cashback off.

Also going to see if Citi will raise my limit on the new card and, if so, cancel my older Citi card as well. The Forward card would then be my first choice, at least at restaurants or the movies.

This leaves me with 2 cards. I like having 3 better, so what do I get?
I'm leaning towards an AMEX card, but I'm not thrilled about paying yearly fees if I don't have to. Customer service goes a long way with me, and AMEX has a good reputation in that respect. I just renewed my Costco membership, so the TrueEarnings card was definitely a consideration, but I drive a Prius and 3% on gas isn't as thrilling as it might be for the SUV crowd.

On the other hand, the Blue Cash Everyday cards might be better. I'm having trouble convincing myself of paying $75/year, but if I give a second card to my wife and force her to use it for gas and groceries as well, would it pay for itself?

What do you guys think? Or is there another card out there I should be considering?


Crashem
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Postby Crashem » Mon May 28, 2012 2:28 pm

Don't cancel your chase amazon. There is no annual fee. No reason to close as it will continue to help your aaoa and utilization when you keep a balance.

Have at least three open revolving credit lines going. Amex has bce which has no annual fee. Bcp is 75 af but they have a 150 cash back promo going and you can switch back to no af bce when the year is up.

Amex is great for future backdating so make sure to add your wife as au and registered online accounts for both of you to lock in your member date. Consider the cheap af zync charge card. I like charge cards for their non inclusion in util calculations. This comes in handy when apping for mortgage or refi and you need to manage your utilization. Amex trueearnings has no af but you have to be part of Costco. Blue cash allows redemption at 25 dollars, while trueearnings is like discover which is once a year. Chase sapphire preferred is waived 95 af for first year and double points for travel and dining. Main reason to consider is their 40000 pt incentive right now and you can change into no af sapphire before new annual fee. Consider Penfed plat rewards which is 5pt for gas and 3pt for groceries.

Finally, don't ignore 2% equivalent cards like fidelity Amex and Priceline visa card. Also, I really like the small af jcb marukai preferred card as it gives 3% cash back after 3k in spend annually. Jcb accepted wherever discover is accepted, but need to live in western states to be eligible.
Amex Centurion, Amex Platinum, Amex BCP 8k->24k (5/23/12), Amex TE 15k, Cap One 1.5% 15k->20k (8/7/13), CSP 25k, Chase Palladium 100k, Citibank AA 35k (AU), Firestone 1.8k->2.2k->2.4k (8/20/12), JFCU Jloc 30k, PenFed Plat Rewards 30k, SF Fire 30k, US Bank Cash+ 25k

DavidNY
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Postby DavidNY » Mon May 28, 2012 3:38 pm

If you won't need the Chase Amazon card consider changing it to a Chase Freedom.

Money card
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Postby Money card » Mon May 28, 2012 9:59 pm

do you have kids living with you or is it just you and your wife? do you spend a lot on groceries and gas if you spend a lot than the answer to your question would be yes. but if you don't spend a lot at the grocery store or gas stations then the answer would be no.

here's my suggestion apply for the Blue cash preferred card it's free for the first year try it out if you find that your not spending a lot at the grocery stores and your not spending a lot at the gas stations when the annual fee is applied to your statement call American Express up and tell them that you want to lower your level from the Blue cash preferred to the Basic blue cash card.

by the way how do you like your Discover open road card?

you have very good cards is there a card you should be considering? I'm going to say no you have a travel card your looking into a cashback card. you look to be all set.

MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Tue May 29, 2012 6:59 am

First off I would not cancel your Citi card from 2004 with a 20k limit for two reasons - first utilization and second average age of account. That's a nice big healthy tradeline there, and if you really don't need it just keep it open and use it every couple of months for something minor or put a small recurring payment on it to keep it open. I think you would come to regret closing that.

I personally have a Platinum Visa from my bank with a 9k limit but no rewards, which I really don't need or use much at this point, but I keep it open mostly for the utilization factor so I put a small recurring payment on it and that's all the use it gets.

As far as Amex goes, I would think their Blue Cash Everyday would be useful to you. There is no annual fee on it, and it gives you 3% groceries and 2% gas 1% everything else cashback as an end of year statement credit. This is worth a look and Amex is great to get in with.

Because you seem to have a long and good history, you should be able to get BCE. If you doubt your ability to do so, you could go for the Zync charge card (Amex charge cards are easier to get than their revolvers like BCE) and then go for the BCE after you build up some time with Zync. With Amex, once you have a card with them, future apps are a soft if you are denied and only a hard if they approve you.

By the way you are thinking of the Blue Cash Preferred which has the 75 dollar fee. IF you spend enough on groceries and gas and department stores (groceries gives you 6% and gas and department stores 3%) then you could more than make up for that fee, but only you know your situation and if this would pay. With the Prius you might not care about 1% more on gas, but you gotta eat, but do the math and see if it would pay off for you.

Hope this helps you!

MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Tue May 29, 2012 7:02 am

Oh one other bit of advice that I don't see anyone has mentioned yet - try really hard not to use that debit card now that you have credit cards. The main reason for this is, if someone steals your card or card info, they can drain your bank account. As you've seen, with a credit card, they can't do that, you call the company and work it out and your money in the credit union is safe. With your debit card, they can drain your funds and then you have to fight to get them back, which could lead to other issues like bills not getting paid and checks bouncing and hits to your credit. Plus, you have less time with a debit card to notice fraud than you do with a credit card and report it to avoid losses.

Since you have credit cards, use those, and don't pull out the debit card anymore. I used one for years and never got ripped off, but others haven't been so lucky, and I never use it now that I have credit cards.

pottedmeat
 
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Postby pottedmeat » Wed May 30, 2012 3:22 pm

This is definitely what I was looking for!

A few other comments:

1) I did consider the Chase Freedom. It's similar in a way to the Discover More with the rotating bonuses. I did consider, if I went to the Amex BCE I would see about converting my Open Road card to a More card without closing it since the bonuses are decent and I really didn't want to close my Discover completely. As for Open Road itself, I feel like some of the bonuses have suffered a bit. I first got the card when I was driving a much more expensive car, and it was helping with the maintenance and gas. The cashback no longer applies to anything but gas now, making it less attractive to me. As for Discover themselves, I have no complaints. As I mentioned, they handled a previous fraud without a problem. The ShopDiscover portal is great for some extra cashback, and the selection of stores is also excellent. Since I'm doing more shopping with than I am gas, it's not serving its intended purpose anymore. I might call them later and see if I can get it changed to a More card, but the title of primary card would go to the Amex.

2) It's just my wife and I, no kids. We do a lot of grocery shopping. While my gas spending isn't what it used to be, (The Prius, plus a daily commute of less than 10 minutes each way. Also, I don't do a lot of road travelling.) my wife travels a bit more. We like to keep our finances separate, so we have no cards in common. The AMEX would be our first. We both also shop for clothes, so the 3% department store bonus would get a lot of use.

3) The Thank You card has my Hulu Plus free on it. That's it. I was going to close it but I'll just let that sit there, as is. Thanks for the advice there!



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