polygons wrote:So, for us, the CSP wins, right?
Is Amtrak the only company that you'd use to redeem travel awards? If the Arrival can't transfer to Amtrak then why is it still in the running?
polygons wrote:Or maybe we shouldn't cancel our vanilla cards, because at some point I heard that canceling cards is bad for our credit? Or is that a myth, I actually have no idea where credit scores come from.
Definitely read up on credit scoring then. Closing a card increases your utilization as you have less available credit. Utilization is just one factor in credit scoring though it does play a significant role. Average Age of Accounts (AAoA) is based on the age of your accounts so unless you're paying annual fees on your existing cards then you could stand to benefit just from letting those accounts age by keeping them open. That said, accounts in good standing will remain on your reports for 10 years.
polygons wrote:Or maybe we should get a bunch of cards because that builds up our credit?
You shouldn't get cards just to get cards. Again, AAoA plays a role in scoring. Adding new accounts drops your AAoA and every application generates a hard pull which also adversely impacts your credit. On the other hand, number of accounts and variety of credit benefit your credit scoring.
Again, read up and carefully consider your decisions. We can definitely answer specific questions but it's a bit much to expect people to educate you on every aspect of credit in this thread. You will have to take some initiative as well.
I'd recommend not only looking at the types of rewards you want to get but also look into your major spend categories to see if you can maximize rewards with a certain set of cards in your wallet. For example, I use the Blue Cash Preferred for groceries, PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards for gas and the CSP for dining, travel and everything else. The Ultimate Rewards site also has opportunities for increased rewards with certain vendors (which change over time).
The Chase Freedom is popular to pair with the CSP since it has rotating 5% categories. Freedom can't transfer points but its points can be transferred to the CSP and then transferred out to partners.
polygons wrote:Or mabye we should get the Amex gold card?
Impossible to answer this for you. Weigh the pros and cons. You've detailed how you could benefit from the CSP and/or the Arrival. Do the same for the AmEx gold.
Establishing an AmEx membership can be beneficial even if just for backdating. Any future AmEx card you open will report as opened in the month you applied for the card and the year that you originally joined AmEx. As an example, my AmEx membership originated in 1998. I applied for a Blue Cash Preferred in March of this year. It reports as opened in 3/1998. That's a 15 year tradeline instantly added to my credit reports.
You won't immediately benefit from backdating but it can help down the road if you establish membership now.