New member, recent lurker. Looking for advice

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Callmedory
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New member, recent lurker. Looking for advice

Postby Callmedory » Wed Dec 25, 2013 7:50 pm

My husband and I have a few cards and I'm wondering if it's worthwhile for us to get any more and, if so, which.

We pay off all cards every month. When we refinanced our home a few years ago, all six scores were between 803 and 817--yeah, six scores, three each. We don't have debit cards, I don't like them.

We're planning a vacation to London and Paris for next year, which is why I upgraded the USAA MC.

We have:

Amex Optima Platinum
Costco Amex
USAA MC--just approved to get this switched to the World MC with pin and chip
Macy's Red
Target Redcard
Penneys

Had Firestone for our new tires but that's paid off and won't be used again, most likely.

I think we could use a card with no Foreign Transaction Fee, since the USAA World MC is 1%. I'm told that if we use this card at bank ATMs in England and France, there will be no ATM fees but we will accrue cash advance fees, which won't be terrible if we pay off once we get home. The convenience outweighs the cost?

Any advice or opinions?


MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:01 am

Most actual travel cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred, Barclay's Arrival, etc have no foreign transaction fee. Discover is an odd duck in that they also have no foreign transaction fee.


With scores like you two have inquires and new accounts will probably hit you harder than they would someone with a score 150 points lower. But if you can stomach a possible temporary hit to your score, and want to avoid the fees you should look into a true travel card. It may offer other perks you may be interested. The ones I mentioned avoid the FTF and there are others as well. This forum has a list of travel cards here:
http://creditcardforum.com/content/best-travel-rewards-credit-cards-15/

Callmedory
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thanks!

Postby Callmedory » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:50 am

That’s pretty much what I was thinking, so confirmation is nice. But Husband is against annual fees generally, so we might go for the “non-Preferred.”

While it’s definitely great to have high scores, they’re more the consequence of our being careful, not our primary goal. So taking a temporary hit is fine. Since that’ll increase our total available credit, I believe the hit would be temporary anyway.

I have a quick question, though--what affect will paying off our house in a couple of years have on our credit? We won’t have any loans (hopefully) then, unless we have to replace a car, though our should honestly last another 5-10 years.

WS6R6
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Postby WS6R6 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:11 am

Sapphire preferred seems to be a popular choice for travel that's worth looking into. It is my everyday card as well. However, there are cards with little to no annual fee with no FTF if that's all you're after.
Travel 3x, Groceries + Gas 2x: [color=Orange"]AmEx PRG[/color] (Closed)
Restaurants + Travel 2x: [color=navy"]Chase Sapphire Preferred[/color]
Groceries 3%, Gas + Department Stores 2%: [color=blue"]AmEx BCE[/color]
Dining + Entertainment 2x: [color=navy"]Citi Thank You Preferred[/color]
Hotels 5x: [color=Black"]Chase Marriott Rewards Premier[/color]
Rotating 5%: [color=darkorange"]Discover It[/color], [color=blue"]Chase Freedom[/color]
Restaurants 5x: [color=lime"]Citi Forward[/color]
Gas 5%: [color=gray"]PenFed Platinum Rewards[/color]
Future: [color=red"]US Bank Cash +[/color]

MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:53 am

WS6R6 is right - you can get a Discover IT that has no FTF and no annual fee since you don't want the fee or the perks.


It's hard to say how paying your mortgage may affect your score. I'd suggest looking for online credit simulators and playing with that to get an idea.


Personally I would not much worry about it, it won't trash your credit and your house is paid for and with your scores I'm sure you can still get the best tier when you go to get another vehicle if you finance.


I just remembered an important thing here - if you look into Discover IT, make sure they are accepted in the place you are visiting. From what I've heard some countries have few places that accept Discover. So doing a little research will go a long way.


Otherwise, if you want to be safe, Bank of America offers a travel reward card that has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, and is a Visa which might be accepted more.

Callmedory
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Postby Callmedory » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:42 pm

Yeah, not worried about the credit scores. Any ding will likely be temporary and covered by the increased credit amounts anyway.

We’re not huge spenders or big time travelers, so we probably wouldn’t accrue enough in rewards/miles to make a card with an annual fee worthwhile. So we’ll probably go for BofA, with its no annual fee and 0% FTF.

We’ll open up a “vacation checking account” of a limited amount with USAA with an ATM, to limit exposure if anything were to happen with that card. That’ll let us avoid ATM fees, or at least minimize them as long as we use bank ATMs.

That should cover things: a true pin-and-chip card with low FTF, a pin-and-chip/signature card with 0% FTF for majority of use, and an ATM with low/no overseas fees to be able to have cash-on-hand.

Sounds like a decent plan, I think. I’m very new at this. The only times I went overseas was to London with my parents back in 1986 and 1987. Traveler’s checks were used then, and my parents handled a lot of it all.

Callmedory
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Okey dokey

Postby Callmedory » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:26 pm

Thanks for the help, everyone.

So I'll get us a 0% FTF card, probably BofA for the no annual fee, though it may not get used too much.

And, to avoid overseas ATM fees, I'll get a USAA ATM card linked to a new, limited amount USAA checking account. Either no fees or fees reimbursed, and a limited balance to make sure our primary account remains separate, in case the card is lost/stolen. Yeah, I've been told I'm paranoid. Got that from Dad.



I'm still wondering if paying off our mortgage in 2 years, our only loan, will affect our credit score. It's not going to stop me from paying it off, just wondering. We've saved a ton on interest by paying it down early.

MemberSince99
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Postby MemberSince99 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:59 pm

I don't know what practical difference it would make if it did. You've got over 800 now, and anything over 760 gets you the best mortgage rate, but you won't be looking for one, and even if it dropped all the way to 770, which it probably won't, it won't affect the rate get on an auto loan and there are a small handful of credit card companies that would care as well. I don't see any practical difference if it does.


you may as well not waste time and energy worrying about the what ifs. People really just try to analyze the living hell out of every little thing in life when it really doesn't require that - it's not like that monster Calculus problem the geek professor cooked up for the final to show what a brilliant dude he is. Just do it.

takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:11 am

Callmedory wrote:But Husband is against annual fees generally, so we might go for the “non-Preferred.”

I'd recommend considering your projected spend and rewards (i.e. total benefits versus cost) instead of just being AF averse. In some cases rewards can more than just mitigate AF's but you have to consider your specific spend.

Also consider the the CSP can be PC'd to the regular Sapphire to avoid the AF after the first year. CSP has a 40K bonus with spend while the Sapphire only has a 10K bonus with spend. 40K would easily cover 4 years of AF on the CSP.

All that said, you have to do what works for you. Many insist on avoiding AF's at all costs and that's their call to make. Just trying to point out the options for you though it sounds like I'm late anyway. If you can't take advantage of Ultimate Rewards's transfer partners then the UR points may not really be worth all that much to you.

Callmedory wrote:I'm still wondering if paying off our mortgage in 2 years, our only loan, will affect our credit score

It will but it's difficult to say by how much. As stated above, with 800+ scores you have plenty of padding. It's really your call but I'd guess that saving the interest is probably worth more than the lost points. Closed accounts in good standing continue to report for 10 years so you have some margin in terms of time as well.

Callmedory
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Postby Callmedory » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:15 am

Thanks! I’ll get the info and show it to Husband with pros/cons. I understand what you mean about balancing rewards and fees.

Since I don’t have too much preference either way, he can pick. (We have an agreement, if one of us voluntarily abstains from the decision-making process, that person cannot complain about the decision.)



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