Well, it's been another year. This thread
documented my second year with credit, and this one
covered the first year.
Since then, I've made a number of changes. Let's have a moment of silence for cards that were cancelled this year:
CapitalOne - $300 limit. Cancelled because it just wasn't growing with me or providing anything worth the effort of keeping an eye on it. I'd had it for three years, and the limit was exactly the same as it had been on Day One. Since cancelling, CapOne's been trying to get me back, but I don't think they understand that I have much better options now than 1% back across the board, with a 9-month 0% offer, then up to 22.99%. I'm not going to waste any inquiries on them.
American Express Zync - $500 hard cap. Again, cancelled because it wasn't growing with me, and the AF was coming up. They killed the "packs" feature, so it basically became a less-than-1% back card with an annual fee (MR Express points, not plain-jane MR). Plus, they won't even convert to an NPSL version. Hopefully, I'll get back with Amex at some point, but right now, they don't have anything especially compelling. The BCP looks good, but right now I live in an area where it's relatively pricey to do all the shopping at official "grocery stores" as compared to Walmart. Moving at some point this year, at which time it'll get more consideration.
All right, now that the sad part is over, let's talk about cards that have weathered the storm and what they've done for me.
The big winner this year is the Marriott Rewards Premier from Chase, with an $8900 limit. The bonus on this card (70k points) helped me pay a lot less for my honeymoon than I would have otherwise. We had a great time in San Francisco, and this card helped make that possible. I also racked up enough points with it to cover a free night, and used other promos with it to get a certificate for another free night. I gladly paid the $85 AF when it came up, and hopefully this card will remain useful over time.
The two cards which got most of my spending this past year were the Discover It (now at a $6000 limit after a recent CLI from $2300) and the Chase Freedom (sitting at a $5000 limit). Versatility with their 5% categories and in the ability to use points directly on Amazon made for a bunch of free Blu-Rays and other things.
Used for one major travel expense was the Bank of America Travel Rewards card. I got it mainly for the bonus, used it, and haven't touched it since. However, it did get a CLI from $1500 to $5000 recently. This may get use in the future, but I doubt it; the rewards aren't good enough compared to other options.
Sitting in the back are the Chase Simplicity, at $4300, and the Diamond Preferred, at $5200. Neither has a compelling rewards program. However, the Diamond Preferred had a 0% term, which I took advantage of to cover some unexpected expenses last spring. Both also got some spend to help spread out wedding and honeymoon expenses. Also in this category is the Chase Slate, with a $6000 limit.
That's it for credit that I had at this point last year; now it's time for new ones!
We bought a car last spring. Four-year term at around 4% for a used vehicle, and we should be able to pay that off soonish. Nothing special about that, really.
I've been helping my wife build her credit, and that seems to be going well. She recently applied for and got a Barclay Arrival with a $3800 limit, on which I'm an AU. She's been visiting grad schools this spring, so, while some of those are paid up-front by the schools in question, the Arrival's been covering the spend on schools that are offering reimbursements.
Finally, yesterday I applied for and was approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, with a $12,000 limit. I'm looking forward to see the benefits it provides when used in combination with my Freedom.
On my last statement, Discover listed my EQ08 score at 767. My wife, after about a year of using credit, is sitting around 740 according to her Discover statement.
This all started three years ago, when all I had was a couple of student loans in my name. Each year has gotten progressively better, and I'm now getting exactly what I wanted in terms of credit. It doesn't take long; it just takes patience.