AMEX or Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Preferred?

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Michael
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AMEX or Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Postby Michael » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:13 am

My wife has mentioned that now that we are retired we should travel more, and possibly to Hawaii next year.

Currently, we have been basically working with cash back, AMEX BCP for groceries (6%) and gas (3%), Cap One Quicksilver for 1.5% everyday purchases, and Chase Freedom for categories (5% restaurants, 5% movies, and 5% gas). Since we are retired, our biggest spend is groceries ($6000 annually) and everyday spend (doctor's bills, vet bills, dentist, etc.). Our restaurant spend is moderate ($150-200 monthly). Our gas is maybe $200 monthly.

Here is the question: If we wanted to consolidate our spending on to two credit cards and do [U]NOT WANT TO APPLY FOR ANY NEW CARD[/U], should we concentrate our everyday spending on Chase Freedom, or product-trade for Chase Sapphire Preferred, in order to maximize travel benefits, for maybe one or two trips annually? Should we keep using AMEX BCP for gas and groceries? Should we stop using Quicksilver? The object here is to shift from cash rewards to accumulating some travel points.

I know that we lose bonuses for not getting a new card, and Chase Sapphire Preferred will hit us with the $95 annual fee right away for a product trade, but we do not want any new cards. I am familiar with the Ultimate Rewards Mall, but cannot decide which card, Freedom or Sapphire, will give more travel value for us if we are moderate travelers. I already know about the benefit of having both cards, but will either leave Freedom alone, or convert it to Sapphire, because I do not want any more hard hits.

Annual total spend about $35000- 40,000 annually, of which groceries are about $6000, and the rest basically everyday spend.

Sorry for the length.

Any ideas?


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CarefulBuilder14
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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:35 am

Your desire to not open a new card is definitely a major limitation.

I don't know if you can PC the BCP to an EDP, but that could be worth considering if Amex will allow it. Then you can transfer points to airlines, including Hawaiian Airlines.

I'd be more inclined to keep the Freedom as a plain cash back card than to do a PC to CSP. Without the benefit of both Freedom and CSP, and without the signup bonus, the CSP becomes a much less attractive card and you might not come out ahead.

The Quicksilver can function as a general-purpose travel card, since it has no FTFs. So don't stop using that entirely.
Very useful: SchwabPlat, CSP, IHG, Costco (was AA Plat), Freedom, SPG, Prestige (retention)
Somewhat useful: Discover, ED (was EDP), BCE, Hyatt
SD with activity alerts, might close: Arrival

Might add: Proper business card, CSR, Ritz, Delta Gold, First Tech, BofA Travel PH, Aviator Red

takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:03 am

Michael wrote:Here is the question: If we wanted to consolidate our spending on to two credit cards and do [U]NOT WANT TO APPLY FOR ANY NEW CARD[/U], should we concentrate our everyday spending on Chase Freedom, or product-trade for Chase Sapphire Preferred, in order to maximize travel benefits, for maybe one or two trips annually?

Does UR transfer to airlines that you could use for the trips you have in mind?

Michael wrote:I am familiar with the Ultimate Rewards Mall, but cannot decide which card, Freedom or Sapphire, will give more travel value for us if we are moderate travelers. I already know about the benefit of having both cards, but will either leave Freedom alone, or convert it to Sapphire, because I do not want any more hard hits.

"Moderate" doesn't really mean anything. Everyone assumes that they're average, moderate, etc. You need to run the numbers for your spend and consider how redemptions impact point value. Freedom doesn't transfer so it's limited to cash back which restricts the potential value of the UR points.

I know you want to put all your eggs in one basket but I'd suggest keeping grocery spend on your BCP. 6% (minus AF) is tough to beat even if you're transferring points. All your other spend can go towards accruing UR points.

If you are intending to focus on UR points then I would strongly suggest apping for the CSP. 40K is a lot of points to miss out on. Are hard pulls your only concern for new cards? HP's really don't have that much impact unless one has a thin/poor profile. If you want to manage number of cards you can close the Freedom.

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lg8302ch
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Postby lg8302ch » Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:15 am

I would decide on MR or UR. If you would like to go with UR then I would suggest to app for CSP and do not PC. The combo Freedom and CSP is great to be able to transfer the bonus (5% category spend) over to CSP and then to the travel program of your choice. It comes with an AF of 95$ from 2nd year but has a nice sign up bonus of 40K points. You would loose this if you PC the Freedom. If you decide to go with MR then the ED or EDP would be the cards I would get depending on how many transactions you can do. Just make sure you will keep the Cap1 or any other no FTF cards in case you go abroad on your travel plans. I do not think a PC is possible yet with Amex. I am happy with my combo Freedom / CSP. Another option is a hotel card which gives you a free night for the AF. ...so you see there is a lot of options but most require a new app..sorry

Michael
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Postby Michael » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:35 pm

I ended up taking Takeshi's advice and applying for the CSP.

I was approved for a $7500 limit.

Takeshi, I will use AMEX BCP for groceries (6%) and gas (3% when Freedom doesn't have a promotion) and department stores (3%). Sapphire I will use for travel and restaurants (2%) when Freedom is not doing restaurants. All everyday spending can go on Sapphire. This leaves no room for Cap One Quicksilver at 1.5%, and it can get sockdrawered. It is a great card, but the tag-team of Freedom-Sapphire overpowers it in the long run. Quicksilver will join Discover in the sock drawer. I will use them alternately for small charges online to keep them alive. I will transfer all of my recurring charges to Sapphire from Quicksilver to earn more UR points.

Thanks for all your help, all three of you !!

Michael
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Postby Michael » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:18 am

Is there any reason (after the bonus) not to put all of my charging, except gas, groceries, restaurants, and travel, on to the Freedom instead of the Sapphire, instead of what I indicated above?

I am thinking that since you can transfer to Sapphire at any time, and both cards earn 1% for everyday purchases, I have more options (i.e., cash back) with my points, in case we decide NOT to travel. If we travel, then I can always transfer the points to Sapphire, right?

nowipaco
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Postby nowipaco » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:07 pm

Go with the AmEx PRG. 3x points on travel, 2x points on gas and groceries, 1x points on everything else. Roadside assistance, extended warranties, and return protection are awesome to have.
Also in June they are adding an annual travel credit and 2x points on dining just like the CSP! It is going to be my go to card again!

AmEx ED: $4500 (02/15)
AmEx PRG: NPSL (02/15)
AmEx SPG: $2000 (06/15)
Capital One QS: $3250 (02/13)
Marriott: $5000 (01/16)
Ritz Carlton: $13,500 (09/15)
TCL: $34,750 (Some not shown above)

22 y/o student

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Vattené
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Postby Vattené » Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:32 pm

Michael wrote:Is there any reason (after the bonus) not to put all of my charging, except gas, groceries, restaurants, and travel, on to the Freedom instead of the Sapphire, instead of what I indicated above?

I am thinking that since you can transfer to Sapphire at any time, and both cards earn 1% for everyday purchases, I have more options (i.e., cash back) with my points, in case we decide NOT to travel. If we travel, then I can always transfer the points to Sapphire, right?


I am not a Chase customer so someone correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that the CSP and Freedom both earned UR (similar to how an Amex cardholder can have multiple MR-earning cards contributing to one MR program). The reason the CSP is so advantageous for travel is that is what's required to be able to transfer UR to partnered programs.

If I am correct then it wouldn't matter which you used for non-categorized spending as both would earn 1% UR back. You could also redeem for cash back just as easily if the rewards came from the CSP.
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CarefulBuilder14
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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:47 pm

At least some (possibly all) Freedom cards earn a 10% bonus on points earned - but that bonus will end soon and will not apply to 2016 spending.

Some (but definitely not all) Freedom cards may still earn an extra 10 URs per transaction.
Very useful: SchwabPlat, CSP, IHG, Costco (was AA Plat), Freedom, SPG, Prestige (retention)
Somewhat useful: Discover, ED (was EDP), BCE, Hyatt
SD with activity alerts, might close: Arrival

Might add: Proper business card, CSR, Ritz, Delta Gold, First Tech, BofA Travel PH, Aviator Red

Michael
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Postby Michael » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:54 pm

I had just one other thought before I close this thread out.

Based on AMEX Blue (6% groceries and 3% gas), Chase Freedom (5% categories on gas, restaurants, etc. when applicable), and Chase Sapphire Preferred (2% restaurants and travel), I could just charge my everyday stuff on Chase Freedom or CSP to build up Ultimate Rewards points at 1%, OR I could leave Cap One Quicksilver in the mix for 1.5% everyday cashback, but I feel that if I do, then I am diluting the Ultimate Rewards pot. Plus, then that is four cards, and it would drive my wife nuts !!

To build Ultimate Rewards between the two Chase cards is why I got CSP in the first place.

Any opinions?



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