Best alternative to AmEx for places that don't take it?

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mashinhead
 
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Best alternative to AmEx for places that don't take it?

Postby mashinhead » Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:41 pm

First off, hello. I've been reading these forums, along with many others on the web for the past week to find answers for what I'm about to outline below. so I'm a frequent reader and first time poster.

So my situation is this, I have excellent credit 760, and have largely avoided using cards for sometime now, instead opting to pay cash using my debit card. since i pay cash for everything i want to just put it on a card and pay it off every month. however this is only valuable to me depending on the points. if i get nothing, or nothing valuable, i might as well just keep on paying cash.

I currently have and use only one card. The AMEX blue cash preferred, that offers 6/3/1 cash back. Ideally if i could use this for all my purchases i would just out of sheer convenience of having one card.

i love amex for their customer service. the problem really comes in two places. one is i can't use this for everything because as we all know, amex isn't accepted everywhere. normally i wouldn't care about this but some of my regular spending is done at some of these places. and number two is, my goal was to put all my spending on the card, to maximize rewards instead of using a debit card. now if i can't do that or my rewards potential is diminished, i start to get discouraged and less interested in the whole game, and i might as well go back to just using my debit card.

this leads me to where i'm at now. which is essentially, trying to pick the fewest and best cards to cover and reward all my spending, or just forget this whole thing. (I'm an all or nothing guy). so below i'll outline my options as i see them. and then where i would love to get the most benefits, aka where i spent most.

one more thing, i plan on doing a lot of spending soon, and most of this year, so that is why i want to get this settled as soon as possible. i'm kind of holding out until i get this all set up.

Option 1. cash back
so this option is really about maximizing the cash back. i love what the blue card offers me. but i would need to supplement this with a visa or mc to really cover all my spending. the problem is that there is no visa or mc equivalent to the blue cash preferred. yes i know there are other cash back cards, but they aren't really cash back. they are either point cards, who's percentage for cash back isn't great. or they are limited or capped cash back cards, or they are minimum point system to redeem cash back cards. nothing straight up like amex offers.

so from this i considered getting a fidelity visa 1.5 cash back and and the fidelity amex at 2 percent. between these 3 cards i would cover everything and get no less than 1.5 cash back on everything. but the fidelity has a targeted redemption rate. its not 2% on everything. its 2% every 2500 dollars. i strongly considered this but what really discouraged me was that after reading the reviews, i got the distinct impression that their website was confusing to use, and their customer service is terrible. people who use this card say its the worst they've ever used. it doesn't seem like a can of worms i want to open. otherwise i would had done this.


  • city forward
    this card does seem like a good choice for me, as most of my spending is at a grocery stores and gas (which the amex covers) and iTunes, restaurants, and amazon. if this covered clothing, and actually gave cash back the way the amex does, i would be all over it. but doesn't. it too has a limit to get a reward and it's cash back percentage rate doesn't seem all that high and seems like some work to actually retrieve. unlike amex that just sends it to my (now you know why i love them)

  • bankamericard
    this is the closest thing i can see to the amex. unless someone else knows something i don't. this is the last card i started researching so i don't know tons about it, and from my research sites aren't raving about it. it doesn't do anything the amex doesn't other than cover the 1% that i would get with the amex at places that don't accept it. but i'm not totally sure how this pays out. some have said you can get up to 2.5% back by waiting to cash out until you have $300 in rewards. the other thing about this card is i have a BOA account already, and i get and extra 10% for that or 1.1%. and i have a boa card, which i'm assuming they could just upgrade, so i don't have to apply for anything new.
option 2. forget this whole thing.
two things that are paramount me to me are simplicity of ease of use, and customer service. if i have to spend hours on the phone and constantly chase and monitor things it basically becomes more hassle than it is worth. (i already have a headache trying to research a solution because i want ideally one card that takes care of everything).

so the other option is to forget this whole thing. get and amex platinum or gold premier rewards card when a great intro offer presents itself and just use that and forget about it, and use the debit card as usual for purchases that don't accept amex. i really which amex was as widely accepted everywhere, that would greatly solve my problems. and i would gladly use nothing else because their customer service is bar none. and that goes a long way.

anyway since i've been reading all your comments. i would love some direction. thanks a bunch and sorry for the long post.


Money card
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Postby Money card » Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:55 pm

It's good to use cash. I use cash a lot and sometimes it's good to use credit cards.

You asked for cash back and mentioned a Visa or Mastercard So I'm going to leave Discover off. Check the Chase Freedom and Citibank Dividend.

With Chase Freedom you get 1% back on everything, over the year they have a 5% rotating categories like movies, restaurants, gas stations, home improvement and grocery stores. Citibank Dividend has the same setup.

I don't have these 2 cards so for April-June I don't know what the categories are. But I do know for the 5% cash back you have to sign up each quarter.

Crashem
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Postby Crashem » Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:28 pm

If you can handle the credit, it's always better to use credit. One, the protections on visa/mc/amex are usually better (sometimes a lot better) than a debit card. Two, you hold on to your money for longer. Three, you build up credit which will be real useful unless you think you can buy a car and house with cash.

You really should have ideally 2-3 revolving credit lines going to help build optimal credit. Just make sure they are no annual fee cards unless you really like the benefits. Use them every once in a while. Ideally the cards you get will grow with you (CLIs etc.)
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

bmw1990Z
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Postby bmw1990Z » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:06 pm

I agree with your statements Crashem except for one thing. You do not come out ahead by using credit in terms of holding on to your money longer. It does not matter if you pay $200 for your jeans now with your debit card, or wait two weeks and pay for it off your credit card, the $200 is coming out of your account somehow.
Cards in my wallet:
-Citi Forward Card for College Students-July 2011
-American Express Platinum Delta Skymiles--July 2013

Crashem
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Postby Crashem » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:05 am

Good point BMW. Forgot we are in the world of low interest rates on checking/savings accounts
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

bmw1990Z
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Postby bmw1990Z » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:19 am

unfortunately most are.
Cards in my wallet:

-Citi Forward Card for College Students-July 2011

-American Express Platinum Delta Skymiles--July 2013

DavidNY
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Postby DavidNY » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:32 pm

The BofA card is great. The only place I would advise using cash is if there's a cash discount (and 5 cents on a $4 gallon of gas is not enough of a cash discount to deal with)

[there's a bonus for] waiting to cash out until you have $300 in rewards.

That was for the old version of the card, when it was 1% flat rewards.

JCarter
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Postby JCarter » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:46 am

Become a Pentagon Federal CU member and get the rewards visa, which offers great cash back on gas purchases.

jbman04
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Postby jbman04 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:23 pm

Get the Chase Freedom as your supplimental card for the following reasons:

1. Its a Visa and will be accepted

2: 5% rotating catagories as well as 1% on everything else will allow you to primarilly use your amex and only use the visa to take advantage of either the rotating catagory or when amex is not accepted

3: The point structure for Chase Freedom, the online banking is super easy, you can redeem 1 point for $.01 at any time in any amount greater than or equal to 20$ and the points do not expire

4: $200 welcome reward for spending $500 in first 3 months.


simple, clean, accepted.
Chase Amazon Rewards Visa (5k Limit): debit card replacement
3% amazon, 2% gas, 2% restaurants, 2% pharmacies, 1% other

Chase Freedom Visa (5k Limit): rotating 5% catagories, 1% other

Citi Diamond Preferred Mastercard (3k Limit): No interest for 18 months

Target Store Card: 5% discount! And free shipping online!



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