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Credit cards for good rewards/benefits, improving credit from good to excellent

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Credit cards for good rewards/benefits, improving credit from good to excellent

I'm new to this forum and a just as new to understanding credit cards. I am 23, and I have only been financially independent for ~2 years since about the end of college. I know very little about personal finance, but I've been fortunate to have a good job and no debt, so I have been paying off my credit card bills every month. My limits are low, but I use cards for the "float" of easy credit, and for the rewards points.

 

I have two goals:

1) It's just annoying to manage many cards in different loyalty program, especially when I don't have need for many of the kinds of points.

2) Not for the next couple of years, but I eventually want to get a house -- I'll be able to do 10-20% down payment on the mortgage, but my goal is pristine credit by then.

 

Cards I've had but cancelled:

  • Starwood American Express - earned ~200k points in a year, due to a lot of work travel - didn't want to pay $60 membership fee to keep
  • Corporate American Express - old job - this was a mistake ($75 a year fee) but more convenient for expense reports
  • Capital One Platinum MC - I dont remember caring very much for the rewards - this was my first card, co-signed by my mother, of course; I just outgrew it

Cards I have now:

  • Citi Forward (free) - I often go to restaurants
  • Capital One Venture (the one w $59 fee) - this is currently the "everything else"
  • American Express Blue Cash (free) - for grocery stores

Which leaves me with

  • 30k AmEx Membership Rewards points
  • ?? Citi ThankYou Points
  • ?? Capital One "Miles"
  • A ridiculous number of Starwood points and countless miles on other airlines

I'm getting a headache and I have (of course) not used any of these rewards. And I'm worried that I've been "card-jumping" and applying too often in a way that will hurt my credit score.

 

One more wrench: for the next 9 months I'll be living in a country with essentially a fully cash economy (very, very low utilization).

 

Any help would be really appreciated. I'm way over my head, here Smiley Happy

Message 1 of 4
3 REPLIES
Valued Contributor

Re: Credit cards for usable rewards


metonymist wrote:

I'm new to this forum and a just as new to understanding credit cards. I am 23, and I have only been financially independent for ~2 years since about the end of college. I know very little about personal finance, but I've been fortunate to have a good job and no debt, so I have been paying off my credit card bills every month. My limits are low, but I use cards for the "float" of easy credit, and for the rewards points.

 

My issue now is that it's just annoying to manage many cards in different loyalty program, especially when I don't have need for many of the kinds of points. So my question is: How do you manage a "portfolio" of rewards programs? Which cards and programs are better or worse in terms of redemption and ease of use? 

 

Cards I've had but cancelled:

  • Starwood American Express - earned ~200k points in a year, due to a lot of work travel - didn't want to pay $60 membership fee to keep
  • Corporate American Express - old job - this was a mistake ($75 a year fee) but more convenient for expense reports
  • Capital One Platinum MC - I dont remember caring very much for the rewards - this was my first card, co-signed by my mother, of course

Cards I have now:

  • Citi Forward (free) - I often go to restaurants
  • Capital One Venture (the one w $59 fee) - this is currently the "everything else"
  • American Express Blue Cash (free) - for grocery stores

Which leaves me with

  • 30k AmEx Membership Rewards points
  • ?? Citi ThankYou Points
  • ?? Capital One "Miles"
  • A ridiculous number of Starwood points and countless miles on other airlines

I'm getting a headache and I have (of course) not used any of these rewards. Suggestions would be very welcome.


It sounds like you need a simple cash back card. I would recommend you get the US bank cash+ card. Never hard to figure out what to do with cash.

 

As for all your past rewards...I would take your loved ones on a vacation this summer. Use the points from all the different programs for different aspects of the vacation.

Too many INQs & low AAoA so I'm off to tend the Garden.     Age:23    


     $17k       $8.5K          Closed          $19k      $6.5k        $24.2k        Closed         $5k       Closed     $8.5k        Closed      @2.49%
Message 2 of 4
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Valued Contributor

Re: Credit cards for usable rewards

Honestly, if you don't want to manage additional rewards programs, I don't necessarily understand your question. You have 3 credit cards, which is rumored to be the minimum amount to maximize the revolving debt portion, and you have 3 great prime cards (I have the Forward and Blue Cash myself). If you are moving somewhere that doesn't take credit cards frequently, it doesn't look like you need more credit, and honestly adding new cards right now won't really help your credit that much. My suggestion is to keep using what you have responsibly, pay on time, and enjoy the rewards. 

 

If you are looking for ways to spend the rewards, that's another ball game. Citi Forward points are best redeemed for student loan or mortgage payments, but since you don't have those, it's next best use is typically for $100 gift cards. If you expore thankyou.com just look for something with a 1 to 1 ratio. There may also be travel rewards for that ratio, but I would need to check to confirm that. As for BCE points, I plan to use those exclusively for statement credits, which gets a $.01 to 1 point ratio In increments of $25. The Venture card is supposed to have a very simple redemption process for flights, so I would say take some personal trips and explore the world with those. Use the Starwood points during that trip. 

 

I hope this was somewhat helpful. You're doing 20 times better than a lot of people our age, so enjoy your rewards!


In My Wallet: Amex BCP (12/12) $50,000, Chase Freedom (12/12) $16,500, Cap1 Quicksilver (6/12) $14,000, Barclaycard Rewards (5/13) $10,500, Citi Prestige (4/16) $30,000

Last App: June 27, 2015
Message 3 of 4
Valued Contributor

Re: Credit cards for good rewards/benefits, improving credit from good to excellent

There are software applications that manage credit cards in one place on your phone that help you, like me, I have an arsenal of cards.

Cash + is a good card, you can apply in branch or by calling US Bank

Last Pulled EQ: 809
Last Credit Card App: 02/05/2016
Last CLI: 02/06/2016
Find Me: Gardening
Message 4 of 4