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Need help selecting next CC

Frequent Contributor

Need help selecting next CC

Hi all,

 

I've been spinning my wheels with this for a while and I have decided to get some help.  DH is going on a 3 month bike trip across the country this summer (yes, that's another topic) and I want to make sure he has CC that will get the best rewards/be useable for his trip.  He has a driver going with him as well and they plan on staying in hotels about half the time, but won't be able to book those far in advance.

 

We currently have:

PenFed Visa - me only, but I could (I think?) add someone as an AU if necessary for the 5% back on gas and 1% back elsewhere...

USAA MC and Amex - DH is an AU on the MC and has his own Amex - not great rewards (1% once you get to 20k+ points - which we have right now), but easy service and I think the most flexible with traveling needs

 

All of these tradelines have >$9k credit (per card) so no issues with that for sure!

 

What I'm wanting through is something to help with:

gas

hotels (day's inn type though, not expensive ones like Marriott and Starwood (those are AT LEAST 2x more than day's inn!))

restaurants (but like roadside diner small independent types, nothing like applebee's or mcdonald - not sure how the coding works)

can handle being taken through multiple states without me logging on with dates for each state before he enters

 

(Also, since we'd ideally keep using this card for use after the trip, our three biggest expenses are: Gas (Penfed covers this), Groceries (3% from Penfed, willing to look at something else here), Restaurants (1% Penfed, not sure if another thing is consistantly better - not fast food stuff or chain stuff usually) so if that sways anyone please let me know why/how.)

 

So - any tips?  Thoughts on Chase Freedom, Citi TY or Discover It? Other cards that are better?  Our usual spending isn't super high (less than $14k run through the card max each year) so I don't want to get one of those annual fee cards if I can avoid it, although I will if necessary...

 

My report pulled recently (score watch free) gave me a 740 but that's with two lates last year on my AU account with my mother - I can get her to remove me from the account and it should bounce back to the 799ish it was before she was late if that would help.... Not sure on DH's score, but should also be 740+ since he has nothing bad and everything is over 1 year old at this point on the account (most are 2-4 years old).

 

I'd like to avoid too many inq on our reports and we are also grad students (DH graduates in May) so income is a bit sketchy (ie, research assistant and TA - not really "real" normal jobs...).  We do have a house and I have SL but all are paid and no issues on that.

 

Soooo ...... thoughts? Smiley Happy

 

Thank you! Cat Happy

Current Scores: EQ: 740 (2/7/13)


Starting Score: 799
Current Score: 762
Goal Score: 800

Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Message 1 of 6
5 REPLIES
Established Contributor

Re: Need help selecting next CC

If your looking for domestic trips Citi Forward + Citi Premier is a good combo to have 5x categories + 33% bonus = 6.65 cents per dollar towards travel.

 

 


total credit limits $108,400 Credit scores Ex 728 EQ 738 TU 758
Message 2 of 6
Regular Contributor

Re: Need help selecting next CC


Peach8321 wrote:

Hi all,

 

I've been spinning my wheels with this for a while and I have decided to get some help.  DH is going on a 3 month bike trip across the country this summer (yes, that's another topic) and I want to make sure he has CC that will get the best rewards/be useable for his trip.  He has a driver going with him as well and they plan on staying in hotels about half the time, but won't be able to book those far in advance.

 

We currently have:

PenFed Visa - me only, but I could (I think?) add someone as an AU if necessary for the 5% back on gas and 1% back elsewhere...

USAA MC and Amex - DH is an AU on the MC and has his own Amex - not great rewards (1% once you get to 20k+ points - which we have right now), but easy service and I think the most flexible with traveling needs

 

All of these tradelines have >$9k credit (per card) so no issues with that for sure!

 

What I'm wanting through is something to help with:

gas

hotels (day's inn type though, not expensive ones like Marriott and Starwood (those are AT LEAST 2x more than day's inn!))

restaurants (but like roadside diner small independent types, nothing like applebee's or mcdonald - not sure how the coding works)

can handle being taken through multiple states without me logging on with dates for each state before he enters

 

(Also, since we'd ideally keep using this card for use after the trip, our three biggest expenses are: Gas (Penfed covers this), Groceries (3% from Penfed, willing to look at something else here), Restaurants (1% Penfed, not sure if another thing is consistantly better - not fast food stuff or chain stuff usually) so if that sways anyone please let me know why/how.)

 

So - any tips?  Thoughts on Chase Freedom, Citi TY or Discover It? Other cards that are better?  Our usual spending isn't super high (less than $14k run through the card max each year) so I don't want to get one of those annual fee cards if I can avoid it, although I will if necessary...

 

My report pulled recently (score watch free) gave me a 740 but that's with two lates last year on my AU account with my mother - I can get her to remove me from the account and it should bounce back to the 799ish it was before she was late if that would help.... Not sure on DH's score, but should also be 740+ since he has nothing bad and everything is over 1 year old at this point on the account (most are 2-4 years old).

 

I'd like to avoid too many inq on our reports and we are also grad students (DH graduates in May) so income is a bit sketchy (ie, research assistant and TA - not really "real" normal jobs...).  We do have a house and I have SL but all are paid and no issues on that.

 

Soooo ...... thoughts? Smiley Happy

 

Thank you! Cat Happy


If you want 1 card with rewards for his trip, I suggest the CostCo Amex - it gets 3% on gas, 2% on restaurants (even fast food) and travel (airfare, hotels, rental cars) and 1% on everything else. And it works easily through all the states.

 

FICO: EQ 769, TU 762 , EX ???

Message 3 of 6
Valued Contributor

Re: Need help selecting next CC

Do people still find issues in using cards out of state?  I haven' t had that with any (near-national) issued visa or MC?  International yes, but in the US?

 

Re OP, I think your Penfed Plat Rewards is a good start, with 5% gas, 3% groceries, 1% elsewhere.    A higher grocery rate is with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, that gives 6% on the first $6K, 1% after, but has a $75 fee (and is of course capped, unlike penfed).  US Bank FlexPerks gives double points (each worth 2c on travel) in each month that groceries is your highest spend.

 

Other cards often mentioned are the Cash +.  This allows you to choose 2 categories that will give you 5% off, restaurants and fast food are two of these.  Citi Forward gives 5% off all types of restraurants, but is currently now available to only students. 

 

 

Most of these seem better than the Amex Cosco to me!

Message 4 of 6
Frequent Contributor

Re: Need help selecting next CC

bs6054 - With my cards, I have to register the travel before I leave or they will put a hold on the card, even within the individual states (ie, GA or NV were my recent trips).  I'm hopeful I can just call whomever we go with before and give them the route and be ok... not sure though, as right now, they requre dates for each location when I do it online.  Anyone have tips or thoughts on this?

 

I'd prefer to stay away from US Bank as DH had a CC with them and we canceled it and they hold our mortgage and I like to spread out my banking... but good to know on their FlexPerks card!

 

I had looked into the Cash+ but I was under the impression that it is another rotating category card - is this the case or can we select restaurants every time? What about Citi Forward for students (are grad students considered ok?) - is that 5% constant or rotating?

 

The Costco Amex you can only get with a Costco membership, correct? I'm not interested in that... we just canceled our Sam's Club membership as we never really used it much.

 

Thanks y'all, keep thoughts coming!

Current Scores: EQ: 740 (2/7/13)


Starting Score: 799
Current Score: 762
Goal Score: 800

Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Message 5 of 6
Valued Contributor

Re: Need help selecting next CC


Peach8321 wrote:

bs6054 - With my cards, I have to register the travel before I leave or they will put a hold on the card, even within the individual states (ie, GA or NV were my recent trips).  I'm hopeful I can just call whomever we go with before and give them the route and be ok... not sure though, as right now, they requre dates for each location when I do it online.  Anyone have tips or thoughts on this?

 

I'd prefer to stay away from US Bank as DH had a CC with them and we canceled it and they hold our mortgage and I like to spread out my banking... but good to know on their FlexPerks card!

 

I had looked into the Cash+ but I was under the impression that it is another rotating category card - is this the case or can we select restaurants every time? What about Citi Forward for students (are grad students considered ok?) - is that 5% constant or rotating?

 

The Costco Amex you can only get with a Costco membership, correct? I'm not interested in that... we just canceled our Sam's Club membership as we never really used it much.

 

Thanks y'all, keep thoughts coming!


Grad students are a-okay for the Citi Forward Smiley Happy


Quicksilver WMC $20k | JCPenney Platinum $10k | Drive for Five $800 | Freedom VS $5k | TD Cash VS $5k | CFU VS $14.8k | Blue Sky $13.7k | IT $28k | SavingStar $14.8k | BCE $11.3k | Macy's AMEX $7.2k | BuyPower WEMC $7.5k | CSR VI $13.3k | Diamond Preferred $6.5k FICOS: EX 775 EQ 764 TU 759 VantageScore 3.0: EX 759 EQ 757 TU 762
Message 6 of 6