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What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

Deus-Ex_Veritas
Established Member

What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

Hello everyone,

 

It's been a year since I last applied for credit cards (last date for my recent CC was 04/20), and I've gathered 3 additional credit cards since that time, all of which include the Discover IT CashBack card, the Paypal Cashback MC, and my BOA Americard (recently graduated into an unsecured card) that I used to help rebuild my credit. I've since stopped applying, since I wasn't fully comfortable with continuing on an app spree. The only inquiry I have on my Experian file is the one from my BOA Americard from 02/20, but I'm fairly certain it has little impact at this point in time. So far, I hold a 17% overall utilization that will decrease to ~5% in the next few days. Thankfully, I currently hold FICO scores leveling at ~700 for EX, EQ, and TU, so I feel that I'm in a fairly good area to which some lenders would be happy with. 

 

The current problem I have is figuring out which credit card, or cards, should I apply for in the coming months. I've been doing some research on CC benefits (VISA vs MC), rewards associated with various cards (cashback, travel, points for hotels/airlines or transferrable points, etc.), premium travel credit cards, CCs with no AF vs those with high AFs, and other factors for the past few months. Among the cards I've explored, the ones that catched my attention were:

 

  • Chase Freedom Flex (5% cashback on rotating categories, 5% on travel / 3% on dining / 3% on drugstores / 1% on others, No AF, $200 SUB, 0% intro APR for 15 months)
  • US Bank Cash+ (5% cashback on rotating categories, 2% cashback on 1 everyday category, like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, 1% on others, No AF, $150 SUB,  0% intro APR for 12 months)
  • BOA Cash Rewards (3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back on grocery stores & wholesale clubs, 1% on others, No AF, $200 SUB, 0% intro APR for 15 months)

What I do like about these cards are that they have no annual fees and have SUB ranging from $150 - $200. While I've had a BOA relationship for many years, I've never owned an account with Chase or US Bank. The Chase Freedom Flex card seemed quite interesting to me, since the points can be quite useful for travel purposes, and also for Chase's point system, if I decide to go for their famous Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve cards. I can see the long-term value behind this, however, since I'm not an avid traveler yet nor a hotels enthusiast, I'm not sure how value the Freedom Flex could be. As for the BOA Cash Rewards, I did attempt at trying to see about getting my Americard PC'd into a Cash Rewards, but I was met with an associate telling me that "no opportunities exist at this time" (not sure what this meant, but my guess is that I likely am stuck with the Americard). For the credit cards, categories that I foresee future spending on would be Restaurants/Dining, Paypal, Gas/Wholesale Clubs/Groceries, Amazon/Online Shopping, Utilities, Electronic Stores, and Gym Memberships.

 

Other cards that I was mildly interested in as well include Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card (I'm a HUGE Amazon spender and order a lot of products via Amazon), Capital One SavorOne (the 3% cashback on dining & entertainment, groceries, and streaming services is pretty enticing), Chase Freedom Unlimited, American Express Blue Cash Everyday (or Preferred), and "maybe" the American Express Gold.


I'm really all for seeking the versatility, long-term value, and benefits (like Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty) behind credit cards. Yet, with the COVID-19 pandemic still at large, I think that my areas of spending have been geared more towards cashback. However, I fear that I may be missing out on the amount of points I can gain from certain credit cards, so I feel as though I'm at an impasse as to deciding on what credit cards to apply for. What would you guys recommend? Are there perhaps other cards that carry better long-term value? I truly everyone taking the time to read this, and I would appreciate and welcome any feedback!

Message 1 of 19
18 REPLIES 18
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?


@Deus-Ex_Veritas wrote:

It's been a year since I last applied for credit cards (last date for my recent CC was 04/20), and I've gathered 3 additional credit cards since that time, all of which include the Discover IT CashBack card, the Paypal Cashback MC, and my BOA Americard (recently graduated into an unsecured card) that I used to help rebuild my credit. I've since stopped applying, since I wasn't fully comfortable with continuing on an app spree. The only inquiry I have on my Experian file is the one from my BOA Americard from 02/20, but I'm fairly certain it has little impact at this point in time. So far, I hold a 17% overall utilization that will decrease to ~5% in the next few days. Thankfully, I currently hold FICO scores leveling at ~700 for EX, EQ, and TU, so I feel that I'm in a fairly good area to which some lenders would be happy with. 

 

The current problem I have is figuring out which credit card, or cards, should I apply for in the coming months. I've been doing some research on CC benefits (VISA vs MC), rewards associated with various cards (cashback, travel, points for hotels/airlines or transferrable points, etc.), premium travel credit cards, CCs with no AF vs those with high AFs, and other factors for the past few months. Among the cards I've explored, the ones that catched my attention were:

 

  • Chase Freedom Flex (5% cashback on rotating categories, 5% on travel / 3% on dining / 3% on drugstores / 1% on others, No AF, $200 SUB, 0% intro APR for 15 months)
  • US Bank Cash+ (5% cashback on rotating categories, 2% cashback on 1 everyday category, like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, 1% on others, No AF, $150 SUB,  0% intro APR for 12 months)
  • BOA Cash Rewards (3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back on grocery stores & wholesale clubs, 1% on others, No AF, $200 SUB, 0% intro APR for 15 months)

What I do like about these cards are that they have no annual fees and have SUB ranging from $150 - $200. While I've had a BOA relationship for many years, I've never owned an account with Chase or US Bank. The Chase Freedom Flex card seemed quite interesting to me, since the points can be quite useful for travel purposes, and also for Chase's point system, if I decide to go for their famous Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve cards. I can see the long-term value behind this, however, since I'm not an avid traveler yet nor a hotels enthusiast, I'm not sure how value the Freedom Flex could be. As for the BOA Cash Rewards, I did attempt at trying to see about getting my Americard PC'd into a Cash Rewards, but I was met with an associate telling me that "no opportunities exist at this time" (not sure what this meant, but my guess is that I likely am stuck with the Americard). For the credit cards, categories that I foresee future spending on would be Restaurants/Dining, Paypal, Gas/Wholesale Clubs/Groceries, Amazon/Online Shopping, Utilities, Electronic Stores, and Gym Memberships.

 

Other cards that I was mildly interested in as well include Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card (I'm a HUGE Amazon spender and order a lot of products via Amazon), Capital One SavorOne (the 3% cashback on dining & entertainment, groceries, and streaming services is pretty enticing), Chase Freedom Unlimited, American Express Blue Cash Everyday (or Preferred), and "maybe" the American Express Gold.


I'm really all for seeking the versatility, long-term value, and benefits (like Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty) behind credit cards. Yet, with the COVID-19 pandemic still at large, I think that my areas of spending have been geared more towards cashback. However, I fear that I may be missing out on the amount of points I can gain from certain credit cards, so I feel as though I'm at an impasse as to deciding on what credit cards to apply for. What would you guys recommend? Are there perhaps other cards that carry better long-term value? I truly everyone taking the time to read this, and I would appreciate and welcome any feedback!


 

I think no one has replied in the first 15-or-so hours @Deus-Ex_Veritas, is that you present a very complicated situation and your card choices are all over the map. Smiley Surprised  You mention at least ten cards in terms of possible aspirations.  You haven't narrowed down the list yourself yet or even decided if you want to go with points or cash back (or some combination.)    There's plenty of reviews and data points about these cards scattered throughout the forums so that would be a good place to research further. 

 

The cards that carry the "better long term value" are the cards that work best for you, your lifestyle, and your spending patterns.  Any of those you listed (and many you didn't) could be the best long term value for you.  In the end, we can make suggestions but that final determination of the best card is yours to make alone and none of us can tell you that it was a poor choice.  It's what was right for you. 

 

Let me simplify things for you a little bit.  While travel cards and points might be something to consider for you ONE DAY, they aren't a fit for you right now.  If you don't travel much, you're not "missing out" on the points programs.  Instead, you'd be doing yourself a disservice since points work well for travel.  So scratch anything to do with Chase Ultimate Rewards (Sapphire Preferred and Reserve) or AMEX Member Rewards (Gold card.)   While I love my Chase "Quadfecta" and am dabbling in the MR program too, those are not good cash back cards and they charge annual fees.  Good for travelers; not for you.    Likewise, for the time being, forget about using other Chase cards like the Freedom for travel redemptions later.  That may work out for you or it may not.  Don't let that cloud your focus on getting good cash back card for the near-term. 

 

The other big piece of the puzzle is not only WHAT categories you spend on normally and organically, but HOW MUCH you spend.  If you haven't done the actual math looking at your statements for the past 12 months, it's time to do it.  Don't trust your gut; add it up.  We can't provide the best advice without more specific details beyond the broad categories of "Restaurants/Dining, Paypal, Gas/Wholesale Clubs/Groceries, Amazon/Online Shopping, Utilities, Electronic Stores, and Gym Memberships." 

 

You mention SUBs and you mention 0% financing.  How important are these to you?  While I love a good SUB, I usually recommend focusing more on how useful the card will be to me over the long-term.  SUBs are icing on the cake.  When I needed 0% financing, rewards or SUBs were the last thing on my mind.   Again, I think you're clouding the issue if these things are not pivotal. 

 

You have a base 2% card (PayPal Rewards Mastercard), which is great!  So disregard any card categories earning 2% or less.  They're irrelevant.  Basically, the question comes down to what cards pay 3% to 5% on your highest spending categories.  Focus on those first.  The rest are a distraction.

 

Scratch the Chase Freedom Unlimited.  You already get 2% on the PPMC.  While the CFU's 1.5% cash back can be converted to 2.25% in UR point value for travel, I already suggested you forget about URs and MRs.  The Freedom Flex is a better choice for your wallet between those two.

 

Which wholesale club/clubs do you belong to?  The two largest (Costco and Sam's) both have a credit card, neither of which you mentioned.   Both have a 2/3% back in warehouse, 4/5% payout on gas, and 3% on dining and travel with no AF other than the warehouse membership.    My Citi-Costco card got heavy use before I added some other cards in recent years.

 

Besides a warehouse card, I'm leaning towards an Amazon card based on your reported high level of spend, the Chase Freedom Flex, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards, or the US Bank Cash Plus/Elan Max Cash Preferred.  Exactly which one and how you select the rewards with BofA or USB/Elan cards depend on your spending analysis above. 

 

The Bank of America cards can become particularly beneficial if you can add deposits to qualify for their Preferred Rewards program.  (Gold tier starts at $20K total deposits including Merrill Lynch investments, Platinum starts at $50K and Platinum Honors starts at $100K.)  With the respective 25%, 50%, or 75% multipliers for those tiers, the Cash Rewards card's 2% on groceries and warehouse becomes 2.5%, 3% or 3.5%.  And the 3% on selected categories becomes 3.75%, 4.50%, or 5.25%.   Some have qualified by moving other investments including IRA accounts. 

 

I'm not a big fan of the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday/Preferred cards.  Be careful with them, especially if you elect an AF with BCP.  For larger households, the $6K cap can be an issue and you might need a backup card.  (That works out to $115 a week, which is woefully inadequate for some household grocery budgets.)  If your spending on groceries is less than about $3200 a year, you're better off with no-AF BCE than BCP.  And you never net the full 6% on groceries with BCP because below $6K spend, you are fighting to overcome the burden of the AF and above $6K, your return is burdened with the lower 1%.  The sweet spot is if you spend exactly $6K on groceries where you earn 4.4%, before adding in the additional benefit of 6% on streaming.  Even with heavy streaming, you'd be likely be under 5% in a best-case scenario.  The Navy Federal More Rewards AMEX card is a better overall pick than BCE/BCP in my opinion.  You get an uncapped and uncomplicated 3% on groceries, gas, transit, and restaurants.  However, you would need to qualify for Navy FCU membership by either your own military service or that of a family member including parents, grandparents, siblings or children.

 

Hope this helps get you pointed in the right direction and good luck with your decision.  Smiley Happy



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 2 of 19
Slabenstein
Valued Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

Agree 100% w/ @Aim_High that we need more and more specific information about your spend and credit goals to give you good advice, and that the best card is ultimately the one that is best for you. 

 

I do want to give my own view on the BCP, even though it's somewhat tangental to the topic atm, since I look at it a little differently.  When I was looking at different grocery cashback cards, I compared the BCP to the Navy More and other 3% uncapped grocery cards, and, b/c our grocery spend is more than $6k annually, one thing I wanted to know was how much grocery spend I would actually have to have in a year for (spend) x 0.03 to come out ahead of $6k x 0.06 + (spend - $6k) x 0.1 - $95.  The answer was $10,251, way higher than what we would hit, so, even though any grocery spend on the BCP above $6k would be effectively reducing its return rate in that category, it would still be a better earner for us than an uncapped 3% card.   This was especially true taking into account that we would switch any grocery spend after the $6k to one of our 1.5% off-cat cards, making the amount of annual grocery spend needed for an uncapped 3% to beat the BCP $11,667.  For someone like the OP w/ a 2% card, it would be even higher.  For people with under $3,200 annual grocery none of this ofc matters, and the BCE is still easily beaten by other cards, but for people whose grocery spend falls between $6k and $10,251+ (depending on what other cards they have), the BCP can still come out ahead.

 

What kind of grocery spend you have, @Deus-Ex_Veritas, or how seriously you're interested in grocery cards, I don't know, so I apologize if this is a small hi-jack, but I did want to share my perspective on the BCP, since you mentioned it.


Message 3 of 19
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?


@Slabenstein wrote:

Agree 100% w/ @Aim_High that we need more and more specific information about your spend and credit goals to give you good advice, and that the best card is ultimately the one that is best for you. 

 

I do want to give my own view on the BCP, even though it's somewhat tangental to the topic atm, since I look at it a little differently.  When I was looking at different grocery cashback cards, I compared the BCP to the Navy More and other 3% uncapped grocery cards, and, b/c our grocery spend is more than $6k annually, one thing I wanted to know was how much grocery spend I would actually have to have in a year for (spend) x 0.03 to come out ahead of $6k x 0.06 + (spend - $6k) x 0.1 - $95.  The answer was $10,251, way higher than what we would hit, so, even though any grocery spend on the BCP above $6k would be effectively reducing its return rate in that category, it would still be a better earner for us than an uncapped 3% card.   This was especially true taking into account that we would switch any grocery spend after the $6k to one of our 1.5% off-cat cards, making the amount of annual grocery spend needed for an uncapped 3% to beat the BCP $11,667.  For someone like the OP w/ a 2% card, it would be even higher.  For people with under $3,200 annual grocery none of this ofc matters, and the BCE is still easily beaten by other cards, but for people whose grocery spend falls between $6k and $10,251+ (depending on what other cards they have), the BCP can still come out ahead.

 

What kind of grocery spend you have, @Deus-Ex_Veritas, or how seriously you're interested in grocery cards, I don't know, so I apologize if this is a small hi-jack, but I did want to share my perspective on the BCP, since you mentioned it.


Interesting analysis, @Slabenstein.  I checked your calculations and agree that, based on that perspective, the "break even point" with a flat 3% card without any streaming services would be $10,251.    I would hope however someone did it, they would switch to another card after $6K spending since as you put it, there are plenty of 1.5% and 2% cards out there (if nothing else) which earn better rewards!  Or another option on groceries is to supplement with one or more cards with rotating 5% categories.  Whether I hit them or not, spending caps are a little annoying since they become some other detail I need to keep in my scan if I want to optimize rewards.  That's why I think a flat 3% card like the NFCU More Rewards might be a simpler option, but each has their advantages!



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 4 of 19
GrandBay
Frequent Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

@Aim_High @Slabenstein both gave great information and analysis. thanks for sharing the breakdown and your thoughts.

Message 5 of 19
Deus-Ex_Veritas
Established Member

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

@Aim_High I sincerely appreciate the huge feedback and breakdown you shared with me, as your advice has certainly put me forth in the right direction! I do agree with you, in hindsight now, that what I shared was rather broad and indeed complex. I initially listed the huge number of potential credit cards, since I have a rather thin file and number of cards, but now that you mention it, it would help to narrow down the focus and purpose of the cards themselves. At this time in my life, I do agree with you that travel cards, miles, and points, as good as they sound, probably aren't what I really need at the moment. What you explained for the purpose and circumstances of travel rewards and redemptions clarifies who those are best for. Instead, I think that cash back is more sensible and practical for my situation. 

 

I did spend a bit of time determining the areas where my spending is highest in, and I found that groceries falls around $3600, restaurants/dining is $2400, Amazon/Online Shopping is $6000 (PayPal is included in that), but the other areas I'm still determining. As far as SUBs and 0% financing goes, I'll admittedly say that I thought both of these were important at first. However, since I've been keen on paying my student loans off, building my emergency funds, and establishing long-term financial accounts (HYSA, Roth IRA, HSA, etc.), I decided to have the SUBs have taken a backburner in my current situation. 

 

The cards that do provide 3% to 5% on the highest spending categories are definitely what I would be looking out for at this time, preferably if they were no AF. The Chase cards (Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex) are ones that definitely appealed to me at the time of their discovery, but with the benefits that both cards provide, I do agree that the Freedom Unlimited is best left out, since there are better cards out there that aren't subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (I'm currently at 4/24). The Freedom Flex seems like a rather nice complementary card that could work well with the other cards I already have too.  


As for wholesale clubs, my main one is Costco, and they've always done me good with their services. I'm surprised I didn't mention it at first, but then again I haven't really looked into co-branded cards as of late. I haven't applied for Citi's cards before, but would you say that your Citi-Costco card still gets moderate usage currently? I was initially thinking that this card was viewed as more of a niche card, but it is certainly a card that would receive a warm welcome into my wallet.

 

The four cards you mentioned, the Chase Freedom Flex, BoA Customized Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash Plus/Elan Max Cash Preferred, and Amazon card are certainly the ones I have high priority for. However, even with the EX 711 FICO score that I have, I fear as though my dirty file (only 1 closed derogatory account with numerous lates) might deter either BoA or Chase from providing me a new credit card. I've had a denied app for the BoA Cash Rewards card last year (with a FICO score of ~670), and I honestly think I'd receive the same result if I were to apply again. Their Preferred Rewards program is what I have been looking into recently, the only gripe I have is deciding whether I want to have my deposits with BoA/Merrill Lynch/Merrill Edge. BoA's cards seem quite compettitive when the relationship/Preferred Rewards is factored in, but I'm just not sure if it's the right move to make. Any thoughts as to whether it it best to consider going for BoA?

As for Chase and US Bank, I don't have any relationships with either, but would it be a good idea to open a checkings/savings account with both of them first, or would it just not matter? I feel as though banking relationships are merely a small factor into credit card applications, but I could be wrong.

 

For AMEX, I'm surprised to hear your objection with AMEX's BCE/BCP, but I can see why, with the amount the BCP would need on groceries just to break-even. Actually, it's funny that you mention NFCU, because I just received a mail pre-selected offer for their cashRewards credit card this past Monday. I was initially delighted at this, having read many positive testimonies and details on people's relationships with Navy Federal Credit Union, almost as though they're the holy grail of credit unions (which I don't have a CU relationship yet). However, when you mentioned their requirement of having me or my family members being in the military, my happiness dropped instantly, because I haven't been involved in the military whatsoever, nor have my parents nor my siblings, which sucks because I honestly would've gone with the NFCU membership as soon as possible.

Message 6 of 19
Slabenstein
Valued Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

Do you have a grandparent that served in the US military?  Grandparents count as immediate family for Navy's field of membership, and that relationship is how many people on here have been able to get in.


Message 7 of 19
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?


@Slabenstein wrote:

Do you have a grandparent that served in the US military?  Grandparents count as immediate family for Navy's field of membership, and that relationship is how many people on here have been able to get in.


+1 ^ ^  Exactly.  While I'm a veteran, many on My Fico have qualified by a family member and the definition is pretty broad.  From Navy FCU's membership page:

 

"Our field of membership goes beyond current and retired members of the armed forces to include their families and household members, Department of Defense personnel and more."

 

Active Duty, Retired & Veterans

Servicemembers in all branches of the armed forces are eligible for membership. This category includes:

  • Active Duty members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Space Force
  • Delayed Entry Program (DEP)
  • DoD Officer Candidate/ROTC
  • DoD Reservists
  • Veterans, retirees and annuitants

Family Members

We know military families also serve in their own way. Immediate family members include:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Spouses
  • Siblings
  • Children (including adopted and stepchildren)
  • Grandchildren
  • Household members

Department of Defense Civilians

Our field of membership also covers DoD civilian personnel, who support our armed forces. This category includes:

  • DoD civilian employees
  • U.S. Government employees assigned to DoD installations
  • DoD contractors assigned to U.S. Government installations
  • DoD civilian retirees and annuitants

Minor Membership

If you're an existing member and a parent, grandparent or guardian of a minor, sign in and share the gift of membership using our online minor membership application. Minor membership is open to:

  • Children (including adopted and stepchildren)
  • Grandchildren

See this Link:

https://www.navyfederal.org/membership/eligibility



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 8 of 19
kilroy8
Super Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

We still don't know where their spend is, without that, hard to help.

 

I can only offer the following:

 

BCE was nerfed, all benefits removed over a year ago. It is no longer worth having, lots better out there, including BCP, which still has the benefits, but has AF. My most used card is BCP.

 

Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex are better stand alone cash back cards than Discover, and have much better benefits. Again, Discover benefits all got nerfed. One area where Chase falls short is SL and CLIs are almost always lacking unless you like HPs for them.

 

US Bank tough nut to crack, but Cash+ is a good cashback card. Odds of low SL or even denial are high, though.

 

Navy has above average cards, and are the king of SL/total CL. Great benefits on their cards, too.

 

Just my 2 cents.

Message 9 of 19
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: What CC(s) to apply for? Chase Freedom Flex, BOA Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash+, or..?

@Deus-Ex_Veritas wrote:

@Aim_High I sincerely appreciate the huge feedback and breakdown you shared with me, as your advice has certainly put me forth in the right direction! I do agree with you, in hindsight now, that what I shared was rather broad and indeed complex. I initially listed the huge number of potential credit cards, since I have a rather thin file and number of cards, but now that you mention it, it would help to narrow down the focus and purpose of the cards themselves. At this time in my life, I do agree with you that travel cards, miles, and points, as good as they sound, probably aren't what I really need at the moment. What you explained for the purpose and circumstances of travel rewards and redemptions clarifies who those are best for. Instead, I think that cash back is more sensible and practical for my situation. 

 

Good to hear back from you, @Deus-Ex_Veritas, and I'm glad my feedback was helpful! Smiley Happy  Yes, I definitely think you sound like more of a cash rewards person, at least for now.  

 

I did spend a bit of time determining the areas where my spending is highest in, and I found that groceries falls around $3600, restaurants/dining is $2400, Amazon/Online Shopping is $6000 (PayPal is included in that), but the other areas I'm still determining. As far as SUBs and 0% financing goes, I'll admittedly say that I thought both of these were important at first. However, since I've been keen on paying my student loans off, building my emergency funds, and establishing long-term financial accounts (HYSA, Roth IRA, HSA, etc.), I decided to have the SUBs have taken a backburner in my current situation. 

 

That spending breakdown is helpful.  What about gas or utilities or gym memberships

 

The cards that do provide 3% to 5% on the highest spending categories are definitely what I would be looking out for at this time, preferably if they were no AF. The Chase cards (Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex) are ones that definitely appealed to me at the time of their discovery, but with the benefits that both cards provide, I do agree that the Freedom Unlimited is best left out, since there are better cards out there that aren't subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (I'm currently at 4/24). The Freedom Flex seems like a rather nice complementary card that could work well with the other cards I already have too.  

As for wholesale clubs, my main one is Costco, and they've always done me good with their services. I'm surprised I didn't mention it at first, but then again I haven't really looked into co-branded cards as of late. I haven't applied for Citi's cards before, but would you say that your Citi-Costco card still gets moderate usage currently? I was initially thinking that this card was viewed as more of a niche card, but it is certainly a card that would receive a warm welcome into my wallet.

 

How much annual spend do you have at Costco?  I've moved much of my Citi Costco spending onto other cards but I still value it.  It's still my main gas card (4%) and we buy a good bit of gas.  Previously, it got all my Costco spend and most of my dining-travel spend.  I changed my card lineup quite a bit in the past three years and it's slowly been replaced by higher-earning cards in those categories.  However, I think it's a great card and very useful to the right wallet.  (If you pursue the BofA Cash Rewards with Preferred Rewards deposits, the earnings rate at Costco blows the Costco card and even most other options away at 2.5%, 3%, or 3.5%.  Likewise, since dining out is a large expense for me, I wanted cards that beat that 3% and got it with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, AMEX Gold, and BofA Premium Rewards.)

 

The four cards you mentioned, the Chase Freedom Flex, BoA Customized Cash Rewards, US Bank Cash Plus/Elan Max Cash Preferred, and Amazon card are certainly the ones I have high priority for. However, even with the EX 711 FICO score that I have, I fear as though my dirty file (only 1 closed derogatory account with numerous lates) might deter either BoA or Chase from providing me a new credit card. I've had a denied app for the BoA Cash Rewards card last year (with a FICO score of ~670), and I honestly think I'd receive the same result if I were to apply again. Their Preferred Rewards program is what I have been looking into recently, the only gripe I have is deciding whether I want to have my deposits with BoA/Merrill Lynch/Merrill Edge. BoA's cards seem quite compettitive when the relationship/Preferred Rewards is factored in, but I'm just not sure if it's the right move to make. Any thoughts as to whether it it best to consider going for BoA?

 

I think you may have a good shot at the BofA Cash Rewards card and think it's a good one to target, especially if you opt for moving assets to Merrill Lynch.  You could set your selected category at internet purchases and get 3% to 5.25% back on your up to $6K annually and still get the 2% to 3.5% back on your $3600 at grocery/warehouse clubs since the total between those two are capped at $10K.  It would be a very good choice for your spending.  BofA may have declined you due to recent applications (the Bankamericard approval included) but you've been gardening for a year.  I actually think you may be better off with the BofA Cash Rewards than the Amazon card since you mention "internet purchases" in general beyond Amazon.  Plus, you won't be eligible for 2 new Chase cards for awhile due to 5/24.

 

I think I would consider applying for the Freedom Flex first, though, since you barely fall under 5/24 now.  If it's declined or maybe after another six to nine months if it's approved, go for the BofA Cash Rewards.    The Freedom Flex gives you that 3% on Dining plus 5% in one quarter in groceries.  And you might find the other 5% categories helpful.   See my link below about the history of Freedom's 5% categories. 

 

https://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/Chase-Freedom-Freedom-Flex-Categories-2013-2020/m-p/61...

 

Unless you update your spending categories with additional info, it appears to me that US Bank Cash Plus or Elan/MCP are probably worth less to you than either the Freedom Flex or BofA Cash Rewards. 


As for Chase and US Bank, I don't have any relationships with either, but would it be a good idea to open a checkings/savings account with both of them first, or would it just not matter? I feel as though banking relationships are merely a small factor into credit card applications, but I could be wrong.

 

I've been a proponent of "relationship banking" on My Fico, even though there are many of our other members who beg to differ.  However, just to be clear, parking a $100 deposit and applying for a credit card the next day or week or month isn't "relationship banking."   But I disagree that you always need six or seven figure deposits to make a difference with many of the larger banks.  Bank of America is known to like deposit accountholders and their Premium Rewards card approvals (or lack thereof) is a good example of how deposit relationships matter.  We've had members with great profiles but no banking relationship turned down for Premium Rewards.  I will say, though, that expecting some deposit relationship to overcome low FICO scores or derogatory info is misguided.  Profile still matters to a great degree.  But I've seen member with young, thin profiles get approved for Chase cards if they have a banking relationship, normally as their longtime primary bank.  So it's not just the banking relationship; it's the quality and commitment you've shown to that relationship and the overall profile. 

 

For AMEX, I'm surprised to hear your objection with AMEX's BCE/BCP, but I can see why, with the amount the BCP would need on groceries just to break-even.

 

I probably shouldn't "dis" on AMEX BCE/BCP so much on My Fico as we have a lot of our members who love them!   To me, those cards have marginal added-value (based on my overall card lineup) and they are too complicated.  I always dislike it when a lender stacks the card agreement to make it difficult for a consumer to get the value they expect to get from a card.  Annual fees and setting unreasonably-low caps based on average consumer spending* are pitfalls that some people don't bother to allow for when they apply for a card.  On BCP, AMEX tells them they'll' get 6% back on groceries and they think they are always getting that without doing the math.  It is a high earning card, but it doesn't ever net a full 6%.  It takes focus and discipline to put the correct amount of spend on those cards and then walk away if necessary.  I think AMEX is counting on you to not pay attention. 

 

Full disclosure, though, is that I also don't benefit from the added 6% on streaming and 3% on gas. 

 

While I have some cards with category caps such as my Discover or Freedom, I generally dislike any card that requires a lot of monitoring of spend to get best value.  But at least those don't add the complications of an AF like BCP. 

 

*In 2020, the average household expenditure for groceries was $160 per week for households with children under age 18.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/240595/weekly-us-household-grocery-expenditure-by-household-type...

 

Actually, it's funny that you mention NFCU, because I just received a mail pre-selected offer for their cashRewards credit card this past Monday. I was initially delighted at this, having read many positive testimonies and details on people's relationships with Navy Federal Credit Union, almost as though they're the holy grail of credit unions (which I don't have a CU relationship yet). However, when you mentioned their requirement of having me or my family members being in the military, my happiness dropped instantly, because I haven't been involved in the military whatsoever, nor have my parents nor my siblings, which sucks because I honestly would've gone with the NFCU membership as soon as possible.

 

Definitely see the postings above from @Slabenstein  and myself, as you may still qualify for Navy FCU membership!  And it's a great credit union. 


 



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
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Message 10 of 19
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