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Which credit cards are the best?

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Established Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?

The people drawn to this board are ones who enjoy "playing the game". But the world is full of happy people with good credit whose credit cards do what they need, who don't pay that much attention to this. Example: my brother has great credit, very good income, and runs 100% of his credit card spend through the Barclay card you see in my signature. That gives him 2% when he redeems for travel purchases and 1% for everything else. That's pitiful from a MyFICOer standpoint but he thinks it's great, and he spends close to zero minutes a year thinking about which credit cards to get, which cards to use on what spend, etc. If he played the game and got an average return of 3%, that would probably add a couple thousand dollars to his annual budget, in return for however much time he spends choosing and adding new accounts, and any damage that would do to his credit as he adds the new accounts. It's entirely reasonable to just get a small number of cards you trust, and stick with them unless they go severely downhill.

 

I love getting cash back or rewards (I am paying for a first-class flight to Mexico City with miles) but let's admit to ourselves that part of it is entertainment, figuring out and working the system. JMO!


Young profile, but no derogs. In March of 2019, I had no open accounts, a charge-off, two collections, and scores in the low 500s. The only thing in my signature that was on my CRs then was the old closed Exxon card. I am a MyFICO monthly paying customer. One might think my perspective would be welcome here, but ...
Cards

Authorized user / Corporate / Auto loan

Card CLs total $70,600, not counting the AU card. In March 2019, card CLs totaled $0. In April 2019, card CLs reached $500. Since then, I received a lot of great advice on this board, as well as a lot of advice I didn't take, that is good for most situations, but not mine. Bronze spade on July 1.
Closed but still on reports: ExxonMobil, $950, 10/08-02/11 (Equifax only) | Citi secured, $200, 04/19-09/19 | Capital One secured, $300, 04/19-08/19 | My Jewelers Club, $5,000, 05/19-08/19 | Green Dot Primor, $300, 05/19-08/19 | Self Lender secured $500 loan, 04/19-01/20 | Unsecured personal loan from Coastal, $1,000, 06/19-08/19.
Message 51 of 79
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Valued Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@longtimelurker wrote:

@CardNut wrote:

@iced wrote:

@longtimelurker wrote:

@kerplunk wrote:

Everyone focuses on SUBs, but it would be nice if we had a list of the best cards to keep long-term.

 

For cash back, is there a better combo than Navy Federal More Rewards + Flagship Rewards?


In such a dynamic market, I don't think long-term makes much sense.   Plus, what is the metric, to maximize cash back?   In that case, going for SUBs is much better!


This may be true for people interested only in cashback, though I also think that creditors are going to start clamping down on SUB abuse and churning soon enough, closing the door on SUB-based long-term strategies.

 

For points/miles people, any sustainable strategy almost has to be long term as there just aren't enough different cards in each point ecosystem to sustain a single program through churning SUBs. While cash back is cash back regardless of source, diluting your point/mile accumulation across multiple ecosystems is a hindrance. You also have tighter control on SUBs in the points market as they're a bit further ahead on killing churning than the cashback side is.


Keeping cards for the long term and getting good use out of them is the best strategy, in my opinion. If a card is really great, I'd take it even without a SUB. In the long term, you can accumulate a lot of rewards because the card fits your spending. Plus you build a nice AAoA with this strategy.


In an ideal world, I agree.   But this ignores nerfing (including AF increase) plus other better cards that come along.  A great card (such as the uncapped BCP, Cash+ etc) didn't need a SUB since the earning was so great, but of course that went away.    If a good card (for your spend and goals) stays good, that's great.  I argue more against the mindset that there are keep-forever cards, as I think that stops people revaluating as often as they should.


My Savor used to be a No Hassle rewards card. My DC was a Platinum Select, 1% on everything. My BoA used to be an AAA rewards card, and a MLB MBNA card before that. 

 

My BCE is still a BCE 7 years later. The newer cards are still the same.

 

Sure they will change. And maybe some cannot be PC'd now or in the future (Savor). And my BoA wasn't very useful a year ago until they offered floating 3%,categories. That one turned around in 1 year like the 49ers did.

 

Forever doesn't really mean forever. There will be a time when a card needs to be sunset. And I'll lose the history eventually. But with my hand, I'll have so many with a long history, 1 or 2 won't matter much.

 

But right now, I'm still covered for everything I need, which is most important thanks to PCs, and I've added new cards. If some great ones come along, I still may add.

Scores, HPs/24 mos. (updated 3/30/20):
    Experian FICO Score 8 = 827, 2/24
    Experian FICO Score 9 = 836, 2/24
   TransUnion = 832, 1/24
    Equifax = 834, 0/24

Total 2019 rewards, incl. offers/deals = $1,709.07

2019 Spend:
    BCE: $4,066.59
    BoA Cash Rewards: $6,819.88
    Savor: $7,256.77
    CF: $3,104.62
    DC: $13,827.18
    Discover IT: $2,666.30
    Lowes: $147.59
    PNC Cash Rewards: $733.13
    Propel: $4,942.08
=================
Total Spend: $43,564.14

Avg. rewards rate, incl. offers/deals = 3.92%

Total CL: $264,500

Cards (hover over for CL | interest rate | Date Opened):
Message 52 of 79
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Mega Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@iced wrote:

@longtimelurker wrote:


I agree, but still, when things change enough, so do long-term strategies.   We've seen fairly dedicated UR people here switch, or at least strongly consider, a switch to MR, basically upending their chosen eco system.   When partners disappear, or things devalue enough, or a competitor gets much stronger, long-term cards can get dropped very suddenly!


People who let their travel be dictated by their cards will probably switch ecosystems in a significant nerfing. People who let their travel dictate their cards, not so much. A career United flyer isn't going to jump ship to Delta and MR just because of DoorDash or a $100 AF increase, just as career Delta flyers stuck with American Express even before their recent boosts. Partner changes can affect that, but those are fairly unusual.

 

Could someone re-evaluate every 5-10 years? Sure, but that's a far cry from the world of the LOL/24's around here who don't stay anywhere much longer than a year.


I was thinking more about the "road warrior" class here.  I don't think they would characterize themselves as letting cards dictate trave.  With enough skill and knowledge, the ability to book on alliance partners makes any of the systems somewhat airline-neutral.   Then the relative ease of earning and redemption become important, and for some, the mixture of enhancements on gold/green + Ratuken (however long that lasts) among other things is what makes MRs look more attractive

Message 53 of 79
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Frequent Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?

I totally agree that you cannot rely on a credit card retaining features/rewards forever, as things are constantly changing, but I'd like to point out that as long as you do business with reputable banks, this should be less of a concern.

 

For example, 4 of my 6 card accounts are 15+ years old. Those cards are:

 

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Discover it

U.S. Bank Cash+

 

All of those cards started as a different product and I product changed over the years to keep up with the times without reducing my account age.

Stop trying to save a nickel; start trying to earn a dollar.
Message 54 of 79
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Valued Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@KJinNC wrote:

The people drawn to this board are ones who enjoy "playing the game". But the world is full of happy people with good credit whose credit cards do what they need, who don't pay that much attention to this. Example: my brother has great credit, very good income, and runs 100% of his credit card spend through the Barclay card you see in my signature. That gives him 2% when he redeems for travel purchases and 1% for everything else. That's pitiful from a MyFICOer standpoint but he thinks it's great, and he spends close to zero minutes a year thinking about which credit cards to get, which cards to use on what spend, etc. If he played the game and got an average return of 3%, that would probably add a couple thousand dollars to his annual budget, in return for however much time he spends choosing and adding new accounts, and any damage that would do to his credit as he adds the new accounts. It's entirely reasonable to just get a small number of cards you trust, and stick with them unless they go severely downhill.

 

I love getting cash back or rewards (I am paying for a first-class flight to Mexico City with miles) but let's admit to ourselves that part of it is entertainment, figuring out and working the system. JMO!


Agreed. A lot of the cards and rewards management is fun for a lot of people, and not so much work as entertainment. 

Scores, HPs/24 mos. (updated 3/30/20):
    Experian FICO Score 8 = 827, 2/24
    Experian FICO Score 9 = 836, 2/24
   TransUnion = 832, 1/24
    Equifax = 834, 0/24

Total 2019 rewards, incl. offers/deals = $1,709.07

2019 Spend:
    BCE: $4,066.59
    BoA Cash Rewards: $6,819.88
    Savor: $7,256.77
    CF: $3,104.62
    DC: $13,827.18
    Discover IT: $2,666.30
    Lowes: $147.59
    PNC Cash Rewards: $733.13
    Propel: $4,942.08
=================
Total Spend: $43,564.14

Avg. rewards rate, incl. offers/deals = 3.92%

Total CL: $264,500

Cards (hover over for CL | interest rate | Date Opened):
Message 55 of 79
Highlighted
Valued Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@kerplunk wrote:

I totally agree that you cannot rely on a credit card retaining features/rewards forever, as things are constantly changing, but I'd like to point out that as long as you do business with reputable banks, this should be less of a concern.

 

For example, 4 of my 6 card accounts are 15+ years old. Those cards are:

 

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Discover it

U.S. Bank Cash+

 

All of those cards started as a different product and I product changed over the years to keep up with the times without reducing my account age.


And that's why PC is available. Card companies don't want to lose good customers. 

Scores, HPs/24 mos. (updated 3/30/20):
    Experian FICO Score 8 = 827, 2/24
    Experian FICO Score 9 = 836, 2/24
   TransUnion = 832, 1/24
    Equifax = 834, 0/24

Total 2019 rewards, incl. offers/deals = $1,709.07

2019 Spend:
    BCE: $4,066.59
    BoA Cash Rewards: $6,819.88
    Savor: $7,256.77
    CF: $3,104.62
    DC: $13,827.18
    Discover IT: $2,666.30
    Lowes: $147.59
    PNC Cash Rewards: $733.13
    Propel: $4,942.08
=================
Total Spend: $43,564.14

Avg. rewards rate, incl. offers/deals = 3.92%

Total CL: $264,500

Cards (hover over for CL | interest rate | Date Opened):
Message 56 of 79
Highlighted
Valued Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@longtimelurker wrote:

@iced wrote:

@longtimelurker wrote:

@kerplunk wrote:

Everyone focuses on SUBs, but it would be nice if we had a list of the best cards to keep long-term.

 

For cash back, is there a better combo than Navy Federal More Rewards + Flagship Rewards?


In such a dynamic market, I don't think long-term makes much sense.   Plus, what is the metric, to maximize cash back?   In that case, going for SUBs is much better!


This may be true for people interested only in cashback, though I also think that creditors are going to start clamping down on SUB abuse and churning soon enough, closing the door on SUB-based long-term strategies.

 

For points/miles people, any sustainable strategy almost has to be long term as there just aren't enough different cards in each point ecosystem to sustain a single program through churning SUBs. While cash back is cash back regardless of source, diluting your point/mile accumulation across multiple ecosystems is a hindrance. You also have tighter control on SUBs in the points market as they're a bit further ahead on killing churning than the cashback side is.


I agree, but still, when things change enough, so do long-term strategies.   We've seen fairly dedicated UR people here switch, or at least strongly consider, a switch to MR, basically upending their chosen eco system.   When partners disappear, or things devalue enough, or a competitor gets much stronger, long-term cards can get dropped very suddenly!


Building the Chase trifecta takes time. And you'd hope it would stay around a while, which it has. Taking a couple of years to get it would not make people happy if they could use it only for 2 or 3 years.

Scores, HPs/24 mos. (updated 3/30/20):
    Experian FICO Score 8 = 827, 2/24
    Experian FICO Score 9 = 836, 2/24
   TransUnion = 832, 1/24
    Equifax = 834, 0/24

Total 2019 rewards, incl. offers/deals = $1,709.07

2019 Spend:
    BCE: $4,066.59
    BoA Cash Rewards: $6,819.88
    Savor: $7,256.77
    CF: $3,104.62
    DC: $13,827.18
    Discover IT: $2,666.30
    Lowes: $147.59
    PNC Cash Rewards: $733.13
    Propel: $4,942.08
=================
Total Spend: $43,564.14

Avg. rewards rate, incl. offers/deals = 3.92%

Total CL: $264,500

Cards (hover over for CL | interest rate | Date Opened):
Message 57 of 79
Highlighted
Super Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@kerplunk wrote:

I totally agree that you cannot rely on a credit card retaining features/rewards forever, as things are constantly changing, but I'd like to point out that as long as you do business with reputable banks, this should be less of a concern.

 

For example, 4 of my 6 card accounts are 15+ years old. Those cards are:

 

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Discover it

U.S. Bank Cash+

 

All of those cards started as a different product and I product changed over the years to keep up with the times without reducing my account age.


I also don't think that cash back cards change anywhere near as much as points cards do. My QS hasn't changed since I PC'd it from Plat back in late 2014 or 2015. Other than the logo anyway. 



01/2019:
03/2020:

Closed: CareCredit $10K, B&H Payboo $7500
Hover over my cards to see my limits!
Goal cards: Cash+, Freedom.
Message 58 of 79
Highlighted
Valued Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@longtimelurker wrote:

@CardNut wrote:

@iced wrote:

@longtimelurker wrote:

@kerplunk wrote:

Everyone focuses on SUBs, but it would be nice if we had a list of the best cards to keep long-term.


In such a dynamic market, I don't think long-term makes much sense.  


This may be true for people interested only in cashback, though I also think that creditors are going to start clamping down on SUB abuse and churning soon enough, closing the door on SUB-based long-term strategies.

 

For points/miles people, any sustainable strategy almost has to be long term as there just aren't enough different cards in each point ecosystem to sustain a single program through churning SUBs. While cash back is cash back regardless of source, diluting your point/mile accumulation across multiple ecosystems is a hindrance. You also have tighter control on SUBs in the points market as they're a bit further ahead on killing churning than the cashback side is.


Keeping cards for the long term and getting good use out of them is the best strategy, in my opinion.


In an ideal world, I agree.   But this ignores nerfing (including AF increase) plus other better cards that come along.  A great card (such as the uncapped BCP, Cash+ etc) didn't need a SUB since the earning was so great, but of course that went away.    If a good card (for your spend and goals) stays good, that's great.  I argue more against the mindset that there are keep-forever cards, as I think that stops people revaluating as often as they should.

 

@iced wrote:  Could someone re-evaluate every 5-10 years? Sure, but that's a far cry from the world of the LOL/24's around here who don't stay anywhere much longer than a year.


 

Good discussion about the pros and cons of a "long-term strategy".  I agree with @CardNut that getting cards with the expectation and hopes of keeping them long-term is best.  While there are many on My Fico who enjoy "playing the game" and constantly changing loyalties and products, many of us on the forums as well as most 'normal' outsider folks simply want to get a strategy and stick to it without having to constantly reevaluate.  

 

So I also agree with @iced that periodic reevaluation every few years is sufficient for most people.  On top of that, constantly apping and changing products is stressful and damaging to the high credit scores that many of us seek to achieve and maintain.  I don't want to app for new accounts to where it drags down my scores and impacts my ability to make short-term unexpected decisions where a good credit score is a factor.   I've found myself many times in my life shopping for loans on new cars, furniture, mortages, or other scenarios where I had not anticipated that need long-term.   It often takes time to groom a credit file upwards.  It can be a slow moving ship.  I've applied for a LOT of cards in the past two years, but this has been a period of reorganization for me.  Four of my cards have been open around 20-27 years straight and I closed many accounts a few years ago as part of another reorganization.  Until recently, I not only had no premium AF travel cards but I also had no 2%+ uncategorized-spend cards or cards with long-term APRs under 10%.  Now, I have all three of those. (Chase Sapphire Reserve; PenFed Power Cash Rewards; Navy FCU Platinum @ 7.49%   Smiley Happy)

 

What I have noticed is that the high AF, points-base-oriented, premium travel cards seem to be much more a moving target than cash-back cards with less "benefits" and a more simple payout structure.  I got my CSR a couple of years ago and carefully evaluated the $450 AF versus the benefits offered.  Now, they've shaken up the whole structure after I committed to it and got the Chase Quadfeta.  How annoying.  Smiley Mad   However, a knee-jerk reaction to flee to another premium card system would probably just backfire as the lenders follow suit by changing fees and benefits.  I'm not going to play that game on the short-term.  On the other hand, my Capital One Quicksilver card is still churning along earning the same 1.5% cash back that it did many many years ago and my Discover card has been earning at least 1% cash back for decades. 




Total Length of Credit = 35+ years; AoOA (Currently open accounts) = 26+ years;
AAoA = 9+ years; AoYA = less than 1 year (Nov 2019)
Total Open Credit Lines Over $446K. Utilization Less Than 1%. Inquiries until May 2020 (TU:2 -- EQ:2 -- EX:6)
*Hover cursor over each card to see name, CL
Message 59 of 79
Highlighted
Mega Contributor

Re: Which credit cards are the best?


@CardNut wrote:

@longtimelurker wrote:

@iced wrote:

@longtimelurker wrote:

@kerplunk wrote:

Everyone focuses on SUBs, but it would be nice if we had a list of the best cards to keep long-term.

 

For cash back, is there a better combo than Navy Federal More Rewards + Flagship Rewards?


In such a dynamic market, I don't think long-term makes much sense.   Plus, what is the metric, to maximize cash back?   In that case, going for SUBs is much better!


This may be true for people interested only in cashback, though I also think that creditors are going to start clamping down on SUB abuse and churning soon enough, closing the door on SUB-based long-term strategies.

 

For points/miles people, any sustainable strategy almost has to be long term as there just aren't enough different cards in each point ecosystem to sustain a single program through churning SUBs. While cash back is cash back regardless of source, diluting your point/mile accumulation across multiple ecosystems is a hindrance. You also have tighter control on SUBs in the points market as they're a bit further ahead on killing churning than the cashback side is.


I agree, but still, when things change enough, so do long-term strategies.   We've seen fairly dedicated UR people here switch, or at least strongly consider, a switch to MR, basically upending their chosen eco system.   When partners disappear, or things devalue enough, or a competitor gets much stronger, long-term cards can get dropped very suddenly!


Building the Chase trifecta takes time. And you'd hope it would stay around a while, which it has. Taking a couple of years to get it would not make people happy if they could use it only for 2 or 3 years.


Yes, you can use it but the fact it takes time doesn't mean a) it was the right decision given current circumstances or b) particularly happy.

See the complaints about the CSR AF.   If you don't value the credits, the value proposition has changed.   Yes, you could (probably) PC to the CSP, but that has impacts too.   Depending on circumstances, it might be time to look at MRs/TYP/Wells Fargo/US AR etc, regretting the sunk time but not being paralysed by it.

 

And useful PCs aren't always available when you need them, Barclays has nothing interesting to PC the Uber too, even if that is allowed, and I would have similar issues with Citi if I cared enough!

Message 60 of 79
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