I thought that I would go over the five cards that I currently are active in using and you can see if any suit your needs also.  I had stayed out of the CC churn game for quite a while as the wife and I bought another house in August and we didn’t want to jeopardize the old credit score.  Since then we have acquired the following:

 AMEX SPG

I have never been much of an SPG guy (being a Marriott Platinum and Hilton Gold), but I heard great things about this CC so gave it a try.  A rare 30,000 pt. bonus for $3,000 in spend.  I used the points for a cash+points deal when we stayed in Singapore and saved $243.  Have moved on to other cards after meeting the spend, but keeping it for use if I stay at a Starwood property.  I avoided the first year annual fee and will probably not renew unless I become a SPG fanatic.  These points can be transferred to many different airline programs, but I would just assume use them for hotel stays that can be just as expensive as an airline ticket.

 Chase UA Club

I have been a United Club member for several years, usually paying with the 40,000 miles price.  However, this went up after the merger and my renewal was due 1 Oct.  I thought of paying the annual fee which was $395, but then saw the deal on the CC.  The card was $395 also, but offered a $100 statement credit.  So basically, I got the club privileges for $100 less than a 1K.  This card give 1.5 miles/$ and other benefits such as free bags, priority boarding, etc. that I already get as an elite on UA.  I got a bonus when instead of adding one year on to my existing membership, they added 15 months.  No idea why, but I’ll take it!  Not planning to use the card for purchases as I have other deals to spend money on.

 citi_mc

This was a good deal last Sept.  50,000 miles for $3,000 in spend plus pseudo-elite privileges like first bag free, etc.  Even though I am not an Aadvantage elite, my MVP Gold status on Alaska gets me everything, but the free bag – so I’ll use that if I need to.  Met the spend by Christmas, just in time for the next card.

executive_mc

This is the hot deal of the winter with 100,000 AA miles for a $10,000 spend.  This will be a little work!  I got a Bluebird card and will load that up using this CC to pay my property taxes which will take me a quarter of the way there.  I am sure my wife will help me reach that goal.  Canceling the previous card as I got that deal and certainly don’t need two AA cards.  The annual fee is steep at $450 and no one seems to be exempt from the fee even if Citi has given you SCRA exemption on other cards.  However, the card comes with a $200 statement credit for AA charges and Admirals Club access.  Even without the club access 100,000 miles for $250 is a great deal.  Unlikely to renew this card after the year is up.

EDIT:  I just got my first statement and the $200 credit was applied even though I did not make any AA purchases.

 Capital One

My wife received this offer unsolicited in Jan.  50,000 venture miles for $1,000 spend.  Already pre-approved so why not pile up some of these?

Alaska card

My wife has had this card for years and it has one of the best enduring deals for credit cards.  For a $75 annual fee, we get a $99 companion ticket good for anywhere AS flies.  So for a $174 investment one of us can fly all the way to one of four destinations in Hawaii.  I signed up for my own when the brief deal of 50,000 miles for $1,000 spend came out at Christmas time.  The wife and I are flying DCA-PDX-SAN-HNL-ANC-SEA-DCA over the long weekend with a day on San Diego and two in Honolulu.  12k EQM each!  That will help us requal for Gold and this was last year’s companion fare so we still have two good for 2014.  Note that you can credit your miles to Delta or American if those are your favorite programs meaning this card can see pretty wide appeal.

Honorable mention:

 

I have had the USAA Visa and MC for almost my entire service career.  This is the card you should use if you need to carry a balance on anything!  A much, much lower interest rate than any of the above cards.  DO NOT use one of the mileage cards to carry a balance!  These are only for those  of you who are financially secure enough to pay off your entire balance each month.  USAA has their own point scheme which basically gives you 1% back towards travel of your choice.  Yes, I know it is not 50,000 miles, but it is a good deal if you are young and less financially capable.

Note:  the image above is our one affiliate link.  If you click on it and get the credit card, Andy and I will get something from the deal.  Not sure how much since no one has ever got the credit card through our link!  Probably because most service members already have this card (and USAA insurance) if they have any sense at all.

So I hope this helps some of you and keep your eye out for future deals.  The AA 100,000 mile deal is the highest in some time, but others could definitely match it.

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

3 responses to “What’s in My Wallet?”

  1. Ben says:

    I carry the USAA card too. I was targeted in the fall for a 5% rewards on all gas purchases made at the pump (up to a certain amount each month) for 12 months. I hopped on the deal and it has been my go to for gas ever since. I also called and requested a chip and PIN version of the card to use during an upcoming trip to Europe. I know this is the PIN version of the EMV cards as a separate mailing came with the PIN unique to the card. The rep was very clear that if I ever lost the PIN, a new card would have to be issued. I don’t carry a balance on this card, but instead used two different Barclays cards to transfer an engagement ring purchase to so that I can pay it off over 15 months at 0% 🙂

  2. Vishal Jangla says:

    What was the nature of your $200+ purchase on the AA Exec card? I’ve heard conflicting stories on what qualifies. I even read somewhere that it’s a $1 credit for every transaction, up to $200. I bought a $200 Amazon gift card in the hopes that it qualifies.

    • glenn says:

      @ Vishal – I had heard that it was for AA purchases only, but just got my first statement and they simply credited the account $200. So basically, you just get a $200 rebate on your first purchases.

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