My Credit Card Game is Tight

Back in the day it used to be playing Colombia House & BMG to get my free CD’s. Then it was phone companies. Switching all day long to get those startup discounts.

Now I am all grown up, and I play the credit card game. As long as you are able to pay off the balance every month and as long as you remember to quit the ones with annual fees;

The world is yours!

In my current wheelhouse are the following cards;

Costco Citi Visa – This is the card for Gas and Resturants. 4% on gas and 3% on eating out.

Amex Blue Cash Everyday Preferred. This is the grocery card – 6%. I normally do not use any card with an annual fee, but the $95 is more than made up for by the percent back.

TdAmeritrade Visa. 1.5% on all other purchases. I get another 10% bonus if I deposit my rewards in my TdAmeritrade brokerage account(see Portfolio here). I am cool with this.

Here is what that looks like in a given year: 2018 – $500 back on the Amex, $755 back on the Costco card, and $523 on the TdAmeritrade card.

I have to give an honorable mention to my good old Chase Freedom Card. It was easy to use and I cashed in thousands over the years. Every time I got over $100 in rewards, I made them cut a check. Looking back, I milked them pretty good;

  • 2012        $ 700
  • 2013        $ 500
  • 2014        $ 600
  • 2015        $ 700
  • 2016        $ 600

starting in 2017 I only got another $218 out of them because I moved on to other, greener pastures.

Next comes cards I have used but did not stick with over time, because of various reasons;

Chase Sapphire  Preferred. Loved it for its 60,000 point bonus($600), but I hate annual fees, so I did not keep it.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise gave me $200 bonus, but I was not able to get that as cash, just credit and gift cards. I find this annoying.

Quicksilver Capital One was offering $150. I put the minimum on to get that money and then stopped using it because the 1.5% back was not optimal. Still $620 on to get back $159 in less than 60 days is a 25% return.

I have churned Amex Blue Cash Everyday and 2 different Platinum Capital One cards. They made money of me (from vendors, not interest) and I made money of them. That was $900 in free money right there.

I also do not care for cards that rotate ‘reward categories‘ every couple of months. To the untrained eye this may seem exciting, but I guarantee it is designed to minimize your overall returns. Companies are crafty like that.

Only once have I been denied a credit card due to too much recent credit card activity. I just waited a few months.

This article from NerdWallet lays out a nice comparison of different airline/miles hotel/points values.

Do you play?

P.S.> Don’t forget about Credit Card churning’s twin brother for those of you with too much time on your hands; Bank Account Churning (via FinancialPanther).





8 thoughts on “My Credit Card Game is Tight

  1. Ah, Columbia house CD club… My entire Ella Fitzgerald collection came from joining and leaving at just the right moment.

    Barely cutting my teeth on credit cards (paying for airline travel to Europe this summer), but happy to see you already winning in this arena, my friend.

  2. i have a chase freedom unlimited. they gave me a 150 bonus a few years ago when i signed up. then i referred the mrs. last year and they gave her 150 and me 100 with no annual fees. then i got an ally card for us which came with a 150 bonus and pays 2% back on gas/groceries and no annual fee so we use this for only those 2 things. plus they pay 10% extra to redeem to our ally bank acct. for 2.2%. that looks like 550 just in bonuses but it looks like those have dried up for now. i’m sitting on 250 in chase dollar rewards right now. we’re just waiting for an opportunity to spend them. last year i bought dinner for 4 of us with rewards and that felt pretty sweet.

  3. I basically have 3 cards I use depending on the situation. Sams Club gives the highest for restaurants for me (I believe 3%) (as well as gas 5% but since I got a Tesla that is no longer a big issue). I have an Amazon card b/c I do a lot of shopping there (5% back). The rest I use Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% back on everything).

    The key is to always pay it in full each month or any money reward you get is wiped out.

  4. I feel like my game is loose, but I’m still playing and getting better.
    I’m only a little over a year in, averaging about 3 cards each for my wife and I.
    Debating helping my young adult children as well, taking the game from 2 to 4 players.
    I’m doing the signup bonus game for now, will have to settle in soon to the favorite cards and cancel others before fees hit if they aren’t keepers.

    I say my game is loose because I can’t figure out why some people don’t see the values I do.
    I just got 100,000 point chase marriot card for me first, wife 2nd.
    It does have a $95 or $99 fee but those points will get a minimum 3 night stays per card probably more.
    I follow some sites for it but haven’t found a site I really like so far. thepointsguy is probably most most well read. Suggestions welcome.

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