Episode 37: Credit Card Frequently Asked Questions

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I respond to common questions from podcast listeners and people new to the credit card hobby.

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Rough Transcript:

You’re listening to the Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Vacula, here to help you travel the world at next to no cost through credit card points, miles, benefits, and rewards. Make money, save money, and take advantage of great deals!

Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com to contact me, find me on social media, read episode transcripts, and support the show with donations and use of referral links! More information at the end of the show…

Thanks for joining me for episode 37 – Credit Card Frequently Asked Questions. I’ll respond to common questions from podcast listeners and people new to the credit card hobby.

I recently created a frequently asked questions page on my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com following seeing many of the same questions especially from those new to this credit card space.

It’s nice to hear people asking questions rather than completely dismissing my ideas! Most are intrigued by the ideas I put forth. I’ve gotten quite the range of reactions with people calling me crazy, smart, eccentric, obsessed, you name it. There’s a method to the perceived madness and here’s a surface-level introduction with my answers to common questions. All of these questions can easily be individual episodes, but that’s a project for another day.

People ask: Why do you talk so much about credit cards?

Credit cards, especially those tailored for travel, offer tremendous value especially from big welcome offers and benefits which can help you travel well at next to no cost. Many cards, after using them for a three-month period, can easily offer more than $500 in value and that’s not even considering benefits like airport lounge access, travel credits, and point multipliers.

Why get only between 1-2% back on all purchases on the ‘same old card’ when you can instead get multiple cards which offer a very high return on your spending mainly through welcome offers?

Before I started this hobby, I would generally avoid travel or just travel locally as I thought travel would be too expensive. The credit card hobby has allowed me to travel for next to no cost to places like Athens, Greece; Hawaii; Las Vegas; New Orleans; and Chicago. The sky’s the limit!

People ask: Will applying for many credit cards hurt my credit score?

In most cases, a hard inquiry will cause one of your credit scores to drop a handful of points. These dips are temporary (inquiries will later fall off) and have very little overall impact on your scores especially if you have scores in the mid to upper 700s. The yearning for a ‘perfect credit score’ is highly overrated offering very little, if any, tangible value. Why not trade a few points for great welcome offers, travel benefits, and much more?

People ask: Paying annual fees doesn’t make sense, why should I do that?

Many premium credit cards indeed come with annual fees, but benefits from the cards — especially in the first year — often greatly outweigh the annual fee. Annual fees can be a great upfront investment! When the second year comes, many issuers will offer retention offers or even waive annual fees following a quick phone call.

If the second year with the card doesn’t make mathematical sense, you don’t have to pay an annual fee because you can product change, downgrade, or cancel. When starting, I won’t suggest beginning with high annual fee cards. Instead, you can apply for no annual fee cards or cards with annual fees around the $100 mark. I talk more about annual fees in podcast episode two.

People ask: Why spend so much effort on this? Is it really worth it?

In most cases, you’re going to have to put in some level of effort to receive great returns – such is the case for traditional jobs and even for entrepreneurs. I find the returns from all I do surrounding credit cards to be well worth it. I’m mindful of how I use my time and often pass on many deals which don’t have a great payoff. Your level of involvement is up to you.

Opening credit cards, opening bank accounts, and managing accounts is low effort for great return in my eyes. I also find this hobby to be very fun and rewarding. I like solving puzzles, experiencing success, and having access to exclusive experiences travel credit cards have allowed for. I’ve also met great communities of people through this hobby and have made good friends I speak with regularly!

Don’t be the guy I met months ago who said, “I put all of my spending on my American Express Platinum Card and get a free flight every year.” You can do much, much, much better than that!

People ask: How do I get started? Which card do you suggest for me?

I’m careful to not suggest just one strategy or card because individual circumstances dictate different paths. Everyone, though, can start somewhere – even those with no credit or poor credit! Complete my credit card questionnaire to get started and listen to my library of podcast episodes for more information.

Beyond my questionnaire, I offer consultation through my Patreon page – for just $30 an hour, I’ll have a tailored call with you offering extra support and answering any questions you have.

People ask: Do you need to be a genius to benefit from credit cards?

Absolutely not! The hobby, though, involves some level of discipline, financial responsibility, conscientiousness, and diligence…it’s not for you if you’d lose control with a credit card buying things you can’t afford, missing payments, or only making minimum payments (and then paying interest). Paying unneeded fees and irresponsible spending will erode the credit card gains. People from all walks of life I’ve brought on as podcast guests benefit from credit card rewards, why not you?

People ask: Why bother with travel points and miles when I can just get cashback and use that for travel?

Using one card, even getting 2% back on all spending, leaves tremendous amounts of value on the table. As I mentioned, huge gains come from welcome offers and benefits…and acquiring multiple cards allows for more gains. If you’re not working on a signup bonus and have no category multiplier, sure, use your 2% card, but far greater returns come from acquiring many cards.

People ask: Should I get an Amazon credit card because I often spend on Amazon?

I think this is a terrible starting point. Instead, look for cards which offer high total value — especially in year one — rather than focusing on particular areas of spending especially when you’re not really spending much at specific retailers.

Many cards offering bonuses on category spend often don’t have large signup bonuses or travel benefits, so it’s best to avoid them especially early on because you’ll very likely gain much more value through other cards – especially Chase cards! In addition, there are many ways to save more than 5% on Amazon spend through creative methods. For more, listen to episode 15 of my podcast.

People ask: What’s the catch? Surely banks aren’t giving all of this for nothing!

Banks make tremendous amounts of money through people paying interest, unneeded fees, and overspending. Indeed, some customers will come out ahead, but the banks understand that and still come out way ahead. Why not benefit from what they are offering? As I mentioned above, you can be disciplined, astute, and well above the curve to benefit from this. I’m here to help!

Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content!

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