I talk about credit cards I’m actively using, recent promotions, and my August 2020 strategy.
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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, and read episode transcripts. Support the show through Patreon, SubscribeStar, and referral links! More information at the end of the show…
Thanks for joining me for episode 42 – What’s in my Wallet August 2020. I talk about cards I’m actively using, recent promotions, and my August 2020 strategy.
I’ve returned from a trip to Atlantic City and a power outage lasting a day, so it’s time once again to record and evaluate my credit card strategy for August 2020! As time goes on, these what’s in my wallet episodes get longer and longer because the approvals keep coming.
I’ll talk about my specific situation, spending habits, and priorities. As I often say, there’s no such thing as one strategy or one best credit card because it varies to person to person, but hopefully, some insight into my strategy will help with yours. Most cards I chose were for signup bonuses and benefits, not category bonuses. My day to day credit card selection, especially after reaching signup bonuses or high spend goals, varies depending on purchases.
I recently added the amazing US Bank Altitude Reserve card to my wallet! For more on the why and how of Altitude Reserve, listen to episode 40. I’m working on the card’s signup bonus — 50,000 points for $4500 in spending over 90 days — so I am using this for travel spending (3x points), mobile wallet spending (also 3x), dining (currently 3x until the end of 2020), and unbonused spend. Dining spend also temporarily triggers the card’s $325 annual credit which usually is restricted to travel spending. Whether I will spend $325 on travel spending is an open question, so using the card for some dining spend while also getting 3x points is my current plan.
During my trip to Atlantic City, I used the Altitude Reserve card for taxes and fees I had to pay on my free hotel stay and tips for comped meals. There’s no good reason to literally leave money on the table, so I always aim to use credit cards for tips especially now when I’m working on the Altitude Reserve annual credit. I added the Altitude Reserve card to my Samsung Gear watch which allows me to use Samsung Pay, so it’s easy to use the card for mobile payments – an effective 4.5% back is great!
Second up is the American Express Blue Business Cash card. I’ve had this card for about 10 months and am very close to $15,000 in spend. I’ve been using this card for unbonused spend and got this with a referral offer of $500 cashback signup bonus for 15k spend. The card also offers 2% cashback on everything and an introductory 0% APR – an easy choice for me as a high spender. Once I hit the $15,000 spend, I’ll sometimes use this card outside of making mobile payments with the Altitude Reserve, but will focus more on the Blue Business Plus card.
I’ve had the Blue Business Plus card also for about a year. The card had a great signup bonus I also got through referral…15,000 Membership Rewards as far as I remember. Currently, this gives 2x points on all spending up to $50,000 in a calendar year. Valuing Membership Rewards at 1.5 cents per point, this is like getting 3% back on everything. Because of the increased bonus, I plan on keeping this card in the long-run – 3% of 50,000 is 1500 per year, that’s $500 more value compared to cards like Blue Business Cash which is giving 2% back on everything.
Another American Express card I’m using is the Business Platinum. I got this card in mid-July, a great time for an increased Dell Credit ($200), $20 monthly shipping credit (stamps at the post office!), and $20 monthly cell phone credits. I got the Dell credit once more in August and will continue to use cell and shipping credits through 2020. I’m close to reaching the signup bonus and don’t plan on using the card for everyday spending because it’s only giving 1x on spending, but for purchases of $5000 or more, I get 1.5x points. It’s an absolute monster in year one and possibly a keeper card if there’s a good retention offer. I also have a second Business Platinum I’ve had for more than a year. I got a $200 retention offer, so I kept it especially considering the other benefits most importantly the Dell, cell, and shipping credits.
The Plum business charge card is next in my wallet – not the most impressive card, but 1.5% cashback on all spend and a $600 bonus for spending $30,000. I’m still working on this signup bonus. It’s a nice win for that first $30,000 in spend. I got this card with a referral offer, once again helping a friend, and when American Express extended spend deadlines to six months instead of three. For the high spenders out there…why not? This is better than using a 2% or 2x card considering the signup bonus.
Next, a far more impressive card than the Plum, is the personal Gold card. I use this for grocery spending maximizing the 4x points on $25,000 spend a year, monthly dining credits of $10, and the yearly $100 airline incidental credit. After I reach the Altitude Reserve annual credit, I’ll return to using the Gold Card for dining at 4x. The $250 annual fee is so easy to justify for me especially since American Express has offered me retention bonuses.
I also have the American Express Business Gold Card, but only use it to keep the card active. The 4x on gas is most uninteresting since I am able to save on gas through the use of grocery points and discounted gift cards I still have from early to mid-2019 thanks to an amazing promotion from Speedway gas stations! The signup bonus, though, was quite nice and it’s more capacity to refer people to American Express. At one point, the card was giving 20k or 25k points per referral! Plum and Business Gold, while not amazing, are close to freebies in my eyes since American Express, at least for me, granted the cards without hard inquiries since I had an Amex relationship. One can now have up to ten charge cards, so go forth and earn!
My American Express personal Green Card doesn’t get much use outside the monthly $10 cell credit. Again, this was nice for a signup bonus and also gives a $100 discount on Clear membership to skip lines at airports. Hopefully, travel will be more common in the coming months! …and more Amex, my Delta Business Gold Card doesn’t get much action. I got 60k points for a signup bonus and can get free checked bags with Delta. I don’t plan on keeping this longer than one year because there can be much much much more value in just getting a different card rather than clogging one of the 4-credit card slots one can have with American Express.
I also have the Flexperks Visa card with US Bank. I got this card to establish a relationship before I knew about the option to open a brokerage account that I discussed in episode 30. I have my cell phone bill on autopay for this card, but now with the American Express cell phone credits, it doesn’t get much action. I simply prepay my phone bill with Amex cards offering the cell credits. Another inactive card, Capital One Quicksilver, has a small autopay so it stays active. 1.5% cashback is subpar compared to other cards I have, but I keep it as it’s an old card with no annual fee.
Another Capital One card I have is the Savor Card. Way back in September of 2018, this had a $500 signup bonus. This got me started in the credit card hobby although I would never have gotten the card if I knew what I knew now because I’d prioritize Chase cards and various business cards. I only use this for 2% cashback on groceries, but I prioritize other cards. I’ll use it when I don’t want to put too much spend on one card.
I also have the Capital One Spark Card I got with a decent signup bonus – 2% cashback on everything has its place again as a volume play, but Blue Business Plus takes priority at least when I haven’t reached the $50,000 yearly spending goal.
Next is the Bank of America AAA Member Rewards card, a card I got way back in 2016 before I knew what I was doing, but still use it as a volume play for an effective 2.4% back at grocery stores when using points for AAA vouchers I can use to pay auto insurance.
Another volume play exists with the MLife Mastercard giving 2% back at grocery stores in the form of MGM points atop progress towards casino tier status. This also has a $100 signup bonus. As a frequent casino visitor, at least before the pandemic, tier status and progress towards it is valuable for me especially when I get rewards like free rooms and other offers thanks to credit card spend. This card also gives 3% back on MGM spend which can be a nice benefit for those who know how to use it well!
My old Discover IT card was really nice for the third quarter of 2020. I’ve already maxed the 5% cashback on $1500 of PayPal spending…it’s a great category right alongside grocery for an easy $75 or $45 more than a 2% cashback card! I also redeemed a Discover Amazon offer for, I think it was, $10 off a purchase of $80 or more. This card is really nice for high spenders, but those failing to maximize the categories don’t have much to gain.
My Chase Ink Cash card has been really nice for office supply spend. In recent weeks, Staples has been selling fee-free $200 gift cards and Staples’ rules were updated to allow five cards per customer per day! 5x points is great here especially since I transfer Chase points to Hyatt and get around two cents of value per point.
I also have the JetBlue Business card with Barlcay’s which gives 2x JetBlue points on office supply spend, but Chase Ink Cash will take priority. A 2x return just doesn’t move the needle for me with many better offers going on. In the past, deals at Staples were more profitable when the card-link app Dosh I mentioned in episode 40 was giving a bonus $5 per day.
The JetBlue card, though, is great for its signup bonus, yearly anniversary miles, and free checked bags all with a small annual fee. The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards card gives 3% back at office supply stores, but again, I got this mainly for the signup bonus!
Another Chase card in my wallet is the Chase Sapphire Preferred – one of the best starter cards one can get, well, at least those who have a solid credit profile. I recently used this for 3x points at gas stations in conjunction with Speedway gift card deals. In recent months, the card also gave a bonus multiplier for grocery spend, so that was an easy win for me. August’s Speedway deal is buy a $50 Uber gift card and get a $10 bonus card for an effective 20% rebate…it’s a really good deal especially considering the 3x points and bonus Speedway points!
I also have the Cash App debit card I covered in podcast episode 40. It’s been an easy moneymaker especially with the $7.50 discount on grocery and Walgreens spend which usually comes once per week. The Venmo debit card, also mentioned in episode 40, gives me 5% back at drugstores up to $200 in spend per day – it’s a nice win for gift card deals or regular spending especially in conjunction with the CVS Carepass program and CVS discounts I also mentioned in episode 40. …and finally, the Oxygen debit card finally arrived, so I’ll use that for various cashback offers similar to the Cash App debit card!
I’m also planning even more credit card applications this month! I’m still in pending status with UBS, I discussed their Visa Infinite Business card in episode 25, and am working on getting approved for Barclay’s and Bank of America business cards. I may give up on the dream of being under 5/24 to get more Chase cards due to recent developments some of which I discussed in podcast episode 35.
If you’re wondering about which cards are right for you, complete the free credit card questionnaire on my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com! I’ll be happy to provide suggestions. Also, consider using many referral links for American Express cards, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase World of Hyatt card, and much more!
Which cards are you using for August of 2020? Hopefully, you too are working on minimum spend requirements, high spend goals, and are taking advantage of many credit card bonuses and benefits!
Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content!
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Visit my other podcast at stoicsolutionspodcast.com where you can find practical wisdom for everyday life inspired by the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome.
Thanks to generous patrons and fans of this podcast who help support my work. Have a great day!