I talk about credit cards I’ll use and maybe apply for in October 2020.
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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!
Thanks for joining me for episode 55 – October 2020: My Credit Card Strategy. I’ll talk about credit cards I’ll use and maybe apply for in October 2020.
It’s a new month and once again, a new what’s in my wallet episode! Since I applied for about eight new cards in August, I’m working on signup bonuses, new high spend bonuses, and focusing on category spending multipliers.
I reached the 50,000 point or $500 bonus from my new Bank of America Premium Rewards card and used the $100 airline incidental credit. Since this card will only give me 1.5% back on all unbonused spending, I won’t use it much. 2% back on travel isn’t appealing for me either because I’ll be using my Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3x points. I also got a $50 bonus or statement credit on grocery spending due to a limited-time promotion with this card. I paid the $95 annual fee and enjoyed a big win of more than $550 in just two months and will use another $100 airline incidental credit in 2021.
Since I now have two Discover IT cards and it’s quarter four, I’ll use Discover IT cards for purchases at WalMart.com and Target.com since the rotating categories changed away from PayPal in quarter three. I hope Walmart will have good online gift card deals to help me spend $1500 on both cards. Discover IT also gives 5% back on Amazon spend, but this is nothing special because — as I’ve mentioned many times in the past — there are many ways to save more than 5% on Amazon.
One can simply use the Venmo debit card for 5% cashback at drugstores and buy Amazon gift cards, for example. If I must, in the final week of December, I can purchase gift cards on Amazon for 10% back on my newer Discover IT card, but hopefully, I’ll be able to max spending on WalMart.com. Target, too, has the RedCard debit card, which gives 5% back, so quarter four with Discover IT is lackluster compared to other quarters bonusing grocery spend and PayPal spend, for example.
The newer Discover IT card will give me 10% back due to the first cardmember year cashback match feature. Since the old Discover IT only offers 1% cashback on unbonused spending, it won’t see much use on a day-to-day basis, but that’s okay because I got the card for the bonus categories I aim to maximize. I usually don’t suggest Discover IT because most won’t optimize the categories especially here in quarter four, and Discover isn’t a great issuer offering many other cards. A relationship with Discover likely won’t give great things like we can get with Chase, American Express, US Bank, and other institutions.
Next up is my Hilton Surpass card I recently got with a 175,000 point signup bonus. I put about $7000 spend on the card, overshooting the minimum spend requirement so I can reach $15,000 in spending before 2021 to gain a Hilton free night certificate. I plan to continue using the card for both unbonused spending and grocery spending. Hilton Surpass gives 6x points on grocery spending, which is close to a 3% return. Add value from the free night certificate, and you’re easily getting another one, two, and possibly more return.
Once again, we all know America loves math. I’d spend $4000 to get the 175,000 point signup bonus, so I need to spend $11,000 more to get the free night certificate. 1% of $11,000 is 110, 2% of $11,000 is $220, and so on. You’ll get 3x points on unbonused spending for an effective 1.5% return, and, again, grocery spending is a 3% return. If you value the free night certificate at $220, it’s like you’re getting 3.5% back on unbonused spending and 5% back on grocery!
My journey to reach $30,000 spending on the American Express Plum card continues. I have about $8000 more to spend before the end of November for this useful 3.5% cashback card: 1.5% back on all spending and a bonus of $200 per $10,000 spent for a total of $600 back for $30,000 spending. Plum is not a card for everyone, but as I’ve explained before, since I have a high volume of spending and got this card without a hard inquiry or opened account on my personal credit report, I’ll embrace the 3.5% cashback.
Let’s return to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’ll use it for travel spending like upcoming taxes and fees I need to pay for stays in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Rooms and meals are comped, but some spending will happen. I already used the $300 travel credit on grocery spend. It won’t make sense to use this on unbonused spending since I have cards performing better than 1.5 cents per point.
I’ll use the new Pay Yourself Back feature with the Chase Sapphire Reserve to cash out points at 1.5%, which is an effective 4.5% back on travel and 7.5% back on office supply store spend on my Chase Ink Cash card. I’ll also continue to work on Doordash spending, especially when promotions appear. Just yesterday, I also signed up for free Grubhub+ membership thanks to my free Lyft Pink membership from the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The wins keep coming in!
My Altitude Reserve card gets a fair amount of use even after hitting its signup bonus for the very generous 3x points or 4.5% back on all mobile wallet spending. Online merchants, grocery store checkouts, post office transactions, and so much more have me using my Samsung Gear watch for the mobile spending. I may also use points through the card’s real-time mobile rewards feature if I have occasions offering the 1.5 cents per point redemption. What a great card, a gift that keeps giving!
If I can’t use mobile wallet spending for transactions that don’t have bonus categories, I often use my Blue Business Plus card for 2x points. At the moment, I’m mostly using Surpass and Plum cards for unbonused spend, but the Blue Business Plus gets some action so I can diversify spending. The Capital One Spark Card for Business, now a Mastercard for some reason, also gets some use with 2% cashback on all spending.
I’m mainly using my American Express Business Platinum cards for the monthly $20 cell phone credits and $20 shipping credits, which last until the end of 2020. I’m using shipping credits in conjunction with my reselling activities, and I prepay my cell phone bill rather than relying on autopay. Thankfully, a Business Platinum will see action at the Philadelphia Centurion Lounge for my October trip to Vegas! I’ll also once again visit Delta SkyClubs during layovers.
My American Express Gold Card won’t get much use in October. I maximized the $25,000 yearly grocery spending last month. Still, I will continue to use the Gold Card for monthly $10 Grubhub spending, which has been nice because I’ve seen many Grubhub offers through e-mail and mobile push notifications for $7 off $10 and $5 off $10 this month. The 4x dining category is nice, but I don’t use it much. I mostly eat at home and use various gift cards, casino comps, and promotions to eat while I’m on the go.
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Two business credit cards I have with Barclays bank, Jet Blue and Aviator, won’t get much use outside office supply spending, but I’m also working on Chase Ink Cash office spending, which has a higher multiplier. The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards also gives me 3% cashback on office spending, but it doesn’t get much use.
I’ve also been using my MLife Rewards Mastercard for some grocery spending, which gives not only 2% back in the form of MGM points, but also two MGM tier points per dollar spent. My quest to 60,000 tier credits with MGM to maintain MGM Gold continues since I may not be able to status match back to MGM Gold in the future. Borgata’s Amphora Lounge, exclusive to those with MGM Gold status and higher, has re-opened and is excellent value for only $12.50 in express comps transferred from points I gain with the MLife Mastercard. Older cards I have like Capital One Savor and AAA Member Rewards also bonus grocery spending and see some use.
Other cards I have like US Bank Flexperks, American Express Green Card, Business Green Card, and American Express Delta Gold business card don’t see much use since other cards perform better. Flexperks recently had a nice spend $50 on PayPal and get a $10 statement credit promotion, but now it’s back in the safe. I keep small autopays on the Green Card and Delta Business Gold, so they stay active.
My very old Amazon Prime Store Card issued by Synchrony Bank gets its use on Amazon when my Amazon gift card balance is depleted. I spend a moderate amount on Amazon and don’t want to load too many gift cards, resulting in an account shutdown, so the card sees online activity.
Finally, some debit cards get a fair amount of use: Venmo debit for 5% cashback at drugstores, the Oxygen debit card mainly for $1 off $2 on dining spend, and Cash App debit primarily for weekly $7.50 back on $75 or more transactions at grocery stores.
I also have many gift cards – both physical to swipe and some loaded onto apps, including Panera, Starbucks, and Dunkin. I’m highly favoring Panera at the moment because I pay for the $9 a month coffee subscription for free drinks and refills every two hours. Sometimes I’ll buy food at Panera when I’m away from home. Starbucks and Dunkin come into play when Panera isn’t available.
I recently applied for a no personal guarantee business credit card with Sam’s Club to build my business credit profile. The card’s not great, but I see it as a freebie — there’s no hard pull or opened account on my personal credit report — so why not have more options and use this as a stepping stone for better cards and opportunities in the future. I’ve recently become an affiliate for BurstBiz, who helps me with business credit, more information at the end of the show.
Any other applications? I’ll very likely be declined if applying for more cards in 2020 since I’ve recently opened many accounts. American Express, though, comes to the rescue since they’re lenient with giving me cards. The Schwab Investor Card, a not-so-often discussed charge card, now has an increased welcome offer of $200 and provides 1.5% back on all spending. Why not since you can have a total of ten charge cards with American Express?
I can also ditch my American Express Blue Business Cash card since I’ve had it longer than one year. Year one was a big win for a $500 welcome offer and 2% on everything, but now 2% on everything doesn’t add much to my portfolio. Blue Cash Preferred is okay now with a referral offer of a $300 welcome bonus with no first-year annual fee, 0% intro APR, 6% back at grocery stores up to $6000 spending a year, and other benefits.
Since I’m working on multiple signup bonuses and high spending goals, though, it doesn’t seem to be a great time to take on more spending goals. I also need to wait for payments from reselling to drop in my bank accounts so I can pay down existing American Express cards. Time will tell.
What are your thoughts? Have any questions? Feel free to leave them below in the comment sections or on my website! Which cards will you use in October of 2020? Are you planning on applying for more cards this month?
Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content!
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