Another Credit Card?

This is the story / of a lovely tri-ip / to a very lovely part of France (I hope!)….

In preparation for our France trip, I had been considering applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It’s a travel rewards card that has an introductory offer of 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Plus 5,000 more when you add another user and s/he makes a purchase in the first three months. Those points can be turned into anything you really want: cash back in the form of statement credit, money towards purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards program, or – the big one – money towards trips purchased through the Ultlmate Rewards Program.

Currently, we have two other Chase cards. One is a Mary Kay card (this one is basically retired – we just don’t use it and we haven’t closed it, because we want our credit rating to stay high) and the other is a Chase Freedom card. Only the Chase Freedom card generates points, but I realized that those would be added into whatever points the Sapphire Preferred card generates, and both could be redeemed for miles. (We also have an American Express card for generating points on gas and groceries!)

Before I jumped into this, I was curious about how booking through the Ultimate Rewards program compared to the prices I would find using Kayak.com, Priceline.com, and Orbitz.com. Basically, I was surprised to discover that there was very little difference, and it seemed even less important when I realized how much we would be getting in the way of savings in the first three months of having the card (as long as we fulfill the requirements of spending $3,000 and also adding a second user who makes a purchase).

The catch? There’s a $95 annual fee, but the first year is free. I even said to H that we could cancel the card (accepting the ding on our credit score) if we found that it wasn’t going to be beneficial to us after that first year. However, H pointed out that if we budget and save, we could conceivably go to one of these international conferences every two years. If using this new Sapphire Preferred card makes it possible (and the trip serves as a tax write-off for at least H’s expenses while we’re there), I think it’s a worthy goal to consider! We have always wanted to travel internationally (well, doesn’t everyone?) and this could be a way to make it more practical.

For July 2015, we are planning just the two of us to go – L is just too young for us to consider taking unless we had no choice. She had a great time at my parents’ house for a week last summer, and we could ask my parents to do that again. Maybe when she’s 7 we might consider it, but even more likely when she’s 9.

Well, that’s far in the future, but I do like to think ahead. 🙂

Anyway, back to the matter at hand…

The application process was super easy (maybe because we already are account holders with Chase?). In just about two minutes, I had this on my screen:

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.41.25 AM

Holy crap! $17,500? It didn’t occur to me until I saw this number how much this would help our credit, because increasing your overall credit limit does good things for your rating (as long as you keep your usage of said credit limit LOW).

Adding this card to our arsenal means juggling and being even more thoughtful about which card we use when.

Our American Express card is what we use for groceries (5% back) and gas (3% back – except when the Chase Freedom card is offering an even better deal on points back on the gas category), which are our big spending areas. We can’t put our rent on a credit card, though I wish we could, because that could totally generate a lot of points! However, we can change some of our utilities to a credit card to try to generate more points. Nearly everything else we either put on the American Express card or the Chase Freedom card. Well, once we receive our card, then we will put everything on this new Chase Sapphire Preferred card (in order to meet the $3,000-in-the-first-three-months requirement) and we won’t spend our points on statement credits. We will hoard them until next summer (or whenever we decide is the right time to buy our plane tickets).

So, to summarize our Credit Card Arsenal:

1) Chase Mary Kay Card – this basically does nothing for us except serve as a back-up CC and help our credit score

2) Chase Freedom Card – we were using this as our basic CC for everything before, but now we just use for gas when it’s a good deal (5% back through September!) or when we feel like it (for no good reason at all)

3) Citibank Card – this is just where H’s private student loan lives now – we pay this off steadily each month, and it’s at 0%. We don’t add charges to this card and it doesn’t generate rewards (that I know of?).

4) American Express – we got this one because of the great gas & grocery points deals. We spend a lot on groceries and a lot on gas (though the gas spending should hopefully go down by quite a bit after we move). After we get settled in our new place, we will just use this for groceries to generate the most amount of points we can to get statement credit.

5) Sapphire Preferred – this one is for travel funding, as described above. We might have to adjust for the first three months to be sure we’ve spent $3000 on it – maybe moving groceries to this one, for instance, for the time being.

Any suggestions on the right time to buy tickets to fly to France, if the trip is in July?!

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8 thoughts on “Another Credit Card?

  1. Nice work! I also have the Freedom card, but the points have been really slow to rack up, so I’ve been thinking about applying for another (more beneficial) card. I’ve heard good things about the American Express and Sapphire card, but I don’t think we’d be able to hit $3,000 to get the bonus.

    I’ve never been overseas, but I know The Frugalwoods (frugalwoods.com) travel a lot, and have been to France. You might want to ask them their opinion on buying! In general, I think I heard Tuesday and Wednesday are supposed to have better prices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the $3000 bonus was kind of tricky, but I waited until I knew we were going to be moving and then applied – we were able to put the movers on our card, which took care of half of that $3000 right there! Woot! (This post was one I had sitting in my “drafts” folder for about a month but I got behind on posting!) But in the normal state of things, it WOULD be tough to hit the $3000. Another thing – we aren’t big travelers (though we love traveling!) so the Sapphire was perfect for our future travel plans (at least, I hope so!), but I probably wouldn’t have gotten it unless we were planning this trip. We were thinking of canceling it after the trip, but then we realized that closing that line of credit could hurt us, and my husband reminded me that these international conferences are every two years, so… we can continue to make it work (as long as it’s worth the annual fee).

      I agree that the Freedom card points are slow to rack up. I’ve been using it for gas while they’re running the 5% promotional deal (which I just now realized is over – shoot! just bought gas with it!), but we’ll probably just keep it in our wallets and pull out the AmEx from now on (for gas and food). The AmEx points do rack up more quickly for us! You have to wait until they reach $25 value, but it’s not too big a deal. So I recommend the AmEx Blue cash, if you can get it. (I just checked online, and I can refer you and we’d both get some cash back in the form of statement credit. Let me know if you’re interested!)

      Thanks for the Tues/Wed tip – I will check out frugalwoods.com to see what they have to say!

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  2. I recently opened another card — I was amazed they’d start me off with a credit line of $16,000. They clearly don’t want you to pay it off every month.
    I’ve been thinking of writing a similar post — I personally am pro-credit card, so long as I never pay interest again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! I try to pay off our credit cards weekly instead of monthly (which sometimes led to the balance getting too high to pay off in one fell swoop) so that we don’t carry a balance. This definitely helps me stay honest with my credit card use. I’ve opened up two credit cards in the past year, and – what seems like not too long ago – I only had one! Now that we have so many credit cards that I feel like I’m approaching “churner” status. I even saw that there’s a Chase card that allows you to do a balance transfer with NO transfer fee in the first two months of opening the card, and I told my husband, “Ooh, maybe we could use that to transfer some of our student loan balances.” He looked at me like I was crazy and told me we didn’t need more credit cards. It gets to be a lot to keep track of, I’ll admit. 🙂

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    • Yes, we do – it’s $75. I calculated how much we will get in cash back if we use the AmEx on the two big categories (groceries and gas) to maximize the rewards, and the benefits outweigh the fee by enough that it was worth getting it for us. The AmEx is the first card I’ve ever had with a fee – it was a strange feeling to get a card like that, because I’d always figured that a person like me would never be able to get enough out of a card with a fee to make it worth having.

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