What credit card gives me the most value?

Inspired by this thread on the Amazon credit card what would be the best CC for me to use in terms of value? I currently have a CapitolOne card which results in the occasional free flight. Some data that might help decide:

  • I pay off the card every month so the interest rate isn’t a big deal.
  • Almost everything is paid via the card.
  • I eat out a lot but probably spend less than the average person on consumer goods (i.e. I’m not a clothes horse).
  • I like to travel.

What would you guys suggest? Thanks!

The best deals IMO are free cards with cash back. All other schemes (like airline miles) aren’t worth it in the long run.

Call Capital One and ask if they will convert your account to the Quicksilver card. They have two versions: The Quicksilver Rewards Visa has no annual fee, the QuicksilverOne Rewards Mastercard has a $39 annual fee. They both give 1.5% back on purchases.

Or you might just prefer to put in a completely new application for the Quicksilver Visa since that comes with a $100 sign up bonus that is not available for conversions. And, yes, Cap One will happily let you have multiple accounts.

If you spend enough to offset the $59 annual fee (no fee the first year), you can also get the Venture card. It pays 2% rewards if redeemed for travel or gift cards. There is a $100 sign up bonus for new cards. Don’t confuse this with the VentureOne card. The Quicksilver is always better than VentureOne.

Ditto. I have a 2% Casback and incur no fees or interest since I never carry a balance. I charge almost everything and receive a nice credit every January which helps with the Christmas bills and travel.

My wife does the same and gets 1% back in credits towards groceries.

After university, I got a GM card thinking it would help me save up for a car. When I got around to reading the fine print, I noticed that (IIRC) there was a $500 annual ceiling and a 7 year expiration date!?
Secondly, I’d have to charge almost $17000 a year.
Third, it was only redeemable towards a new car and there were different limits on individual models.

After calculating for inflation, I realized that I really wouldn’t be all that further ahead and switched to a lower interest card offered by my union at the time.

Whoa. Who gives you 2%? And no annual fee? I haven’t been able to do better than what effectively boils down to 1% (although some of my cards might give me 3% on gas purchases, and some additional cash back from certain vendors.)

It’s a discontinued offer from TD Bank in Canada.

I should add that they do hold my bank accounts, mortgage, car loan, and line of credits, as well as my boat, car and house insurance. I’m sure they make the money back and more somewhere but it looks good on paper.:smiley:

CapOne is renknowned for shitty customer service practices - it took me 14 months to cancel a card because they wouldn’t do it until 30 full days of no activity, and some stupid random transaction would occur every time to reset the clock (some of them were CapOne internal transactions!)

If you routinely carry any balance, the lowest rate you can find without any excessive strings is best. If you always or mostly ("…mostly…") pay off the balance, you want, in order: Very forgiving payment terms and grace periods; no annual fee; and the lowest APR you can find.

Really, everything else is window dressing and typically not offered in combination with first-rate financial terms. You will save more with 1-2% lower APR and a payment window that lets you make a mistake or two a year than you will with almost any rewards, cashback or “privileges” card. Even all - ahem - ethical and other issues aside, cards don’t give you “rewards” without costing more somehow, and just one or two cycles with a balance can wipe out the value of the rewards you might get.

Cheap and forgiving - all else is window dressing and come-on.

Wife and I have Amex cards. They accumulate FF miles with Delta and came with huge signing premiums, tens of thousands of miles for each of us. There’s an annual fee, but it’s effectively negated by the certificate we get once a year for a companion ticket: one of us buys a flight, the other flies along with them for just $100. In addition, we get to check bags on Delta free of charge, which saves us about $100 on each round trip we take together.

A couple of years ago I cancelled my card and got one taken out on my wife’s account; my purchases resulted in miles accumulating on her Delta FF account. After a year had passed, I applied for a new card of my own through Amex and again received a massive signing premium, something like 50,000 FF miles. I figure we can probably keep this up indefinitely. :cool:

I don’t think you can get by with just an Amex card; a lot of everyday merchants don’t take them. If you travel a lot at a middle or upper range, they’re invaluable; not so much for Joe Commuter. I’ve had them (personal and corporate) at intervals over the years and they’ve never been that useful or in any way superior to a good platinum Visa or MC.

My Alaska Airlines card has an $80.00 annual fee but provides me with one $99.00 companion fare per year. Depending on where my wife and I are vacationing, in a given year I can save $30,000 to $100,000 worth of 1% cash back rewards in a single flight.

I will concede, this is part of a strategy, we also have a rewards card for the majority of our purchases and I’m an Alaska airlines MVP member (double miles) in an area where you pretty much have to fly Alaska airlines.

A textbook example of YMMV. :slight_smile:

See this thread:

Definitely :wink: I just wanted to point out that at lower spending levels, annual rewards might be better than a percentage.

That’s a great link. Thanks PastTense!

I do have a backup Visa card, but FWIW I find that I don’t have to use it very often. There are one or two local restaurants that don’t take Amex, but just about everywhere else (grocery stores, Target, Home Depot, chain restaurants, etc.) all accept it.

Do you have good credit ? If so the correct answer is “whatever card I am currently clearing the bonus on”. You should only need a “day to day” card if you are spending more than 50k a year on cards, as it can be hard to come up with enough new cards to need to spend that much.
For example, today I would recommend signing up for the Starwood Amex, which currently is giving an extra 5k points for a total of 35,000 with $5000 spend in 6 months. A 2% cash back card like the fidelity amex would give you $100 of cash for that $5k, but 35k starwood points can be sold for at least $400+ and if you use them yourself are worth probably $6-700 in hotel nights at starwood properties. Similarly you want to sign up for the credit card for each hotel chain and airline, get the bonus miles for signup, and never or rarely use the card again. Check flyertalk forum, link below, for the best deals as the ones you see if you straight to the site usually are crappy (ie, best united offer is usually 55k miles vs the standard “get 30k miles”). Check the blogs linked below for an idea of what credit cards you can churn, but keep in mind they don’t always have the highest point link - search flyertalk for the credit card you are interested in. And don’t be afraid to sign up for some cards in your spouses’s name and some in your name. (and add each other as authorized user, if needed).
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz-370/
http://hackmytrip.com/credit-cards/best-travel-credit-cards/
http://boardingarea.com/frequentmiler/

One other factor is how much work you’re willing to do to get the best return. For me, a program that gives me something other than cash (say, gift cards) isn’t generally worth the aggravation. (One danger with something like ThankYou programs: you sign up because they let you get $X for Y points, with Y very large, but before you get that many, they drop that reward.)

Similarly, with a scheme that requires putting $X on a card to get $Y back, then moving to a different card, it’s easy to accidentally put too much and have no way to get those reward dollars out without spending another $X for a second reward. So I mostly stick with long-term options.

I use Amex Blue Cash Everyday (3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% at department stores), Amazon Chase Visa (3% at Amazon, 2% at restaurants and drug stores), and Chase Freedom (5% for a category that varies by quarter). I also use store-branded credit cards at LL Bean, Target, and Lowes, since they offer better than 1% when shopping there. These are all no-annual-fee cards that give you cash or statement credits, and have reasonable payment windows. They all give 1% back on other categories.

This all means I carry just two cards for regular purchases (the Amex and Amazon, with the Freedom swapped in for one or the other in those quarters where it pays better), plus two store-specific cards (Target and Lowes).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states that how you use your charge cards has the most effect on managing your credit rating. Have you heard about this? The conclusion was one of several in the CFPB’s brand new study of credit reports.