Here is a recap on what’s happening in my credit card realm this year (2015): Opened 3 new cards with a total of 200,000 in points and miles. This also came with a whopping $989 non-waived annual fees (ouch, but no pain no gain). This may sound like a hefty expense, but when you take into consideration the benefits from these cards, the net cost isn’t as bad as it looks.
Card Annual Fee Sign-on Bonus Min Spending Req American Express Platinum $450 100000 $3000 Barclay US Airways Premier $89 50000 none Citi Prestige $450 50000 $3000
The Amex offer was too good to pass up. Apart from the generous 100,000 membership reward points (targeted offer), here are the key benefits that lured me into getting this card:
- $100 reimbursement in Global Entry Application fee
- *$200 credit in airlines fees (i.e. baggage, change fees, etc) per calendar year
- Centurion lounge access
- Priority Pass Select membership
- Boingo wifi access
- Starwoods Preferred Guest silver membership
*Even though this benefit only applies toward airline fees and you have to designate an airline (in my case American Airlines), there is a way to leverage it by purchasing AA gift certificates, which turns out to be an reimbursable transaction (for the time being). Since this benefit is good per calendar year, you could effectively receive $400 in fee reimbursement between the year you applied for the card and the following year prior to the card anniversary.
The Barclay US Airways Premier Mastercard was a no brainer (no longer available). I applied for this right before US Airways and AA merged their frequent travel programs. The 50,000 sign-on bonus in US Airways dividend miles rolled over to my AAdvantage account. Cha-Ching! There was no spending requirement and I was totally fine with paying $89 to get 50,000 AA miles.
I just applied for the Citi Prestige card earlier this week. Typically the sign-on bonus is 30,000 Citi ThankYou points, however over the last few months the offer was up to 50,000. The annual fees of $450 are pretty hefty, but here are the benefits that work for me:
- The 50,000 TY points convert at a great rate when using them to purchase flights on AA or US Airways (1:1.6 ratio).
- $250 air travel credit per calendar year (this also applies toward airfare). Same with the Amex Platinum Card, you could use it again in the following year prior to the card anniversary, making it a $500 value.
- Admirals Club access
- Priority Pass Select membership
I think this would be it for me this year though unless some other ludicrous offers come up. Time to reap the travel rewards. 🙂
Between the 6 credit card apps last year and 3 currently, my credit score throughout 2015 remains at over 800 (it has yet to be updated to reflect my latest credit card app). This should alleviate some concerns people may have on how applying for credit cards impact one’s credit score. With proper tracking and managing these cards, the miles and points earned could help me set foot to many places I didn’t think was possible or affordable. There are a host of cards with different benefits depending on your individual goals, but my primary reason is earning points and miles.
Again I can’t stress the importance of not carrying a balance on the credit cards. If you are paying CC interests the rewards you earn will not be worth it, and you should work towards paying down on the balances 1st. Also, if you have major purchases coming up that would require getting a loan (i.e. car loan, mortgage, etc), you should scale back on applying for CC’s as lenders typically don’t like to see too many credit inquiries and new accounts being opened recently.
I’m not a financial advisor and don’t claim to be an expert in giving financial advices, please do what makes you comfortable when it comes to making your financial decisions in applying for CC’s.
The Amex Platinum airline gift card reimbursement trick seems to have come to a halt as of the end of August based on info provided by Doctor of Credit (sad day). Guess I’ll be canceling my Amex card come next year as I don’t pay baggage fees to start with, and the Centurion Lounge access itself does not justify the $450 annual fees for me. 🙁