Reader Addicted to Travel writes:
Please advise on which cards we should ditch and which we should convert, etc. without hurting our credit rating by making too many moves too quickly.
We’ve used Amex Gold Business Membership Rewards because in the past there have been excellent promos to convert points to Delta SkyPesos, sometimes 40% or even 50% bonuses. These accrued quickly enough to cover 2 r/t flights via AF to South Africa in business class this past summer. However, we’ve noticed that there haven’t been any promos lately, so we are edging away from Amex and wondering what else we should consider. BTW, we already have Chase Sapphire (and earned the 50K points last summer). Currently we also have a Mastercard with FIA CardServices.(zero balance, seldom used, members since ’76, credit limit 5K). We also have a Sears Mastercard (seldom if ever used), a PayPal Mastercard (about a $500 balance per month, paid in full, does offer some reward points), an Amex Blue (seldom use,d sometimes a $50 monthly expenditure, paid in full), and a WalMart card (never used, Lord knows why hubby signed up for that one–must’ve walked into the store and been nabbed by some talkative employee].
Second question: We also have about 200K cash sitting in different bank accounts, doing nothing. We also have a substantial amount in IRA/SEP accounts and trust funds–is it possible to transfer that to other brokerage firms and receive miles/points for those accounts?
Lots of stuff going on here. It’s certainly true that American Express membership Rewards has become less valuable over the past year with the loss of Continental as a partner, the increased redemption rates with British Airways Avis and Air Canada’s Aeroplan, and the introduction of fuel surcharges at Aeroplan (and more minor changes, like Amex partner All Nippon adding fuel surcharges to Virgin Atlantic awards). But I see no reason to believe that transfer bonuses, such as to Delta, are over. And I certainly still use my American Express Premier Rewards Gold card for triple points on airfare and double points on gas and groceries.
You’ve got a bunch of cards, though, that you need to sideline. Of the cards you mention, the ony ones worth actually using are the American Express Business Gold Rewards card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Now, that doesn’t actually mean cancelling the rest, if there’s no annual fee on the cards just stick them in a drawer. But don’t put spending on them.
Focus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — double points on all travel and restaurant spend, no foreign currency transaction fees (you save 3% on all transactions outside the US!), points are flexible because they transfer to United, Southwest, British Airways, Korean, Marriott, Hyatt, Priority Club, and Amtrak.
And then put only spending that’s bonused by the American Express Business Gold Rewards card on that card — triple points on airfare, double points on advertising (GoogleAds!), gas, and shipping.
Much simpler and much more rewarding than the way you’re currently spreading out your credit card use.
With that settled… congratulations on having discretionary cash available. I’m not going to offer you investment advice, I know better than that! But I’m happy to tell you about the best available mileage offers. In fact, at the end of December I laid out several lucrative mileage offers for funding brokerage accounts, most of which have been extended in the new year. And despite their new $12 per month fee, I’m still banking with BankDirect which provides generous signup bonuses and 100 American AAdvantage miles each month for every $1000 in average balance.
Hope that helps!
Got more questions? Ask away!
(Do know that links to credit card applications will provide me with a referral credit if you are approved. There’s no obligation to use my links for these cards, but I appreciate it if you do.)