I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
I’m trying to get in better shape. I put a treadmill next to my desk, and there’s a board across the top that I can set my laptop on. That way I can walk and read and walk and type, which is better than sitting and doing those things. I’m also meeting a trainer twice a week.
People aren’t super interested in hearing about my day job but when they figure out what I do with this blog they want to talk about it, and can’t wait to pepper me for advice. This week the question was, What credit card should I get?
I start by asking questions rather than offering answers.
- How much do you spend on credit cards each month?
- What do you spend that money on?
- What are your reward goals?
For someone who doesn’t spend a bunch on credit cards, I can encourage them to put all of their spending there of course. And that’s great for some people. But I also emphasize that’s not for everyone. If you’re going to get the most out of credit cards it’s important that you don’t spend more money because you’re spending on credit cards versus seeing your balance drop in a checking account.
Someone who doesn’t want to travel internationally, or in premium cabins, isn’t always best off with points that transfer to airline miles. Buying coach tickets to visit family in Florida? I think cash is often best for that, buy the tickets you want when they’re on sale and don’t worry about award availability. You’re not going to trade flexibility for outsized value on most advance purchase domestic leisure tickets.
And someone who doesn’t spend a ton on cards isn’t going to be earning a lot, and it doesn’t make sense for them to pay high annual fees.
I learned that my trainer:
- Doesn’t travel often, maybe once a year tops: domestic and in coach.
- Doesn’t spend a lot on credit cards, about $300 per month.
Their current card is Capital One Venture. A 2% return is good, though since you need to spend the money on travel that’s not the best and maybe not the best for them. But after the first year the card’s $59 annual fee is killer.
If they’re really spending just $3600 a year on the card they’re earning $72 in travel rewards for a $59 fee. That’s a net of $13.
My advice was to keep it simple. A no annual fee card that doesn’t require work or separate accounts. And the strongest cash-earning possible for a card with the broadest acceptance because they aren’t going to juggle cards.
The simple solution I offered was Citi® Double Cash Card.
There’s no annual fee, MasterCard acceptance, and as an ongoing cash rebate as you can possibly get (without depositing $100,000 or more in a Bank of America account, anyway).
For the broadest set of people out there, not looking for outsized value in premium cabin travel or elite travel benefits, it’s best to keep it simple. We’ll ease them into the best card signup bonuses…
Which card would you have recommended for my trainer?