Where are you putting spend?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by traveltoomuch, Dec 15, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Gary recently wrote a blog entry about which cards he's keeping. One of the comments asked for guidance as to which he's using for different kinds of spend, which reminded me of an old thread hidden on the "other credit cards" forum here asking what your "primary" card is.

    I'm interested to hear what more people are doing. How do you slice and dice your spending across your cards?

    My answers:
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred: dining and travel (2x), unless otherwise directed
    • Chase Freedom: only bonused categories (5x)
    • United MP Select Visa (discontinued): UA tickets (3x), gas and groceries (2x)
    • Chase Ink: cell phone, internet, office supplies (the 5x bonus categories)
    • Barclay's Priceline Visa: only Priceline spend (5x cash)
    • Hyatt Visa: only Hyatt spend, and only because I don't have an Amex small business card for the 5% savings. I keep it for the annual night.
    • Hilton Amex (not Surpass): any "goods" for which I may want Amex's Return Protection or extended warranty. Or any services where I may want Amex's dispute resolution. Pretty much my fallback card. I used to use a Starwood Amex for this, but I'm thinking of closing that due to the annual fee.
    That includes four annual fee cards (all Chase) that I'm using, in addition to about three more that I'm not using. I'll probably close/convert the Ink card when its fee comes around, but I'll keep CSP and Hyatt. The UA Select card is an odd duck. I agonize over using it, even at 3x, because the insurance products aren't very good. I just had to cancel some trips due to medical issues, and if I had gotten the tickets with CSP, I likely would have gotten the money back. Historically I've kept this card for the 5-10K annual EQMs, but I'm about to hit 1MM with UA, and with the PQD requirements in 2014 I may give up on higher status with them, which makes keeping the card more questionable.

    I have some 2x airline cards that I've gotten for the sign-up bonuses but don't tend to use (AA, US), instead preferring CSP. The banks have been good at waiving these annual fees; if they stop, I'll likely close these cards.

    I also have some cash back cards (the 2% FIA Fidelity Amex, the old 2% version of the Barclay's Priceline card, and a Citi Dividend card). In years past, I've defaulted to them, figuring that the cash was worth more than 1 point in most programs, but I'm now defaulting to a card with better dispute resolution and insurance protections (the HHonors Amex, though pretty much any "real" amex will do).
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
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  2. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

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    My answers:
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred: all dining and travel (2x), which covers the majority of all of my annual spending; has also become my non-AMEX go-to card
    • Chase Freedom: only bonused categories (5x); monthly transfer into CSP UR account
    • AMEX Platinum: car rentals (I'm always too lazy to switch the charge over to my CSP when I turn in the car); FHR rooms; large purchases for which I want purchase protections
    • AMEX SPG: all domestic SPG spend; general non-bonused spend at places that take AMEX
    • Barclay's US AIR MC: occasional use to keep account fresh only (I purchase almost all of my US Airways tickets through Expedia using the Chase UR mall)
    • Club Carlson Visa: Club Carlson spend.
    • AMEX Hilton no-fee: all Hilton spend (except for right now, whereby I'm putting rooms on the Citi VISA for the 2500 point stay bonus); gas
    • BOA Alaska VISA: occasional use to keep account fresh only (considering downgrading to no-fee card)
    • Southwest VISA: occasional use to keep account fresh only (considering downgrading to no-fee card or upgrading to an Ink)
    Dilemmas: where best to put drugstore purchases (SPG AMEX right now) and where best to put grocery purchases (right now Hilton AMEX or CSP).
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
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  3. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    For me:

    ** Chase Sapphire Preferred: all dining and travel (2x)
    ** British Airways VISA: one of the go-to cards (including Chase SP) when a merchant doesn't accept AmEx. Planning to use the Avios for short-haul flights.
    ** Navy Federal Credit UnionVISA Signature Flagship Rewards: Just got this card and think it might fit in for daily non-AmEx spend and MS.
    ** SPG AmEx: Daily go-to card for non-bonused spend. Costco store spend. All domestic SPG spend. Still agonize each time about whether to use it at foreign properties due to the currency conversion fee. Like the 2 stays/year credit, but debate each year whether the Annual Fee is worth it. But keep it for that and the Starpoints, which I love to spend. (Solely on lodging, except for once when I converted to BA Avios to book LAX-SCL-IPC-LIM-CUZ-LIM-LAX in Business Class for 80,000 Avios.)
    ** Business SPG AmEx: Alternating with the above, except that I choose the personal card if I want to make sure of having the warranty protections, as I'm wary of business cards' protections. Also sometimes use it at Hyatt (buying gift certificates, for example), if I decide the 5% OPEN cash back is better than Hyatt points at that particular time.
    ** Chase Freedom: only quarterly bonused categories (5x)
    ** Chase INK! Mastercard (old one): Budget car rentals for the 5% cash back
    ** Chase MP Select Visa (discontinued): UA tickets (3x), groceries (2x), home improvement (2x)
    ** Chase INK Bold: cell phone (5x), internet (5x), office supplies (5x), Shell, ARCO and Home Depot gift cards bought at office supply stores for the 5x.
    ** Costco business AmEx: Costco gas stations, and other gas stations for which I'm unable to buy gift cards at office supply stores, for the 4% cash back.
    ** Hilton VISA: Drugstore spend, including some manufactured spend, to spread it around.
    ** US and AA cards -- primarily for bonuses when receiving a targeted offer, or a retention offer.
    I think that's it for the major players.
     
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  4. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    Wow, you all have complicated lives....

    My approach is much simpler, considering that I'm now a DL flyer and SPG stayer for business trips:
    • Amex Gold Rewards: Gas, groceries, and personal-paid vacation airfare for the 2x and 3x bonuses.
    • CSP for dining, miscellaneous vacation travel, and all international vacation spend.
    • SPG Amex for basically all other personal expenses.
    • Amex Biz Plat for all company expense because I pay the $75 to get the MR points and don't have to deal with carrying expenses and getting reimbursed.
    • Oh, and an old Cap1 card that has a monthly recurring charge of $5 billed to it just to keep the line open.
    Honestly anything more complicated than that seems like more trouble than it's worth.
     
  5. PhoenixDown

    PhoenixDown Silver Member

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    Like everyone else, I'm going with the greatest rewards first.

    1. Amex Offers / Shop Discover
    2. 5% cash back categories
    3. Day to day rewards cards


    Chase Sapphire Preferred:
    * Dining and Travel
    * General day to day purchases
    * Any transaction that would incur a Foreign Transaction Fee.
    Chase Freedom
    * Applicable 5% categories
    Discover
    * Applicable 5% categories
    * ShopDiscover Online Shopping Portal
    American Express Blue Cash Preferred (BCP)
    * Grocery Stores and Gas Stations
    * Applicable Amex Offers
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  6. LAM

    LAM Silver Member

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    I am using the following right now:

    Chase SP Restaurants and Travel
    Chase Freedom X5 Bonus Categories
    Amex Hilton Gas and Groceries
    Club Carlson Visa all other general spend
     
  7. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I'm surprised to see so few comments about avoiding foreign transaction fees here.
     
  8. PhoenixDown

    PhoenixDown Silver Member

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    I don't generally have a lot of charges that would incur FTF's however those all go on my CSP card.
     
  9. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    I use CSP or Hyatt VISA overseas to avoid FTF; hubby uses his Priority Club VISA if transactions need to be in his name.
    Also have a true Chip-and-PIN from USAA (1% conversion fee) for when I need to have the chip.
     
  10. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

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    I avoid them where possible, using my CSP for most purchases.
     
  11. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Sorry for not mentioning that explicitly. We're seeing so many no-FTF cards that this piece of the puzzle has gotten much easier in recent years. I find that most of my foreign spend is on dining or travel (hotel bills!), for which I'll typically use CSP. Other options for me include the Hyatt Visa or the FIA Fidelity Amex. The UA Explorer card is probably in many folks' wallets, and is a passable choice, though I'd rather have CSP's 2x on hotels and dining.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
  12. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I've been using BA Chase card for bonus earnings and 1.25x but what's best about it is the awards redemption cost for domestic short hauls. I recently flew my wife from MCI-ORD and then STL-ORD and ORD-MCI for a total of 13,500 avios and $7.50 in fees/taxes for all 3 flights with priority boarding included on AA.
    I use my IHG / Priority club card for most hotel stays.
    I keep several other active (AA visa and mc, BofA Alaska, Barclay US airways, etc.) but I need to reset with a fresh card or two with earning bonuses for 2014.
     
  13. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    It is a consideration for me but nearly all of my cards, except 2 of the AMEXs and the original Chase UA MP visa card, have no foreign transaction
    • Chase UA Explorer visa (2 miles/$ on UA purchases; 1 mile/$ for all else): I use this card for virtually every non-hotel purchase until I hit $25K in spend and collect 10K bonus UA miles.
    • Chase United Club Business visa (2 miles/$ on UA purchases; 1.5 miles/$ for all else): Replaces the Explorer as my every day card after I hit the $25K spend on the Explorer.
    • Chase UA MileagePlus (original): No longer use it.
    • HHonors AMEX Surpass (12HH/$): Use it to pay for all my domestic stays at Hilton properties.
    • HHonors Citi Reserve Visa (10HH/$): Use it to pay for all my intl stays at Hilton properties because it does not have a foreign transaction fee.
    • SPG AMEX: This is a new card that I have used only to meet the minimum spend so that I can collect the sign up bonus points. Plan is to use it exclusively at SPG properties, which won't be too many stays.
    • Chase Marriott Visa: This is also a new card that I have used only to meet the minimum spend so that I could collect the hefty sign up bonus points. Plan is to use it exclusively at MAR properties, which won't be too many stays.
    • Chase Hyatt Visa: Have used it exclusively to pay for stays at Hyatt properties.
    • Citi Forward Visa -- the oldest in my wallet and first ever credit card (1986): Do not use it for anything except VERY rarely for online transaction with intl merchants who seem to accept only only Citi cards when there is a requirement to enter the issuing bank's name; some have never heard of Chase!
    • AMEX Biz Plat -- for anything to do with personal consulting business as a sole proprietor.
    • Discover it (5$ cash back): have used it only once.
     
  14. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    NYCUA1K, just wondering your thoughts in using the UA Explorer and UA Club Business over your Chase UA MileagePlus? Don't you get more miles on the original (3x) for UA spend? And I noticed you don't use either Chase Sapphire or Chase Ink. I divide most of my spend between Chase Sapphire, Chase Ink Bold, and original UA MileagePlus. I know you do your homework, so just wondering how you did these calculations.
     
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  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I suspect I am missing something, or maybe I didn't have enough coffee this morning... but I don't understand why you put $25k on the Explorer Visa card. Sure, those $25k give you 10k bonus points (for a total of 35,000 UA miles assuming 1x spend), but if you had put that amount on the United Club visa instead, the $25k would have given you a total of 37,5000 UA miles due to the 1.5X on everything.
     
  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    For one thing, what I called the "original" UA MileagePlus visa is the most basic Chase UA visa under pre-merger UA that awards 1mile/$, so it is no good. As for the Explorer vs. the UC cards, I did the math here a while back. As you know, a benefit of the Explorer is that if one spends $25K a year on it, one gets 10K UA miles as a bonus. The math showed that for spend <= $25K, one would have to spend at least $20K of the $25 on non-UA purchases and $5K or more on UA purchases or ALL $25K on everything else on the UC card for one to earn more miles with it than with the Explorer when the 10K bonus is factored in. I spend more than 5K on airline tickets alone so that below $25K, the Explorer is my preferred card. After I reach the $25K on it, then I switch to the UC to keep earning miles but I earn a lot more than I would if I continue using the Explorer.;)
    I already had too many Chase cards and the benefits of getting the Sapphire and/or the Ink did not seem to me to be that great... The credit card miles for me are just to top off what I get from my real source of miles: long-haul travel.
     
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  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    We have been there before. Follow the link to the math!!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  18. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Gotcha. We have the now discontinued UA Signature Visa, which gives better miles than the Explorer, so I use that for UA miles (I'm UA hub-bound). The Sapphire and Ink Bold give me good points that can be used multiple ways, so that's my preference. As I get plenty of miles from actual in the seat travel, I like to have more flexibility from the Sapphire and Ink Bold points to top off or use elsewhere.
    Good discussion and I appreciate all the various ways people tackle their goals.
     
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  19. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Precisely why I do not need the Sapphire or Ink. I get plenty of miles from flying and plenty of hotel points from stays. My need for CC miles/points is just as a minor top off through things that I would be using my CC to purchase regardless. Why leave points or miles on the table when you do not have to?...;)
    Yup. Great stuff...:)
     
  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    The math is interesting. Does it justify the extra $95 annual fee for you?

    I have the older UA Select card, which has good 2X spend categories (dining, groceries, gas, home improvement, *A) and 3X for UA purchases and an annual 5k RDM bonus, so that is where a good percentage of my spend goes. CSP gets preference for categories that have 2X. The UA Club card is for everything that otherwise would just get 1X, but it will get the axe when it comes up for renewal.

    2014 will be the year of card simplification for me.
     
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  21. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I never think about annual fees. If I did, I would not justify having the AMEX BIZ PLAT. I usually get cards for their "utilitarian value" for me and the AF is the cost for that, after which I make the cards work for me. I want to have the UC membership. I could pay for it directly but it would cost more (I think), or get it through the UC visa card. I chose the latter. When I do remember to do it, I have gotten a statement credit for the UC AF by using my tons of miles, but I do not feel the pain so I do not do it religiously.
    I am not likely to get any new cards soon, but I will hold onto all those that I already have because there is order in the madness of having them all -- each has its own "utilitarian value", so to speak. My use of the Explorer and then the UC cards as my every day cards being an example...;)
     
  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I don't understand why you'd ignore the annual fees given that you clearly spent time working out which card earns you the most points. Seems like a business that's only looking at maximizing revenue but ignoring the cost to produce it.

    The cost is exactly why I can no longer justify holding on to some of my cards. SPG Amex, it's been real nice to know you, but sorry, you'll have to go. UA Club Card, you were nice and shiny when I first got you. Everyone commented how strong you felt, and you got me into "nice" clubs, but now those clubs have been stripped bare of most amenities, so I'll let you go, too. Amex Platinum, you were a nice trophy to carry around, but now you're just an expensive friend with few benefits I value. Bah-Bye. Hawaiian Airlines Visa (or are you a MasterCard? I don't even know)... I only ever wanted you for your miles. Sorry, no chance you'll hang around my house come January. US Mastercard, your remaining life expectancy is pretty short anyway... sorry, you'll have to go, too. I'll hold on to your new step sister from Citi, since she's been fee-waived.
     
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  23. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Wow. CC Spring cleaning, ey?!

    When one maximizes revenue so much that costs no longer seem important,then one is well off... My situation is quite unique because I am not a conventional "businessman"...
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  24. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    In between AORs right now so:

    CSP: Dining
    Ink: Staples & Gas & 7-Eleven & cell phone, internet bills
    Freedom: Amazon & Department Stores
    United Explorer: Car rentals (primary coverage)
    AA Platinum: Only for the 2500 mi/3000 mi bonuses thru their Portal and a current 3X offer
    Citi Hilton Reserve: Hilton Stays
    SPG Amex: Default card for everything else

    In the process of getting an auth user add-on for my wife's Amex Surpass to use at grocery stores.
     
  25. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    My current breakdown:

    Chase Sapphire Preferred: All dining (except when restaurants are a Freedom 5X bonus category), all travel except purchase of AA and (for now) UA tickets, all international purchases that don't require a Chip & PIN.
    Chase Freedom: 5x bonus categories
    Am Ex Premier Rewards Gold: Gas and groceries (except when gas is a Freedom 5x category)
    Am Ex Starwood Preferred Guest: Most other non-bonused spend
    Citibank AAdvantage VISA: All AA ticket purchases, any nonbonused spend that won't take AmEx, plus a few charitable donations to keep the card active
    UA MileagePlus VISA: All UA ticket purchases, plus a few charitable donations to keep the card active (for now - I'll probably be canceling this card when the fee comes due).
    USAA Wolrd Mastercard: Any purchase that requires a true Chip & PIN card, otherwise just a few charitable donations to keep the card active.

    Sock drawer cash-back card from Wells-Fargo: the monthly charge fee for my AT&T plan on my iPad, just to keep the card active
     

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