Introduction to Credit Card Rewards Part 3

More Credit CardsI don’t want these series to drag on forever, so I’ll try to include a lot of my knowledge and some of my stories.  If you want to learn a lot more there are blogs dedicated to this, here is a good start.

Combos

The game of credit card collecting is like Super Smash Brothers.  You can get several credit cards and you’ll be earning points and money.  This strategy is like only punching and kicking with Ness, it works, but did you know he has a bat and yo-yo!

  • Southwest companion pass
    • This is a really good combo which makes your Southwest miles twice as valuable because whenever you book a flight your companion gets to fly for free plus fees.
    • To get this you need to earn 110,000 Southwest RapidRewards points.  If you get the Plus and Premier cards at a 50,000 point bonus each then you are very close.
    • We used this to go to Portland, Seattle, Austin, and Mexico City.
  • Marriott Flight and Hotel Award
    • This combo offers 7 nights at a hotel and airline miles from 55,000 to 132,000 depending on the amount of Marriott points you use.
    • Packages start at 200,000 points, so a Marriott card at 80,000 still leaves you 120,000 shy.  We got a Ritz Carlton card with a 140,000 bonus which put us over the top.
    • We used this to get a 7 night stay in Sapporo and lots of United miles.
  • Starwood Nights and Flights
    • This combo gives you five nights in a hotel and 50,000 airline miles.
    • Packages are either 60,000 or 70,000 points which is not an easy amount to get, but you can combine points from household accounts.  The SPG card is easiest way to get points and I’d wait for a bonus of 30,000 or more.  This package may not be around forever though because SPG has been purchased by Marriott.
    • We are thinking of using this for a 5 night stay in Tokyo and American miles.

Perks

Bonuses are a primary concern, but credit card perks can provide additional benefits.  Some will not charge fees on foreign transaction, reimburse your Global Entry fee ($100), allow you airport lounge access, and give you credit for airline incidentals.

The best card I have had is the City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite card.  It had a 100,000 point bonus, which I was able to cash out for a $1000 Visa gift card, a $400 fee that was waived for the first year, and the most perks of any card I’ve read about.  It had CLEAR membership ($179), lounge access through Priority Pass ($399), $100 off domestic flights, and $250 reimbursed in seat upgrades.  These benefits were per card so my wife also got all these benefits as well.

Credit Score

Getting cards does effect your credit score, but the inquiry will only slightly hurt your score and then it should recover in a few months.  Having more cards means more credit and likely a lower credit utilization ratio which will help your score.  If you are going to be getting a loan anytime in the next year or two I’d tone down the applications because the difference in a quarter percent on a loan is huge.

Conclusion

As I always warn, if you are going to keep a balance, don’t get more credit cards.  When weighing a decision for a credit card I try to make sure I get at least $500 of value from it.  I get about three cards a year, but if something is extremely lucrative then I’ll jump on it.  I hope you have a better understanding of credit and how you can use these programs to your advantage.

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