A look at MONEY from all angles.

24 August, 2006

Which Credit Cards Do You Have?

Personally I only have 2. I know a lot of fellow bloggers are posting about one of the cards that I have which is going to change/scrap its rewards system. Its a shame as its one of my oldest and most loved cards. Id hate to have to just let it sit in my wallet for nothing.

I Have:
  • Citi Dividend Mastercard (cashback = 5% gas, groceries, and drugstores, 1% everything else). Their customer service is pretty good. I monitor my usage and use the free option to pay the bill online. Ive had this card for 5 years now and am happy with it. I generally cash out when I reach $100.
  • Chase Cashback Rewards Visa with the same 5% gas, groceries, and drugstores, 1% everything else. Same as citi in almost all features (online statements, payment, etc). The only slight beef that I have with Chase is that they might not be as customer service oriented as Citi. I say this because I was once out of the country and unable to pay my bill on time and they charged me a late fee without a one time waiver that Citi did for me. Its not really an excuse but just comparing: Citi was nicer. It also could have been because I was with Citi longer than with Chase.
Being offered:
  • Amex Blue with cashback which is supposedly the same on the surface but is actually a tiered card. This means that all purchases, be they gas/grocery/otherwise are only awarded 0.5% cashback until $6500 worth of purchases. After that the advertised percentages kick in. This could work out to an average of close to 2% with sole use.
  • Amex Delta Gold Skymiles with 25000 bonus points which is basically a free ticket. The miles are pretty good too ... basically 2% on everything. The only gotcha with this card is that its only fee free for the first year. I might consider getting it for a year, getting my ticket and then cancelling. Dont know if its worth it because closing will hurt my credit score?
  • I do have other offers but they are not worth a mention as this post is getting too long already.
Criterion I look for in cards before I apply:
  • No annual fee. Why pay a fee? Unless you are getting some extraordinary service which makes the fee worth it.
  • High Percentage Rewards on gas, grocery, restaurants, etc...things where I spend most of my money on. Ideally I would like 5% on these but nowadays these cards are becoming scarce. I wouldnt mind a flat 2% or greater on all purchases either.
  • Ability to manage account online. Most companies have this so this is not really a concern.
  • 0% balance transfers for > 1yr. This is really not one of my criterion as I dont play that game but wouldnt mind exploring it. (In case you dont know the game its: get money from credit card companies, put in high yield savings account for as long as its 0%, pay the minimum + some every month, pay back all the money at the end and pocket the interest). WARNING: this can hurt your credit score for the short term. A great resource if you want to play this game is this post at MyMoneyBlog.
Overall, I would highly recommend both the cards that I have but there are rumours that my Citi card is not being offered anymore. Please share which cards you have and would recommend.


  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger Ms. MiniDucky said…

    I don't think it was your length of time with Chase, Chase just doesn't do nice late fee waivers, at all. I've been with them for 5.5 years now, Citi 3, and only Citi has waived any fees that I call about.
    There WAS a time when I was silly and made some sort of accounting mistake. They charged me a finance charge rightfully, and I was protesting with such absolute confusion about why on earth they would do such a thing to me that the CSR very nicely went ahead and credited my account the three dollar finance charge.

    My current favorites are the Citi Driver's Edge for that 6% rebate and the Chase Flexible rewards for a regular 1% rebate. I will need to find a new gas/grocery card though, because my backup WAS the Platinum Select, and I'd like to move away from using so many Citi cards.

  • At 7:44 AM, Anonymous pfstock said…

    By now, I'm sure that you're aware that Citibank is cutting the cashback for "everyday" purchases to 2%. It is kind of a bummer, but 2% is still better than what most cards give you. Nevertheless, I'm still looking around for alternatives.
    I took the Amex Delta Gold Skymiles offer a few years ago. When I called to cancel (after the first year), they offered me the Delta SkyMiles Options card. I earn only 1 mile for every 2 dollars spent, but there is no annual fee. I don't think you can apply for the "Options" card directly, but I think Amex offers it only when you threaten to cancel.
    One last thing, just be sure that the "reward" is something that you can use. Now that I have so many Delta miles, I find it hard to find available flights at the SkySaver (25,000 miles) level. They have lots more flights at the SkyChoice level, but that costs you 50,000 miles per domestic round trip.

  • At 11:13 PM, Blogger Joel said…

    The recent changes to the cash back rewards of the Citi Dividend MasterCard prompted me to do some personal analysis to find the best mix of cash back cards for my spending patterns.

    That personal analysis inspired me to build a general-purpose tool to help anyone determine the single best card or mix of N cards that will maximize their cash back rewards. You just plug in how much you spend each month (broken out by categories for best results) and you're presented with a list of recommended cards sorted from best to worst by your expected annual reward. If having more than one card and using each card to its strengths could yield a greater total reward, then each combination of the Best N cards is presented as well.

    You can see the tool at .


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