Frequent Miler’s Card Talk is a new bi-weekly series in which Nick and I meet with a reader to do a credit card intervention.  What credit cards should you get and which should you dump?  Our goal is to help!  We started Card Talk originally with a test card intervention with reader Jim.  Jim had way too many credit cards with high annual fees.  We successfully talked Jim through almost $3,000 in savings!  Read about the original Card Talk episode here: Saving $2,897 in annual fees: a Card Talk intervention.

Meet Jennifer & family

Jennifer applied to be a guest on Card Talk with this submission:

Two player mode here with one college student just starting in. We started Dec of 2016 after paying way too much for an Italy vacation. We’ve since taken all six if us to Disney World and Egypt and spent a nice week without kids in Jamaica all on points. Last year’s points were for a family trip to California and a couples trip to Ireland with friends, both on hold. This last few months we’ve lost focus and need some re-direction. What is worth paying the fee on, where should we be putting spend, how can we cycle in a second college student?
Travel goals:
Europe (two weeks) for all six of us
Prague and Budapest for just us
Sending one of the college kids to Oxford for a semester
Extended family beach trip (need an easy plan to share with novice family members.)

We thought Jennifer’s case would be interesting because it involves both a tough challenge (how to earn enough points to travel with 6 people), and a great opportunity (two kids are old enough to sign up for credit cards!).

After speaking with Jennifer, here were our recommendations…

Dump almost $1,400 in card fees

Two Sapphire Reserve cards

Jen and her husband each have their own $550 Sapphire Reserve card.  It sounds like they do get good value from having one card, but there’s no reason to have two.

Advice:

  • When the annual fee comes due, downgrade one Sapphire Reserve card to the no-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5X everywhere) or no-fee Freedom (5X in rotating categories)
  • Move points from all other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to the one remaining Sapphire Reserve account so that the points will be worth the maximum value possible.

Savings:

$550 per year (or $250 per year if you account for the $300 travel credit they won’t get).

Ink Business Preferred

Jen’s husband picked up the $95 per year Chase Ink Business Preferred card early this year.  This card consistently offers one of the best welcome bonuses around, but its perks (such as 3X for travel and the ability to transfer points to partners) are mostly redundant since the couple plans to keep a Sapphire Reserve card.

Advice:

  • When the annual fee comes due, cancel (after moving all points to the Sapphire Reserve account) or downgrade to the no-fee Chase Ink Business Cash (5X categories) or the no-fee Chase Ink Business Unlimited (1.5X everywhere).
  • This advice assumes that Jen’s husband doesn’t highly value the Ink card’s cell phone protection which is the card’s one feature that beats the Sapphire Reserve.

Savings:

$95 per year.

Two Delta Platinum cards

Jen and her husband each have their own $250 Delta Platinum card.  Neither is seeking Delta elite status so the only real value to the card for them is the ability to get free checked bags and the annual companion ticket.  It’s unclear whether they’ll consistently use the companion ticket for good value.

Advice:

  • When the annual fee comes due for each card, wait for the companion ticket to appear in your Delta account and then cancel the Delta Platinum card.  When using the companion ticket, you have to pay with an American Express card, but it doesn’t have to be a Delta Platinum card.
  • After cancelling the Platinum card, if you need free checked bags with Delta, consider signing up for the $99 Delta Gold card (ideally when there’s a 60K or higher offer available).  After a year with the Gold card you can decide whether to keep as is, upgrade to the Platinum card, or cancel.

Savings:

$500 per year if both cards are cancelled (or $400 per year if Jen or her husband ends up getting a Delta Gold card)

Citi AA Platinum card

Jen’s husband has a fairly new Citi American Airlines card.  While the first year was free, Citi will start charging $99 per year upon renewal.

Advice:

  • When the annual fee comes due, convert the card to the no-fee Citi Double Cash card.  The Double Cash card is an awesome one to have, but it usually has no welcome bonus so this is a great way to get the card.
  • In the future, Jen’s husband may also be interested in picking up the Citi Premier and Citi Rewards+ cards in order to setup the awesome trio of cards that I wrote about previously here: Citi’s awesome trio: Double Cash, Premier, Rewards+

Savings:

You could say that we saved Jen $99 per year, but it sounds like converting to the Double Cash was her plan all along, so we won’t count this one!

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