I’ve come to a place in the journey of earning points and miles where I’ve never been before. Until now, I’ve always applied for cards with a particular goal in mind. There was always some trip I wanted to take, and I needed miles in a specific program, or programs, to make that trip happen. Well, I have a trip planned for this year and it’s all paid for with miles, and I have a trip planned for next year and already have the miles in place to pay for that one, as well. I know there are worse problems to have.
So when I’m looking at the cards that are out there, what should I aim for?
The first thing I did was knock out the one card on my list that I’ve had on my radar for the longest time. Sharon applied and was approved for the American Express Blue Business Plus card.
This might be the best no-annual-fee card out there as long as you actually have a business eligible to get a credit card. I’ve suggested it to several people, so it was time that we got one for ourselves.
This card earns 2x AMEX Membership Rewards points for the first $50,000 spent on the card each calendar year. We’re not running a business that will max out that amount, so this is the only card we will need for our non-bonused spending.
I’m not one to jump to apply for a card without reason. However, I’m now in a place where I have to try and find a card where I think that I’ll be able to easily spend the sign-up bonus. This means I’ll have to avoid programs we don’t use or ones with niche redemptions that aren’t useful.
The Easy Choice
The most obvious choice would be a cash-back card. I wouldn’t even need to worry about using the money from the signup bonus for travel, as it would just be a statement credit. I’ve had my eye on the Fidelity Visa and that would be an easy one to apply for since I already deal with them.
The card earns 2% cash-back on all purchases. This looked promising until we had the Blue Business Plus card. Why make 2% back when you can earn two Membership Rewards points per dollar?
The Hard Choice
What does it say that despite the fact I ditched my own AMEX Platinum card that it’s still a card I consider as a choice for Sharon to apply. You see, she’s kept her AMEX Green Card for all these years and has never let me upgrade it to another card. While that decision has finally paid off with that card’s new benefits, it also means she’s never had the Gold or Platinum versions.
Getting a 60,000 point sign up bonus and all of the AMEX Platinum benefits would make it worthwhile to get the card for at least a year, particularly if we were going to use the lounge benefits it offers. I’d also be able to plan to use the credit for airline fees now that I know the new restrictions in place.
It’s still a hard pill to swallow knowing that AMEX could change the lounge rules whenever they want and there’s nothing I could do about it.
The Other Options
There are plenty of other cards out there I could apply for. Since we’ll both be under 5/24 soon, I could get any of the Chase cards. We’d be eligible for the Southwest or British Airways cards. There’s also the AMEX Hilton cards, which would let me add more points to the ones I earned during my business trips in 2019. Barclays has the JetBlue card and I know I’ll always be able to use those points to book a ticket with no restrictions. Bank of America has Alaska Airlines and the Virgin Atlantic cards, which we haven’t held in many years.
The question is, which cards will earn points that we’ll be able to use? Without a crystal ball, who knows what program will be the one with the redemption I’m looking for down the road. What makes it more difficult is I don’t even know where we’ll want to go, not to mention how we’ll want to get there or where we’ll want to stay.
I’ve also been down the road of applying for cards and earning points and miles that were absolutely useless to us. The fear of wasting an application is what gives me this apprehension of getting the wrong card.
If we applied for 20 cards a year between us, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. Since I try to pick ones which we’ll be able to keep for the long term, each selection is handled with care, like adding a piece to an ever-expanding puzzle.
I still have a few more weeks until we finish the spending requirement on our recent application and then I’ll just have the bite the bullet and pick one. Once I do, there’s no going back.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary