How To Decide Between 1.5x Points And 1.5x Points

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Yesterday I wrote about the three fantastic no annual fee Chase cards that I have — the Chase Freedom® CardChase Freedom® Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. These cards really help me boost the number of Ultimate Rewards points I earn, as they all offer some of the best return on spend, depending on the category we’re talking about. In the comments section of that post, reader Stvr asked the following question:

How do you decide whether to earn 1.5 MR or 1.5 UR? What’s the process? Do you hit 30 transactions every month?

This is in reference to the value of The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express in comparison to the Chase Freedom® Unlimited. In my opinion, these two cards are hands down the most rewarding for non-bonused spend in the U.S. That’s because:

  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a flat 1.5x points per dollar spent, and in conjunction with a card accruing Ultimate Rewards points, that translates to 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred offers 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, assuming you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle

Cards

What are advantages of each card?

There are potentially some further considerations:

  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred has a $95 annual fee, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a $0 annual fee
  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred earns Membership Rewards points, while the Freedom Unlimited only earns Ultimate Rewards points in conjunction with another card earning Ultimate Rewards points
  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred requires you to make 30 transactions per billing cycle in order to unlock 1.5 points per dollar, while the Freedom Unlimited offers it regardless of how many transactions you make
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer further bonus categories, while the Amex EveryDay Preferred offers 3x points on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. grocery stories each year, plus 2x points at U.S. gas stations (that’s potentially 4.5x points and 3x points, respectively, if making 30 transactions per billing cycle)
  • Personally I value Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards points equally, though I know others will prefer one card over another, which could impact which card is best
  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred is anecdotally quite easy to be approved for, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited is subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so for many will be more difficult to be approved for

How do I balance my spend on these cards?

I have both of these cards, and find them to be worthwhile. The Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, and I downgraded the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card into this card.

Meanwhile the EveryDay Preferred is great for everyday spend, and is more than justifiable thanks to the bonuses on supermarkets and gas stations. Even though I spend very little in those categories, the bonus points I earn justify the annual fee.

So, how do I decide which card to put spend on?

  • In general my top priority is to always reach the 30 transactions per billing cycle on the EveryDay Preferred; however, I have some recurring payments set up on the card, so in practice I only need to make about half of those transactions, which I do quite easily
  • Otherwise I decide based on which points currency I want more of; sometimes I’m short on Membership Rewards points, and other times I’m short on Ultimate Rewards points
  • The primary way I earn points on these two cards is by paying my income taxes; you can pay those by credit card for a 1.87% fee, meaning that’s an opportunity to pick up those points for ~1.25 cents each

Bottom line

The way I see it, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express and Chase Freedom® Unlimited are the two most compelling for everyday, non-bonused spend. Having one or the other is a no brainer, and for many, having both could even make sense.

On a day-by-day basis my goal is to reach the 30 transactions on the EveryDay Preferred, though my biggest source of earning points on these two cards is by paying taxes, and I decide that based on which points currency I have more use for at that point.

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Comments

  1. Not fair. You’re comparing the $95 version of the Everyday card to Chase’s free card.

    A legitimate comparison would be to the free version of the Everyday card.

  2. We max out the $6,000 in grocery spending and have about $3,000 in gas spending each year, which makes the $95 fee for the Everyday worth it. That’s 36,000 MR points. I don’t have any other cards that give bonuses on these. The 36,000 MR points are worth, at worst, $720 to me because I can use them in conjunction with an Amex Business Plat on my airline of choice or for premium tickets for 2 cents per point.

    If I used a no-fee 2 percent cash back card, I’d get $180 back on the $9,000 in spend. If I used the Chase Freedom, I would get 13,500 points, which even at a very generous valuation of 2.1 cents per point, is $273.

    So, the annual fee easily pays for itself — even if I were only to use the Amex on the category bonuses (and throw in a bunch of smaller Amazon or other charges in the months I use them to get the spend).

  3. This is irrelevant to this, but QR has a shadowy pic of their super business class on their website, along with a clock with the countdown. According to them, the reveal will be on March 8th, at 11:00.

  4. So I assume you don’t use SPG Amex for base spend unless you’re *this* close to a JAL redemption or something?

  5. How do you handle your credit score with so many credit cards? Or do you even care about it?

  6. With the loss of using Amex at Costco, I prefer using the Chase Freedom Unlimited now. I buy a lot of groceries at Costco and as a result, it’s hard for me to max out the grocery bonus.

  7. @Manny: Ironically, the more open credit cards you have, the better your credit score becomes.

    Your credit score is based majorly on: A) paying on-time, B) available credit / utilization of credit. To a much lesser extent, # of recent inquiries, age of accounts, and variety of credit sources. So, the more cards you have, the larger your overall available credit becomes, and your score will go up. It *will* initially drop for the first ~2-3 months due to a new account adding an inquiry AND adding a “0 months” to the average age of accounts. After that it’ll rise nicely.

    Even better, now that you had added to your overall credit by adding a new card, your utilization % is less with the same amount of spending, which also helps increase your score.

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