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I’m responsible for the miles & points strategy for my family, just as I’m sure that many of you are responsible for this with your families. Does someone need help redeeming miles? They call me. Does someone have a question about which credit card to use? They call me.
I appreciate that they do this, because I get extremely annoyed when they do things on their own, say “I didn’t want to bother you,” and then redeem miles sub-optimally. However, at times it can be a lot of work to make sure that your family and friends are “on track” when it comes to points, and over the years I’ve also realized that I need to be proactive in making sure they’re doing the right things.
One of the biggest challenges in helping my parents maximize points is finding that happy middle ground between maximizing points on every purchase while keeping the strategy simple. I have no problem using a dozen different cards to maximize my spend in every category, but I also recognize that for others there’s value in a simple strategy.
This morning I was talking to my dad about his current credit cards, and was surprised by how few cards he had. I also helped him look up his credit score and credit history, and was shocked when I saw the below, as he hasn’t applied for a credit card in nearly three years!
How could I let this happen?!
With that in mind, my task right now is to help him fix his current credit card situation, since that just seems unacceptable.
My dad’s current credit cards
Which credit cards does he have right now?
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Freedom® Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
- Citi Platinum AAdvantage Business Card
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
His current strategy for spend is as follows:
- He uses The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express for supermarket, gas station, and non-bonused personal spend
- He uses the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express for business spend
- He uses the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for dining and travel, the Chase Freedom® Card for rotating quarterly bonus categories, and the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card for many business purchases
It’s not a terrible strategy, though I’d say he has lots of potential to optimize his points earning, especially as he hasn’t applied for any cards in over two years.
How I plan on improving my dad’s credit card portfolio
I think it makes sense to take a slow and steady approach here. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Get the Ink Business Preferred Card
My dad owns a small business, and his first priority should be getting The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, which is one of the best business cards in the market. Getting this card is a no brainer, as it has a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points upon completing minimum spend (which I value at $1,360), making it the best sign-up bonus offered by any card.
On top of that, the card offers all kinds of great perks, including triple points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines, for up to $150,000 of combined purchases per year.
He’d get a huge amount of value out of the card.
Get him the perfect Chase trifecta
My dad already has the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom® Card, which are fantastic cards. However, I’d like to also get him the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (in lieu of the Sapphire Preferred). What’s the best way of going about that?
- Downgrading the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Once that’s complete, apply outright for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
This is a great trifecta because you end up only paying an annual fee on a single card, but you earn triple points on dining and travel, 1.5x points on everyday purchases, and 5x points in rotating quarterly categories.
Other cards he could benefit from
Once he has completed the above (which could take a month or two), I think it makes sense for him to pick up some cards with valuable ongoing perks. For example:
- The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers an anniversary free night certificate every year, valid at virtually any IHG property in the world; the card has just a $49 annual fee, which is waived for the first year
- The Hyatt Credit Card offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt property, and has just a $75 annual fee
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually, making it the single most lucrative card for everyday, non-bonused spend; the card has no annual fee
There are many more cards I think he should consider, though I think the above is a good starting point, as I don’t want to overdo things (because that’s how we get into a situation where he doesn’t apply for any cards for nearly three years). 😉
Would you do things differently in my dad’s shoes?