23 June 2006

Credit Cards


Can anyone recommend a "good" credit card? I suppose this means a decent mix of low rate and getting something in return for use, like a discount, miles, or something like that.

J-Fav has done research on this but it's always possible we've missed something.



Anonymous said...

I've done some research into this. Two answers.

The first is the Starwood Preferred Amex card. But who cares about hotel rewards, sez you? Well, with the Starwood card you earn one of their miles for every dollar you spend, just like everything else. But you can convert to any airline program (I think except United) at a rate of one-and-a-quarter to one every time you convert 20,000 miles. So that ends up being 1.25 mi / $; figure 2 cents a mile (reasonably arbitrary figure) and you're getting about 2.5c/$ back, with all the attendant benefits you might expect. Plus they have a nice travel insurance thing which you can sign up for: $10 gets added to your card every time you buy a flight on it, but if it's delayed more than 2 hours, you can spend up to $50 or something, if it's a four hour delay, $200, etc etc. I don't remember the details, but it seemed worth it.

You'll also need a visa or mastercard, because not everywhere takes Amex. I suggest either the Citibank or the Chase cashback card: you get 5% at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations and 1 back from eveywhere else, up to $300 a year from both. For us poor grad students, that's a nice extra $300 a year. I've maxed out my $300 from Citibank this year (needless to say, I pretty much just use it at supermarkets, drugstores and gas tations) and I think I might sign up for the Chase as well to get that one too.

The final card to think about is one for overseas travel. Amex charges 2% on top of whatever you buy; most Visa/MC cards charge 1% levied by Visa/MC and then an additional 2% of their own. Most of the Capital One cards eat the 1% Visa/MC exchange surcharge and have no additional one. http://www.flyertalk.com/wiki/index.php/Credit/Debit/ATM_Cards_and_Foreign_Exchange has gratuitious information on this one.

Wow. Considering how much I've been meaning to get around to commenting on stuff you write, this is the thing I go and write paragraph after paragraph on? That's pathetic.


G-Fav said...

Whew, thank you, Jopesche. Those are exactlyh the type of pointers I am looking for.

It looks like you were storing up potential energy for a good cause.


Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of the Blue card from American Express. It doesn't cost anything, and they have a decent rewards program. It doesn't cost anything to enroll, and there is a wide variety of rewards. You can explore at their web site. Chase and Citibank also offer multiple cards depending on what you would benefit from the most. For example, you may want to think about a gas rebate card.


G-Fav said...

Another friend wrote:

"I'm a big fan of the AAdvantage MasterCard. Full disclosure is that I'm an airline mileage freak, but after all the traveling I did at [xxxx], I've got tons of them and hope to use them for some big vacations in the next year. Plus, earlier this year my card number got stolen and they ran up about $2000 in charges, and the process to clean it up, get a new card, and have the charges revoked was absolutely painless. [My darling S.O.] uses the Working Assets credit card mainly, but doesn't like it because the credit card part got taken over by MBNA who are lame. She's had problems with it, but likes the charitable aspect of it, so she hasn't switched."


ps Those "word verification" challenge fields with the scrambled warped text graphics are getting so hard that even I, as an actual human, have trouble reading them. In Blogger. If you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

The best credit card or mix of cards to get the most cash back depends on your particular spending profile -- especially how much you spend in various categories (e.g. gas, grocery, restaurants, utilities, etc.)

The calculator tool at www.creditcardtuneup.com makes choosing the best cash back card (or mix of cards) easy. Given your spending pattern, it calculates your expected annual rewards for each of the leading cash back credit cards and even for your best mix of cards. See the tool at http://www.creditcardtuneup.com/ .