I think most of the shit wrote back in the days of yore is still probably correct, but I have new insights, and new perspectives, so I want to say the old shit in new ways. It’s my blog. I get to do what the fuck I want to.
Here’s where things look to me as of May 2017.
Should you have credit card points, or airline miles?
You should have credit card points, because they’re more valuable and flexible than airline miles. They can be turned into airline miles. But airline miles can’t be turned back into credit card points. But you shouldn’t just have any credit card points; in order or my personal preference, you should have Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, or Starwood Preferred Guest points.
Should you have one kind of points, or different kinds of points?
That depends. You should have one kind of points for your everyday spending; so you, your spouselike person, and your business, (if you have one), all have cards that earn the same kinds of points so you accumulate a nice big pile of points to use for something.
But…if you do a lot of spending, then it might make sense to accumulate different kinds of points, e.g. Chase and Amex, because if you have enough in both piles to redeem for the tickets you need, then having different kinds gives you flexibility. But this doesn’t work if you end up with not-quite-enough points in each, which is where I was a few years ago.
If you’re a maniac like me and want to accumulate as many points as possible, by signing up for credit cards that you don’t plan to use after you take the bonus, then sure, get different kinds of points if good opportunities present themselves, while still putting daily spending on a consistent kind of points.
What are the best kind of points?
There is no single best kind of points. For me, the best kind of points are Chase Ultimate Rewards, followed by Amex Membership Rewards, followed by SPG. But your mileage may vary. I will have a series of posts coming in which I consider the point systems fully, and you can do the same. In all cases there are plenty of cards that earn a specific kinds of points, but it’s about having the right card, or pair of cards, which I’ll go over.
Is it crazy to get a credit card I don’t plan on using or keeping?
I don’t know. Maybe. It doesn’t seem to hurt your credit score, though, based on my experience. I opened a shit ton of credit cards in the last twelve months (21, to be precise). It doesn’t seem to have meaningfully hurt my credit score, especially since they just keep giving me more. Of course, I have to keep track of them and make sure I hook them up for automatic payment so I’m never late and make sure I hit my minimum spending requirement in time on each. So I might be an extreme case, but no, I don’t think it’s unreasonable, to, say, get a Sapphire Preferred for its 50,000 point signup bonus and free first year, and then cancel or convert it to a free card after a year. It’s not what most people would do, but…don’t you want those points?
Should I ever spend on an airline miles card?
Usually, no. Their points don’t earn as quickly, and they’re far less flexible.. But, if you fly a ton of JetBlue or Alaska, it might make sense to spend on those cards, since they transfer badly or not at all from credit card points, and they earn quickly when you fly on their own airlines. Or, if you spend a lot, then having the right Delta, American, or JetBlue card will let you spend your way towards elite status. And if you want a free checked bag with United, you have to buy your United tickets with one of their cards. (Unfortunately, United no longer offers a card that lets you spend towards elite status.) So, in these cases, maybe it makes sense to spend on an airline card. But if you want maximum flexibility for award tickets, or pay-with-points tickets, no, you don’t want to spend on an airline miles card.