Saturday Critical Action – Upgrade Your Credit Cards

by | 19May2018 | Credit Cards, Critical Actions, Debt | 5 comments

Welcome to the Saturday Critical Action. Each Saturday we take the weekly action from Jonathan Clements‘ blog Humble Dollar and “militarize” it for you. Jonathan Clements was a longtime personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and he offers great advice at the best price you can get…free. Here is this week’s critical action:

UPGRADE YOUR CREDIT CARDS. If you use one that doesn’t offer cash back or other rewards, swap it for one that does. Pay an annual fee? That might be worth it for the first year if it’s a travel rewards card that offers a large initial bonus. But if you can’t get a retention bonus or the fee waived for year two, you might cancel and get a new card.


Credit cards…

First, if you have an American Express card you need to read this article – How to Get Hundreds or Thousands of Dollars Back from American Express. Seriously, it works.

My partner Was-In has written a few posts about credit cards, including In Praise of the Credit Card Part I and Part II. I’ve written about them in my guidance for managing your debt. What we haven’t done that a lot of financial bloggers do is tell you what cards we use and why.

Card #1 – American Express Platinum Card

This is my latest credit card. It is made of actual platinum, so that by itself is reason enough to get it. But the real reason we got it is because it has a huge list of benefits associated with it including premium airport lounge access, concierge service, and Uber credit. Most importantly, the $550 annual fee is waived for active duty personnel. There is no reason not to get this premium card, and here’s a great article from The Points Guy about how to get the maximum benefit from it.

Card #2 – American Express Blue Cash Preferred

This card was our go-to American Express card until we realized you can get the Platinum for free. We like it because rather than playing the rewards point game, we just get straight up cash back, including 1% on all purchases, 3% on gas, and 6% on groceries.

Card #3 – USAA Cash Rewards Visa Signature

We are loyal to USAA to a fault. Currently their Visa offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no foreign transaction fees.


    • Still In

      Chase certainly has great cards. They are probably better than the USAA Visa I use, but the issue is that I’m not a credit card churner. I don’t feel like taking the time to do it, so cash back is the thing I’m interested in.

      • Eli

        Yeah, it would be a shame to get $300 a year for all travel with almost no effort. If you’re looking for the best cashback card why wouldn’t you go with the Citi Double Cash Card for an extra 0.5% on all purchases (now that USAA no longer offers the 2.5% cashback card).

  1. Carlos

    The USAA cash rewards card starts at 1.5%, but it is frequently offered with a bonus 1% cash back (unlimited returns) when you have a direct deposit into a joint USAA checking account. 2.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases is pretty unheard of and I use this as my every day go to card rather than flipping between 3-4 cards to eek out an extra 0.5% on gas vs. groceries vs. restaurants, etc.


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