As a credit card churner, I spend a lot of timing thinking about which credit cards to get for their sign-up bonuses. However, I don’t put too much thought into which credit card to use for day-to-day purchases. I spend maybe $10,000-$15,000 dollars a year, and don’t manufacture spend too often anymore. Therefore, it has always seemed a little trivial which credit card to use for everyday purchases. For foreign purchases, I use the Chase Amazon Visa (no foreign exchange fees), and I usually use the AMEX SPG credit card for day-to-day purchases, or the MBNA Alaska credit card for places that don’t take AMEX. I’ve rethought how I should manage my credit portfolio…
The AMEX SPG [this is a referral] credit card has pretty great sign-up bonus (20,000 SPG points). It gives one SPG point per dollar spent. If you transfer 20,000 SPG points to a frequent flyer program, you get 25,000 points, so virtually, the card is a 1.25/1$ credit card. It has OK warranty and travel insurance benefits, and an annual $120 fee. That fee is easily reduced by calling AMEX and asking for an incentive – last year they mailed me a substantial AMEX gift card, and this year they deposited an extra 5,000 SPG points.
The MBNA Alaska [this is not a referral] credit card gives me one Alaska point per dollar. It has no warranty or notable insurance offerings. It’s really a churning card, however, I’ve use it to build up a good reputation with MBNA for future churns. Although it’s an excellent churning card, it’s not great for day-to-day spending.
So what is the best day-to-day credit card? The ideal card is one that you don’t have to think about too much, and something you’re happy to keep for many years (i.e., not a churning card). This is to maintain the benefit of credit card warranty/insurance programs, and to help build a positive credit history.
My favourite card that I can’t get is the Diner’s Club Mastercard (BMO), which has 1.7% return if the points are redeemed for cash, or excellent conversions to a number of points program. It also has a low annual fee. Further, it has excellent lounge and insurance benefits. Unfortunately, they’re not currently accepting applications, but when I called, they told me they expect to accept new applications by the end of the calendar year.
Another card that I don’t have but am looking at is the AMEX Blue Sky [this is not a referral], which doesn’t have an annual fee, a 10,000 point sign-up bonus ($100), and 1.25 points per dollar spent. It doesn’t have great insurance or warranty benefits, but it offers a good return for no annual fee. As it’s an AMEX card, so you might want to have another card (Mastercard or Visa) for those places that don’t accept AMEX.
Lastly, another card I don’t have but am looking at getting: the Capital One IHG Mastercard [this is not a referral]. It has an excellent 60,000 point sign-up bonus, 2 points per dollar on purchases (you only need 5,000 points for Pointsbreak redemptions), additional benefits with IHG, and excellent warranty and insurance services. It has a $120 annual fee.
Anybody else have any other recommendations? If you’re looking for cash-back or are running a business, I’d definitely recommend different cards, but these are some really good cards for day-to-day spending.