Credit card intro bonuses are amazing. They’re the best way to get the most bang for your buck and send your globetrotting for pennies on the dollar. But depending on your budget and travel needs, chasing bonuses might not make sense.
What you do need is a card (or two) that works for you on a day-to-day basis. Ensuring every purchase you make, big and small, is being maximized.
To do this, you need to analyze your spending habits. Do you eat out a lot? Do you spend a lot on gas? Do you commute to work? Anything that impacts your monthly outgoings in a significant way should factor into your selection.
Here’s an example: John rents an apartment for $1500 a month. He does his best to eat in but regularly spends $300-400 a month on eating out. He commutes using the subway daily and takes a couple of vacations every year. He only wants to earn travel points, not cash back.
A great card for him to have is the Amex Green. It grants him 3x points per dollar on all travel and transit (including the subway, ferries, flights, etc.). On top of this, he’ll also earn 3x points per dollar at restaurants.
For his rent, he could open this card. It’s specifically designed for renters, earning a point for every dollar spent on their apartment. For every other purchase, he could use this card. Its flat rate of 2x points per dollar prevents any purchase from being maximized.
An extremely rough estimate, using his rent, commute, and eating out habits, combined with an estimate of $4,000 on vacations a year, and another $500 a month in groceries, bills, and other expenses, would see him earning over 60,000 points. That’s more than enough for a transatlantic flight. Better yet, those three cards’ combined annual fees only add up to $240 a year.
Find your core workhorses. You’ll wallet will thank you after your next trip.