Consult with Cards: Baby boomer who tends to carry a balance
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Editor’s note: Consult with Cards is a weekly series where the TPG cards team helps our readers decide what their next card should be. If you would like to be a part of this series and receive a personalized consultation, email us.
Credit cards have been around for a long while now, so if you’re like TPG reader William West Hopper, you may have accumulated a healthy stash of cards in your wallet. Still, it’s always worth seeing what other options may fit into your strategy — so let’s help William figure out what his next best options are.
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William is 64 years young and currently living in Washington, D.C. He travels for work and describes himself as “an active boomer who is doing things that 20- to 30-somethings do, just with the knowledge and wisdom of age.”
When William travels for work, he often flies solo. For leisure trips, he travels with his life partner and friends. Simple adventures appeal to him — in other words, direct flights, trains and even the occasional cruise.
Current credit cards
Over the years, William has opened many credit cards. Here’s a snapshot of what’s currently in his wallet:
|Card||Welcome bonus||Earning rate||Annual fee|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your card in the first three months of card membership.||5x on flights and prepaid hotels on Amex Travel. 1.5x on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on each purchase of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year. 1x on other eligible purchases.||$595 ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022) (see rates and fees)|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership.||2x on the first $50,000 spent in purchases each calendar year, 1x on other eligible purchases.||$0 (see rates & fees)|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!||5% on Chase Travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards. 3% on drugstore and dining purchases. 1.5%
on all other purchases.
|Verizon Visa Card||Get up to $100 in credit applied to your wireless bill over the first 24 months — just use the card to pay your bill every month.||4% on grocery store and gas purchases, 3% on dining purchases, 2% on Verizon purchases and 1% back on all other purchases.||$0|
|Venmo Credit Card||$100 cash back bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first six months of account opening.||3% cash back on your eligible top spend category, 2% on the next and 1% on the rest.||$0|
The information for the Verizon Visa and Venmo cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Card recommendations for William
There are a few considerations to discuss before we provide our card recommendations for William.
“I carry a large balance on my credit cards,” said Hopper. “I need to stop that, especially with high interest rates.”
Before opening any new credit cards and chasing rewards, it’s essential to reduce any existing debt. After all, TPG’s 10 commandments for credit cards states, “Thou shalt pay thy balance in full.” If you fail to follow this principle, you will essentially negate the value of any points and miles you earn, and your credit score will consequently be lower.
Fortunately, William can consider opening a credit card with a 0% introductory APR offer that allows cardholders to secure no interest for a defined period. A great option that would fit into his existing portfolio is the Chase Freedom Flex. In addition to the $200 sign-up bonus after $500 spent within the first three months of account opening, there’s a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases. After the introductory period is over, it has a variable APR of 14.99% – 23.74%.
The Freedom Flex also fits into William’s long-term strategy as he already carries the Chase Freedom Unlimited. That means he can pool his Ultimate Rewards points into one account for greater redemption possibilities. Sometimes, it’s best to double down and focus on a couple of transferable currencies at a time. That way, you can have access to more sign-up bonuses and bonus categories that complement each other.
Once William reduces his debt, he should consider rounding out his Amex business trifecta. As he already carries the Amex Business Platinum and Amex Blue Business Plus, the missing piece here is the American Express® Business Gold Card.
With a $295 annual fee (see rates and fees), the Amex Business Gold comes with a welcome bonus of 70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with your card in the first three months of card membership. Beyond that, the Amex Business Gold complements William’s two other Amex cards with the following earning rate:
- 4x on the two categories where your business spent the most each billing cycle, on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year (1x thereafter):
- 1x on other eligible purchases.
Maximizing these bonus categories would help him rack up thousands of Membership Rewards points per year, which TPG values at 2 cents each. There are many ways to redeem them for travel, but we recommend checking our guide to sweet spots with your Membership Rewards points.
Last but not least, William resides in Washington, D.C., and is a frequent Amtrak traveler. The final card recommendation we have is the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®. For a reasonable $79 annual fee, Amtrak loyalists like William will get tons of value from this card every year.
The information for the Amtrak card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Here are the benefits:
- Sign-up bonus: Get 20,000 bonus points (worth up to $500 in Amtrak travel) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases on your new card within 90 days of account opening.
- Earning rate: 3x on Amtrak purchases, 2x on other qualifying travel purchases and 1x on all other purchases.
- Companion coupon, one-class upgrade and a single-visit lounge pass: Received upon account opening and when you renew your card every anniversary — these perks are worth hundreds of dollars if maximized.
- 5% point rebate: When you book Amtrak award travel, you’ll receive a 5% Amtrak Guest Rewards point rebate.
- Ability to earn tier-qualifying points (TQPs): Earn 1,000 TQPs every time you spend at least $5,000 in purchases in a calendar year, up to 4,000 TQPs.
- 20% rebate on Amtrak onboard food and beverages: Received in the form of a statement credit.
- No foreign transaction fees: You won’t pay foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
As you can see, true Amtrak fans will find tons of value from this card, whether it’s from the annual companion coupon or the ability to earn elite-qualifying points.
When it comes to credit cards, you may feel that never-ending urge of “what’s next.” William already has plenty of cards in his wallet, so his priority first should be to reduce his existing credit card debt before pursuing bigger welcome bonuses and card benefits. Once he figures out a sound strategy, he can apply for some of our top-of-the-line recommendations for infinite award travel possibilities.
Featured photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images.
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