The credit cards I wish I had in my wallet right now
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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic recesssion have forced people to shelve much of their award travel plans for 2020. From canceled trips to delayed credit card applications (maybe you lost your job or have been furloughed or maybe the card you want has recently tightened its approval standards), for most people now is the time to plan, not to act.
With that in mind, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my credit card wishlist. These are the cards that I want to add to my wallet but haven’t yet, either because my applications were rejected, I’ve been ineligible to apply, or I simply haven’t gotten around to pulling the trigger yet.
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While a list like this is a very personal thing, I’ve already covered much of the low hanging fruit. In the four-plus years that I’ve been collecting points and miles I’ve opened more than 25 cards, meaning that I now have to think a little further outside the box to find valuable offers that I’m actually eligible to apply for. Let’s take a look at the cards that top my wish list.
Related reading: Yes, I have 19 credit cards; here’s why
Chase restricts applications for its credit cards with the 5/24 rule, which says that you’ll automatically be rejected if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards across all issuers in the last 24 months (note that most business cards don’t count). I’d been over 5/24 since 2016, but after applying for mostly business cards recently I slipped under this spring.
The Ink Business Preferred was the only card I’ve applied for in 2020, but my timing was a bit off. With the economy slipping into a recession, I was rejected for not having enough cash in deposit or investment accounts with Chase, a reason I’d never seen before.
Once the economy starts to recover, the Ink will be the first card I apply for again. I’m still just as excited about its massive welcome bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first three months, worth $2,000 based on TPG’s valuations. The Ink Preferred comes with a modest $95 annual fee and earns 3x points per dollar on your first $150,000 in combined purchases at the following categories:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
While I’ve held many Chase and Amex cards over the years, I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to earning Citi ThankYou Points, which TPG values slightly lower than Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. I used to hold the Citi Prestige® Card, but canceled it earlier this year as the benefits continued to dwindle.
Citi is rather unique in that you need to wait 24 months from opening or closing cards for your bonus eligibility to reset, which means I won’t be able to apply for the Citi Premier until January 2022. While that’s a long way away right now, the Citi Premier tends to offer one of the most valuable bonuses from a non-premium credit card. New applicants can earn 60,000 ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, worth $1,020 based on TPG’s valuations. That’s higher than the 50,000-point bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) on the premium Citi Prestige and more valuable than the welcome offers you’ll find on other popular cards like the American Express® Gold Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. The information for the Citi Prestige cards have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
One of the reasons I’ve stayed away from Citi ThankYou Points is that I don’t love their transfer partners as much as Chase and Amex. Still, about 50% of my flight redemptions now are booked through Avianca LifeMiles, which is a 1:1 Citi transfer partner. The 60,000 point bonus on the Premier is 80% of a one-way Star Alliance business class ticket to Asia on airlines like EVA or 2/3 of the miles needed for a one-way first-class flight on ANA or Air China.
I’m not sure how the Citi Premier will fit into my long-term points and miles strategy, but the card recently overhauled its bonus categories to offer 3x points per dollar on air travel, hotels, supermarkets, restaurants and gas stations, making it a compelling choice for many of the most popular spending categories.
Related reading: Citi Premier Credit Card review
Capital One is a bit of a pain point for me, as I’ve been rejected from the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card three times now despite having a nearly perfect credit score. Capital One is incredibly sensitive to recent inquiries, meaning that you might get rejected if you’ve opened a lot of new accounts in the last year or two, even if your credit score is otherwise good.
As I already mentioned, I’m choosing not to apply for many cards this year, instead waiting to see how the economy recovers and keeping my opportunities open for when we start to see more elevated bonus offers. This means that many of my recent inquiries are going to fall off my report, and I’ll hopefully be able to get approved for a Capital One card moving forward.
I’m still not sure whether I’ll apply for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Spark Miles for Business. Both cards offer the same 2x miles per dollar spent on all purchases and have access to the same set of transfer partners, and both card have a $95 annual fee (though the Spark waives the fee for the first year and the Venture doesn’t). I’m leaning towards the Spark, but will probably pick whichever card has a higher bonus offer when I’m ready to apply.
Related reading: Capital One Venture Rewards credit card review
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
I know I’m not alone in saying that the coronavirus has changed the way I plan to travel in the near future. It’s been over 120 days since I’ve been on a plane, and even once travel begins to open up more I see myself taking a lot more roadtrips and staycations and fewer long haul flights to farway places.
That means it’s finally time to practice what I preach and add a fixed value card to my wallet. My top choice in this category has always been the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card for two main reasons. First of all, the card pays for itself quite easily. In exchange for a $95 annual fee you get a $100 airline incidental fee credit, meaning you pocket $5 every year you keep the card open.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card also has very solid earning rates, offering a welcome bonus worth $500 and 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x everywhere else. These numbers can go even higher if you’re eligible for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, giving you up to a 2.625x earning rate on nonbonus spending, one of the best on the market.
After 4+ years of earning and burning points, I either currently have, already have had, or am ineligible to apply for most of popular rewards cards out there. This forces me to get a bit more creative and strategic, but there are plenty of cards with valuable bonuses that I still want to add to my wallet. Some will require a bit of patience, and possibly waiting out the end of this recession, but I’m taking advantage of this downtime to plan as much as possible.
Featured image by John Gribben for The Points Guy
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WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
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