For as long as I can remember, I’ve always used a credit card to pay for all my purchases. When I was younger, I didn’t always pay off the balance every month (which is part of how I got into over $20,000 in debt!), but nowadays I pay off the balance every week.
Of course the #1 reason why I use credit cards all the time is for their rewards programs, but I also love quick tap & go payments, how easy it is to have a summary of all my purchases online (makes entering in numbers on my spreadsheet a breeze!), and I absolutely hate carrying cash on me.
Even though I love credit cards, I’m not one to chase bonus sign-ups (only to cancel the cards later), nor do I hold a fist full of cards in my name. To be honest, that’s just way too much effort and managing my expenses is already a lot of work! Anyway, I like to think that I’m super strategic, and currently only hold two cards. Actually, I only had one credit card up until this past fall, when I added another card to my roster. :)
Here are the two cards that I currently hold:
Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard (grandfathered)
This card has a $120 annual fee, but I receive 10,000 bonus reward miles every year ($100 value) that helps to offset the cost, plus 2 reward miles for every $1 spent – with no annual limit!
What’s great about this card is the flexibility on how I can redeem my reward miles. There used to be an annoying tiered system where you weren’t really getting to redeem the full value of your reward miles. But back in October 2015, they switched it over so that you can just redeeming on any travel purchase with no tiered threshold.
This card was discontinued a while ago, but luckily I got grandfathered in with the old plan (so grateful for that). And I was able to add RD on as a user to my account so that we can start earning more rewards to put towards our travel expenses.
Related: Do you have a store credit card?
In 2016 with just my spending alone, I earned a total of $629.89 on this rewards card ($749.89 – $120 fee) which definitely took a huge chunk out of our travel budget. :)
The only down side to this card is that it is extremely difficult to get a credit limit increase. I’ve asked a few times for them to raise my limit, but it hasn’t budged from the $5,000 that I initially qualified for. It has been fine up until this past year, where there were a few instances I needed to charge more than $5,000 at a time and had to ask RD if I could use his card. So I decided I finally needed to get a second card…
Tangerine Money Back Credit Card
It was a pretty easy decision when it came to figuring out what my secondary card was going to be. I’m already a Tangerine customer, and the rewards program was the best I’ve seen for a no-fee credit card. I was offered a $15,000 credit limit and took $10,000.
Basically you get to choose two categories to earn 2% cash back (and 1% cash back on everything else). If you get your rewards deposited into a Tangerine savings account, you get to choose a third category.
What credit cards are you using?
Note: this post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.
Over the course of my twenties, I used different credit cards for different periods in my life. When I was in debt, I wanted a card with the lowest interest rate so that I could get myself out of debt as soon as possible. And after I got myself out of debt, I focused on finding the best credit card for my spending habits; one that would give me the ability to get rewarded for responsible spending.
I did a lot of research into different types of cards, and realized that there were essentially two different kinds of credit card users – the first category of users just wanted a credit card to make purchases they aren’t able to make in cash, and the other category of users wanted to be rewarded for spending. I definitely fell into the second category.
I knew I was mainly going to use my credit card for essentials – like gas and groceries and this kind of spending pattern is perfect for a cash back card. As you know, travel is my passion, so travel rewards credit cards are also a good option (and certainly one that I’ve explored over the years), but I knew it wasn’t my only option. Many travel rewards cards came with restrictions when it came to redeeming points and I wanted to really feel the benefits and rewards in my hand from using my credit card, something a cash back card can do for you annually.
For example, these days I typically charge between $750 and $1,200 on my credit card each month. With that kind of spending on a cash back card that offers 1.25% on purchases, your annual rewards can add up pretty fast. Take a look at these examples:
The new Amex SimplyCash card offers 5% cash back on all eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants in the first six months (up to $250) and 1.25% after, so if half my spending went to those kinds of purchases, my first year using the card would earn me a lot more cash back. Also, most cash back cards offer perks for travelers too – such as travel assistance, car rental and theft damage insurance, among other benefits.
I remember whenever I used to receive cash back from my credit card, I’d save half of it, and put the other half towards something fun – maybe dinner out with friends in the city or even Paris? I think it’s this type of flexible earning that has helped me become successful in managing my money now, 8 years after getting my first cash back card.
How did you determine what kind of credit card you’ll use?
Last month I blogged about potentially trying to find a new credit card because the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard was being discontinued. I was pretty bummed out because it’s a card I really like, and I even got my boyfriend to sign up for it as well so that we could earn travel rewards for our trips. So in case you were thinking of getting this card, or if you are already a cardholder but haven’t heard about what’s happening, here’s what I’ve learned from Capital One (who reached out to me via e-mail after reading my post):
- The Aspire Travel World MasterCard is being replaced with the Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard.
- The Elite MasterCard will provide stronger Concierge services to cardholders.
- New card holders will not receive the 10,000 miles Anniversary Bonus.
- The sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles was downgraded to 10,000 miles.
- They will keep the 2 rewards miles for every $1 spent on all purchases (with no cap).
- They still offer extremely strong travel insurance and benefits to cardholders.
But, existing Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard cardholders will still receive the 10,000 miles anniversary bonus every year. This is important because that means pretty much everything about the card stays the same for me, and for everyone else who already holds the card. It also means I don’t think I’ll need to find a new replacement. :)
Note: the minimum required personal income for the Elite card is $70,000 or a household income of $120,000. This is an increase of $60,000 personal and $100,000 household from the World card.
For existing cardholders – will you keep your card, or look for something else?