This is my first post about my personal journey towards credit card nirvana. Coupled with my musings, reviews, and lessons, I hope these posts help serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for starting your own journey. As I have stated numerous times in my other posts, every journey towards credit card nirvana will be different so don’t think you need to copy mine step for step. Instead, focus on learning from my successes (and mistakes) so you can pave your own way!
If you have been following my blog since the beginning you will probably remember I briefly mentioned how I started my journey. For those who missed that post, basically my journey started when I got a letter from the issuing bank of my only credit card at the time. The letter outlined some changes (for the worse) that were about to start for my credit card rewards program. Up to that point I really did not pay attention to what types of rewards my credit card was giving me, but for some reason just seeing the dismal breakdown of the rewards on paper caused me to start looking at other options. I did a lot of research on different credit cards available and followed my credit plan before deciding which card I wanted. At the time I was very fortunate to have a solid credit score and income so therefore was not too concerned about not being eligible for certain cards. After analyzing our spending trends I discovered that my wife and I spent the most money on groceries and gas. Armed with this information I realized that our best option would be to apply for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card. The 6% cash back on all grocery store purchases along with the 3% cash back on gas and department stores made it an easy choice once I determined where we spent the most of our money each month. Although the AMEX BCP card carried an annual fee, I did the math and the amount of money we spent each year would offset that cost and give us plenty of “profit” beyond that threshold in cash back. Starting a relationship with American Express was a good idea in my mind as well since they had some other very competitive cards that I had my eye on for future applications. There was a nice $150 sign up bonus that we easily met with our normal spending which further maximized our rewards.
It was strange at first having two credit cards in my wallet. I had become accustomed to carrying one credit card for so many years. However, I started exclusively only using my new AMEX BCP card since it even got me better cash back (1%) on other non-grocery/gas/department store purchases compared to my original card (less than 1%). Perhaps like a security blanket, I couldn’t quite remove that original card from my wallet. Even if I did, I would never close the account. Since that was my oldest account, closing it would significantly lower the average age of credit component to my overall credit score. Since then, I have only occasionally put very small purchases on it in order to keep the account open.
Little did I know, that first step in studying our spending habits put me on a journey that I am still on today. I went almost a year without applying for another credit card, but an upcoming trip abroad caused me to look at new credit cards again…