What’s in Our Wallet: Credit Card Edition

Welcome to the first installment of “What’s in Our Wallet”!  This kicks off a series of posts aimed at providing a transparent look into our wallet, how we set up our finances and accounts, and a bit of our philosophy along the way.

A few housekeeping items to start us off…

Credit Card Usage:  

Credit Cards can be incredibly useful tools, but can also be quite dangerous when used incorrectly (or “correctly” if you are a credit card company…).  We suggest utilizing credit cards if you are comfortable with and committed to ONLY utilizing them for purchases you can afford and paying the balance in full each and every month.

Also- we are not affiliated in any way and do not endorse the companies/cards listed below (no affiliate agreement, no endorsement deal).  We are simply consumers giving our personal perspective on the cards we hold.

Pssst… In case you think we may be self-righteously extolling how good we are with credit cards, please know that we learned this lesson the hard way.  Mr. Adventure Rich and I spent our engagement and early marriage paying off over $10,000 in credit card debt.  It was a valuable lesson and we are much wiser in our old(er) age.

Mr. Adventure Rich and I use credit cards in the following manner:

1. Make most of our purchases with credit cards, using the card with the most advantageous point pay-out for the situation.

2. Pay the credit cards in full each month (no skipping this step!)

3. Reap the benefits of the points earned through the use of our credit cards.

4. Nerd Bonus:  Enjoy easy tracking of expenses through the simple automatic loading of transactions into tools such as Mint, Personal Capital and You Need a Budget.

Our Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserved:

The Chase Sapphire card is our everyday go-to card.  While there are decent points on general purchases, the draw for Mr. AR and I was the flexibility of point use and the points boost when we use your points for travel.  This is essentially our Swiss army knife travel card which works for all travel (any airline, hotel, car rental).

Point Earning and Our Utilization:  

Everyday go-to card (unless one of the cards below trumps the point offering of this card).  We earn 1% on all purchases, 2% on dining and travel and 3% on travel booked through Chase.

Point Redemption:  

The points for the Sapphire card can be redeemed as gift cards, cash back, credit card statement, or for travel.  And travel is all we redeem with these points.  When we purchase ticket or book a hotel through Chase Ultimate Rewards with Sapphire points, we get a 20% discount on the price of the ticket or room rate… not too shabby!  So if we have $100 (10,000 points), this turns into $125 worth of travel.

Use of this card has helped to lower the cost of travel and made it possible/more palatable to fly to last minute funerals, fly my dad out to California when our son, his first grandchild, was born (he was going to just send my mom so we surprised him with a ticket!) and help my brother with a discounted ticket when he was flying for a last minute job interview.

Chase Freedom:

My first credit card (cue the cheesy “awwww”).  This handy little card boasts no annual fee, 1% cash back on most purchases with 5% cash back on certain categories each calendar quarter (Example: “Grocery Stores and Pharmacies” or “Restaurants”).  I would recommend this card to someone who is looking for a basic points card with no annual fee.

Point Earning and Our Utilization:

Like I mentioned above 1% cash back or 5% on certain categories.  I typically only use this card for the category that has the extra points that quarter, but I have no plans to close this card since it is my first credit card helps to keep my credit score length growing!

Point Redemption:  

Similar to the Sapphire, these points can be redeemed as gift cards, cash back, credit card statement, or for travel.  Now, the travel tickets on this card are not discounted.  However (Hack Alert!), if you have both a Chase Sapphire card and a Chase Freedom card, you are allowed to transfer points from one card to another.  With this in mind, Mr. AR and I transfer the points earned on the Freedom card to the Sapphire account and reap the benefits of discounted travel!

Chase Amazon Prime:

As committed Amazon Prime members, we were excited to find out that Amazon partnered with Chase to offer a credit card with 5% cash back on all Amazon.com purchases for Prime members (3% for non-Prime members).  With no annual fee, this is a no brainer for us.  We use Amazon for most of our gift shopping (birthdays, Christmas, weddings, baby showers, etc.), household shopping when it is cheaper and/or more convenient than chasing items down in a store with a cranky toddler, and a few Subscribe & Save staples.

Point Earning and Our Utilization:  

We can earn 5% on Amazon as a Prime member (3% for non-Prime members), 2% on restaurants, gas stations and drug stores, and 1% on all else.  Mr. AR and I use this card on Amazon.com only.

Point Redemption:  

Points can be redeemed on Amazon.com.  Mr. AR and I are stockpiling these points so that we have a “gift fund”.  We plan to save up the points throughout the year and utilize them at Christmas when Amazon becomes our gift-giving platform of choice for out of town family.

Citi Costco:

I first signed up for a Costco membership 2013 and never looked back!  The Citi Costco credit card (formerly an American Express card) offers a good set of rewards for Costco and Gas Station purchases.  The card does come with an “Annual Fee”, but it is the Costco Membership fee (so we pay a total of $55, soon to be $60, once a year and this covers both the membership and the annual card fee).

Point Earning and Our Utilization:  

4% at Gas Stations, 3% on Restaurants and Eligible Travel, 2% at Costco, 1% on all other purchases.  We use this as our primary gas station and Costco card (of course!), but I need to remember to use it for restaurants as well!  Oh, and we oftentimes purchase from Costco via Google Express.  We still are awarded the 2% points on Costco purchases bought through Google Express.

Point Redemption:  

The points are paid out annually in your February statement and are eligible for either redemption against in store purchases or as a cash payout.

So, now that we’ve spilled the beans on our credit cards… how about you?  Do you use credit cards?  If so, which one(s) and why?

Always an Adventure,

Mrs. Adventure Rich