Which Credit Card to Use and When?

Most of the credit cards I have sit at home. These are the cards that had great sign-up bonuses, but are not great for everyday spend. The only cards I keep in my wallet on a regular basis are ones for which I’m trying to meet the minimum spend and ones that earn me valuable rewards points. When making a purchase, this is my thought process:

  1. Is there a credit card that offers bonus points in the category that I’m spending in and that I’m trying to meet the minimum spend for?
  2. Is there a credit card that I’m trying to meet the minimum spend for?
  3. Is there a credit card that offers bonus points in the category that I’m spending in?
  4. Is there a credit card that gives me points that I can use towards the next vacation I am planning?

If the answer to #1 is yes, I will almost always use that card to make the purchase. The next 3 are generally in order above, but certain situations may arise that cause this order to change. If I have an idea on how I will meet the minimum spend on a card and I have another card that will offer bonus points in the category I am spending in, I may use that card. If I am rushing to accumulate some sort of rewards currency for a reception pretty soon (and am not worried about minimum spend on any of my cards), I may use that card.

There is no point in applying for all sorts of credit cards if you do not meet the minimum spend to get the bonus. Minimum spend requirements should always be at the front of your mind. After that, it is really up to you and where you want to go next!

Cards currently in my wallet:

Chase Freedom – 5x points in Q3 for gas

American Express Premier Rewards Gold – 2x points groceries, restaurants

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red – 3x points groceries (promotion that is capped at $1250 spend)

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select – current offer I have to get 1000 bonus miles every month that I spend $1000 for the next 16 billing cycles. 

When I receive my new 3 cards in the mail, I will also be adding those cards to my wallet in addition to these 4 cards.

 

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