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Credit Card Cash Rewards Explained

 
Credit card cash rewards can offer added benefits to credit card owners. But sometimes it can be confusing to claim them. In addition, not all cash rewards are the same.

Types and Distribution of Credit Card Cash Rewards

There are several types of credit card cash rewards as well as different ways they can be distributed. It is important to know when and how they can be made available to make the most of these rewards.

Credit-Card-Cash-Rewards
American Express® statement credit cash reward printed and stored either digitally or manually for proof of distribution.

Types of Cash Rewards

There are between three and four types of cash rewards. The most direct is the statement credit applied directly to your credit card statement, illustrated above. But which statement is the question. Is it your current statement or your next statement? I often find that a call into the credit card company is needed to clarify this question.

The other types of cash rewards are illustrated here. They are gift cards, merchandise and friend referral rewards.

Credit-Card-Cash-Rewards
Types of additional cash rewards available as illustrated by Amex®.

Distribution of Credit Card Cash Rewards

This is where things can get confusing. Distribution has several options:
• anytime by request online or by phone
• with a minimum of $25 in rewards by the same methods
• in increments of $25 in rewards by the same methods

credit-card-cash-rewards
Capital One® offers cash back in any amount at any time plus lots of other rewards.

Option One is the simplest and most direct. Capital One and now Bank of America credit cards both offer this service. See the illustration above,

Option Two is where things can get complicated and there are drawbacks. This is because you can’t withdraw cash rewards at any time. There has to be an accumulation of at least $25 to do so. American Express distributes cash rewards this way. Read the fine print inside the red outline.

credit card cash rewards
Cash rewards are available for a minimum of $25 dollars. See the fine print inside the red lines.

Then there is Option Three, the least desirable way to cash in cash rewards. They can only be made in increments of $25. As illustrated below, cash rewards can be distributed only in increments of $25.

credit card cash rewards
Wells Fargo Go Far® Cash Rewards program distributes rewards only in incremented of $25.

Reading the fine print is important to understand what types of credit card cash reward exist and how they can be distributed. You can also learn more about credit cards on this blog by going to the search bar and typing in credit cards.

SOURCES AND RESOURCES

Capital One Cash Back VISA Credit Cards
Bank of America Cash Back VISA Credit Cards
Wells Fargo Credit Cards
American Express Credit Cards

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Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)

 
Mixed cash rewards are the category of cards that most cash reward cards fit into. Therefore, this blog post will offer much details about this category. Unlike Green Go cards that have excellent ratings, these mixed benefit cards can have many pros and cons. Because of this, I refer to them as yellow light cards. Their mix of offerings can make it very difficult to decide whether to go or to stop from securing one.

CASH REWARD CREDIT CARD RATINGS

mixed-cash-reward-benefits
To make this easier to understand, the rating system for Cash Reward Credit Cards is similar to how traffic signals control vehicular movement. Image is from Pixabay.

In order to make the most of mixed cash reward credit cards, one should first compile a list of the pros and cons of the cards being considered. I recommend applying for only one card at a time. Let me explain how the mixed category works.

THREE CASH REWARD CARDS BENEFIT CATEGORIES

As described in previous posts in this series, Cash Reward credit cards can be divided into three types of benefit categories. This is similar to how a traffic signal directs vehicular activity. Both the GREENLIGHT and REDLIGHT signal are fairly straight forward in their comment. The former directs one to GO while the latter clear indicates STOP.

But the middle or mixed category does neither clearly. In fact, it leaves the decision up to the driver. That person must make a judgment call on their own. In spite of this, a judgment call does not have to be made blindly.
 


GREEN LIGHT credit card cash reward cards detailed in the blog post Excellent Cash Reward Credit Cards (June 2019)

YELLOW LIGHT cash reward cards and qualities are detailed in this blog post, Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (June 2019)

RED LIGHT means to seriously consider avoiding a particular cash reward card with overwhelming drawbacks.


mixed-cash-rewards-benefits
The yellow ‘caution’ light traffic signal from Pixaday images.
YELLOW LIGHT CASH REWARD CARDS

So far, all the credit cards mentioned in this series have no annual fees. But cards that do have annual fees can pay substantially more rewards, like the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express®. For the privilege of the much higher cash reward levels, there is an annual fee of $95. Coincidently, there is also a signup bonus of $250. Right there, the annual fee is offset. For the most part, I prefer not to get cards with annual fees. Somehow, money needs to be made available to pay the fee each year.

MAKING A JUDGMENT CALL

This works well for people with savings. But it may not be practical for Former Middle-Class people who barely make ends meet on a monthly basis to allow for this. Saving up $95 for the annual fee tends to be a luxury reserved for the Middle Class. But, in spite of my limited funds, I made a judgment call and went for a card with an annual fee. My thinking was as follows.

Normally, I get 3% cashback for groceries. Figuring charges of around $400/month for groceries at 3% gives me a return of $12/month. That becomes $24/month at 6%. Over a year, I make an additional expense reduction of $120. That pays for the annual fee of $95. In addition, the promotional signup bonus is $250. This is clearly a win-win situation. I just have to make sure I have the annual fee put aside each year. Another point in its favor is that the total of necessary charges. It is $1000 in 3 months. That is the same as many other cards with fewer benefits.

mixed-cash-reward-cards
The Blue Cash Preferred Cash Rewards Credit Card can be an excellent choice for grocery shopping and gas. But you need to pay a $95 annual fee. Recommended by Best Cash Back Credit Cards (June 2019)

 

MAKE THE BEST FIT FOR A GIVEN CATEGORY

Also, check the fit as described in the third post poker analogy. Does it fit into the % flush or straight flush? Does it have the most benefits for type category you want a card in? Refer back to Blog Post 3as a helpful example. Also refer to the example below.

HOME IMPROVEMENT CARDS

If you are looking to form an ongoing credit card charging relationship with a home improvement superstore, controversy reign on which store and credit card are best. Lowe’s seems to outrank The Home Depot. Also see the review of the Barclaycard in the Sources & Resources Section at the end of this post.

 

[caption id="attachment_19475" align="alignleft" width="703"]Mixed cahs reard cards At first glance, a great deal. But read the fine print.

MORE CONSIDERATIONS

Green Go cards are clearly transparent in what makes them excellent considerations for cash reward cards. Yellow mixed consideration cards are not as straight forward. Then, the pros and cons need to be weighed more carefully to decide if one in this category is a good choice. Consider the amount of a promotional bonus they pay. Know the % of return and any limitations regarding that. See which side of the scale they tip to, more pros or more cons.

Check the fine print. That means the not obvious, hidden qualities of the card. As a matter of fact, these can result in more negative than positive qualities. For example, the Barclaycard account sounds good at first glance. But it does have one major drawback. I know of no other card with this drawback. Surprisingly it does not pay cash rewards until $50 worth has been accumulated. So beware of such fine print. In addition, Some other cards charge no annual fee for the first year but do charge one after that.

 

CONCLUSION

The final post in this series will focus on the qualities and kinds of cards that are in the RED signal area. They should be avoided or pursued with the utmost caution. Because they are risky, sometimes that makes them plain unsuitable in my opinion. In addition, the risk is like making a right turn on red when you’re not sure there was a sign indicating that it is okay to do so. Or you make the turn without looking so see if a card is coming from your left. Beware Risky Cash Reward Cards

Here are the links to this five-part series about my Credit Card Rating System:
Introduction to A Credit Card Rating System
The Rating System Used for Cash Back Credit Cards (Series Part 2 – June 2019)
Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3 – June 2019)
Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)
Risky Cash Reward Credit Cards (Part 5-June 2019)

Please note: I am not a certified financial planner or professional advisor. These blog posts about the use of credit cards are based on my own experience which I freely share. But I can take no legal or financial responsibility for the results you may have in attempting to follow my system. But I do wish you the best and welcome your comments and questions at the VERY end of this post. You will have reached the end because you can not scroll down any further. As well, you will have reached the comment form.

 

SOURCES RESOURCES

Compare Cards: Best Cards for Cash Back

Nerd Wallet | Credit Cards Market Place

How Cash Back Credit Cards Work

Credit Cards for Home Improvement

Barclaycard CashForward World Mastercard

Best Credit Cards For Gas

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Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3-June 2019)

 
This post, excellent cash reward cards is the third in this series. By now readers most likely understand that in order to choose excellent cash reward cards including the excellent benefits they offer, it is key to have a reliable cash reward credit card rating system. Then one can best evaluate the quality of any card being considered.
 

A CASH REWARD CREDIT CARD RATING SYSTEM

excellent-cash-rewards-cards
My system for rating Cash Reward Credit Cards has two parts. First there is the similarity to how traffic signals regulate traffic.

TO REVIEW IN GENERAL

As a rule, cash reward credit cards offer all kinds of cash benefits as compensation for making purchases with them. In order to make the most of cash reward credit card choices, you need to know a card’s pros and cons.

As a matter of fact, excellent cash reward cards tend not to have much of anything in the way of drawbacks. In other words, you want to pick a card that bats as close to 1000 as possible. That is the purpose of an excellent cash rewards card.

With this in mind, once you know what to look for and what to avoid, then you’ll have the tools necessary to plan for the best card with the most benefits. In other words, an excellent rated card. Let’s look at this more closely.

 

 

GREEN LIGHT CREDIT CARD CASH REWARD CARDS
cash-rewards-considerations
Green light adapted from a Pixaday image.

Greenlight cash reward credit cards offer these types of benefits:
1. good to excellent percentages on cash rewards (3-5%)
2. $150-$200 promotional bonus for opening an account and even more on cards with annual fees
3. cash rewards are available in any amount at any time
4. rewards redemption is possible by a variety of methods
5. choose from several categories for top rewards rate
6. payment date and statement closing dates can be changes

cash-reward-considerations
The Bank of America® 2019 Top Rated Cash Reward Credit Card Mastercard is a ‘green light’ card. Specifically, it has a 5-star rating from CompareCards® by Lending Tree

 

 

 

 

 

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards MasterCard

excellent-cash-rewards-cards
Green light adapted from a Pixaday image.
One cash rewards credit card that provides all of the qualities listed below is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Mastercard. In fact, it has been rated No. 1 in Cash Reward Credit Cards for 2019 repeatedly on websites like comparecards.com.

The benefits include:
a. $200 promotional signup bonus
b. 3% reward in a specific categories
c. user can choose which category gets 3% from several options
d. cash rewards accumulated are available in any amount at any time
e. no annual fee

 

 

 

 

excellent-cash-rewards-benefits
Another top rated card is the Capital One® Quicksilver Card which also has an excellent rating of 4 1/2-stars from NerdWallet.com.
Capital One® Cash Rewards Quicksilver MasterCard

excellent-cash-rewards-cards
Green light adapted from a Pixaday image.
Also a highly rated cash rewards credit card is the Capital One® Quicksilver Card. It’s only possible drawback is the 1.5 percentage rate on cash rewards. But that is still better than getting only 1%. Besides, rewards are available at any time. As a result, the following benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks on some other cards with a higher % rate.

The benefits include:
a. $150 promotional signup bonus
b. 1.5% everywhere, on everything
c. redeem any amount of rewards at any time
d. no annual fee ever

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

There’s more to come. Here are the links to all five posts in this series about my Credit Card Rating System:
Introduction to A Credit Card Rating System
The Rating System Used for Cash Back Credit Cards (Series Part 2 – June 2019)
Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3 – June 2019)
Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)
Risky Cash Reward Credit Cards (Part 5-June 2019)

Please note: I am not a certified financial planner or professional advisor. These blog posts about the use of credit cards are based on my own experience which I freely share. But I can take no legal or financial responsibility for the results you may have in attempting to follow my system. But I do wish you the best and welcome your comments and questions at the VERY end of this post. You will have reached the end because you can not scroll down any further. As well, you will have reached the comment form.

SOURCES & RESOURCES
Compare Cards: Best Cards for Cash Back

Nerd Wallet | Credit Cards Market Place

Best Cash Back Credit Cards from WalletHacks.com

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Using Cash Reward Credit Cards for Survival & Profit

 

Introduction

I’ve talked a lot about using cash reward credit cards, lately. It actually feels like I am living in a credit card world. In fact, this for two reasons. One is because I have wanted to learn everything I could about cash reward credit cards, credit scores and credit reports, too. The other reason, probably the most important one, is that cash reward credit cards have become one of my most essential survival tools.

cash reward credit cards
Alison D. Gilbert, The Credit Card Maven
The Credit Card Maven

As a result of my intense interest and need to know everything I can about credit cards, I’ve even created a Facebook page called The Credit Card Maven. This is where I post information as I have researched and sourced it. I have found a number of websites, blog posts, Facebook pages (listed here) and groups that are extremely helpful resources in my quest for knowledge as The Credit Card Maven in my credit card world. Included are:
Credit Card Mastery
Credit Karma
CreditCards.com
NerdWallet
Wallet Hacks
Wise Bread
 

cash reward credit cards
Viper Tool Storage Box Survival Toolkit as part of My Credit Card World
Credit Cards as a Survival Tool

As I mentioned at the start of this post, credit cards have become a survival tool in my credit cards world. It was not by design that this came to be.

It was more a matter of circumstances. Once I got a feel for how useful and profitable using credit cards could be, my desire to use them and master it increased. Let me give you an example.

I have had cash reward credit cards for a number of years. I can accumulate up to about $40. in a two month period from one of them. That was a good beginning. Then I decided to get a travel rewards card in anticipation of someday going to visit my family in Colorado. I used it and kept on accumulating points.

Credit Card Currency

When I went to check on the conversion to paying for an airplane ticket, the results were not impressive. I had to find something better. This time by design, I set out to find the best deal I could for air travel benefits using a credit card. I found one that I ultimately used for my flight. It rewarded me with 30,000 points and a $100. discount on my airplane ticket. This was such a great deal that I have enough points to return to Colorado for free, right now.

cash reward credit cards
Credit cards currency from 123RF.com
Now that’s what I call using credit cards as currency. If I could do that with a travel rewards credit card, I wondered what other benefits and rewards I could manifest in my credit cards world. I familiarized myself with a few other travel rewards cards as part of getting a second ticket for my husband and having funds for other things related to our vacation. All in all, my activities resulted in a savings of between $400 and $500 for our trip.

 

 

Credit Card Investing

Let me present one more situation where the skilled use of a credit card became very profitable. I found an offer for a cash rewards credit card that would refund $100 on spending $500 within 90 days of acquiring the card. That would be a 20% profit. I had never accomplished that in the stock market. It seemed like a very good investment to me. I wasn’t sure if I would be granted another card as I had accumulated quite a few by this point. But it came through. I fulfilled the requirements. Now I am just waiting for my investment to pay off.

cash reward credit cards
Credit Card Monthly Rotation represented by a photo from blog.taxact.com
Credit Card Monthly Rotation

I made another discovery. It may seem a bit confusing. In fact, I am kind of surprised that I am even able to do this. I am calling it credit card monthly rotation. It is based upon a combination of the nature of credit cards themselves and good credit card hygiene.

Each credit card has a closing date and a payment due date. Since I have several cash reward credit cards and they have different closing and payment dates, I can stagger them and not have to pay them at the same time. If I make my purchases and schedule my payments using my monthly rotation system, I have a revolving credit situation. In other words, if my budget in a particular month needs to be exceeded, I can use a card that has a closing date that will allow payment the following month. I just have to make sure the funds will be available then. I also have to have a very good bookkeeping system to keep track of every detail of every card.
 

cash reward credit cards
Brian Cain’s Credit Card Mastery Course
Credit Card Mastery

What is credit card mastery? Have I achieved it? It turns out that this term exists. I did not invent it as I thought I had. There is actually a course called Credit Card Mastery that costs $97. Much of it seems similar to my own system. Although I have not taken that course, it looks very comprehensive. This is an introduction to the course and an explanation of it by founder, Brian Cain.

Based upon my understanding and goals to achieve Credit Card Mastery, I believe that I am on my way but I have not achieved mastery yet. When will I achieve it? There are several requirements that I have established for myself:
• My credit scores average will be over 800 again. It is only about 10-20 points from that now.
• My monthly rotation system will have proven itself to work and I will have a sense of mastery in my credit card world
• My Credit Card Management Chart will be complete and committed to memory. As a result, I will have a firm grasp on all my cards and a natural flow for their use in rotation as needed.

Conclusion

To many people, understanding credit scores and reading credit reports are overwhelming and confusing. There is no need to not have transparency and clarity about your credit cards world. Credit cards are an important tool and can even be crucial for personal survival and business development. Study the resources provided. Take the Credit Card Mastery Course if you can. Having one’s finances in order and being able to live solvently in a credit card world are not luxuries. They are necessities and everyone deserves to have them.

cash reward credit cards
The Cool Piggy Bank property of The WalletHacks.com and the cover image of their facebook page
Sources & Resources

CreditCardMastery.com, a course developed by Brian Cain
CreditCards.com, find a credit card that’s right for you
CreditKarma.com, free credit scores and more
NerdWallet.com, Best Credit Cards of 2017
NextAdvisor.com, all about finances
WalletHacks.com, founded by Jim Wang
WiseBread.com, great blog post advice about credit cards and everyday frugal living

FICO SCORE AND CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES
Equifax
Experian
Transunion
Identity Guard

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FINANCIAL SURVIVAL: A TWENTY FIRST CENTURY COUPON CUTTING SYSTEM

 

INTRODUCTION

Twenty First Century coupon cutting might become the next money-saving system we need to utilize for financial survival. In other words, it could become Phase Two of the financial mountain climbing challenge we face. It would start in 2020. The reason for calling this Phase Two is that we may require another money-saving financial survival system in addition to cash reward credit cards.
This would be to offset the 2020 Medicare-Medicaid crisis that we are faced with right now. This additional financial survival system would be an addition to the cash rewards credit card financial survival system I originally devised and have been using for the last 10 years, from 2009-2019.
21st century coupon cutting tool
Climbing the mountain of financial survival again. Photo from goodfon.com

 

PART ONE: TOOLS FOR HELP WITH FINANCIAL CHALLENGES 2009 – 2019

To return to 2009 for a moment, our first major financial mountain climbing challenge was when we went ‘From Middle Class to One Day From Homeless’. We had to make substantial compromises to our lifestyle just to survive indoors.
There are actually four Amazon Kindle Ebooks that I wrote about that journey. Fortunately, I had discovered the benefits of the responsible use of cash reward credit cards. They can be invaluable in accumulating welcome bonuses as well as cash rewards. These are the Ebooks I wrote over this ten year period.
Four Ebook by Alison D. Gilbert
Our Story from 2009-2019 as told in Four Kindle Ebooks with the evolution of the Cash Rewards Credit Card Financial Survival System

 

PART TWO: TOOLS FOR HELP WITH FINANCIAL CUTBACKS 2020 GOING FORWARD

Now we may be facing an additional tightening of our belts. What this means is that another system besides Cash Rewards will need to come into play as part of our financial survival tools.
I am constantly being introduced to new money-saving apps. In fact, most of them do not require manual coupon cutting. Instead, the saving is sent electronically from one devise location to another devise location which can then register at purchase checkout to apply the savings.
To start, there are plastic tags with individual identity name and graphics on one side. Then there is a bar card on the back to identify each store. Savings are electronically registered on a store’s tag. Finally, that information is transferred to the cash register at purchase.
coupon cutting tags
21st Century coupon cutting tags with retailer image on one side and electronically activated barcode on the other

 

CONCLUSION

21st Century coupon cutting is a transformation of the previous century system. In fact, the new system is digital coupons. Therefore, going forward in this series, look more and more for keywords that refer to digital coupons rather than coupon cutting. But don’t throw your scissors or coupon organizer quite yet. Instead, prepare to use them less and less. Happy savings, 21st-century style!
 

HOW TO MAKE A COMMENT

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comment block
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SOURCES & RESOURCES

One Day From Homeless

Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit

Four Amazon Kindle Ebooks on Financial Survival Using Cash Reward Credit Cards

Save Money on Groceries

Electronic coupon transfers
TopCashBack Recommended by Wallet Hacks
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HOW MANY CREDIT CARDS IS TOO MANY ?

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE TOO MANY CREDIT CARDS?

How many are too many? Is there a set rule or a prescribed limit? Apparently not from what I have read. But what I have found is that when I have to spend hours almost daily to monitor them, it is too many for me.

many credit cards
How many Credit Cards Should You Carry? from moneyunder30.com
HOW DID I END UP WITH SO MANY CREDIT CARDS?

When I discovered that cash reward credit cards could be a reliable way to reduce my monthly expenses, I started applying for them as often as I could. Of course, the idea was to get the largest promotional welcome bonus, the highest % of cash rewards as well as a substantial amount of available credit. Therefore for about the last three years, gathering cash reward credit cards has become a major pastime. Well, guess what? Now I have too many cards.

credit cards
From creditcard.com, One Credit Card or Many? How to Decide?
THE JOURNEY TO TOO MUCH

It has been a tremendously educational experience collecting all the cards I have. Primarily, it has helped and still helps to reduce my expenses. In addition, I have written many blog posts and several Ebooks about this. Doubtless, there will be more. But the most significant comment I can make at this time is that right now I have too many. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have reached critical mass.

FICO score factors
There are Six Primary Credit Card factors in the major FICO® scoring system as illustrated by Credit Karma®

For most of this time, my primary concern has been focusing on the 5 or 6 FICO® credit score factors that go into building a good credit score. Certain cards have taken priority for charging purchases. Then it recently occurred to me that if I did not start using all of my cards, some could be closed for inactivity. That could affect my credit score negatively by lowering my available credit, changing the average length of time I have had cards and flagging too many closures. Low and behold, that is exactly what happened this week. One of my co-branded cards was closed without notice for inactivity.

Account-Closed
Credit Monitoring Alert from CreditSesame.com
HOW MANY CARDS DO I NEED?

I need enough cards to satisfy the FICO® score factors. Fortunately, I found a formula that I could use to determine how many cards to own, which ones to keep and those to phase out since I had surpassed critical mass. These are the factors I now consider in which cards to use:
a. the oldest aged accounts
b. those with the best credit line and lowest credit utilization ratio
c. the ones with optimal returns in my top spending categories
d. those that give me the maximum value for use with my favorite merchants, stores, airlines or hotels

straight flush credit card collection
Optimize the Credit Cards You Carry with A ‘ Straight Flush’
HOW MANY CARDS DO I WANT?

My sense is that I would like to have no more than ten at the most. For example, my ‘straight flush’ analogy illustrates most of them. Beyond that, I think that one or two travel cards are essential. Other than that, an additional card or two in the ‘straight flush’ formula would be OK too.

FICO® score 9/24/19
My FICO® score in September 2019 according to CreditJourney
CONCLUSION

I am at a new beginning. I have climbed the credit card mountain in excellent standing. Now it is time to descend the other side with equal care. Therefore future writings on this topic will involve reducing my load doing my best to maintain my great credit card standing while keeping also 6 FICO® score factors in balance.

SOURCES & RESOURCES

How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?
How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
Images of Many credit Cards

Improve your link text by avoiding competing links

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CREDIT CARD CRITICAL MASS

 

credit card critical mass
From Credit Karma, How Many Credit Cards Does the Average American Have?

WHAT IS CREDIT CARD CRITICAL MASS?

Credit card critical mass refers to the appropriate number and kinds of credit cards to have. How does one know what kinds to have? How many to have? When enough is enough? Then, when is how many too much, therefore, when is it time to stop collecting more or even cut back? What is the best way to cut back? This blog post will attempt to answer these questions. But keep in mind that the numbers and types of cards will vary depending upon the person, their lifestyle and needs.
 

COLLECTING CREDIT CARDS

When I started collected credit cards, I went through some very active phases. The reason for these was manifold:
a. building up my credit
b. getting promotional welcome bonuses
c. collecting cash rewards
d. establishing the best cash rewards rates
e. traveling bonuses

 

Straight flush
A straight flush similarity to an ideal collection of cash reward cards. Image from Dreamline.

THE CASH REWARDS SWEET SPOT

At one point in my credit card collecting, I realized that I had achieved a cash rewards credit card sweet spot. I compare this to a straight flush in the card game of poker. The blog post, A Two-Pronged Credit Card Rating System (Part 2 – June 2019) goes into detail about this. The straight cash rewards flush looks like this collection of credit cards:
6% for US supermarkets
5% for purchases at many cobranded store cards
4% for dining out
3% for gas
2% for health care services and items
1.5% for all purchases

 

REACHING CRITICAL MASS

In the collecting cards phase, I saw only the small picture. At the time I applied for a card, I found it a necessity. After a few years, I accomplished all of my above goals and then some. Not only did I reach my credit card critical mass but in retrospect, I surpassed it. How did I know that I had done this? That was easy to answer. I knew because the number of cards I had to deal with had become unmanageable.

Credit Card critical mass
Store Credit Cards image from rewardscreditcards.org

 

SURPASSING CRITICAL MASS

As the owner of many credit cards, I was forced to see the big picture and began to ask myself these questions:
a. how many cards did I really need?
b. what categories did I spend the most in?
c. with that in mind, which cards did I use most often?
d. which cards was I leaving dormant?
e. why was I having trouble keeping track of my card purchases when it came time to do my monthly accounting?
f. how could I make things more manageable?
g. when was enough, enough?
h. how could I safely cut back on the number of cards I had?

 

THE CREDIT CARD CRITICAL MASS FORMULA

Fortunately I found a formula I could use to determine about how many cards to own, which ones to keep and those to phase out since I had surpassed critical mass. These are the factors I now consider in which cards to use:
a. the oldest aged accounts
b. those with the best credit line and lowest credit utilization ratio
c. the ones with optimal returns in my top spending categories
d. those that give me the maximum value for use with my favorite merchants, stores, airlines. or hotels

credit-card-critical-mass
Credit Card Cash Reward Categories are similar to traffic signals, go, caution, turn at your own risk. This image is from Pixabay.

 

PHASE OUT RATHER THAN CLOSE CARDS

It is best not to close cards. Instead, let them phase out by letting them be dormant. Make sure that any card that has fees stays open only if it is useful by the above standards. Otherwise, close it to avoid any future fees if it is going to be dormant.
 

IN CONCLUSION

It is beneficial to have both network and co-branded cards when they have value. But it is wisest not to gather more cards than are really necessary. It can become a real nuisance to have too many cards to care for. On the other hand, it is great to have just enough to be helpful and profitable.

 

SOURCES & RESOURCES

1. Is 20 Cards Too Many To Own: How to Streamline Your Wallet
2. How Many Cards Is Too Many?
3. How to Cancel A Credit Card
4. How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?
5. How Many Credit Cards Does the Average American Have?
6. Network and Co-Branded Cards

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