Financial Technology Through the Ages


2018 smart phone from

TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES The development of financial technology machinery has increased the storage capacity and speed of financial transactions exponentially. But, they can also bring my activities to a halt.

For example, I find that many computer programs also known as apps inhibit the ease of use rather than encourage simplicity.
IBM’s First Personal Computer from 34 years ago on

My History

I did not grow up with the latest financial technology machinery. In fact the most complicated mathematical technology was the slide rule primarily for engineering questions. This is a sample of the pre-computer computer, the slide rule from

A vintage Victor 63 key adding machine on Pinterest. com

In addition to that was the electric adding machine which has evolved over the century. They still exist but can not fit in the relatively small space of a slide rule and today’s especially small smartphone. A slide rule is also known as a slapstick.


It is still possible to pay for things in person with cash. In addition, things can be paid for through the mail by check, money order, or credit card. Today the most popular means of payment is by credit card in person or online. Rarely do I carry cash as I prefer to pay by credit card in person and online.

credit-cards Guide to Choosing a Credit Card from Upon

Pre-My History Before the slide rule going back thousands of year was the abacus. Although it is of unknown origin, it actually had the ability to solve mathematical questions very quickly. It was also known as a calculating tool from Wikipedia. Here is what one looked like.


“Technology is the application of knowledge for achieving practical goals in a reproducible way” according to Wikipedia. There is no question that financial technology machinery has impact our world in ways that one can barely imagine. In spite of this, there are times when I wish I could return to an old fashioned ledger to keep track of my monthly numbers. Is this a possibility or just a nostalgic fantasy?


Boorum & Pease 66 Series Account Book, Journal Ruled, Green, 150 Pages, 12-1/8″ x 7-5/8″, Blue from


slide rule
adding machine
account journal
The complete history of credit cards, from antiquity to today


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Part Two: My Bilt MasterCard Imploded


My Bilt Mastercard imploded rather than earned points about a month or so after I received it. As advertised, the goal is to accumulate enough points to help pay rent as well as receive other benefits. But the opposite occurred.
BILT card imploded
My BILT Mastercard Imploded

When I first discovered it, I wondered if I might not fit into the targeted demographics. But the BILT website was so appealing. It offered all kinds of irresistible perks that I couldn’t resist.

Beware Temptations But the following inconsistencies were a concern. Seniors my age usually don’t pay rent. Owning a home or other property is more likely. In addition, an older person might not belong to a youth oriented fitness club. Also, a vacation might not be the priority for a senior needing to reduce their rent payment.
Fitness features
BILT Mastercard fitness features
So Why Did I Persist? Other details about the practicality of the BILT Mastercard should have stopped me in my tracks. For instance, within a week of receiving the card, the company’s phone system went on the blink. So communication was limited to electronic means only. As a result, the important questions I needed immediate answers to did not get answered.
travel points
Travel points are featured on
One Solution Leads to Another Problem Once live communication resumed, I found that my calls went to a very noisy call center. Specifically there were several operators yelling over each other to the customers all at once. As a result, I could not hear my operator. But I did hear all the other operators yelling at their customers instead.
Antique switch board from
When to Charge, Then How to Pay? The next problem occured when I did use the card to charge purchases. I thought that I was billed more than once for the same items. In other words almost $1500 extra. As a result, I had to leverage and pay a $30. stop payments on my credit card assigned to bill payment.

Penalty Rather Than Payment Therefore, because of the $1500 discrepancy, I had to put a stop payment of $30. against the account that only earned $22 the month before. Eventually that fee was waived. But until then, I had to pay for being a BILT card carrier rather than earning points towards any featured luxuries.
hotel points
Points can be used for hotel stays
Misleading Glamour Actually the promotions on the website were quite glamorous which made the BILT Mastercard very tempting. But the shock was that the point earned to payment ratio pathetic. In fact I was crushed when I learned that 1000 point only equalled $11. It would take forever to realize my needs, dreams, as well as desires.

Ultimately I had to stop all payments to the payments credit card. Therefore I now have the additional challenge of paying my BILT Mastercard charges on time.

BILT Collection
The BILT Collection offered as part of BILT
Confusion So far, I still get very confused whether to charge purchases with the BILT Mastercard or make payments for them with my checking account. As a result, I received the following notice on my account online.

temporary restriction
Temporary restriction imposed by Bilt Mastercard

After my inquiry, I immediately forgot how to charge something rather than where to pay for it. I repeatedly found this to be a confusing low paying, time wasting program.


The BILT Rewards Mastercard is probably the worst credit card I ever signed up for. For example, it is misleading and very hard to follow. Specifically, I have had many problems with the bookkeeping aspect of it. In fact, I have spend so much time and gotten so little in return.

Therefore as soon as this card is paid off, I will close it. As a result, it will no longer be part of my credit card wallet. In addition, I do not recommend that anyone else sign up for it. This is because all that glitters is not gold. Thus this one will tarnish very quickly. So beware and be forewarned, consumer.


Wallet Hacks Blog Post


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The BILT MasterCard from Wells Fargo


BILT Mastercard
The BILT Mastercard from Wells Fargo to help pay rent

The BILT MasterCard from Wells Fargo is one of the latest point earner credit cards. In fact it is a unique new comer to the credit card scene. It is designed to earn points towards paying rent.

I actually found out about it from the Wallet Hacks blog and my favorite financial guru, James Wang. For this and the below reasons I decided to give it a try. Lately paying my bills has become a serious challenge:
• our rent has gone up substantially
• our SNAP benefits have gone down sharply

I have a history of benefiting from credit card promotions. So I figured this might help also. To my frustration and disappointment, this card was not easy to use. It didn’t help that the BILT phone system was not working. So all my questions had to wait until their system was up and running again.

Once the phone system was working, I called only to learn that it took 1000 point to earn $5.50. Actually I was shocked. In fact, I considered dumping the card. But then I decided to give it some time to see if there were benefits that were not readily apparent.

BILT Mastercard
A credit card that lets you earn point on rent.
CURRENT STATUS So far we have earned 2000 points since we opened the card at the end of July. Since we are managing to squeeze by in paying all our upcoming bills for September, I am holding on to the $11. in earned points for now.

In fact, I want to keep accumulating points for now as long as we can get by without using them. I’m waiting for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when a substantial part of the rent is covered by my new BILT Mastercard. But for now it will be like keeping my savings under my mattress.

your account
our account showing the accumulation of 2000 points


Bilt Rewards Credit Card
BILT REview 2023:Earn Rewards Paying Rent


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The NYS Social Services System


The NYS Social Services System has inconsistencies that can make financial security very challenging. For someone not familiar with this system, it might not make any sense. In fact, that is because it is not sensible.

Nassau County Department of Social Services

A Closed System

Social Services is a closed system. In other words if one area increases, another area will decrease rather than also increase. For example, when there is a COLA (cost of living) increase in monthly social security payments, food stamp payments will decrease.

Logic would dictate that if the cost of living increases, the cost of food also increases. But the closed system concludes that if an individual receives a greater social security payment, there is less need for assistance with food purchases.

Another example is that increases to income through other sources and benefits can lessen if not eliminate ones eligibility for food stamps. In other words, it can best to get a direct increase in food stamps rather than an increase in monthly income.

In addition, if an individual’s income increase is great enough, one can lose Medicaid benefits. That can result in a loss of coverage for medical expenses that are covered under Medicaid. Medicaid coverage is substantially greater than Medicare coverage. Therefore if one needs financial assistance from the social services system, it is better to qualify for more help rather than less help.

New York State Local Social Services Departments

The Inconsistencies

Because of the inconsistencies within the social services system, it is important to learn how it works. A good place to start is with a social worker at a community senior center. Actually these professionals often schedule visits to senior residential facilities offering their services at no cost.

The NYC Department of Social Services

In addition, counties have facilities where individuals can learn about and apply for financial assistance. To find one, check on Google. In the Sources & Resources section below are links to several social services departments. They include New York State and counties within it.


Nassau County Department of Social Services
Suffolk County Department of Social Services
NYC Department of Social Services
Social Programs | The State of New York
New York State Local Departments of Social Services
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)


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The current ‘Fios Free Internet’ promotion needs close examination. This is because offers of something for free may not beat the competition’s price without something for free. Such is the case with the current offer from Fios, the internet provider that is Optimum’s competition. Below is a flyer about this promotion.

The flyer describing the current promotion from ‘Fios for Free’ Home Internet service.
free internet
Contact information for the free Fios Home Internet with Verizon’s Fios Forward discount

Making a comparison might seem confusing and overwhelming. It is important to do the following:
a. learn what the program offers at
find out whether or not you qualify for the Fios program
b. know what program you participate in and exactly what you have as well as what you are paying now at
c. find out if you qualify and if the offer saves you money by contacting the person whose name is on the flyer (bottom left side of flyer).
Find out if you qualify for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The flyer specifies how to do this in the bottom left hand corner.
Verizon fios internet service and TV provider
Continue only if you qualify. We qualified. So the next thing to do was to ascertain what program we had and how much we pay. We have the Optimum triple play program which is a discounted package. It normally costs $122/month. In addition, we have another discount program of $30 more off each month. So we pay $92/month.

As an alternative, if someone is not signed up for anything or already signed up with Fios for all their services, the free internet offer might very well be an advantage. But, as Optimum subscribers, it would not be for us. If we dropped the triple play program, the cost for TV and telephone service would equal about what we are already paying for everything, $92/month.

optimum.nrt play monthly bill

Personally, we would not benefit from the Verizon Fios Free Internet Program because we already have the Internet with the Optimum triple play package. But if we did not have triple play or the additional $30/month discount, the Fios program might benefit us.

There is a lot to consider here because a ‘something for nothing’ offer is not as simple as it appears to be. Instead, it is a something for nothing offer with several ‘ifs’ involved. So be sure to do your due diligence. That way you will know for certain that you are getting the best Internet deal, free offer or not.
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Credit Card Bonus Program Offers: Proceed with Caution

stop sign ‘Stop and Proceed Slowly’ Sign by


My Financial Profile
A recent promotional bonus credit card program has allowed me to be very resourceful with credit cards. Even though I live on a fixed monthly stipend that is typical of a retired low income senior, credit card programs have been a benefit for me. This is because of the tools I have learned and benefited from.

I have written at length about the potential benefits from the responsible use of credit cards. Below are the four Ebook I have written about various credit card benefit offers. These minimally priced Ebooks are available on Amazon.

credit card bonus offer
Financial Ebooks I have written that are available on Amazon
Ebooks and Other Blog Posts
Different Types of Credit Cards And Their Best Uses, Part One – July 2019 was one of my first blog posts on this topic. This blog post is about my latest experience with credit cards benefit offers.



A New Credit Card Promotional Bonus Program to Explore
Several months ago, I was able to apply for a new Promotional Bonus Program Credit Card. I applied and was immediately accepted. Much to my surprise, I had the opportunity to apply for several more of them. I was accepted by those as well.

Without blinking, I went from qualifying for one, then four, and even as many as six of these credit cards. Even then, I kept finding more of these offers. Since I did not want to miss out on a single one of them, I kept applying and being accepted.

promotional bonus credit card offers
Capital One Promotional Bonus Credit Card Offer


How To Play
At first, I thought the rules were simple. The Promotional Bonus Credit Card program required only that I charge a given amount of purchases ($500 to $1,000) within a three month period of time. As the bonus, I could receive the equivalent of two hundred dollars per card. Since I always charged many of my purchases, I assumed this was going to be an easy win.

promotional bonus credit card offers Wells Fargo Promotional Bonus Credit Card Offer

A Grand Total of Ten Cards
By the time I finally got a denial, I was the recipient of ten promotional bonus credit cards. Wow, I was really feeling exuberant. What I didn’t realize was, like a gambler, feeling exuberant would not last. In other words, I was becoming addicted to applying for and acquiring more of these promotional bonus credit cards.

Because I couldn’t stop, things really got out of hand. With each new card, the game I was playing became increasingly complicated as well as much less manageable. It became harder to keep track of all the rules. I kept making charts of when and how charged were due. Even with this extra effort, I still went from feeling high to feeling totally overwhelmed.

promotional bonus credit card
Roulette Table of a Casino Stock photo courtesy of


Not As Easy As It Appeared to Be
Given my history of a perfect payment record, I thought this program would work like a charm for me. I was confident that it would be an easy win. But so many complications plagued me along the way. At times, I have questioned my investment savvy even my sanity. I’ve sworn I would never get in over my head like this again.



A Bit of Each
Depending on how intensely one dives into this game determines which level of risk one plays this promotional bonus credit card offer. The more one is tempted to use this program as a gambling gambit, the more one is likely to risk.


I Had Definitely Overdosed on This Program
At times I felt very confused, even sleep deprived by the amount of time some of the transactions required. Numerous ‘unk unks’ (unknown unknowns) have taken place. In other words, I had nothing to do with certain things that happened to complicate the process.
Beware the dangers of this credit card program. Like the saying goes, ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. Sign from
credit card
Bank of America Promotional Bonus Credit Card Offer


How Do You Know Which Is which?
In total, I theoretically could net many cash rewards or statement credits. Forms of redemption were unclear. For example, the funds may be held over towards the payment of the next month’s bill. Another scenario was ‘the check is in the mail.’ We all know ‘the check is in the mail’ scenario. In that case, it can take up to several monthly cycles.
Gift Cards
Let’s not forget the gift card option. But is that a gift to me? I didn’t know who it would go to. In conclusion, none of these alternate options was optimal. Given my preference, I like my promotional bonus to be deposited right into my checking account as a cash reward. But that is not always possible. In fact, if the only option is a statement credit, the promotional bonus tool is a guarantee to the credit card company that I will continue to charge in the future to make use of their bonus.
credit cards benefits offers
‘Danger Go Slow’ sign from


A Credit Card Gets Hacked
For example, while I was accumulating bonuses, one of these new cards got hacked. I had to replace it in the middle of my promotional bonus project. In addition, I tried to cancel items that were not refunded but turned into ‘honey points’. Other charges were also counted twice. Even though I did not cause these issues, their occuring caused me to have a severe lack of focus. It became very difficult for me to concentrate on the credit card bonus offers.
citi card
The Citi Custom Cash Promotional Bonus Card Offer


New Tools Can Be Very Tempting To Use Simultaneously
In addition to signing up for these credit card bonus offers, I signed up for autopay. Making two major program changes at one time was a mistake. As a result, some bills got paid twice. It was becoming impossible to keep track of what I was doing.



Use a Reliable Map
Ultimately I realized what was wrong. It was that I had embarked on a new system that was going outside the box of familiar navigation. This new program was twice as hard to maneuver since I was exploring the unknown. Therefore I strongly advise readers to make one change at a time when adding a new element to an existing template.
credit card benefit offers
Bank of America Promotional Bonus Card


Is This Calculus or Physics? It Can’t Just Be Bookkeeping
Using credit cards responsibly and profitably is not a strictly arithmetic endeavor. As I discovered with each new profit making tool, their value is equaled by their complexity. Although the original templates are the foundation of this program, with each new component the program goes further outside the original box.



Something Smells Fishy
Along these lines, credit card companies continue to make themselves increasingly tempting to individuals who think they can stay on top of the latest innovations. This requires that individuals stay more than sharp and continue to search for new and existing credit cards. These can improve as investment tools, not just a means of delaying payments on purchases. But they become very challenging to use.



This Is Not Bookkeeping 101
As time has gone by, this project has become painfully complicated. What initially seemed like a straightforward giveaway has become a torturous maze of numbers and dates. I participated to see how far I could go outside the box. In other words, I wanted to see how much I could challenge myself. It has been several months with a total of ten new cards. But I am not yet finished with this program. I can hardly wait to be done with it.

This chart illustrates how my credit score was affected by the promotional bonus program. It was 820 before I started and went down to 800 at its lowest. It is rising again since I have almost completed the program.


Effect on My Credit Score
My credit score dropped during this project. The reason is that each credit card application was a ‘hard’ check to my score. But since I have met each charge challenge in a timely manner, my score is rising again and is recovering it’s 800+ scores. Credit score chart courtesy of American Express.

But there is one catch to building an emergency fund with this program. Money has to go out before it can come in. For a while it has seemed that I have lost rather than gained financially.

credit card benefit offers
Warning sign from readers-digest-ca



Read the Fine Print to Find Out
Besides the delay, the rewards are often available as statement credits rather than cash rewards. Since my tendency and necessity has been to buy more things, this project has not been a great source of emergency savings. Saving up for them was why I participated originally. Instead, it has also required constant vigilance with each card. Besides that, the amount that I have had to charge is requiring the use of partial payments to stay flush each month. Now I also have to keep track of the deadline on partial payments.

This is a very tricky game requiring numerous greater than rudimentary skills. It feels like the Olympic decathlon competition. In fact, I am now having to use the partial-pay 0% APR feature that comes with these cards. Therefore I am learning something else that is new. But I have been pulled deeper into this maze. I never paid attention to APR percentages in the past, nor did I need to. But now, how many months will I need to use this new tool keeping to the 0%APR?


Do What I Say, Not What I Did
I do not recommend going to the extremes I have. It has nearly driven me crazy. I may have even permanently burnt out some numerical brain cells besides spending a huge amount of time on this experiment. Has it been worth it?

Sometimes, the way I learn things is by going to extremes. It involves extending the limits of my existing skills to see what new ones I want to gain. Taking little steps would be more prudent. In fact, I suggest taking small, prudent steps for anyone who wants to sign on to this or any cash bonus program.

credit card benefit offers
A set of directional signs from



On the Plus Side
One: Paying car insurance in four instead of six payments saving money on installments.
Two: Paying home contents insurance in full annually saving about $50 dollars.
Three: Paying car registration for the next two years, early, without a pinch, and in full.
Four: Being able to afford a healthy diet and avoid illness.
Five: Purchasing pleasant necessities rather than feeling very deprived.
Six: Occasionally buying something new, even secondhand, but not completely pantry hand-me-downs.



The Tip of the Iceberg
As you can see from this blog post, there are many credit card benefit offers. But they have complications that may outweigh their worth. These benefits are like an iceberg. What they appear to offer is actually only the tip of the iceberg of what they can cost.

Were you able to navigate this obstacle course? I’d love to hear your experience. Please share with the rest of us in the comments area. I will report in with my final results as soon as I am done. Right now, I’ve got two cards to go. One is to make a claim. The other is to charge $500 and then make my claim.

promotional bonus credit card offers
Bondi Beach Australia, Bondi Icebergs, Courtesy of Marley Clovelly


1. Using Cash Reward Credit Cards for Survival & Profit
2. A Credit Card Rating System Introduction
3. The Rating System Used for Cash Back Credit Cards (Series Part 2 – June 2019)
4. Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3 – June 2019)
5. Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)
6. Risky Cash Reward Credit Cards (Part 5-June 2019
7. How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?
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The CVS money-saving system is my most often used and favorite 21st-century coupon cutting and digital coupon system with its variety of traditional as well as digital money-saving tools. As a matter of fact, there are times when I make substantial purchases without having to pay hardly anything. Believe it or not, one particular trip to CVS cost me around $1 for $80 worth of merchandise.
CVS coupon cutting system
I have been within the top 3-7% of savers in New York for several years


So far this is the most comprehensive 21st Century Coupon Cutting tool I have found. It works for both online and in-store purchases. Actually, I find it to be the best program around. Therefore, I buy as much as of can of household and personal needs in addition to over the counter nutritional supplements and non-prescription drugs. Here’s how the whole system works:
CVS coupon cutting system
21st Century CVS and other coupon cutting tags on a keychain
1. I receive an email indicating a saving of between 20% and 40% for one or all my purchases with an expiration date. From the email, I am able to send the offer to the well-worn discount card I keep on my key chain. (See photo below).

CVS coupon cutting system
CVS 40% off email is #1
2. A postcard with a 20-40% saving is mailed to me. I provide the mailer to the cashier when I check out.

cvs coupon mailer
A 25% coupon mailer which I present to the cashier at check out
3.Inside the mailer are additional, individual coupons that are also presentable to the cashier at checkout.
discount flyer
The inside of themailer contains additional, specific coupons
4. When I go to any CVS store, I go to the machine that prints out all the savings currently available to me, in addition, to the ones stored on my plastic coupon key chain tag. See the photo below.

CVS coupon cutting system
The CVS coupon cutting system store machine printed coupons is #3
5. At check out, I present these printed coupons to the cashier.

6.Next I swipe my tag to register with the cashier all the discounts on my card.

7. Then I swipe my OTC or over-the-counter card to see what savings I can also get up to $100/month for certain non-prescription items. The OTC card is a benefit of my health insurance plan. This plastic discount card is shown below.

CVS coupon cutting system
My OTC card which can cover up to $100 in non-prescription items is #6.
8. There is also the 10/30 program which refunds $10 for every $30 spent on this store visit.

9. In addition, there is the new CVS ‘CarePass’ program that costs $5/month then returns $10/month. It is charged at the beginning of the month and is paid out on the 18th of each month.


As you can see, the CVS money-saving system is a mix of both traditional coupon cutting and digital coupons. Even though it can become confusing, it is clearly worth the saving we get.


Is there something you’d like to say about this blog post? Your comments are always welcome. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to reach the box to ‘start the discussion’.
This is what it may look like. But it is only an image of it. So be sure to find the actual one. Then please add to the discussion by commenting or replying. Thank you.

CVS coupon cutting system
This is a prototype ot the comment box.



One Day From Homeless

Using Credit Cards for Survival and Profit

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

The CVS CarePass Program

Emblem OTC card benefits

Electronic coupon transfers
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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



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



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



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!


Is there something you’d like to say about this blog post? Your comments are always welcome. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to reach the box to ‘start the discussion’.

This is a sample of what the comment area looks like. It is active at the bottom of this page.

comment block
This is a sample of what the comment area looks like. It is active at the bottom of this page.


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
Continue Reading



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


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.


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.


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



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



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?



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 Cash Reward Categories are similar to traffic signals, go, caution, turn at your own risk. This image is from Pixabay.



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.


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.



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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The Free 7-Day Subscription Scam


The Free 7-Day Subscription Bait

The phone rings. An online company representative is calling to offer me a free 7-day subscription to a credit score and computer fraud prevention service. All that the representative needs to know is my credit card number to cover a $1 processing fee. The red blinking light goes off in front of my eyes as a siren screams in my head. This has to be a scam.

free 7-day subscription
Here is an email from my credit card issuer alerting me to possible credit card fraud

More clever and devious minds than mine have figured out how to rig this game. The only thing I thought I knew was how to stop it before it starts. I did not give my credit card number. In spite of this, a charge showed up on one of my credit cards for $1. So I called the credit card company to report this mistake. They reversed the charge. But the next thing I knew, I was receiving a bill for $29.94/month as my regular subscription fee. How did this happen? I did not authorize it. In fact, my credit card company contacted me because they suspected fraud. My credit card was canceled and a card with a new number was sent to me.

Deja Vu All Over Again

But it happened again with the newly issued card. How did they get my card number? I was baffled and wanted a more proactive solution. So this time, the representative from the credit card issuer said that I needed to call the company directly to cancel my subscription. That was just what I did. Then I called back the credit card folks to report my action. At this point, I was told that I had done everything I needed to. Therefore I had no liability for this entire fiasco.

The Free 7-Day Subscription Is A Scam

There is a term used in poker called a ‘tell’. It is something that gives away a bluffer’s hand. The tell in this, as well as most internet scams, is the request for a credit card number. ‘Oh,’ they say, ‘it is just to cover a processing fee’. The next thing you know a substantial charge shows up on your card and it is a regular monthly subscription. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Being Prepared

So my response to their ‘tell’ is to NOT provide a credit card number for a $1 processing fee for a 7-day trial subscription of their services. Remember, once a company has your card number, they can go to town. Then you have to find a way to stop them in their tracks in order to avoid any additional charges to this free trial. The story may not be over. The scammers may give their scheme another try. But if they do both my credit card company and I will be ready to stop them in their tracks.

free 7-day subscription
A copy of the cancellation letter that was emailed to me from the merchant


Even after I was assured by phone and email of the cancellation of my $29.94/month subscription fee, something still bothered me. So I called the merchant back. This is what I learned. I suggest you pay close attention. First of all, even if I report fraud to my credit card company resulting in my getting a new credit card, the merchant can charge that new credit card number for the subscription. So the only way to stop it is to call the merchant itself to cancel.

In addition, after a barrage of questions by me to the customer service person, I was still not satisfied by his responses that I was the person who signed up for their 7-day free trial subscription which resulted in their $29.94/mo fee. The bottom line is that I am zero dollars out of pocket. But I was sufficiently inconvenienced. In addition, I have less trust in online security and more concern about how easy it is to be taken by less than scrupulous companies and individuals.


“Free” Trial Offers
FTC: Consumer Information
Subscription Traps
BBB: “Free trial” shopping scams are on the rise
Buyer beware: Is that free trial really free?

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