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The best credit card recommendation: Figure it out yourself

an airplane on the runwayWhen I was a kid, my dad ingrained the doctrine “Learn from and listen to everyone, follow no one” in me. I have found this to be the best advice one can ever get. This probably also holds true for credit cards.

A plethora of credit cards swarm the market with so diverse benefits that it is difficult to compare them. It is even more difficult to recommend cards to someone without knowing the exact economic condition and travel plans. For example, if a newbie asks anywhere on Flyertalk or Milepoint as to which credit card he/she should get, most will recommend getting the SPG Amex. I got the same advice when I started out and got one. Nevertheless a year later, when I was much wiser and had a small stash of Starpoints, I cancelled. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great card but I am more of an outdoorsy person; I travel to various national and state parks. In most cases, the nearest Starwood is at least 100 miles away and I prefer camping in the woods, waking up to chirping birds rather than snoring in jungles of concrete waking up to a wake-up call. The stash of Starpoints would come in handy if I stay in cities or for transferring to airlines; but to me it doesn’t make sense to accumulate any more Starpoints.

My case is just an example and I can think of numerous situations where different sets of cards would be the most preferred cards. Every three months or so, I waste half an hour to decide which cards would be my go-to cards in the next quarter. For example, this quarter, it is Chase Freedom (5% on dining), HHonors Amex (gas and groceries) and an Amex gift card/Cap1 Venture for everything else. Most of my travel is pre-booked using the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card and I use the Amex gift card/Cap1 venture for the rest. You’ll notice it is pretty different from what most travel-gurus would recommend. But it works well for me.

I guess most of you have a similar routine. If not, I think you would benefit immensely by listening carefully to all the experts and then taking unbiased decisions regarding your go-to cards. Amex Premier Rewards Gold/SPG Amex/Chase Sapphire are all great cards but none of them may be appropriate for you.

I would love to hear about your go-to cards and the reason you chose them.

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  1. I really like the United Mileage Plus Select Visa with its double points on gas, groceries, dining and *A purchases and triple RDM and EQM for ua.com and co.com purchases. I also like the Chase Sapphire because the UR shopping mall usually has much better earning ratios than the UA shopping mall (10 UR pts/$ frequently at Barnes and Noble and Kohls). Plus the double points travel category for the Chase Sapphire is pretty generous (includes things like parking and road tolls).

    With these two cards all of my earnings can be pooled into one program allowing me to redeem more often.

    I am contemplating converting my Chase Sapphire into the the JP Morgan Select. I will still have access to the UR shopping mall, but I will lose the 7% point dividend and the double points on travel category will only include airfare, hotels, and car rentals. However, in return the JP Morgan Select gives you generous travel insurance (e.g. primary rental insurance, travel medical and evacuation, lost/delayed baggage, and trip cancellation/delay among others), plus you get an EMV chip which is useful in Europe and Asia. Both cards have no foreign transaction fees. As the majority of my spend will likely be on the UA Select for the double miles the 7% is no big loss.

  2. Chase Sapphire Preferred — personally find United/Continental miles the most valuable for air rewards. And the 2x dining / travel bonus with liberal definitions takes the cake.

    But Starwood is always great to have a stash for cash/points deals.

  3. @yaychemistry true for *A fliers, UA Select is a good choice. It would probably be better to wait for the JP Select Card until a signup bonus is announced.

    @MileCardInsider, Sapphire is a very good card for frequent fliers/travelers. Personally I am hoping I would get a 100K targeted signup bonus 🙂

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