How We Chose Our Credit Card

Posted on October 1, 2007 by Eric 
Filed Under Credit Cards

Credit Cards

Recently, my wife and I were looking at our credit cards. We got to thinking about credit cards after reading a post over at The Simple Dollar, and decided to consider changing our card. At the time, we had no idea we’d wind up with the same card that was discussed there.

I’ve had the Citibank AAdvantage card for years. In my previous job, I traveled constantly and racked up many, many miles on American Airlines. I used this card to increase the number of miles I had (I had a goal of hitting a million before travel burnout kicked in). Even though I quit that job years ago I still had this card (and was still racking up miles). After flying so much for work I have little interest in flying for pleasure right now. Earning more miles was no longer a valuable benefit to me and on top of that I was being charged a yearly fee for those rewards. It was time to change cards to get a rewards program that made sense for our current lifestyle.

We view credit cards as a convenient way to make purchases and earn rewards. We use them extensively but we always pay the balance off in full every month so we don’t pay interest.

Our criteria for choosing our card :

Armed with this, we went to the Citicards site to see which cards made the most sense. Citi has a nice utility to help you find the right card by allowing you to choose the features that are important to you. We selected Cash Back, and No Annual Fee for our search. All the other options didn’t really matter much to us. We were left with just a few (non-business) cards to look at :

Whew! How many adjectives can you use to describe a credit card?

We quickly eliminated the American Express (not always accepted), the UPromise card (we don’t have children), and the Home Rebate (we are already all set to move into a new home).

That left us with 5. We started reviewing the terms and conditions on each of these cards (you should go to their website for the latest information – this data could be old, but seemed to be valid at the time we checked) :

Again, please check out the Citicards website for the latest information. Things could be completely different by the time you read this article, so you should always confirm the latest information by reading the terms and conditions on credit cards you are interested in.

So, from that list, we can eliminate AT&T Universal (we don’t use any AT&T products or services), Citi Professional (too limited on where you get your 3% cash back, and not really applicable to us), and the Platinum Select (it’s only 2% in places where Driver’s Edge is 3%, and it’s limited to $300 back a year although it is cash).

That left us with the Cash Returns card, and the Options Platinum Driver’s Edge card. The cash returns card was only 1%, and in the end we decided that even though cash back is great, we think we could earn more with the higher percentage from the Driver’s Edge card than we could from the Cash Returns card. With the Driver’s Edge card, we can convert our rebates to rewards through the Citi ThankYou Network. The ThankYou network is Citi’s “shopping mall” where you can spend your points on gift cards, household items, or other items we might normally have to spend “real money” on. I checked it out, and I think by converting the rewards points into ThankYou points, we can get more out of the program because we can get up to $1000 worth of items. I see it as a way to get things we might not normally get, and not have to feel guilty about it. The main item we’ll be getting is restaurant gift cards. This way, we can treat ourselves to a nice meal out and not affect our budget.

In the end, what we chose might not make sense for everyone. For us, it seemed to be the best choice and fit our desires. Now I feel like I’m at least earning rewards that I will use more frequently than I would with the airline miles.

As an added note, if you decide to go with the Citibank Options Platinum Driver’s Edge, make sure you get that card specifically. If you get a Charter Driver’s Edge, you won’t get the full benefit, and can’t convert your points to ThankYou network points.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Comments

9 Responses to “How We Chose Our Credit Card”

  1. Jonathan on October 2nd, 2007 8:25 pm

    I love Upromise for the way they allow people to save for college. But my all-time favorite program is iBakeSale. It doesn’t have a credit card but has all the shops and deals of Upromise and allows members to donate part of their savings to multiple causes, ranging from a child’s college fund to charities to a child’s school activities. It offers a lot of flexibility with the rewards and has a pretty nice interface too. You can earn more rewards on your favorite credit card.

  2. Carnival of Personal Finance #121 - Columbus Day Edition (Ask Mr Credit Card’s Blog) on October 8th, 2007 2:29 am

    [...] Senator Obama : I have to agree with Senator McCain on this issue. I think what the Senate Committee of Banking and Finance have done with regards to the credit card industry is very good. We have to ensure that credit card and finance companies provide more disclosure, eliminate fine prints and ensure they adhere to honest advertising. Consumers ultimately have to be responsible in how they use credit. When I was in college, I read brochures about tips for using credit cards. I can even tell you how we chose our credit card! [...]

  3. Carnival of Personal Finance #121 - Editor’s Choice (Ask Mr Credit Card’s Blog) on October 9th, 2007 12:55 am

    [...] How we chose our credit card by A Penny Closer is a post I would have mentioned on my site regardless of the carnival. This is a real life example of a family’s credit card decision. [...]

  4. DR on October 9th, 2007 3:57 am

    I too have the AAdvantage card and am starting to wonder if it’s the best option. Thanks for the information; I’m going to look into changing cards.

  5. Eric on October 9th, 2007 7:04 am

    DR – Thanks for the comment! We had that AAdvantage card for a while before we finally made the switch. It made sense when my goal was getting miles, but now we’re enjoying getting gift cards and things that we can use.

  6. Carnival of Personal Finance » Carnival of Personal Finance #121 Editor’s Choice on October 9th, 2007 10:02 pm

    [...] How We Chose Our Credit Card [...]

  7. Popular Credit Card Rewards(new comment) on July 28th, 2008 12:07 am

    With so many reward credit cards to choose from, how can you pick the best one for you? Here are some questions which you can ask yourself before deciding on which reward credit card you’ll be getting for yourself:

    What type of reward do you really want? Rewards credit card may offer travel rewards, gas rewards, and cash back rewards. Which type of reward really suits your lifestyle? Make sure that the reward program you’ll choose is something that you can really benefit from.

    read more of this related article:
    Choosing the Best Reward Credit Card For You

  8. Ultimate Collection of Credit Card Posts (Ask Mr Credit Card’s Blog)(new comment) on July 30th, 2008 2:07 am

    [...] Melissa from A Penny Closer loves to cook! (well, that was what she said in her about me page). She also has a business degree and has worked in the technology and consulting business. She wrote a post a while back on how she chose her credit card. [...]

  9. Brad(new comment) on November 18th, 2008 7:25 pm

    Can’t ever go wrong with a cash back credit card with no annual fee. No need racking up miles or rewards for a new car when you could have cashed out 3 or 4 times and started earning interest on that money.

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