Best Credit Cards

Long-Term Card Strategy for “High-Spender” Family

Most of the advice in my blog is primarily of use to “low-spender” middle-class family. If you are looking for sophisticated MS or reselling strategy, you are in the wrong place. That said, majority of my credit card advice does apply to high spenders as well.  Here is an email I got the other day. As always, I edited it down and took out the names:

My family’s situation is similar to yours (husband, wife and kids at home, pay off balance, so not so concerned with APR or transfer fee, excellent 700+ credit scores each), but still a little different (we put about $80k/year on our card, we both work), so I wanted to ask if your advice would differ in situations like ours.

Currently we have one card (CapitalOne World Elite, $19/yr annual, 1.25 mi/$), have had it for over a decade, always pay off balance (about $6k+/month), and we finally woke up to how much better we can do. (Yeah, we’re that dumb!)

 My wife and I both work, so we don’t have time to track rotating categories, and can’t spend time cancelling and re-signing for cards because then we have to change our auto-deposits, etc. We just want the best long-term deals that don’t require us to call or do anything– I recognize and really respect what you do, and am cheering you on to get as much as possible, but we are just too overwhelmed to do that, and are willing to accept less benefits, so we can invest less of our time. (As you can tell from our credit card history, we’re not too good at shopping around!)

So, what card/cards are best for long-term cashback mainly. We do travel, but not much, so points and miles are less preferred than cashback, and especially points or miles that are “captive” to one agency or airline or ‘program’ are undesired… we’ll probably forget about them! Automatic cash back to the card is best.”

My response:

First of all, you are not dumb for not obsessing over credit card rewards. Let’s face it, there are much more important things in life! Many people don’t get any rewards for their purchases, so earning 1.25 cents per dollar, you are still ahead of most in this respect. I also understand why you don’t want  to constantly switch cards.

It can be time-consuming, though I do recommend you at least consider getting one or two new bonuses per year. For most families, it will be  sufficient, and will supplement the rewards you are getting via everyday spending. Canceling cards is quite easy, and can be done via secure message in your credit card profile, no need to call. Of course, this is totally your decision.

 Anyway, on to your question. For the most part, the advice in my blog applies to high-spender families as well. I recommend you start by looking at this page of best long-term cards, if you haven’t done so already: http://milesforfamily.com/2013/07/08/the-best-keeper-credit-cards-for-family-right-now/
If you are mostly after cash back, you will probably want to look at Amex Blue Cash Preferred, Sallie Mae Barclaycard  and Citi Double Cash. Why this combination?
Well, you want to have at least 2 cards in your wallet at all times, in case one is declined. You also need to make sure one of them is Visa or MasterCard because Amex is still not accepted everywhere. Quick note on Sallie Mae card: The link still works as of now (Update:Dead), though could die by the time you read my post. Also, there is a decent chance that  this product will get converted to Upromise credit card. Translation: Not as good. Apply at your own risk.
Look at Amex Blue Cash Preferred/ Citi Double Cash combo if:
You shop at a regular grocery store and spend around $500 per month in that category. This card gives 6% on groceries on up to $6,000 per year, 3% on gas and department stores and 1% on everything else. There is $75 annual fee, but you can make up for it via various promos. Google “Amex Small Business Saturday.”  Citi Double Cash card gives 2% cash back on everything, so you would want to use it for non-grocery and non-gas purchases. You don’t have to keep track of rotating  categories or anything like that.
Look at Sallie Mae/Citi Double Cash combo if:
 You don’t buy a lot of groceries (with family, doubtful), shop at Walmart, and make a lot of purchases on Amazon. Sallie Mae card gives 5% cash back on groceries (on up to $250 per month) and reportedly, Walmart qualifies. You also get 5% on gas ( on up to $250) and 5% on Amazon (up to $750 per month). Everything else earns 1% cash back, so that’s where  Citi Double Cash comes in. This combo may be preferable, it just depends on how much you spend in each category. There is also a possibility of you and your wife each getting Sallie Mae card. That way, you can double up on rewards. Instead of $250 grocery limit, you will have $500. The card has no annual fee.
 There are many other possible combinations, so I recommend you take a look at the post I’ve linked to in my email. It sounds to me like you want to keep things relatively simple. There are cards that give you perks after spending a certain amount, but they are usually travel-related rewards. Still, they might be worth a look. If you like Hilton chain, their Citi Hilton Reserve card will give you a free weekend night after spending $10K per year, plus all the points, of course, and Gold status that comes with free breakfast.
It does  have $95 annual fee, so that’s something to consider. Still, Hilton has some very nice hotels/resorts you can enjoy as a  family. If you and your wife each sign up for this card, you can get a weekend getaway after spending $20K, and you can redeem points for a third night. Note to readers: You can transfer points to another account at a  cost of $25 per 10K points. This could be useful if you need to top off your balance for a specific award.
Check this post for more on hotel cards in general http://milesforfamily.com/2013/11/14/best-hotel-points-sign-up-bonuses-for-family/  I routinely recommend Chase IHG MasterCard to everyone in my family. For $49 annual renewal  fee, you get a free night certificate, good at any IHG property. You don’t have to put any spending on it  in order to get this perk.
Anyway, it all comes down to your plans and travel patterns. Depending on your preferences, it could be worth it to divert  part of your spending in order to collect some of these rewards. There is a good chance  that certain perks will beat 2% cash back return, but only you can decide.

Bottom line

As always, every family is different, so it’s impossible to recommend a golden combination that happens to be “one size fits all.”  While my advice for high spenders will differ somewhat from that I would give to a typical family, in the end, it comes down to your unique goals and preferences.

Readers, what would you like to add to my advice? I would love to hear it. 

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

2 thoughts on “Long-Term Card Strategy for “High-Spender” Family

  1. We also don’t like to change the credit card that our automated payments are on, so we keep those on a consistent “keeper” card and just rotate the rest of our spending to new cards as they come. Our recurring automated payments are only about 20% of our total monthly charges, though.

    • Shoesinks, I totally agree! I charge my recurring bills to my Chase Freedom and Chase IHG cards. We have no plans to cancel those, and the amounts are relatively small (Netflix, phone bill etc). I stopped automatically charging my power bill because it adds up to a decent amount each month ($200-$300). So now, I just use my new card for that category.

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