Yes, with exclamation mark. No, they do not pay me commission or end with a Plus. So, you are sick and tired of constantly switching credit cards. In fact, you are done with credit, period. Plastic causes you to overspend and you know it. You have decided to join the ranks of Dave Ramsey followers and use the “envelope” system.
Actually, the above scenario is not as crazy of an idea as it sounds. As much as I dislike Dave Ramsey (the brand, not the person), and I do, I have to admit that his oversimplified approach has merit to it. Most people are not the right fit for this crazy hobby, and don’t even realize it.
So let’s say you will be switching to cash from now on, and will only keep 1 or 2 no-annual fee credit cards for car rentals and occasional online purchases. The cards will be in your freezer from now on. Yes, people actually do that.
BTW, here is your background: You have a family of five and like to visit Disney World and stay at the beach once a year. You don’t object to sharing one room with your kids. Let’s see if I can convince you and your spouse each to apply for 2 more credit cards, 4 total. In fact, you can even freeze them if you wish after your bonus posts.
You’ll never have to cancel the cards, feed them, walk them or bathe them. Well, I do want you to pay a small bill like Netflix with each card every month and put it on Autopay. Nothing crazy, it’s only there to make sure the bank never pulls the plug on them. Oh, did I mention that each card has an annual fee? Wait, let me finish.
Introducing Chase IHG MasterCard and US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa
Like I said earlier, neither one pays me a dime, but these cards can be a gift that keeps on giving long after the points from the sign-up bonus are gone. You’ve seen me mention Chase IHG Mastercard many times. Why? It’s an amazing card that each family should have. Not only do you get upgrades, waved resort fees at some IHG properties, but you also get 1 hotel night each year after paying a $49 fee. Not too long ago I wrote about our stay at Holiday Inn Sanibel
I’ve mentioned in that post that the rooms will fit 5, though you will have to pay a small daily surcharge. Sure, the space will be tight. But that just gives you an excuse to explore the area or hang out at the beach. The rooms at this hotel can easily go for $300 per night in the spring. But for you? Only $49, plus a possible upgrade.
Between you and your spouse, you will get a 2-night getaway with your kids. Other beachfront Holiday Inn hotels may also accommodate 5, so call and ask. Otherwise, you can probably just bring a small air mattress with you.
OK, most likely, you are not going to Florida for just 2 nights. That’s where US Bank Club Carlson card comes in. Each year, you get 40,000 points after paying a fee of $85. Remember, as a cardholder, you get every second night redemption free. After you are done with your amazing beach getaway, you can move on to Orlando and the craziness that is Disney World.
Fortunately, there is a very nice Club Carlson hotel that fits 5 in a room. It’s Radisson Orlando Lake Buena Vista.
Update: the BOGO benefit is now gone.
The cost is 38,000 points, so you can get 2 nights here for only $75 (your annual fee). You would book 2 nights under your name, followed by a 2-nights stay in your spouse’s name. Of course, there is always a chance that this hotel will move up in category. Fortunately, there are other, less expensive hotel choices in the area. I just wanted to highlight the nicest one.
The cost of your family vacation
Let’s recap. Using nothing but renewal perks from those 4 cards, you will get a 6-night vacation in Florida during the high season. Of course, it isn’t free, so let’s add up the cost. It’s $49 X 2 ($98 total) + $75 X 2 ( $160 total)= $258 total, or about $43 per night in hotel costs. That amount wouldn’t even cover 1 night in Sanibel Holiday Inn during spring, and here you are getting an entire vacation.
I always stress that you need to be very picky about paying annual fees. However, IMO those two cards are no-brainers, even for a regular family. IHG properties are everywhere, and Club Carlson has a decent presence in major tourist spots. So chances are, you will use them without an issue. You can always cancel them if value proposition changes.
Right now would actually be a good time to get the IHG cards because your renewal nights will post in the fall of each year from now on. So you can book your vacation way ahead for spring or summer, whichever works best. Plus, the 80,000 points bonus offer is still working as of today, according to Flyertalk reports.
I’m done with churning, not with credit cards
If you simply want to get one long-term card for all of your expenses, consider adding Amex Everyday Preferred (that one does pay me referral) to the mix. Carry US Bank Club Carlson Visa in your wallet for those places that don’t accept American Express, and you’ll be all set. I’ve written before that a normal family who puts $24,000 per year on credit cards, can get around 60,000 Membership Rewards points by using nothing but Amex Everyday Preferred.
That amount should take care of a good chunk (if not all) of airfare expenses for your family by giving access to various mileage options. Don’t underestimate Jet Blue program, which is similar to Southwest Rapid Rewards and frequently runs discounts on awards.
So, between those 4 hotel credit cards and 1 Amex Everyday Preferred, you can potentially get an entire vacation for your family all through your regular yearly spending.
Chase IHG Mastercard + US Bank Club Carlson Visa combo is a perfect choice for those who feel uneasy about churning cards or don’t like them, period. I think even Dave Ramsey would approve. Or not.
What do you think, readers?
Leana is the 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.