When was the last time you went credit card shopping? No, I don’t mean when was the last time you went shopping and paid for it with your credit card. I mean, when was the last time you went shopping for a credit card? If you’ve been using the same credit card for a number of years, it might pay to take a look at what new card offers are available. Warning: credit cards are not for everyone. If you’re carrying a balance on your credit card, the best thing you can do is cut it up and pay it off as soon as possible. While credit cards have advantages, they can also lead to serious trouble.
Our Credit Cards
My wife and I have been using a Chase Freedom card for probably around five years now. When we signed up, this card had a super great rewards program. It gave you the standard 1% cash back on all purchases. It also gave you 5% cash back in the three categories you spent the most in each month. But wait, it got even better. If you saved up your cash back and didn’t redeem it until you earned $200, they would throw in an extra $50 for free. And I think there was a signup bonus of $100. I was pretty excited about this card, and we earned a lot in rewards. I need to point out that we never carried a balance and paid it off in full each month. This is really the only way to make a rewards credit card worth it. If you carry a balance, then you’re paying more in interest than you will ever earn in rewards.
Anyway, over the years the Chase Freedom rewards program got scaled back. First they did away with the extra $50 payout once you accumulated $200 in rewards. Then they did away with the 5% cash back on the three categories you use most, and changed it to random categories that change each quarter. Basically, they made their card a lot less rewarding. We still use it and earn rewards, but it’s nowhere near as good a card as when we first got it.
Looking at New Credit Cards
This year I’ve been more active about looking at what other cards are out there. When our washer and dryer needed replaced a month or so ago, I decided to open a new credit card that had an 18-month zero interest introductory period.
I receive probably three or four credit card offers in the mail each week. Honestly, I hardly ever even open them. I usually just toss them. But every now and then I’ll open one up that has some really good features. There are some pretty good cards out there. One I’ve seen recently is the Discover® More Card, that offers the 18-month zero interest period I took advantage of. I’ve also heard a lot of people talk about the new Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the great signup bonus that comes with it. I also saw a good offer from US Bank, offering the standard 1% cash back, plus 5% cash back in two categories that you choose. It also pays 2% cash back on your choice of gas stations, grocery stores, or drug stores. Plus, if you wait to redeem your cash back until you’ve accumulated $100, they throw in an extra $25. I may just apply for this and replace my Chase Freedom card. I wouldn’t close the old credit card account right away, though. Rather I’d wait a few years to build up my credit history on the new cards before closing the old ones.
The Bottom Line
Maybe you’re satisfied with the credit card you’ve had for years. I know we’ve been satisfied with ours. The point is that credit card companies are coming up with new credit card programs all the time, and these new programs can be significantly better than what you’re using right now. I think going forward I’m doing to a credit card comparison every two years to make sure I’m using the best card to earn the most rewards.
What card do you use most and why?