Money at 30: My Next Credit Card — 4 Options I’m Considering
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Am I the only one who spends a good part of my day thinking about credit cards? Thankfully, this isn’t because I have a load of debt that haunts me or because my due dates keep sneaking up on me. Instead, I am regularly finding new cards, assessing my current line-up, and consistently considering possible additions.
Today, I wanted to discuss four cards that I’ve devoted at least some time looking at seriously — two of which happen to be in the travel realm and two others that may seem a bit out of left field. In each case, I’ll share what makes the card interesting in my opinion along with why I haven’t been compelled to pull the trigger just yet. Here we go:
The Travel Ones
Capital One Venture X
A few months ago, Capital One made a splash by introducing its first premium travel card: the Venture X. Headlining this new offering was the fact that it includes a $300 travel credit and provides complimentary access to the new Capital One Lounge. Elsewhere, it offers 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked on Capital One Travel, 5x miles on flights booked on Capital One Travel, and 2x miles on all other purchases. Also grabbing attention was the 100,000-point welcome bonus that also included $200 in statement credits for vacation rental purchases made in their first year of card membership.
That 100k offer has now expired — but that’s actually a good thing in my case. See, while 100k points are awesome, the fact that you needed to spend $10,000 in six months to earn it is not. Therefore, the current 75,000 points for $4,000 in spending during the first three months is much more my speed. And, yes, that $200 vacation rental perk is no more, but I wasn’t really going to use that anyway. So, with the $300 travel credit making up for the bulk of the card’s $395 annual fee and the minimum spend now looking more attainable, the Venture X suddenly makes slightly more sense for me.
On the other hand, given the limited scope of the Capital Lounges currently (and with me having no real need for a Priority Pass), that perk doesn’t mean a lot to me. Meanwhile, I also don’t really see myself using Capital One Travel all that often, rendering the top multipliers moot as well. That leaves the 2x category for everything else, which would fill out my wallet… but is also not the most exciting thing. The good news is that I’m guessing this 75k offer will be the standard, so I don’t feel the need to buy into the hype just yet. Instead, I think I’ll sit back, see how my travels progress in 2022, and then decide from there.
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
This is one I haven’t mentioned in a minute but still crosses my mind fairly often. Similar to the Venture X, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve offers 5x points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center. However, the star feature in my eyes is the 3x category, which not only includes “eligible travel purchases” but also purchases made using mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. What’s more, points can be redeemed at a rate of 1.5¢ each when redeemed for certain travel purchases.
As good as the 2x base that Venture X would establish, the Altitude Reserve could essentially establish a 3x base — assuming that most places accept Apple Pay. Even better, that 3x would basically be 4.5% if we use the points for travel. Also awesome is that the $400 annual fee is offset significantly by the $325 travel and dining credits.
Turning to downsides, I would need to open a U.S. Bank checking or savings account before applying for the card. That’s not too crazy of a requirement but it’s still something to consider. In reality, the main thing holding me back is that one needn’t have too many travel cards. With that in mind, I do worry that adding this one might find me trying too hard to make use of it (even if I earn most of my points via Apple Pay, I’d still want to use them for travel in order to get the best exchange rate). Nevertheless, I might still consider this the leader in the clubhouse among this quartet of cards.
The Random Ones
MGM Rewards Mastercard
As anyone who’s read my Money@30 site likely knows, I am a pretty big fan of (and frequent traveler to) Las Vegas. And while I’ve stayed at a number of different properties on the Strip, for various reasons I find that I tend to prefer properties owned by MGM — even if it often costs me more to stay at them thanks to the damn resort fees. That’s why I was excited when MGM announced the switch from Mlife to MGM Rewards, which included new perks, including waived resort fees. The only problem is that the new benefits came with new earning rates, making it harder for non-gamblers to earn status. Thankfully, through some status match magic, I was able to retain my Gold status. Yet, with Caesers recently cracking down on such shenanigans, my time living large on a technicality may be coming to an end.
All that is to say, once again, I’ve been considering the MGM Rewards Mastercard. While this card, by itself, won’t get me Gold status (it does include Pearl, which is one up from the standard), it does earn 3 points and 3 tier credits per dollar spent at MGM properties, 2x points and 2x tier credits on gas and supermarket purchases, and 1x points plus 1x tier credits on all other purchases. Those tier credits are how you can move up your status while the regular points can be redeemed at a value of 1¢ each for FREEPLAY, dining purchases, entertainment, and more.
One of the things that held me back from getting the card in the past is the rather tepid welcome bonus. However, recently, it’s had a slightly better deal, offering $250 worth of points after spending $5,000 in the first six months. While that’s a better bonus overall, the minimum spend is also a lot higher, so it’s hard to say whether it’s really all that much more attractive.
Ultimately, even with this card, I’m still not sure I’d be able to reach Gold naturally. Plus, do I really want a card where my rewards can only be used in Vegas? Sure, it might make sense as a fun backup but it also seems pretty silly, making it hard to know where I stand.
From gambling to exercising, the Paceline Card is one of the most interesting credit card products I’ve seen in recent months. In fact, if it were a debit card instead, I’d almost assuredly have it already. Alas, I am a bit pickier when it comes to credit cards and, thus, it continues to elude me.
With that tease, what exactly is the Paceline Card. Well, as a base, the card earns 2.5% cashback on “Health and Wellness” purchases as well as 1.5% on all other qualifying purchases. That “Health and Wellness” category is also pretty broad, incorporating things like gyms memberships and sporting goods as you might expect but also things like groceries and athletic apparel purchases. These multipliers aren’t amazing but they’re not bad either. However, the magic of the Paceline card comes from the fitness element. When you use the Paceline app and hit your Paceline Streak (by completing at least 150 minutes of exercise per week), the card’s rewards double! That means you’ll earn 5% on Health and Wellness purchases and 3% elsewhere. That’s pretty freaking fantastic if you ask me — and the 150 minutes seems doable. That said, there is a $60 annual fee to consider.
My fear here is that it’s too good to last. Heck, the card only launched a few months ago with far less attractive terms (lower multipliers, higher annual fee, and different welcome offer terms), making this version seem a bit suspect by comparison. Still, I find myself fascinated by the concept and intrigued by the reward. Does that mean I’ll be adding it to my wallet in order to get a closer look? We’ll have to wait and see.
Click to see all of the best rewards credit cards with the latest offers.
Obviously, I have a lot of options on my mind — and these are only the top contenders! Although part of me is keen to just get them all, reality reminds me that managing multiple annual fees, payment dates, and more can be a hassle, leading me to be a little bit more particular. Still, maybe just maybe one of these four cards will make its way to me in the future.
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Also published on Medium.