It may seem like a simple question on the surface, but many credit card enthusiasts that have moved past Chase’s 5/24 rule struggle with identifying their next card. Don’t be one of these people! In this post, I will outline how I think about my next credit card choice.
Let’s dive in. In summary, there are three key questions I ask myself to determine my next card:
- Where do I have a points gap in a currency I value greatly?
- What points do I want to acquire that I do not already have?
- What cards are offering all-time high bonuses that fit my criteria?
Personally, I really like pooling complementary cards and bonuses together in order to maintain a large points stash in a single currency. It makes planning easier when I can rely on a large pool of points. It also decreases my anxiety so I do not have to scramble last minute in an attempt to find enough points for a redemption. So, even though I have over 200,000 Amex MR points, I still want to accrue them since I value them highly, and I know I will eventually use them for my favorite sweet spots (i.e. Aeroplan to Europe, Iberia to Europe).
If I feel that my stash is sufficient or that no bonus offer exists to grow my existing currency stash, I will next look to acquire points in a program that I have no experience with, but that holds a lot of value. One of these for me is Citi ThankYou points. I do not have any Citi TYP earning cards, but I want to dive into ecosystem. This would be a top candidate after I have filled in my “mission critical” points needs at Chase and/or Amex. Moreover, if you can dive into a new currency with overlap transfer partners, it will essentially grow your existing stash because you can pool points together. For example, 200K Amex MR points and 100K Citi TYP points can all transfer to get you 300K Avianca miles. This is the power of points pooling across currencies!
My one word of caution here is that it’s crucial to be able to gather more than enough points from a bonus or multiple bonuses to acquire value. For example, I recently decided to dive into Hilton points. As many know, Hilton points aren’t that valuable, and a single sign up bonus isn’t going to get you too far. In this scenario, though, I know that American Express offers multiple Hilton cards where I can bundle multiple sign up bonuses together to book a lucrative award. This isn’t the case with other currencies…think Citi TYP on this. Citi only offers a bonus on the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier (you can only choose one), and you need to wait 24 months after closing the card to get another bonus! That’s a long time to wait, and Citi makes it difficult for you to acquire a lot of Citi TYP points unless you spend a lot! Go figure.
In short, I personally try to double down on a few key currencies to build “points proficiency”. And once I’ve accomplished this feat, I move into new currencies that can potentially be equally lucrative. In fact, I’ll give you a few examples of where I built “points proficiency”:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards:
- Acquired 170K UR
- Sapphire Reserve
- Sapphire Preferred
- American Express Membership Rewards:
- Acquired 300K MR
- Schwab Platinum
- Business Gold
- Business Green
- Blue Business Plus
- Marriott Bonvoy (previously Marriott Rewards & SPG)
- Acquired 420K Marriott Bonvoy equivalent points
- SPG Personal
- SPG Business
- Chase Business
- SPG Luxury (new)
- SPG Luxury (upgrade)
- American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
- Acquired 420K AAdvantage miles
- AAdvantage Platinum Select (5x)
- AAdvantage Platinum Select Business
Note that two of these (and arguably three) currencies are transferable currencies, meaning I’m able to maximize flexibility and value. American Airlines AAdvantage miles are the sole proprietary currency that doesn’t transfer, but I have achieved huge value redeeming miles for travel to Asia. I needed to double down on that currency because 150K mile round trip rewards were needed to make it to Thailand!
Now that I’ve given you a framework and examples of how I’ve doubled-down and explored new currencies, it’s up to you to find your next card! At this time, your best bet is to look up potential cards that match the currencies you aim to acquire, and do your share of research to identify the corresponding cards offering all-time high bonus offers. This last component will narrow your options down greatly. As I’ve mentioned before, always apply for cards with all-time high bonuses if you can, but only do so if the card fits into your particular strategy. Happy applying!