Best Credit Card for Paid in Full User?

So I have been for many years a PIF credit card user. I really like benefiting from the travel points I receive. Right now I have the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card. It gives me 1.65% cash back to use towards traveling. What I like about it is how easy it is. It is every purchase and no caps. 

That said, I am planning to switch to the citi double cash back credit card. Where you get unlimited 2% back on every purchase. That’s actually a large amount of money each year for my family. 

Can anyone recommend the double cash back (or advise against it)?  Or does anyone have another credit card that they really recommend? 

Thank you!

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  • I have this card and like it. It’s easy to apply the cash back to your balance. 

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  • I have this card and like it. However, remember that the 2% is divided into 1% on the purchase and 1% on the payment. So if you use cash back to get a statement credit, you lose the 1% cash back on the payment part because you didn't pay them any money. Whenever I go in to cash out rewards, I have it direct deposited into my checking account instead.

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  • The Citi double cash is probably the best card out there for everyday spending because it's 2% back with no fee. I still use the Capital One Venture card because I've had the account so long and I do not wish to close it.

    However, I use a few other cards that give cash back at a higher rate for specific spending categories that fit our personal spending patterns.

    I'm always amused by people who get the cards for 2% on a specific category (and the awards are only redeemable at one place) and 1% on all other spending, and they use that card for everything. They don't understand the fungible nature of credit card rewards and they end up getting a poor return. We cruise on Royal Caribbean, so hang out in some discussion groups, and it's amazing how those people think getting $100 onboard credit is so great, even if it's at a rate of return closer to 1% than 2%.

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      • ChicagoFlyer
      • Making the best of what's around
      • chicgoflyr
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule This is why currently I only use an AMEX Blue Cash Preferred, becuase I do prioritize money for groceries (which gets 6%) and 3% for gas is not bad.  But, you are making me wonder if I shouldn't think about another CC like Citi double cash for everything else.  My total monthly pending is usually under $1500 on the credit card so maybe simplicity wins over a couple of extra dollars when I'm already paying the fee for the AMEX. 

      edited within my 30 window for spelling 😉

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      ChicagoFlyer we do enough spending that I have a pretty good mix of cards:

      AmEx Blue Cash Preferred - 6% Groceries
      Target Red Card - 5% at Target
      Amazon Prime Card - 5% on Amazon
      PNC Visa - 4% Gas, 3% restaurants
      Discover Card - rotating 5% categories
      Capital One Venture Card - 2% everything

      I did the math and determined I get back about 4% overall.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      I too have an assortment of cashback cards:

      AmEx Blue Cash Preferred - 6% Groceries, 3% Gas
      Target Red Card - 5% at Target
      Chase Freedom Card - rotating 5% categories
      Citi Double Cash - 2% everything
      Chase Sapphire Reserve - 3% on Travel and Restaurants (I travel enough that the ridonkulous annual fee works itself out what with the the lounge access, $300 travel credit, no foreign transaction fees, and Global Entry reimbursements).

      And as soon as I spend down the $300 in Amazon Gift cards I've got floating around, I'll add the Amazon Visa for the 5% on Amazon purchases. Oh I also have a Capital One Mastercard that I guess does 1% but I keep it because it is my oldest card and it's good to have a Mastercard with no foreign transaction fees when I travel in case somewhere doesn't take the Chase Sapphire Visa. But for the most part, I just put my Netflix subscription on it to keep it active.

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  • I have the Citi DoubleCash, the Fidelity 2% Cashback, as well as other 2% travel cards. For straight cash back, there's a newer card that will give you 2.5% from Alliant Credit Union. For the first year, it gives 3%.

    I tried to sign up for this Alliant card but I didn't qualify. I have good credit, so I called them when I was declined and they said they'd like to establish a history with me first, so I accepted their offer for their flat-rate 2% and will look to switch over in six months. So, even their second-best card matches what I was getting in my previous primary-spend card.

    I don't highly recommend the Fidelity card because Elan financial services the card. Their customer support has a mixed history.

    I find Citi and especially Fidelity's websites to have bad enough user interfaces that I would recommend another card. Citi isn't terrible, yet I find it hard to find things even having been a member for years.

    Finally, I'm all-in on the Credit Union-issued card instead of a huge bank card, so I recommend the Alliant card personally. You'll have to open an account with Alliant, which they've made pretty smooth. It didn't take too long, but I did have to scan my ID and send it in.

    Still, you won't go wrong with the DoubleCash. It was my primary spend card for more than a year.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Jesse Watkins First post, eh? Why all the 2% cards? You only need one. This feels like an SEO/spam post.

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    • nolesrule if a person had one single 2% card and offered their review of it, it’s not a whole review where one can say it’s the “best card.” Please look at the subject of this thread again.

       

      I’ve been in the old forums since 2012 with the same username. I’ve used paid-in-full cards since then. I don’t appreciate being called a spammer because I write something informative.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Jesse Watkins Well, then I apologize. But it was a first post on this forum and to be quite honest, based on my experience on forums for a good 20+ years on the internet including several years as an admin and moderator it read just like a well-tailored spam post, links and all. I read it three times before I responded.

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    • nolesrule  I apologize for the sharpness of my response. I've had a less-than-stellar evening and what I need to do, honestly, is turn this computer off! But I can't because I'm a spam bot trying to insert my owner's credit card affiliate links on forums ;-).

      Reply Like 1
      • flyou10
      • flyou10
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Jesse Watkins 

      Thanks for bringing up the Alliant Card. I actually redid my math on it. My current spend on my BOA Travel Card is 53.5k per year. So even at year 2 of having the Alliant Card (2.5% with a $59 annual fee) I would make $210 more than the citi double cashback. 

      I know you said you got a lesser card for now, but I figure it has to be very close. 

      How well does their direct import work with YNAB?

      Do you know or have you heard how long it takes for cash back to post on your statement or into your savings account?

      Can you set up the card to be auto paid the full amount from an outside bank? I’ve read their online system is a little archaic. 

       

      Thanks!

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Compared to my Capital One Card, the Alliant card at 2.5% is a better deal for the same annual fee.

      For those using a no-fee 2% card, the math would require $11,800 in spending per year for that half-percent to make up the fee.

      It's worth considering, however I will need to recheck the math for total everyday CC spend. Our spending shifted cards a bit when I added the PNC Card since it gave restaurants a bump in rewards. The other issue is that our average account age has been falling. Most of our open accounts are now under 5 years of age (one of the reasons I haven't moved away from the venture card).

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      I could hit that spending minimum it looks like based on last years expenditures on my Double Cash. But I would also have to make a donation to a specific organization in order to obtain eligibility to join the credit union. Also, one card benefit that I have made use of on the Citi card is the price rewind. I'm about to get a check from them for $27 because they found lower prices on the garbage disposal and 2 Christmas gifts that I bought a few months ago.

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    • flyou10 

      > I know you said you got a lesser card for now, but I figure it has to be very close. 

      The lesser card I got is a straight 2% card, so if the same thing happens to you, it will be the same as the DoubleCash. They told me I could ask for an upgrade, so I plan to at the 6 month mark.

      > How well does their direct import work with YNAB?

      It's been fully functional so far. Note that I only got the Alliant card two weeks ago!

      > Do you know or have you heard how long it takes for cash back to post on your statement or into your savings account?

      I don't know yet.

      > Can you set up the card to be auto paid the full amount from an outside bank?

      Yup! I set it up that way. We just moved states a few months ago, so I've had to change a lot of things, including our bank. I love Credit Unions but don't qualify for any around in my new state. At the end of last week, I decided to ditch this new bank (who charges $10 to _receive_ a wire transfer???), so I'm going to use Alliant now. I switched the payment to come from an Alliant account.

      > I’ve read their online system is a little archaic.

      It's been fine for me. My favorite credit card website experiences have been Chase, Amex, and Discover. Citi is pretty clunky, I think. Alliant functions more fluidly than Citi's website to me, in my opinion.

      If you go with the Alliant card, I'd love to hear your reflections after you've had it for some time!

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    • jenmas  That price rewind sounds cool! I read about the perk but have never used it myself.

      > I would also have to make a donation to a specific organization in order to obtain eligibility to join the credit union.

      This was all automated for me. They cover the donation amount and the $5 savings account requirement and let me know that I'll receive some mailed information about the charity that they donated to on my behalf. I haven't gotten the mailers yet so I'm still awaiting what level of junk mail I signed up for ;-)!

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  • Was going to recommend Citi double cash back, until I saw you like traveling.  I love my Citi card since I'm working on building my safety net.  But, if I was funded and ready to start traveling, your BoA card also sounds wonderful.  It's a matter of what your priorities are.  

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      TryingToGetAhead but the BoA card only gives 1.65% which is less than 2%?

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  • Perhaps consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred. I know the former seems insane, with its high annual fee, but keep in mind that you get back $300 in travel credits yearly (for which almost anything travel-related, including parking or taxis, qualifies), making the effective fee $150. Then there are a ton of other benefits, including points and lounge access. I've gotten so many reward points and "free" rental cars that the card has been worth it for me.  However, it is only for people who pay in full, because the interest rates from carrying a balance would negate any reward savings.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Neither are worth it compared to a straight up 2% card unless you really do a lot of traveling. They are designed with the business traveler in mind.

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    • nolesrule Which card is better isn't something I can comment on, as I've never used a cash-back card. However, I have the CSR entirely for leisure travel, as do others I know. For someone who does about half a dozen flights and a few car rentals a year, it certainly seems to pay for itself. That said, I can't argue that a cash-back card might not be better, particularly if someone doesn't care about the rewards which don't directly translate into dollars.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Silver Boa Half a dozen flights and car rentals is more than the average person. 🙂

      I love to travel too, but if I fly it's once or twice a year at most (round trips). Same with rental cars. I think I've done 3 trips requiring flights in one year exactly once in my life.

      But yes, Chase Sapphire cards are good cards for leisure travelers that do travel frequently in addition to the business traveler. If I traveled more I'd be all over it.

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    • nolesrule Good point. It all depends on your personal travel habits.

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  • I have the free Amex Blue card. What I don't like about their rewards is that for actual cash back, it's usually 50% on the dollar for redemption. I end up getting gift cards, some of which are 100% on the dollar. I don't use it much. I prefer DS (get an extra 10% or so on redeeming for gift cards), Chase Freedom or the Citi double cash back card.

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  • I have looked at the Alliant card. The issue I have with it is after the 1st year there is a $59 annual fee. That’s $2,360 of spending just to break even. 

    I have thought about the Chase Saphire cards. But I really am not a fan of annual fees. Plus, I travel a ton for work but I use a company credit card. Otherwise I’d be all for it. 

    I have also considered having all the cards with 5% back at their respective stores. However, I have to force myself to keep things simple. I want (and my wife really wants) only 1 card we use for everything. 

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    • Agent99
    • Working to Get Smart at budgeting, finances and life
    • Agent99.1
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    I've been using the Citi DC card for close to five years and I use the accumulated funds for my annual vacation spending money.   I've accumulated $4K in rewards since I've had the card. 

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  • I have the amazon prime card (through Chase) - I use it for everything.  Sometimes I apply the points towards an amazon purchase but I also use them for statement credits.  I might get the Ally CashBack card (2% cash back at gas stations and grocery stores; 1% cash back on all other purchases) because they offer:  a 10% Ally Deposit Bonus when you deposit  cash rewards into an eligible Ally Bank account (which I have); and a $100 bonus when you make $500 in eligible purchases during the first 3 billing cycles)

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      GBR Your base card should get you 2% cash back on all purchases, because those cards can be acquired with no annual fee. After that you look for cards that give higher percentages based on your spending pattern and only use them for the higher percentage categories.

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      • GBR
      • GBR
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I was only thinking of getting the ally card for that $100 😉 (also I'm doing my banking with them so it'd be convenient to have a card with them).   After that I'll probably go back to my amazon prime card.  I actually don't "shop" a lot (groceries, gas & dog food cover 90% of my shopping) and certainly not enough that 1% or 2% makes a huge difference in my budget.  But it's nice to treat myself once in a while with the amazon points (most recently I got my sweet Breville countertop oven using my points😬).

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      GBR If you have the choice of taking the Amazon points as a statement credit or applied against an Amazon purchase as a discount at checkout, take the statement credit. Applying it to the purchase reduces the value of the points because you are also receiving points on the purchase amount.

      For example, you have $5 worth of points, and your return rate at Amazon is 5% You buy something for $10 at Amazon. If you apply it against the purchase, you only get points on $5 (so $0.25). if you apply it to the statement credit, you'll get points on the full $10 (so $0.50).

      The cash back doesn't have a huge impact on my budget either, but because the money is fungible, it frees a little extra each month to put toward priorities.

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      • GBR
      • GBR
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I should have been more clear - yes, for big ticket items, like the oven, I use the points as a statement credit.  For little "fun" purchases, I just use the points for that immediate "hey, I'm treating myself b/c I've been spending wisely" happy feeling. 😊

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  • I would like to throw out there the SPG AMEX.  In terms of value, you get nearly 5-8% value on your spending.   Use this if you like travel.  

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      GreenBack Hoarder It's basically a 2% card on everyday purchases, 4% for stays at Starwood properties with a $95 annual fee, but you are rewarded in SPG points. If you stay at Starwood properties it makes sense for the extra point boost since it's higher than 2%, but not so much for any other spending, which means you'd need to stay at the hotel a lot to make up for the fee.

      In addition the rewards are not really all that fungible as you are limited to what you can do with the SPG points.

      Perhaps you are refering to the business version of the card for that 5-8% return? Because SPG points have an average calculated value of slightly over 2-cents.

      I didn't mention the hilton card, which is what we use and stay at hilton brands. But based on point value we get approximately a 3.5% return on our Hilton points with no fee based on a point value of a half-cent per point. I don't count that toward my credit card returns.

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  • nolesrule  .. Thanks for reply ... My latest example:  You spend $13000 to get 13000 SPG points.  Then I stay at the JW marriott (same plan now) with these points.  The cost would have been $750 per night PLUS 67.75 tax PLUS 32.00 tourism tax.  This comes to around 6.5% value.  

    Another example I had.  Stayed 5 nights at Snowmass, CO.  Price would have been $799 per night.  With taxes and fees (not resort fee) , it was $920 or so.  So that would have been $920 X 5 = $4600.  BUT if you stay 5 nights, 1 of them is free, so the point cost to you is 15,000 X 4 or $60,000 in expenses.  So this value is $4600 / $60K = 7.66% return on your expenses.

    Also consider using this gives you free Gold status, thus giving you free drinks, free upgrades, etc  (worth something).

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      GreenBack Hoarder Yes, you can optimize the reward points redemption. But you are cherry picking your results.

      I checked around online and the average redemption value for points is 2-cents. For example, redemption value on Manhattan hotels is well under 2 cents per point. You'd be crazy to use points for a stay in Manhattan because you'd get below average return on your points.

      The Hilton Honors points have the same issue. But with Hilton you just get more points with a lower average value.

      There are always values to be found when it comes to hotel points redemption, but they may not align with your spending pattern. Often times the 2 percent straight up cash back will be a better deal, unless you are staying at the mysterious JW Marriot with no location or going to Snowmass, CO.

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  • nolesrule   Nothing mysterious here as I am not cherry picking my results.  These are my last two stays for vacation.  @ Grosvernor House - London  was the JW.  It can actually be around $1200 per night USD in summer.  The Westin Snomass was the other.   I can break down all of them if you prefer, but they are all in the same % value range.

    I'm only saying if you are smart and not use points in offseason, you get higher % value than any cash back card.   Can you waste points on offseason hotels?  Sure.  The same 12k to 20K points per night apply in low season (like $199/night vs high season $>$700 / night).  So the value of this card depends on the user.

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  • GreenBack Hoarder said:
    So the value of this card depends on the user.

     Which is exactly what I've been saying. Everyone needs to look at their own spending habits to determine the best cards for them, rather than adjusting their spending habits to align with their credit cards.

    The rate of return on points cards is going to be variable based on how and when you are redeeming the points.

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