Does free travel not excite you as much as it does me? Well, hopefully free stuff excites you!
I signed up for the Citi Thank You Premier Credit card last month. This card offers 50,000 ‘Thank You’ points which will buy you up $500 worth of goodies in their shopping portal. If you use the points towards American Airlines flight you can get up to $625 of travel, that is a lot of dough for one credit card.
Since I have plenty of miles already I decided I would use the points towards something I didn’t have, a high end camera. The great part about this card is you can use these points in Citi’s shopping portal for pretty much anything under the sun. Electronics, furniture, jewelry, you name it, they probably have it for ‘sale’.
After you spend the $3,000 minimum spend, you will receive 50k points plus the points from the $3k in spend. This card offers 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back on travel so I ended up receiving a total of 53,638 points. This card also has no annual fee for the first year, so we are talking almost-free here. (you may have to pay a few transaction fees to hit your minimum spend)
The camera I wanted, the Canon T5, was right around 51,000 points. I purchased the camera and opted to pick it up at Best Buy (one of their partners). After checking out, the item was ready for pick up within 20 minutes! After tax the camera would have rang up at around $450, so that is a pretty good use of the points, in my opinion. Sears is another big retailer they partner with, you could buy lawn equipment, a couch, or workout equipment!
Courtesy of Cnet.com
There is another redemption option this card offers called “purchase eraser“. It will allow you to use your points against ANY purchase you make on your card. The draw back to this option is that you are only able to wipe out about $375 worth of purchases. If you purchase something for $450, it won’t allow you to use points against only part of the total, you have to have enough points to cover the whole purchase. You will have to see if this redemption choice works in your favor, although typically you get less return on your points.
How many credit cards can I get? Without going into too much detail you can get a lot more cards than you think, if you have solid credit. I have opened four cards with Chase just this year. Opening credit cards, and keeping zero balances, will eventually increase your score. At first your score may dip due to age of accounts and credit inquires. But a free camera is worth a few points at first 🙂
My advice, before you apply, make sure you have paid down the balances on all your other revolving accounts (credit cards) so that it appears you are not needing to borrow money. On top of that, paying your other cards down to zero each month will cause your score to go up, which will of course increase your odds of approval. Roughly 30% of your credit score is determined by your credit utilization, that is the percentage of available credit you are using. If you have only one other card with a $5,000 limit, you will want to make sure to pay it down to $500 or less, and if you can, pay it down to zero. This is one of the biggest ways that YOU can control your credit score!