Back in the summer I wrote about the abundance of credit card offers we had received in our household over the previous year. When I finally combed through the pile of offers I discovered some interesting things. For example, the range of offers from the same credit card company varied greatly—we could stand to gain or lose 30,000 points depending on when we decided to take advantage of a credit card opening bonus (for those in the UK, you can compare credit cards at Totally Money to see what kinds of offers you can get). The second thing I learned was that if I didn’t see an offer I wanted to take advantage of, I just needed to wait a few more months and one was bound to come along (patience is more than a virtue!).
Big Expenses in the Future
Paul and I decided to take advantage of two different offers from the stash. We have a few big expenses coming up in the foreseeable future (over the next year), and wanted a big bonus in order to help defray the costs. The first is a predictable expense for us: traveling to see my family for the holidays. While we usually drive to Arkansas for Thanksgiving and spend approximately $250 in gasoline to get there and back, this year my entire father’s side of the family is meeting up at my aunt and uncle’s house in Michigan. As it turns out (you should have seen the shock on my face), Michigan is a very expensive airline market. Our second big expense is purchasing airfare home to PA for Christmas. And our third big expense in the foreseeable future is replacing the double wall ovens in our kitchen. Let’s just say they are on their way out (they have lasted since the 70s from the look of them, though I can understand why no one else has replaced them; double wall ovens are expensive!). While we can still get away with cooking, baking in the ovens is a nightmare. It would be nice to one day not have to worry about adjusting time and temperatures so that things do not burn.
Credit Card Offers We Chose
Due to what we want to accomplish with credit card opening bonuses (free airline tickets and a sizable gift card to a home improvement store), we chose the Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa Signature Card and the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. Here’s how the terms break down:
- Southwest Card: We received two free airline tickets (50,000 bonus points for up to $800 in airfare) after our first purchase. The APR is 15.24%, and there is an annual fee of $99 that we paid when we first opened the card. Believe it or not, the $800 did not cover our entire airfare to Michigan (now you see how expensive it is!); however, Paul has traveled a moderate amount for business this year and made sure to use his Southwest frequent flyer account each time. So along with half of his frequent flyer miles, we were able to get our tickets for $119 (including taxes and the annual fee). It was such a triumph!
- Premier Rewards Gold Card: Oddly enough, this is a charge card and so has no pre-set spending limit (“[n]o Pre-Set Spending Limit does not mean unlimited spending. Purchasing power adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, and financial resources known to us, and other factors”). The balance must be paid off by the next statement closing date to keep the account current, and because of this there is no interest rate. Admittedly, I have never encountered this with a “credit card” before! The offer that lured us in was they waived the first year’s annual fee, and we can get a $500 gift card after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. I use my credit card to implement my budget anyway (and pay it off each month before the interest rate kicks in), so I just switched to using this charge card for three months in order to meet the threshold without spending any extra. Now we can cash in for a free $500 gift card towards our new ovens!
Overall, I am quite pleased with the outcome. I have not signed onto a new credit card in several years and scooping up some great bonus offers really has helped our bottom line.