How to know which credit card to use

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which credit card to use

Many credit cards offer great category bonuses.  3X points for this or that, 2X points for the other, 5X points with categories that change every 3 months, etc.  There are apps that claim to help with this problem… and they probably do.  But, personally, I’m not going to whip out my phone for every purchase to figure out which card to use.  And my wife definitely won’t.  Instead, I have a low tech solution…

I use sheets of half inch tall labels (such as Avery 8167), and then use Avery.com to design the labels.  I then stick them on credit cards as needed.  My wife has three cards in her wallet:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card with a label that says “Travel, Dining. International“.  This way she knows to use the card for all travel and dining purchases in order to get 3X rewards, and that it is OK to use internationally (no foreign transaction fees).
  • CNB Crystal Visa Infinite with a label that says “Gas, Grocery. International PIN“.  This way she knows to use the card for all gas and grocery purchases in order to get 3X rewards, and that the card has a PIN for international Chip & PIN use.  Note that this card also offers 3X rewards for travel & dining, but I’d prefer that she use the Sapphire Reserve for those purchases so I left those off the label.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited with a label that says “Everywhere Else“.  This way, she’ll earn 1.5X rewards on all spend where she’s not using the other two cards for 3X rewards.

I also created labels for our four Chase Freedom Cards and our two Discover It cards.  While I’m pretty good at remembering the bonus categories for my other cards, its easy to forget with these since the 5X categories change each quarter.  I created the following labels for the Freedom Cards:

  • Quarter 1: “Gas Stations, Uber. 1/1 – 3/31”.  Note that the first quarter category is really Gas Stations and Ground Transportation, but I thought it better to write an example of ground transportation that we would really use.
  • Quarter 2: “Grocery, Drugstore. 4/1 – 6/30”.
  • Quarter 3: “_______________________ 7/1 – 9/30” (e.g. fill in the blank with a pen once we know more)
  • Quarter 4: “_______________________ 10/1 – 12/31” (e.g. fill in the blank with a pen once we know more)

And similar labels for our Discover It cards:

  • Quarter 1: “Gas Stations, Uber, Wholesale. 1/1 – 3/31”.
  • Quarter 2: “Home Improvement, Wholesale. 4/1 – 6/30”.
  • Quarter 3: “_______________________ 7/1 – 9/30” (e.g. fill in the blank with a pen once we know more)
  • Quarter 4: “_______________________ 10/1 – 12/31” (e.g. fill in the blank with a pen once we know more)

Credit Cards Low Tech Which to Use

Other solutions?

How do you keep track of which cards to use where?  Please comment below!

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