I recently came across The Deal Mommy’s post on signing up for a “Convertible Credit Card” and it was an exchange between her and Trevor from Tagging Miles, on how difficult it is to start up in the world of points and miles when you have no base of knowledge. The premise of the post is to sign up for any credit card whereby you can transfer the bank earned points into other frequent flyer programs because it creates flexibility in the long run.
The programs mentioned are:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Starwood Preferred Guest
- Citi Thank You Points
I totally agree and stand by Dia and Trevor’s assessment that you should sign up for a credit card that offers flexible rewards and you want to start that as soon as possible.
For those that become a little more seasoned in the pursuit for points and miles, I will add my recommendation. It creates a little more complexity and this is for the folks a tiny bit more experience under the belt: plan the card after year 1 for a downgrade.
After Year 1 And Beyond:
I don’t remember when I learned about the trick or from who on Chase cards. It could have been my friend who provided me the inside tip about the Chase Ink offers. Either way, when you have a card that has an annual fee and you do not plan on paying for it, keep in mind that you have options to do a product change. This is what I did early this year to my Chase Sapphire Preferred due to the overlapping benefits from having a Chase Ink Bold card. I converted it into another Chase Freedom and fully maximized the first quarter. Milenomics did the same as well and coined the new card the Freedom Preferred.
In order to do a product change with Chase, the loyalty program associated with the card can product change to anything within that family. Therefore, any personal card that earns Ultimate Rewards can product change into each other. As an example that I would never recommend, a Freedom card can be changed into a Sapphire Preferred. I do not recommend converting a Freedom into the Sapphire Preferred because you will forego a very generous sign up bonus from Chase.
Then late last year, I read this post from Kenny on Miles4More and has absolutely changed my line of thinking on the years beyond the first year with Citi. Citi will let you product change any card into a different family of cards. You could have an American Airlines Platinum Select card and switch into a cashback earning Dividend card. Previously, I was not big on Citi cards, but after reading that post, I am signing up for increased bonus offer Citi cards with plans to downgrade to annual fee free cards afterwards. At this point, my goal will be more Dividend cards.
Doctor of Credit has coverage on Bank of America product changes and Bank of America has some pretty good annual fee free cards too. Bank of America is also pretty generous in terms of a product change outside the family of rewards earning.
Because you can product change, this will help keep your accounts alive and increase the average age of accounts. My strategy is to keep my cards opened as long as I can and maximize the benefits while they’re opened. Some of the annual fee free cards have bonuses that add up to real savings to regular purchases outside of manufactured spending. For instance, I signed up for Freequent Flyer’s paid newsletter for $10 a month and have a Bank of America Better Balance Rewards card that will cover all but $20 after the bonus. Depending on the quarter, I shift all of my dining spend onto the Chase Freedom.