Credit Cards

Debt is on everyone’s mind these days, whether it’s their own debt or our government’s. I’m thankful for my dad, who told me as a child to never borrow money for anything but a house or profitable business equipment. Thanks to his advice, I made it through college without dumb debt, and Kassie and I have been able to buy and flip three houses. I realize that not everyone got advice like this and some folks have been saddled with student loans and credit card debt. This post isn’t for you. You should quit eating out, cancel your cable, and get out of debt as soon as possible.

If you are able to pay off credit cards each month and only use them for reasonable things like gas, groceries, and family outings, then now is a great time to shop for a new card. In the past, my family has benefited from things like “cash back” checks from Discover (sometimes as high as 5%) and we used a lot of Visa rewards to do our Christmas shopping.

Since we’re planning to move to Europe soon, I’ve been shopping for a credit card that didn’t charge international fees. There are only two options: a Discover card or a card from CapitalOne. We have a Discover card, but it isn’t widely accepted in Europe. So, I begrudgingly investigated CapitalOne, which I was loathe to do based on negative stories I’ve heard about the company.

It turns out that CapitalOne is getting a better reputation now and offering a few great rewards cards: the VentureOne (no annual fee) and Venture ($59/year) cards. Yesterday, I found myself doing two things I never thought I would: getting a credit card with an annual fee, and getting it from CapitalOne. The Venture card was the right choice for us, even with the annual fee, because it offers an amazing 2 miles for every dollar spend. If you use the card for several thousand dollars (around $8,000) per year, the annuall fee is worth it. Since we will route lots of our regular expenses through the card, we should reach that threshold pretty easily. Bonus: I applied on the CapitalOne website (quick and easy application) and got approved in just a couple of minutes. No waiting for a letter in the mail.

If we were staying in the US, I’d prefer a straight cash rewards card. The Discover and Amazon Visa cards have been good for us and I recommend them. Also, I just learned about the Fidelity American Express that gives 2% cash back into the retirement account of your choice. If we needed another card I would be applying for this.

Remember: if you open a new card and you old card doesn’t have an annual fee, don’t close that account. Keep the card a drawer and use it to buy one tank of gas a year. Keeping the account open helps your credit score.


About Brian Phillips

Brian lives in Spain with Kassie and their kids.
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