Nearly every bank offers its own credit card, and that’s how lots of us get our plastic: We sign up for the card offered by our bank for convenience – not because it’s the best card for our needs.
Leigh is a computer programmer from Carrollton, Texas, who likes his bank but isn’t sure about its credit card.
Where Leigh is…
“I have a Wells Fargo Platinum Visa, and I’m signed up with the Wells Fargo Cash Back Program. I like having a Wells Fargo card because it’s easy to view it along with all my other Wells Fargo accounts – and it’s easy to make a transfer to pay the balance. But I’m sure that the cash-back rewards program is not the best out there.
“I used to have a Discover card, and I know I should have kept it because they give better rewards – right? But I never used it enough, and I ended up closing it because it was harder to monitor.
“I almost always pay my balance. We’ve been building up cash reserves for an emergency fund, upcoming big purchases, and Christmas, so we don’t usually have to use it to float a bill.
“We have all our mortgages, savings, and checking accounts at Wells Fargo. Nevertheless, should we be looking for a different bank to do a similar setup? Or do we have to give up the convenience of easily monitoring our credit card to get a better deal?”
What Leigh needs to do…
There’s nothing wrong with being loyal to a bank you have a good relationship with. But you don’t have to forgo better credit card deals.
Your Wells Fargo Platinum Card offers 1 percent cash back, but that’s just the minimum a savvy cardholder should expect. Discover cards generally offer 1 percent cash back as well, although some, like the Discover More Card, feature up to 5 percent cash back in specific bonus categories.
A favorite card of mine is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. It offers 1 percent cash back on most purchases, with 3 percent cash back at gas stations and department stores – and a whopping 6 percent back on groceries.
But if you’re simply looking for the highest cash-back rate on all purchases, you can’t beat the Fidelity Rewards American Express. This card has no annual fee and returns 2 percent of your spending as a deposit that goes directly into an eligible Fidelity account. That’s double the cash back you’ve been receiving, and it’s a great way to build up a savings account.
It’s OK to be loyal to a bank that you like, but earning at least double the cash back from your credit cards should tempt you to have at least one account with someone else – even if it’s not as simple to monitor
And speaking of simple to monitor, while it may be nice to pull up your credit card along with your bank account info online, it’s just one more quick step to pull up a separate credit card account. And if you have online bill-pay with Wells Fargo, it’s also quick and easy to pay the bill for that card electronically.
Not much extra effort – more than twice the cash back.
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