The Basics: 101

The first phase is building credit history. History is the most important factor in obtaining a high credit score. High credit scores help people rent apartments, borrow signifiant loans for homes, cars and more.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
  1. Start early
  2. Pay it off early
    • Treat your credit card like a debit card to get into the habit of never spending more than you have.
  3. Set it on auto-pay
    • Where people get messed up with credit cards is failing to pay off their monthly bills. Set up your card on auto-pay so that it pays off at least the minimum payment so that you can avoid any additional fees. Even better, pay off the entire balance or pay every time you spend like a debit card.
  4. Upgrade to a card with points as soon as you’re eligible.
    • For many cards, this can take about 6 months to 1 year. It’s completely worth it because this is how you can go from simply spending money to getting rewarded for spending your money in the form of flights, hotels and more.

The Next Steps: 201

Once you’ve gotten some history behind you (12 months+), then you can start optimizing for credit card rewards.

  • General recommended credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred
    • $95 annual fee
    • 2x the points on travel & dining
      • Travel = airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.
        • Delta, Airbnb, Uber, Orbitz.com, trains etc
      • Dining = merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments
        • Uber eats, George’s Diner, McDonald’s etc
  • If you’re a regular traveler but not loyal to any airline: Chase Sapphire Reserve
    • $450 annual fee
      • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases 
      • $100/$85 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
      • $99 value of complimentary Priority Pass Select membership and access to 1,000+ VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass Select
      • All that to say that the $450 value essentially pays for itself, especially once you add up your savings from points redemption
    • 3x the points on travel & dining
  • If you’re a regular traveler and loyal to an airline: Chase Sapphire + an airline card or stick to an airline card
  • Notable mention for heavy diners and online shoppers: Uber Visa Card