Help me think through getting my very first credit card
June 30, 2014 11:08 AM Subscribe
I'm in my mid-thirties and have good credit, but I've never had a "real" credit card. I'm going on an international trip in December/January, and in the hopes of offsetting some of my plane tickets through signup bonus miles, now seems as good a time as any to finally get a credit card (still, I'm not averse to cash back rather than miles). Give me advice!
I'm in my mid-thirties and have only ever had a "student card" with a $200 limit, which I don't think I ever used, and a department store card I used once so I could take advantage of a 50% off sale.
I have no debt currently (student loans were paid off in 2010, and paid on time prior to then) and don't intend to carry a balance, so I'm not super concerned with APRs. No idea what my credit score is, but I think its pretty good considering no previous credit.
I spend ~$2k/mo, most of which is on small things: groceries, restaurants, books, public transit, health insurance, cell phone. I don't have any large monthly payments, and my rent is low.
I don't own a car (no gas bonuses), and don't use Amazon very often.
I like to travel, but I only fly several times a year and my hotel and rental car spending is negligible either way. I'm going to SE Asia and India in December/Jan and would love a card that could potentially offset that flight through signup bonuses or something, or which otherwise offers airfare benefits. A chip-and-pin card sounds nice though realistically I don't imagine I'll go to Europe in the next couple years. No foreign transaction fees sounds good too, though I typically travel in out-of-the-way enough places that it's easier to operate in all cash.
I'm not good at miles/bonus "hacking"; I want something that's fairly straightforward.
I know I probably won't have my pick of credit cards since my credit history's so negligible, but it seems like there are a few especially good deals it's worth applying for, and that people in the last several AskMe threads recommended:
Amex Blue Cashback Preferred card -- 6% cash back on groceries, 3% on gas, and 1% on everything else. $75/yr (I'm sure the annual fee would be offset by my first few months of grocery buying).
Chase Preferred card or the Chase Sapphire
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard -- 40k bonus miles if I spend $3k in the first 90 days; 2x miles on all purchases (if I qualify); $89 annual fee (1st yr waived) & the Barclays Sallie Mae card seems good although as my former student loan servicer I really hate Sallie Mae.
Southwest Airlines -- I do fly Southwest a lot, but the $99 annual fee seems pretty steep considering I'd only get travel benefits.
Is there anything crucial I'm missing?
posted by tapir-whorf to Work & Money (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite