As you may or may not know, some of the best reward credit cards over the past few years have come from Citi. While Citi has offered some rather generous programs (as well as some nice 0% credit card offers), I’ve always been annoyed with one particular aspect of their service…
Unfortunately, Citi doesn’t allow you to automatically pay the full balance due. Rather, the only auto-payment option that they offer involves paying just the minimum amount due. While I understand perfectly well why they do this — in increases the odds that you’ll carry a balance and pay them more — it still bothers me. In the past I’ve just dealt with it — I could justify the inconvenience of having to make manual payments since they offered relatively generous reward programs. But this weekend, that all changed.
Given that a number of other card issuers don’t play these sorts of games, I figured it was time for us to vote with our feet. Thus, we’re going to stop using our Citi Dividend Platinum and Citi Driver’s Edge cards as our primary cards, and are instead going to focus on our Chase and Amex cards going forward. To this end, I spent a bit of time last night calling both Chase and American Express to convert our old cards into something a bit more lucrative.
Converting our cards
First of all, I called Chase and asked them to convert our Chase PerfectCard, which offers 3% rewards on gas and 1% on all else, into a Chase Freedom card. This card pays 3% rewards in the three categories in which you spend the most in a month (e.g., gas, groceries, telecommunications, etc.) and 1% on all else.
Second, I called AmEx and converted our old Optima card into an Amex Blue Cash card. While our Optima card was enrolled in their Membership Rewards program, it was earning points instead of cash. Now we’ll be getting cash back in a tiered fashion. For the first $6500 in expenditures, we’ll be receiving 1% cash back on “everyday” purchases and 0.5% on all else. But once we hit the $6500 mark, we’ll be getting 5% cash back on “everyday” and 1.5% on all else.
The only downside is that we have to spend our existing Membership Rewards points within the next 30 days. But the good news is that our account number remains unchanged, meaning that our Buyer’s Assurance coverage will proceed unadulterated.
Automating our payments
As for setting up auto-payment, it’s dead easy to do this with the Chase Freedom card — simply log in and you can set it up via their online interface. In the case of the Amex Blue Cash card, it’s a bit more complex. In short, you need to call them to request a form that you’ll fill out and send back to them. Not a huge deal, but less convenient than it could be. That being said, jumping through this relatively minor hoop is totally worth it to me if it means an easier, more automated financial life.
Don’t get me wrong… When I talk about automating our finances, I don’t mean to imply that we’re just going to set things up and never look at another bill again. Rather, we’ll no longer have to keep super close tabs on things like due dates to be sure that we avoid unnecessary fees. But I’ll still peruse our bills and check for anomalies prior to slurping the data into Quicken.