Credit Cards, Accounts, and Other Tips

As a personal finance nerd who is always in search of a bargain and spends her free time reading NerdWallet and PointsGuy (and who may or may not have shed a few tears when Suze Orman went off the air), I’m happy to share some of my findings. Add your own tips and thoughts in the comments …

My credit card lineup

Chase Sapphire Reserve

At first blush, this card comes with a hefty $450 fee — but that’s made substantially more do-able with the $300 travel reimbursement. Perks also include free Global Entry (TSA Precheck), Priority Pass lounge access, and a very impressive 3x points on restaurants and travel. It also has an excellent 50,000 point signup bonus (equal to $1,000) when you spend $4000 in the first three months.

American Express Cash Back

Earn a whopping 6% cash back on groceries. The card has a $95 annual fee, but if you spend as little as $30 a week on groceries, it’s worth it. The card also offers 3% cash back on department stores, and some pretty worthwhile statement credits (e.g. spend $250 at Neiman Marcus, get $50 back).

The Amazon Store Card

It’s only available to Prime customers, but if you already have Prime, it’s a must have — no fee, and 5% cash back on EVERY purchase. Cha-ching!

Chase Freedom 5% Cash Back

Some people just can’t deal with keeping track of rotating categories. If you’re not one of those people, highly recommend this card. (Calendar here.) It’s no fee, and the points go into the Chase portal and can be used for great deals in the travel center (points are worth 1.5 cents if you book travel through the portal).

Chase Freedom Unlimited

A catch-all 1.5% cash back card, for all the purchases not mentioned above. Again, goes into the Chase Ultimate Rewards system; I use this on everything that’s not groceries, travel, restaurants, or Amazon.

A Few More…

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaii is my happy place, and signing up for this card resulted in a free trip (they just upped their signup bonus to 80k miles) along with other attractive perks (free checked bag, 50% off a ticket every year, etc.). That said, if you’re not a Hawaii aficionado, the $95 annual fee is likely not worth it.

Starwood

My husband has this card. It was a good idea at the time (when we were staying at hotels more regularly and pre-Marriott/Starwood), but this is a card we may cancel soon.

Nordstrom

I signed up for this no-fee card to gain early access to the Anniversary Sale.

Bank Accounts

Consumers Credit Union

If you’re the type that doesn’t mind jumping through a few hoops (a minimum number of debit purchases, among other things), this credit union offers a whopping 5% APY up to $20,000. That is impressive.

American Express Personal Savings

1.90% APY is the best you’ll find these days on the savings account front. Since I have AmEx credit cards, this one made the most sense — Ally and a few other banks have similar rates.

Certificates of Deposit through Marcus

These bad boys can compete with any CDs on the market. As a designer, I’m inclined to choose Marcus over the competitors for the lovely, modern UX and visual design. Ladder in style.

More Tips

Goodwill Donations

Save your receipts and itemize your donations; every little bit counts.

Stock Your Pantry with Thrive Market

If you’ve bought into the organic food craze, Thrive Market offers awesome prices that makes the subscription worth it. (And of course, be sure to use the Amex card mentioned above.)

Bulk buying at Boxed.com

The Sam’s Club of online staples shopping (minus the membership fee). AmEx often offers a statement credit for Boxed, which can result in some pretty incredible savings.

Selling on eBay

It’s a bit of work, but if you build up a good selling history, you’ll make more off of used clothing and other items than through the other options listed here (ThredUp, Goodwill).

Buying used (new!) clothing at ThredUp.com

Generally speaking, clothing does not hold its value over time. Get an immediate discount by buying used clothes that have (often) never been worn (you can filter by New With Tags or Like New). Additionally, ThredUp has a great ‘clean out your closet’ program: they provide shipping, and give you dollars or credit for the items they accept.

Follow the blogs

Krazy Coupon Lady and Money Saving Mom monitor deals so we don’t have to.

France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, WHEW!

Brian and I seem to have a real thing for the jam-packed itinerary … join us on a recounting of our trek through Europe in June. (Full photos here.)

The Cherry Blossoms at BBG

Nothing says the coming of spring quite like the magnificent cherry blossoms. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a former client of mine, so I was fortunate enough to score a guest pass and fantastic company on my April stroll through the garden.