Admittedly, it’s hard not to be tempted by the 60,000 point offer for the Chase Ink cards that’s floating around right now. I carry the MasterCard version of the Ink Bold, and could get the Ink Plus and/or another Ink Bold Visa. I’m not biting at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, 60,000 or 120,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points….nice, and yes, I ultimately folded on the 100K AAdvantage card. I’m not folding this time though. First, we’ve seen this offer before, and while that doesn’t mean it will certainly be back, I don’t mind hedging. I don’t “need” the points, plus I’m resting now after the easiest 100K miles I ever earned.
Of course, none of that discussion has anything to do with cash sometimes being the right thing to do. While I don’t purport to be a financial advisor, it never fails that I get at least one email from someone when one of these deals comes along. I once advised in a blog post to always play the game from ahead, not behind, and that bears repeating here. In this case, the email was from a person I am tacitly acquainted with through a friend at work. He is fairly well paid, newly married, has a side gig as a personal trainer, and is in student loan debt up to his eyeballs. OK, maybe his kneecaps, but paying a bit of interest on student loans and has some credit card debt right now. Nonetheless, he is tempted by the latest 60K bonus offer. He reached out with the following email in which I modified a few nits to protect the innocent.
I know you and I have had this conversation, but I really want to get in on the miles game. You recommended the Sapphire Preferred Card as a good starter, and you were really positive about Ultimate Rewards points in general for someone who wants to dabble in points but doesn’t fly enough on one airline to focus on one one program and elite status. You also told me not to bother until I had no credit card debt. I’m really working on that, and I expect to be debt free, minus student loans in 8 months. My question is do you think the Ink Bold would be a good alternative? It is a charge card so I have to pay it off every month, and would not be adding to my card debt.
I responded with – “I know you are really interested in miles and points, and I don’t blame you. The Ink cards are great, and the bonus offer out there right now is pretty good. Assuming you get approved, and I expect you probably would, you’ll need to meet the minimum spend to get the bonus points. There are a lot of ways to do that, but while you are focusing on that, you are taking your eyes off the prize of being free of your other debt. I’m not your spiritual advisor or life coach, and I’m sure as hell not a financial guru. I’ve been where you are….well, I never was a personal trainer, but you get my drift. This is a good deal, but there will be others. My advice – focus on what you know you have to do right now, and let’s talk again in a few months. In the meantime, if you’re going to apply for a credit card, make sure it is one that lowers whatever interest rate you are paying on your card debt. Once that is squared away, you’ll be ready to rumble in the miles and points game.”
In truth, I really do not like telling people they should forego a points bonus like this, but I couldn’t help myself. Further, it wouldn’t surprise me if this person ignored my advice and went for the card anyway. That said, I feel like I offered sound counsel. How would you have responded to that email?
-MJ, May 22, 2014