I have not been very active in blogging for the past two months. A number of excuses come to mind, such as the beginning of the school year (I am a public school teacher) and the end of the Ultimate Frisbee season. I also know that I can be ADD about my hobbies, flitting around from one to the next (Who knew ADD could be an adjective?).
In the course of a busy season in life, I also failed to follow some of my own advice about earning points through credit cards. Most rewards credit cards carry an annual fee, and my advice is usually to avoid paying it by canceling the card before the fee comes due. However, one needs a system for remembering to make that call to the bank, and my lack of a system failed. I made it all sound really easy in this post. Truthfully, it should be easy. But you have to stay on top of it. I did not.
The result of this failure is that my wife and I paid out a few hundred dollars in annual fees. The first to hit were Citi AAdvantage cards. One was on my card and one on my wife’s. $85 each, but I managed to call in time to cancel my second AAdvantage card to avoid that fee.
Second, I paid the $95 to keep the Chase Sapphire Preferred for another year. This was no huge failure, because I will get a substantial 7% points bonus at the end of the year. The value should be close to $95, so not a big loss, assuming I can redeem the points.
Finally, I paid $95 to keep the Delta Skymiles Gold American Express card. This was a calculated move, and I am hoping I made the right choice. Time will tell. The fact is, I have 125,000 Skymiles. The Amex makes it easier to redeem them, because you can use Pay with Miles to extract a penny per mile. Normally, this is considered to be an awful redemption rate. But I would take it just to get something out of my Skymiles. Additionally, if my family does end up flying Delta in the next year, our bags would fly for free.
I’m also hopeful that we will get a return on those AAdvantage card fees. One benefit of the card is a 10% rebate on miles redeemed, up to a maximum of 10,000 miles. If we are able to redeem AAdvantage miles in the next year, we could get the value of our money back. This is a speculative hope in the wake of my mistake, because we don’t actually have plans to use the miles or any other benefits of the cards in the next year. So, it was a mistake on my part. I’m just hoping it will turn out alright.
As of today, I have a system I trust. I made a quick spreadsheet detailing my current credit cards, their annual fees, and approximate due dates. I also added the ‘call by’ dates to my calendar, which pushes to my computer, phone, and iPad.
What’s the point? Live and learn. I’m a frugal fellow, and I don’t like paying bank fees. I am thankful I’m still going to come out way ahead in playing this miles and points game.