Credit Card Expert Roundup #39 - When people you meet learn that you're a credit or credit card expert, what's the first thing they ask you, and what's your typical answer?
In recent years, as the credit card rewards culture has evolved, more and more people have chosen the career of a credit card expert. Many people don't realize that they may in fact know one. When experts are "outed," they find that their friends have several questions for them. Jason Steele asks them what is the most common question:
When people you meet learn that you're a credit or credit card expert, what's the first thing they ask you, and what's your typical answer?
Angelina Aucello - EWR-based travel aficionado and expert. Her blog Angelina Travels, shares her excitement about travel, points, miles, and deals.
When I meet people and they learn that I’m a credit card expert, the responses and reactions get interesting. One of the most common reactions when I tell people that I have 16 active credit cards in my wallet is something along the lines of sheer shock - “wow you must be drowning in debt just to get a free flight!”. There’s often a common misconception between having lots of credits cards and having a lack of financial control and a low credit score/high amount of debt, which is untrue for those who are experts with impeccable discipline. Once they learn that my credit score has been 800+ for over a decade, they then ask me questions about how I manage my payments so that they are always on time, how do I track all of my rewards earned from the cards in one place, and what the best credit card is for their situation and goals.
Eric Rosenberg - Finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California.
When people find out I am a credit card expert, one of the first questions I always get is whether or not someone is using the best credit card. The answer is usually no, but it is also tough to say which card is "the best." In reality, there are a lot of best credit cards. It usually depends on their spending habits, whether the want to travel with rewards or prefer simple cash back, and if they can stomach sometimes bigger annual fees in exchange for better rewards.
For people who just want cash back, I usually point to the Double Cash card from Citi or Savor from Capital One. If they want to travel like me, I open up my own wallet and show off my suite of cards. Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card for travel rewards, though I have the upgraded Chase Sapphire Reserve myself. The American Express Gold card or Capital One Venture can also be a great choice. Whatever you do, don't just use a boring card with bad rewards from your own bank because it was easiest. Put in a little extra work to pick the best card for you. The payoff will be huge for years to come.
Michelle Black - Founder of CreditWriter.com
I've worked in the credit industry for over 17 years. When people learn that I'm a credit expert, one of the first things they ask me is how do they get higher credit scores.
In general, I recommend to start by getting a copy of all three of their credit reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The reports should be checked over with a fine-toothed comb to look for any errors or mistakes. If mistakes are found, they need to be disputed with each credit reporting agency individually.
My next piece of advice is to take a long, hard look at their credit card balances. High credit utilization on credit cards can damage scores, even if every single bill is paid on time. Thankfully, that credit score damage can typically be reversed simply by paying down the credit card debt and bringing the utilization rate back to 0%.
Correcting credit errors and paying down credit card debt, in my opinion, are two of the most actionable ways to potentially give credit scores a boost. Of course, on-time payments are a must as well.
Louis DeNicola - Personal finance writer who works with Fortune 500 financial services firms
When people you meet learn that you're a credit or credit card expert, what's the first thing they ask you, and what's your typical answer?"
If we're discussing credit cards, they'll usually either ask which card is best or how their current card compares to the competition. I always try to personalize the advice by asking what they're goals are, whether they might carry a balance, if they want to travel somewhere specific, etc.
If the discussion turns to credit scores, many people will say they need help with their credit but they don't have a specific question. Often, I'll share a few basics about the most important credit scoring factors, such as why it's important to pay down your credit card balances
Jason Steele - Credit card expert and founder of CardCon
I’m frequently asked “What’s the best credit card?” to which I often reply aking “What’s the best pair of shoes?” That’s because like shoes, the best credit credit card will depend on a person’s preferences, as well as their needs. It’s easy for me to cite my favorite best travel rewards card, cash back card, or a card for a balance transfer offer, but that doesn’t mean that any of these cards will be right for the person I’m speaking with. Once I let them know that there are thousands of credit cards offered by hundreds of card issuers, they start to get a feel for the fact that there isn’t an easy answer. But if they keep pressing me, I’ll just say Sapphire Reserve.
Miranda Marquit - Nationally-recognized financial expert. She is the founder of Planting Money Seeds
My answer always starts with, "What do you want your credit card to do?" There's no one right answer to the best credit card since it depends heavily on an individual's spending habits, priorities, and other factors. Getting asked this question usually leads to a discussion of how much of their budget is spent on groceries or gas, how much travel they do, and whether they'd rather have cash back or miles. Credit cards, like just about everything related to money, are tools. In order to use them to your best advantage, you have to understand your own needs and habits, and then pick the card that best matches your situation.