Two credit support web pages for the amateur or expert

Over the past several months of reading and using credit cards for miles and points purposes I’ve learned to keep tabs on how to get new credit cards (and when to cancel old ones) as well as the affect on my credit score/rating. Two websites have become very useful in that regard: CardMatch and CreditKarma. Both sites are totally free for use and have the highest levels of security. They are rated by major news sources like CNN and NY Times to be very effective in what they do. So now for a description of each:

CARDMATCH

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 8.16.45 AMPut simply, CardMatch helps you find credit cards that are right and available for you. After securely inputting your name, address, and social security number, it performs what is called a “soft pull” on your credit, which allows them to see your current status without negatively affecting your credit score or report. From that information, they make a list of credit card suggestions along with their policy and bonus information. For example, for me it made a generic list of types of cards and then got more specific once I scrolled through.

Once card it offered is the always-good Chase Sapphire Preferred. Drop me a line if you want a referral link.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 8.26.10 AM

CREDITKARMA

While signing up and closing credit cards more frequently than the average user, it is important to know how this will affect your credit score. You may be coming up on a major purchase like a house that would require a mortgage or you may just want to keep your credit in its “excellent” rating. CreditKarma lets you look at your credit score while telling you where it comes from.

You_Can_Now_View_Your_Equifax_Credit_Report_On_CreditKarma_03As you can see with the image to the left, you get some detail on what your score is as well as how that compares to what your score could be. Ideally it is best to be higher than 750 to be considered in the “excellent” category. Anything higher than that and a credit card issuer is likely going to get you a new card whenever you want (within the policy limits it has for itself). Each time you get a new card, this score will dip for a month or two but come right back up afterward.

You will also see what affects your credit score – it shows how many times someone performed a “hard pull” on your credit, how much of your credit you are using, and how many late payments you have.

There are more details on these site than what I’m showing here, of course, so you should definitely check then out. They are important parts of the Miles/Points crowd.

Getting into the miles and points game

Over the past few months I have begun my journey into the world of frequent flyer miles, travel blogs, points-gathering, and annoying my fiancée in earnest. I have signed up for a few credit cards, referred a few people to them, and am eagerly waiting the time when I can use these points/miles for their intended purpose: near-free travel.

I suppose I really entered this game in January 2014 when I left a conference and was convinced to sign up for the United MileagePlus Club Card by a friend. The card itself was a big bonus over most others in that every purchase provided 1.5 miles per $1 spent. As my friend said, “it adds up faster than you think.” While the $395 annual fee was daunting, there was a one-year fee waiver that I accepted because I signed up at a Chase bank branch near my house.

Since then I’ve accumulated about 110,000 miles with purchases made through the card or through rental agreements, dining out bonuses, and more. I used the card to get one free plane ticket to Toronto with Air Canada but have yet to use its benefit of free first and second luggage check. We currently pay our rent with the card, a service that nets us over 3,000 miles per month due to the large multiplier on standard purchases.

In full disclosure, however, I will be ridding myself of the card in December as the annual fee is not worth it for us now that I have a better understanding of other credit cards I can use.

Since then I have also applied for and received the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the United MileagePlus Explorer card, the Chase Ink Plus card, and retained my old US Airways Premier World Mastercard. I’ve started learning about credit scores and their tracking through CreditKarma.com and make my Internet purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.

I’m so excited to start this blog and share with you stories of travel, transit, and miles/points accumulation from my view. We’ll see what turns up around the corner!