Yes you do need another Credit Card - here is why!

Real Estate Agent with Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) DB-17066

Like many people, I had issues with credit card debt when times got hard.  I didn't really understand credit back then so I stopped using credit cards altogether.  Then, as I started doing more travel again, I couldn't use cash or my debit card to rent a car.  I had to research which credit card(s) to get and which had the best benefits for me!

As a Realtor, I travel many times a year to go to the National Association of Realtor's conferences, Certified Residential Specialist's meetings / classes, National Association of Home Builders Shows, and to teach real estate classes.  I suggest going out of town for these events so you can legally write off your travel to vacation destinations!

Consider your most frequent airlines and get a branded credit card for that airline.  For me it was Delta.  "Customers selected Delta as the Best Airline in North America for 2021 as part of the Skytrax World Airline Awards." (from Delta's website).

I started with their American Express Gold Card.  It is free for the first year and then $99 a year after that.  Assume you only fly Delta once a year and go to a real estate conference or vacation and you travel with one other person.  Each of you would get your first checked bag for free a savings of $120 a year round trip.  You can use the free first bag benefit for up to nine people flying on your itinerary ($30 x 2 for round trip = $60 x 9 people = $540 per trip potential savings)!

They also have special promotions.  For example, this year, I could save $10 a month for using that card at a restaurant spending $15 or more.  I take my clients out for lunch/dinner a lot, so I got that benefit every month saving me another $120 a year.  If you spend $10k a year on it, you get a $100 statement credit too. Just paying your Realtor dues, MLS fees, cell phone bill, and gasoline, etc. would probably earn you that bonus.

Then, I decided to upgrade to a Delta American Express Platinum card and use the Gold Card for personal expenses and the Platinum Card for Business.  That card has even more benefits to justify the higher fee for the card. 

You have most of the benefits noted above, plus you get a free companion pass when you renew the card.  Invite a friend on a nice trip and pay for it on your card and you fly for FREE (except for government taxes and fees). I received $15 a month credit for restaurant purchases in 2021 saving me $180.  I will receive $100 toward getting my Global Entry (or $85 for Pre-Check).  I might use their included Cell Phone that is included as I just cracked my screen on mine.  Their Rental Car insurance (instead of buying additional coverage) came in handy when my rental car had an unfortunate run in with a Coyote last month.  

Another great benefit is that if you spend $25,000 a calendar year on the card, you earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) in their SkyMiles program.  That also waives the requirement of having to spend a certain amount of money on Delta directly to level up to their various Medallion Award program.  I am currently a Gold Medallion Elite through 2022.  That gets me 2-3 free checked bags per trip, priority boarding, my luggage gets tagged special so it is on the luggage carousel quicker to pick up, and I have a much better chance of getting a free upgrade to Comfort + or First Class.  I have personally received 3 FREE first class upgrades in 2021 and four upgrades to Comfort +. Even if I don't get a free upgrade, I get to choose premium seating in Economy like the exit row window seat with no seat ahead of me (on available planes) with no additional fees. You can also utilize the Delta Sky Lounge for $39 a person where you can enjoy free food, well drinks, coffees and snacks and much more comfortable seating with better free WIFI too. Compare that to the price of a burger and a beer at the airport. You can go to the airport early to make sure you have plenty of time to get through ticketing and security or make a long lay over not as obnoxious.

Of course if you are not able to pay your card off in full every month, I do not recommend using my strategy as the interest expense can quickly overtake the benefits.  But if you are used to just using a debit card like I used to, I received no residual benefit at all.

You might wonder what impact this will have on your credit.  Typically, it builds GREAT CREDIT after the first few payment cycles. As you can see from my score, I just got yet a different card for their sign on bonus and haven't made a single payment on it yet.  My score dropped 13 points to 834.  My credit scores this year have ranged from 820 - 850 depending on if I set up a new card, spent a lot one month, etc.  However, it always bounces back to 850 again since I have six cards reporting "paid in full" every month and nearly $100,000 unused available credit. 

One of my clients sets up a new LLC for each rental property.  Then before any major expenses, he refers that LLC to get a new credit card.  This is a double win for him, since he gets a referral bonus if someone signs up with his link, plus he gets the activation bonus on the new card, then he gets a third larger bonus when he spends $3k - $5k in the next 90 days on that new card (which is timed right before he buys new appliances, flooring, windows, etc. He uses his points to take his wife and daughter on an all expense cruise (including airfare and lodging) and still earns more points than he spends each year.

I probably have enough points accumulated to get 15-20 free round trip tickets on various airlines.  I only use my points for personal travel, since I can write off my business travel.

If you think this idea would benefit you, please click my link below to I can get another 20,000 referral points on my Delta SkyMiles account.  I will be putting together classes on how to use these strategies and will cover many different different cards and benefits of each.  I currently have airline credit cards for Alaska, Delta, Southwest, United; plus a Costco credit card and a Chase Sapphire Preferred card for all different benefits. 

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved!


Comments (6)

Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Hello Jim,  Travel is not my thing.  I rarely eat out.  I do get miles on the two cards I do have. I have had them since my corporate America days. Both are paid in full each month. 

I wish you all the best with your promotion.  

Nov 18, 2021 03:48 PM
Jim Paulson

I remember in my corporate travel days, I was bummed when they gave me Corporate Credit Cards so they could earn the bonuses not me.  You are wise to pay off the cards in full, I do the same.

Nov 23, 2021 10:29 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jim just like Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist  since the pandemic lockdown here in Los Angeles and all the drama that traveling now involves I lost interest and same goes for eating out... I can match just about any four start restaurants ..... so no incentive to go out anymore....especially now when I hear service has really deteriorated...these are from our gourmand friends sharing:)) Good for you though since you seem to do both it is beneficial for you...Endre

Nov 18, 2021 04:33 PM
Jim Paulson

Your restrictions were MUCH more severe than ours.  Since they claim it was possible a bat behing consumed in Wuhan, it is only appropriate to say I would have gone "Bat sh!t crazy" if I was locked down like you guys were. 

I am blessed that many people from California have selected me as their Realtor when they relocate to get away from some of the politics and restrictions in California.

Nov 23, 2021 10:33 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Good advice Jim Paulson . Before setting out to choose a card one needs to set a goal. When my wife and I were childless frequent flier miles were our goal. Once Tina was born we switched to a College Save plan. Both kids are still in college but to this point each has received several thousand dollars due to our participation in this plan. Soon we will be going back to airline miles and you can bet I will use some of that to visit AR friends.

Nov 27, 2021 06:55 PM
Jim Paulson

Bob "RealMan" Timm I am on the verge of earning my Platinum Medallion with Delta but decided to wait to roll over until January so it will be good for all of next year and the following year.  (They are rolling over miles in full this year). :) 

Dec 18, 2021 11:06 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jim Paulson  loved your comment no need to go batty:) we just drink heavily:))Endre

Nov 27, 2021 10:29 PM
Jim Paulson

Endre Barath, Jr. 2022 will be the year for me to come visit then and I will buy you a few drinks.  I hope to come to California a few times to teach various real estate classes like ABR, ePRO, At Home With Diversity, etc.

Dec 18, 2021 11:08 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Jim, I took love to travel, and often!   Great tip for this credit card, but I chose Citi card cashback.  It gives me 1% on purchases and 1% back on the payment.  I pay it off every month, and after travel and remodeling it was hefty this month! 

Dec 09, 2021 07:26 AM
Jim Paulson

Joan Cox it is amazing how it adds up.  People paying cash or writing checks or using their debit card are actually LOSING money.  Take a close look at the airline cards for traveling though just to save money on luggage.  You can use your Citi card for everything else.  Track the sign up bonuses too and consider a new card before every major purchase.  For example, on my new Chase Sapphire Reserve card; I will be charging $7,000 to run power to a lot and that alone earns me the sign up bonus worth $1,250.   

Dec 18, 2021 11:14 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate Brokered by Real - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Fantastic advice for credit building when using and paying credit cards off, Jim, thank you for sharing that! I recently discovered that a debit card is not accepted for a rental car but luckily had my Allegiant card in my wallet.

Dec 16, 2021 05:22 PM
Jim Paulson

Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can! many of the airline cards also offer bonus miles and added benefits when you use their cards to rent a car.  For example, my Gold Medallion status on Delta (thanks to that AmEX card) automatically makes me a Five Star member of Avis.

Also, I have a river rafting friend, Sheena B.,  that lives in St George.  We have rafted on the San Juan and the Grand Canyon together.  

Dec 18, 2021 11:57 AM