Since becoming debt free my wife and I have started using a credit card to consolidate our monthly bills. I’ve shared a bit about this stragegy in the past, and several of you have asked me to share which card we decided to use. Out of the small stack of cards we had accumulated over the years, only our American Express Blue Card and a Visa card from our credit union survived our sharpest pair of scissors.
To simplify things, we decided to use our Amex Blue card to hold all recurring, monthly charges, such as utility payments, subscriptions, etc. The benefit of this plan is two-fold.
First, it makes managing our primary checking account much easier. No longer do we have to reconcile five or six utility payments plus a number of subscriptions (Netflix, Onstar, etc.) to our checking account ledger. We simply write one payment to pay off the American Express Blue card and record it in our checking account.
Another benefit of charging all of our recurring expenses onto a single credit card is that I am able to get a consolidated view of our monthly outgo, grouped by category (more on that in a moment). I can even analyze total expenditures in each category over time online.
Sure, I could do the same thing using personal finance software, but this way I don’t have to download any transactions from multiple sources, or share any login information, making this a one-stop, secure shop to viewing our expenses.
American Express Blue Card Review
Customer Service/Website Interface I’ve never had a problem with Amex customer service, and their interface recently added some features that I’ve come to enjoy. Members may “tag” transactions using user-defined categories and view a number of reports/views based on those groupings. So far, I’ve grouped transactions by Monthly Bills and Vacation (we use this card for reservations and travel expenses). I can graph those categories over a specified time to track spending, and even pay a particularl “bucket” of my balance from a separate account (paying for vacation out of our vacation fund, for instance).
An example of the “transaction tag” I referred to above attached to my Netflix subscription fee. Notice the “Monthly Bills” designation under my Netflix charge. At the end of the month, I sum up this category to determine my monthly, recurring charges.
Competitive Rate While I plan to pay off our American Express Blue card every month, it’s nice to have a competitve interest rate on your card just in case you need to stretch your payments across a couple billing cycles. Blue comes with that flexibility to pay over time, and a 0% introductory APR for 6 months.
Rewards Program A rewards program is not what really sells me on a credit card product. After all, most programs would require thousands of dollars in spending to earn a modest reward. However, if a credit card issuer is offering to give me points just for using their product, I’ll take them!
With the Amex Blue card you earn 1 point for every eligible dollar, 2X points at the American Express Travel website, and 2X – 10X when you make purchases with select partners. Rewards are available in a variety of categories such as travel, gift cards, cash, merchandise and entertainment.
No Annual Fee – A number of Amex products (and others) have outrageous annual fees. I simply refuse to pay a fee for the privilege of charging items to the card. My Amex Blue card has a $0 annual fee.
Additional Benefits I’m Not Likely to Use, but are Nice to Have
Extended Warranty American Express extends the manufacturer warranty for purchases made using your Amex Blue Card.
Purchase Protection Eligible purchases made with the Amex card are protected against accidental damage and theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.