I just paid off an $11k credit card bill.
Especially when said bill was about half the cash I have on hand.
Why did I have an $11k credit card bill? Excellent question.
My bill was only going to be about a thousand buckaroos, but then I put the $10k bill from my contractor on the credit card. (The new deck and stairs look amazing, btw. I wish I had a picture but I don’t live there so no updated pictures. Sorry!)
Why would I do that instead of just writing him a check?
I got 10,239 points for putting that bad boy on my credit card and paying it off 3 days later. Pretty sweet!
By the way, said credit card is my trusty Chase Sapphire Reserve card. (affiliate link, you get 50k signup bonus, I get 10k points).
Currently I have 165,873 points sitting around waiting for me to use them. This year, I have booked 3 flights. One completely with points (paid $11 in taxes and fees), one with cash, and another with cash. The first cash flight I bought was completely reimbursed thanks to the $300 travel credit the card offers. The second cash flight was partially refunded because the first one didn’t use up the entire $300 credit. I wish there were a way to see how many points I’ve ever earned, because I know it’s gotta be north of 300k at this point.
So, thanks to this credit card and it’s perks, I’ve gotten two flights effectively for free and one discounted flight. The discounted flight was purchased on Southwest through my frequent flyer number during a special, so that meant I got triple the Southwest points I’d normally get!
I’ve also gotten tons of other benefits through this card, like lounge access and Global Entry fee reimbursement. The lounge access comes through the Priority Pass perk. I’ve visited lounges in 5 countries on 3 different continents and they have saved my life. Comfy seating, free food, free alcohol, and free Wi-Fi are all lifesavers when you’re stressed out by traveling. (or like when, say, one misses their flight from London to Atlanta and suddenly has an extra 2 hours to spend at an airport and are all panicky and upset because they’ve never missed a flight before.)
Now that I am not working a 9–5 job and are living close to a Global Entry office, I can apply for Global Entry! There’s a $100 fee the card will cover, so getting GE will literally just be a matter of digging out my passport, filling out the application form, and going to the airport to get fingerprinted and such. Ironically, I’m not sure when I’ll be going overseas again, but I can attest at how awesome it is to have it when going through immigration. Well, I can attest to how much faster I would have gotten through immigration had I had it. Probably wouldn’t have missed my flight in London if I hadn’t had to wait so long in line.
So, even though I’m not taking the travel hacking thing very seriously, I’m still getting pretty awesome rewards, like a discounted flight that earned Chase points and triple Southwest points, free Global Entry and free stuff when I travel. Pretttttyyyyyy sweet!
Anyways, back to this $11k bill I paid off.
I was sorely tempted to not pay it off entirely for a few reasons. I would really feel better about having more liquid runway to sustain me until my side hustles start picking up steam. So I could either leave it on the card and pay a fair amount in interest each month, or I could try to open a 0% interest card and transfer the balance and pay it off later.
But, as my boyfriend pointed out, would a credit card company give me a 0% balance card? Technically I have no job and no verifiable income right now, so I’m not the most attractive of customers at the moment (despite having a premium card in my wallet as mentioned above). If I applied and didn’t get it, I’d have a hard hit on my credit and that might lower my score.
If they did give me a card, would it have a high enough limit on it? I wouldn’t want to get a card with a limit of say, $15k, and then put $11k on it. That would completely mess up my debt to credit ratio and potentially mess up my credit.
So, in the end, I just bit the bullet and paid it off. This eliminates a lot of hassle and potentially damaging my credit score, which is good because I am THIS close to hitting 800. I don’t particularly need the credit score for anything right now but you never know when that could change. In this case, better to be safe than sorry!
On a completely different note, I am so glad I have the time to figure all this stuff out and write about it for you guys! I’ve had the time to sit and think about all the various parts of the decision instead of quickly thinking about it and moving on to something else. $11,000 is a lot of money and I wanted to make sure I made the right decision. The transition to self-employment might be stressful, but I need the reminder sometimes that this lifestyle actually does come with some perks.
Like being able to write a post in the middle of the day, drop stuff off at the post office, and run a couple of other errands before it snows 8–12″ over the weekend!
Thanks for reading! What’s your biggest credit card bill ever? Have you done the 0% interest transfer? If so, how’d that work out?
Points are awesome — especially the Chase Ultimate Rewards (so versatile)! And so is Global Entry. We picked that up for our whole family about five years ago (courtesy of Amex Platinum — thanks!!). It’s been great getting through immigration — and the side benefit was getting TSA Precheck as well. That’s one we’ve used even more for domestic flights.
Good luck with the spring snow!
Erik @ The Mastermind Within says
My biggest credit card bill was $5,000 and I paid it off like a boss
I think you made the right choice, and that’s an impressive points balance 🙂 I’m not even sure how many points I have (maybe 1,000), but I’m not a seasoned traveler like yourself!
When you say you missed your flight in London- remember that Global Entry is only for entering the USA, meaning you skip customs when you fly from another country to the USA. Still a great benefit, but it doesn’t work going TO other countries (except Canada and Mexico, but you need to tack on a nexus plan with that one).
Good news though is that once you get your global entry member number, you can use it as your trusted traveler number and nearly always get TSA pre-check (skipping security lines when traveling in the USA) which is huge. Doesn’t work if you’re traveling on a foreign airline that does not participate, of which there are only a few that do. I learned this the hard way when I booked a flight to London on British Airways and didn’t get TSA pre-check simply because BA doesn’t participate in the program.
Lane Beck says
I had forgotten about Global Entry. That is definitely something I need to do as we are planning another trip to Europe. Do you know if there are any other credit cards that reimburse the $100 GE application fee? Any gotchas or fine print we should know about? Thanks Gwen!
Amex Platinum card, Citi Prestige and the Ritz Carlton reimburse the fee.
Mrs. Picky Pincher says
Aaaaak. Sorry about those bills. Home ownership is like getting a swift kick in the lady nuts every month in the form of bills, I swear.
We feel similarly about our student loans. We’d love to slam every penny in savings on them, but we prefer the peace of mind that comes with having money in the bank, especially as hubs starts a new job and I wait for medical bills to roll in.
Yuck yuck yuck.
My biggest credit card bill was $8500 last year when I updated my windows. I put it on a new card and earned a free flight. Yay!
I’m jealous of your amount of points. I just started using chase. Maybe one day I’ll stock up a large amount of points.
Young FIRE Knight says
I once had a credit card bill of slightly over $5,000 after paying for LASIK surgery and regular monthly spending. I could have gotten an interest free loan for it, but since I had already saved up for it I decided to just pay it off on my credit card and get the points so that I would not go into debt at all.
Will be looking to do more credit card travel hacking in the coming months to start replenishing points after I used most of them on an upcoming trip to Europe!
Yet Another PF Blog says
My biggest credit card bill came when I paid for solar panels. I was able to split ~$20k among four separate cards and hit a few high spend CC bonuses at once. Plus, got a lot of money back in the form of federal and state rebates just a couple months later. I guess I could have transferred it to a 0% interest credit line to have some extra time in the market, but I though it’d be better not to have it hanging over my head.
The Poor Swiss says
Sometimes I wish I was in the states. Your points programs are really nice compared to here, in Switzerland. And you can also pay much more by credit card. I cannot even pay my rent with a credit card here. I would accumulate much more bonus if I was able to pay all my bills with my credit card. It’s pretty much impossible to do travel hacking here 🙁
Good luck with your savings and your credit card bill.
The Poor Swiss recently posted…The three pillars of Retirement in Switzerland – 2. The second pillar
Lady Dividend says
Gwen, I feel you. Sometimes bring responsibile is hard. But I’d pretty much guarantee that long term you’ll feel better knowing that loan is paid off. Plus, you still get the points!
Pablo RQ says
I remind me the difference between an economic problem and a financial problem.
Few things about credit cards. When applying for a new card, banks don’t check your income, it’s a liability issue. So if an individual lied about their income they are liable and not the bank. Also, your debt of credit is across all your credit and not per credit card.