2020 has been a strange year for all of us for a myriad of reasons. You can now add money expert Clark Howard’s credit card behavior to that list!
After years of holding steady with four personal credit cards, Clark has made sweeping changes to his wallet in recent months due to a shift in his spending habits amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I am a travel nut, so I’ve always put a special emphasis on cards that earned me points,” Clark said.
“But I’m not going anywhere right now. No travel at all. The points from airlines serve no point in my life.”
Earlier this year, Clark began his shift from travel rewards credit cards to cash back credit cards by adding the Citi Double Cash card to his wallet. He enjoys a flat 2% cash back with that card, earning 1% when he makes his purchase and 1% when he pays his bill. You can read more about his decision to apply for that credit card here.
As of August, he has added a second new credit card to the mix— the Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards card.
And in a corresponding move, he put his British Airways Visa Signature® Card “in the freezer” due to a lack of travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
In this article, we’ll give you an inside look at his decision process on both cards and update you on the five credit cards that are now in his wallet.
Why Clark Added the Navy Federal cashRewards Card to His Wallet
If you have listened to Clark for any length of time, you probably have picked up on his servant’s attitude. This philosophy led him to serve his state and country as a member of the Georgia State Defense Force.
That service makes him eligible for the services and credit offerings from Navy Federal Credit Union.
And when they sent him a mailing this summer promoting 2% cash back on every purchase he makes for the next four years on the Navy Federal cashRewards card, he says he was immediately intrigued.
Here are some of the perks that lured him in:
- Unlimited 2% cash back for 4 years (promotion for service members only)
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back otherwise
- No annual fee
- $200 welcome bonus opportunity
And now that he has his hands on the Navy Federal card, he says he loves it. It has quickly become the No. 1 go-to option in his wallet.
“I use my other credit cards as ‘situational players’ when the rewards dictate it, but otherwise I’m using this Navy Federal card all the time,” Clark said.
“Since I’ve gotten this Navy Federal card, I haven’t pulled the Citi Double Cash out of my wallet one time.”
Why Clark Removed the British Airways Visa Signature Card from His Wallet
Clark has not officially canceled his British Airways Visa Signature Card, but he has put it in what he calls the “deep freeze.”
“I am not using any of my airlines cards at all anymore,” Clark said. “I’m not going anywhere. My family is not going anywhere.
“The airline cards are going into hibernation. Like a bear at wintertime. And it looks like it’s going to be a long winter for travel.”
As someone who took approximately 30 trips per year before the pandemic, Clark got great use out of his British Airways Visa, as he racked up rewards that earned him free or discounted fares on international travel. It also helped him avoid foreign transaction fees while abroad.
But since those things are not on the table right now, he has frozen the credit card and removed it from his wallet. And if travel conditions don’t change soon, Clark says that card could be on the chopping block for cancellation because it charges an annual fee.
Clark’s Wallet Now Features These 5 Credit Cards
Following Clark’s latest adjustment for his spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s an updated look at the five credit cards that live in his wallet:
- Citi® Double Cash
- Navy Federal cashRewards Card
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
- Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Clark says he has been using the Navy Federal cashRewards card for nearly all of his purchases at this point, with the Citi Double Cash serving as his backup cash back rewards card.
He’s using his Costco Anywhere Visa only for restaurants and Costco purchases. He uses the Sam’s Club Mastercard for gas and Sam’s Club purchases.
Team Clark has a more thorough analysis of the credit cards in Clark’s wallet here.
Clark’s strategy on credit cards amid the COVID-19 pandemic has become pretty clear. He has moved away from travel rewards credit cards and shifted to steady cash back rewards instead.
If you are unsure of when you’ll be comfortable traveling again, you may be wise to consider taking Clark’s approach to spending. Cash back credit cards can be a source of steady rewards.
And unless you’re using a card — like the Discover it Cash Back — that offers rolling 5% cash back reward opportunities, you can’t beat the unlimited 2% cash back Clark earns on everyday purchases from his two new credit cards.