After years without a change, money expert Clark Howard has added a new credit card to his wallet.
For years, Clark has recommended the Citi Double Cash card to readers and listeners. And now he has one so he can earn 2% cash back (1% when he buys, 1% when he pays) on everyday purchases.
Until the summer of 2020, Clark relied on just four credit cards for his personal use:
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
- Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card
But with the financial changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Clark decided to make a shift in his longstanding personal credit card strategy.
Here are a few of the reasons he decided to add the Double Cash to his wallet:
1. Clark’s Travel Habits Changed Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Loyal readers and listeners know that Clark is an avid traveler. He treasures adventure and talks about his journeys often.
But like many of the rest of us, Clark is staying home while the nation weathers the coronavirus. That means he’s not traveling nearly enough to justify half of the credit cards in his wallet being geared toward travel rewards.
“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.”
Clark says he took only two trips in 2020 (both pre-COVID), down from about 30 trips a year before the pandemic.
As a result, Clark finds himself in the same travel rewards card conundrum he’s tried to help consumers avoid for years.
“Most people don’t fly enough to have any airline reward card. Far, far more people have travel rewards cards than would ever benefit from them,” Clark explained. “For years I’ve been trying to move people to migrate from those travel cards to simple cash back cards. In my own life, I never imagined that it would happen to me. But it happened to me!”
2. Clark Loves the 2% Return on Everyday Purchases
Clark doesn’t like gimmicks. And that’s especially true when it comes to his wallet.
The Citi Double Cash card offers up to 2% cash back on all purchases with no spending limit or category requirements — and no annual fee.
You get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and you earn an additional 1% cash back when you pay your bill on that balance. Once you accumulate $25 in rewards, you can redeem them for a statement credit or get a check in the mail. You can read more about how this process works in Team Clark’s review of the card.
“It means everything you buy is essentially discounted by two percent,” Clark says.
Of course, Clark says it’s especially important to pay off your bill each month with this card, because accruing interest on your balance would potentially negate the cash back rewards.
There are cash back credit cards out there — like the Discover it Cash Back card — that offer a 5% revolving category spending bonus, and there are others that incentivize spending in a specific category. But Clark says he prefers to know exactly what he’s going to get from each transaction, and the Citi Double Cash card lets him do that.
3. Clark Doesn’t See His Situation Changing Anytime Soon
Just as he’d advise each of us to do, Clark has taken inventory of how he anticipates spending money in the age of the coronavirus.
Spoiler: It’s no longer on traveling.
“I won’t be on another airplane flight this year and I don’t know when I will ever fly again,” Clark mused. “It made no sense for me to be accruing all these travel privileges because I would charge a real high volume on them. And it wasn’t all about the rewards. It was about the travel perks that came with them.”
Clark has enjoyed the Southwest Airlines companion pass for the last 12 years. He’s racked up enough rewards with his Southwest credit card that his wife gets to travel with him on Southwest for free. But that perk’s value has changed for Clark:
“That’s worth exactly zero cents right now,” Clark laughed. “They recently sent me a letter saying they’d extend it, but whoop-de-do, what does that do for me right now?”
Even his trips to wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club, where he has store-branded credit cards, have been curbed due to the virus.
For now, Clark anticipates making more purchases from home. And the Citi Double Cash offers a reliable, steady cash back amount that he can count on as his new method for reaping rewards.