Beyond budgeting and paying off student loans, another financial interest of mine has to be playing the credit card game. During my third year of college, I applied for two different cards: the Discover it and a card with my personal bank. My hope was to build credit so if I ever needed to take out a personal/home/auto loan, I would be able to get a good deal.
At the time, I wasn't irresponsible with my cards, but I did need to use them in order to get by with groceries and daily life things. I ended up building a balance over the course of a year and a half. After that, I was at a point where I could focus on payments, and cleared all of that debt. Since then, I've been using my cards to maximize rewards. I added the Chase Freedom to the lineup and switched my bank card for one that gave 1.5% cashback.
Now those of you familiar with cards may notice that the Chase and Discover cards are essentially the same cards: they have 5% cash back categories that rotate each quarter. I made the decision after looking at their historical calendars and saw they never overlapped in categories. My major spending category has always been groceries, so getting 5% back for 6 months was the main selling point for me. Anything not in the 5% categories would be put on the 1.5% card.
Since that upgrade with my cards, I've continued to pay off all my balances in full each month. In addition to my focus on student loans, I've raised my credit score to somewhere around 750. In terms of rewards, I'd have to guess I've earned $1,000+ in the past three years. Last year, I was able to travel to a new state by myself without spending much out of pocket. All of this without changing my normal spending habits.
Today I added a new card to my repertoire: the Amex Blue Cash Preferred. Like I said, groceries have been my biggest spending category, so adding a card that earns 6% back feels like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it essentially retires my other two cards for three months each, but they don't cost me anything to own. Another bonus is the $300 sign up bonus. If it weren't for the virus I'd have another trip getting planned.
If it wasn't obvious, I'm not going to do affiliate links or anything like that, but I do want to give a shout-out to the YouTuber Credit Shifu (Invidious link). I learned a lot about the credit card reward game, and different cards and their rewards from his channel. One of the best resources I've found, personally.