I want a credit card. Where do I start?

There are many kinds of credit cards that offer points, cash rewards, and other benefits.  They are tailored for travel; for daily purchases such as food, groceries, gas, etc.; for conveniences; and others.

For travel, you want to look for points towards airlines and $0 foreign transaction fees.  Because they’re for travel, most only offer points towards airline reservations.  Some may expand to travel-related expenses such as hotels and rental cars.  Travel credit cards should all offer no foreign transaction fees–meaning you can use it internationally and not be charged for the conversion of international currency to US Dollars.  This is, of course, from the perspective of being from the United States.

Some credit cards come with an annual fee, but many do not.  Many of the nicer travel credit cards require a fee after using it for the first year.  The average person does not need to get a credit card that comes with a fee.  However, once you start spending a large amount regularly, it may be beneficial for you to get one with a fee.

For cash-back rewards credit cards, some benefits have become such as no expiration of rewards, unlimited earning of rewards, and redeeming of any amount of a reward anytime (rather than a minimum of say $20 or in $20 increments).  You’ll see these benefits from the larger credit card providers but not from smaller ones.

Another benefit becoming standard is a view of your credit score from one of the three credit bureaus–Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian.  You will typically be able to see what score one of the bureaus has for you, and it will be updated monthly.  Each credit card may offer some more features related to either credit checking or monitoring as part of the included service.

Capital One is a larger financial services entity that offers many of these kinds of credit cards.  Theirs usually come with the benefit of not charging any foreign transaction fees.  They offer travel cards with points redeemable towards airlines of your choosing.  They also offer credit cards that offer cash back for any and all purchases while offering no transaction fees.  One that I acquired was the Capital One Quicksilver; it offers 1.5% back on all purchases.  Their travel credit card, the Capital One Venture Card, allows you to earn points that can be redeemed at any airline of your choice.

Discover has improved over the past decade.  Although their rewards program is dynamic and changes every few months–you earn rewards based on a rotating rewards program, 5%–they allow you to redeem cash back at any time and the cash rewards do not expire.  If you purchase something not in the category, then you will get 1% cash back.  The Discover It card currently does this and allows you to redeem the points directly as a credit, as direct cash, or as a gift card to a variety of places.  I found out that redeeming from certain places will even give you additional rewards.  For example, I found a discount at Enterprise Rent-a-car where I could use $20 of my cash back towards a $40 credit at Enterprise.  You can also redeem your cash back directly at Amazon.

Others are providing great rewards too.  Let me know if you’re curious about any!


Google’s Project Fi

I wrote earlier about how there are numerous service providers in the US that one can choose from.  One service provider, owned by Google, is called Project Fi.  It’s the cell service, and more specifically in this case–a mobile virtual network operator, that Google provides with great rates depending on how much data you use.

Their plans are simple and allows you to manage your account completely through a Google app: Project Fi.  You get unlimited domestic calls and texts for $20/month.  Then you get to pay for data at a rate of $10/month domestic and internationally.  

When you first sign up, you decide how much data you plan on using and pay for that upfront.  As you use the service, you are credited back for whatever data you don’t use.  I am on a family plan with AT&T and so don’t need to pay for extra data.  With Project Fi, I end up paying around $24/month which includes taxes and fees.  I get a number that I can manage myself…similar to Google Voice.  Also, you are required to use a Google Phone.  I am personally a fan of smartphones so did not mind getting the Nexus 6.

They have evolved over the last few years in extending the phones that they support, the networks they operate off of, and how their plans work.  Now through later this year, they are challenging all Fi users to refer others with incentives of various prizes up to a trip to Google’s headquarters.

If you’re interested in checking it out (no commitment on the plans), check them out from here: https://g.co/fi/r/CPN5DC

Both giver and receiver of the referral receive $20 in some form… Credit, Google Play cash, etc.

Affiliate marketing

Here’s something cool: indirect sales.

Affiliate marketing allows you to talk about something to promote/sell, review, or otherwise mention and benefit from the action financially.  One popular program is provided by Amazon.  With the largest e-commerce system in the world, everyone can benefit a little just by joining.

I am trying it out and with that said, must state:

I/We am/are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me/us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Another program that assists in showing off items and helps with the whole effort is kit.com.  Visit mine at kit.com/gh5678.  That’s a nice simple site that allows you to put together custom virtual kits of anything you use and show off so that others can buy.  With an affiliate account, just add the account information and people can get right to the products… In my case, on Amazon.

Check it out.  The combination essentially lets you show off what you have and use.

General comparison of Android to iOS

The latest smartphones in the United States, and probably the world, are either those with Google’s operating system (OS) — Android — or those with Apple’s OS — iOS.  Android comes with phones made by Google as well as by Samsung, LG, Motorola, and others.  Apple makes its iPhone exclusively.

The two kinds of phones both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Objectively, one can do certain things while the other can do other certain things.  As they are direct competitors — Apple and Google, that is — they have many of the same features and continue to have more similar features.

These similar features are a growing list including battery life, display size and type, ruggedness, sound quality, security features, camera quality, etc.  In the past few years, I started leaning towards battery life as a more significant feature as data from the wireless service provider came at a better cost, though that is another story.

Features that I personally enjoy from Android:

  • Notifications stay at the top of the screen
  • Quick settings drop-down menu
  • Clear cache from individual apps
  • Customize-able home screen(s) which can show all or none of your app

Features that I personally enjoy from iOS:

  • Airdropping files
  • 3D touch on keyboard
  • Integrated iMessaging and FaceTime system
  • Great battery life


What are your favorite features?  What do you want to learn more about?

Comment below.

How do you choose your wireless provider?

Currently in the United States, AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless are the largest and top providers for cell phone service.  They are followed by Sprint, T-Mobile, and others.  I don’t have the latest statistics, but that is generally true.

How you choose your wireless provider comes with a list of factors that would determine the best fit for you.  Here’s a list of what you should keep in mind in determining which provider to select:

  • coverage in your local area and potentially where you frequently travel to
  • rates for data, minutes, and text messages domestically
  • types of (smart-) phones offered

Cities usually have the best coverage, but it’s best to ask around to see what people are experiencing.  Large providers such as AT&T and Verizon provide maps online to show where coverage should be, but people will be able to tell you how the reception has been best.

The term “unlimited” is becoming very popular.  Ten years ago (2006/2007), having a set number/allowance of minutes and text messages was common among all the providers.  Now, minutes and text messages are often unlimited while data is limited.  Providers besides Verizon and AT&T  are often marketing unlimited plans to include minutes, data, and text messages to be more competitive.  However, if you read the small print, the “unlimited data” is actually limited in speed which could affect your experience.

I pay more attention to the larger providers as I enjoy having great coverage in all areas across the U.S. and enjoy using the more modern phones.  Most of the phones you see advertised on television are the competitive and high-performing mobile devices from manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, Motorola, etc.  The latest phones from Google, Samsung, and Apple, for example, are always available at the larger providers.  They do, however, also sell lower end phones that you could find from their websites or by visiting their stores in person.  Their sales representatives are always eager to show and sell!

This is the general approach to looking at a service provider.  As you look at your situation, you will want to look at plans, how their offerings benefit yourself, and other factors that we could discuss.  For more information, questions, or if you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to leave a comment below.