From the fear of credit cards to the Blue Cash Everyday to 16 cards to his name, here’s how the Blue Cash Everyday helped Julian Riccio get into credit cards.
When you first get into rewards credit cards, you most likely don’t start with a stack of annual-fee credit cards and proceed to spending like a pro right away. Generally, it’s much more realistic to start with a single cash back credit card with a simple rewards system.
That was how Julian Riccio, director at CreditCards.com, got into credit cards. He started with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express five years ago, and now it’s safe to say he’s reached the highest levels of credit card mastery.
Read on to learn how Julian has been using his Blue Cash Everyday and why he thinks it’s a good card to start your credit card journey.
From the Blue Cash Everyday to 16 cards
The Blue Cash Everyday from Amex is a simple but rewarding card for everyday purchases. It offers 3% back at supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%), 2% back at gas stations and select department stores, and 1% on other eligible purchases. Considering there’s no annual fee, the card can earn a generous amount of cash back.“I got it … right around the time I started at Red Ventures (CreditCards.com’s parent company),” Julian told me. “My first role at RV was actually on the Amex Paid Search team, so I was a little bit biased toward this card. So, I got it in 2016, and it was my first card. This was before I knew a lot about credit cards, so I was looking for something that was no-annual-fee, [offered] cash back because it was easy, and, you know, most of my spend at that point was groceries. It did really feel like it was a good starter card, so that’s what drew me to it.”
Julian has kept it since.
“My spending on it has fluctuated year to year based on what other cards I had,” he added, “or I guess it’s been more about how other cards got better in the grocery space over the last couple of years.”
When I asked how many credit cards he had now, he sighed, perhaps trying to count them all in his head.
“Oof… Sixteen? I think?”
He got a credit card holder out of his desk drawer and showed me a tall stack of cards. The view was breathtaking.
“When I told my parents that, they were very, very concerned. Growing up, my family was very averse to credit cards, so I got a lot of just like, ‘Don’t use credit cards, you’ll spend out of your realm of ability.’ I had to break some of those [beliefs] when I was working in credit cards. So I try not to tell them that I pay over a $1,000 in annual fees on credit cards; but don’t worry, it’s worth it.”
Sixteen is a lot of credit cards, which means they require quite a bit of strategy put into spending. Yet Julian is sticking to the Blue Cash Everyday, despite what some consider less-inspiring reward rates.
Holding onto the Blue Cash Everyday
Over the years, Julian’s spending habits and credit card strategy have fluctuated. When he got his Blue Cash Everyday, he was spending around $3,000 on groceries a year, which earned about $90 in annual cash back. Since it was his only credit card at the time, he put most of his other spending on it, too.
Then, as he started picking up more and more cards, he began spreading his spending among them.
“I went through phases of using it for groceries, so I used it a lot when I had it initially as my first card in 2016 to 2017. I don’t think I used it a whole lot in 2018,” he said. “I eventually got the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express because I started spending a lot more on groceries and that trade-off started to make sense, with the $95 fee. But then I transferred it back down to the Everyday later on when I started spending a little bit less on it. Most recently, I haven’t been using it because most of my grocery spend has been either on my American Express® Gold Card or Citi Premier® Card because both of those cards have better rates for groceries.”
Still, Julian is in no rush to get rid of his Blue Cash Everyday.
“The part of it is, there’s really no benefit in me closing it, so that’s primarily the reason I wouldn’t get rid of the card,” he explained.
Indeed, there’s rarely ever a reason to get rid of a no-annual-fee cash back card. Typically, closing a credit card will have a negative impact on credit scores, especially if it’s your oldest card. Plus, there’s always an option to request a product change like Julian has already done twice with his Blue Cash cards.
See related: How to upgrade an American Express card
Leveling-up to credit card mastery
When a person starts working at CreditCards.com, she automatically becomes a card nerd – spreading the message of cash back and miles to everyone around.
The same happened to Julian. He’s now the go-to person for his friends and family when it comes to credit cards. As a card nerd, he recommends the Blue Cash Everyday to those looking for their first card.
“I get a lot of questions like, ‘Hey, I’m getting my first credit card, what should I get?’ And I feel like a lot of people have that aversion to annual fees out of the gate. So I think one of the advantages of the Blue Cash Everyday is that everyone is spending on groceries. It’s a good way to get people started on a credit card and something that’s cash back, easy to understand. There’s really no risk to it. If you don’t use it, just throw it in the drawer.”
If you want to get to Julian’s level of credit card mastery and you spend a lot on groceries, the Blue Cash Everyday may be a good place to start. It’s a good time to apply too: Currently, you can get a $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first six months. Additionally, you can earn a whopping 20% back on Amazon purchases (up to $150 back) in the same period.