You’ve seen me link to Doctor of Credit site quite a few times. I honestly believe it’s the most useful and up-to-date resource currently available in The Hobby. And no, I’m not being a weasel. William (the founder) and I have had our disagreements in the past. But I have to give credit where Credit is due (pun intended).
Basically, if there is a non-affiliate offer that pays extra $5, these guys will hunt it down and bring it back to life if necessary. As far as I’m concerned, Doctor of Credit blog exists solely for the purpose of cheating me out of my commission. If I sound bitter, well, that’s because I am, darn it! But I digress…
Of course, there is more than just one “doctor” in the house. While most are familiar with Will, not too much is known about Chuck, the mysterious and (I’m sure) dashing contributor. Some have speculated that Chuck is a figment of Will’s imagination, his blogging alter ego (kind of like my Julia). Others have said that he is actually a 14-year old boy-wonder living in India, whom Will pays $1 per post. Chuck, if this is the case, come write for me. I’ll pay you $2!
So, I’ve taken it upon myself to find out who Chuck is and what makes him tick. Don’t worry, I made sure to include an “average family” angle. Introducing the man behind the image (which makes me kind of dizzy):
1) So, Chuck, how and when did you come across The Hobby?
It started a few years ago when I bumped into a $50 bonus for opening a Capital One savings account. I couldn’t see what I had to lose by doing it and I netted an easy $50. In retrospect, it wasn’t a good deal because it came with a hard pull, plus I could have gotten a better bonus from Capital One. But it was the first step and in that sense it was worth it.
2) What made you want to become a contributor at DoC?
It actually started pretty slowly. I was in contact with Will a few times about various finance/deals topics and at one point he asked me if I wanted to start contributing to the site. At first, I was just writing maybe a couple posts per week, then Will once took off for a few weeks and I tried to fill in more. Since then, I’ve been posting more regularly and now I often write up 2-4 posts per day.
It took a while to figure out WordPress and to get used to blogging. In a way, I still am getting used to it more each day!
3) You guys work extremely hard to stay on top of all the latest news. I’m sure it means being connected to internet and constantly following sites like Slickdeals, Flyertalk and Fatwallet, not to mention the plethora of other miles and points blogs. Any tips on how to stay productive and still have a life?
Haha, good question. We need to keep perspective and not go crazy over every little thing going on. Most of the stuff isn’t the end of the world if you miss; maybe you could have saved $10 on something or netted $10 on something, but your sanity is worth more than that.
You might be surprised to know that I actually disconnect from the internet regularly on a daily basis. You won’t find me holding a phone during dinner, even if I’m eating alone. Everyone has to have limits and try sticking to them.
Also, there is actually a thriving social life within the community and in that way it’s possible to have an active social life within miles and points. Thus, I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that people who are into it aren’t ‘having a life’.
4) Any predictions on how this hobby will evolve in few years? Do you think MS will go by the way of dinosaurs?
The trend that I’m seeing is for the big and constant things to be mostly gone and the game will be played more with singles or doubles and less with home runs.
There will always be some good tactics which aren’t well known. And there’ll be few which are well known but aren’t hitting any single company hard and can thus remain viable in the long term. For example, it’s possible that the Visa gift card > Walmart route will remain viable in the long run since no single company is losing much and the pain is being spread out across various companies (credit card, Walmart, Amex, drugstore/supermarket).
In the final analysis, MS won’t go away, but there’ll be less of a singular strategy and more personal strategies which each interested person will figure out for themselves.
5) If you could only keep 3 credit cards in your wallet with no possibility of ever signing up for another one, what would those be?
- Amex Blue Cash Preferred (BCP) There had to be an Amex as one of the 3 since I value highly the added protections offered by Amex. I’m sort of torn between the BCP and the Old Blue Cash (OBC); currently, I’d choose the OBC due to the higher limit of category spend, but looking 5-10 years down the road I think it’s likely that the card will be phased out completely and converted into Blue Cash Everyday. For that reason, I settled on the BCP as my ‘lifer’ pick. For someone who travels more than I do, the Everyday Preferred may be a better option.
- Chase INK Plus This card has some great category bonuses, plus it has the ability to transfer to travel partners. Also, I’d want one card that does not have a foreign transaction fee and this card has that benefit.
- Citi Double Cash This would be for all-around everyday spend which doesn’t fall into the categories of the other 2 cards.
6) You’ve probably seen my list of best long-term cards for a middle-class family. Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? What would you change? Hit me with your best shot!
Most of those cards are cashback cards, which is something I personally prefer since I don’t travel a whole lot. For someone who does travel – with or without family – they may do better with, say, the Sapphire Preferred or INK card over the Freedom card since it can transfer to travel partners.
Overall I’d agree that for most families the cashback options are probably better since I’m guessing that most families fly coach and the real value in points is more often for luxury travel. Still, for someone who knows the ins and outs of redemptions it could be worth having some real point-earning cards.
7) Since I write for busy families, my “go to” advice is to focus on maximizing rewards via everyday spending and getting few sign-up bonuses per year. Can you add other tips on how you can achieve maximum ROI with a minimum amount of effort?
Both of those strategies (signup bonuses and maximizing everyday spending) are the best options for most people who aren’t interested or don’t have the time to go ‘all-in’ to manufacture miles and points. I would add that for some people maximizing everyday rewards may be too cumbersome. Juggling multiple cards and being careful to pay off all the bills on time isn’t for everyone. On the other hand, most people can probably manage signing up for a few credit cards per year and transferring their spend onto those cards for the next few months.
Everyone has to find a balance that they find managable and worthwhile. For some that will mean opening a few credit cards, for others it will mean maximizing category spend, and for others it will mean churning out millions of miles per year!
A huge thanks to Chuck for agreeing to do this interview! I personally found it quite interesting. I especially appreciated the part on regularly disconnecting from The Hobby. I think we can all do well to pay attention to how we spend our time, the most precious resource there is. Oh, and Chuck, don’t feel bad, I also got a nasty surprise after opening Capital One account back in the day.