Sunday, December 30, 2018

When to Splurge

It's perilously easy to talk oneself into a splurge purchase. But only two rationales actually seem to hold up:

1. Buying quality once rather than endless cheap replacements (i.e. "buy it for life", or trendy acronym: "BIFL").
I sleep on an expensive goose down pillow (with a quality pillow protector to stave off allergies), after buying a succession of $50 "down equivalent" pillows that each turned into concrete in under a year.
2. Essentials which frequently impact on multiple critical processes.
Smart phone, eyewear, online bookmarking service, etc.

I do a lot of ultra-discount travel, and the perqs of a travel credit card might smooth some of the bargain basement roughness without much additional cost. It looks like the Sapphire card from Chase makes the most sense. There's a $95/year Sapphire Preferred (annual fee waived first year) and a $450 Sapphire Reserve. The Preferred, which offers many of the same perqs, seems like the best deal.
There are two perqs which both are missing: price protection (available only with Mastercard, and Sapphire is Visa) and Virtual Account Numbers (which remove the threat of fraud, and of hacked stored cc#s, and, by letting you set a dollar limit for a given virtual number, thwarts auto-renewal).
The expensive Sapphire Reserve, however, comes with $300 in travel credits, which I'd easily use (reducing the cost to $150), as well as free Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ (letting you jump the line at airports), a $100 value. So, wow, the Reserve is actually cheaper in the end!

I could easily convince myself the Reserve card is sensible, but I know from experience what would happen: I'll either make myself nuts worrying about using every dollar of those credits (and likely spring for unnecessary things just to use it), or I'd space out and forget to use the credits, putting me on the hook for the full $450. Some years I'd nail it, but some years not. If a shmancy credit card were really necessary for me, that would mean it's so central to my life that I'd be completely on top of these issues. But it's not. It's tangential. So I don't need it and I'd be a fool to spring for it, even if I can convince myself it's cheaper in the end.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card reviewed by The Points Guy
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card reviewed by The Points Guy

1 comment:

Display Name said...

Wait a smart phone is Absolute essential? Still resisting although I don't even have a dumb phone yet. The borg will come for me eventually. /gulp I do think pets are essential. 'specially dogs. I have a cat too.

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