Are you looking to maximize your credit card rewards while minimizing your credit card stress? Choosing a single credit card for all your expenses is a great way to enjoy great rewards without having to worry about sign-up bonuses or which card to swipe when you get to the register.
Personally, I’ve used one card card for 99% of my credit card spending for the past 13 months (the other 1% is a small bill that I pay automatically through my oldest no-fee credit card account).
My card of choice isn’t one that I chose based on the rewards — it offers a mediocre point (1.25 cents) on all spending or two points on travel and dining. I chose the card because it offers amazing benefits including primary collision damage waivers on rental cars — a high-value perk for someone like me who rents cars as often as four times per year.
That said, I’m not exactly married to this card, and I could see myself switching to a better rewards card. I just don’t want to take the time to find the perfect card. That’s where CardCruncher comes in. CardCruncher is an online platform that analyzes your spending and recommends one card that’s perfect for you. Or, at least perfect based on your spending history.
Did it work? We’ll explain the pros and cons of CardCruncher, and whether you should use it to find your next credit card.
- Connect your account and discover the best credit card
- It attempts to help you maximize your rewards based on spending
- May undervalue or miscalculate some perks/rewards
How CardCruncher Works
When you first go to CardCruncher, it will direct you to connect your accounts (credit and debit accounts only) through a service called Plaid. Plaid is a financial encryption service that ensures that the data stays stored on your account and not on the CardCruncher platform.
When you connect, you have the ability to select which accounts you’d like to connect and get analyzed.
Once you connect your accounts, CardCruncher analyzes your spending habits by breaking down your spending by category. Categories include groceries, gas, dining, travel, and more.
CardCruncher has a database of 150+ credit cards that includes information on the sign-up bonuses and category spending bonuses. This database includes most of the top travel and cash-back rewards credit cards.
By matching your spending habits with the database, CardCruncher maximizes the financial value of your rewards.
Does It Work?
Yes, and they are continuing to make changes to make it even more effective.
By connecting your cards and analyzing your spending, CardCruncher makes recommendations on cards that might maximize the points and rewards you get.
They also recently added in the ability factor in redemption multipliers to account for "maximum value" of a point. For example, you can use Chase travel rewards as cash-back for one cent each. Or, you can redeem them through the travel portal for 1.25 cents each. This feature helps with that.
And you can view 1st year vs. 2nd year value (excluding first-year waived fees and bonuses) - that way you can make choices based on the long term value of the card, versus simply picking a card every three months.
Independently reviewing the cards that were offered, it was the fourth card that made the most sense, followed by the eighth credit card. The sixth card recommended was actually the card I currently use. However, as they have been improving their algorithm, I'm sure this will get better as well.
Should You Use CardCruncher for Your Next Credit Card?
The CardCruncher algorithm is a sensible one, and if you don’t care about credit card perks, it’ll probably work well enough for you. If you don’t currently earn any credit card rewards, go ahead and use the site to find a better credit card.
That said, the team is still innovating the process at CardCruncher. When we reviewed it, it wasn't a solid choice for travel hackers, and people who value perks over rewards (like me) will find the site isn’t nearly nuanced enough.
However, if you're new to the points and miles game, or you simply want to quickly find the best credit card, CardCruncher can make sense.
If the site doesn’t work for you, don’t despair. Instead, spend a little extra time researching the best credit cards every few years. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it’s well worth it for maximizing rewards.
- Commissions and Fees - 100
- Customer Service - 90
- Ease of Use - 70
- Features and Options - 50
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.