Organizing Your “Collection”
If you are like me, then perhaps you find yourself with way too many credit cards scattered about. In fact, it may not only be credit cards. There are also rewards card, gift cards, lounge passes and other various “cards” that can clutter up your life. The questions that always plagues me is how to organize them.
When I first got into this game, I was excited at my first haul of four credit cards each for me and my wife. These eight credit cards were easy enough to keep track of. I knew off of the top of my head when we got the cards & how much the minimum spend was. Additionally, when not being used, they sat in a little stack on my desk. Easy enough.
Fast forward to several rounds of applications later and I now had several more cards each with different bonuses & expiration dates. The small pile on my desk had turned into a mountain and it was getting impossible to organize. Add to that all of my newly acquired loyalty program cards and things were a disaster.
Organizing The Information
The first way of organizing your cards is to track all of the relevant information for each card. For me, the best way to do this is a quick and easy spreadsheet. Some people come up with very complicated ones, but I prefer to keep it simple.
A good spreadsheet for tracking your cards will have the product name & bank, application date, bonus, bonus time frame, annual fee and perhaps some notes. In my house I also put the credit line and whether the card belongs to either myself or my wife Jasmine.
Why track this basic information? Well if you are new to the game then keeping this in your head is rather easy. After several years though, annual fees will be coming due quite often and you may forget when you signed up for a card. Some cards allow you to reapply for a new bonus as well, making the application date and any other relevant information pertaining to the card important.
Organizing The Physical Cards
As I mentioned before, when I first got into this “game”, a pile on my desk served as my ultimate organization strategy. I simply had a spot with an ever growing mountain of cards. What would happen when a new card came into my collection? Well that was easy. It would take it’s rightful place as king at the top of the pile until another one came along and it began its slow descent downwards.
Eventually I moved on and decided to buy a small book for my cards. The first place I went was Ebay which had a 120 card holder for around $4. (Here is a similar one for $3.) When it arrived, I quickly discovered why it was so cheap. The plastic was very thin and ripped with the slightest bit of force.
Additionally, the description said it would hold 120 cards, but that was only true if I double stuffed it by putting cards on both sides. A good credit card holder should allow you to see both the front and back of the cards. Pretty soon my collection of cards was outgrowing the cheap book which ripped with every use. I soon found that the stack of cards was reforming on my desk, because this book didn’t meet my needs.
Finally I decided to spend a little money on a true business/credit card holder. I finally settled on this brown leather book from Amazon. It costs a little bit of money, but it was a great investment for this hobby. While it is essentially a planner with plastic business/credit card sheets inside, it suits my needs well.
The book zips up which makes me feel it is a little more secure from random things falling out. Also, it is expandable so it can adapt to my ever growing collection of all kinds of cards and it has places for notes and other things I may add relating to the hobby.
Of course, if you wanted to do it cheaper, you could buy a normal binder and some plastic sheets and make one yourself. Either way, organizing the cards in this way seems to be working for me.
As you continue on and acquire more cards, it will become important to have an organizational strategy. Without it, you may find that a card disappears or you suddenly default on an annual payment on a card that had long been forgotten.
How do you organize all of the cards that you have acquired because of this hobby? Have you made your own book, imported one from China or purchased one similar to mine? Let me know in the comments below!