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My First Points Credit Card (and Why I Keep it)

I was 21 years old when I was approved for my first points credit card.

I was 21 years old when I first was approved for my own credit card. It was my first credit card, but it was also my first points credit card. I didn’t know much about points and miles at the time, but I knew I wanted to have a card that would reward me for using it.

After doing some research, I decided to apply for the American Express Blue Sky card. It came out not long after Blue from American Express made its debut.

Both cards were clear with a blue square in the center. Credit cards you could see through were sort of a new thing at the time. And for those that remember, some of these cards were early adopters of the “old” embedded chips that offered contactless payments.

I applied online and was extremely excited to be approved instantly. I now had my first points credit card. Being approved by American Express for a first consumer credit card had the feeling of being out of reach to me.

As a note, my credit score got some help when I was a teen. I remember my dad added me as an authorized user to an existing card (although he never let me use it). I’m thankful for that.

Points value and earning

The American Express Blue Sky card is a points-earning card. Its main award feature delivers credit statements for travel purchases. The card is still available, although it seems the “Preferred” version of it is not anymore.

It delivers redemptions in increments of $100 for each 7,500 Blue Sky points earned. Each dollar spent earns one point, so it’s a set value of 1.3 cents per point, which isn’t bad for a no-fee card.

Unfortunately there is no middle ground for points redemptions. If you have 10,000 points then you would only be eligible to redeem a credit of $100. That’s because you would have not yet reached the next tier (15,000 points/$200 statement credit in this case).

Alternatively you can redeem points earned for cash back in the form of a statement credit of $50 for each 7,500 points earned. You can also redeem points for gift cards to restaurants and shops at a slightly more favorable return, but not as valuable as the travel credit. I once redeemed 5,000 Blue Sky points for a $50 Apple iTunes gift card, achieving a reasonable redemption value of 1 cent per point.

AMEX Offers

Even though the American Express Blue Sky card works on its own points system, it’s still eligible for a variety of AMEX Offers. American Express Membership Rewards Offers aren’t available with this card. The offers, rather, include cash statement credits and discounts for purchase minimums.

It’s true that AMEX Offers don’t always apply to all American Express cards, but plenty of non-Membership Rewards offers have been generally available on the account.

Why I keep this card

I still keep this card active in my account, even though I put few purchases on it. The reason I keep my first points credit card is because it is my oldest active credit account. This affects my credit score positively. Having a long history with a credit card in good standing will improve your credit score over time.

I wish I understood American Express Membership Rewards points and their airfare transfer partners points back then. But I didn’t, so here we are. Plus, I was just a kid.

So, while American Express certainly has better cards that deliver greater value with Membership Rewards points (some with no annual fee), I’ll be keeping my first points credit card around. It’s like my “granddaddy” card.

What’s the oldest credit card you keep active? Share your experience in the comments.

Featured image courtesy of American Express.

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