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 with some kind of reward for use.
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 seen as sort of a new status symbol (to me, at least). And for those that remember, some of these cards were early adopters of the “old” embedded chips inside the cards that offered contactless payments.
I applied online and was extremely excited to be approved instantly. Being approved by American Express for your first consumer credit card had the feeling of being nearly out of reach to me. I can’t be completely sure, but I think my credit was jump-started when my dad added me as an authorized user to one of his cards (although he never let me use it).
Points value and earning
The American Express Blue Sky card is a points-earning card and its main award feature is delivering credit statements for travel purchases. The card is still available, although it seems the “Preferred” version of it is not anymore. The redemptions were delivered 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 since you had 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.
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, but the offers do 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, which is part of how my credit score is ranked. Having a long history with a credit card in good standing will improve your credit score over time.
So, while American Express certainly has better cards that deliver greater value with Membership Rewards points (even at no annual fee for some), I’ll be keeping this 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.