If you're a realtor you need either a flashy credit card or a card that helps you stay afloat during lean times. Here's a fun and highly informative article setting out and explaining the best credit cards for real estate agents.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is tongue and cheek. I talk about credit cards for broke realtors just because breaking into the industry is tough. I wrote this (and had fun doing so) because I have nothing but great respect for realtors and how tough it is. Also, while it’s kinda fun joking around about credit cards for high-rollers and people who need credit desperately, credit, debt and credit cards need to be taken seriously. Practice prudent debt management at all times.
Credit makes the world go round. If you’re a high-flying realtor or new to the biz there’s a credit card for you. Discover 6 credit card options for real estate agents depending on your situation in the real estate business.
There are two lines of thought when it comes to the best credit card for a real estate agent.
First, there’s the “baller” effect. In other words, you choose a credit card for status, which means you get some card named after a precious metal, pay exorbitant annual fees just so you look like a rockstar when you buy your clients a coffee at the local Starbucks.
Second, there’s the “stay afloat” credit card option. Hopefully you don’t need this card, but basically it’s one with the best financial terms such as long duration before interest kicks in, low interest rates, longer payment periods – anything to help you stay afloat until your commissions make their way into your wallet.
While some realtors make a fortune and many make little, in general they earn a living with a median salary of $43,000 in 2015.
The third option is to get both. If you’re a broke realtor, it may not make sense to drop $500 per year on some baller credit or charge card, but then again in the world of real estate, appearance matters. Audi-driving realtors are cliche for a reason. People are suspect if their real estate agent drives them around in some 14-year-old car with two paint colors. You gotta spend money to make money. A low-end luxury car lease is a worthy investment, just like a precious stone credit card might be just to look like a high-roller in front of clients.
Now that we’ve identified two credit card choosing strategies for realtors, let’s set out a few good option for both strategies.
Table of Contents
A. Baller Cards
The term high-roller fits too, but you get the point. I’m watching Ballers on HBO and love it so I like tossin’ out the term. My wife bought me a baller t-shirt (not that I’m a baller, but for the fun of it).
For all you baller realtors out there who like to make a splash with plenty of plastic cash, here are 3 credit cards to consider.
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1. American Express Centurian Black Card
You’re a 1%’er realtor. Congrats. You’re a high-roller with mountains of cash from commissions rolling in steadily every month. Ditch the Audi for a Maserati or Bentley. Drop the plebian credit card and go all in with the ultimate credit card – AMEX Centurian Black.
Hold your horses though. Even if you’re a 1%er, that doesn’t mean you’re in. You need an invite. That’s how exclusive this card is. How do you get the invite? Nobody knows for sure, but Forbes.com suspects you must meet the following just to maybe get an invite:
- Have an American Express card for one year;
- Spend $100K to $450K per year on said AMEX;
- Earn at least $1 million (no prob for a top-performing realtor); and
- Have a high net worth. I’m not sure what “high” is, but I suspect it’s more than the value of your Audi.
If that’s not enough, there are no fees quite like the Centurian. Check these fees out (per Forbes.com):
- $5,000 to $7,500 initiation fee: This is the cost of entry for the status this card brings to the table.
- $2,500 annual fee: Ongoing price for status.
- Authorized users: $2,500 – have a couple of teenage kids who want one as well? That’ll set you back $5K and that’s before they start spending.
You can do some serious damage with this sucker… it’s literally the keys to the kingdom. Jet your clients to Vegas after you sell their $40 million estate (with plenty of commish left over after dropping 30 large on the Strip).
When you whip Black out of your wallet, you want your clients to see. Heck, you want the world to see because not just anybody is bestowed such a card. This is reserved for people with access to serious cash. After all, AMEX isn’t in the business of extending a quarter mill credit only to be told “sorry, but I ain’t got the money.”
Before you start getting giddy about charging up a storm including first-class tickets on a Middle East luxury liner, keep in mind this is a charge card that you have to pay off each month.
2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sapphire this and Sapphire that… it’s all I hear about in credit card circles. It’s not only named after a precious gem, but it’s a “reserve” as in only so many people get one.
This is one mean card in that the rewards are sweet and the prestige is sweeter. It ain’t cheap, but if you rack it up, you get plenty of rewards you can enjoy.
The thing is that it doesn’t really stand out like AMEX cards. AMEX is the primary of credit card design. Platinum is sharp. Black is deadly… people know you mean (and do) serious business when you possess a black card.
I think Chase Sapphire needs to make this card stand out. It’s a sapphire reserve after all with big annual fees and sweet rewards.
3. The Platinum card from American Express
I use Platinum because I run my business expenses through it for Rewards. When I got it I thought it was pretty sweet. Now it’s not even close to being the swankiest card, but it’ll do if you’re looking for some flash with your plastic cash.
I’m not a realtor so I don’t know what kind of expenses they occur each month, but I doubt it’s much other than the Audi lease, lattes for clients, copious amounts of gasoline and of course a foot-high stack of business cards. Therefore, I doubt the rewards pile up too quickly, but you won’t look like a schmuck with the AMEX platinum. You’ll be holding your own.
B. Broke Cards
On the opposite end of the spectrum are credit cards for broke realtors. Being an agent is tough. Low (almost no) barriers to entry meaning there is lots of competition. You work 24/7. It’s boom and bust revenue. You do a lot of work for nothing. You need to bring your marketing A-game these days not to mention network like a hyper extrovert all the time. At the end of the day, it takes years to build up a solid business, but once you do, you can make some serious bank.
In the meantime though, unless you have a spouse or partner bankrolling you, it’s Ramen noodles, coupons and an Audi. You gotta have the Audi no matter how bad it gets.
And that’s where the broke cards come in. If you’re buying Ramen with coupons, you’re probably interested in a credit card to help you stay afloat during the lean times. Here are some credtit card strategies and options with financial benefits (depending on your situation).
1. Balance transfer cards
If you’re looking for a great balance transfer card, chances are things aren’t going well. You get a balance transfer card when you’re broke and need to stave off interest charges and payments for a few more months. The longer the better. Getting more credit is a bonus too.
The hope, of course, is that those fat commissions will be rolling in soon. Real estate is boom and bust. You have big months and lean months. Too many lean months and it’s time to get the balance transfer card.
2. Low-interest cards
The low-interest card is for the realtor who constantly carries a balance. They can’t quite seem to pay those suckers off but at least make payments. Audi has to get paid first and whatever is left goes to the credit card. Because this scenario suggests okay debt management, the optimal card is one with a low-interest rate.
3. The “as much credit as I can get” card
You know it’s ugly when you’re flat outta cash with no commissions in sight and you need to live off credit. Perhaps you had a few good years and for some reason the commissions dried up. In the meantime, you have a fat Audi lease, a shiny new condo overlooking the beach (either main residence or vacation property), fancy gym membership (it’s for networking AND getting in shape) and of course frequent $5 coffees for clients while showing them around.
A big credit limit means maintaining the status quo. The last to go is a big commish lifestyle. Downgrading to a used Ford, community center gym membership and dumping the high HOA condo is a last resort.
If this is your situation, you need credit and lots of it.
The thing is there is no individual credit card that promises XYZ credit. You have to shop around and see which company will take the biggest risk on you.
Me? I avoid debt and would liquidate rather than dig myself deeper.
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