I’m in no way endorsing these credit cards or banks. I receive zero compensation from any of these banks for credit card advertisements. The opinions expressed here are my own and not of any bank. I’m simply explaining why I hold each card.
I have received many questions over the past few months on why I have so many credit cards and what I do with them all. So I figured I’d make a post about each one and explain why I have it. I will NOT go through every benefit each card has because, well, It would take forever to write and there’s plenty of websites and travel bloggers that already do that so I’ll leave that up to them.
Currently, I hold 20 credit cards and 2 charge cards. I know what most of you are thinking, Just bear with me for a bit. I’ll break them down according to which bank they come from so it will be easier to navigate. In no particular order I’ll start with Chase Bank.
Currently I hold 5 personal Chase credit cards and 1 business credit card: Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and the Ink Plus business credit card.
The Freedom credit card was one of the first cards I received several years ago. It’s really a no-brainer because it has a $0 annual fee and gives 5% cash back on up to $1500 in combined purchases in bonus categories every quarter and then 1% cash back on every other purchase. Instead of getting cash back I prefer to combine those points with my Sapphire Ultimate Reward points so I’m able to transfer to partners like Hyatt or Singapore Airlines. I get much more value for my points transferring them out rather than getting cash back. I don’t put much spend on the card unless I’m getting 5% back in a bonus category.
The Sapphire Preferred credit card used to be my go to card. It gives 2x the points per dollar spent on travel and restaurant purchases and 1x the points on everything else. Traveling and eating out is a huge piece of my spending so I was able to rack up a lot of Ultimate Reward points through this card. Keep in mind the annual fee is $95. This year, though, I’ve started putting more spend on other cards. I still feel like this card is worth keeping because I always put my rental cars on it, as it offers the best insurance on rental cars.
The Hyatt credit card offers a sign-up bonus of 2 free nights in a standard room at any Hyatt property. Well, more like 99% of their properties. I used my free nights at the Park Hyatt NYC so I was able to get about $2000 out of the sign up bonus. I also get 3x the points per dollar spent when using my card at Hyatt properties but a lot of time these days I put my Hyatt stays on other cards. I can still justify holding the card because every account anniversary I get a free night in a category 1-4 Hyatt property. The annual fee is only $75. So basically I can stay at a $200 Hyatt for only $75. Hyatt just devalued their credit card this month (October 2016) so I probably won’t put much spend on the card these days. I’ll just keep it for the free night every year.
When I signed up for the IHG credit card the sign up bonus was 80,000 IHG points and a $50 statement credit. I rarely stay at IHG properties but I figured I might as well have it for when I do. I also get Platinum status with IHG by holding the card and also get a free night in any IHG property on my anniversary date. The annual fee is only $49 so basically I see it as I’m getting a $300ish hotel room every year for $49. I’ll keep this card for a long time as long as the benefits stay the same.
The Marriott credit card yielded a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Marriott Reward points plus 5,000 more for adding an authorized user. After meeting the spending requirements I had 90,000 Marriott points. I knew I wanted this card with Marriott taking over Starwood. Starwood is my second favorite hotel chain so I figured this would help my SPG balance when they merged. I also get a free night on my anniversary date in a category 1-5 Marriott property. The annual fee is $85 but I can easily spend my free night in a hotel that’s charging $200 or higher a night. As with all my hotel credit cards that give a free night on my anniversary date I don’t see it as spending $85 for the card I see it as the card is saving my $125. Makes sense, yeah?
The Chase Ink Plus credit card is one of my business cards. I signed up when the bonus was 70,000 Ultimate Reward points. I basically have the card for when I need to put large purchases on my card and I also get 5x the points per dollar spent when paying my cell phone bill. Annual fee is $95. Easy enough.
With American Express I hold two personal credit cards, two business credit cards, and two charge cards. I have the Delta Reserve card, SPG card, Delta Platinum business card, and the SPG business card. The two charge cards are the Platinum card and the Premier Rewards Gold card.
I have the Delta Business Platinum credit card for really only one reason. The sign up bonus was 60,000 Delta SkyMiles and 10,000 MQM’s. The 10,000 MQM’s will help me keep Delta Platinum status this year and who couldn’t use 60,000 SkyMiles with the way Delta devalues their loyalty program all the time? A few months ago I was able to snag a round-trip first class ticket to Paris for 107,000 SkyMiles. I’ll have the review for that sometime in December. The Annual fee is $195, so sometime next year I need to decide on keeping this card or keeping the Delta Reserve card.
The Delta Reserve credit card I got a few years ago to help me reach Platinum status the first year I started flying Delta. It gives 10,000 MQM’s as a sign up bonus. It also gives complimentary Delta SkyClub lounge access which I value highly. At this point, I also receive Delta Lounge access through my Amex Platinum charge card so the only purchases I put on here are Delta flights. One other benefit it gives is it helps with being upgraded on Delta flights to first class. Let’s say I and another Delta Platinum member both buy the same ticket on the same day and he doesn’t have the Reserve card and I do, I’ll be upgraded before him. Upgrades are very important. Who wants to fly economy when you can fly first class for the same price? It does carry an annual fee of $450 so, like I mentioned before, I need to decide if I’m going to cancel this card or my Delta Platinum card next year.
The SPG Business and Personal credit cards I’ll lump together. Both annual fees are $95. The only difference in the two is the business version gives free lounge access when booking a Sheraton stay on the card and the personal card does not. I received 30,000 SPG points for both when I signed up. 60,000 SPG points can be transferred to 23ish different airline partners with a 5,000-point bonus when transferring in 20,000-point increments. So, basically, 60,000 SPG points turns into 80,000 airline miles. Also, since they were bought by Marriott, you can transfer to Marriott at a 3/1 ratio. 60,000 SPG points is 180,000 Marriott points. I put a lot of everyday spend on these cards just for the fact SPG points are so valuable and I can transfer to so many airlines.
The Premier Rewards Gold charge card I have because I was targeted for a 50,000-point bonus offer. Amex Membership Reward points are worth about 2 cents apiece (according to some travel experts) so 50,000 points are worth around $1000. It also offers a $100 airline credit every year to be used on your preferred airline. This helps drop the annual fee of $195 down to just $95. The card offer 3x the points on airfare and 2x on restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets. I typically don’t put any spend on this card. I’ll hang on to it for another year to see if they improve the benefits at all. If they don’t I’ll just cancel it when the next year’s annual fee is due because it doesn’t make sense to have both the Gold and Platinum cards.
I saved the best Amex for last. The Platinum charge card used to be the card to rule them all. Unfortunately for them, better cards have come out in the past few years and Amex lost some key benefits so it kind of fell behind but it still offers a great number of benefits to the frequent traveler. Also to note, they are revamping the card and sometime early next year we should expect the Amex Platinum to add some valuable perks so it can compete with leading travel cards. They just announced not long ago that the card will now offer 5x the points on airfare purchased directly with the airline. That’s huge in terms of what other cards offer. I signed up for the card when it went live for about 17 hours earlier this year with a sign up bonus of 100,000 Amex Membership Reward points. That’s as high as you’ll see for a public offer. The card offers a lot of perks and benefits, but I’m only going to talk about the ones I use. The card offers SPG Gold status which you can now match to Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold status. It gives Delta SkyClub access and also lets you enter AmEx Centurion lounges across the country for free. Centurion lounges are some of the best domestic airport lounges in the country. If you can get in at the right time when they’re not super crowded it’s quite enjoyable and the food is always a hit. The card gives good status with several top car rental companies like Avis and Hertz which I value highly. Who wants to wait in line when you can go straight to the car? Another benefit I use is it offers access to AmEx Fine Hotels & Resorts. AFHR basically gives you elite perks that only top members of hotels get when booking through AFHR and paying with your Platinum card. I’ve booked several hotels through this program which I’ve done reviews on. You can read about some of the perks I received while I was staying at The Windsor Court in New Orleans. The annual fee is $450 but you get $200 back in airline incidentals per year on your preferred airline bringing the total cost down to $250 which I find great for all the perks you receive. The only time I put spend on this card is when I’m booking a hotel through Amex Fine Hotels & resorts. I might start putting some airfare purchases as well since they just introduced 5x the points but I’m hoping when the new year comes around they’ll make the card worthy of actually putting everyday spend on the card. But as of now I just use it for the perks.
I have 4 Citi credit cards: Hilton HHonors Reserve card, The Citi Prestige card, The Citi ThankYou Premier card and the Citi Diamond Preferred card.
I’ll start with the Citi Diamond Preferred credit card because there isn’t much to say. This is the only card that is useless to me. I will be canceling this card soon and moving the credit over to another card.
The Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card offers two free weekend nights when meeting the sign up requirement. I used my free nights at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam earlier this year, which was one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It also gives a free weekend night when spending $10,000 on the card each year. These days the card doesn’t see much action because I choose to stay at Hyatt or Starwood because their loyalty programs are far superior to Hilton’s. So I’m in the middle of deciding if it makes sense to hold this card any longer. The card does give you Gold status at Hilton but I receive that through my Amex Platinum card so I can’t really think of a reason to keep the card any longer. The annual fee is $95.
The Citi ThankYou Premier credit card offered a sign up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points last year when I got it. Now I don’t think it has any kind of sign up bonus unless you have a targeted offer. For a while I only put my gas purchases on it because you get 3x the points on travel including gas stations but now I put a lot of purchases on it because they offered me a promotional interest rate of 1.5% on all my purchases. So if I need to put something on a card that I know I won’t pay off right away this is the card I put it on. Annual fee is $95.
The Citi Prestige credit card is hands down my #1 card and arguably the best credit card on the market. It has saved me a few thousand dollars just this year. Not only did I get 50,000 ThankYou points with the sign up bonus and a $250 travel credit to use every year, but they also give you the fourth night free at any hotel you book through them. Most places I travel to I usually spend at least 4 days so it’s easy to see how I can get great value by putting my hotel stays on this card. I believe it’s the best credit card perk there is. I just hope this benefit stays around for a while. It’s almost too good to be true. It also offers 3x the points on airfare and hotels and 2x the points at restaurants. The annual fee is $450 but after you take out the $250 travel credit every year, you’re really only paying $200. That’s a steal for what the card offers.
Citi ThankYou rewards have some fantastic transfer partners. I combined ThankYou points from Citi Premier card with those from my Prestige card and transferred them to Singapore Airlines a few months back. I’m hoping to snag a first class suite in the coming weeks. As of now, I’m on wait list to go to Hong Kong so we’ll see if my flight clears. Singapore Airlines has one of, if not the best first class product in the sky. I’m hoping to do a review on the flight even though every travel blogger has already reviewed it about a hundred times.
I have two credit cards from Barclay’s: The Wyndham Premium credit card and The JetBlue Plus credit card.
I got the Wyndham Premium credit card last year when the sign up bonus was 45,000 points plus 15,000 on your account anniversary. Wyndham only charges 15,000 points per night at any of their hotels so I was able to combine the sign up bonus with some points I already had and used them at the Shelborne Wyndham Grand in South Beach. The annual fee is $69 a year so basically I get a free night every year for $69. I’ll spend the free night at a $200+-a-night room so it’s a no-brainer to hang on to this card as long as I keep getting 15,000 points on my anniversary date. The only spend I put on this card would be at a Wyndham property as I get 5x the points per dollar spent.
I have the JetBlue Plus credit card for a couple of reasons. I did a status match to JetBlue Mosaic status earlier this year which I cover in detail here. That post also covers why I got the card but I’ll give a brief overview on why. There is a 30,000-point sign up bonus, 5,000 points on account anniversary, and the annual fee is only $99. I get 6x the points per dollar spent on JetBlue flights plus one free checked bag. I’m hoping to fly JetBlue more in the coming year so getting 6x the points is a huge benefit in having the card. I don’t put much other spend on the card other than JetBlue flights.
Bank of America
I have one personal credit card and one business credit card from Bank of America, both are Alaska Airlines co-branded credit cards.
I basically have these cards just for the sign-up bonus. On the personal card I received 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles, the business I received 30k Alaska Airline miles. I plan to transfer these to Cathay Pacific for a business class or first class ticket to Asia. Still working the details out on where I’m going but Cathay Pacific has one of the best first class and business class products out there.
The annual fee for both is $75.
Quicksilver credit card was one of the first I signed up for several years ago alongside the Chase Freedom credit card. It has no annual fee so it’s easy to see why I keep it open. It helps with my credit history and gives me 1.5% cash back. The only thing I put on this card is my Uber rides. Capital One has a partnership with Uber where for every 9 rides you get a $15 credit added to your account for future rides. I use Uber a ton so I can easily get $30 a month back in Uber rides plus earn 1.5% cash back on the rides.
Wright-Patt Credit Union
I have had this card since I was 18. It was my first credit card. Thankfully for my old man who insisted I get one when I turned 18 because it helped build my credit at an early age. I still put my Spotify payment on it just to have some action on it so they don’t try to cancel it on me for not using it. This card is the backbone to my credit length history. Without it, my credit length would take a nose dive and that’s not good for your credit score. The annual fee is $0 so there’s no reason for me to ever cancel it. I just hope they let me keep it for years to come.
Credit cards are a game. You can win or lose. You don’t want to lose, trust me. If you’re responsible with them, pay them off in full every month and pay them off on time you can reap some heavy benefits. But if you’re irresponsible with them they can do some major damage to your credit score and that’s a terrible thing. You don’t want that.
Every card I have besides maybe one serves a purpose. Yeah, there’s a couple of cards that run the show but everyone I have is important to the way I spend money and collect points. Some people might think it’s too much work to keep up with or confused on what should be spent on what but with a little effort you can maximize your money and get great value from holding and spending on credit cards wisely. As you can see from my reviews, a lot of the places I visit I do so for free off of hotel points and airline miles.
You’d think with all these cards my credit score would be shot but actually it’s never been higher. I’d also like to mention, don’t believe in the myth you have to travel a lot to get hotel and airline points. Just have the right credit card or two and put your everyday spending on those cards and you’ll be taking a free vacation about every year.
And don’t think I have all the cards I want. I have my eye on a few more credit cards. 😉