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It’s been a while since I’ve done a review of the credit cards in my wallet, so I thought I would end 2018 with a review of which credit cards are staying in my wallet, which ones are leaving, and which ones are new. This isn’t necessarily a list of the best travel credit cards, but rather a look into what mix of cards have served me well (both in my daily life and travels). By sharing, I thought it would help to inform your points and miles journey (or addiction)!
Newcomers in my wallet
1. American Express Gold Card:
I’m excited to be earning American Express Membership Rewards points again. It’s been a while since I’ve had them, and I know a lot of you have asked me to do videos/posts on American Express cards. I’ve hesitated to do them since I didn’t have a points-earning American Express card until now, so I couldn’t pull accurate screenshots or speak from personal experience. Though now that I have one, you can expect to see more content on the Gold Card and Membership Rewards program. This is a very unique and interesting credit card, and it looks like American Express is trying to win over a lot of Chase Sapphire Preferred cardmembers with the card. Learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
2. US Bank Cash+:
I’ve been interested in the US Bank Cash+ card for a while. I’m not a big spender when it comes to daily expenses, but I still have the dream of having all (or at least most) of my spend earning a bonus. I thought this card would be a good fit to help me reach that goal and fill in the gaps. I like the customizable rotating bonus categories, which makes the card quite versatile.
3. Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Business:
I wasn’t planning on getting the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit card, but I applied since I anticipated flying on Southwest more often for work. I also needed points for our Southwest companion pass renewal.
Last year, I earned a companion pass under a special offer for California residents by applying for the personal Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus credit card. We’ve benefited from having the pass and flying on Southwest during our trips. Having it for another year seemed like a no-brainer for us.
My everyday carry cards
Here are the cards that have become a regular part of my everyday carry this year.
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve:
You all know how much I love Chase Ultimate Rewards points, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. I still love my Chase Sapphire Reserve and it’s still the most valuable card in my wallet. I tend to spend a significant amount on dining out and travel expenses (especially with parking expenses here in LA). Also, the $300 annual travel credit makes this card feel like it only has a $150 annual fee, which helps me justify the annual cost. Even though most of my dining out spend will probably end up on the American Express Gold card, I’ll be able to take advantage of the travel benefits of this card (e.g., Priority Pass lounge access and airport restaurant credits).
2. Chase Ink Business Preferred:
The Chase Ink Business Preferred is my primary business credit card for Trip Astute. Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it earns a lot of bonus points. Even the welcome offer on this card is an amazing 80,000 points after spending $5,000 within three of account opening (as of December 2018). I use this card for our business expenses and it’s a keeper in my wallet.
3. Chase Ink Business Cash:
This is another “keeper” card in my wallet. I have another small business that I manage, so I use the Chase Ink Business Cash for all those expenses. I also charge my internet and streaming services on this card since it earns five points per dollar on purchases from office supplies stores, internet, cable, and phone services. It doesn’t have an annual fee, so it’s a great card to have, especially since it also earns Ultimate Rewards Points.
4. American Express Blue Cash Preferred:
This American Express card is a powerhouse cash back card. It earns me 6% cash back on groceries, and 3% cash back on gas, and I’m able to take advantage of many of the AMEX offers. However, this is a card that will likely get downgraded to the no-annual-fee version since I’ll be using my new American Express Gold card for groceries this year. Though if I decide not to renew the Gold Card after the first year, I’ll likely restore this card as my primary grocery card. Learn more about the American Express Blue Cash Preferred.
5. Chase Freedom:
The Chase Freedom is another workhorse in my wallet. I try to take advantage of the 5% quarterly rotating bonus categories, which can earn 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points every quarter. With no annual fee, this card is staying in my wallet.
6. Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is my go-to card for any expenses that are not covered by a bonus category. It earns a flat rate of 1.5 points per dollar, so it’s a great no-nonsense card for expenses where I can’t maximize a bonus category.
7. Discover It:
Card I have, but don’t necessarily keep in my wallet
I have other credit cards that I don’t carry with me, but keep active due to the benefits or rewards provided.
1. Chase IHG Rewards Club Select:
I’ve kept this credit card because I get Platinum Elite Status with IHG, and more importantly, a free anniversary night certificate as part of my $49 annual fee. The free night alone is worth so much more than the annual fee.
Chase recently updated this card and have offered to upgrade me to the new IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card. However, I still love the old version of this card as it provides excellent value to me (at a lower annual fee). The IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card has an $89 annual fee and as of December 2018, offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus points (after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening).
2. Chase World of Hyatt:
Like the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card, the World of Hyatt credit card offers a bump in loyalty status and provides a free night every year with an annual fee of $95. There are many aspirational hotels in Hyatt’s portfolio where you can use your annual certificate. Since I can usually book a room for more than the value of the annual fee, it’s worth keeping this card.
3. Chase United Explorer card
I barely use the Chase United Explorer credit card, but I keep it for the lounge passes, free check-in baggage, priority boarding, and additional award availability. If you have this card, you’ll see more award seat availability for flights when redeeming points. To me, these benefits are worth the $95 annual fee (waived for the first year).
4. Citi Double Cash
Though the Citi Double Cash is an awesome cashback credit card, I haven’t used it much this past year. I thought about closing the account, but I’ve kept it in case anything changes with my current set-up. The Double Cash used to be my go-to non-bonus spend card, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited has taken its place in my wallet. I know that may sound strange since the Double Cash earns 2% while the Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5%. However, the Freedom Unlimited earns Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth at least 1.5 cents each. Therefore,
5. USAA Preferred Cash Rewards & Cashback Rewards Plus American Express:
I have two USAA credit cards (USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card and USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card). Both of these credit cards were opened when I was a cadet in college. Though I don’t use these cards, I keep them since they are my oldest accounts. Canceling them would likely decrease my credit score since it would affect my average age of accounts.
Cards that I canceled this year
Sadly, there are a few credit cards that did not make it to the end of 2018.
1. US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards
While this card helped me to earn a lot of Club Carlson points, I’ve struggled to redeem them. Club Carlson does have some incredible resorts around the world, like their Radisson Blu brand. However, we haven’t been able to use the points when traveling due to limited availability and/or high point redemption rates. Even though I was earning 40,000 Club Carlson points every year with my $75 annual fee, I decided to cancel the card.
2. Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus:
As I mentioned earlier, I got the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus credit card last year in order to earn a companion pass. At the time, Southwest was offering California residents the opportunity to get a free companion pass as a welcome offer. The only problem is that when paying for Southwest flights, I preferred to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn Ultimate Rewards points. I decided to cancel this card since there wasn’t a no-annual-fee downgrade option and applied for the business version of the card instead.
Let me know what you think of my credit card set-up. Also, I would love to hear what cards have joined, stayed, and left your wallet this year.
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