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It has been over six months since I’ve shared my credit card inventory, so I figured it’s time for an update, as we start the new year. At the moment I have four more cards than I had about six months ago, though fewer cards than I had prior to that — I’m starting 2018 with 21 credit cards.
With that out of the way, first I’ll share a brief intro regarding how applying for credit cards impacts your credit score, then I’ll talk a bit about why I get certain cards, and then I’ll share the cards I have open.
How credit cards impact your credit score
There are a lot of misconceptions about how credit scores work, in particular people thinking that having a lot of credit cards will ruin your credit score. That’s not true… at all.
The beginners guide on the blog has a section about credit cards and credit scores, which explains why that’s not the case. A couple of years ago I shared my Experian credit score, which was 837 at the time, better than 98% of US consumers. And that’s despite the fact that I had over two dozen open credit cards at the time. While my credit score has changed slightly since then, it’s still over 800.
For those of you not familiar, here are the things which factor into your credit score:
- 35% of your score is made up of your payment history
- 30% of your score is your credit utilization
- 15% of your score is your credit history
- 10% of your score is made up of the types of credit you use
- 10% of your score is your request for new credit
What’s most important is that you pay your bills on time, don’t utilize too much of your credit (meaning you want to ideally use 20% or less of your total available credit), and keep some cards long term, which will help increase your average age of accounts. The only metric which is lowered by applying for cards is your requests for new credit, but that makes up just 10% of your score. Furthermore, credit inquiries typically fall off your report after 24 months.
What I look for in credit cards
For me, there are three things I look for when applying for credit cards:
- They offer a big sign-up bonus — often the sign-up bonuses on cards are compelling, and enough reason to pick up a new card
- They offer a generous return on everyday spend — there are some cards you have because they help you maximize the points you earn for everyday spend
- They offer ongoing perks that more than justify the annual fee — some cards are worth holding onto even if you don’t plan on putting much spend on them, because they offer things like elite status, annual free nights, etc.
The 21 credit cards I have right now
With that in mind, let me share which cards I have at the moment. As mentioned above, I have 21 open credit cards right now, which is more than I had six months ago, but less than I had a couple of years ago.
Here they are, broken down by issuer:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — this card has a $550 annual fee, though offers many perks that help offset it, including Amex Centurion Lounge access, Hilton and Starwood hotel status, a $200 annual airline fee credit, a $200 annual Uber credit, and 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines (which is a huge category for me, since I spend quite a bit on airfare)
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express — this card offers 3x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spend per year) and 2x points at US gas stations, plus a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle; the card has a $95 annual fee
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express — this card earns me two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights with Starwood annually
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express — this card earns me two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights with Starwood annually
- Hilton Honors™ Surpass Card from American Express — I picked up this card last year thanks to a great sign-up bonus, and this continues to be the card with the lowest annual fee that offers Honors Gold status, which is one of the best mid-tier hotel statuses out there
- The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express — I picked up this card in February 2016 as it had no annual fee and was offering a great sign-up bonus; the card has since been discontinued, so I plan on canceling it and replacing it with The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, which offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually
I love the Centurion Lounge access offered with the Amex Platinum Card
Bank of America:
- The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card — this card offers an annual $121 companion certificate, which more than justifies the card’s $75 annual fee, in my opinion
The Alaska companion certificate has allowed me to score some great deals on flights
- JetBlue Plus Card — this card offers a 5,000 point bonus on the account anniversary each year, plus a 10% refund on JetBlue points redemptions, which to me justifies the $99 annual fee
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard — this card offers 6,000 elite qualifying dollars and 10,000 elite qualifying miles when you spend $50,000 on the card per year, so I used this last year to help me requalify for Executive Platinum status; I haven’t decided to what degree I’ll use the card this year
- The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard — this is one of the best travel cashback cards out there, as it offers double miles, plus a 5% refund when you redeem points
The Aviator Silver Card has helped me requalify for Executive Platinum with American
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card — this card offers an annual free night certificate valid at almost any IHG property in the world, which more than justifies the card’s $49 annual fee
- The Hyatt Credit Card — this card offers an annual free night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt property in the world, which more than justifies the card’s $75 annual fee, and to me is worth even more than in the past, since as of 2018 that free night redemption counts towards your elite qualifying nights total
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card — I applied for this card a few months back, and not only does it have a great sign-up bonus that isn’t subjected to the “‘5/24 rule,” but it has a potentially valuable companion certificate, and also offers 10% off many British Airways fares
- Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ — this card offers triple points on dining and travel, which are categories in which I spend a lot; while it has a $450 annual fee, it also offers a $300 annual travel credit, so the real out of pocket on the card is $150 per year
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card — this no annual fee card offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services; 2x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants; points can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points earned on other cards
- Chase Freedom® Card — this no annual fee card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, and these points can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points earned on other cards
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® — this no annual fee card offers 1.5x points in non-bonused categories, and these points can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points earned on other cards; I downgraded my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to this card in 2016
I love redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Korean Air first class
- Citi Prestige® Card — this card offers a fourth night free hotel benefit, which I find hugely valuable; while the card has a $450 annual fee, it offers a $250 annual airline credit, so the real out of pocket on the card is $200 per year, as far as I’m concerned
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® — this card offers a 10% refund on redeemed miles, on up to 10,000 miles redeemed annually, which to me more than justifies the card’s $95 annual fee
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® — this $450 annual fee card offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary member, and also lets you add up to 10 authorized users, each of which gets Admirals Club access as well
The Admirals Club membership offered with the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card is tough to beat
- Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card — this card offers an annual bonus of 40,000 Gold Points, which more than justifies the card’s $75 annual fee
In 2016 I stayed at the Radisson Blu Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost hotel
I know that’s a lot of credit cards, but to me they all serve a specific purpose. A vast majority of these are cards I plan to hold onto long term, given that they offer outsized return, either in terms of the perks offered, or in terms of the return on spend.
How many credit cards do you have right now?