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Back in February I wrote a post sharing which credit cards are in my wallet. That’s to say which credit cards I currently have “open,” since I sure don’t carry all my cards in my wallet. With each card I’ll share the annual fee and whether I intend to keep the card when the annual fee comes due again or not, by placing the card in either the “Keep” or “Cancel” category.
With that in mind, here’s what’s in my wallet right now:
The Chase Ink cards are the best business cards out there at the moment, in my opinion.
- You get double points on the first $50,000 spent annually at hotels and gas stations
- You also get 5x points on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cell phones, landlines, internet, and cable TV
The last category alone justifies the annual fee on the card (which is waived the first year), given that those are fixed monthly expenses for me, and when I add them up and calculate the 5x points I’m earning, I’m already coming out ahead.
I’ve had the Ink Bold for a while and just applied for the Ink Plus last week and got approved. Chase recently rebranded these cards as Visas rather than Mastercards, which means you’re eligible for the card even if you’ve had the Mastercard version in the past. I wrote about strategies for applying for the Chase Ink cards earlier this year, so you’ll want to review that post as well.
Chase Freedom® (personal) — Keep
Annual fee: none
I’ve wanted this card for a long while now, though only took the “plunge” last week. Chase has so many great credit cards, so it can be tough to decide which makes the most sense. But the thing about this card is that I was actively losing points by not having it. The card has no annual fee and offers 5x points in rotating categories for up to $1,500 in spend every quarter. That’s an easy way to pick up 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points per year.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (personal) – Keep
Annual fee: $95, waived first year
This one is of course a no brainer, and a card everyone should have.
- The card offers double points on dining and travel
- That means you’re earning 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and on just about all travel expenses, including hotel, airline tickets, car rentals, transportation, and even parking
While I can get a good return on hotels and airline tickets with other cards, it’s the dining and other travel expenses (taxis, trains, parking, etc.) that make this card awesome. Since it has no foreign transaction fees I use it when I’m traveling abroad almost exclusively.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (personal) – Keep
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
On a per point basis, Starwood points are probably the most valuable points currency out there. I value SPG points at about 2.2 cents each, and they’re actually the only points currency I value at over two cents per point. So I put all my Starwood hotel stays on this card, along with any spend in categories that don’t earn bonuses on other cards.
That being said, I’d keep the card alone for the fact that it offers two stays and five nights towards Starwood status annually. In the past I’d qualify for Starwood Platinum on 25 stays instead of 50 nights, but now I’m qualifying on nights given that you don’t get the 10 suite night awards annually if you qualify on stays. That’s basically like picking up night credits towards status at $13 each.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express (business) – Keep
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
I like this card for exactly the same reasons as the personal card. They both offer the same bonuses, so the one reason to have both of them is because they each offer you two stays and five nights towards status annually. Between the two cards that’s four stays and 10 nights towards status, a very nice head start each year.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® (personal) – Keep
Annual fee: $99, waived first year
Last year Citi added new benefits to this card, including a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 10,000 miles per year. I easily max that out every year (since I make at least 100,000 AAdvantage miles worth of award redemptions per year), so by keeping this card I’m basically buying 10,000 miles at $99 annually, which is 0.99 cents per mile. Deal. I don’t put a dime in spend on the card, though.
US Airways Mastercard (personal) – Keep
Annual fee: $89, waived first year
I had this card earlier this year and applied for it again during my latest round of credit card applications. This is an easy 35,000 US Airways miles which will eventually be converted into American miles, and you get them after the first purchase. Since it’s almost certain that Citi will be the credit card issuer of American’s co-branded credit card post merger, this card is very much in the “use it or lose it” category, since the card and bonus probably won’t be around for long.
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card (personal) — Keep
Annual fee: $95
Back when this card was introduced it was somewhat revolutionary, since it offered Hilton HHonors Gold status just for having the card for as long as you have the card. Hilton HHonors Gold status is probably the single most attainable and valuable mid-tier status level since it offers internet and club lounge access/breakfast, so that was worth something. However, in the meantime you also get Hilton HHonors Gold just for having the American Express Surpass Card, for having the American Express Platinum Card, or for buying a Milepoint Premium membership.
You also get Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on the card in a year, which I actually went for. However, based on my few stays as a Diamond member I can’t say I really noticed any marginal benefit over Gold. So it’s still an all around solid card, but given how many ways there are to get HHonors Gold status now, probably just a bit less solid.
Chase Hyatt Visa Card (personal) — Keep
Annual fee: $75
The only time I spend a dime on this card is for international Hyatt stays, since you earn three points per dollar (for domestic Hyatt stays I use the Starwood Business AmEx). Other than that I keep the card for the annual free night certificate, redeemable at category one through four properties. That more than justifies the annual fee, given that it can be redeemed at some great properties.
The Platinum Card® from American Express (personal) — Keep
Annual fee: $450
This card is expensive but worth every dime to me. It offers lounge access with American, Delta, US Airways, and Priority Pass. If I were to purchase a lounge membership with one of those airlines alone it would cost me about $350 per year.
But beyond that you get an annual airline fee credit for $200, which in practice can be used to purchase airline gift cards. So I’m able to purchase $200 in American Airlines gift cards per year and have it reimbursed. What sweetens the deal even further is that the annual fee is based on a rolling 12 month period, while the airline fee credit is based on a calendar year. So that means with your first year’s annual fee you can actually pick up two airline fee credits, worth $400.
The other thing that makes this card awesome is access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express — Keep or Cancel?
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195
I’m still a bit torn on the value of this card. It offers triple points on airfare and double points on gas, dining, and groceries. Gas and groceries are pretty moderate expenses for me, though if you have a family or a commute you’d likely get a ton more value out of this card. I decided to cancel the card back in April, though they offered me 12,500 points to keep the card, so I decided to keep it and continue to spend strategically on it.
Hilton HHonors Card from American Express — Keep or Cancel?
Annual fee: none
This is a no annual fee credit card that used to be worth keeping solely for the ability to redeem for Hilton’s AXON awards. However, Hilton devalued AXON awards in June after devaluing the rest of their program in March, so the card isn’t as useful as it used to be.
- Maybe I’ll need an AXON award in the future, though for me a card without an annual fee is worth having just for the positive impact it has on my credit score.
- One of the things that factors into your credit score is the average age of your accounts, so this card helps since I have no intentions of using it otherwise.
Furthermore, I have a fairly high credit line on the card so can transfer some of it to my Starwood American Express, where I value having a higher credit line.
Alaska Airlines Visa Card (personal) — Keep
Annual fee: $75
I actually have two of these cards at the moment. The sign-up bonus on the card is presently 30,000 miles upon approval. As a matter of fact the miles usually post before you even receive the card, which is pretty awesome. Alaska miles are incredibly valuable since they allow stopovers on one-way awards and have some amazing redemption opportunities on carriers like Cathay Pacific and Emirates.
But also I value the fact that the card comes with an annual $118 companion certificate for travel in coach on Alaska. The companion still earns miles and is upgradable, so as far as I’m concerned, the more of these cards I can pick up the better. I know people that have a handful of these cards active, so I’ll likely pick up another one in a few months.
Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card (business) — Keep
Annual fee: $50
The Alaska Business Visa only has a 25,000 mile sign-up bonus after the first purchase, but is still a great card since it also comes with a companion certificate. So between my two personal and one business cards I get three companion certificates annually, which I find to be a great value. Beyond that, the business annual fee is even lower than the personal annual fee.
Anyway, that’s a summary of the cards I have. If my math is right that’s 16 active cards right now, and while it represents quite a bit in annual fees, I’m also getting tons of annual benefits out of each card, be it from everyday spend or for the annual bonuses they offer.