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It has been over a year since I shared a full list of all the credit cards I have, so I figured it’s time for an update of that. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve closed quite a few cards in the past year, so my credit card portfolio is leaner than it was in the past. In the past I typically had over two dozen cards at a time, while right now I’m down to “just” 17 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, then I’ll share the cards I have open, and lastly I’ll recap which cards I’ve recently closed.
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.
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.
Here are the 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 “only” 17 open credit cards right now, which is the fewest credit cards I’ve had open in a very long time.
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
- The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express — I picked up this card in February as it has no annual fee and was offering a great sign-up bonus, and it’s a solid business card in terms of the return it offers on everyday spend
- 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
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
- 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’m considering using this card to requalify for Executive Platinum status with American; the card has a $195 annual fee
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card — this card offers an annual free night certificate valid at 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
- 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 last year
- 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
- 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
The cards I’ve canceled recently
Sometimes I have a tendency to hoard cards, though I’ve done a good job of recently thinning out the cards I have a bit. In the past few months I’ve canceled a few cards that I consider to be excellent, but that just don’t help my card portfolio at the moment. These include the following:
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express — the card is extremely well rounded and offers bonus points on airfare, US gas stations, US restaurants, and US supermarkets, but it has just gotten to the point where it’s no longer the best card in any particular category for me
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card — this is a very well rounded card, especially given its reasonable annual fees, though ultimately it didn’t seem worth holding onto in addition to the Citi Prestige® Card; this is a great option for someone looking for a reasonable annual fee card that helps maximize ThankYou points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — I’ve had this card for years and think it’s the most well rounded mid-range card out there, though late last year I converted it into a Chase Freedom Unlimited®, after I was approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express — having a no annual fee card can be a great way to boost your credit score, though Amex also has a limit of five credit cards per consumer at any point, and I was at that limit; since there were other lucrative Amex cards I wanted to get, I decided it made the most sense for me to cancel this card
- Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card — this is a reasonable annual fee card that I kept primarily for the fact that it offers Gold status for as long as you have the card; however, The Platinum Card® from American Express also offers Hilton Honors Gold status, so that didn’t seem worth keeping.
I know it might sound like a lot to some, but 17 credit cards is the fewest I’ve had in quite a while. We’ve seen some really well rounded credit cards emerge, and as a result, the bonus categories on some cards have become redundant. However, I think many of the cards I’ve canceled recently would be great cards for others.