One of the most common questions we get is “So, which credit card do you use?”. We don’t just use one card as each card has its own purpose. And yes, together we have over 10 credit cards. Below is a summary of each card we have (and why) and well as two cards we want.
Currently In Our Wallets
These are the cards that we regularly use (whether for the extra perks or for everyday charges). For each card, we are just highlighting the perks that we use and why we keep these cards in our wallets. Many of these cards have many more benefits but we can’t cover every benefit in this article.
American Express Business Platinum Card
Annual Fee: $450 ($250 after travel credits)
Travel Perks: The American Express Business Platinum offers a great suite of benefits for travelers. While it’s not as vogue as the recently launched Chase Sapphire Reserve, it probably offers the greatest number of benefits. The card comes with instant Hilton Honors Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold (which also includes Marriott Gold Elite), Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus, and National Emerald Club Executive. In addition, cardholders get access to American Express Centurion Lounges (with up to 2 guests), Delta Sky Clubs (only when flying Delta), Airspace lounges, and Priority Pass lounges. For travelers who need to stay connected, the Business Platinum Card also comes with a membership to Boingo’s Wifi network and 10 annual GoGo Wifi passes for free in-flight WiFi. The Business Platinum Card provides a concierge service which can secure dinner reservations or help with travel plans (very useful when traveling internationally with time-zone and language barriers).
Points Earning: The Business Platinum Card earns 5x on airfare booked with AmEx Travel or directly with the airline.
The Business Platinum Card offer currently earns 75,000 points after $20,000 spend within the first 3-months of membership. American Express has offered up to 150,000 miles in the past for similar spending terms, so it could be worth waiting (or checking the Card Match tool) if you’re considering this card. As a reminder, American Express sign-up bonuses are once per lifetime per card type.
American Express Everyday Preferred
Annual Fee: $95
Travel Perks: None.
Points Earning: The American Express Everyday Preferred (or EDP for short) card offers great value on gas and groceries, as well as everyday spend. The EDP has a 2x bonus for gas and a 3x bonus for groceries; however if you make more than 30 transactions in a month, an additional 50% bonus is added totaling 3x on gas and 4.5x on groceries (as well as 1.5x on any other purchase). The EDP has been our go to card for anything other than travel and dining but it’s being replaced, at least in part, by the American Express Blue Business Plus (more below).
Our referral link – at least at the time of this post – is offering 20,000 bonus points (5,000 more than the public offer).
American Express Blue Business Plus
Travel Perks: None.
Points Earning: The American Express Blue Business has no annual fee and earns 2x American Express Membership Rewards per dollar spent up to $50,000 per year. This card is an excellent supplement to the American Express Everyday Preferred card for non-category spend (as long as you can still make the 30 transactions per month on the Everyday Preferred Card). I was just approved for this card and American Express did not run a “hard pull” credit report and they do not report the Blue Business Plus (as long as it’s current) on my credit report.
We don’t have a referral link and there is currently no signup bonus, but you should still get the card to get 2x Membership Rewards on every purchase.
Annual Fee: $450 ($200 after travel credits)
Travel Perks: The Citi Prestige also has a unique benefit, the 4th hotel night free, and it’s the main reason we keep this card. The 4th night free benefit is essentially a 25% discount (pre-taxes) on all hotel stays of 4 nights. You can book any special rate (other than corporate rates) and the discount works on pre-paid rates and pay-at-checkout rates. It even works at most all-inclusive resorts (which can add up to some serious savings). The Citi Prestige also has excellent trip cancellation and trip delay protection (including a trip delay benefit that kicks in after 3-hours and includes weather delays). Citi also will refund the first $250 of airfare (on any airline) charged to the card each year, includes a Priority Pass Select Membership, and comes with a $100.
Points Earning: The Citi Prestige is the flagship Citi Thank You Points (TYP) earning card. The Citi Prestige earns 2x TYP on dining and 3x TYP on travel and has some excellent transfer partners (including Singapore Airlines). We actually put all of our airfare on the Citi Prestige because we value the excellent trip insurance and having a bit of diversity in our points over the 2 incremental Membership Rewards points earned by the AmEx Business Platinum, so we put all of our airfare on this card.
If you will make use of the 4th night free benefit, we suggest applying for the Citi Prestige ASAP.
Citi AT&T Access
Annual Fee $0
Points Earning: The Citi AT&T Access card is probably not for everyone, but it’s a great way to get 2x TYP on all online retail purchases (a category which typically does not receive bonus points). Note that without a card like the Citi Prestige or the Citi Premier, the TYP are not transferable to partners (and therefore worthless for our purposes). Citi also offers an industry leading 24-month extended warranty benefit (which is additive to the manufacturer’s warranty) on most of their cards, including the AT&T Access card. We would not recommend applying for this card; however, if you find that you had overlapping cards (like we did when we had both the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier after taking advantage of both sign up bonuses), the AT&T Access card makes a great product change.
Travel Perks: None.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Annual Fee: $450 ($150 after travel credits)
Points Earning: The Chase Sapphire Reserve is probably the “hottest” card on the market right now. Chase made a splash with it’s introduction of a premium Ultimate Rewards (UR) earning card last year when it offered a 100,000 UR sign-up bonus (which both Stephanie and I received) on a card that earned 3x UR on both travel and dining. While many other cards earn 3x on travel, Chase was the first mainstream card to earn 3x flexible points currency on dining. Sadly, the sign-up bonus is now down to 50,000; however, the card still offers the unique 3x UR dining benefit and is an excellent option for people who frequently dine out.
Travel Perks: The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 travel credit (which is the easiest to use as travel is broadly defined and includes purchase that are not technically travel like Uber Eats), which brings the annual fee down to only $150 ($55 more than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which only earns 2x on dining). The Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, a $100 Global Entry fee credit every 5-years, and primary rental car insurance. The Chase Sapphire cards (Preferred and Reserve) are the only cards that come with primary rental car insurance, which means you don’t have to make a claim under your regular car insurance. As long as we’re not renting a car that’s excluded from coverage (or renting a car in a country that’s excluded from coverage), we put all our car rentals on the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The current sign-up bonus is only 50,000 UR points, but depending on your spending habits, it could make sense to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Annual Fee: $0
Points Earning: The Chase Freedom (not to be confused with the Chase Freedom Unlimited) is a great companion card for the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Chase Freedom earns 5x UR on rotating categories on the first $1,500 of purchase each quarter. A great example is the 4th quarter, which has historically included department stores as one of the 5x UR bonus point categories. Now you can earn 5x UR points on holiday shopping! Note that the Chase Freedom traditionally earns cash back, but if you have a UR account linked to a Chase Sapphire (Reserve or Preferred), you can transfer those UR points rather than redeem them for cash back (and get a lot more value in the process).
Travel Perks: None.
For those who want a very simple way to earn points, it may be worth applying for the Chase Freedom but Stephanie and I got ours from a product change after we had both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Stephanie had the Chase Sapphire Preferred as well. The product change allowed us to avoid closing the Chase Sapphire Preferred account (which was a bit older) and avoid a new account opening for what is a relatively a small 15,000 UR (or $150 cash back) signup bonus.
Chase Ink Preferred
Annual Fee: $95
Points Earning: I was just approved for the 80,000 point sign-up bonus on the Chase Ink Preferred. The big selling point of the Chase Ink Preferred is, of course, the large sign-up bonus on a low annual fee card; however, it does also earn 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. These are very valuable categories for small business owners.
Travel Perks: While not really a travel perk, the Chase Ink Preferred has a very unique cell phone insurance benefit: so long as you pay your cell phone bill each month with the Chase Ink Preferred you will get automatic insurance of of to $600 per claim with a $100 deductible (up to 3-times in a 12-month period).
If you can meet the minimum spend, there really is no reason to not get the 80,000 point signup bonus.
Chase IHG Rewards Club Select
Annual Fee: $49
Travel Perks: The Chase IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) Rewards Club Select card is one of the hidden gems among the rewards card. The current sign-up bonus is 80,000 IHG Rewards Club points (enough for 16 nights at Points Break properties or 1 night at high end properties like the Intercontinental Bora Bora). More importantly, the Chase IHG comes with an annual free night that can be used at any property in the portfolio (which should include Kimpton hotels at some point in the future).
Points Earning: Nothing notable.
The Chase IHG Rewards Club Select is a great addition for any traveler that everyone can get value from.
Annual Fee: $0
Points Earning: While this card doesn’t earn points, it was Stephanie’s first credit card and keeping this fee-free credit card account open helps keep Stephanie’s average age of accounts (one of the “medium” criteria for credit scores) much higher. Discover also sometimes has excellent cashback opportunities through their shopping portal that can make using this card worth it when compared to the points earning alternative. We both always try to keep our oldest cards open since we also frequently apply for new ones.
Travel Perks: None.
Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards
Chase offers one of the most compelling portfolios of cards on the market today and the Ritz Carlton Rewards card is no exception. The card carries a steep annual fee of $450 but comes with some unique perks. First, the signup bonus is 2 (and depending on the offer, 3) free nights at any Category 1-4 Ritz Carlton property (only excluding Category 5 properties). The card also includes 3 annual Ritz Carlton club level upgrades, a $100 resort credit on paid stays of 2 nights or longer, and the Visa Infinite airline ticket discount which provides a $100 discount on coach round-trip airfare when 2 or more tickets are purchased. We are waiting to get this card until we can use the 2 free nights as they expire after 12-months.
American Express Platinum
While I already have the American Express Business Platinum, both Stephanie and I would apply for an American Express Platinum card given the right sign-up bonus. American Express sign-up bonuses are once per lifetime so we would be looking for 100,000+ bonus points on the sign-up. The American Express Platinum is one of the most expensive rewards cards at $550 per year; however, it comes with a $200 airline fee credit (which, at least historically, can be used to buy airline gift cards) and $200 in annual Uber credits bringing the net fee to $100 per year.
Starwood Preferred Guest (Personal and Business) From American Express
American Express consistently offers 25,000 SPG points (and sometimes up to 35,000 SPG points) as a sign-up bonus on both of these cards. We will look to get these cards sometime before they disappear after the Starwood/Marriott merger is complete (especially if Marriott improves the ability to transfer Marriott Rewards to match what is offered from SPG currently).
Cancel or Downgrade
Citi Hilton Honors Reserve
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
has had an excellent sign-up bonus which makes it a great card for the first year but the benefits just don’t add up for subsequent years. The sign-up bonus was 2 free weekend nights at any property (other than a limited list of excluded properties) which we redeemed for 2 nights at the Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand where rates are regularly over $800 per night plus taxes and fees. The Hilton HHonors Reserve has a $95 annual fee and comes with Hilton HHonors Gold which I also receive from the American Express Business Platinum. If you spend $10,000 per year, you can earn an additional free weekend night and $40,000 per year will earn you Hilton HHonors Diamond status. I don’t think either of these offer a great value proposition compared to the opportunity cost of not putting the same spend on another card. Unfortunately, Citi is no longer offering Hilton cards (as American Express has an exclusive contract now). My card will be converted to something else. While I originally intended to downgrade this card, I am going to wait to see what the options are with the product change.
American Express Business Gold
I signed up for the American Express Business Gold when I was offered 75,000 bonus points after $5,000 in spending. For a fee-free first year card, this was an excellent deal. Unfortunately, the American Express Business Gold does not offer any benefits which make keeping this card worthwhile. Maybe I will get a creative retention offer.