What’s in my wallet? (Evaluating credit cards and travel goals)

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As I begin to figure out my points and miles strategy for 2015, I thought it would be helpful assess what I currently have in my wallet.

Pre-warning: this is a very text heavy post. No pretty pictures to look at, just a whole lotta straight talk (1,200 words worth).

By bank:

American Express

  • Platinum Card
  • EveryDay Preferred

I just got a new Platinum Card in hopes that I’ll actually get a bonus for opening it – but I’m not holding my breath. In any regard, I already cashed in the $200 in airline incidentals on AA gift cards in 2014 and will do so again this year, so I will make back most of the annual fee right away.

I occasionally use Priority Pass Select on lounge visits that would otherwise be $50 a pop, and love dipping into the Centurion Lounges where I easily drink over $50 in cocktails alone (not to mention the spa treatments).

I also have utilized the Fine Hotels & Resorts program a time or two, and really love the near-constant Amex sync offers. So, I’m keeping it.

As for the EveryDay Preferred… it really has become by “EveryDay” card – I use it constantly and get 1.5-4.5x Membership Rewards points on everything I buy, which is pretty sweet. The earning is decent for non-bonus spend and is great for groceries, gas, and even more sync offers. (Email me if you’d like a referral to this card!)

If only Amex would up the points-earning power of the Platinum Card, I might actually put a buck or two of spend on it.

Barclays

  • US Airways Premier World MasterCard with Anniversary Bonus
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus
  • Icelandair MasterCard

To get it out of the way, I’ve had the Icelandair card since 2007. It helps to age my accounts and has no annual fee. I put one recurring charge on it per month and set it to autopay and just kinda forget about it.

The Arrival Plus I think is a keeper, although I’m having doubts now that you can no longer buy Amex gifts cards through the otherwise great RewardsBoost portal.

I value TripIt Pro – I really do. It’s saved my ass a few times. I like the free Fico credit score, and the straightforward earning on this card. It’s nice to “write off” fuel surcharges or other pesky fees. I also think Barclays is a finicky bank and value having a relationship with them, especially since they gave me a retention offer for this card.

The US Airways card I’ll keep for the annual 10,000 miles for as long as they keep giving it to me. I value 10,000 miles at $200 and if the annual fee is only $89, it’s a no-brainer to keep. It’s a new card for me, so I can’t wait to be targeted for spend bonuses. I’m also looking forward to them turning it into an AAdvantage card so I can get rid of the Citi version of this card. (Email me if you’d like a referral to this card, too!)

Chase

  • Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature
  • Freedom Visa
  • Ink Plus World Elite MasterCard
  • British Airways Visa
  • Hyatt Visa

Ah, Chase, my lagan love. I have 5 Chase cards, which is pretty much the maximum they’ll give anyone. I often wonder, late at night (like right now), about throwing out the British Airways or Hyatt Visa for the IHG Visa. *long, wistful sigh*

If I keep the British Airways Visa, I can get that Travel Together ticket… and if I keep the Hyatt Visa, I can get a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel and keep Platinum status, which easily makes up for the $75 annual fee. On the other hand… the IHG Visa gets me a free night at ANY IHG property (which could be easily more than $200 for a night), and top-tier Platinum status.

I dunno, though, I’m so on the fence about this. Hyatt Passport points are so easy to earn and the redemptions are so few points. IHG is really only good for the Points Break hotels, which I have never utilized. But that free night is kinda killer. Decisions…

The no-brainers are the other 3. I will always have the holy trinity of Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and Freedom. Forever and ever, amen. Dining, travel, and office supply category bonuses plus the incredible value of the Freedom make it so, so good.

(Read about why I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the BEST all-around card for points and miles. If you’d like to apply, here is my referral link – good until 2/28/15, and thank you for using it!)

Citibank

  • AAdvantage Select American Express

I can’t wait to axe this card. As soon as Barclays turns the US Airways MasterCard into an AAdvantage card, I’ll make the cut. Until then, Amex offers, 10% back on points (up to 10,000 which I easily hit every year), rotating discounted award redemptions, and a few bonuses here and there keep me on the hook. Other benefits the card offers I get by having status with American.

FIA/Bank of America

  • Fidelity American Express

I love this card. I wish I could find ways to use it more. It’s no annual fee, so I’ll keep it forever just to age my accounts. And when it finally turns into a Bank of America card, that might be my “in” with getting approved on and churning the Alaska Airlines Visa.

It also has a hugely underrated and under-talked-about shopping portal and is eligible for Amex offers. I’ve also been thrown a spend bonus bone or two, too. Not bad for a card that’s free to keep. It literally earns me free money. (Read why I call it THE BEST cashback card around.)

US Bank

  • Club Carlson Visa Signature

I love it, I want to marry it. I will keep this card forever. Non-bonus spend. BOGO award nights. Gold status. 40,000 points a year. Only $75. And when I do stay at Club Carlson properties, watch out – the Gold points almost literally rain down.

Misc

  • Gap Visa
  • Kohl’s Charge
  • Costco Membership card
  • Fidelity Cash Management Debit Card
  • Serve American Express
  • REDbird temp card
  • Chase Checking Debit Visa

Here we have the little hanging chads.

The Gap Visa is free and ages my accounts. It was a dumb card to get and I don’t recommend it. But I have it now so might as well keep it.

We all know about that time I slipped and got a Kohl’s Charge because I love shopping at Kohl’s.

I love Costco and save a ton of money by shopping there. I get 1.5 Membership Rewards points by using the Amex EveryDay Preferred.

Fidelity is my bank when I’m not using Chase, as well as where I park my IRA and brokerage accounts.

Serve will go soon and be replaced by REDbird.

And the Chase Debit card is good for pulling out a $20 here and there around NYC – and nothing more.

Bottom line

I counted 15 credit cards in there. Pretty middle-of-the-road. I’d like to keep it right around this number, so long as I’m getting the value out of each one.

How many cards do you have? How does your wallet compare to mine?

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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