These Are The 6 Credit Cards I Use Most

Filed Under: American Express, Bank of America
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I have over two dozen credit cards, though I hold onto these cards for a variety of reasons. I have some of these cards because they help me maximize my everyday spending, while I have other cards because of the ongoing perks that they offer.

Credit Cards Worth Having For The Benefits

There are cards I keep long term primarily for the benefits they offer, without actually putting much spend on them. Just to give a few examples:

I appreciate the Delta SkyClub access offered by the Amex Platinum Card

Credit Cards I Spent The Most Money On

With the above out of the way, I figured I’d talk a bit about the cards I use most for everyday spending. Which cards are at the top of my wallet, and under what circumstances do I use them? Here are the six cards that I’m spending the most money on:

Citi Prestige Card

Some significant changes have been made to the Citi Prestige in 2019, for better and worse. The card has a $495 annual fee, but offers a $250 annual credit that helps offset that.

While the card no longer offers the generous fourth night free benefit that it used to (at least not in its original form), the real reason I love this card is because it offers 5x points on airfare and dining purchases. As a result, this is my go-to card for those purchases.

I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, this card offers an 8.5% return on dining and airfare.

The Citi Prestige is my go to card for airfare purchases

Citi® Double Cash Card

This no annual fee card is my new favorite personal card for everyday, non-bonused spending. The card offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase.

That’s a good return for a no annual fee card in and of itself, but what makes this card more exciting than ever before is that as of recently rewards earned on that card can be converted into ThankYou points.

I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, this card offers a 3.4% return on all spending.

Read a full review of the Citi Double Cash here.


Redeem Citi points for travel in Virgin Atlantic business class

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

This card has a $450 annual fee, though offers a $300 annual travel credit that can be applied towards any purchase coded as travel. Therefore I consider this card to really cost me $150 per year. The card also offers several useful perks, including a Priority Pass membership.

When it comes to spending, this card offers triple points on dining and travel. In the past, this was my go-to card for those spending categories, though with the Citi Prestige I no longer use the Sapphire Reserve for dining and airfare.

However, I still use the card for virtually all other travel purchases, ranging from hotel stays to Ubers to car rentals.

I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, this card offers a 5.1% return on dining and travel.

Read a full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve here.

The Sapphire Reserve is my go-to card for most travel purchases

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

This no annual fee card is the best companion to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. That’s because this card offers a flat 1.5x points per dollar spent with no limits. There are no bonus categories, so the reason I like this card so much is because it’s the best card for earning Ultimate Rewards points on everyday spending.

If you have this card independently then each point can only be redeemed for one cent. However, if you have it in conjunction with the Sapphire Reserve, then you can transfer points to that account, and you’d be able to transfer points to the Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel partners, or redeem them for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase.

I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me this card offers a 2.55% return on everyday spending, in conjunction with the Sapphire Reserve.

So why do I use this card at all anymore when I also have the Citi Double Cash? To be honest I haven’t been using the card much in the past couple of months since I got the Citi Double Cash. However, I could see myself still using the card going forward, because sometimes it’s about using a card that offers the points that you value most, so if I needed Ultimate Rewards points I’d be using this card.

Read a full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited here.

Redeem Chase points for travel in JetBlue Mint

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

This is my favorite business card for non-bonused spending. Specifically, the no annual fee (Rates & Fees) Blue Business Plus offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually. That makes this the single best business credit card for everyday, non-bonused spend.

I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, this card offers a 3.4% return on everyday spending.

Read a full review of the Amex Blue Business Plus here.

Redeem Amex points for travel in Etihad first class

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

While I wouldn’t ordinarily say this is the best card for everyday spending, I put $15,000 of spending on this card for a reason.

The card already offers five elite qualifying nights plus a Category 1-4 free night certificate annually just for paying the $95 annual fee.

On top of that, you get an additional two elite nights towards status annually for every $5,000 you spend, and you also get a second Category 1-4 free night certificate when you spend $15,000 on the card in a cardmember year.

So if you spend $15,000 on the card you’re getting an incremental six elite nights (which helps me earn Globalist status) plus a second free night certificate, which I find to be well worth it.

I also try to make as much of my spending be at Hyatt hotels (where I earn 4x points) or on fitness and gyms (where the card earns 2x points).

Read a full review of The World Of Hyatt Credit Card here.

I consistently get outsized value with the Category 1-4 certificate

Other Cards I Spend Money On

The above are the five cards that I’ve been putting the most spending on, though there are some other cards that I put spending on for specific reasons:

All of these are cards that I find useful as well, though I don’t put $15,000+ of spending per year on any of those cards.

Bottom Line

I’d like to think I have a pretty good credit card setup, as I’m earning anywhere from 1.5-5x points per dollar spent on my credit cards. When you factor in all the cards, I’m earning over 3x points per dollar spent on average, which I’d value at being a return of over 5%. That’s excellent if you ask me.

To recap:

What are the primary cards you use for your credit card spending?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).

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Comments
  1. Is the annual fee of the Sapphire Reserve worth it now that you just use it for “other travel”? I mean you can also get 3 points for hotels with the Prestige, so you basically just hold the reserve for Uber, Trains etc… and for that paying $450 a year??? doesn’t make sense to me

  2. Omer- for many, “Other Travel” is by far the biggest category of travel. Most of my cash travel is booked on a corporate card, and Uber/Taxis are big expenses for people in cities like NYC. So a 3x other travel category is useful.

    For me, my main spending cards are

    1) Amex Gold – dining and grocery
    2) CSR – other travel, occasional dining and hotels
    3) Citi Premier – other travel
    4) Amex Delta Platinum – other spending (for elite qualification)
    5) Amex Platinum – flights, merchandise, random stuff
    6) CapOne Venture – other stuff
    7) Chase Freedom Unlimited – other stuff

    I also use Hilton and Marriott cards. Next year I will convert a Citi AA card to Double Cash. Looking to get under 5/24 in 2021 for a couple of Chase cards (Hyatt, BA).

  3. @Omer

    As Ben explains in the post, the CSR is really only $150 per year when you account for the annual $300 travel benefit. This isn’t some airline ancillary fee restricted B.S. Rather, the first $300 of your Ubers, parking, train tickets etc. are automatically refunded.

  4. It should be mentioned that the Citi Double Cash Card should not be used internationally because of the 3% foreign transaction fee.

  5. My current setup is:

    Amex gold: I get 4 points on dining plus an extra point on ordering via grubhub via amex offers so I get 5pts on this per dollar.

    Amex business blue plus: all non category spend goes on this for 2pts per dollar.

    Chase business ink preferred: I just got this card so I am not sure what I will do with it in the long run but for now I run general travel expenses through it for 3 pts back on the dollar and I will pay my phone bill with it for the cell phone insurance.

    Chase ink cash: cable/internet goes on this for 5x points

    Aspire card: I’m likely to ditch this card in the future but for now my hilton spend goes on it.

    Amex hilton business card: got this for the signup but I am considering using this for the first 15k unbonused spend to get a free weekend night.

    Amex ameriprise plat: I put my flights on this card for the 5x points. I just got a referral for the regular plat card without lifetime language so I may pick that up and cancel this.

    Chase sapphire reserve: Not sure what will happen with this card. If they increase the AF I may dump it and use amex plat for my lounge needs. I get better restaurant earning with amex gold card and I get the same travel points with ink business preferred and better airfare with amex plat.

    Amex gold: As mentioned this card gets heavy spend on all my restaurant/deliveries and all my grocery spend as well. In addition I get the monthly credit that gives me $120 back per year. Its really a nice card.

    I have citi DC and don’t use it because I do not currently have any citi cards that allows me to transfer points. Besides I have the amex business blue plus, so this would only get use after the first 50k of unbonused spend. I may pick up the premier or prestige for a new signup bonus, but I still don’t see a compelling reason to pay those AFs beyond the first year.

  6. I’m not chasing Hyatt status, so I put that same $15k spend on the Surpass card for $900/nt free Conrad/WA rooms. I can’t get that high of value out of Hyatt, though that is changing, too, with their new acquisitions.

  7. “Amex gold: I get 4 points on dining plus an extra point on ordering via grubhub via amex offers so I get 5pts on this per dollar.”

    @Bill – Using your phone, launch grubhub from the Rakuten app and you’ll get a 6th pt on the dollar.

  8. @lucky – Have you heard about the card which is all of your credit cards in one (except Amex). I forgot the name of it but I was wondering what you think of it?

  9. Lucky–since you travel a lot, what do you use for everyday, non-bonused personal spending internationally? The everyday cards you mention (Freedom Unlimited, Citi Double Cash, and Amex BBP) all have foreign transaction fees.

    While much of my spending internationally is on bonus categories (dining, travel, etc), the non-bonused spending adds up as the year goes on. I try to use my Hyatt card for these purchases, though I then have to pace myself to not go over the $15k too early in the cardmember year to maximize benefits.

  10. @Lucky

    Big mistake using the Prestige card for your flights. It now includes ZERO trip delay protection. Using this insurance just once every few years easily offsets the difference between CSR. In fact, due to loss of rental car insurance, extended warranty & price protection the Prestige should really only be used for 5% restaurant. Other travel perks at 3% match CSR. As a long time Prestige user, the party’s over and there is no reason to have this card anymore vs. CSR for 99.9% of people. It only makes sense for those who spend $25k+/yr on restaurants where the $495 annual fee covers the 2% point difference.

  11. Ben, two things don’t make sense to me in your math. You continue to hold the CSR despite spend going on the Prestige (and come Jan 1, the Plat I would imagine). Why not downgrade the CSR, and pick up a Citi Premier, for 3x on travel, 2x on entertainment, and then you still have the CSP to rack up Chase points when you need them? Even with the travel credit on the CSR you’d be coming out about the same when you consider the flexibility, and increased earning on entertainment. The math obviously changes even more for the worse with an AF increase as rumored above.

    And then maybe I’m missing something, but on the Hyatt card, 15k for essentially 8 night “equivalents” (either qualifying stays, or a free night) works out to over 1800/night. In what world is that actually worth it? Even if you’re only staying at top of the portfolio hotels, your paying nearly double than what you would for butt in bed nights, no?

    Beyond that your other cards make perfect sense.

  12. NK3 – I recommend Cap One Venture for international nonbonus spend. Visa card, 2x on everything, etc. Other ideas include Amex Platinum and hotel cards (Hilton Surpass/Aspire, Bonvoy cards, your Hyatt card)

  13. @GuruJanitor: I think your calculation is off…

    If you spend $15,000 (that you would anyway) and get a free category 4 night, that’s equivalent of 15,000 pts. In additional, you get 15,000 pts from the spending directly. So you are effectively earning 2 Hyatt pts/$ (plus the elite nights), which is not bad. Especially this is non-bonus category (the only thing equivalent would be the Citi Double Cash, but Citi points are worth less than Hyatt points according to Ben).

    Note that he did NOT buy the nights with $15,000. He merely get them for spending $15,000 of non-bonus spending.

  14. For all mobile purchases I use the altitude reserve. I love the card, plan on keeping the next one long term. Canceling the one for my wife, keeping mine. She can add the card to her phone so no authorized card needed. Net cost is $75. Costco/Safeway/Safeway Gas (mobile inside)/Target gets me the fee back multiple times over.

    Getting 4.5% back on the same card for gas (cheapest gas by far), groceries, target, Starbucks, couple restaurants, Costco, Macy’s, Haircuts, convenience stores, Drug Stores, etc makes it super versatile.

  15. @Anthony & @BrewerSEA

    That still doesn’t make sense and let me elaborate:
    On the $300 credit the the Reserve gives you, you do not get any points at all.
    If you used that $300 to purchase an air ticket so your “opportunity cost” is 1500 thankyou points with the Prestige that Lucky himself values at 1.7 per points, which means your opportunity cost is $25.50.
    If, on the other hand you used the $300 credit for “other travel” than your opportunity cost is $15.30.
    In any case the real annual cost to hold the Reserve is between $165.30 to $175.50.
    Instead of paying $165-$175 to hold the Reserve you can pay only $95 for the Ink Preffered or the Citi Premier and still get 3 points for “other travel” at a lower cost

  16. Omer – good points. It really comes down to how you value Citi vs Chase points. At this point the real reason to hang out to the CSR is the 1.5 cent value in the portal, which is increasingly valuable when redeeming for domestic first class. Others may need the ability to transfer to Hyatt or United. Lucky doesn’t really use the portal, so maybe his new for the Reserve is limited. The math would change if the Reserve fee goes up to $550 – at that point, redeeming at 1.25 cents via the Citi Portal becomes more attractive.

  17. Hey @Lucky, can you explain why you’re using the Prestige for flights as opposed to the Amex Platinum? Especially now that the Prestige has gutted travel protection and Platinum is ramping it up?

  18. @Lucky, i’m surprised you are mentioning that you use the Citi Prestige for airfare. I understand till the end of the year but I’m assuming you will start using the AmEx Platinum for airfare starting Jan 1st as the new trip delay and cancellation benefits kick in.

    You should have mentioned that and with that change, would you still see value in Prestige just for dining ?

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