I have about 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 that are 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:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express has a $550 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and is worthwhile for the $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $100 annual Saks credit, access to Centurion Lounges and Delta SkyClubs, and more
- The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has an $89 annual fee and offers an anniversary free night certificate at a hotel retailing for up to 40,000 points, IHG Platinum status for as long as you have the card, a fourth night free on award redemptions, and more
- The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card has a $95 annual fee and offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel retailing for up to 35,000 points
- The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card have $75 annual fees and offer an annual $121+ companion certificate
Credit cards that I spend 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 five cards that I’m spending the most money on:
We’re seeing some significant changes to this card in 2019. The card has a $450 annual fee (increasing to $495 as of September 2019), though it also offers a $250 annual credit that helps offset the fee.
The real reason I love this card nowadays is that it offers 5x points on airfare and dining purchases. This is my go-to card for dining and airfare 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
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.
The Sapphire Reserve is my go-to card for most travel purchases
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 spend.
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.
Redeem Chase points for travel in JetBlue Mint
This is my absolute favorite 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 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.
Redeem Amex points for travel in Etihad first class
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).
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:
- I use the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card at Hilton properties, as it offers 14x points
- I use the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express at supermarkets and gas stations, though frankly, I don’t spend much at either of those
- I use the Chase Freedom® Card for spending in rotating quarterly categories
- I use the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card for the 5x points bonus categories
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.
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’d say I’m earning about 3x points per dollar spent on average, which I’d value at being a return of about 5%. That’s excellent if you ask me.
- I love the Citi Prestige Card for earning 5x points on airfare and dining
- I love the combination of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited for my travel and everyday spending
- I love the Blue Business Plus Card for earning 2x points on $50,000 spent annually
- I think it’s worth spending $15,000 on The World Of Hyatt Credit Card every cardmember year for the additional six elite nights plus free Category 1-4 certificate
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).