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 spending on them. Just to give a few examples:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) has a $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and is worthwhile for the $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $200 annual hotel credit, $179 annual CLEAR credit, $100 annual Saks credit, access to Centurion Lounges and Delta SkyClubs, and more
- The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card (review) has a $95 annual fee and offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel retailing for up to 35,000 points, and 15 elite nights towards status annually
- The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review) has an $89 annual fee and offers an anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel retailing for up to 40,000 points, IHG Rewards Club Platinum status, a fourth night free on award redemptions, and more
Credit cards 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? I have some cards because they maximize my return on everyday spending, while I have other cards because they have valuable category bonuses.
Here are the seven cards that I’m spending the most money on, roughly in the order of the amount that I spend:
This no annual fee card is my 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 is that rewards earned on that card can be converted into ThankYou points, assuming you have it in conjunction with a card like the Citi Premier® Card (review).
I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, this card offers a 3.4% return on all spending.
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 (1x after that). 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.
This card has a $550 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 $250 per year. The card also offers several useful perks, including a Priority Pass membership.
When it comes to spending, this card offers 3x points on dining and travel. The travel category has historically been particularly useful for me, and this card gets most of my non-airfare travel spending. On top of that, what’s great about this card is that it’s an excellent “hub” card that allows you to maximize the Ultimate Rewards points you earn across all cards.
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.
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. On top of that, the card offers 3x points on drugstore and dining purchases, and the former category is especially useful.
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, in recent months I haven’t been using this card much, though I do find myself using this card when I’m short of Ultimate Rewards points but have lots of ThankYou points.
For those who don’t yet have the card, it has a special bonus at the moment, including the ability to earn 5x points on grocery store spending for a year. This card is an important part of any Chase credit card strategy.
However, this is a card I continue to use for the 5x points that it offers on dining. Not only does the card earn 5x points when dining out, but you can also earn 5x points on restaurant takeout and delivery, which is pretty awesome. I value Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, this card offers an 8.5% return on dining.
The card does have a $495 annual fee, though the $250 annual travel credit that can be applied towards restaurants (including takeout) and supermarkets in 2021 helps offset that. Furthermore, this card allows me to maximize the value I get with the Citi Double Cash, which is a vital part of my Citi credit card strategy.
The Citi Prestige is no longer open to new applicants, so if you’re looking to get into the Citi ecosystem I recommend picking up the mid-range Citi Premier® Card (review) instead, with a lower annual fee but compelling bonus categories and maintaining the ability to maximize the Citi Double Cash.
While I wouldn’t ordinarily say this is the best card for everyday spending, I put $15,000 of spending on the Hyatt 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.
This means that 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).
While I primarily have the Amex Platinum for the perks that it offers, it’s still a card that I’ve historically spent a significant amount on. That’s because the card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines (up to $500,000 and then 1x), and it also offers excellent travel coverage. I value Amex Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, this card offers an 8.5% return on airfare.
Other credit cards I spend money on
The above are the seven 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 (review) at Hilton properties, as it offers 14x points
- I use the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express (review) at supermarkets and gas stations, though frankly, I don’t spend much at either of those
- I use the Chase Freedom FlexSM (review) for spending in rotating quarterly 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 2-5x 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.
- The Citi Double Cash is my favorite card for everyday, non-bonused personal spending
- I love the combination of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited for my travel and everyday spending
- I love the Citi Prestige for earning 5x points on dining
- I use the Amex Platinum Card for earning 5x points on airfare
- I love the Blue Business Plus for earning 2x points on $50,000 of annual spending
- I think it’s worth spending $15,000 on the World of Hyatt 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).