The 7 Credit Cards I Use Most (2021)

The 7 Credit Cards I Use Most (2021)

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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 spending on them. Just to give a few examples:

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

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:

Citi® Double Cash Card

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.

Read a full review of the Citi Double Cash, apply for the Citi Double Cash.

Redeem Citi points for travel in Virgin Atlantic business class

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 (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.

Read a full review of the Amex Blue Business Plus, apply for the Amex Blue Business Plus.

Redeem Amex points for travel in Etihad first class

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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.

Read a full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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. 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.

Read a full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited, apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Redeem Chase points for travel in JetBlue Mint

Citi Prestige Card

This card isn’t nearly as valuable as it used to be, between the fourth night free benefit being watered down, as well as travel coverage being removed from the card.

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.

Read a full review of the Citi Prestige.

The Citi Prestige is my go-to card for dining spending

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 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).

Read a full review of the World of Hyatt Card, apply for the World of Hyatt Card.

I consistently get outsized values from Category 1-4 certificates

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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.

I spend quite a bit on airfare, so earning 5x points on those purchases while having solid travel protection is great.

Read a full review of the Amex Platinum Card, apply for the Amex Platinum Card.

The Amex Platinum offers 5x points on airfare purchases

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:

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 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.

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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  1. iamhere

    Clearly a paid promotion. There are other excellent cards that you never feature.

  2. Andrew Phelps

    I think the Hyatt card is being underhyped this year. With Globalist only requiring 30 nights this year, it's basically like getting double the elite nights with every 5k spent. Considering the value of Hyatt points in general, I think it makes a lot of sense to go for Globalist and use this card for more general spending to get the extra elite nights to combine with general Hyatt hotel stays.

  3. Jens

    As a German citizen living in Germany, I admire your selection in credit cards. Germany sucks when it comes to avilability of credit cards. The only card with transferrable points is Amex, which has a lowe acceptance rate than Visa or MC. There is no Visa or MC with transferrable points in Germany.

  4. William S

    What do you recommend for non-bonused spending for an extended trip abroad? Never see an article or blog on this exact topic. I formerly used SPG Amex for this, but when earnings were cut this no longer makes sense.

    It seems like every card out there with no forex fee is 1x on spending abroad.

    Have CSR, CF, CFU, Chase Hyatt, Amex Plat, Amex Gold, Amex BBP, Amex Bonvoy, and Citi Prestige. Can get anything...

    What do you recommend for non-bonused spending for an extended trip abroad? Never see an article or blog on this exact topic. I formerly used SPG Amex for this, but when earnings were cut this no longer makes sense.

    It seems like every card out there with no forex fee is 1x on spending abroad.

    Have CSR, CF, CFU, Chase Hyatt, Amex Plat, Amex Gold, Amex BBP, Amex Bonvoy, and Citi Prestige. Can get anything else. I would say Hyatt card but don't need more elite credits (already at 70+ days YTD). Thanks!

    1. HPN-HRL

      There aren't many good choices for non-bonused spend abroad. The only recommendation I have is for the Bank of America World Mastercard; it only earns 1x but Amtrak points are worth at least 2.5 cents each. (Of course, you have to travel on Amtrak for this to be worthwhile.)

    2. HPN-HRL

      Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

  5. jmd001

    Ben: In light of your elite status with airlines and/or purchasing premium seats with their benefits, on what specifically do you spend your $200 Amex airline credit?

  6. JustSaying

    Chase INK is a must have for the 5X on Cell, cable, office supply and the ability to buy various gift cards and get 5X.

Featured Comments Load all 8 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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HPN-HRL

Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

HPN-HRL

There aren't many good choices for non-bonused spend abroad. The only recommendation I have is for the Bank of America World Mastercard; it only earns 1x but Amtrak points are worth at least 2.5 cents each. (Of course, you have to travel on Amtrak for this to be worthwhile.)

iamhere

Clearly a paid promotion. There are other excellent cards that you never feature.

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