The 26 Credit Cards In My Wallet Right Now

Filed Under: American Express, Bank of America
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Maximizing credit cards is one of the best ways to elevate your travel. This can include signing up for the credit cards with the best welcome bonuses, using the right credit cards for your everyday spending, and also taking advantage of other credit card perks.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the impact that applying for credit cards can have on your credit score. I have over two dozen credit cards, and my credit score is excellent.

In this post I wanted to first share a brief intro regarding how applying for credit cards impacts your credit score, then I’ll talk about what goes into my credit card decision making process, and then I’ll share the cards I have open.

Many people have adjusted credit card strategies as a result of the current pandemic, so I wanted to share how I’m viewing the value of credit cards right now, and what the current situation means for my approach to credit cards.

How credit cards impact your credit score

There are a lot of misconceptions about how credit scores work, in particular people thinking that applying for credit cards hurts your credit score. That’s generally not true, and in many cases applying for cards can even help your credit score.

The beginners guide on the blog has a section about credit cards and credit scores, and should provide some insights on that. For context, I have over two dozen credit cards, and my credit score is in the top couple of percent nationwide.

For those of you not familiar, here are the things that factor into your credit score:

  • 35% of your score is your payment history (the percentage of payments you’ve made on-time)
  • 30% of your score is your credit utilization (how much credit you’re using compared to your total limits)
  • 15% of your score is your credit age (the average age of your open accounts)
  • 10% of your score is the types of credit you use (how many different types of requests for credit you have)
  • 10% of your score is your requests for new credit (how many times you’ve applied for credit)

What’s most important is that you pay your bills on time, don’t utilize too much of your credit (meaning you want to ideally use 20% or less of your total available credit), and keep some cards long term, which will help increase your average age of accounts.

The only metric that’s lowered by applying for cards is your requests for new credit, but that makes up just 10% of your score. Furthermore, credit inquiries typically fall off your report after 24 months.

Closing credit cards that are no longer working for you potentially doesn’t harm your credit much either, though alternatively you can also often downgrade credit cards instead.

What I look for in credit cards

For me, there are three things I look for when applying for credit cards:

  • They offer a big welcome bonus — often the introductory bonuses on cards are compelling, and enough reason to pick up a new card
  • They offer a generous return on everyday spending — there are some cards you have because they help you maximize the points you earn for everyday spending
  • They offer ongoing perks that more than justify the annual fee — some cards are worth holding onto even if you don’t plan on putting much spending on them, because they offer things like elite status, annual free nights, etc.

The 26 credit cards that I have right now

Now let me share what cards I have at the moment. I have 26 open credit cards right now — so far this year I’ve canceled one card and downgraded one card, so this is roughly in line with how many cards I’ve had in the past.

Here are the credit cards that I have, broken down by issuer:

My seven American Express cards

See this post for more on my overall Amex card strategy.

I love the free night certificate on the Hilton Aspire Card

My two Bank of America cards

However, with reduced travel and given that I live in South Florida, I might be canceling these cards when the annual fees are due, because I’m not sure when I’ll get value from them again.

The Alaska companion certificate has allowed me to score some great deals on flights

My one Barclays card

JetBlue Plus Card helps me save every time I redeem JetBlue points

My one Capital One card

Spark miles can be transferred to Etihad Guest for first class redemptions

My ten Chase cards

See this post for more on my overall Chase card strategy.

Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt for the Park Hyatt Paris

My four Citi cards

See this post for more on my overall Citi card strategy.

The Citi Executive AAdvantage Card Admirals Club membership is a great value

My one US Bank card

In 2016 I stayed at the Radisson Blu Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost hotel

How is coronavirus changing my credit card strategy?

I’m only slightly tweaking my credit card strategy due to coronavirus, so let me explain why. First of all, I’ve always viewed optimizing credit card rewards as a long term strategy. I do everything I can to collect transferable points, since these give me the most flexibility, and they also devalue the least.

I’m confident that travel will recover eventually, and that loyalty programs will be robust during a recovery, as airlines look to fill seats, and hotels look to fill rooms.

Therefore in many ways it’s “business as usual” for me, while noting that my strategy gives me a lot of flexibility:

To approach my credit card portfolio a bit differently:

  • Seven of my credit cards have no annual fees, so there’s no cost to holding onto those
  • The math is continuing to work for me on the “premium” cards earning transferable points (Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, etc.), though I’ll continue to assess that as annual fees come due
  • All of my hotel credit cards are offering rewards that more than offset the annual fees, even in this environment

The only cards I’m questioning are the following:

  • I might not renew the Alaska cards when the annual fees come due, since there will likely be limited value to me for the companion certificates for the time being, which is the only perk of value to me for having these cards
  • I might simplify my business card portfolio a bit and get rid of the Capital One Spark Miles Card when the annual fee comes due, as I’m pretty well served by my Amex and Chase business cards
  • I’m not sure the Amex EveryDay Preferred is worth much to me right now, given that other cards are offering bonus points on supermarkets, I don’t spend anything at gas stations, and there are better cards for everyday spending; however, I’ve had the card for a long time, so will likely just downgrade it to the no annual fee Amex EveryDay Card in order to maintain credit history

Bottom line

Hopefully the above is an interesting rundown of the credit cards I have. I’d like to think that almost all of these credit cards serve a purpose as part of my long term credit card strategy, either because they offer an excellent rewards structure or because they offer perks that make the cards worth holding onto.

There are a few cards that I plan on canceling at their account renewal, though I’ll deal with those situations as they arise. Coronavirus might make it harder to justify some cards in the short term, but long term I think my strategy is sound.

As you can see, my credit score is also excellent in spite of how many credit cards I have, which should hopefully put some of you at ease who are considering applying for new cards.

How many credit cards do you have right now?

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), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Green Card (Rates & Fees).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. Here are most of my cards

    Chase Trifeca – Reserve, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited
    Amex MR Duo – Schwab Platinum, Gold
    Citi Duo – Premier, Double Cash
    CapOne – Venture, SavorOne
    Apple Card (why not)
    Travel Brand Cards – Amex Bonvoy, Amex Bonvoy Brilliant, Delta Reserve, AA Platinum, AA Mileup (used to have Hilton Surpass, but cancelled)

    I look for bonus on spend, valuable credits that offset fees, benefits on my preferred travel brands, and things like certificates. The Amex cards get most of my spend generally, especially Delta Reserve for MQM. Bonvoy Brilliant (restaurants), Amex Gold (groceries), Double Cash (everything else) are getting most of my spend right now

    Target Cards for 2021: Hilton Aspire, Chase Hyatt
    Target Cards for 2022: Chase United Card, Citi Prestige (for bonus only)

  2. @Lucky, you’re considering dropping the Amex Everyday Preferred bc other cards are “offering bonus points on supermarkets,” however I don’t see which of your cards you’d use instead on groceries/supermarkets

  3. @Ben, I see you don’t have the United Explorer card – any specific reason for not having it? According to many, it’s the best airlines mid tier card out there in terms of return…

  4. @ben – can you do a post on categories of spend (airfare, hotel, supermarkets, everyday spend etc.) and the order of preference on the cards you would use for each category.

    I ask, as you don’t have anything on your site (neither do others) that provide a handy guide like that.

  5. I never hear any of the blogs mention the great bonus offers we get every other month or so on our Citi Sears card: Right now we’re getting 10 ThankYou points/$ for spending at least $2000 a month for groceries, gas and restaurants (July, August, September); this includes prescriptions and gift cards I buy at Kroger, so it’s not hard to meet the minimum (and make at least 20,000 points a month). This week we were offered 25 points/$ (!) for our utility bill (August, September, October); the offer is up to 9000 bonus points a month, so I’m paying ahead on my bill $360 a month for those months=27,000 points!

    And it’s a no-fee card!

  6. Would you cancel some chase cards to get the bonus again if > 24 months since the bonus and under 5/24. Also, are you on the AMEX pop up list?

  7. In 2019 I had Sapphire preferred and United Explorer. Quite redundant and both $100/year.

    Since travel is cancelled I downgraded my Sapphire to Freedom and I outright cancelled my United card. Then I signed up for the IHG card with the big bonus.

    Once travel is back I plan on getting a premium big bank card(prob the Chase Reserve) and hang on to the IHG for the free night perk.

  8. Another difference between Americans and Canadians.

    Debt differential.

    Canadians use 2 credit cards on average.

    Americans, up to 26.

    Enough said.

    Another great recession in the offing due to Covid, a government that doesn’t care and dependence on credit cards.

  9. @Stephen Morrissey you’ve made a huge presumption here: that having many credit cards means carrying debt from month to month.

  10. @ Ben….Just came out of my 5/24 2 year window and just added the Alaska Airlines card. Plan on trips west and to Alaska so felt it was worth it to pickup. Looking to get the Chase Freedom. Kind of followed you on the Chase hotel cards and the JetBlue and BA card. I just cannot go down the AMEX and business card road. AMEX doesn’t offer great bonuses outside their top tier cards and outside of Aeroplan not liking the partners. Going to complete Chase with the Freedom card, then get the Citi Premier (2 years after bonus awarded Prestige possible), Double Cash and Rewards +. Seriously looking at Aspire then my last outlier is the Radisson. My one weird card is my Diners Club International MasterCard. My oldest card with high limit so I’ll keep it for those reasons. Not offered any longer and can keep it. Before the onslaught of other point cards it was offering transferable points. I never knew this and when I did I was able to transfer a boat load of points to BA when they offered a 30% bonus. To me Chase and Citi cards are my general limit that maximizes bonuses and general spending. My spending doesn’t warrant going to AMEX cards or even business cards that offer free nights. Following your blog has allowed me to adopt a sensible strategy tailored to my needs and spending.

  11. @cjk – I am having Hell trying to remember what cards are offering perks on what spend, but I am fairly certain that Citi Prestige is offering 5X spend at online grocers, and Chase IHG cards are offering 5X spend at grocery stores (up to $1,500/mo in August and September).
    Hilton Aspire was offering 12X at grocery stores, but that ended July 31.
    I loaded up on a few grocery store gift cards before the end of July to get that 12X Hilton points (and via Amazon to take advantage of the 20% off for using 1 MR offers), so I have been using them for the past 2 weeks, but think I will shift that spend to my IHG card until the end of September.
    Another option — and one I will more likely pursue given my warchest of IHG points — is to order some more grocer GCs from Amazon and take advantage of the 5X spend on my Citi Prestige before it ends on August 31.

  12. @Craig — I hear you. But I guess thats my point. All of these grocery bonuses will eventually end right? So is it worth downgrading the Amex Everyday Preferred based off of temporary bonuses on other cards? That’s all I was trying to understand from Ben

  13. Ben, I challenge you to reduce your cards from 26 to 15 by the end of 2020 and then write a post telling us which cards you cancelled and why you cancelled them.

  14. Strange. You mention that you are using a Citi card for your every day purchases but value the Chase return pay back feature of the CSR card. The Freedom and Freedom unlimited would be a much better combination with that because of redeeming it all as CSR points.

    There’s a Bank of America card you should consider that earns 3% flat cash back on ONE category of your choice from the list. I’ve found this useful for choosing a category I frequent which would otherwise be an “everyday” purchase.

    Also, I’m not sure why you don’t hold the Amazon Prime Credit card from Chase. This card earns 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases and cannot be combined with CSR points. It won’t take much spending on Amazon and Whole Foods to equal the annual fee of the Prime Membership. The credit card is free.

    I’m not sure why you hold two or more Marriott credit cards. If you were “grandfathered down” from prior issued cards then those retain many more better benefits than the newer issued Bonvoy cards.

  15. @iam here :

    I have Amazon card and never use it . I do use Freedom card and every year when there is a quarter with 5% category on Amazon purchases I stock up (reload balance ) for 1500$ and then transfer the points to CSR. Considering cancelling the Amazon card because it’s useless to me..

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