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It has been over six months since I’ve shared my credit card inventory, so I figured it’s time for an update, as we’ve entered the second half of the year. I think this is especially useful given how many new credit cards we’ve seen introduced lately. Interestingly I have the same number of credit cards I had over six months ago, though in the process I’ve applied for a couple of new cards, and have also canceled a couple of cards.
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.
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 20 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.
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 spend — there are some cards you have because they help you maximize the points you earn for everyday spend
- 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 spend on them, because they offer things like elite status, annual free nights, etc.
The 21 credit cards I have right now
Now let me share what cards I have at the moment. As mentioned above, I have 21 open credit cards right now, which is the same number of cards I had over six months ago (though consists of some different cards).
Here they are, broken down by issuer:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — this card has a $550 annual fee, though offers many perks that help offset it, including Amex Centurion Lounge access, Hilton and Starwood hotel status, a $200 annual airline fee credit, a $200 annual Uber credit, a $100 annual Saks credit, and 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines (which is a huge category for me, since I spend quite a bit on airfare)
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express — this $95 annual fee card offers 3x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spend per year) and 2x points at US gas stations, plus a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express — there are major changes coming to this $95 annual fee card, though for me the card is worth holding onto for the anniversary free night certificate it will offer as of next month (valid at properties retailing for up to 35,000 points per night), which more than justifies the annual fee
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express — much like the personal version of the card there are major changes coming to this $95 annual fee card, though I think the card is a keeper for the anniversary free night certificate
- Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express — I picked up this card last year thanks to a great welcome bonus, and this continues to be the card with the lowest annual fee that offers Honors Gold status, which is one of the best mid-tier hotel statuses out there
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express — I picked up this card earlier this year, and consider it to be the single most generous card for everyday spend, given that it offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually
I love the Centurion Lounge access offered with the Platinum Card from American Express
Bank of America:
- The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card — this card offers an annual $121 companion certificate, which more than justifies the card’s $75 annual fee, in my opinion
The Alaska companion certificate has allowed me to score some great deals on flights
- JetBlue Plus Card — this card offers a 5,000 point bonus on the account anniversary each year, plus a 10% refund on JetBlue points redemptions, which to me justifies the $99 annual fee
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard — this card offers 6,000 elite qualifying dollars and 10,000 elite qualifying miles when you spend $50,000 on the card per year, so I used this last year to help me requalify for Executive Platinum status; I haven’t decided to what degree I’ll use the card this year
- The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® — this is one of the best travel cashback cards out there, as it offers double miles, plus a 5% refund when you redeem points
The Aviator Silver Card has helped me requalify for Executive Platinum with American
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® — this card offers triple points on dining and travel, which are categories in which I spend a lot; while it has a $450 annual fee, it also offers a $300 annual travel credit, so the real out of pocket on the card is $150 per year
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card — this no annual fee card offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services, and 2x points on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants; points can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points earned on other cards
- Chase Freedom® Card — this no annual fee card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, and these points can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points earned on other cards
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® — this no annual fee card offers 1.5x points in non-bonused categories, and these points can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points earned on other cards; I downgraded my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to this card in 2016
- British Airways Visa Signature® Card — I applied for this card about a year ago, and not only does it have a great welcome bonus, but it has a potentially valuable companion certificate, and also offers 10% off many British Airways fares
- IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card — this card offers an annual free night certificate valid at any IHG hotel retailing for up to 40,000 points per night, which more than justifies the card’s $49 annual fee; this card is no longer being issued, though the $89 annual fee IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is open to new cardmembers, and offers great perks as well
- The Hyatt Credit Card — this card offers an annual free night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt property in the world, which more than justifies the card’s $75 annual fee; this card is no longer open to new cardmembers, but rather The World of Hyatt Credit Card ($95 annual fee) is open to new cardmembers, and comes with excellent perks
I love redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Korean Air first class
- Citi Prestige® Card — this card offers a fourth night free hotel benefit, which I find hugely valuable; while the card has a $450 annual fee, it offers a $250 annual airline credit, so the real out of pocket on the card is $200 per year, as far as I’m concerned
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® — I recently applied for this card as it has a huge welcome bonus of 70,000 AAdvantage miles upon completing minimum spend
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® — this $450 annual fee card offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary member, and also lets you add up to 10 authorized users, each of which gets Admirals Club access as well
The Admirals Club membership offered with the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card is tough to beat
- Radisson Rewards Premier Signature Visa Card — this card offers an annual bonus of 40,000 points, which more than justifies the card’s $75 annual fee
In 2016 I stayed at the Radisson Blu Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost hotel
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 in 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.
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?