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 in the long run.

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 a lot of credit cards, and my credit score is almost perfect, in the top couple of percent nationwide.

For those of you not familiar, here’s what factors 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:

  • Credit cards that offer a big welcome bonus — often the introductory bonuses on cards are compelling, and enough reason to pick up a new card
  • Credit cards that 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
  • Credit cards that 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

I was prepared to dump both of these cards when the annual fees come due since I am not flying much and live in South Florida (which is weak for Alaska). However, with American and Alaska cooperating more closely, and even introducing reciprocal upgrades, I could see these once again coming in handy.


The Alaska companion certificate has allowed me to score 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, 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:

  • My go-to card for everyday spending is the Citi® Double Cash Card, and that card gives me the flexibility to earn cash back or transferable points, all at a great rate; cards with this kind of flexibility are more valuable than ever before
  • Having the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives me a lot of flexibility within the Chase Ultimate Rewards ecosystem; while I still intend to use these rewards for travel, Chase has a “Pay Yourself Back” feature that allows you to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards everyday expenses
  • I’ve long loved hotel credit cards that offer annual free night certificates, and as of now I find these cards continue to offer great value, as these free nights largely have more flexibility in terms of where they can be redeemed, and expiration on many has also been extended

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).

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Comments
  1. Great article! I might also point out with the Amex cards that it sometimes is beneficial to keep them for the referral bonus every other year (although it’s not guaranteed). I know I’ve gotten 30k retention on the platinum and 20k retention on the gold, and when combined with the benefits of the card makes them an easy hold.

  2. One of my favorite annual installments on the site. It sure does make me feel better about having just 8 cards when i stop to think is that too many. I find it hard to keep track and ensure im getting max value from my 8, couldnt imagine the time and effort for 25+ but if anyone can master this its you Lucky.

  3. @Ed

    For my wife I tape on each card what to spend it for. Most people who play the game just know though…

  4. “The 26 Credit Cards In My Wallet Right Now”

    What kind of wallet do you have? 🙂

    (Love the blog, long time reader)

  5. Many cards earn 2% these days.
    So what.
    There are also cards that are not issued by the big banks which I am surprised you don’t have.

  6. There’s no way he can spend as much on each card to make a difference.
    Remember that it is his job to review the cards, hotels, etc.
    Regular people probably have only a handful of those cards as to not spread too thin amongst programs. Also, generally speaking many people hold one or two Amex issued Amex cards (e.g. not including airline or hotel cards) along with Chase or Citi, but not both.
    Also, some of the discontinued cards which I know that he had, had better benefits than the current. (e.g. Ritz Carlton vs current Marriott cards or former IHG MasterCard vs current, etc)

  7. Great post. I always look forward to reading this. It’s interesting to learn about your strategy how you get value out of holding multiple airline cards (BA, JetBlue, Alaska, AA). The Citi strategy is interesting too. They have some compelling cards, but it’s tough to see how it would fit in amongst a Chase or AmEx setup.

    How do you distribute your spend when cards have overlapping multipliers and you’re not chasing a bonus (e.g., welcome, retention, offers)?

    Here’s my two cents…

    I’d say you close the AmEx EDP to free up a spot for a co-brand and sign up bonus (e.g., Delta, Hilton). You likely have strong enough base of open cards that closing the account would not negatively impact your score significantly.

    Another option is to get three Marriott Bonvoy cards. Close the EDP. Product change the Brilliant to a regular Bonvoy (former SPG card) and then open a new Brilliant. It’s easy to get value out of additional annual night cert. It doesn’t require you to alter the distribution of your spend.

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