The 8 Credit Cards I Use Most For Spending

The 8 Credit Cards I Use Most For Spending

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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.

In this post I wanted to share the cards that I spend the most money on, as there has been a surprising shift there in the past year.

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 Sky Club 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, including personal and business purchases.

Which cards are at the top of my wallet, and under what circumstances do I use them? I use some cards because they maximize my return on everyday spending, while I use other cards because they have valuable category bonuses, ranging from dining, to groceries, to gas stations.

Below are the eight cards that I’m spending the most money on, roughly in the order of the amount that I spend on them annually.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

This $395 annual fee card has become my go-to card for everyday personal spending. The card offers 2x Venture miles per dollar spent with no foreign transaction fees, and I consider Venture miles to be just as valuable as other transferable points currencies, given all the great transfer partners.

While some people may initially be put off by the card’s annual fee, personally I don’t view this card as actually costing much to hold onto, given that it offers a $300 annual travel credit10,000 anniversary bonus miles, and much more.

I value Capital One Venture miles at 1.7 cents each, so to me this card offers a 3.4% return on all spending.

Read a full review of the Capital One Venture X, apply for the Capital One Venture X.

Redeem Capital One miles for travel in Emirates business class

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

This $150 annual fee card is now my go-to card for everyday business spending. The card offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no foreign transaction fees. While this is a cash back card on the surface, the beauty is that in conjunction with another card earning Capital One miles (like the Venture X), cash back can be converted into Capital One miles at the rate of one cent per mile. So in reality this card can also earn me 2x Venture miles per dollar spent.

I value Capital One Venture miles at 1.7 cents each, so to me this card offers a 3.4% return on all spending.

Read a full review of the Capital One Spark Cash Plus, apply for the Capital One Spark Cash Plus.

Redeem Capital One miles for travel in Turkish business class

Citi® Double Cash Card

This no annual fee card offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase (in the form of ThankYou points).

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 airline miles and hotel 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. For all practical purposes, this offers the same return as the Capital One Venture X (except this card has foreign transaction fees), but sometimes it’s nice to diversify the points you earn, which is why I also put spending on this card.

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 backup 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 other card that earns me 2x transferable points for my business spending, allowing me to diversify my points a bit.

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 toward any purchase coded as travel, making it one of the easiest to use travel credits. 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 is 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

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 spend 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

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 toward 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).

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

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 card’s $250 annual travel credit 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

Other credit cards I spend money on

The above are the eight 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 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), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees).

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  1. Jules Guest

    Would be great to read a post about optimal credit card setups for US expats living abroad.

    1. Jennifer Lee Guest

      There was a post on One World Jetsetters FB group about this a month ago as theres a lot of expats in that group mostly living in Asia

  2. Alex77W Guest

    Yes, starting withe The Point Guy, a lot of bloggers are competing for the business of cc referral. This is why even this post is somewhat tilted towards this and it is missing on the cards that do not have any sizable signup or referral bonuses.
    Those include:
    1) Costco Visa: No Annual Fee, Signature benefits and
    4% back on eligible gas, including gas at Costco for the first $7,000 per year...

    Yes, starting withe The Point Guy, a lot of bloggers are competing for the business of cc referral. This is why even this post is somewhat tilted towards this and it is missing on the cards that do not have any sizable signup or referral bonuses.
    Those include:
    1) Costco Visa: No Annual Fee, Signature benefits and
    4% back on eligible gas, including gas at Costco for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
    3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchase worldwide
    2% on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
    (and yes, I do a lot of stuff at Costco charging that card)
    2) Fidelity Visa Signature - no annual fee and unlimited 2% cash back to your Fidelity account.
    Finally, I still have Chase Sapphire and Lucky should mention 5 points /1$ spent on airfare when booked through Ultimate Rewards portal. That is straight 7.5% cash back from airfare when redeemed for travel or according Lucky's evaluation 5x1.7=8.5% return on airfare.
    Note that when bloggers travel frequently, some of us have full time jobs and burning points could be a problem. Then having cash back is always better than points that devalue all the time!

    1. Points MN Guest

      Also Target Red card, immediate 5% back on all Target purchases. End up using VentureX somewhat less than otherwise might since so much otherwise non-bonus spending is at Target. Really don't see value of Sapphire Reserve when I have the VentureX and Sapphire Preferred (spend a ton on dining and a bit on travel, but with the two bank travel portals and hotel cards and in some situations airline cards what is left for other...

      Also Target Red card, immediate 5% back on all Target purchases. End up using VentureX somewhat less than otherwise might since so much otherwise non-bonus spending is at Target. Really don't see value of Sapphire Reserve when I have the VentureX and Sapphire Preferred (spend a ton on dining and a bit on travel, but with the two bank travel portals and hotel cards and in some situations airline cards what is left for other travel doesn't make a 3x instead of 2x return seem that worth it, main thing the Reserve would give me that I don't already get would be the 1.5 cent minimum redemption). Since the recent refresh with the 5x bonus, the IHG card is now my usual gas station card, but that isn't a huge spending category for me either. Could see shifting to the Reserve down the road if Capital One raised the annual fee significantly or the benefits of the Reserve improved a bit.

  3. Steve Guest

    @DCS
    What about Hilton cards for spending that count towards lifetime base points

  4. D3kingg Guest

    I’ll really have to think this one thru before cancelling my AMEX Gold. With slower spending and no longer using my credit card to pay rent I’m wondering if it’s worth it to continue with chasing American Loyalty Points program. I’m based in Houston both Spirit and Jet Blue are nearly half the fare of American. Same to Europe Delta/KLM AF LH all lower fares than American. I have excellent credit and deserve better than...

    I’ll really have to think this one thru before cancelling my AMEX Gold. With slower spending and no longer using my credit card to pay rent I’m wondering if it’s worth it to continue with chasing American Loyalty Points program. I’m based in Houston both Spirit and Jet Blue are nearly half the fare of American. Same to Europe Delta/KLM AF LH all lower fares than American. I have excellent credit and deserve better than Barclays Aviator and Citi Aadvantage.
    On the flip side I’m doing great with Hilton and AMEX Hilton.

  5. Rico Gold

    -US Bank Altitude Reserve for 3x points on mobile pay
    -Hyatt if staying at a Hyatt
    -Alaska Airlines if paying for Alaska Airlines ticket
    -Chase Flex for 5x groceries and Q2 Amazon
    -Altitude 3x for travel
    - Sapphire Preferred for 3x dining and streaming
    -Flex for cell phone protection
    -Chase Freedom Unlimited for 1.5x on everything else

    I don't spend enough to start splitting it into Citi, Amex,...

    -US Bank Altitude Reserve for 3x points on mobile pay
    -Hyatt if staying at a Hyatt
    -Alaska Airlines if paying for Alaska Airlines ticket
    -Chase Flex for 5x groceries and Q2 Amazon
    -Altitude 3x for travel
    - Sapphire Preferred for 3x dining and streaming
    -Flex for cell phone protection
    -Chase Freedom Unlimited for 1.5x on everything else

    I don't spend enough to start splitting it into Citi, Amex, and Capital One ecosystems. Once I max out my $12K first year limit at grocery stores on the Flex, I can go back to Altitude mobile pay.

  6. Ferdinand Magellan Guest

    I have to say that the current 40% bonus for Citi conversions to Qatar makes the Double Cash card very competitive--2.8 miles per dollar spent. Not quite as good as the occasional 50% BA/IB bonuses from Amex, but close. Happy to see an airline offering concurrent and equal bonuses from Citi and Amex.

  7. TravelinWilly Diamond

    The Capital One Venture X had been a real game changer for me, so thank you for shining so much light on that, I appreciate it.

    For some reason, I’m only charged $350 for the annual fee for the Citi Prestige card(?), which I’ve had for ~ six years now.

    Finally, of now, I’m getting 5x points with the Amex Plat on groceries, gas, and restaurants, though this will end in a few months when the promo expires.

  8. TimR Guest

    Interesting that you primarily spend on 4 different 2X cards, 3 with no cap. No Gold for 4X and using Ink Cash for 5X buying gift cards at office supply? I suppose you churn enough points with your business spend to not need MS LOL

    1. DC Guest

      Yeah, I also use amex gold for groceries, nice niche bonus and we spend a lot there.

      Sapphire reserve for travel. Split dining with amex if short on Chase points (also amex has lots of places excluded as dining that chase doesn't)

      Chase Ink cash is one of my favs. 5X on office supplies with a pretty flexible definition. Easy to max out when you own a business. Wouldn't do gift card to manufacture spend;...

      Yeah, I also use amex gold for groceries, nice niche bonus and we spend a lot there.

      Sapphire reserve for travel. Split dining with amex if short on Chase points (also amex has lots of places excluded as dining that chase doesn't)

      Chase Ink cash is one of my favs. 5X on office supplies with a pretty flexible definition. Easy to max out when you own a business. Wouldn't do gift card to manufacture spend; you deserve the clawback and account closure on lame behavior like that.

      Cap One X for no bonus. I do have a few cards that deserve no bonus (arguably BOA plat with the bonus is best for Cashback). I also put some nonbonus on Amtrak card (now that's super niche and limited to few people who would find it useful)

  9. Will Guest

    Citi Custom Cash #1 - Dining
    Citi Custom Cash #2 - Groceries
    Citi Custom Cash #3 - Gas
    Citi Custom Cash #4 - Local Transit & Parking
    Citi Rewards Plus - Small Purchases that under $3
    Chase Ink Cash - Office Supply, Cell Phone, Internet
    US Bank Altitude Reserve - Air Travel, Hotel, Car Rental and Apple Pay on most stores
    US Bank Cash+ - Utilites, Gym
    ...

    Citi Custom Cash #1 - Dining
    Citi Custom Cash #2 - Groceries
    Citi Custom Cash #3 - Gas
    Citi Custom Cash #4 - Local Transit & Parking
    Citi Rewards Plus - Small Purchases that under $3
    Chase Ink Cash - Office Supply, Cell Phone, Internet
    US Bank Altitude Reserve - Air Travel, Hotel, Car Rental and Apple Pay on most stores
    US Bank Cash+ - Utilites, Gym
    Cardless Boston Celtics - Streaming and Ride Share
    PayPal Extra - PayPal Transactions
    Capital One SavorOne - Entertainment, International Dining and Groceries
    Capital One Venture X - Everything Else

    1. kurson Guest

      Do you have 4 Citi Custom Cash cards?

    2. Will Guest

      Of course, or why would I list 4? I wish I have more. I currently own 7 Citi bank cards, 4 Custom Cashes, 1 Premier, 1 Rewards+ and 1 Costco

  10. Art_Czar Member

    The 5 cards in my wallet:
    1. AmEx Gold - 4x on groceries & restaurants
    2. Chase Sapphire Reserve - 3x at bars & cafes (that don't trigger AmEx category spend)
    3. Citi Custom Cash - 5x on gas
    4. Cap One Venture X - 2x at Costco (only Visa accepted) and other personal spend.
    5. Amex Blue Business Plus - 2x for business spend
    While I used to use the Citi Double Cash on personal non-bonus spend, the Venture X bumped it out last year.

  11. Reno Joe Guest

    - Where do you want to go? Don't box yourself in.
    - Which airlines will you fly to get there? Explore alternatives.
    - Where do you want to stay when you're there? Explore alternatives.
    - Which card issuers can transfer points to those airlines and hotels?
    - How many points do you need to get there and stay there?
    - Optimize card selection and spend to meet those point targets.

    - Where do you want to go? Don't box yourself in.
    - Which airlines will you fly to get there? Explore alternatives.
    - Where do you want to stay when you're there? Explore alternatives.
    - Which card issuers can transfer points to those airlines and hotels?
    - How many points do you need to get there and stay there?
    - Optimize card selection and spend to meet those point targets.
    - Be disciplined, stay focused, and ignore everything else.
    - When a juicy offer pops up, ask yourself, "While this sounds good, how does it move me towards my goal?"
    - Now, go get 'em.

  12. Greg Guest

    That’s a lot of spending for a couple with all those cards (but I imagine most is work related for travel expenses for your blog). I always enjoy your blog but hope that you’re saving a bunch too with your unconventional career. Who knows in a decade if you still want to keep doing it and don’t pass up the opportunity to become independently wealthy by saving if you aren’t already.

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Jules Guest

Would be great to read a post about optimal credit card setups for US expats living abroad.

1
Points MN Guest

Also Target Red card, immediate 5% back on all Target purchases. End up using VentureX somewhat less than otherwise might since so much otherwise non-bonus spending is at Target. Really don't see value of Sapphire Reserve when I have the VentureX and Sapphire Preferred (spend a ton on dining and a bit on travel, but with the two bank travel portals and hotel cards and in some situations airline cards what is left for other travel doesn't make a 3x instead of 2x return seem that worth it, main thing the Reserve would give me that I don't already get would be the 1.5 cent minimum redemption). Since the recent refresh with the 5x bonus, the IHG card is now my usual gas station card, but that isn't a huge spending category for me either. Could see shifting to the Reserve down the road if Capital One raised the annual fee significantly or the benefits of the Reserve improved a bit.

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Will Guest

Of course, or why would I list 4? I wish I have more. I currently own 7 Citi bank cards, 4 Custom Cashes, 1 Premier, 1 Rewards+ and 1 Costco

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