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Last Friday I wrote a post outlining all the credit cards I have. I broke down the cards based on whether I have them for the return on everyday spend, the ongoing perks, or for a combination of reasons.
The category in which I had the most cards was the “ongoing perks” one. For example, I have the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card because it gives me a free night at any IHG hotel in the world annually. I have The Platinum Card® from American Express because it offers a $200 airline fee credit, Centurion Lounge access, and more. I only keep cards for the perks if the ongoing perks outweigh the annual fee, which they do for all the cards I have.
But as I reflected on my cards, I realized I may be using too many cards to maximize my return on everyday spend.
Which cards do I use to maximize everyday spend?
As I explained in the previous post, I have the following cards I’m using to maximize my return on everyday spend (including the annual fees and why I’m using them):
- Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
- Annual fee: $95 annual fee
- 3x points on first $6,000 spent annually at US supermarkets, 2x points at US gas stations, 50% points bonus when making 30 transactions per billing cycle; this means I earn 4.5x points at supermarkets, 3x points at gas stations, and 1.5x points on everyday spend
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
- Annual fee: $195
- 3x points on airfare, 2x points on US dining, US gas stations, and US groceries
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
- 2x points on dining and travel
- Chase Freedom® Card
- Annual fee: none
- 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 per quarter
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- Annual fee: none
- 5x points on office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services, 2x points at gas stations and restaurants
- Citi ThankYou Premier Card
- Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
- 3x points on travel and gas, 2x points on dining and entertainment
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Annual fee: $450
- 3x points on airfare and hotels, 2x points on dining and entertainment
When I wrote the post the other day, I thought to myself “hmmm, I’m spending $930 on annual fees in order to maximize my points. Surely I could be a bit more efficient there.” So I started thinking about which cards I should cut from my wallet.
Which cards should I cut?
Citi cards I’m definitely keeping
The Citi Prestige® Card is a no brainer. While the annual fee is $450, I don’t actually allocate any of it to the return I get on everyday spend. That’s because the card is more than worth it for the $250 airline credit, Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges, and most importantly, the fourth night free benefit.
While I use this card for my airfare and hotel purchases, I don’t allocate the cost of the annual fee to that. As far as I’m concerned it’s a no annual fee card as far as my spend goes. 😉
Chase cards I’m definitely keeping
I don’t actually use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card much for everyday spend anymore. But the reason I pay the annual fee is because it allows me to maximize the value I get out of the no annual fee Chase Freedom® Card and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. Those cards allow me to earn 5x points on all kinds of spend.
The Chase Freedom® Card allows me to earn 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, while the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card allows me to earn 5x points on office supply stores, where I purchase gift cards for Starbucks, Amazon, etc. The points earned on those two cards can only be converted into airline miles or hotel points in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, though.
Amex cards I’m definitely keeping
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card is the one I use for everyday, non-bonused spend. It offers 3x points on the first $6,000 spent annually at US supermarkets, 2x points at US gas stations, and a 50% points bonus when making 30 transactions per billing cycle. I don’t actually spend much on gas and supermarkets, so this is my go to card for everyday spend. Earning 1.5 Membership Rewards points for non-bonused categories is the best return I get on any card.
I find that to be worthwhile. For example, you can pay your taxes online for a fee of 1.87%. So when I’m earning 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar, that’s like paying 1.25 cents per Membership Rewards point, which I consider to be a great deal.
The cards I’m not sure about…
This brings me to the two cards I’m considering cancelling. The way I see it, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card is the single most rewarding card for everyday spend. However, it’s only marginally more rewarding than the Citi Prestige® Card. The difference is that the Premier Card offers triple points on gas and all travel purchases, as opposed to just airfare and hotel purchases. While I certainly spend some money in other travel categories, it’s not enough to justify the $95 annual fee, as I explained in a past post.
Then there’s the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, which has a $195 annual fee. However, the card offers a $100 airline fee credit, which I value at close to face value. So the real cost to me of having the card is closer to $95 per year.
But what am I really getting for that?
- The card offers 3x points on airfare, but so does the Citi Prestige® Card, which is what I’m using for those purchases nowadays
- The card offers 2x points on US dining, but so does the Citi Prestige® Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- The card offers double points on US groceries, but the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card offers 4.5x points on the first $6,000 spent annually on groceries, assuming I make 30 transactions per billing cycle
- The card offers 2x points on gas stations, but the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card offers 3x points on those purchases, assuming I make 30 transactions per billing cycle
That being said, last year I saved more than $95 through Amex Offers on this card, so the card isn’t actually costing me much to hold onto.
While I have a lot of credit cards, I find most of them to be well worth the annual fees. As much as I try to justify closing more of them down, it’s tough to do when I’m earning 3-5x points per dollar spent in so many categories.
Based on my spend patterns, I think I should close the Citi ThankYou Premier Card, given that it doesn’t offer enough marginal return over the Citi Prestige® Card, given that I plan on holding onto that card.
The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is fantastic and I’ve had it for years, so I’m tempted to keep it since I’m not really losing anything by having it. Still, if the goal is to decrease the number of cards I have, it doesn’t seem to be adding much, given how much value I get out of the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.
What do you think — do I use too many credit cards to maximize my return on everyday spend? In my shoes, which cards would you cancel?
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the AmEx Everyday Preferred has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.