Periodically I like to review what credit cards are in my wallet and on which cards I am making my spending. When I was first starting out in the world of miles and points, I was much more haphazard about which cards I would sign up for. With recent restrictions from credit card issuers (such as the Chase 5/24 rule), I think that it is valuable to be more specific and measured with your credit card signups.
So, I decided to write this post to both help myself in writing down and being careful about which cards I am currently carrying as well as hopefully inspire you and help you walk through your own process. I was inspired by my colleague and fellow blogger MissFinFree who shared a post recently about what was in HER wallet.
Though technically, I already had this post idea in my queue before I saw hers :-), but in any case, I enjoyed reading her take on things as well as seeing what was in her wallet. We have a few differences which is only natural because we are different people with different travel patterns. I’m sure that most of you will have different travel patterns than either of us but I think that it’s still instructive to see what others are doing
3 reasons to sign up for or keep a credit card
It is long been my belief that there are 3 main reasons to sign up or keep a credit card:
- The bonus points from the initial welcome offer. This is often the most lucrative portion of the benefits and can net you miles and points worth anywhere from $500 to $1000 or more.
- Category bonuses (such as 4x Membership Rewards points at grocery stores and restaurants with the American Express Gold Card or 5x Ultimate Rewards points at office supply stores with the Chase Ink Cash). This also includes cards that are good for everyday spending.
- Ongoing benefits from having the card. This might include airline-specific perks like priority boarding or free checked bags, elite status with hotels or airlines, airport lounge access, hotel free night certificates and many more.
All of these assume that you have put yourself in a position where you have the financial discipline and wherewithal to pay off your credit card balance in full, every month. If you don’t do that, then my advice would be to first work to pay off your debt and only then focus on signing up for new cards. The interest and/or penalties that you will pay from not paying your balance are likely to dwarf any savings that you might get from credit card rewards.
And of course, above all, allow me to repeat myself once again – DO NOT SIGN UP FOR A CREDIT CARD JUST BECAUSE SOME GUY ON THE INTERNET SAYS THAT YOU SHOULD. It’s fine to read advice (including my own), but you should make your OWN decision. Remember that most bloggers and financial sites out there (including this one) will likely get a commission if you sign up for a credit card through their site. This doesn’t make their (my) advice invalid, but it is still something that you should be aware of.
Which cards are in my wallet (February 2020)
So now let’s take a look at which cards are currently in my wallet. Category 3 (ongoing benefits) generally accrue from just having the card itself, so many times cards that I keep for those reasons won’t actually appear in my wallet itself. Cards in category 1 (welcome offer) generally make it into my wallet while I am meeting the requirements for the initial signup bonus, and then get put back in the sock drawer unless they have other compelling reasons to keep them front of wallet.
So the first answer to which cards are in my wallet is almost always: THE CARDS I AM MEETING THE MINIMUM SPEND ON.
In this case, here are the cards that our family has most recently signed up for:
- Bank of America Alaska Airlines Business cards — for both my wife and I
- Chase Ink Preferred — my wife
- American Express Cash Magnet Card — my daughter has recently turned 18 so she’s getting cards as well
My wife and I have fairly recently have gotten under the Chase 5/24 rule, so we are currently focusing on Chase and other business cards.
The other cards we keep in our wallets
- American Express Blue for Business — 2x Membership Rewards on all purchases. This is my default card if I don’t have anything better
- Chase Freedom Unlimited — 1.5x Ultimate Rewards if I can’t use the Blue for Business
- Citi Double Cash — 2% cashback on all purchases
- Chase Ink Plus (for 5x at office supply stores and 2x on gas)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (for travel, though I’m canceling this when its annual fee comes due)
- And my bank debit card just in case I need it
Definitely missing my American Express Gold card for the monthly Cheesecake Factory dates and the 4x on groceries (which with our family is quite a bit), but the $250 annual fee just wasn’t worth it anymore.
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