Taking a credit card inventory is one of the best ways to stay organized and possibly save money. Looking at each credit card you own and assessing whether you should keep it or not is very important. Having too many cards with annual fees, redundant benefits, or redundant earning structures can be troublesome.
Therefore, efficiency is key for me to play my cards right. I want to get as much out of my cards as possible without having any redundancies. Therefore, I have eight cards that help me achieve just that. I look for positive expected value from perks or big returns on spend when getting a new card. Sign-up bonuses are nice too, but they are not a top reason for me to get a new card.
This is the fifth iteration of my semiannual credit card inventory posts. Six months is generally an ample amount of time to review your credit cards.
A Personal Update
A lot has changed for me financially since I last wrote a post like this (and since I last wrote for Travel Update). Grad school did not work out as I hated what I was studying. So I cut my losses and dropped out in December 2020. However, grad school helped me find what I wanted to do for my future.
For the 2020-21 school year, I was also homeschooling my younger brother because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I started focusing on that full time after dropping out of school. By the end of the school year, his grades went up by a lot and so did my confidence. I thought to myself “If I can do this with my brother, I can help other students!” So I started my own tutoring business and it has become successful as we end the 2021-22 school year.
Therefore, my credit card lineup changed alongside my financial goals and priorities. I have switched to a cash back dominant lineup! Some readers might be thinking “This is ironic or hypocritical because he’s writing for a travel blog!”. But I made this decision because cash back is what’s best for my financial situation right now. I am focusing on aggressively paying off my student loans, saving for retirement, and saving for my future.
That’s not to say that I’m not earning points and miles. I still have a few points and miles credit cards, but they are not as used as much they were in the past.
My Chase Trifecta is still intact, but not in the traditional way because I have no premium Chase cards anymore. I did not cancel any Chase cards because they’re all older accounts. But I did a few product changes at the end of 2021.
The Chase Freedom Flex is my go-to card for dining and one of three 5% cash back cards. It earns 5% cash back (or 5x UR points) on quarterly rotating categories and on travel purchased from the Chase Travel Portal. It also earns 3% cash back (or 3x points) on Dining and Pharmacy purchases.
This card used to be my Chase Freedom Unlimited. But I product changed it because 1.5% cash back is not enough for non-bonus spend. It’s not the workhorse it used to be, but it’s still a keeper card because of its earning structure and lack of annual fee.
Ink Business Cash
Furthermore, the Chase Ink Business Cash earns 5% cash back (or 5x UR points) at Office Supply Stores, Cell Phone, Landline, Internet, and Cable TV Services. It also earns 2x points at Gas Stations and on Dining.
I mostly use this card to pay my cell phone bill and when I get gas (alongside bonus rewards from the Upside app). These two expenses alone make this card worth it because I earn lots of cash back every month. Plus, the Ink Business Cash has no annual fee, giving it a place in my wallet forever.
This is the one Chase card that did not go through any changes since I acquired it in 2018 because it’s so useful.
My former Sapphire Preferred was downgraded to a discontinued Chase Freedom Card. I don’t use this card very often because I have the Freedom Flex for 5% rotating categories. But I still have it because it has no annual fee, Chase Offers, and so I can preserve my credit history and limits. I might product change this card if Chase comes out with another Freedom family card that’s different than the Freedom Flex.
My Amex lineup has changed considerably since November 2020! I acquired two new cards that earn Membership Rewards (MR) points. Plus, I downgraded one of my cards to its no annual fee counterpart.
Unfortunately, I cancelled my Blue Cash Everyday Card last month. Here are my reasons:
- I rarely spend on groceries (I still live at home)
- I wanted to simplify my finances a little bit
- The $25 minimum redemption threshold
- The only way to redeem cash back is via statement credit
American Express Hilton Honors Card
I downgraded my Hilton Surpass Card to the no annual fee Hilton Honors Card a few months ago. I’m not traveling any time soon, but I still want to earn Hilton Honors (HH) points and maintain my account history and credit limit. So the best option was to downgrade
This card comes with Hilton Silver Elite Status and a few other Hilton perks. These perks include an 20% points bonus on Hilton hotel purchases and two free water bottles. The perks are not much, but it’s better than what most no annual fee hotel cards offer.
Plus, the Hilton Honors Card is a decent earner. It earns 7x Hilton Honors (HH) points at Hilton hotels and 3x HH points for non-bonus spend. But that’s not all. It also earns 5x HH points on Dining, Gas, and Grocery Store purchases.
American Express Blue Business Plus Card
The American Express Blue Business Plus Card is a great option for earning MR points. I acquired this card in June 2021 to help me earn points for my tutoring business and personal expenses. This card does not currently get much use, but I’m holding onto it for future use and as a way to maintain my MR points balance at no cost.
Moreover, it earns 2x MR points on the first $50,000 spent on the card every calendar year. After that, it earns only one point per dollar. It’s also a nice companion to the next card in my wallet.
American Express (Rose) Gold Card
The American Express (Rose) Gold Card is the only card left in my wallet that has an annual fee ($250). It earns 4x MR points on dining and groceries as well as 3x MR points on airfare (booked directly with the airline).
Plus, the Gold Card comes with two sets of credits: Uber credits and dining credits. Both sets are split into $10 monthly credits, which is tough for us to use. But we try to use the dining credits at The Cheesecake Factory once per month. We don’t really travel via Uber, but those credits could be used with Uber Eats.
My mom is an authorized user on this card, so I’m keeping to help her out and so we can earn points towards a family vacation together. She also insisted on getting the rose gold design!
The Discover It earns 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories. Currently, the categories are gas stations and Target purchases, which are two of my biggest expenses. There is a chance that I might maximize the 5% categories for the first time since acquiring the card in 2015! Moreover, the Discover It has no annual fee and is also my oldest active card. Therefore, it has a permanent spot in my credit card inventory.
What I love about Discover is the plethora of redemption options they offer. American Express’ Blue Cash cards limit cardholders to only statement credits. But with Discover, cardholders can redeem rewards as cash into a bank account, a statement credit, a gift card, or even donate it to charity.
FNBO Evergreen Card
Arriving in February 2022, FNBO Evergreen Card is the newest card in my wallet. It also takes the top slot because of its earning structure. The Evergreen Card really lives up to its name because it earns 2% cash back on all purchases without any limits.
I also earned a $200 sign up bonus after spending $1,000 on the Evergreen Card earlier this year. This was a nice little boost towards my financial goals.
Bonus: Target Red Debit Card
Even though this is a credit card inventory post, I cannot skip the Target Red Card just because its a debit card. I frequently shop at Target (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) and acquiring this card was an easy way to save 5% on all purchases there. Eligible Target purchases include both online and in-person purchases.
Furthermore, Target purchases are not a common 5% or 5x bonus category. Discover is currently offering all Target purchases as a 5% category for the 2nd Quarter of 2022. So this card is not being used until July 2022.
I do not have any credit cards that would fill any immediate needs. But the Citi Custom Cash has been on my radar because of its customizable earning structure. I would use that card for 5% on gas purchases because gas is my biggest business expense.
If anyone asks me “what’s in your wallet?”, I would tell them “not Capital One” and then tell them about this post. My mentality is one of efficiency – less is more. I want everything in my credit card inventory to serve a long-term purpose. This purpose can either be perks, great return on spend, or acting as a foundation for my credit history.
Also remember that your mileage may vary. My strategy might not work for your travel wants or needs. But this is what works for me. There is nothing wrong with a different strategies if it works for you.