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 six 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 fourth iteration of my semiannual credit card inventory posts. Six months is generally an ample amount of time to review your credit cards.
I slimmed down my Chase Quartet to a trifecta after the Chase Freedom was discontinued and the Freedom Unlimited was changed in September 2020. I cancelled my Chase Freedom because it became redundant to the Freedom Unlimited and I was not spending within the rotating categories.
My Chase Trifecta are the cards that I use for most of my everyday expenses. All three of them earn Ultimate Rewards (UR) points that can be used for travel.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited resides in the top slot of my wallet because it earns on a plethora of categories. Since September 2020, the Freedom Unlimited earns 5x UR points on Travel purchased from the Chase Travel Portal. It also earns 3x points on Dining and Pharmacy purchases as well as the standard 1.5x points on all non-bonus spend.
In essence, the Freedom Unlimited is a workhorse that has become an even better earner than my Sapphire Preferred. And it has no annual fee, which gives me no reason to cancel it.
Ink Business Cash
Furthermore, the Chase Ink Business Cash earns 5x UR points at Office Supply Stores, as well as for 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 phone bill and at the Costco gas station. These two expenses alone make this card worth it because I earn thousands of UR points every month. Plus, the Ink Business Cash has no annual fee, giving it a place in my wallet forever.
Moreover, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x UR points on Travel and Dining. Plus, it serves as my liaison for transferring points to Chase’s partners. I also have access to the Chase Travel Portal, which provides me with a guaranteed 1.25 CPP in value towards travel. The Sapphire Preferred also comes with a plethora of travel insurances, including primary car rental insurance and trip cancellation insurance.
However, I stopped using this card for everyday expenses when the Freedom Unlimited Card’s earning structure was improved. I truly hope that Chase revamps this card to make it more relevant and competitive.
September 2020 was a busy month for my credit card inventory. I acquired the Hilton Surpass Card to replace my cancelled Chase Freedom. And I am thrilled with my decision from a points, miles, and perks perspective.
Contrary to most points and miles strategies, I do not have any Membership Rewards (MR) earning credit cards. However, this might change in the future after I graduate from grad school and my financial situation improves.
American Express Hilton Surpass Card
The Hilton Surpass Card is Amex and Hilton’s mid-tier credit card. I acquired this card to maintain Hilton Gold Elite Status and gain a plethora of other Hilton related perks. These perks include an 80% points bonus on Hilton hotel purchases, complimentary breakfast, and complimentary room upgrades.
Plus, the Surpass Card is a nice earner. It earns 12x Hilton Honors (HH) points at Hilton hotels and 3x HH points for non-bonus spend. But that’s not all. The Surpass also earns 6x HH points on Dining, Gas, and Grocery Store purchases. It has also become my grocery store card because I would rather earn HH points than cash back.
Furthermore, I just finished earning this card’s sign-up bonus – my first of 2020. My Hilton Surpass Card’s sign-up bonus is worth 130,000 HH points. All I had to do was spend $2,000 within the first three months (early December).
American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card
The Blue Cash Everyday is one of the weaker Amex cards for travelers because it has no benefits and earns cash back. Its primary strength is earning 3% cash back at Grocery Stores. But it was superseded by the Hilton Surpass Card in September 2020. The Blue Cash Everyday also earns 2% cash back at Department Stores and (non-Costco) Gas Stations, as well as 1% cash back on non-bonus spend.
Besides a high credit limit and age of accounts, what keeps this card in my lineup is the Amex Offers. The Blue Cash Everyday gives me a plethora of Amex Offers, which are becoming increasingly useful because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the offers are for online shopping, which is very useful as of late.
The Discover It earns 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories. Currently, the categories are Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Target.com purchases. Moreover, the Discover It has no annual fee and is also my oldest active card. That is why it has a permanent spot in my credit card inventory.
What I love about Discover is the plethora of redemption options they offer. Amex only limits you to a statement credit or gift cards. But with Discover, you can redeem rewards as cash into a bank account, a statement credit, a gift card, or even donate it to charity.
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 offered all Target purchases as a 5% category in the 4th Quarter of 2019. But they are only offering Target.com purchases in the 4th Quarter of 2020.
I’m grateful and lucky to have six credit cards (and one debit card) that earn me points or cash back for everyday expenses. Fortunately, I acquired the Hilton Surpass Card in September and finally crossed it off my wish list. Since then, my wish list is almost at zero cards.
I have been thinking about upgrading my Blue Cash Everyday to the Blue Cash Preferred. As with the Gold Card, I want to wait until I have more grocery expenses to upgrade. This card has a $95 annual fee and it might be easier to realize value quickly with this card once I have more expenses.
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.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Ink Business Cash
- American Express Blue Cash Everyday
- American Express Hilton Surpass
- Discover It