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 seven 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 third iteration of my semiannual credit card inventory posts. Six months is generally an ample amount of time to review your credit cards.
My Chase Quartet are the cards that I use for most of my everyday expenses. All four of them earn Ultimate Rewards (UR) points that can be used for travel.
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. Plus, I have access to the Chase Travel Portal, which provides me with a guaranteed 1.25 CPP in value towards general travel. It also comes with a plethora of travel insurances, including primary car rental insurance and trip cancellation insurance.
I recently downgraded my Chase Sapphire Reserve because of the annual fee increase (to $550), COVID-19, and a lack of useful benefits (for me). Moreover, this card was originally a Sapphire Preferred until I upgraded last year.
Another reason for the downgrade is that I plan to acquire more mid-tier co-branded travel cards after the pandemic ends. This will save me money in annual fees while still receiving robust rewards and some nice perks.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited normally resides in the top slot of my wallet. However, I have been taking advantage of a promotion from Discover since January. This promotion has temporarily sent my Freedom Unlimited to the “sock drawer”. The promotion will end on June 30 (or when I have spend $1,500). Thereafter, the Freedom Unlimited will return to the top slot of my wallet.
When it is in my wallet, the Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x UR points on all purchases with no limitations. Plus, it has no annual fee, giving me no reason to cancel it.
The Chase Freedom earns 5x UR points on quarterly rotating categories. How often I use this card depends on what the categories are for a given quarter. But regardless of the category, this card is a keeper because it has no annual fee.
Currently, the categories are Grocery Stores, Gym Memberships, and Fitness Club purchases. My only complaint about this card is that Chase announces the new quarter’s categories two weeks before the previous quarter ends. This makes it hard to predict if (or how much) I will use it ahead of time.
Ink Business Cash
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.
Discover & American Express
This section lumps my non-Chase credit cards cards together:
The Discover It earns 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories. Currently, the categories are (non-Costco) Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft, and Wholesale Club 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.
As mentioned previously, I have been taking advantage of a special promotion from Discover since January. Therefore, my Discover It has temporarily taken over the top slot in my wallet. I am earning an extra 3% cash back on all purchases (including bonus category purchases) made with my card. The promotion will end on either June 30, 2020 or after I spend $1,500.
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.
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. But it serves as my grocery store card, where it earns 3% cash back. Plus, it earns 2% cash back at Department Stores and (non-Costco) Gas Stations. This card is sometimes superseded by one of the 5x rotating cards because Grocery Stores is a common category. Currently, that is the case because the Chase Freedom’s main 5x category is Grocery Stores.
What keeps this card in my wallet 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.
Bonus: Target Red Debit Card
Even though this is a credit card inventory post, I cannot skip my most recent acquisition because its a debit card.
I just acquired the Target Red Debit Card because I frequently shop at Target, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I got the debit card version because I did not want to use up a Chase 5/24 slot. The Debit Red Card earns 5% cash back on all Target purchases just like its credit counterpart. It also serves as my only store card.
Furthermore, Target purchases are not a common 5% or 5x bonus category. Discover offered 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. The Red Card covers both online and in-store purchases.
I’m grateful and lucky to have six credit cards that earn me points or cash back for everyday expenses. Therefore, I have not acquired any new credit cards since November 2019. The two main reasons are the Discover It promotion and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, the Amex Hilton Surpass Card is at the top of my wish list. It comes with Hilton Gold Elite Status, which includes free breakfast and room upgrades. Hilton has extended my Gold Status through 2022. Therefore, I can keep my status as long as I keep paying the card’s $95 annual fee. It also comes with excellent bonus categories and one of the most balanced sign-up bonuses in the industry.
Plus, I can earn 125,000 points for spending $2,000 within the first three months. This bonus is easier to hit (and less expensive) than the Chase World of Hyatt Card‘s bonus. I would like both cards for their perks and hotel status. But I do not have thousands of dollars to spend for the sign-up bonus.
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 Freedom
- Chase Ink Business Cash
- American Express Blue Cash Everyday
- Discover It