A reader recently asked me if I would share the current credit cards we had open to help inspire his next application and I thought it might be useful to share with everyone. The best place to start when deciding which credit card to get is with your own future travel plans as I outlined when discussing our latest application choices. If you don’t have any future travel plans, then looking for the highest cash back signup bonuses might be your best option. If you don’t want to juggle multiple cards, then you should probably stick to a card or two that give you the best return on your regular spending.
The options are fairly broad, but I thought I’d share our own personal set of credit cards, why we applied for each card, and why we still have them. Maybe one of our choices will inspire your next adventure!
Flexible Point Cards
- Chase Ink Plus
- Why we got it: 60k UR signup bonus, 5x on office supply and more, ability to transfer UR to partners like Southwest, United, and Hyatt.
- Why we still have it: While we haven’t reached the first year annual fee yet (of $95), this card is definitely a keeper with the current benefits. 5x on office supply stores as well on phone and internet is very valuable, especially considering it can be leveraged to assist with reselling gift cards from ebay. The Ink Plus also qualifies as one of the premium UR cards (along with the Sapphire Preferred) which makes the points worth far more thanks to the many transfer partners. This is particularly valuable to have if you’re earning UR points with other cards like the Chase Freedom.
- Chase Freedom (x2)
- Why we got them: $200 signup bonus on the first and the second is a downgraded Chase Sapphire Preferred to avoid the annual fee.
- Why we still have them: No annual fee and rotating 5x categories. While this is advertised as a cash back card, it actually earns Chase UR points. If you have a premium UR card like the Ink Plus discussed above, you can transfer the points earned to travel partners. We chose to downgrade the CSP because the main ongoing benefit of being able to transfer point to partners was replaced by the Ink Plus.
- Citi ThankYou Premier (x2)
- Why we got them: 50k TYP signup bonus
- Why we still have them: No reason other than a year hasn’t passed since we signed up, these will most likely be closed once the annual fee comes around.
- Citi ThankYou Prestige
- Why we got it: 50k TYP signup bonus, $100 Global Entry Credit, $500 airline credits, airport lounge access
- Why we still have it: The first year hasn’t come around yet, but the first year’s $450 annual fee has more than covered by the benefits we’ve used so far in addition to the signup bonus. We’ve taken advantage of the airport lounge access via the Priority Pass numerous times and I’ll be able to use the Admiral’s Club access benefit as well later this year. While we haven’t taken advantage of the free golf benefit yet, there’s still most of a summer coming up that I might just try it out. There’s a lot of good courses in the Seattle area that participate. This will be a tough one to cancel, but the other one of us can always just sign up for their own copy to extend the benefits another year…
- Amex Everyday Card
- Why we got it: No annual fee MR card and 10k MR signup bonus
- Why we still have it: The only reason we opened this card was to keep some MR points from expiring on a card we needed to close and it does that job perfectly with no annual fee. No reason not to keep this one open going forward.
- Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card
- Why we got it: $100 Global Entry Credit, $400 in airline credits, airport lounge access
- Why we still have it: The Ameriprise version of the Amex Platinum card waives the annual fee for the first year, but still has all of the great Platinum benefits as the rest of them. We’ve used the lounge access several times for the Centurion lounges, but the Priority Pass membership is lacking compared to the Citi Prestige’s. We also used the benefit of free SPG Gold status which may come in handy on our honeymoon. We’ll cancel once the annual fee comes around and probably open another in the other’s name to keep the benefits going.
Airline Credit Cards
- Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red (formerly a US Airways card)
- Why we got it: 50k mile signup bonus
- Why we still have it: Barclay offered to waive the annual fee so we decided not to cancel this one. They refused to waive the annual fee on the other one we had, so we did cancel that one. We don’t put any spend on this card and the benefits pretty much match up with Citi’s AA card.
- Citi AAdvantage® Platinum Select (x2)
- Why we got them: 50k AA mile signup bonus
- Why we still have them: The 10% back benefit on spent AA miles is nice, but we’ll cancel these when the annual fees come around.
- BoA Alaska Airlines (x4)
- Why we got them: 25k AS mile + $100 signup bonus
- Why we still have them: The annual companion fare on these cards is nice and we’ve given a few away for friends to use, but we don’t have any need for them ourselves. Hopefully BoA keeps letting us get more of these cards every few months…
- United MileagePlus Business Explorer
- Why we got it: 50k UA mile signup bonus
- Why we still have it: Still meeting the minimum spend on this one, but it’s a sideline and then cancel kind of card like most of the airline ones.
Hotel Credit Cards
- Chase IHG Rewards (x2)
- Why we got them: 80k IHG point signup bonus on the first, 60k + $50 on the second
- Why we still have them: The main benefit of paying the $49 annual fee is a free night at any IHG property in the world. This came in handy when Southwest decided we needed to spend an extra day in Cancun and I doubt we’ll have trouble finding more use for the free $49 hotel nights going forward. We deliberately signed up for these cards around the same time of year so that our free night expiration dates overlapped.
- Amex SPG Cards (x3)
- Why we got them: 25k-30k SPG point signup bonuses
- Why we still have them: The annual fee hasn’t come around on any of these, but we’ll most likely cancel at least 2 when they do. These points are funding the bulk of our honeymoon hotels in Fiji, but the ongoing benefits don’t line up well with our travel. SPG points are very valuable at the moment and this card works great if you need to top off some airline balances because it transfers favorably to a lot of them, but we’ll have to wait and see what the program looks like after the merger with Marriott.
- Chase Hyatt Card (x2)
- Why we got them: 2 free nights at any Hyatt + 5k Hyatt points + $50
- Why we still have them: The annual fee hasn’t come around yet, but this card does offer a free night in a lower category Hyatt each year you keep the card open which may justify the $75 annual fee. We’ll have to see if it lines up with our travel plans in the coming years, but these cards are probably keepers.
- Amex Hilton HHonors
- Why we got it: 50k Hilton Points + $50 signup bonus
- Why we still have it: No annual fee and no reason to cancel. I may choose to upgrade this card to the Surpass for a 50k signup bonus as some point, but already have more Hilton points than we’ve found a use for right now.
- Citi Hilton HHonors
- Why we got it: 75k Hilton Points signup bonus
- Why we still have it: No annual fee, but this card may be churnable after waiting a while.
Cashback Credit Cards
- Old Credit Union Cards (x2)
- Why we got them: First credit card for each of us, no signup bonus but helped build our credit.
- Why we still have them: No annual fee and they are each our oldest open cards. No reason to cancel as they help out the Average Age of Accounts factor of our credit score. We try to make at least one purchase a year on them to avoid complete inactivity.
- Discover It
- Why we got it: $150 signup bonus
- Why we still have it: No annual fee, 5% back categories each quarter and all of the cashback is doubled up until June of this year! That means 10% back on the bonus categories like restaurants AND 2% back on everything else. No reason to cancel, but we might get another once the double cashback is nearing it’s end.
- USAA Rewards World Mastercard
- Why we got it: $225 signup bonus after 6 purchases
- Why we still have it: No annual fee. No reason to cancel it, but no compelling reason to use it either.
- Amex Blue Cash Preferred
- Why we got it: $150 signup bonus and 6% back on groceries
- Why we still have it: Despite the $75 annual fee, our standard grocery spending over the course of a year is pretty close to the $6k limit on the 6% cashback so we keep this card to maximize the grocery category which works out to 4.75% cash back on all of our grocery spending. We did have to get creative to work around Amex’s definition of a grocery store though.
Right now we sit with a total of 30 credit cards open between the two of us, but I expect that number to slowly grow as we sign up for more than we end up cancelling (mostly due to keeping no annual fee cards open). As you can see, most cards are purely opened for the large signup bonus, but there are a few gems that we continue to use well beyond the minimum spend. In the case of the Ameriprise Platinum card, the benefits were more than enough of a reason to get the card even without any signup bonus being offered. Most get cancelled after a year, but certain cards like the IHG card have a big enough benefit that we’ll happily pay the annual fee each year. We always try to have a trip in mind when signing up for new credit cards because earning a bunch of points we’ll never use is a terrible strategy. Whether it’s New York, Cancun, Hawaii, Fiji, or future trips across the globe, there are always a number of cards that can help get us there for cheap.
Hopefully looking through our current collection helps you decide what to get next or simply show what’s possible if you’re organized and want to fund your next vacation for cheap. Best of luck building your own optimal credit card portfolio!