I write a lot about earning points and miles by signing up for credit cards, but it’s also important to have a strategy to maximize rewards through everyday spending. Here are the cards I currently keep in my wallet and how I use them to maximize my earnings.
Bank of America Better Balance Rewards
This is my oldest credit card account. The card was originally a Power Rewards card, but I converted it to Better Balance Rewards this year. I don’t use this card often but I make sure to complete one purchase each statement period to earn the $30 bonus each quarter. Unfortunately, you can no longer apply for this card.
American Express Platinum
I use this card for two things: plane tickets and Amex Offers. The 5x points on tickets purchased directly from the airline is a no-brainer. As for Amex Offers, I tend to get the best ones on this card. It’s nice to have offers that I can actually use (enough of the Shari’s Berries offers, please!). I’ve recently used offers from J.Crew, Stitch Fix, and Caviar.
American Express Starwood Preferred Guest
Starpoints can be hard to earn so if I’m not working on a spending requirement and there are concert tickets I want to buy (and resell), I usually use this card. It’s also necessary to have an Amex for ticket reselling since you’ll often get the best seats from Amex Presales.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
I use this card for everything if I don’t have a spending requirement to worry about. Even if I am working on a spending requirement, I ALWAYS use this card for dining and non-airline travel. I book most flights with my Amex Platinum, but if the flight is part of a trip where I think I need Chase Sapphire Reserve’s excellent travel insurance protection benefits, I forgo the extra Amex points and book with CSR.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
I opened this card last July and honestly haven’t used it since I got the Chase Sapphire Reserve in August. I plan on product changing to Chase Freedom Unlimited when my annual fee is due. This will then replace Chase Sapphire Reserve as my primary card for everyday spending since it earns 1.5x points on all purchases.
I use this card if my purchase falls into one of the rotating 5x categories. This quarter it’s restaurants and movie theaters.
I don’t actually use this card very often but I keep it open for the free anniversary night. Even though there is a $49 annual fee, the free night can be worth several hundred dollars. I also think it’s good to have a Mastercard since most of my cards are Visa or Amex.
American Express Hilton Honors Surpass
I’m currently working on the sign-up bonus for this card. After spending $3,000, I’ll get 100,000 Hilton points. On top of this, I will get a free weekend night certificate after my first card anniversary. I likely won’t spend much on the card after meeting the spending requirement, but I’ll definitely keep the card open for another year to capitalize on the free night. I’ll have to pay the $75 annual fee a second time, but the free night is worth more than the two annual fees.
I have a bunch of other cards that are currently sitting in a plastic bag in my drawer. The Capital One Venture One card will likely stay in the drawer forever since it’s a no annual fee card that is one of my oldest accounts. All of the others were opened within the last year, and I’m holding on to them until their annual fee is due. If I’m unable to get a retention offer, I will most likely close them.
You can check out my list of top travel credit cards here.
What credit cards do you use most frequently?