All the Credit Cards I’ve Had

When I tell people that I’m into credit cards sometimes I get the question what is my favorite?  I would probably say the SPG card, but really it is whatever card will get me the most rewards.  Often that changes with who is offering the best bonus.  So in this article I’ll go over the cards and my reasons for getting them.  You will get some insight into my thinking and uses of cards.  Now days my rule is to only apply for a card if I think I can get at least $500 of value from it.  In 8 years I have had 18 cards, many which I still carry.

The list

Bolded cards I will keep forever to make the average age of my accounts longer.  Italics mean it is a card I would strongly recommend.  Obviously each card can be useful, but I wanted to point out some really good ones.

  • USAA
    • My first card I got in college because I needed to establish a credit history. No bonus, no annual fee so I plan on carrying it forever.
  • Discover More/IT
    • Wanted to get better cashback. No bonus. Later converted the card to Discover IT.  I have earned so much with the 5% categories. If you apply through link above we’ll each get $50.
  • Bank of America Card
    • I have no idea why I got this card, probably didn’t need it. No bonus.
  • Citi AA Gold
    • First time I received a bonus. 25,000 AA miles.
  • Amex Blue Sky
    • Signed up to get $500 worth of free travel. Keep it for Amex offers and it has no annual fee.
  • Chase Southwest Plus

  • Chase Southwest Premier
    • Part 2, also 50,000 mile bonus.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
    • I wanted the 50,000 point bonus, but also double points on food and travel. This makes it a good card for daily use and worth the $95 annual fee to me.
  • Chase Marriott Rewards
    • 70,000 point bonus, easily met the minimum spend on wedding purchases.
  • Chase Ritz-Carlton
    • 140,000 point bonus, but I think I had to pay the $395 annual fee.
  • Barclays US Airways
    • 50,000 US Airways mile bonus which was being purchased by American.
  • Chase United Explorer
    • 50,000 miles and access to more flights at the saver rate.
  • Amex SPG
    • 30,000 points bonus.  I like this because each point can be converted to 3 Marriott points which I turn into travel packages.  Worth the fee.
  • City National Visa Crystal
    • This really was the best bonus. $1000 cash and tons of benefits like lounge passes, Global Entry, and even Clear.
  • Chase British Airways
    • Up to 100,000 point bonus with the possibility to get a companion pass after spending $30K.  Looking back I think the spend would have been better on other cards.
  • Citi AA Platinum Select
    • 50,000 miles
  • Barclays Arrival Plus Elite
    • $625 towards travel
  • Merrill +
    • $1000 towards airfare.  Just spent this on upcoming flights to Norway.

Observations

  • Bonuses are the primary reason I get a card and often cancel it after a year before I need to pay the annual fee.
  • Bonuses change frequently.  I got 140,000 points for the Ritz card while my wife got 3 free nights.
  • If a card has no annual fee it makes sense to keep it.
  • If you plan to keep a card with a fee, call to see if they can reduce it.
  • Getting cards affects your credit, so if you have an upcoming mortgage, hold off on the applications.

My rules

  1. Don’t use a credit card if you can’t pay it off.
  2. Only get a card if it will generate at least $500 in rewards.
  3. Wait for the bonus to get near the all-time high when you apply.
  4. Have an idea of how you will reach the minimum spend. It would be terrible to get a card and not receive the bonus.
  5. Have a default card (SPG Amex or Chase Sapphire Preferred for me) to collect points on for items that are not part of a bonus category.

Conclusion

I like the pace I get cards, it allows me to reach the minimum spend (often $3,000) and collect lots of points.  You will often read other bloggers that apply for 5 cards at a time, and if that works for you, go for it.  I travel a lot, but I don’t even need that many points.  I hope you learned about how I go about selecting a card and are able to do your own research.

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