In the interest of full disclosure, we're going to list what cards we carry. Some cards we use on an everyday basis, others we keep in a book at home and use them often enough to keep the cards active.
Cards below were chosen based on the travel that we had in mind and the rewards they offered for signing up. We specifically target cards that we know we're going to use the rewards for. While it looks like a lot of cards below, we keep track of them and close any cards where the cost of keeping the card outweighs the benefits the card offers.
One important note- some cards have no annual fees while others have fees associated with them each year. We'll list these below. We try not to pay any annual fees on cards as these are unnecessary expenses. However, some cards have benefits where it is worth paying the annual fee. We'll discuss this below.
Everyday cards we use:
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (Peter)
In 2016, Chase announced the release of a new, premium card and offered 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points at sign up. Points can be redeemed for travel- 1 point being worth 1.5 cents. However, points can also be transferred to the many partners that they have and this GREATLY increases the value of the points. See this blog post about the value of points- not all points are created equally!
This card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee. However, it is offset with an annual $300 credit towards travel. As such, the annual fee decreases to $150 if you're using all that credit. Further benefits of the card (which more than justify this annual fee in our minds) include:
3x points earned at restaurants and travel
A $100 credit every 4 years towards Global Entry
Priority Pass Lounge Access with guest privileges.
Primary collision damage waiver for auto-rentals
No foreign transaction fees
2. Chase Freedom Card (Joint card, Peter)
We applied for a joint credit card shortly before getting married in 2011. Joint cards are no longer available.
This is a great, no annual fee card that has rotating categories every quarter where you can earn 5x points on those categories. Alone, this card is a cash back card. However, when paired with a card such as the Sapphire Reserve card, the points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners.
Peter also converted a card that had an annual fee (Chase Sapphire Preferred) to this card. Banks allow you to do that in certain situations when the cards are in the same "family". By doing this, you can keep your history of on-time payments while avoiding paying unnecessary annual fees.
3. American Express Starwood Preferred Personal Card (Melissa)
Melissa applied for this card in March 2017 just before we were going to redo our kitchen. We knew that we would have significant expenses to pay for, and as a result applied for this card prior to the work beginning. We were able to meet the minimum spend required to earn the 35,000 points as we would have had these expenses anyway.
This card earns Starwood Preferred points. They have some great hotels in their portfolio including Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin hotels and as they have recently merged with Marriott, points can also be used at Marriott Hotels. In August 2017, we used Starwood points to stay at the Marriott Grand Cayman Resort for our wedding anniversary.
4. Chase Ink Business Preferred Card (Melissa)
This card was also applied for prior to the March 2017 kitchen remodel. We earned 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after we met the minimum spend required.
We also attached this card to autopay our cell phone bill as it comes with cell phone insurance ($100 deductible). That way, we do not have to take out the overpriced insurance offered by our cell phone provider.
5. Citi Costco Card (Melissa)
This card was previously Citi American Airlines Platinum card. We earned American Airlines points after meeting the sign up bonus, and then when we no longer wanted to pay the annual fee on the card, we asked Citi to change the card to the Costco Visa card. This card does not have an annual fee if you are an active Costco member- and since we are, we pulled the trigger and switched this card. We use this card solely for refueling the car as it earns 4X points at gas stations. Since it is a cashback card, we use a card that earns transferable points when we make purchases at Costco.
Cards we used less frequently. Mostly set to auto-pay
1. Chase IHG Rewards Club Card (Peter, Melissa)
These cards are two that we gladly pay the $49 annual fee on each year as they come with SUCH an amazing perk- an annual free night at any IHG hotel in the world. Take for instance our local Holiday Inn Express around the corner- it runs around $75 per night. If we were to use our annual free night here, we would still be in the black by $26 ($75 value received for a $49 fee). However, we've manages to use this free night at some outrageously priced hotels that we would never in our wildest dreams imagine of staying at!!
The card also comes with elite status in IHG's rewards program. As a result, this card has made us quite loyal IHG-ers. We frequently look for an IHG hotel in choosing where to travel to next.
2. Chase Ink Cash Card (Melissa)
This is a no annual fee card from Chase. The card was initially a Chase Ink Business card which came with a $95 annual fee. At the end of the first year, we called Chase and asked to switch to this card as we got to keep all of our points but not have any annual fee now. The card earns 5X points at Office Supply stores and also on cable bills so we set it to auto pay our internet bill each month.
Taken alone, this cards points can only be redeemed for cashback, however, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card- we can transfer to partners.
3. American Express Starwood Preferred Business Card (Melissa)
This card was also part of the March 2017 kitchen redo. We have set this card to pay the HOA fee on our condo each month.
One nice thing about American Express cards are that they can be enrolled in American Express Offers. The obvious goal of the bank here is to make you use your card more, but we just check to see if there are ever any offers for places that we already intend to spend money at ie. not falling into the trap that they want you to overspend.
1. Chase Southwest Plus Card (Peter)
2. Chase Southwest Business Card (Peter)
Thumbnail image from Torro Cases