There was a time, not long ago at all, when I maximized my wallet with just two cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited. I got 3X for travel and dining with the Sapphire Reserve, and I got 1.5X everywhere else with the Freedom Unlimited. Now, that approach has shattered.
The above paragraph isn’t true. In reality my wallet was much more complicated than that, but it is true that those were my everyday go-to cards. In fact, the above was exactly true for my wife’s wallet where I labelled each card. Here’s an example of her Freedom Unlimited card:
The title of this post is also not true, but once I thought up the title I liked it too much to ditch it. In truth, Amex and Citi have captured quite a bit of my spend, but not all. Far from it.
Starting January 2019, when Citi Prestige bonus category changes go into effect, I expect my wallet to contain the following cards (along with the bonus categories I expect to use each card for):
- Citi Prestige: 5X dining and flights (maybe flights… more on this in a future post)
- Citi Premier: 3X gas and travel, 2X entertainment
- Amex Gold: 4X US grocery (max $25K per year, then 1X)
- Amex Blue Business Plus: 2X everywhere else (max $50K per year, then 1X)
Notice anything missing? There’s not a single Chase card in the mix (in reality, I would probably also throw in my Chase Ink Business Cash to get 5X at office supply stores, but that complicates the story).
Above are the cards I expect to be in my physical wallet. There’s more to my spend than that. I’ll keep the following cards available through Apple Pay (or Samsung Pay if I get the Samsung watch and sync it to my new Android phone):
- US Bank Altitude Reserve: 3X for all mobile wallet payments
- Chase Freedom (I have lots of these): 5X in rotating categories
For online purchases, my credit cards can stay at home in the sock drawer. These are the cards I expect to use online or on auto-pay:
- Citi AT&T Access More: 3X for online retail purchases
- Chase Ink Business Cash: 5X for cell phone, cable, internet, and Staples.com
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: 3X for online advertising (for my blog business)
The list of cards above doesn’t include all of the cards that I have. I keep many other cards either because they are fee free or because they have perks that outweigh the annual fee. Just one of many examples is my IHG card which offers a free night each year. I hardly ever use this card for spend, but the annual fee is worth it for the annual free night.
Why pay all those fees?
The list of cards that I use for spend includes a number of no-fee cards, but also several that I spend quite a bit on. Here’s the list that I pay for:
- US Bank Altitude Reserve: $400
- Citi Prestige: $350 (grandfathered into that price from when I previously had Citi Gold checking)
- Amex Gold: $250
- Citi Premier: $95
- Citi AT&T Access More: $95
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: $95
Each of the above cards offer perks that more than offset the annual fees (shown are just some of the perks):
- US Bank Altitude Reserve ($400): $325 travel reimbursement. 3X mobile wallet pay. 1.5 cent award redemption. 12 free Gogo Wifi passes.
- Citi Prestige ($350): $250 travel reimbursement. 4th Night Free. 5X dining & select travel.
- Amex Gold ($250): 4X US grocery bonus alone makes up for the annual fee. $100 airline fee rebate. $10/month restaurant credit is a great addition for me since I’ll easily use it every month.
- Citi Premier ($95): 1.25 cents redemption value towards travel. 3X gas & travel.
- Citi AT&T Access More ($95): 10K annual point bonus with $10K spend. 3X online retail.
- Chase Ink Business Preferred ($95): 3X online advertising; cell phone protection against theft or damage
Back to my wallet
So there you go. Amex and Citi have taken over my wallet… my physical wallet with awesome category bonuses. As described above, there is still a place for Chase spend (especially at 5X with the Freedom and Ink Cash cards) and with miscellaneous other cards for other specific purposes. But for day to day transactions, Amex & Citi now have the upper hand.
What’s in your wallet? Your phone? Your sock drawer?