Credit Cards

What’s In My November Wallet: Deciding Which Cards to Keep

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Most of my miles and points come from credit card spend and sign up bonuses, as does some of my elite statuses. In the past I”ve been good about acquiring at least one new card (and sign up bonus) every 3-4 months, but it’s been a hectic year and I realized it’s been about 9 months since I’ve assessed what I have and what I should go for.

Rather surprisingly (for me) my opinion has changed on a few of the cards.

  • Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX — this is my go-to card and I’ve saved thousands of dollars at this point with Starwood point redemptions. The annual fee is only $65 AND it gives me 5 nights a year towards keeping my brand new platinum status. Decision: Keep.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Business AMEX — this one I was somewhat on the fence about. I have another OPEN card, so it’s not essential to have this card for 5% off Hyatt, 1-800-Flowers, etc. However, it  does give 5 nights towards platinum status for only $65 a year. Decision: Keep.
  • Hilton HHonors AMEX – I downgraded my Hilton Surpass AMEX to this card to avoid the annual fee. While the discounted award night bookings aren’t as valuable as they once were thanks to HHonors inflation, there’s little cost to keeping the card for now. Decision: Keep.
  • Citibank Hilton Reserve Visa — signed up to get the two free nights which I had planned to use in Singapore. Wound up using one night for the $400+ rooms at the Conrad Hong Kong. Even with a $95 annual fee, I had planned to keep it for the Hilton Gold status but now that I have Gold through Milepoint Premium membership, I don’t need it. Decision: Cancel.
  • Gold Business AMEX — It comes with a hefty $175 annual fee, and I received a letter last month telling me how my benefits have improved (I didn’t seen any improvement) but as long as I can still take advantage of double Membership Rewards points on Facebook and Google Advertising for work, it’s still worth it. Decision: Keep.
  • Chase Ink Plus Business Visa – I applied for this card in my last round and love it for the cable/internet bonus alone. 5x points per dollar for spend in that category means I’m earning 12,000+ points a year for only $95Decision: Keep.
  • Chase Ink Bold Business Visa – The first Ink card I got, but now that I have the Ink Plus, I don’t need both. Since the bold is a charge card rather than a credit card, I decided to ditch. Decision: Cancelled.
  • Chase Sapphire Visa – loved the sign up bonus, the multiple partners I can transfer points to, and the lucrative Ultimate Rewards Mall for earning additional points. However, I also have the Ink Bold which offers the same things. It does offer double points for travel expenses and restaurants, so could be worth it if my spend in those categories can justify the $95 annual fee. Decision: Keep for now.
  • Citi AAdvantage Personal Visa – now that I’ve switched over to American Airlines, this $85 annual fee card is worth it for the 10% rebate on redeemed AAdvantage miles (up to 10,000) alone. Not to mention the 25%  discount for on-board food and beverage purchases. Decision: Keep.
  • Chase Mileage Plus Club Card — The card was totally worth the $395 annual fee when it came with United club access, 1.5 miles per $, and Avis President Club Status. But now there’s no meaningful rental car status (and I’ve moved to American), it’s lost its value. Decision: Cancelled.
  • US Airways Premier World MasterCard I had planned to cancel this card, but once I decided to go for status on 3 airlines this year, the opportunity to get 10,000 PQMs with $25,000 in spend (not to mention waived award booking fees) seemed well worth the $89 annual fee. Plus they keep me hanging on with periodic bonus offers throughout the year, like spending the recent 15,000  miles for hitting $750 each month in the fall. Decision: Keep.
  • Premier Rewards Gold American Express — I signed up for the card as an alternative to my Gold Business, it has a lower annual fee and I don’t have to spend all my Membership Rewards points before cancelling , but now that I’m keeping the Business Gold I might not need it. Decision: Re-evaluate when annual fee hits.
  • Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa — I originally got it for the 85,000 pt sign up bonus so I could cover my hotel rooms for Jeanne’s wedding. I don’t stay very often at Carlson properties, but the free night for every 2+ award nights and automatic Gold status is well worth the $60 annual fee. I only need one stay a year to make it worthwhile. Decision: Keep.
  • Chase Hyatt Visa — I originally got the card for the 2 free suite nights sign up bonus. The no foreign transaction fee and 3x points on Hyatt spend and 2x points on restaurants and airfare is really appealing. But I don’t need Hyatt Platinum status and the Chase Sapphire offers the same benefits. Unless I have a stay at a Category 4 property coming up (you get a free night each year you have the card), it doesn’t offer enough unique benefits to make the $75 annual fee worthwhile. Decision: Cancel when year is up.

So now I’m considering what I should apply for next.

  • Discover Card — I usually steer clear of cashback cards since I get more value out of points, but the 15% cashback on sites like Groupon and the frequent promotions like 5% back at Amazon or $500 for spending $2500 each month for 3 months make it very appealing. Plus no annual fee, so no harm in holding.
  • American Express Platinum Card — it has a hefty $450 annual fee, but it comes with both lounge access for American Airlines and US Airways as well as Priority Pass Select, as well as access to the upgrades and benefits often offered through their Fine Hotels & Resorts program. I’m not eligible for the Mercedes Benz 50,000 sign up bonus but I did get an offer to upgrade my Gold Business and get 30,000 bonus points for $10,000 in spend over 5 months.
  •  Citi AAdvantage Personal Mastercard — I have the Visa, but can still get the Mastercard which comes with a 50,000 mile sign up bonus with $3,000 in spend over 3 months.
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card — currently has a 40,000 mile sign up bonus, but requires $2,000 in spend every month for 12 months, which will take some effort to keep on top of.


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