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When it comes to credit cards, it can be very exciting to see a big welcome bonus. But before you apply for the “highest welcome bonus ever,” you should develop a strategy for how you plan to utilize the card and maximize the points.
I consistently write about the cards that I currently have in my wallet and how I utilize them. I won’t go into depth about each card and the benefits they offer but below are two of my favorite go-to cards:
American Express Gold Card [READ MORE]: 4x at grocery stores and 4x on dining. Aside from mortgage, these are the two categories I spend the most money in. This card is also targeted for many of my Amex offers, so I definitely obtain more than the $250 annual fee in value from this card.
Chase Ink Business Preferred Card: 3x on travel, 3x on Internet, 3x on cable and covers a lot of categories that are actually useful to my business. This is a go-to card for me and I definitely extract more than the $95 annual fee in value.
However, over the past few months, I’ve had several annual fees post to my credit card profiles and the equation became a bit more complicated. For example:
CARD #1: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card [READ MORE]
I love this card. It earns 6x at Marriott, 3x at restaurants, 2x on all other purchases. As a card member, you also earn $300 in statement credits each year for purchases at Marriott hotels (albeit with a $450 annual fee). In other words, you pay Marriott $450 at the beginning of the year and the first $300 spent at Marriott will be credited back to you for a “net” out-of-pocket of $150.
Additionally, card members receive ‘1 Free Night Award’ every year for a redemption up to 50,000 points. In the past, I’ve been able to justify the “net $150” because I’ve stayed in hotels that were triple that price when redeeming my Free Night.
The majority of my stays for the past few years have been at SPG hotels (the brand who was acquired by Marriott), but Marriott has been largely disappointing since the acquisition.
Once my annual fee posted for this card, I called American Express for a retention call. Although the representative was apologetic for card not being as rewarding as I had wished, there were no offers on my account, and I could not justify supplying a cash advance to a hotel not knowing when I would be staying again so…
FINAL DECISION: CANCEL IT
CARD #2: The Business Platinum Card from American Express [READ MORE]:
If you’re not familiar with the Business Platinum Card, it’s a premium card.
While the annual fee is high ($595) the card comes with lots of benefits that help negate the annual fee including 5x Points On Flights & Prepaid Hotels (through Amex Travel), 35% rebate on points redemptions, $200 Annual Airline Fee Credit, $200 Dell Statement Credits, Hilton Honors Gold Status, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Status, TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry Credit, Amex Centurion Lounge Access, Delta SkyClub Access, and Priority Pass Membership, etc.
Unfortunately, the annual fee on Business Platinum Card appeared at nearly the same time as the annual fee on my Marriott card.
In any given year, it’s fairly easy for me to extract more value than the annual fee from this card. But since I had not flown in 6 months and it’s possible that I may NOT be on a plane for another 6 months, it was a lot harder to justify the $595 annual fee.
Again, I called Amex about a retention offer and the representative just repeated many of the benefits that I listed above.
I explained that the aforementioned benefits weren’t really benefits/perks if you can’t use them and the representative disregarded my words and simply asked “so what do you want to do?”
FINAL DECISION: “OK…JUST CANCEL IT!”
CARD #3: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card
To be completely candid, I did not plan to keep this card long term. Similar to most co-branded airline cards, the earning rates are much better on other cards. However, the annual fee on this card was waived for the first year, and there was an increase welcome bonus.
Additionally, I had planned a trip to Europe and Oman. I knew there was great award availability from Europe to Oman on Qatar Airways yielding the perfect opportunity to redeem American Airline AAdvantage miles and a review of Qsuites.
I barely put any spend on this card over the past year, so I wasn’t expecting any offers when my annual fee posted at the beginning of Year 2. I called the retention line, was told there were no offers, but I could product chance to several other cards.
Generally, if completing a product change, you are required to change to a card within the “family.” In other words, you switch from an AA card to another AA card. However, one interesting option I had was to product change to the Citi Double Cash card.
This is a phenomenal card as it offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no annual fees. I’ll be discussing this more on a future blog.
FINAL DECISION: PC’d to Citi Double Cash.
Over the past 60 days, I’ve “lost” 3 cards. Surprisingly, I also added a few cards too, so my wallet has received a total overhaul.
I venture to say that 2020 has changed a lot for all of us. I still have quite a few point-earning cards in my wallet but I am looking forward to new adventures and new strategies.
What cards do you have in your wallet? Are you planning a wallet refresh?