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Each member of the ToP team has different spending habits and travel goals. Here is a look inside our wallets. Each person explains how they utilize each card and why they value it.
- Citi Prestige: I use for 5x on restaurants, 5x on flights and 3x on hotels and cruises. Still one of my favorite cards no matter how much Citi tries to ruin it. 5x on restaurants and flights is crazy. We almost only fly Southwest domestically, so I do not worry about trip cancellation or delays.
- Chase Ink Preferred: My only card that earns Unlimited Rewards—Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited are technically cash back. I keep it for 3x on Uber, public transit, parking and taxis (yes, I do ride those occasionally).
- American Express Gold: I utilize for 4x at US supermarkets.
- Citi AT&T Access More: 3x Citi ThankYou Points on online shopping. This card has been discontinued. When I got it, you could only do so by product changing from an existing Citi card. Glad I got in while I could.
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus: This card earns 2x on all purchases. You can redeem miles at 1 cent per mile to “erase” purchases from your statement. The card also offers a 5% miles rebate when redeeming for travel, which yields 2.11% cash back per dollar spent. An added benefit is that you have a few months to “erase” the purchase from your statement. I was able to redeem miles for a ryokan stay in Kyoto from January in March. Unfortunately, this card is also discontinued.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: I am an authorized user on Sarah’s account. I use this for 3x on MileagePlus gift cards (I have a Chipotle obsession) and 3x on travel.
- Citi Premier: I keep this card for 3x at gas stations and to pair with the Citi Double Cash card. While we rarely pay for fuel for our vehicles, as we take advantage of gas savings programs at grocery stores, we use this card to buy all our aviation fuel.
- Citi Double Cash: This is my everyday spend card. 2% cash back on all purchases with no annual cap. If you have a Citi Premier or Prestige, you can convert cash back to ThankYou Points. Essentially, I earn 2x ThankYou Points on all purchases.
- American Express Gold: I use this card for all my purchases at U.S. supermarkets (4x Membership Rewards) and most restaurants (4x), when eating alone. The supermaket spend helps offset all fuel costs, as we aggressively earn fuel points during supermarket promotions. Earning 4x Membership Rewards and free fuel is an amazing combo.
- Rotating Card: This spot is reserved for a card with a quarterly bonus, minimum spend or other promotion. Right now, I’m utilizing my World of Hyatt card and working towards Globalist status.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: I utilize this card for 3x on dining and travel. Yes, there are cards that earn more on both categories, but I value Chase Unlimited Rewards both for transfer options and the ability to book through the portal. The simplicity of the $300 travel credit is one of my favorite benefits. I also appreciate the Priority Pass lounge access, particularly the Turkish Lounge at my home airport. Additionally, the trip cancellation/interruption insurance has saved the day on multiple occasions.
- American Express Gold: My choice for 4x points at US supermarkets and restaurants. Food is one of our biggest budget items, and the Gold card makes it easy to rack up Membership Rewards points. The $10 monthly GrubHub credit is a nice perk on days when I forget to pack a lunch for the office.
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus: I use this card for 2x on everything. This was my first travel-focused card, and I still have a soft spot for it. The “erase” benefit is valuable for when I find a good deal, rent a car or book an independently owned hotel. Sadly, this card is discontinued. Currently this card is taking a backseat to the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier card while I finish my minimum spend.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: The other everyday spend card used in my household. My husband carries this card for 1.5x on all purchases. It’s easy, straightforward and great for those who don’t want to overthink every swipe. Although this card is marketed as cash back, we use the Unlimited Rewards which we value more. I transfer points to my Chase Sapphire Reserve account to maximize value.
- Chase World of Hyatt: For 2x on local transit and commuting. Before the days of social distancing, I commuted to the office by bus and metro. Swiping my monthly transit expense is a quick way to earn a few extra Hyatt points.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: I use this card for 3x on dining and travel.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: My every day spend card for 1.5x points on purchases that do not fall into any bonus categories.
- American Express Gold: I use for 4x points at US supermarkets and restaurants.
- Citi Double Cash: I was only using this for limited spending, but I’ve been utilizing it more with the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Derrick’s usage, highlighted above, also has me considering the Citi Premier combo.
- Chase Freedom: I try to take advantage of the quarterly bonus categories for 5x Unlimited Rewards.
- Chase Ink Business Cash: I use this card for 5x at office supply stores, internet, cable and phone. I recently acquired this card by downgrading my Chase Ink Business Preferred.
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: This is my newest card, and I am so excited to have a Chase biz card! With a hefty $15,000 minimum spend, the vast majority of my purchases right now are going to knocking that out. Before I got this card, all travel purchases went on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Ink Business Preferred also gets 3x on those purchases, so there is no need to carry both.
- American Express (Rose) Gold: Like most people, and as Meredith mentioned in her blog post last week, a lot of our spend lately has been on groceries. This card earns 4x points at US supermarkets and restaurants.
- Citi Prestige: This is my everyday card for dining purchases, since it earns 5x ThankYou Points at restaurants. I'm on the fence about keeping this card long-term, but for now it is a good card for earning ThankYou Points.
- American Express Blue Business Plus: This card earns 2x Membership Rewards points on everyday business purchases, so anything that doesn't otherwise fall into a bonus category on another card gets put on this one.
- American Express Platinum: When I’m traveling, I always carry my Platinum to access Centurion Lounges (my favorite). I also regularly receive attractive Amex Offers for using the card.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: I have had this card since it was introduced in August 2016. My favorite things are that I earn 3x on travel and dining and the travel insurance. The $300 travel credit is easy to use, since many types of travel qualify. The ability to book flights through the Chase portal for 50% more value per point is great when I can catch a fare sale, or I don’t have the cash to pay for a hotel.
- American Express (Rose) Gold: I had been thinking about this card as a break from Chase cards and diversifying to Membership Rewards. I snagged the card when a 50,000 welcome bonus was offered. Most people know that I love rose gold and have been obsessed with it for about 15 years, so way before it was cool. It has a permanent spot in my wallet because it earns 4x points at US supermarkets and restaurants, which is especially beneficial since the majority of purchases for my private practice are at supermarkets.
- Chase Ink Business Cash: I obtained the Ink Cash via a downgrade from the no longer available Chase Ink Plus (this card has been replaced by the Chase Ink Preferred). I utilize 5x points at office supply stores for gift cards for stores I regularly shop at such as Amazon and Sephora.
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited: The Ink Unlimited is my catch-all card. Anything that does not fall into a bonus category goes on this card, unless I am working on a minimum spend. The 1.5% cash back on all purchases is clutch. I chose the Ink Business Unlimited over the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both cards earn 1.5% cash back, but business cards do not impact your 5/24 status.
- Chase Freedom: The final card in my Chase pyramid. The 5x points back on rotating quarterly categories equals 30,000 extra Chase Ultimate Rewards a year if I max it out each quarter. To be fair, there are some quarters I don’t. However, I typically come pretty close.
- United Explorer Mileage Plus: I obtained this card for two reasons, the signup bonus and the enhanced access to United award flights. I’m currently wrapping up my minimum spend. After that the card will get less use, but I will keep it long term for the enhanced access to award flights. One of my travel dreams is to fly EVA air from Chicago to Taipei on the Hello Kitty plane in business class. Anything that gets me closer to the goal is a win for me.
The beauty of this game is that there is no prescribed answer. Each member of the ToP team reviewed their individual spending habits and travel goals to determine the credit cards that add maximum value to their situation. There are trends among the cards that we carry but plenty of differences too.
What are your travel goals, and which cards are in your wallet every day? Share your thoughts below or in the Travel on Point(s) Facebook group.