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What’s In My Wallet?

Whats In My Wallet? Travel Reward Credit Cards An Easy & Practical Guide
Travel Reward Credit Cards… An Easy & Practical Guide

Friends and Customers have asked often about which are the best Credit Cards to use for Travel. Here is my own Travel Reward Credit Cards strategy for my daily use and when I travel. And I will offer what I know about handling your credit cards, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. I AM NOT a Financial Advisor, and I DO NOT get compensation for any of the Credit Cards I am recommending on this page. But I do suggest you follow a few simple rules if you want to accumulate a slew of points for that next fantastic trip:

#1 Pay everything that you can with a Credit Card, as long there are no additional fees for using the card.

#2 Always pay off your balance every payment cycle. The interest and fees aren’t worth it.

And remember to
Link most of your cards to your ApplePay or other mobile payment systems.

WHAT’S IN MY EVERYDAY WALLET
Beside a bit of Cash, Driver’s License and Emotional Support Dog ID, I use basically 2 different cards for everyday purchase…

Whats In My Wallet? Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Great Travel Benefits, and with 3X Ultimate Rewards for Dining, Hotel and Airfare, I use this whenever dining out and when traveling.

Whats In My Wallet? American Express Business Plus Blue
American Express Business Plus Blue
With 2X the points on EVERY purchase (up to $50k per year) I use this for pretty much everything else, that takes American Express. But, this Card is NOT good for International travel, so leave it home if you need your passport. Small business owners can easily get this, and there is no yearly fee. Those who do not qualify for a busines card, before this card, my default American Express was:

Whats In My Wallet? American Express SPG Starwood Preferred Guest
American Express SPG Starwood Preferred Guest
For any purchases that don’t get 2X or 3X bonuses this was my default card. SPG points transfer to pretty much to ALL airlines who offer a program at a 125% bonus.

for more information on these cards:
Chase Sapphire Reserve
American Express Business Plus Blue
American Express SPG Starwood Preferred Guest

WHAT’S IN MY TRAVEL WALLET
I change over a few things when I actually travel. I do have a different wallet for Foreign Currency, makes life a bit easier for me. And when travelling, make sure to leave any cards that charge a Foreign Transaction Fee at home.

Whats In My Wallet? Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Great Travel Benefits, and with 3X Ultimate Rewards for Dining, Hotel and Airfare, I use this whenever dining out and when traveling.

Whats In My Wallet? Charles Schwab Bank Visa Debit Card
Charles Schwab Bank Visa Debit Card
Surprise, this is not a Credit Card, but a NO FEE Debit Card. I only need to make sure there are funds in the checking account and I can withdraw money from an ATM in the local currency, at the exchange rate that VISA offers (generally best rate available), and there are NO transaction fees ever charged for using the ATM. No need for Foreign Exchange ever again. Some smaller Credit Unions offer a no transaction fee debit card, worth checking it out.

Whats In My Wallet? American Express Platinum Card
American Express Platinum Card
This is where a spouse comes in handy. The husband is the main Cardholder on this (me the Reserve) so I am added to his Platinum Card to get the additional perks. Centurion Lounge Access and Delta SkyClub access I use the most with this. And the 5X Airfare & Amex Hotels. Great card but pricey.

Whats In My Wallet? American Express Delta Sky Miles Gold
American Express Delta Sky Miles (Gold)
Your basic Airline Card, except it does give you access to a Sky Club regardless of airline you are flying for a reduced fee of $29.00.

for more information on these cards:
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Charles Schwab Bank Visa Debit Card
American Express Platinum Card
American Express Gold Delta Sky Miles

THE AIRLINE TRAVEL REWARD CREDIT CARDS
It’s quite smart to use the Branded Credit card of an Airline that you fly whenever possible, mainly due to the perks, such as 2X or 3X award points, Free Baggage, Priority Boarding and a few others depending on the card used.

Whats In My Wallet? Alaska Mileage Plan Visa from Bank of America
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
From Bank of America. Alaska has one of the best Mileage Programs for earning points, still based on the miles you fly rather than revenue based. So if you fly Alaska Airlines ever, this is a no-brainer.

Whats In My Wallet? American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red
American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red
From BarclayCards. I don’t fly American often, but got this for the sign-up bonus and the free baggage, and wanted to save 35,000 points from expiring. Also check out the offerings from CitiBank for more options on American AAdvantage cards.

Whats In My Wallet? Chase United Plus Explorer
United MileagePlus Explorer
From Chase. Free Baggage, Priority Boarding, 2 United Club passes per year are the main reason for this card. If you really need unlimited United Club Access, then United MileagePlus Club card is worth a look, but at $450 Annual fee, you need to visit a United Club 8+ times per year to make it break even.

Whats In My Wallet? British Airways Visa Signature
British Airways Visa Signature
From Chase. This one is set for the chopping block soon. I don’t fly BA that much.

for more information on these cards:
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card
American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red
United MileagePlus Explorer
British Airways Visa Signature
CitiBank American AAdvantage Cards

OTHER USEFUL TRAVEL REWARD CREDIT CARDS
There are a few other cards, mostly targeting small business that have had big rewards offered for certain categories. But, if you are going to pay for your Verizon charges… might as well get 5X the points for paying your bills.

Whats In My Wallet? Chase Ink Business Plus
Chase Ink Business Plus
A great card for the small business, sadly, no longer offered. 5X points for Telephone and Internet and other office spends was probably moe than Chase can offer any longer. Ink Business Preferred with only 3X may be worth checking out for a small business owner.

Whats In My Wallet? American Express Gold Premier Rewards
American Express Gold Premier Rewards
My first Amex Gold (later enhanced to Premier Rewards)… Was a great card, but the competition has passed this one by, so this may be removed from the portfolio soon. But, may be tied to all my Membership Reward points, need to check on that

Whats In My Wallet? American Express Business Gold Rewards
American Express Business Gold Rewards
With the 3X points on advertising, this was a good choice for me a few years back. The 2X on the other categories are covered by Business Blue, so this may be removed from the portfolio soon.

Whats In My Wallet? Citi ThankYou Premier
Citi ThankYou Premier
Most likely due for removal as well, originally had more benefits, so need to find a place to move those ThankYou points before renewal time. There has been a lot of Hazzah over the Citi Prestige, but I never saw much benefit except a sign-up bonus, and the Annual Fee was high.

for more information on these cards:
Ink Business Plus
American Express Gold Premier Rewards
American Express Business Gold Rewards
Citi ThankYou Premier
Citi Prestige

For the average person, this is way more credit cards than one wants to deal with. And you do need to manage them well, so not to cause havok on that FICO score. Remember that cancelling a credit card can even cause your FICO to go down, so weed out the unwated carefully and slowly. But for those that have the time and patience, it is a good way to get an upgraded travel experience.

And if this isn’t enough, you can go more hog-wild and live the life of a Card Flippin’ Point Ho, for some it is a hobby and other’s a lifestyle.

Our favorite “Card Flippin’ Point Ho” sites:
The Points Guy
One Mile at a Time

Feel free to leave comments and questions below, this page will continue to evolve as my wallet changes with time. Or contact me directly, this does deal with your money and credit ratings, not everything needs to be a public forum.

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