When I started award travel practice, I was out the gate applying for credit cards that had a big signup bonuses for meeting ‘x’ amount of required spending in first 3 months. I got as many cards as the banks would allow me. I personally signed up for 17 credit cards from March 2016, but you know this isn’t to infinity that you can do this. The banks have been coming out with more restrictions of late, in addition, the amount of hard credit inquiries on your credit report can cause you to be denied, so at some point I had to slow down. That got me to thinking of the cards I personally opened which I would eventually close or downgrade and which ones would I keep for continued normal monthly spend.
Well, I decided the cards which would be best to keep and continue spend on are those that have points of the transferable kind and any credit cards that had a free night certificate at a hotel on my anniversary date. So for me that meant, I would keep the following of those credit cards I had opened:
- Chase Sapphire (Ultimate Rewards (UR)) – $95 annual fee
- Chase Ink Cash (Ultimate Rewards) – no annual fee
- Chase Freedom Unlimited (Ultimate Rewards) – no annual fee
- American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (Starpoints) – $95 annual fee
- American Express Everyday Card (Membership Rewards (MR)) – no annual fee
- Citi Prestige (Thank You Points (TY)) – $450 annual fee
- Citi Hilton Honors Card (HHonors) – no annual fee
- Chase Hyatt (Gold Passport) – $75 annual fee
So, currently I distribute my spending across the cards which I lack points in. For instance, after our trip to Hawaii, I am light on Ultimate Rewards and I have been putting everything I can pay with a credit card on Freedom Unlimited which earns 1.5 UR points per dollar on all purchases and I then transfer those points to my Sapphire account where they can be transferred to partnered loyalty programs or redeemed for travel. Our cable, Netflix, and cell phones are paid for with Ink Cash and earn 5X UR points per dollar. I have one of my mortgages paid via Plastiq linked with my Starwood Preferred Guest card to pay for it and earn 1 Starpoints per dollar. My wife uses the Everyday Card, and if 30 purchases are made per month, it gets 50% bonus MR points on different categories of spend.
We are replenishing points in these programs because they can be transferred to airlines and hotels loyalty programs we use without having to use their co-branded cards and pay for annual fees. When many of the hotels and airlines are devaluing their program points, why get their specific points or miles when you can transfer UR, MR, Starpoints, or TY points to these programs as needed? The accumulation is a lot slower without being currently able to sign up for credit card bonuses, but I can still maximize rewards by smart spending which will help accumulating travel in the future.
If you would like to apply for some of the credit cards I mentioned above that I used, visit my Affiliate and Referral link here and find those cards from there.