Keeping 12 Cards, Downgrading 1, Canceling 3: Keith’s Plan

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Keeping 12 Cards, Downgrading 1, Canceling 3:  Keith’s Plan

Million Mile SecretsKeeping 12 Cards, Downgrading 1, Canceling 3:  Keith’s PlanMillion Mile Secrets Team

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I asked Million Mile Secrets team members to share which credit cards are in their wallet.  And to let us know if they plan to make any changes.  We don’t reimburse writers for their credit card fees, so folks don’t have an incentive to pay unneccesary credit card fees.

Here’s team member Keith!

Keith:   Thanks, Daraius!  I currently have 16 credit cards in my wallet.

Most of my cards have annual fees.  So I’m always mindful to evaluate my credit card inventory to make sure the perks I get make paying the annual fee worth it.

I usually apply for cards to earn valuable welcome bonuses.  This has made it possible to take wonderful trips to destinations throughout the US, and internationally to Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dubai, France, Italy, Singapore, and more!  And the vacations have been at a small fraction of what it would cost if I paid cash.

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
Earning Valuable Sign-Up Bonuses on Miles & Points Credit Cards Has Helped Get My Parents, Wife, and Me Travel to Destinations Like Cinque Terre, Italy!

I’ll share my credit card strategy.  And let you know which cards I’m keeping, converting, and canceling! 

Team Credit Card Inventory Index

My Credit Card Strategy & Inventory

My credit card strategy involves a team effort.  Because my wife also applies for rewards credit cards.

Sometimes this means my wife and I submit separate applications for the same card to earn 2 lucrative welcome bonuses.  Other times she might apply for a card if I’m unable to because of certain bank application restrictions, like the Chase “5/24 rule”.

My wife and I also qualify for small business credit cards.  Because we regularly sell items on eBay and Amazon for profit.  This a quick way to help us boost our miles & points balances!

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
Earning Miles & Points From a Side Business, Like Selling on eBay, Helps My Wife and Me Achieve Our Travel Goals, Including Flying Emirates Business Class!

And my wife and I are always keeping an eye on our credit scores and financial health.  Before we started in the miles & points hobby, we thought many of the myths associated with applying for credit cards were true.

But having lots of cards and using them responsibly has helped us maintain credit scores above 800!

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
My Credit Score Is Above 800 Even With 16 Credit Cards!

We pay our accounts in full each month and have never carried a balance.  And, we’re careful to only apply for credit card offers that help our travel and financial goals.

Here’s a look at the 16 credit cards I currently have and the annual fees.

The annual fees for my cards total $2,348.  But I’m in a “free trial period” on a couple of cards that waive the annual fee the first year.  I typically keep these cards until the annual fee shows up on the billing statement and evaluate whether they’re worth keeping.

I’ll let you know which cards I’m keeping, converting, and cancelling.

Cards I’m Keeping

1.   AMEX Business Platinum

Link:   The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

I’m keeping this card because it comes with $200 in statement credits per calendar year for airline incidentals on my selected airline.

Similar to Daraius, I picked Southwest and purchased airline gift cards to get the credit.  This perk effectively makes the annual fee $250 ($450 annual fee – $200 in statement credits).

This card also comes with 10 free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each year, which save me money.  In fact, I’m drafting this post while on a Virgin America flight.  I saved $26 by using my free Gogo pass!

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
Hard to Beat This Office View! And Even Better With Free Wi-Fi Thanks to the AMEX Business Platinum Card!

I also take advantage of the airport lounge benefits with this card.  Like my recent dinner at the AMEX Centurion Lounge at the Las Vegas airport.

While the card has its perks, I was disappointed to see AMEX make negative changes to the Pay With Points perk.  But I’ll still hang onto it for at least another year.

2.   AMEX Starwood Business

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

I don’t put much spending on my AMEX Starwood small business card.  But I keep it because I get:

  • Access to AMEX Offers, which can save you money on everyday purchases
  • Free in-room internet at participating Starwood hotels

And if this card goes away because of the Marriott-Starwood merger, I’m hopeful they’ll offer points or better perks by automatically converting me to a different card.

3. & 4.   Bank of America Alaska Airlines Card

Link:   The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card

I started collecting Alaska Airlines miles in 2017 following the airline’s merger with Virgin America.

It’s easy to earn miles with the sign-up bonus on the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card.  Because you can apply for the card and earn the sign-up bonus every 90 days.  That’s why I currently have 2 of these cards.

And applying for this small business card doesn’t impact your chances of getting Chase cards in the future.  Because the account does NOT appear on your personal credit report!

5.   Barclaycard JetBlue Plus

Link:   Barclaycard JetBlue Plus

The JetBlue Plus card comes with 5,000 JetBlue points (worth ~$70 in JetBlue flights) each year on your account anniversary.  This perk makes the card’s annual fee effectively $29 ($99 annual fee – $70 in flights).

And I quickly earn JetBlue points paying for Mint Business Class tickets with this card when my wife and I fly between Los Angeles and New York.  Because you earn 6X points per $1 you spend on JetBlue purchases with the card.

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
Using the JetBlue Plus Card to Pay for Mint Business Class Tickets Helps to Quickly Boost Our Points Balance!

And it’s easy to redeem JetBlue points for award flights because the airline has no blackout dates!

6.   Capital One Quicksilver

Link:   Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

I’m keeping the Capital One Quicksilver card because there’s no annual fee!  I don’t use it often, but when I do, all purchases earn me 1.5% cash back!

There are also certain promotions that make this card worth keeping.  For example, using this card in 2016 saved me money with the Uber promotion (no longer available).

7.   Chase Freedom Unlimited

Link:   Chase Freedom Unlimited

I use my Chase Freedom Unlimited for just about every purchase that’s not in the travel or dining category.  Because I earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 for every purchase!

Then, I combine points with my other eligible Chase cards and transfer them directly to airline and hotel travel partners like Hyatt, Southwest, and United Airlines!

And this is another card with no annual fee.  So I’ll keep it forever!

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

8.   Chase Hyatt

With a free night at a Category 1 to 4 Hyatt every card anniversary, I can easily offset the Chase Hyatt card’s $75 annual fee expense. 

I might use it to book an award night next June at the Grand Hyatt Washington, DC when I’m in the area for a friend’s wedding.  The same night costs ~$448 if I pay cash, so the free night is an unbelievable perk!

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
I’ll Easily Offset the Chase Hyatt Card’s Annual Fee by Redeeming the Card’s Free Annual Night Certificate at a Hotel Like the Grand Hyatt Washington, DC!

9.   Chase Ink Business Preferred

I pay my monthly cell phone bill with the Ink Business Preferred because I automatically get up to $600 in cell phone insurance.  This is a great perk!

Plus, I earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines!

The bonus on shipping purchases is a great benefit with my eBay side business.  So this card isn’t going anywhere!

10.   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:  Chase Sapphire Reserve

This card gets the most use, so I’m definitely keeping it!  Because I often spend on travel & dining and earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for these purchases!

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
I Use the Sapphire Reserve for All Travel & Dining Purchases Because I Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!

This card also comes with a $300 annual credit for travel purchases, such as airfare and hotels.  So it effectively makes the annual fee $150 ($450 annual fee – $300 travel credit).

And when you pay for travel with the card, you get amazing trip protection benefits!

11.   Citi Double Cash

Link:   Citi Double Cash 

This is another no annual fee card that I’ll keep forever.  Plus, the rewards are nice with up to 2% cash back!  You earn 1% cash back on all your purchases AND another 1% cash back on payments.

It’s nice to earn miles & points.  But there’s nothing wrong with having a cash back card in your wallet too!  I recently used the cash back to offset the cost of a private jet flight!

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
I Completely Offset the Cost of a Private Jet Flight Using Cash Back From the Citi Double Cash Card!

12.   Citi Prestige

Link:   Citi Prestige

I get the most savings with the Citi Prestige.  That’s because several times per year I take advantage of the 4th night free perk when booking paid hotel stays.

In 2016, I saved $1,650 with this perk.  And in 2017, I’ve already saved more than $1,000!  So continuing to pay the card’s $450 annual fee is a no-brainer.

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
The Savings With the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Perk Can Really Add Up!

The card also comes with $250 in annual statement credits for airline purchases such as airfare and baggage fees.  This is a terrific perk to offset the annual fee expense further.

Cards I’m Downgrading

1.   Chase Ink Plus

I’m downgrading the Chase Ink Plus to the no annual fee Ink Business Cash Credit Card.  Because I’ll save $95 without annual fee.  And I’ll still continue to earn 5% cash back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on certain purchases, including at office supply stores.

Plus, I still have flexibility to combine points from the Ink Cash to my Sapphire Reserve account and transfer them directly to Chase travel partners!

Cards I’m Canceling

1.   AMEX Premier Rewards Gold

Link:   Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

The AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card has been in my wallet for ~11 months.  This means the $195 annual fee will appear on a billing statement soon.

The card has a $100 per calendar year airline incidental fee credit, which offsets the annual fee.  And savings from AMEX Offers also help with the fee.

But I rarely use this card, which is why it’s time to go.  I prefer to use the cards in my wallet that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

2.   AMEX Green

With a $95 annual fee and very few perks, I can’t think of a reason to keep this card.  It’s only in my wallet after I downgraded an old personal AMEX Platinum card so I could keep my AMEX Membership Rewards points active.

But because I now have the AMEX Business Platinum, I don’t have to worry about losing my points as long as I keep the card.

3.   Chase Southwest Premier

Link:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

The sign-up bonus from the Chase Southwest Premier card helped me earn the Companion Pass!  My wife and I use this amazing travel deal all the time.

But I don’t put much spending on this card.  So I can save $99 by getting rid of the annual fee expense with this card.

2017 Credit Cards Worth Paying The Annual Fee
The Chase Southwest Premier Card Sign-Up Bonus Helped Me Earn the Companion Pass, Which My Wife and I Frequently Use! But I Don’t Use the Card Much Now, so It’s Time to Cancel!

Plus, I have several cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  And I can transfer these flexible points directly to Southwest.  So it’s not necessary for me to have a card that earns Southwest points directly.

Bottom Line

After taking a closer look at the 16 credit cards in my wallet, I plan to keep most of them.

While my annual fee expense on the cards I’m keeping exceeds $2,000, I get amazing perks like free hotel nights or annual travel credits with several cards.  For example, in 2016, I saved $1,650 using the 4th night free perk with the Citi Prestige.

There aren’t any other cards I’m considering at the moment.  But my wife and I will take advantage of future offers if they helps us achieve our travel goals!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Hi Keith,
How can I use the 100$ airline credit with AmEX Premier Gold card on United ?

Im trying to understand your rationale for keeping Jetblue card which gives 5k bonus and no blackout vs your decision to cancel southwest which also gives similar 6k bonus and no blackout dates.

On paper they look the same. Is it solely based on your usage pattern?

@RC – The cards I use most earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which I can transfer directly to Southwest. So while the 6,000 bonus Southwest points help offset the annual fee, I’d rather not have the expense.

On the other hand, I don’t use the JetBlue card frequently, but I do book JetBlue award flights every so often. So getting 5,000 bonus points will help boost my balance. I could also transfer points to JetBlue from AMEX Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou, but I’d have to switch my spending strategy to earn more points on the eligible cards.

Help me understand, you do keep the Alaska Airlines cards with a $ 75 annual fee , when you can cancel and reapply every 90 days, I realise you`ll have to pay the $75 again but you`ll get the points each time ??

@Jerry – You don’t have to cancel and reapply to get a 2nd card. I applied in January 2017 for the first card and earned the 30,000-mile sign-up bonus. Then, I applied for the same card in May and earned the sign-up bonus again. I’ll try for a 3rd card later this year.

The cards have a $75 annual fee, but they each come with a companion certificate. I used one already and it saved me ~$400.

Hey kieth, curios if it worked a 3rd time?

Yes! It was about ~9 months in between card applications.

Doesn’t the Ink Pref. cell coverage only kick in after Home Owner’s insurance? Does this mean if my deductible is higher than the cards insurance the card will cover the cost? I have avoided using the CIP and instead use the Ink+ for the 5% because I am confused about this.

@Rob – You’re correct about the Ink Business Preferred cell phone insurance being supplemental.

I’m definitely not an insurance expert. However, I read through my renters insurance policy, which seems to imply damage to my phone would only be covered if it occurred at my residence. So even though the Ink Business Preferred insurance is supplemental, I think it would cover me for cell phone damage or theft that occurred while away from home.

Keith why don’t you apply for chase ink cash so you get bonus instead of downgrading ink plus?

@Lee – I’m currently above the Chase “5/24 limit” so it’s unlikely I’d be approved for the card.

If I am not mistaken, Chase business cards are not subject to 5/24 rule.

@Olga – Most personal and small business Chase cards are impacted by the 5/24 rule. Here’s a post with the few exceptions:

https://millionmilesecrets.com/2016/08/22/6-chase-travel-cards-not-restricted-by-the-524-rule/

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