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Million Mile Secrets team member Joseph is rearranging his wallet. I’ll let him show you which cards he’s keeping, which cards he’s canceling, and which cards he’s product-changing! And a few new cards he’s aiming for. We don’t reimburse writers for their credit card fees, so folks don’t have an incentive to pay unnecessary credit card fees.
Joseph: Lots of miles & points credit cards have amazing perks! But if you don’t pay attention, you may have redundant benefits.
For example, if you have 2 cards that come with airport lounge access, it’s a good idea to reevaluate the cards and decide if you need them both. You could save hundreds in annual fees!
I’ll show you which cards I plan to keep, which I plan to cancel, and which I plan to convert to another card! And share my wish list for new cards.
Team Credit Card Inventory Index
- Hello to 3 New Cards, Goodbye to 7, Keeping 8: Joseph’s Plan
- Keeping 12 Cards, Downgrading 1, Canceling 3: Keith’s Plan
- Keeping 7 Cards, Downgrading 1, Canceling 2: Meghan’s Plan
- Keeping 22 Cards, Downgrading 1, Canceling 7: Harlan’s Plan
2017 Credit Cards Worth the Annual Fee
I’ve currently only applied for 7 cards in the past 24 months. I had a lot of miles & points saved, and I’ve been draining those accounts instead of applying for more cards. I’m trying to get under the Chase “5/24 rule“, which restricts folks from being approved for valuable Chase cards if they’ve opened 5+ credit cards in the past 24 months.
There are certain small business cards that will NOT count against the Chase “5/24 rule”, but I truly don’t have anything in my life that I can label a small business. I’ve considered reselling products, like team member Meghan, or diving into Airbnb like team members Harlan and Keith. But I haven’t done it yet.
And soon, 5 more credit cards will drop off my account, and I’ll be able to apply for Chase cards again!
I’m excited to begin applying for cards again, but for now I’ll tell you the cards I already have, and which ones I plan to keep.
Cards I’m Keeping
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express||$95|
|Chase Freedom||NO annual fee|
|Chase Marriott Rewards||$85|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||$95|
|Citi American Airlines Platinum Select||$95|
|Citi Double Cash||NO annual fee|
|Discover it® Cash Back||NO annual fee|
|Wright Patt Credit Union Card||NO annual fee|
1. No Annual Fee Cards
Link: Chase Freedom
Link: Citi Double Cash
Link: Discover it® Cash Back
Everyone should have no annual fee credit cards. And keep them forever! That’s because they help you build a long-term relationship with banks. And keeping a card for a long time will improve your length of credit history, which can boost your credit score!
2. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
If I’m making a purchase that is NOT a bonus category of any of my cards, I’ll use my Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. That’s because Starwood points are extremely valuable!
Starwood points transfer to most airlines at a ratio of 1:1. And when you transfer your Starwood points in increments of 20,000 to airlines with a 1:1 transfer ratio, you’ll get a bonus 5,000 airline miles! That’s like earning the equivalent of 1.25 airline miles per $1.
And because of the Starwood Marriott merger, I can transfer Starwood points to Marriott at a ratio of 1:3 (1 Starwood point = 3 Marriott points). That’s good for me, because when I travel, I usually end up staying at either a Marriott or Starwood hotel.
3. Chase Marriott
Link: Chase Marriott
I use the annual free night for hotels that usually cost MUCH more than $85, so I’ll likely never cancel this card. I used my annual free night just last week to book a last-minute $186 hotel in San Jose, California.
4. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
My Chase Sapphire Preferred is the only card I have that gives me the ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to valuable airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt, Southwest, and United Airlines. They’re my favorite kind of points (and Daraius’ favorite, too!).
Whenever I rent a car in the US, I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred, so I can have rental car insurance without paying the extra money for the rental car agency’s collision damage waiver (CDW). That money can really add up, depending on how often you rent!
The card benefits alone, like the rental car insurance and the delayed baggage insurance, have saved me thousands (lots of things tend to go wrong for me!). And the points I’ve earned from the card have saved me even more.
5. Citi American Airlines Platinum Select
I fly American Airlines more than any other airline. I’m keeping my Citi American Airlines Platinum Select card because it lets me board before most folks, and it gives me a free checked bag for domestic flights.
American Airlines charges $25 one-way for a checked bag. So if I check a bag for just 2 round-trips per year, I’ll have saved more than the $95 annual fee ($25 per checked bag X 4 one-ways).
Plus, I’ll get these same benefits even if I buy a Basic Economy fare. Without it, a Basic Economy fare would deny me a carry-on, and I’d be dead last to board.
The Citi American Airlines Platinum Select also gives me a 10% rebate when I redeem American Airlines miles.
And because of Citi’s new rules, folks will NOT get the sign-up bonus from a Citi card if they’ve opened or closed a card of the same brand in the past 24 months. So if I cancel the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select, I won’t be able to apply for other Citi American Airlines cards for 2 years!
I’ll keep this card until I decide to apply for another American Airlines card. That way I’ll always have the benefits of an American Airlines card, and I’m still eligible for another sign-up bonus.
6. Citi Prestige
Link: Citi Prestige
The Citi Prestige is the most expensive card in my wallet. It comes with a $450 annual fee. But it’s also my favorite card!
That’s because it has unbelievably generous benefits, like the 4th night free at nearly any hotel (including hostels), airport lounge access with guest privileges, and an annual $250 airfare credit. So it’s effortless for me to get much more than $450 in value from the card each year.
I also put the majority of my travel expenses on the card, because of its great travel protection benefits. For example, it comes with primary rental car coverage outside the US, and baggage delay protection that kicks in after just 3 hours!
The card also has excellent trip interruption insurance. I booked a trip to Geneva, London, and Tromso, Norway, in March, but I broke my clavicle weeks before my flights. I submitted my doctor’s note and other documents to Citi, and they refunded most of the money I spent on my flights within a couple weeks!
Note: Other Citi cards with lower annual fees, like the Citi ThankYou Premier, have identical trip interruption insurance.
Cards I’m Downgrading
|Card||Annual Fee||Downgrading To|
|Chase Fairmont (soon to be Chase Sapphire Preferred)||$95||Chase Freedom Unlimited (NO annual fee)|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard||$89||Barclaycard Arrival (NO annual fee)|
|Barclaycard American Airlines Aviator Red||$95||Barclaycard American Airlines Aviator MasterCard (NO annual fee)|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||$59||Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card (NO annual fee)|
When a credit card’s benefits don’t give you enough value to justify the annual fee, you should NOT keep paying it. The good news is you don’t always have to cancel a card to avoid paying the annual fee! Lots of cards have siblings with less valuable benefits and NO annual fee.
If you decide your card isn’t worth the annual fee, you can sometimes call the bank to get your annual fee waived. If that doesn’t work, you can often downgrade the card to a no-annual-fee version. This is an easy way to keep your same credit utilization. And your credit history won’t temporarily be affected by a cancelled account!
Here are the cards I want to downgrade.
1. Barclaycard Arrival Plus
- The card used to come with a 10% rebate on redeemed points. Now it comes with a 5% rebate
- The minimum redemption for travel purchases used to be $25. Now, it’s $100
- You’ll no longer receive a free TripIt Pro membership with the card
The only reason I use the card now is for its Chip + PIN feature, which is useful in Europe and other places where you find a lot of unmanned kiosks.
Multiple data points say the no-annual-fee Barclaycard Arrival (not open to new applicants) also has Chip + PIN capability (I didn’t know that!), so I plan to downgrade to this card before the next annual fee is due.
Note: It’s more difficult to be approved for another Barclaycard Arrival Plus if you have an open Barclaycard Arrival. So if you’re thinking about opening another Barclaycard Arrival Plus, it may be wise to just cancel your current Barclaycard Arrival Plus instead of downgrading it.
2. Barclaycard Aviator Red
Link: Barclaycard Aviator Red
I decided to keep my Citi American Airlines Platinum Select card, so I have no use for a second American Airlines card. The Barclaycard Aviator Red has practically the exact same benefits. If I keep them both, I’m needlessly paying another annual fee.
I’ll try to downgrade this card to the no annual fee Barclaycard Aviator MasterCard.
3. Capital One Venture
Link: Capital One Venture
Multiple data points show that the Capital One Venture can NOT be downgraded to a no annual fee card. But a few lucky folks have had success. So I’ll give it a shot, and cancel the card if Capital One won’t let me downgrade.
4. Chase Fairmont
Chase is converting the Chase Fairmont (no longer available to new applicants) card into the Chase Sapphire Preferred for all cardholders on August 15, 2017. Because I already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, there is no benefit to holding 2 of them at once.
After August 15, 2017, I’ll call Chase and ask to downgrade my new Chase Sapphire Preferred to a no-annual fee card. I already have a Chase Freedom so I plan to downgrade to a Chase Freedom Unlimited, which earns a flat 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on all purchases.
5. Citi ThankYou Premier
Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
I signed-up for the Citi ThankYou Premier for its increased 50,000 point sign-up bonus last year, and its 3 ThankYou points per $1 at gas stations. I was able to transfer the points to my Citi Prestige to redeem them on American Airlines at a rate of 1.6 cents each (that benefit devalues July 23, 2017). I got ~$800 in value from that sign-up bonus!
But after weighing the ongoing benefits, they aren’t enough for me to pay the annual fee. I’ll downgrade this to the Citi ThankYou Preferred card.
Note: If you downgrade a card, just remember to use it once every ~6 months! Or the credit card issuer might close your card from inactivity.
Cards I’m Canceling
If there are NO cards you’d like to downgrade to, it’s time to cancel!
When you call to cancel a card, you’ll usually be transferred to a “retention specialist.” It’s their job to try and keep your business! They’ll sometimes waive your next annual fee or offer bonus points to convince you to stay.
Pending excellent retention offers or waived annual fees, I plan to cancel these cards:
1. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
I do not fly Delta enough to justify paying the AMEX Delta Gold $95 annual fee. And usually, when I DO fly Delta, I book award flights with miles from Delta’s partner airlines, Flying Blue and Korean Air. So I don’t have much use for a credit card that earns Delta miles.
2. Chase United Explorer
I’ve recently started avoiding United Airlines because my bad experiences with them continue to add up. From disgruntled pilots to lost luggage to missed connections.
I’m canceling my Chase United Explorer card because I don’t use the card often and I don’t get any value from its benefits.
Plus, I already indirectly earn United Airlines miles with my Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom card. Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United Airlines at a ratio of 1:1. So the only benefit of holding the card is priority boarding and a free checked bag on domestic flights.
Because I’ve been waiting so long to apply for more Chase cards, I plan to focus on those cards first.
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
2 & 3. Chase Southwest Cards
Link: Southwest Companion Pass
Team member Keith makes me jealous with all the pictures he takes of himself and his wife saving TONS of money with the Southwest Companion Pass. I’ve always wanted it myself, but I haven’t been able to get it.
Every once in a while, you should take a look at your credit cards and decide if you’re needlessly paying an annual fee or two. Think of it as consolidating benefits, not cards!
If you have overlapping benefits, or if you aren’t getting more value than the annual fee, get rid of the card! Downgrade to a no-annual fee version of the card if possible. Or cancel the card altogether.
I plan to cancel 2 airline cards because I don’t fly those airlines often anymore. And I’ll downgrade 5 cards because the perks don’t justify paying the annual fee. But your situation and priorities might be different!
Plus, I’ll soon be able to apply for Chase cards again, so I’ll probably pick up a few new cards in the near future, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Am I making any poor decisions? I’d love to hear suggestions.