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TPG reader Keith tweeted me to ask:
@thepointsguy—”If you were to start from scratch, what credit cards would you carry and why?”
I currently have 24 credit cards, and narrowing them down is difficult, but there are really six cards I just can’t live without and would recommend starting with.
You can earn two points per dollar on both travel and dining, which is pretty much all I spend my money on, so it’s perfect. In addition to the lucrative earning options, the redemption value is great too, as Chase Ultimate Rewards has eleven different transfer partners, including United, British Airways, and Hyatt.
My second pick is the SPG Amex. Starpoints are the most valuable currency out there according to my most recent monthly valuations. They’re great for both hotels and transferring to airlines like Alaska and American that aren’t included in other transferable points programs. Lately I’ve been redeeming my Starpoints for SPG Moments, enjoying activities like the Westminster Dog Show or Knicks and Rangers games, which can be a great value.
I love this card because it’s great for wiping out expenses like Uber, Airbnb, Bed & Breakfasts, award surcharges, taxes and fees, even though you can’t transfer points. It’s a nice in-between card to make travel cheaper when traditional points and miles won’t do the trick.
I don’t actually have this card, because I’ve been using the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card for many years, but I’m planning to make the switch because Everyday Preferred gives you triple points on groceries and double points on gas purchases, and you get a 50% bonus after you hit 30 transactions per month. I still love Membership Rewards because even though the program has changed a lot in the past years, it still offers great transfer bonuses, allowing me to top up various loyalty accounts.
I love this card not for earning points, but for the perks. I fly American Airlines often and am based in Miami and New York, so being able to access the Centurion lounges is a great benefit that basically pays for the annual fee. The $200 annual airline rebate is also easy money, and just by using these perks I can extract almost twice the annual fee in value.
6. Barclaycard Aviator Silver
You can’t currently apply for this new card; it’s being offered to many holders of the US Airways Premier World MasterCard, and I just got my welcome packet for the card a few weeks ago. Although it has a $195 annual fee, you get a 10% mileage rebate and you can earn up to 10,000 EQMs, as well as other perks like free checked bags and companion tickets. This is an easy way for me to keep my American Airlines AAdvantage account balance high, since you earn three miles per dollar spent on American.
Those are my six favorite cards; please share your own favorites in the comments below!