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TPG reader Michelle asked me a fun question:

“What was the first travel credit card you had? I was just curious how you started out understanding how to maximize rewards with cards, and I wanted to know what was your first card and why.”

I had to think about this one for a bit, but I finally remembered: It was the US Airways card issued by Juniper Bank (which was eventually bought by Barclays).

US Airways Credit Card
My first travel rewards card doesn’t exist anymore, but it served me well.

I think it was back in 2005, and US Airways was giving away 50-cent flights all around the world to celebrate the new co-brand. So I got that card, and I think it came with about 35,000 miles; I also picked up a couple of those cheap flights (to Paris and Tampa). That was my gateway drug — from then on I was hooked!

Once I moved to New York, I started working for Morgan Stanley and had a green corporate American Express card — and by paying $75, I could reap all the rewards for myself. That’s when I saw the points really starting to add up; I was traveling all around the country running our recruiting and information sessions, and my colleagues hated the expense reimbursement system. They’d ask me to put events and expenses on my card, often to the tune of $20,000 or more, which I was happy to do!

I became the expense expert in the office, raking in hundreds of thousands of points by paying for everything I possibly could. I even made sure all the restaurants we took our interns to were mileage-earning restaurants in airline dining programs. That’s when I learned how to double-, triple- and even quadruple-dip, and made it rain miles.

After that I was targeted for a Platinum Card from American Express with a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points, which was a no-brainer. There were plenty of offers like that back then, especially when there were more transfer partners and bonuses — in particular I remember a 67 % transfer bonus to Delta (before Delta really devalued).

I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card wasn’t too far behind the Amex Platinum, and that card has continued to be my number one in terms of spending, simply because I do so much traveling and dining out, and I love the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.

What’s to come? I’m not sure. I know that the Citi Prestige Card is a solid offer, and I’ll probably be getting that sometime soon. Stay tuned for my next round of applications!

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.