What Was the First Travel Credit Card You Ever Had?
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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).
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!