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2017 Credit Card Inventory: Associate Editor Emily McNutt

May 30, 2017
11 min read
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One of the many perks of working at TPG is that we reimburse credit card annual fees, enabling full-time employees to build familiarity with a large variety of products and programs. That doesn't mean it's a free-for-all, though — we encourage employees to choose their cards wisely based on their personal spending habits, just like they otherwise would. They also need to be mindful about minimum-spend requirements — to use restraint and not bite off more than they can chew whenever another fantastic offer pops up.

Now, in response to feedback received following TPG's own 2017 inventory post, we're asking our editors to open up their wallets, detailing which cards they currently have and why. Today, it's Associate Editor Emily McNutt's turn to dig in.

I want to preface this post by letting you know that I am not TPG in the sense that I don't have more than 20 credit cards. In fact, I only have a few (plus, I'm an authorized user on a couple more). As a recent college graduate, I already have a lot to pay off in the way of student loans (cue the groans). So, before I started at TPG, credit cards were never my top priority — "Why add on more debt than I already have?" I thought. Boy, how my opinion has changed.

Now, I long for that feeling of being approved for a new credit card to add to my wallet. As you'll notice in my inventory list below, one of my cards isn't even available anymore, and I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to applying my strategy to my wallet. But, I have a plan in place with more cards on my wish list than I currently have in my wallet. So, whereas TPG did some major spring cleaning to his wallet, mine is staying the same (if not increasing in weight in the very near future).

What's Currently in My Wallet

CardAnnual FeeIssuer
The Platinum Card from American Express$550 (See Rates & Fees)American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express$195American Express
Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard$0Barclaycard
Chase Sapphire Preferred$95Chase
Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express$75American Express
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card$75Bank of America
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard$79Bank of America
JetBlue Plus Card$99Barclaycard
Hyatt Credit Card$75Chase
Chase Sapphire Reserve$450Chase

Keep reading for a look at why each card earns a place in my wallet or why I'm thinking about adding a new card.

American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express

Annual fee: $550

My take: The Platinum Card is my first (and only) premier credit card. I signed up for the card before the overhaul — when the annual fee was $450 and there were no Uber credits or 5x on airfare. So, in my eyes the card has gotten even sweeter since I first signed up — especially with the Uber credits. This is the card I use for all my airfare that I book directly through an airline so I can earn a valuable 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar. But, for me, the most valuable part of the card is the lounge access that comes with it. From Centurion Lounges to a Priority Pass membership, the Platinum Card ensures that when I'm traveling, I can do so in comfort. It's a no-brainer for me to keep this card.

Verdict: Keep

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Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Annual fee: $195

My take: The Premier Rewards Gold Card was one of my first rewards credit cards. I was really looking for a card that offered me an enticing sign-up bonus and was good for earning points — and the PRG Card checked both boxes. I was targeted for a higher-than-average sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months, so I jumped at it. And, at the time, this was my go-to card for airfare purchases, as I got it before the Platinum Card switched to 5x. Now, I use this card mostly for my grocery purchases. None of my other credit cards offer a bonus on grocery store purchases, so I put that spend on this card to earn 2x points.

Verdict: Keep

Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express

Annual fee: $75

My take: When I travel, I don't go out of my way to stay at Hilton, knowing that the Honors program isn't all that rewarding for me. But, the Surpass Card has a limited-time sign-up bonus of 100,000 Honors points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. While those Hilton points may not be worth as much as 100,000 points with other programs, this is still a potentially valuable sign-up bonus — especially with Hilton's new Points & Money option. And while the card comes with complimentary Gold status, that isn't a huge draw for me, as I already get the benefit form the Amex Platinum Card. But, I can upgrade to Diamond status if I spend $40,000 in a calendar year.

Verdict: Wish list

Bank of America

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card

Annual fee: $75

My take: I've had my eye on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card for a while. Especially since I'm an MVP Gold member of Alaska's Mileage Plan program through a status match of Virgin America following the merger, the card has looked appealing for a while. First, the sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles is nice, and Alaska miles can be pretty useful — especially when redeeming for travel on partners like if I ever want to fly Emirates business class again. The companion fare is also a huge perk. And now that the card is offering the companion fare where you only pay the taxes and fees (dropping the $99 base fare), it's particularly appealing. I'll likely be applying for this card within the next few days.

Verdict: Wish list

You'll also enjoy a companion ticket and one-way upgrade certificate each year when you renew your card.

Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

Annual fee: $79

My take: As someone who lives in New York City but is originally from upstate New York, I travel between the two a lot, so I end up buying Amtrak tickets quite often. The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard is a must for me — and a card I'm looking at applying for very, very soon. Amtrak points can be very valuable. For example, if I'm traveling one-way from New York's Penn Station (NYP) to Saratoga Springs (SAR), a ticket will cost me, on average, $58. Or, I could redeem 2,001 Amtrak points, which are worth $50 based on TPG's most recent valuations. So, for me, that 20,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days is a no-brainer.

Verdict: Wish list


Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard

Annual fee: $0

My take: Here it is: my first credit card. This was the first card I got out of college when I didn't really have a credit card strategy in place (or even in mind). But, knowing what I know now, I can see why it's no longer available for new applications. The cash-back card doesn't offer many perks or bonus earning categories. But, it does offer 2% cash back on utility costs so I put my electric bill on the card every month, as I have no other cards that offer a bonus in the category. Plus, it's a no annual fee card so it's not really doing me any harm to keep the account open for now.

Verdict: Keep

JetBlue Plus Card

Annual fee: $99

My take: Like TPG, I'm jumping off the AA elite status hamster wheel. Now, I'm not an Executive Platinum like him, but as a former Platinum member who didn't requalify, I don't think it's worth it to try and qualify for Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro or EP anytime in the near future — especially with airlines constantly devaluing their loyalty programs. That being said, as a New York-based flyer, I find JetBlue to be a really nice option. It has a pretty extensive route network from the city and offers a superior product, especially when compared to its legacy counterparts. While it's not likely that I'll qualify for Mosaic status, it's nice to have the option to fast-track to status after spending $50,000 in a calendar year. The JetBlue Plus Card is also a no-brainer for me.

Verdict: Wish list


Chase Sapphire Preferred

Annual fee: $95

My take: Not long after I was hired at TPG, I quickly realized how dire my points and miles situation was. I quickly applied for the Sapphire Preferred and instantly boosted my credit card portfolio. Now, this is my everyday card. I'm a frequent traveler and diner, so the Sapphire Preferred's 2x points on dining and travel really add up. I will note that I'm strongly considering upgrading the CSP to its more premium sibling, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I was denied for that card because of Chase's 5/24 rule and hadn't had the CSP for more than a year, so I wasn't eligible to upgrade. Now, I'm thinking about going forward with the switch.

Verdict: Keep... at least for now.

The Hyatt Credit Card

Annual fee: $75

My take: This card is a no-brainer for me especially because of its sign-up bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt hotel or resort worldwide. While I don't go out of my way to stay at Hyatt properties normally because I don't have status with the chain, the two free nights is a huge benefit — plus you get a free night at a Category 1-4 property every year after your account anniversary. If you can maximize the free nights for when nightly rates are pricey, this card offers tremendous value that's worth far more than just the $75 annual fee.

Verdict: Wish list

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual fee: $450

My take: Since the card was first announced, it's been on my radar (and probably the radar of most everyone else in the points and miles hobby). I applied for the card and wasn't approved because I've gotten more than five credit cards (including authorized user accounts) in the past 24 months. But, since I've had my Chase Sapphire Preferred for more than a year now, I'm eligible to upgrade it to the CSR. And, based on how much dining and traveling I do on a regular basis, the 3x points could really add up as compared to the 2x points I'm currently getting.

Verdict: Wish list

Bottom Line

My credit card portfolio still needs a lot of work, but I know that I have a good foundation in place — and a good strategy for my cards going forward. While I'm not canceling any cards this time around, I can see myself dropping a card or two in the not-so-distant future, and especially when I get a few of the cards on my wish list.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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