2017 Credit Card Inventory: Assistant Editor Brendan Dorsey

Jul 5, 2017

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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 Assistant Editor Brendan Dorsey’s turn to dig in.

Although I have a relatively small inventory compared to some TPG staffers, my wallet is stocked with a few solid cards. I currently hold two Ultimate Rewards-earning Chase cards and two airline co-branded cards. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable point currencies and they afford lots of flexibility with their 11 transfer partners, while the co-branded cards add in some extra perks while flying.

In This Post

What’s Currently in My Wallet

Card Annual Fee Issuer
KEEPING
Chase Sapphire Reserve $450 Chase
United MileagePlus Explorer Card $95 Chase
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card $95 Chase
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard $99 Citi
WISH LIST
Chase Freedom Unlimited $0 Chase
TOTAL IN ANNUAL FEES BEFORE CHANGES: $735
TOTAL IN ANNUAL FEES AFTER CHANGES: $735 ($0 in savings)

Keep reading for a look at why each card earns a place in my wallet.

Chase

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual Fee: $450

My take: I put almost all of my spend on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I love the 3x points on travel and dining. I eat out a decent amount, so that 3x can really add up. The 3x on travel is also great in New York City — cabs, Uber, Lyft, subways and commuter trains all qualify for the bonus. The $300 travel credit takes the sting out of the hefty $450 annual fee, and the $100 Global Entry credit is something I put to immediate use. It’s incredibly convenient being able to just walk off a flight and not have to wait in JFK’s notoriously long customs lines.

The Reserve also gives you a Priority Pass membership, and although it isn’t the best for domestic flights since lounges are usually located in international terminals, it is great for me because I travel internationally relatively frequently. I can see why this card won the battle of premium travel reward cards. I love the Reserve so much that I got my mom, girlfriend and about five other friends to sign up for it when Chase was offering the 100,000-point sign-up bonus.

Verdict: Keep

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Annual Fee: $95

My take: I just recently signed up for the Chase Ink Business Preferred, mainly for the large 80,000-point sign-up bonus. But also because it keeps my business expenses separate from personal ones. It also gets 3x on travel plus 3x on shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services. And I found some random purchases qualify for the 3x internet bonus, like my entrance fee to an upcoming Tough Mudder Race. I also love the cell phone protection, which will reimburse you up to $600 if your phone is stolen or damaged (although you have to put your cell phone bill on your Ink Preferred).

Verdict: Keep

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Annual Fee: $95

The United MileagePlus Explorer Card is a solid card for me since I fly United a lot. It saves me from checked bag fees and offers priority boarding. But my favorite benefit is that it opens saver award availability when booking United award flights. This makes looking for award tickets much easier and helps me save miles since I don’t have to book at higher rates. The two complimentary United Club passes are also great, especially when I have a long layover. They’re valued at $118, which covers the annual fee right there.

Verdict: Keep

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Annual Fee: $0

My take: I’ll most likely continue my Chase binge and sign up for the Freedom Unlimited next — it would be good to pair with the other Chase cards to cover the non-bonus categories, giving me 1.5x on all spend. And when you pair that with the Sapphire Reserve (I’ll need to link the two cards), points are worth 2.2 cents (or a 3.3% return) each, based on TPG’s valuations. The card also comes with a $150 bonus (or a 15,000-point bonus if you link it to a UR earning card) after spending $500 in the first three months. Once I acquire the Freedom Unlimited, I’ll have TPG’s Chase Trifecta, which is one of the most valuable card combos helping maximize return on every dollar you spend.

Verdict: Wish list

Citi

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Annual Fee: $99

My take: I signed up for the the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard last year when there was a 60,000-point sign-up bonus. At the time, I was laser focused on accruing airline miles and the annual fee was waived for the first year, so it seemed liked a no-brainer to sign up.

courtesy american airlines

My annual fee came up recently and I actually called Citi and tried to close the card, but because of Citi’s strong retention department, it offered to waive the annual fee if I spent $95 dollars in the next 30 days. I took the deal and have been enjoying the card’s benefits like free checked bags for you and up to four companions. I also love that I get preferred boarding on AA flights, which helps when you’re fighting with fellow passengers for overhead bin space.

I’m planning on a big AAdvantage mile redemption this summer, so I’ll be able to take advantage of the 10% of my redeemed miles back, up to 10,000 miles a year. TPG’s latest valuations put 10,000 miles at $140, which more than covers the annual fee. It’s definitely a card worth keeping.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.   

Verdict: Keep

Bottom Line

Although I don’t have a lot of cards, the ones I do have work well for me. The co-branded cards save me miles and money and add perks that make flying a little more enjoyable. The Chase cards help me rack up points quickly because of the broad bonus categories, and the lounge access and Global Entry credit help where the co-branded cards fall flat. I’m looking forward to building out my wallet over the coming years and gaining even more redemption opportunities.

2020 TPG Award Winner: Premium Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Reserve

SIGN-UP BONUS: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on all travel and dining, $300 annual travel credit, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners.

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Regular APR
16.99%-23.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Recommended Credit
Excellent

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.