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I Use Credit Cards to Fly in Etihad’s First Class Apartments and Access WeWork — Here’s What’s in My Wallet

Sept. 01, 2019
8 min read
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While I don't have nearly as many credit cards as my colleagues at the TPG office -- or TPG himself -- I have a few solid ones in my possession.

From having co-working space, to planning travel for friends using points and miles, to planning first-class travel for myself, I've made the few credit cards I do have work for me.

Aside from earning and burning points and miles, there are cards I keep for the perks that make my life easier. I'm going to talk about a few of them below and why they remain in my wallet.

What’s Currently in My Wallet

CardAnnual FeeIssuer
Best for Coworking: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express$595 (See Rates & Fees)American Express
Can't Live Without: The Platinum Card® from American Express$695 (See Rates & Fees)American Express
Ol' Reliable: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card$95Chase
The Underdog: Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard$95Barclaycard

American Express

Best for Coworking: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

You may already be familiar with many of the perks of the Amex Business Platinum — Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Club, $200 airline fee credit — the list goes on.

I'm also sure you're aware of its massive $595 annual fee.

But I keep it in my wallet purely for productivity purposes.

Writing is essential to me. It's a way to stay centered amid the "hustle and bustle" of living in a big, stressful city. Having a place (outside of home) that is quiet and free of distraction is also important, which is why Amex adding the WeWork Platinum Global Access benefit this year solidified my decision to keep this card (must enroll by 12/31/19 to be eligible for this benefit).

I sometimes spend six hours a day entrenched in writing and editing, and I don't want to have to worry about whether I have enough coffee (WeWork provides it) or the internet inconveniently cutting out. I'm also a stickler for high-grade lighting when I write: it lightens my mood and makes me feel more productive, even when writer's block plagues me.

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WeWork offers a basic “Hot Desk” option to Amex Business Platinum cardholders that starts at $220 a month here in New York City. TPG values this perk at $2,640 a year ($220 x 12 = $2,640) which is how I'm able to justify the annual fee.

Even better, Platinum Global Access grants entry to all locations worldwide without any additional fee so I can write in Brooklyn, Mumbai or Paris.

Verdict: Keep

Can't Live Without: The Platinum® Card from American Express

The Amex Platinum is my go-to card for travel purchases. You know about its boundless perks -- 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel, Hilton and Marriott elite status, and more.

There are mixed feelings about the Amex International Airline Program, but through it, I was recently able to snag a $1,500 business-class flight from New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO) for an even cheaper $1,251.

I'm often targeted for solid cash-back offers and hotel promotions. I estimate that I'm eligible for 70% of the targeted offers I write about for TPG.

I primarily stay at Hilton properties when traveling, so having Gold status is essential. I also live for my $15 monthly Uber credits to offset the cost of travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

And while I don't normally shop there, I can also make the up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit work by buying inexpensive gifts for family around the holidays.

Enrollment required for select benefits.

Verdict: Keep


Ol' Reliable: Chase Sapphire Preferred

I wrestled with applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I was already paying two hefty annual fees on the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum and wasn't sure if I could justify spending $550 on the Sapphire Reserve card.

I've consistently heard good things about the Sapphire Reserve's little brother, the Sapphire Preferred, and decided to give it a shot. And let me tell you — this card fits in my lifestyle perfectly.

Taking a look at the Rewards summary portal on the Chase site, I've put this card to work. My second-largest expense each month is food and dining. It's New York -- I rarely have time to cook, and it's not unusual to pop into a restaurant before heading home for the evening. The Sapphire Preferred earns 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining and 2x points on travel, so I'm able to maximize my food and transportation purchases and quickly rack up a ton of points each month.

And while I don't put the bulk of my travel purchases on the card, I appreciate the reliable Chase Sapphire Preferred rental car insurance that comes as a perk. Just recently, I was able to successfully decline a Miami car rental company’s optional CDW and use the insurance on my card.

Verdict: Keep


The Underdog: AAdvantage Aviator Red Card

Flying international first class has been a travel goal of mine for years now.

Before moving to New York City in May, most of my travel was on American and its Oneworld partners as I was based in the DC area. So it made sense in 2018 to open a co-branded credit card with the airline. While the Aviator Red doesn't offer as many perks as some other co-branded American cards, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, it still packs a powerful punch, and there's a reason it's in my wallet.

For the price of a candy bar and paying the annual fee (yes, really) I get to fly Etihad's first-class apartment. My first first-class experience will include an in-flight shower, first-class lounge access and a 26-inch-wide bed.

My first first-class experience won't cost more than $40 one-way. I'm sure you're asking how that's possible.

It's because the Aviator Red card offers 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after making a single purchase (such as a bag of chips at your local bodega) within the first 90 days of card opening and paying the card’s $99 annual fee.

Stay with me because here's where it gets good.

Those 60,000 miles can be used for some awesome redemptions such as Etihad's first-class apartments flown on the Airbus A380, which TPG himself reviewed last year. Etihad isn't a Oneworld member, but you can book Etihad award flights with American Airlines miles without having to call the airline.

While you won't be able to fly between New York (JFK) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) on 60,000 AA miles, there are still ways to fly the apartment. Flying between Abu Dhabi and London (LHR) or Paris (CDG) will only set you back a cool 62,500 miles.

Even better, 50,000 miles is all you need to fly from Abu Dhabi to Seoul (ICN) in first.

But if that's still too many miles to part with, Etihad's formidable business class will only set you back 42,500 miles plus taxes and fees between Abu Dhabi and Europe.

But as I'm set on Etihad being my first international first-class experience, I know where my miles are going, and it's all thanks to the Aviator Red.

Verdict: Keep

Bottom Line

Earning and burning for travel is the name of the game here at TPG, and I've developed a strategy to maximize my points and miles on a variety of cards. But I also use those cards to make my life more comfortable outside of travel as well as plan some killer award redemptions. While I got into points and miles later than most of the TPG team, and don't have dozens of credit cards, the few I keep are powerful enough to make my life easier and fun.

Sound off: What's in your wallet? What cards are you keeping and what cards are you bidding farewell?

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.