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How I Swipe: Senior Writer Zach Griff

April 24, 2021
6 min read
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Welcome to How I Swipe, a credit card routine series with a focus on strategic credit card spending while at home and on the road. Below is a short list of questions we asked TPG senior writer Zach Griff to answer about how he spends on his credit cards, covering everything from the first card he opened to his go-to card for everyday spend to what cards are in his wallet when he hits the road.

The basics

TPG: What is the first credit card you opened?

ZG: I first opened the Discover it Cash Back no-annual-fee card years ago, when I was graduating high school. I’d read about the importance of building credit, so I figured I’d start small with a student-friendly credit card.

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TPG: How many credit cards do you have?

ZG: At this point, I’m at 11 cards.

TPG: How many cards do you actively use?

ZG: Some of my cards just sit in the “sock drawer.” I basically use just four cards and keep the rest for the benefits.

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TPG: What’s the last card you opened?

ZG: I last opened the World of Hyatt Credit Card in 2019, and I’m anxiously awaiting my next application when I’m under Chase’s 5/24 rule.

TPG: What card do you want to open next?

ZG: I’m on the hunt for The Platinum Card® from American Express. I’m fortunate enough to already be an authorized user on my mom’s Platinum card, but I’m looking to open my own with the increased bonuses.

Related: 10x bonus point categories and 75K welcome offer: The Platinum Card from American Express review

The nitty-gritty

TPG: How much do you pay in annual fees?

ZG: Too much... But seriously, the annual fees more than pay for themselves when you consider all the benefits and accelerated points earning I maximize.

TPG: What is your go-to card for everyday spend?

ZG: I have both the Chase Freedom Unlimited and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express -- both are fantastic for everyday use, so I’ll alternate between them.

TPG: What card perks are most useful day to day?

ZG: The American Express® Gold Card perks are fantastic. With the dining credit and annual Uber Cash, I’m sure to maximize the perks [enrollment required for select benefits]. Plus, you never know what valuable Amex Offers will show up on your account.

TPG: How many points on average do you earn from credit card spend per month?

ZG: I’d say I earn about 10,000 points per month across my everyday and travel spend.

TPG: What is your favorite card stacking opportunity?

ZG: I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve 10x on Lyft coupled with the Lyft Plus membership. I’m saving 15% on each ride and earning 10x points for every ride, making it the ideal perk for urban dwellers.

The information for the Amex Everyday Preferred 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.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review

Taking this show on the road

TPG: What card(s) do you use to book travel?

ZG: The Platinum Card from Amex for the 5x on airfare [booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year]. Everything else goes on the Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3x on all travel.

Related: The best travel credit cards of 2021

TPG: What cards do you bring with you on the road?

ZG: I actually put most of my cards in my Apple Wallet so that I can tap to pay whenever necessary, without filling up physical wallet space. My most used cards when traveling include the Amex Gold and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

TPG: What card perks are most useful when traveling?

ZG: As mentioned, the Lyft perk is fantastic. I’ll also use the Uber Cash from my Amex cards to place delivery orders with Uber Eats [in the U.S. enrollment required].

Extra credit

TPG: What’s the best points redemption you’ve ever made?

ZG: You can’t beat using Amex points for Emirates’ game-changer first-class suite!

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

TPG: What’s a rookie credit card mistake you’ve made in the past?

ZG: Applying for a card when I was within Chase’s 5/24 rule. I should’ve done my research before performing a hard pull on my credit score.

Related: 4 credit card mistakes to avoid

TPG: What tricks do you have for managing your card accounts?

ZG: I use a combination of excel sheets and recurring iPhone reminders to ensure that I’m maximizing all my spend.

TPG: What’s a card perk that doesn’t exist, that you wish did?

Related: TPG staff, readers share 10 credit card perks on their 2021 wish list

ZG: I wish Citi would restore the fourth-night free benefit back to its original glory.

TPG: Any credit card pearls of wisdom you want beginners to know?

ZG: Start small and responsibly. If you carry a balance, odds are that you’re losing the game.

Related: How to get started earning rewards with your first credit card

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.

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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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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023