TPG Readers Discuss How Many Premium Credit Cards You Actually Need

Mar 31, 2019

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We recently asked the members of the TPG Lounge how many premium credit cards they were comfortable having at once — and how many they thought would be too many. Here’s what they had to say, and as usual, there were some very spirited opinions on the subject. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity). 

No More Than Three Premium Credit Cards

Several TPG Lounge members wrote in saying they swear by having a low number of premium credit cards, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express being among the favorites.

“I make from $90-150 [in rewards] a month with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Freedom Unlimited combo. I pay my rent with the CFU so that helps. I would think the best route would be to have one premium card where the pts from other cards can transfer to the premium card.” — Andrew S.

“Three Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards. Cards are staggered between sign-up years. Southwest allows a new cardmember bonus for each card every 24 months, which has allowed us to get the Companion Pass the last two years with ease. The first card will hit the 24 months this May. I will cancel prior to the renewal and re-apply for the card after the 24 month mark. I haven’t bought a ticket in two years since my wife is free and I fly on points. The two of us fly 2-4 times a year and 1-2 times a year with the kids (four tickets total).” — Shane Y.

“As long as you are making positive expected value, get as many as you need. We’ve got the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but might be adding a premium hotel card soon. For me, it typically comes down to my next redemption, but I also view my Amex Platinum as more of a status card than anything else. With the American Express® Gold Card, 4x points on up to $25,000 at [US supermarkets per calendar year; then 1x] is a no brainer, but I can see the difficulty in choosing to get 5x Membership Rewards points on flights vs. 3x Ultimate Rewards points on flights. I do find that trip delay, trip cancellation, lost luggage and primary car insurance from the CSR make it my go-to. That said, make sure you take advantage of the Uber, Saks and airline credits, status with Hilton, Marriott and the rental car companies and, of course, the Delta and Centurion Lounges. The credits alone eat $500 of the $695 annual fee, and we stay in the lounges.” — Randall C.W.

Centurion Lounges are a major draw for fans of The Platinum Card from American Express. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)
Amex Centurion Lounges are a major draw for fans of The Platinum Card from American Express. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

“Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve and I use them daily for personal and business — Amex for the 5x points on all my airline bookings and CSR for all other travel with 3x points. Can’t beat the airline credit and Priority Pass for both.” — Yaki B.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is my only premium card. I only need the bump in status and perks for flying, and I don’t fly more than a dozen times a year, so I cannot justify the fees for additional premium cards.” — Beth O.

At Least Four Premium Credit Cards

Many members of our TPG Lounge wrote in praising the merits of having a large number of premium credit cards, whether that number is four or 34, the feeling being that as long as each is paying its due, the sky’s the limit.

“I currently have two luxury cards, the Platinum Card from American Express and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Pair that with the American Express Gold Card and the Amex Everyday Preferred Credit Card. I also have a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and a Citi/AA Executive Mastercard. If benefits exceed the annual fee, I don’t see a reason for a limit.” — Susan F

“I have an Amex Platinum and personal Gold, an Amex Hilton Aspire, a Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express and a Citi AA Executive MasterCard as premium cards.” — Jeff R.

Some readers even reported have both versions of the Amex Platinum card.

 

“I’m a ‘no upper limit guy,’ so long as each individually pays its own way. [I have] seven at this time.” — Tom A.

“Amex Platinum (5x direct airline purchases). The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (1.5x rewards for major purchases, 35% point rebate, 5x points via the travel portal). Amex Gold (4x points for restaurants and at US supermarkets). Chase Sapphire Reserve (because I have to have a Visa). Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard (for Admirals Club access and 10,000 EQ miles).” — Alfred S.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex 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.

As Many as You Want, It’s All About the Value

TPG himself actually responded to this question when one TPG Lounge member flipped the question back to him. As a result, the idea that each card should be pulling its weight in terms of value became part of the conversation.

“It definitely depends. How much value are you getting out the cards compared to their annual fees? Are you spending more money than you normally would just to meet minimum spend requirements? If your answer to the second question is “yes, always” then you should reconsider your strategy. Wait until you need to make a big purchase and then sign up for a card.” — TPG

It seems a lot of our TPG Lounge readers are on the same page.

“You shouldn’t hold any card that isn’t paying for itself. As long as statement credits or direct benefits offset the annual fee, it’s a keeper.” — Mike Z.

“As many as needed. I have two cards with $450 annual fees because the value derived from the perks offsets them. Hell, I have the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard just for the Admirals Club membership.” — Rich J.

“Thanks in part to TPG, I’m at least meeting, if not maxing out, the value of all the cards I pay for. And that’s without using any of the amazing miles redemptions for airfare, so far anyway. SPG Lux (now Marriott Brilliant) was the best find so far. Completely worth it!” — Kim S.

“I think it all depends on your particular situation. The first factor would be the benefits and how much they overlap. So many cards offer the same things — Priority Pass, TSA/Global Entry credits, travel credits, trip insurance and rental car coverage, etc. If you hold two cards that have essentially the same benefits, then what’s the point? You have to look for something else. For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve but fly Delta a lot, maybe it makes sense to have the Amex Platinum for the lounge access. The other factor is the earning. Are the bonus categories the same or is there an opportunity to strategize? Unless you have an insane amount of spend, it can be a struggle to earn any amount of meaningful points if it’s spread too much across cards.” — Justin M.

Featured image by Richard Theis / Getty Images.

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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.

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