The one credit card TPG staffers can’t live without

Feb 7, 2020

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At The Points Guy, we don’t just work here. We live this stuff, so we can bring you first-hand experiences with credit cards and travel. We’re always talking about the latest credit card offers, deals, ways to get extra points and more. So I decided to create this little parlor game. I asked our staff the following question: The Credit Card Police have come to your house to confiscate all of your cards — but will allow you to keep one. Which one would it be?

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at some of the cards my co-workers chose. In the list below, you’ll see the usual card suspects, but also some interesting curveballs.

Brian Kelly, The Points Guy (duh!) 

The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, used his Capital One miles to book the Stella Maris suite at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives. (Photo courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Maldives)
Brian used his Capital One miles to book the Stella Maris suite at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives. (Photo courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Maldives)
It’s no secret that I utilize quite a few different credit cards on a daily basis to help me maximize each and every purchase and travel experience. There are so many excellent cards out there, but the one card I cannot live without may come as a surprise to some of you — the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. It allows me to earn rewards on any and every purchase, and the redemption process is super simple. I use my Venture miles to wipe out travel purchases such as Blade rides or hotel suites so that I’m paying zero dollars out of pocket. In fact, I used my Venture to pay for the Waldorf Maldives Stella Maris suite where I proposed! While I’m sad that certain partnerships and offers have gone away, it still remains a fantastic all-around card for purchases without charging an arm and a leg in annual fees — and the issuer continues to enhance its transfer options. If I was going to choose just one card to have in my wallet, the Capital One Venture is it.

Scott Mayerowitz, Executive Editorial Director

(Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)
Scott uses the miles he earns on his Delta Reserve card to book space in premium cabins on the airline. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

It’s hard to pick just one credit card — I currently have 19 — but my Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card has one key perk that I love: the ability to charge my way to status. Delta is unique in the large amount of elite-qualifying miles that flyers can get through credit card spend. The airline gives 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) for every $30,000 you spend in a calendar year, up to 60,000 MQMs after $120,000 in total spending. With the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver, that means the ability to get Gold Medallion status from just one card without ever stepping foot on a Delta plane.

Read our review of the Delta Reserve card.

Benét J. Wilson, Credit Cards Editor

Aruba Marriott Stellaris. (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.)
I can transfer the Membership Rewards points I earn on the Amex Platinum to book a stay at the Aruba Marriott Stellaris. (Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.)

There was no drama making my pick — The Platinum Card® from American Express. I know people are intimidated by the card’s hefty $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), but with up to $600 a year in credits, this card pays for itself. You earn a generous 5x Membership Rewards points on both flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel (although only 1x on everything else). Plus you can transfer your points to 19 airline and three hotel partners.

On top of that, the Amex Platinum card comes with a plethora of perks and benefits that make it even more valuable, including a welcome offer valued at $1,200 according to TPG valuations. You’ll also enjoy access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass loungesDelta Sky Clubs on same-day Delta flights, and the Airspace and Escape lounges. There’s also automatic Gold elite status at Hilton and Marriott, complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive, and access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.

Read our review of the Amex Platinum card.

Summer Hull, Director of Content, AKA Mommy Points

Airport flights delayed screen
Summer relies on the Chase Sapphire Reserve to help when she and her family face delayed or cancelled flights. (Photo by bunhill / Getty Images)

My pick is the Chase Sapphire Reserve for many reasons. Being able to earn 3x on travel and dining is great. Being able to transfer those points to partners including United, Hyatt and Southwest is top notch. The easy-to-use $300 travel credit (with a generous definition of travel) helps ease the pain of the card’s $550 annual fee, but it is the built-in travel protections that have me sold. Whether a kid gets sick right before a trip and we have to cancel or an airline strands us with severely delayed or cancelled flights, this card has my back.

Related reading: How an Aspen ski vacation gone wrong ended with my family in the police station

Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Madison Blancaflor, Credit Cards Writer

food in Rome
Madison takes advantage of earning higher points on dining worldwide when she uses her Amex Gold card. (Photo by Christine Wehrmeier/Getty Images)

Compared to many TPGers, I’m still relatively new to the credit cards game — I got my very first points credit card only two years ago. I’ve added a few more to my wallet over the past couple of years (including a recent upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve), but looking at my full credit card lineup, the one card I could not live without is my American Express® Gold Card.

Related reading: How I used Chase Ultimate Rewards to book my trip to Croatia

This card can sometimes be overlooked because it’s a bit more premium than other popular, mid-tier cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, but it’s not as high-end as top-tier cards such as the Amex Platinum. But dining, grocery shopping and flights are three of my top expenses, and I easily utilize the monthly dining credit and Amex Offers I get with the card. Plus, Membership Rewards are incredibly valuable, and I can easily take advantage of Amex’s many transfer partners during the redemption process. All in all, the Amex Gold (with its beautiful Rose Gold design) is the current card my wallet cannot live without.

Read our review of the Amex Gold card.

Katie Genter, Reporter

The American Express Centurion Lounge at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
The American Express Centurion Lounge at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Centurion Lounge access is one of the many Amex Platinum perks enjoyed by Katie.  (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If I could only have one card, my focus would be on the benefits provided and transfer partners unlocked instead of on high earning rates. As such, The Platinum Card® from American Express would win out due to its numerous benefits and 22 transfer partners (including Marriott Bonvoy, which adds additional transfer partners). In terms of benefits, the Amex Platinum is only bested by its invite-only sibling, the Amex Centurion Card. However, with the Amex Platinum you’ll get Marriott and Hilton elite status, lounge access through Amex’s Global Lounge Collection, access to booking Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, various shopping and travel protections and more. I wouldn’t be happy about only having one card — but if I did, it would be the Amex Platinum.

Alberto Riva, Senior Editor, Flight Reviews and Special Projects

Get complimentary Avis Preferred status in time for your next car rental. (Photo by Austin Neill via Unsplash)
Primary car rental insurance is a big reason why Alberto likes the Chase Sapphire Reserve. (Photo by Austin Neill via Unsplash)

As a New Yorker, I do not own a car and rent cars a lot; the primary car rental coverage on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is important to me. I also book a lot of flights, so 3x points earned on airfare matters a lot to me. One could argue I should go for the 5x points you can earn on the Amex Platinum (on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel), but that card doesn’t have the same car rental benefits. And the trip cancellation/trip delay protections offered by the Sapphire Reserve are important for someone who flies an average of 100,000 miles a year.

Zach Honig, Editor at Large

The breakfast buffet at the El San Juan Hilton Hotel. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Zach enjoys the hearty breakfast, like this one at the El San Juan Hilton Hotel, that comes with Hilton Honors Diamond status. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Traditionally, I haven’t gone out of my way to stay at Hilton hotels, but I’m a total Hilton Honors convert, thanks to the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. I recently scored a fantastic suite upgrade thanks to my Hilton Diamond status, but my favorite perk is the free breakfast, which tends to be more substantial than what I usually get at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
Read our review of the Hilton Aspire card.
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.

Jason Stauffer, Credit Cards Writer

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
Jason gets the most of his Ultimate Rewards points by pairing his Chase Sapphire Reserve with the Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
The card I can’t live without is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Even with the increased annual fee of $550, it won’t be hard for me to justify keeping it. First off, it makes the rewards I earn from my Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card transferable to Chase’s 10 airline and three hotel partners — or makes them worth 50% more when booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. It’s also essential for me to have a card that provides primary rental car insurance, which saves me hundreds of dollars each year; and the trip delay coverage can’t be beat, since kicks in after only six hours.
The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Zach Griff, Travel Analyst

Park Hyatt St. Kitts (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Zach likes knowing he can use the points he earns on the World of Hyatt card to book hotels such as the Park Hyatt St. Kitts. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

My favorite credit card is always changing. I have different goals at various parts of the year, and my favorite card is usually the one that accomplishes those goals. For instance, if I’m running low on Chase points, I’ll beef up the spending on the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Freedom Unlimited to unlock another great award redemption. But there’s another Chase-issued card that’s currently my favorite — and it may surprise you.

It’s the World of Hyatt Credit Card. Why? Because of the top-tier status you can earn through credit card spend. I don’t spend enough nights in Hyatt to organically hit Globalist status, but the card gives you two elite-qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent. Combined with all the additional free night awards you earn for spend, it’s no surprise that this is one of my favorite credit cards. Plus, I’m a fitness class junkie, and the card’s 2x earn rate on those makes it the perfect workout companion.

Read the World of Hyatt Credit Card review.

Carissa Rawson, Points and Miles Reporter

The front room in the lounge as the lounge was closing.
Find Carissa taking full advantage of her Priority Pass benefit on her Chase Sapphire Reserve in lounges such as the one operated by Air France/KLM lounge at San Francisco International Airport. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Although I don’t use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for airfare or restaurants, (my Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige® Card win that honor), this card is my go-to for every other purchase I make. Aside from the awesome transfer partners (I am a United Airlines flyer, after all), the perks associated with this card means it has a permanent home in my wallet.

Its generous $300 annual travel credit is always used up, and I frequent Priority Pass lounges like no one’s business. The new inclusion of Door Dash and Lyft credits suits my lifestyle even though the high annual fee doesn’t. All in, I find immense value with the card and will continue to take advantage of the many perks it offers.

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

Katherine Fan, Senior Travel Features Reporter

Image by Pornchai Jaito / EyeEm / Getty Images
Katherine appreciates the cell phone protection that comes with theInk Business Preferred Credit Card. (Photo by Pornchai Jaito/EyeEm/Getty Images)
My one card is the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. I occasionally ship up to $100 worth of packages at once, and I love knowing that I’m earning 3x on those purchases, as well as on travel (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year). I also have up to $600 of cell phone insurance by paying for my phone bill with this card, which makes me a lot less jittery about bringing my smartphone along when I travel. How else can you get 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points in a sign-up bonus (after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months) for only $95 a year? The perks are great, the sign-up bonus is easily one of the best in the industry and Chase customer support has been nothing but stellar for me since day one.

Clint Henderson, Senior News Editor

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Clint enjoys having access to Centurion Lounges, including the one at Hong Kong International Airport. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

My favorite card by far is the American Express Platinum card. Despite a high annual fee, I’ve been able to successfully mitigate the cost by using my up to $200 annual airline fee credit, my up to $200 in annual Uber credits and my twice-yearly $50 Saks credit (up to $100 total per year). I love Amex points for the multitude of redemption options, but my favorite thing about the Platinum card is getting free Gold status with Marriott and with Hilton and highest-tier status with several rental car companies. I also love being able to use Centurion lounges all over — especially at New York-LaGuardia — and I’ve also enjoy international Amex lounges in Hong Kong and Mexico City.

Zach Bartholomew, Senior Product Manager

The Lyft ride sharing app is seen on a mobile phone on February 12, 2018. Lyft is the main competitor to the dominant Uber. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Zach plans on taking full advantage of the 10x points he earns for Lyft rides on his Chase Sapphire Reserve. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

My answer would have been different before Chase’s recent news, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve is now my 2020 card. I spend hundreds of dollars on Lyft in a given month. I anticipate raking in tens of thousands of points this year off the 10x earning on Lyft rides alone. All the other travel perks are just icing on the cake. I will take full advantage of my $300 travel credit, and the Sapphire Reserve still lets me earn great points on travel and dining, my two biggest spending categories. I’m hoarding my Chase points for two first-class, international flights to Asia on Singapore Airlines next year. I used my Chase points in 2017 to book round-trip flights from Austin (AUS) to Seattle (SEA), and also paid for three nights at a swanky hotel in downtown Seattle. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is going to give me the most bang for my buck and is the one card to rule them all.

Samantha Rosen, Social Media Editor

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Samantha is one of the lucky cardmembers who snagged the popular Amex Gold Card in rose gold. (Photo by The Points Guy)

If I could only have one card, I’d go with the Amex Gold. I spend more than I care to admit on dining, so those 4x points add up really fast. I also feel like I get a ton of value out of my Amex points and love transferring them to Aeroplan for really cool flights that I wouldn’t be able to fly otherwise. I also like the purchase and return protection benefits, as well as an up to $120 annual dining statement credit. It doesn’t hurt that every time I take out my rose gold one, I get compliments.

Kelley King, SEO Analyst

American Airlines flight lands in St. Martin. (Image courtesy Clint Henderson/The PointGuy)
Kelley uses the miles she earns on her Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard to fly on American Airlines. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The PointGuy)
I could not live without my Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. I love this card because I live in Charlotte (CLT) — an American Airlines hub city — and it gives me just the right amount of perks on American Airlines flights, including a free checked bag, preferred boarding and no foreign transaction fees. I’m also an avid concert goer, and this card has proven to be one of the only ones I can use to get pre-sale tickets via Citi® Entertainment. I signed up for this card two years ago and earned 60,000 bonus miles (after meeting minimum spend requirements). The card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Since then I’ve traveled back to my home state, Kentucky, seven times round-trip with just the miles earned from this sign-up bonus.Read our review of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card. The information for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.     

Austin Konkle, Marketing Analyst

earn $30 back with the hyatt credit card after spending $300 at grocery stores and drugstores
You can find Austin using his Blue Cash Preferred at his local Publix supermarket. (Photo by FangXiaNuo/Getty Images)

Sure, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express might be an unconventional choice for more seasoned travelers, since it’s a cash-back credit card with a $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 (see rates and fees). However, I would argue that the Blue Cash Preferred packs a mighty punch, thanks to its versatility and top-of-the-line rewards rates. Whether you’re shopping for the family or stocking up on TV dinners for one, the 6% cash back on U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%) is a terrific return on spend. I frequent my local Publix about once a week and spend an average of about $80 at checkout. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Crunching the numbers, that totals to around $320 a month and more than $4,000 a year. At 6% cash back, I’m on pace to save almost $250 on groceries alone with my Blue Cash Preferred in 2020; that’s three full trips to the store that completely pay for themselves. And that’s just the tip of the savings iceberg when it comes to the flexibility of the Blue Cash Preferred. With respectable returns at U.S. gas stations (3%) and transit (3%), plus the unmatched and unorthodox 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, the only two major spend categories for which I’m not currently earning major rewards are travel and dining. These could be covered in the future with the American Express® Green Card, the Amex Gold, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Cash back might not be king in all circumstances, but this jack-of-many-trades, cash-back card is definitely king of my wallet for the foreseeable future.

The information for the Amex Green 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.

Read our review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Bottom line

Below is a chart illustrating the one card TPG staffers must have:

Credit Card


Capital One Venture
Delta Reserve
Amex Platinum
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Amex Gold
Hilton Aspire
World of Hyatt
Ink Business Preferred
Citi AAdvantage Platinum
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

It’s no surprise that the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum were numbers one and two, respectively, among TPG staffers. We’ve done myriad stories on why we love these two cards so much. One big surprise for me was Brian choosing the Capital One Venture card, knowing about his love of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and his Amex Business Centurion card. While I was also slightly surprised by Zach Honig’s Hilton Aspire pick, I understand why he did it. Zach Griff saw real value with his World of Hyatt card when staying in those hotels, and Austin Konkle made a compelling case for his surprise pick, the Blue Cash Preferred Amex.

If you’re still researching your card options, check out these helpful TPG credit card guides, below.

Featured image by The Points Guy

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, please click here.

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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.

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.