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Learn from the experts: TPG ’s card team reveals what’s in their wallet

July 29, 2021
14 min read
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If you've been dabbling with points and miles for quite a while now, you know fellow card aficionados love to reveal what travel rewards cards are in their wallet and comparing them to your own credit card portfolio.

We at TPG are no different. I'm always curious to hear how other TPG staffers concoct their credit card spend plan, which transferable points (or airline miles and hotel points) they favor and what hoops or hurdles they jump through to qualify for top-tier airline or hotel elite status.

Related: The 5 credit cards The Points Guy is using the most in 2021

Our cards team focuses on churning out fresh credit card content daily (logically), so we asked the card experts at TPG what credit cards are they carrying in their wallets or purse. We also asked them to share what's their 2021 credit card game plan for earning points, miles or airline and hotel elite status.

Here's what we found out.

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Stella Shon, writer

Stella is working towards earning Delta Gold Medallion status by strategically spending with the Delta Reserve Amex. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I'm about halfway to my $25,000 spend for my MQD waiver on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, which I opened in April 2021. I'm setting my sights on Delta Gold Medallion status for 2022. Admittedly, the Delta Reserve has a weak rewards rate (3x on eligible Delta purchases, 1x on other purchases), but I put expensive purchases on this card or non-bonus purchases. Once I hit the spending threshold on the Delta Reserve, I'll revert to my Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for all non-bonus spending.

Otherwise, I've been using the Chase Sapphire Preferred for all my international travels, thanks to no foreign transaction fees and virtually universal acceptance with Visa abroad, and the Chase Freedom Flex as part of my Chase Trifecta as I maximize the bonus categories each quarter. I don't plan on adding any new cards for the rest of 2021, but I love Hyatt and want to open a World of Hyatt Credit Card in 2022 (hopefully with an elevated sign-up bonus!).

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Related: Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card review

Juan Ruiz, editor

I continue to prioritize earning transferable points from the likes of Chase and Amex, so my redemption possibilities are endless. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images/Getty Images)

I'm coming off a spanking new approval for the Citi Premier® Card. While not originally in my plans for 2021, once Citi shook up the points and miles world with the announcement of a transfer partnership (temporarily) with American Airlines, I jumped at the opportunity to earn AAdvantage miles at a clip of 3 miles per dollar spent. Plus, I needed a gas card and the Citi Premier earns 3x points at gas stations, in addition to earning bonus points in other popular bonus categories. The rest of the cards in my rotation continue to pump transferable points in large quantities.

I have a Chase Trifecta of my own with a combination of the Ink Business Cash Credit Card that earns 5x at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services, Chase Freedom Flex which offers 5x on popular rotating quarterly categories (activation required) and the ever-so-popular Chase Sapphire Preferred Card that earns me 2x on travel and 3x on dining.

Rounding off my transferable points accrual plan is the dynamic duo of the American Express® Gold Card, which earns 4x points on dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1x) and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express that gets me 2x points (on up to $50,000 annual spend) on all my non-bonus category spend. I'm covered in earning bonus points on some of the most popular spend categories with this combo of cards.

Related: Citi Premier credit card review

Eric Rosen, director of content

Eric may apply for the Citi Premier to accrue valuable points that can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to AA and book Qatar Airways' Qsuites. (Photo by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy)

My partner recently applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offer of 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, so we are currently working toward that spending requirement to reap the full bonus.

After we do that, I’m considering applying for the Citi Premier Card myself to restock my stash of Citi ThankYou points with the card’s current offer of 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. I want to get there while it’s still possible (through Nov. 13, 2021) to take advantage of Citi ThankYou’s limited-time transfer option to American Airlines AAdvantage…possibly for a redemption in Qatar Airways’ Qsuites to somewhere romantic like the Maldives.

Since I might not make elite status through stays this year, I’m also considering getting a new hotel credit card. Namely, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, since it confers automatic top-tier Diamond status with Hilton Honors and offers a slew of other value-added perks such as an annual free weekend night, all for an absorbable $450 annual fee (see rates and fees).

The information for the Hilton Aspire 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 Preferred credit card review

Chris Dong, writer

Chris wants to book Cathay Pacific business class for 70,000 AAdvantage miles between the US and Asia. (Photo by Wallace Cotton/The Points Guy)

The American Express® Gold Card continues to be my go-to card for all things food — thanks to its generous 4 points per dollar earning rate on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000, then 1x). However, the World of Hyatt Credit Card continues to make a frequent appearance since I want to hit $15,000 for a second Category 1-4 free night certificate, along with targeted bonuses on travel and Hyatt purchases this quarter.

I just recently added the Citi Premier® Card to my wallet, with its best-ever 80,000-point bonus. On top of the lucrative sign-up bonus, Citi just added American Airlines as a temporary transfer partner, which will help me in my quest to rack up AA miles for a trip to Asia. Because of the robust coverage, I’m using my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for all my car rentals.

Meanwhile, I’m maximizing the credits on The Platinum Card® from American Express and making use of the 5x bonus on airfare (when booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). I’ve already visited several Centurion Lounges this year, which will continue to ramp up later in the year.

Related: American Express Gold card review

Joseph Hostetler, writer

Joseph will be redeeming the Chase Sapphire Preferred 60,000-point sign-up bonus for Hyatt stays abroad. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

My main driver is The Platinum Card® from American Express. I opened the card when it came with a welcome offer of 100,000 points (after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of Card Membership) plus 10x at gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in combined eligible purchases during the first six months of card membership. I’ve nearly maxed out that 10x bonus category and I’ll then focus on another card.

I’ve also been using an American Express® Gold Card as an authorized user on my wife’s Amex Platinum because she received an offer to add an authorized user and earn 20,000 Amex points after spending $2,000 in six months. After I complete the $2,000 spend to earn the bonus points, I intend to reapply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — since it's been seven years since I earned its bonus and now I'm eligible again for its all-time high 60,000-point sign-up bonus.

Finally, I use my Citi® Double Cash Card for non-bonus spending because it earns 1% back when I buy and 1% back when I pay my bill. I can convert that (effectively 2%) cash back into Citi ThankYou points and combine it with the bonus-category-friendly Citi Premier® Card.

Related: The Platinum Card® from American Express review

Benét Wilson, senior editor

Benet uses her Amex Platinum Card to earn 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with her favorite airline. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Mine is pretty simple these days. I’m using my Platinum Card from American Express to book all of my air travel and prepaid hotels (and take care of my lounge access). The 5x on airfare and 5x on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel, which I'm earning, provides me with a 10% return on my spending in these categories, per TPG valuations.

I’m flipping between my oldest card, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and my Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to get at least 2% cash back/2x miles on all purchases (1.5% cash back on the Quicksilver). I’m so happy that I can now convert that 2% cash back into miles on my Venture card. I have no plans to apply for a new card before the end of 2021, unless something really compelling pops up! But for 2022, I'm seriously considering the World of Hyatt Credit Card, since I've ditched Marriott. I'm pushing for Globalist status by the end of 2021, especially since Hyatt has made it much easier to get status after cutting elite qualifications in half.

Related: Capital One Venture Rewards credit card review

Jordyn Fields, intern

Jordyn plans to add the Amex Gold card to earn 4x on dining and U.S. supermarkets. (Photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)

I recently hit the 50,000-mile sign-up bonus on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, as the previous $20,000 annual spend to unlock the full 100,000 sign-up bonus was too rich for my blood. Instead of spending so much on one card, I'd rather open another card and hit another bonus. (The 100K offer is no longer available and the Venture card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening).

I am currently in the market for a card that earns bonus points on dining and grocery spend. And will probably aim for the card made for foodies — the American Express® Gold Card. This card offers four points per dollar spent at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 a calendar year, then 1x) and currently has a welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first six months of card membership.

There’s also a targeted welcome offer — 75,000 points — after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first six months of card membership on the Amex Gold Card available for some through the CardMatch Tool; offer subject to change at anytime ($250 annual fee, see rates and fees). I don’t plan on opening another card until I am ready to move from my current living situation. Those eventual moving expenses would help me fast track to meet the minimum spend requirements on a future premium card.

Related: These are the best cards for foodies

Bottom line

You'll notice our savvy TPG card ninjas mentioned the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Premier, American Express Gold and The Platinum Card from American Express -- with a clear overlap -- due to their outstanding welcome offers/sign-up bonuses, valuable bonus categories and the flexibility of using their respective points programs. Their card selections accentuate transferable points currencies and specific travel goals, which combined, can be a very valuable strategy towards sustaining a healthy balance of points and miles.

Related: A guide to earning transferable points and why they’re so valuable

If you’re curious about these card options and more, check out these helpful TPG credit card guides below.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Plus Card, click here.

Featured image by Shutterstock
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.