I play the credit card points game primarily for travel (airfare, hotels, rental cars), but I also take advantage of great benefits like extended warranties, cash back, etc. Here is a quick overview of my current cards and how I use them.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
This is my high end card. Without diving too deep into it, I use it for some major purchases, rental cars, and dining. Additionally, I transfer points to it from my next card. This card has a lot of other great benefits as well (free TSA precheck, $300 travel credit, etc).
Every quarter, this card gets bonus points in certain categories (gas stations for example). I use this card for whatever category is currently active. This is also my oldest card, and I will always keep it active for that reason alone.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card
I use this card for booking hotels with Hilton (where I always stay). It has a lot of useful benefits that strictly apply to Hilton. I don’t even carry it in my wallet.
Chase United MileagePlus Explorer
The only thing I use this card for is booking airfare with United (my primary airline). It gets me extra miles when I book, free checked baggage, priority boarding, and keeps my miles from expiring. I don’t carry this card.
Brand new to the scene is the Apple Card. I’ll use it primarily for Apple purchases (3% cash back). That can be for Apple hardware, apps, music, books, subscriptions, etc. You can also get 3% cash back with Uber/UberEats (and more coming).
My wife also has a selection of cards that work well alongside mine. For instance, her primary card is a Chase Freedom Unlimited. Chase allows her to transfer points to my Reserve card, increasing their value.
If you’re new to the credit card points game, it can be dangerous if you don’t handle things properly from the beginning. Here are a few quick tips.
- Never carry a balance. NEVER. Always pay it in full.
- Never max out the card.
- Understand the benefits and weaknesses of each card.
- Start with 1 and build out.
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