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If it’s not obvious by now, I am a big fan of using credit cards to my advantage. It’s one thing to use credit cards for the perks, it’s another thing to properly use them. Today I want to talk about the credit cards I use.
I want to give a realistic idea of why I chose the credit cards I currently use. There are a lot of concepts such as “credit card churning” that require a strong financial background to take advantage of. But I don’t want to dive into that.
Remember, you always want to decide the purpose of getting a credit card. Whether it’s to just simply build credit or to maximize perks, it’s better than getting a credit card just for the hell of it.
Here Are The Current Credit Cards That I Carry.
I’ll go in order from when I first applied for each credit card so you can get into the right mindset of my decision making.
Card #1: Chase Freedom
I love Chase credit cards. Not only do they have some of the most competitive bonus for using their credit cards, but they have several ‘beginner’ credit cards. This was the first credit card I got after I graduated college.
So what was the reasoning?
- Anyone with okay credit could apply and join without much hassle.
- They offered a $100 bonus after spending $500 after 3 months. Right now it’s a $150 bonus.
- There is no annual fee.
- They have 5% cash back on select categories each quarter.
I know it sounds like I’m a Chase shill, but as my first credit card I took seriously 8 years ago, it helped me get comfortable using a credit card for the first time. Not to mention, when I wasn’t making much money, getting 5% cash back on gas or groceries was a big deal back then.
This was perfect for the credit newbie in me back then. And you bet I still use my Chase Freedom card as my everyday card.
Card #2: Bank of America Cash Back Card
This was the second credit card I got. Similar to Chase Freedom, this was another ‘everyday’ card. I got this card after I got familiar with Chase Freedom. The reasoning on why I got this credit card was that:
- A simple card with a low barrier to entry.
- $150 bonus for the first $500 spent after 3 months (still current).
- No annual fee!
- 3% cash back on gas & 2% cash back on groceries with 1% cash back on everything else.
This was great for me since gas prices were pretty high several years ago. I was still a dirty basement kid back then so getting an extra $10+ each month in cash back did go a long way.
I still use this every day along with my Chase Freedom.
Card #3: Discover IT
This is another everyday card that I got. This still was a “beginner card”. The reasoning for this card was pretty much the same as chase freedom. They offered a cash back bonus and they have a 5% cash back calendar.
No annual fees and with a low barrier to entry made this an easy choice to complement my other 2 everyday credit cards.
Depending on the calendar, I more or less use this card for maximum cash back. Oh, also they had a 12 month 0% APR intro offer. So it was worth going after.
Card #4: Amex Blue Cash
I got this card after I got my Discover IT card. At this point, even though I still had a lot of debt, my finances were getting in order. I was moving into stage 3 of financial freedom and I was looking to maximize money while cutting costs.
I believe back then they had a $150 cash back offer with no annual fee. I was looking for some extra cash back as I planned to spend money over Christmas at the time.
There really wasn’t any other reason. One of the cool things American Express does is that they partner up with other companies to offer pretty sick cash back offers (spend $20 X, receive $10 back).
I don’t use these offers often, but that’s really the only reason why I use this card to date. Otherwise, it lays dormant in my drawer.
Card #5: Barclay Arrival Plus
After I got my everyday cards, I didn’t apply for any other cards for nearly two years. I didn’t need to as I was focusing on paying down student loans and keeping costs down.
However, during those two years, I got engaged and began planning a wedding. Obviously cutting down costs for the wedding is ideal. The wedding did cost less than $10K and the wife and I was determined to pay it off without being in debt (that’s another post for another time).
So why mention Barclay Arrival Plus? Because back then they offered a $400 travel credit after $4,000 spent. Since we already saved up the amount for the wedding ahead of time, it would make sense to get cash back by paying with a credit card.
The travel credit would be applied to our honeymoon. Nothing like saving $400 on traveling! I’ll be honest, even though they offer 2% back on spending, I don’t use them that much. This is another card that ended up in my drawer.
Card #6: Capital One Spark
I used both the Arrival Plus card and the Capital One Spark card to pay for my wedding. The Capital One Spark card offered a $500 cash back bonus after spending $4,500.
They also offered a 2% cash back bonus on all spend. In total, using the spark card after the bonus and cash back, I saved nearly $550 on this card alone.
I use this card whenever I’m not using my everyday cards. It’s a nice cash back amount and I get my rewards right away.
Notice that these last two cards I was focused on making these cards work for me. There was a plan for me to not only get the rewards, but I already had the money saved up prior to this. If I had paid in cash or check, I’d miss out on over $900 in savings.
That’s a pretty big deal. These next cards are used for other goals.
Card #7: Barclay Ring
This was the first card I use to test balance transferring some of my student loans to a credit card. Honestly, I was nervous when I did that. But the purpose of doing this was that I began shifting my focus in paying down my loans as aggressively as possible.
I was paying about $1100/month in student loans (minimum was $550) and I figured it would make more sense to take a chunk out of my student loans and put it on an interest-free card for 15 months.
There is nothing more to that, I was able to chunk off $13,000 off my student loans onto a credit card with no interest (saving hundreds a year).
I did my balance transfer and this card sits in a drawer, I have no intention of using this card outside of the intro balance transfer.
The intro rate is no longer valid so don’t plan on getting this card in the future.
Card #7: BankAmericard
This is another balance transfer card. They offered 15 months of 0% APR with 0 fees. At this point, I began seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to take another chunk off my student loans and put in onto a credit card.
This balance transfer card is STILL VALID, so if you are interested I’d take a look.
Similar to Barclay Ring, this card was used for a balance transfer and hasn’t seen the light of day since.
Card #8: Alliant Visa Platinum Card
This is card #3 that I used to finish off my remaining student loans. Now before you say, “OMG how much money do you have in credit cards from student loans?! This is terrible! You’ll get burned!”. Slow your roll, I already have payments planned and a method to my madness.
Alliant is probably my favorite financial institution at the moment, but this credit card was a great way for me to get introduced to them. 0% APR and no fees on balance transfers for 12 months!
So cards 6-8 were specifically towards eliminating student loan interest. I have it all planned out to minimize unneeded spend and to maximize cash flow. My last card
Card #9: Chase Business Ink Preferred
Notice a trend in how I pick my credit cards? Foundational -> Maximize Value -> Remove Interest -> Maximize Money
This last credit card was the trifecta of everything I look for in a credit card.
- Official “business” card for my consulting activities
- $800 bonus after $5000 spend after 3 months
- 3% Rewards bonus on most business-related activities (phone, cable, ad spend, etc)
As I began to consult full time, maximizing savings and getting the most money out of my day-to-day business spend was my top priority. This card is a slam dunk and I use this on all of my business activities.
What Are Your Go-To Credit Cards?
Did you dive right in when you got your credit cards? Or did you take more of a progressive approach over time? I might not be someone who has 30+ credit cards to his name, but I try to take on what I can handle.