Which Credit Cards to Keep?
Hilary Stockton

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Which Credit Cards to Keep


Which credit cards should you keep? It used to be possible to close a credit card, and a year or two later, apply for the same credit card to earn the signup bonus again. It's become harder to do that, thanks to both AMEX credit card signup bonuses becoming once in a lifetime and more recently, AMEX Business credit card bonuses becoming once in a lifetime, as well as Chase 5/24 making it much harder to earn a signup bonus again. It already applies to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom, and is taking effect sometime this month for the Ink Plus and next month, April 2016, for Chase cobrand cards.

TravelSort reader Ted writes "Did you have to cancel your Chase Blue Sapphire Preferred card to get a new one with new sign-up bonus? I have had my card for well over two years, but it is my go to card (I love it for the 2X points on dining/travel and 1:1 transfer to United and Hyatt), so I fear not being approved for another one if a I cancel and then apply again for a new one."

It's a legitimate concern and I recommended that he not cancel the card if he has gotten 5 or more cards in the past 24 months, since he would likely not get approved again.

Here are the cards I plan to keep, in light of the more stringent rules:

1. Ink Plus

Originally I thought I might be eligible for another Ink Plus before 5/24 takes effect sometime this month, but looking back at when I received the bonus for my current card, it won't work--I'd only be eligible in a few months' time. So I'm keeping my current card, which easily gets the most use of all my business cards, thanks to the 5X on Internet, phone and office supply stores. 


2. Sapphire Preferred

While we went for a year or so without a Sapphire Preferred and did fine since we were usually working on minimum spend for new cards, I'll be keeping my Sapphire Preferred card going forward, since we wouldn't manage to get the card again given our new card applications. The Sapphire Preferred is our go-to card when dining out abroad, since we value Ultimate Rewards points over ThankYou points, which can also be earned, with no foreign transaction fees, 2X per dollar at restaurants via the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier. 


3. SPG Business AMEX

I recently got approved for the 35K SPG Business AMEX, which I'd never had before, and plan to keep it. While I rarely stay in Starwood hotels, and the SPG AMEX cards have no other category bonus apart from Starwood, SPG points are valuable to us for their transfer to airline partners with a 25% bonus (see SPG Airline Partners: Transfer Starwood Points to Miles) and the card is good for those miscellaneous expenses that don't earn any other category bonus.


4. Chase Freedom

It's not as if I'd get rid of the Chase Freedom anyway, since it's a no annual fee card, but it's worth mentioning how valuable I consider this card, for its 5X categories. In fact, I hope to downgrade my husband's Chase Sapphire Preferred card to a Chase Freedom, since we just need one of us to have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. That way we'd have up to $4500 in spend at the 5X bonus, which is especially handy when grocery stores are a 5X category, as in Q2 2016 (see 2016 Chase Freedom 5X Calendar). For us, that means stocking up on gift cards at Trader Joe's, which we can use not only for grocery spend later in the year, but also at the Trader Joe's Wine Store. Our favorite Cabernets, Malbecs and Viogniers at 5X? Yes please!


5. Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select (see Best Travel Credit Cards for 50K offer) is mostly about the 50K bonus miles, but the other benefit we value is the 10% AAdvantage mile rebate, up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles if you redeem 100,000 or more AAdvantage miles a year. Even after the major AAdvantage award chart devaluation we will probably redeem enough AAdvantage miles annually to make keeping one of our two cards worth it. The other one we'll cancel so as to be eligible for a new bonus in 18 months (if current terms and conditions remain in place).


6. Hyatt Visa

We'll likely keep one Hyatt Visa, not because we stay at many Hyatts, which we don't, but because of a simple cost/benefit analysis. The annual fee after the first year is $75, and you receive one free anniversary night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt. So far we've managed to redeem our free night at Category 3 and Category 4 Hyatts that we value at $75 or more per night, such as the Park Hyatt Seoul (Category 4 at time of stay, now a Category 5 property), Hyatt Place Waikiki (Category 3) and the Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi (Category 3). So we may as well keep the card for the free night as long as we continue to find Category 3 or 4 properties that we value at or more than the annual fee. It's handy for those times we have a long layover or just need a quick night somewhere, and a basic hotel is all we need.


7. AMEX Business Rewards Gold?

I've put a question mark by the AMEX Business Rewards Gold card (wait for a high targeted offer, or see 50K AMEX Business Gold Offer: How to Get It), because I do like earning 3X on all airfare, and I value AMEX Membership Rewards points more highly than Citi ThankYou points, which can also be earned 3X per dollar for travel via the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier cards. But since after the first year, the annual fee is $175 per year, I have to consider whether earning those 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar for airfare vs. 3X ThankYou points or 2X Ultimate Rewards points is worth it.

A better card would be the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold, which also has the $100 airline incidental fee credit per year, making the effective annual fee $95 after the first year, but I'm not eligible for the signup bonus for that card since it's one I've had before. If I do ever receive a targeted offer for that card that exempts me from the once in a lifetime bonus restriction, I'll switch to that card instead.

Which credit cards do you plan to keep?

Related Posts

35K SPG AMEX and 35K SPG Business AMEX Bonus Offers

Which Chase Credit Cards to Apply For Before 5/24 Rule Takes Effect?

Which New Travel Credit Cards for Honeymoon Expenses?

Where to Transfer AMEX Points and Citi ThankYou Points Before Closing Credit Cards?

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Picture?type=large Peggy L. commented 13 Mar 2016
I'm focused on collecting UA miles, so my magical trio to keep is the UA Select Visa, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Freedom - adore transferring UR points to miles! Will also keep the free AX Every Day card for MR points, the free Hilton Honors card, and the SPG card.
User_avatar_default Travelfan B. commented 05 May 2016
Hi, I have had the Ink Plus business card for about 2 years but keep getting targeted application forms in the mail. Does that mean I can apply for a second Ink Plus card and get the Bonus again???
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 06 May 2016
It's possible, if you indeed have a second business that you would be applying for. Generally you can't get another Ink Plus card for the same business, however.
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