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I get almost all my miles from credit cards.

  • I rarely fly a paid flight on an airline that offers miles (and when I do, it’s usually not paid by me)
  • I don’t do much online shopping through airline portals
  • My dining program earnings are minimal

For me, it starts and ends with sign up bonuses and category bonuses on credit cards. I recently took a minute to look at the cards I have and whether I’ll keep them, the cards I want to get, and the cards that will see spending from me this year.

Cards I Plan to Get

AA Business Card for miles

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is a business card. I’ve never had it, so this card is at the top of my list, especially since American Airlines miles are the most valuable right now, and I’ve been redeeming them for ultra-luxury awards.

Read my full review of the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®

Citi Prestige for lounge access, benefits, and points

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

Because I understand the benefits and will maximize them, I’ll get way more value than the annual fee. Right now I don’t have Priority Pass access, and I’ll lose AA lounge access soon when I cancel the AA Executive card, so I value those highly.

These ThankYou Points can be used for 1.33 cents each toward American Airlines flights or transferred to 12 types of airline miles with new airlines being added frequently.

Read my full review of the Citi Prestige® Card

United℠ Explorer Card again

I got the United℠ Explorer Card over two years ago and cancelled it around a year ago. I can get it again with the bonus because Chase’s rule for personal cards is that you are considered a new applicant if it has been 2+ years since you last got the bonus on the card.

United℠ Business Card

I have never had the United℠ Business Card.

Cards to Keep or Cancel

What cards I keep versus cancel won’t be particularly illuminating to you because whether you should keep or cancel a card is a math problem, and only you have your inputs.

The three-part test is:

  1. Is the annual fee zero? Keep it.
  2. Are you getting a retention bonus for keeping the card that is worth more than the annual fee? If so, keep the card. If not, go to step 3.
  3. Are the marginal benefits of holding the card larger than the annual fee. If so, keep it. If not, cancel it.

There is no substitute for doing the keep-cancel analysis yourself, but here are some trends I noted:

  • Cards you use a lot will come out well in the keep-cancel analysis, and cards with a retention bonus will too.
  • Airline cards do poorly because they don’t offer good category bonuses, and their 1x return on everyday spend.
  • The more total money you spend on all your credit cards, the more annual fees you will be able to justify to maximize category bonuses. If you spend less money, the optimal number of cards to carry will be lower.

Which Cards I’ll Spend On

Much of my spending goes toward meeting minimum spending requirements. What’s leftover goes to category bonuses as much as possible. Where I’ll try to put extra spending in 2015:

  • 5x rotating category on my Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • 5x at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year on my Chase Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
  • 3x dining on my Citi Premier® Card
  • 3x gas on my Citi Premier® Card

Your Strategy?

What cards are you eyeing in 2015? What card will get your non-bonused spending?

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 75,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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