When Matt suggested I share what cards I have right now for the What’s in My Wallet article series, I laughed. If he could see my Ziploc bag full of cards, he would know how long this article would need to be! Instead, he suggested we just go over what’s in my wallet.

Lucky for you, I just finished cleaning out my wallet in January. Last year was a bit of a wash for me in points and miles. I was letting my credit report cool off as I bought a house, and so I could fall below 5/24 to be eligible for some Chase cards again.

Now that we’re in 2021, I’ve been reevaluating my card strategy. Today I’ll share with you what cards are living in my wallet as newcomers, what long-term cards I have, and which cards I’m looking to axe.

New Cards in my Wallet

For starters, let’s take a look at what cards I’ve added to my wallet recently. Over the past two weeks I’ve actually opened two new cards. Despite saying I was letting my 5/24 status calm down, neither of these are Chase cards.

That may seem counterintuitive, but I’ll explain the reasoning behind opening each of these cards below.

Hilton Honors Business Card

One of two new cards in my wallet is The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. American Express recently updated the bonus offers on some of their Hilton cards. You can now get 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. Additionally, you’ll receive a $150 statement credit after your first purchase in the first six months.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I think Hilton points are pretty underrated. I’m happy to be adding some Hilton points to my growing collection.

Another reason why I chose to open the Hilton Honors Business Card is because Amex business cards don’t report to your personal credit report. This means it won’t impact my 5/24 status whatsoever.

This card checked a lot of boxes for me. First, it comes with an all time high bonus. Second, the statement credit more than offsets the annual fee of $95 in the first year. Third, I’m happy to be adding some more Hilton points to my collection. Finally, it won’t impact my 5/24 status, which I’ve been working on keeping low.

There’s a lot of positives to opening the Hilton Honors Business Card right now, so I’m glad it made its way into my wallet.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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Citi Premier

My second newborn to my wallet is the Citi Premier® Card. I’ve been wanting to get a Citi Premier for a long time, but every time I’ve applied for it I’ve been rejected.

While doing my credit card review for the new year, I realized that not only was I below 5/24, but that I didn’t open a single credit card in 2020. Citi can be sensitive to recent inquiries, so I knew that now was likely my shot to open a Citi Premier.

The choice to open a Citi Premier wasn’t made lightly. It is a personal card, meaning it would count against my 5/24 status. But I still decided it was worthwhile for a few reasons.

For starters, I’m anticipating my travel ramping back up again this year, but not to pre-2020 levels fully. This means I won’t be burning points with nearly the frequency that I was before. Because of this, the velocity with which I’m opening cards is significantly reduced so I’ll likely stay below 5/24 for awhile.

Additionally, and a big reason why I didn’t mind burning a 5/24 slot for the Citi Premier was its long-term value proposition. Chase is really good for the bonuses, but otherwise their cards are fairly lackluster for long-term points and miles strategies. Compare the Premier to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. For example, the Premier earns 3X points at supermarkets while the Preferred earns 1X. Further, you’ll get 3X at restaurants on the Premier vs. 2X on the Preferred, and 3X on gas stations with the Premier vs. 1X on the Preferred.

What it all boils down to is how each card plays into my strategy. Right now, my points strategy is to acquire cards that have a long-term value proposition in my points and miles plan, meaning cards with bonus earning categories that are beneficial to my everyday life. Quite frankly, that’s a place where Chase cards are really lacking right now. This made it easier to sacrifice a 5/24 slot for a Citi Premier Card.

Citi Premier® Card

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

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The Platinum Card from American Express

One of the permanent cards in my wallet is The Platinum Card® from American Express. I’ve had my Amex Plat for over a year now, and easily find it is well worth the annual fee.

For starters, access to Centurion Lounges is easily worth it. I’m based in Houston, and we have a Centurion Lounge at Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Most of my connections end up going through either Dallas (DFW) or Miami (MIA), both of which also offer Centurion Lounges.

I don’t actually find myself turning to my Amex Plat for most of my purchases. Instead, it is reserved pretty much for the perks and benefits. Beyond just Centurion Lounge access, I use the Uber credits for Uber eats every month. I also use Amex Offers quite frequently (although, that’s not really an exclusive benefit).

Overall, paying $550 a year is offset with the Uber credits and travel credit. Plus I get access to one of the best lounge networks in the U.S. You can’t get much better than that.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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American Express Gold Card

American Express is really starting to monopolize the real estate in my wallet, but I’m not complaining. Over the past few years, Amex has been making a compelling case to hold onto their cards at a higher rate than other banks. The American Express® Gold Card is no exception.

The Amex Gold Card is actually the first Amex that I applied for, and I’ve held onto it ever since. Not just for the credit history, but for the perks and benefits that come along with it.

For starters, earning 4X points on the first $25,000 a year spent at U.S. supermarkets, and 4X on all dining already makes it my go to card for a large portion of my monthly budget. I easily earn 50,000+ points a year from dining and groceries alone on this card.

Another reason it is a bit of a no brainer is because the credits on the card basically make up for the annual fee from the start. I definitely use the $10 Uber Cash every month on Uber Eats, and the extra dining credit up to $10 a month always goes towards either Grubhub or Shake Shack for my family.

Even though I have the Citi Premier card now as well, which earns 3X points on the same categories, I think both will stay long term. Sure, there’s some overlap in the categories, but over time, the points that I need fluctuate. Sometimes, Citi ThankYou Points will be more valuable to me. Other times, American Express Membership Rewards will have more value.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve was one of my first points and miles cards I got. It was definitely my first Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card when it was released back in 2016. I’ve kept it in my wallet year after year. I’m not sure if I’ve been doing it for nostalgia, or because I think it is actually a good card.

Whatever the reason, it is definitely becoming harder and harder to justify keeping it. It isn’t that I don’t want an Ultimate Rewards earning card, because I definitely do. I’ll be a World of Hyatt Globalist soon, so I’ll want to maintain the ability to transfer to Hyatt.

The reason why I’m reconsidering my Sapphire Reserve is because I can get all the perks that I want from a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Like I said above, I don’t really think Chase cards are keeping up with the competition as long term cards anymore. I’m mostly after the best Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus possible, and amongst all the Sapphire cards available, that’s the Chase Sapphire Preferred leading the pack.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

If you’re wondering, yes I do have a pretty big wallet. It’s called the Big Skinny, and it is the only wallet I’ve had that has held up to the abuse of numerous metal cards over the years and I always recommend it to people in the points and miles community.

My go to non-bonus category card is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Freedom Unlimited® earns 1.5X Ultimate Rewards points on every dollar spent. Although I cover a lot of different categories, there are some stores that are a bit left out for bonus multipliers, namely, home improvement and hobbyist stores.

When I can’t earn bonus points, I always swipe my Chase Freedom Unlimited. While it isn’t the highest earning option, the reasoning makes sense. Between my Citi Premier and Amex Gold Card, I have a lot of earnings on some routine monthly spend. This makes it easy to build up the Membership Rewards and ThankYou Points. But I’m not putting that spend on my Sapphire Reserve or any other Chase card. As a result, the bulk of my Ultimate Rewards are earned solely from sign-up bonuses.

I like to keep a healthy stash of all major points, so to keep earning Ultimate Rewards when I’m over 5/24, or when I’m taking a cool off period for my 5/24 status or credit report, I’ll turn to the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

What Cards I’m Looking At Next

There are quite a few cards that are on my radar right now. Primarily, I’m looking for cards for hotel stays. I tend to get a lot of good value for flights from Membership Rewards, and I also have the Southwest Companion Pass for the rest of the year. My flights are pretty much covered for all my travel plans through the end of the year and beyond.

This means I’m mostly looking for cards to help me earn hotel points, especially with Hyatt. Naturally, the three cards I’m looking at the most are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Between these three cards, I’ll be able to earn more than 200,000 points in the combination of Ultimate Rewards and Hyatt.

What I’m Thinking of Getting Rid Of

In addition to adding some cards, there are also some cards that I’m thinking of closing. I’ll admit, I’m not the best at closing cards. But this past year has helped me see what cards I’m getting some high value from and ones that I’m not.

The Ritz Carlton Credit Card

I’ve held onto the Ritz Credit Card over the years because it comes with a $300 airline credit and a 50,000-point annual free night every year. At worst, it always felt like it was a break even proposition. For me, a card being break even always felt like a good enough reason to hold onto it.

One of the benefits I’ve never really used of the Ritz card was the seven free club night upgrades. This gets you perks like free breakfast at the Ritz Club at many of their properties. The downside is that you can only use these free club upgrades on paid rates.

Earlier this year, I found a pretty good cash rate at the Ritz in Cancun, around $180 a night. This was when I learned that not only are these limited to cash nights, but full standard cash rates only. Standard cash rates tend to be much higher than other rates available, and during this stay it was no exception. A standard fare was around $380 a night.

It is pretty annoying to be paying for a premium credit card, only to learn that the perks and benefits of the card come with pretty heavy restrictions that don’t make sense to use. If I’m just breaking even at best, it doesn’t make sense to hold onto the Ritz Carlton Credit Card anymore.

The Business Platinum Card

Another premium card on the chopping block for me is The Business Platinum Card from American Express.

The Business Platinum Card historically has been one of the more challenging cards to get. It often has a relatively high spending requirement of $10,000 or more to earn the bonus. I opened the card when I was furnishing a new house and knew that I would be able to meet the minimum spend.

Now, however, the $595 really only provides redundant benefits to my personal platinum. Other than the credits from Dell, I don’t need it for Centurion Lounge access. The ability to earn 1.5X points on qualifying purchases above $5,000 just doesn’t happen with enough frequency to justify it.

This is another case where the benefits are, at best, break even for me. If I’m just breaking even, then I can pay cash for the benefits I want when I do want them.

Final Thoughts

I’ve struggled with the idea of “maximizing” my 5/24 slots recently, but made the decision to add the Citi Premier despite it taking up a 5/24 slot. The Amex Hilton Business Card won’t count against my 5/24 status, but is another newcomer that makes for a long term addition to my card portfolio.

Some of my long term cards have a place to stay, such as the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum. Others, like the Ritz Card and the Business Platinum, are on the chopping block.

I still want to be sure to maximize my 5/24 status, but as time goes on in this hobby I realize there are sometimes opportunities worth burning a 5/24 slot for. I’ll still pursue an Ink and another Sapphire card, but I won’t hold my breath to get only Chase cards in those slots.