It’s been almost a year since I’ve gone over which cards Sharon and I are carrying in our wallets. Since we each have a different approach to earning miles and points, mine being obsessive about earning the maximum points for each transaction, and her desire to exert the least amount of thought into the process (Note from Sharon: Hell yeah! LOLOL!), the cards we carry are different.
There’s a method to my madness, as I manage to balance the two approaches and come to a plan where we maximize earning while minimize effort (and still keep our marriage together). (Note from Sharon: Again. Hell yeah!)
Joe’s Wallet – Maximizing Every Spending Category
Chase Ink Business Preferred
Currently, I’m focusing my spending on the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. The sign-up bonus for this card is 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points but requires spending $5,000 on the card within three months of card opening. That’s a large amount of money but not out of range for our usual spending if I focus on just one card.
On top of the bonus, the Ink Business Preferred earns 3x points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. As Your Mileage May Vary grows, we’ll be spending more money in these categories and will appreciate the bonuses more.
Citi ThankYou Premier
I keep this card with me to pay for all gas station purchases since this card earns three Citi ThankYou Points per dollar. I can redeem ThankYou points for 1.25 cents each towards travel booked through the Citi portal. I can also transfer ThankYou points to Airline Programs like JetBlue, KLM/Flying Blue (where I can book Delta flights) and Singapore Airlines (for flights on Star Alliance carriers).
American Express Everyday Preferred
Despite my aversion to adding authorized users to credit cards, this is one instance where we both have cards on the same account. While I’m not the primary shopper for groceries in the family, I occasionally find the need to stop and pick up a necessary item on the way home from work that we need for dinner (Note from Sharon: That translates to when I text him and say I forgot to buy an onion and could he stop and pick one up). I keep this card in my wallet because it earns three points per dollar for all spending at supermarkets. I also use this card for small purchases, like a bottle of soda or a coffee. That’s because you need to use the card for 30 purchases in a billing cycle to earn a 50% points bonus for that billing cycle. That way the three points per dollar on groceries becomes 4.5 points per dollar.
I’ve had a Discover card for like, as long as I can remember. I never got rid of it because of the 5% bonus categories (and because it has no annual fee). Right now, Discover is paying 5% back on restaurant spending until the end of September. Until then, it has a place in the wallet.
Sharon’s Wallet – Simplified Points Earning
When we first started this blog, we joked in our bio that we were a husband who was into miles and points and a wife who didn’t really care. That’s changed a bit as Sharon’s gotten more involved with the blog (she now knows the difference between IHG and SPG) (Note from Sharon: Holiday Inn and Starwood! And Starwood merged with Marriott and it’s a mess! See, I CAN be taught! I just don’t want to.). but she still doesn’t want to worry about which credit card to use for each purchase. If I put a card in the front of her wallet, she’ll use it and that’s about as far as I’ve been able to get with her.
American Express Everyday Preferred
I mentioned above that this is the card I use for my grocery store spending but it is also a wonderful card for people who don’t want to learn the ins and outs of miles and points. It is a fantastic “one and done” card to have in your wallet. It earns 3 points per dollar for spending at supermarkets, 2 points per dollar spend at gas stations and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. As I mentioned before, The Everyday Preferred earns a 50% bonus if you use the card 30 or more times in a billing period, With both of us using this card, we can easily hit the 30 transaction limit each month.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
While the AMEX Everyday is a great card, it’s still a fact that not everywhere accepts American Express cards. It’s for these cases where I’ll have Sharon use her Sapphire Preferred as a backup. It’s a Visa card, so it’s accepted almost everywhere, it earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining expenses and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Even if she only earns 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent, I can never have enough Ultimate Rewards points.
Various Gift Cards
While I still haven’t been able to get Sharon to use a different card for every purchase, I have convinced her to use gift cards when available. I buy a discounted card at Whole Foods, Lowe’s or Disney and put it in her wallet. Eventually she’ll drain the balance and I know it’s time to replace the card or purchase a new one.
Baby steps people, baby steps. (Note from Sharon: Oh please. I’m little. I have little legs. All you’re ever gonna get from me is baby steps)
The cards I mentioned are good for us but they might not be the best for every situation. For instance the AMEX Everyday only counts grocery spending done at supermarkets. If you go grocery shopping at Target, Walmart, Costco or BJ’s Wholesale Club, you wouldn’t get any extra points. In that case, you might be better off getting a card like the Citi Costco Anywhere card that gives you 4% cash back on all gasoline purchases, including Costco, and 2% back on all Costco purchases. If you spend a bit of time outside of the United States, most of these bonus categories are only for U.S. purchases so for you it would be most important to have a card with no foreign transaction fees. Everyone’s situation will be different; just make sure the plan you choose works for you.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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