Now that 2019 is fading away in the rearview mirror like a distant memory, I’m going to write my last “looking back” post. While I love to write about the flights we took or which hotels we stayed in the most, the post that helps me the most to keep on track earning points and miles is when I look back at how I used our credit cards.
For us, we earn many more points from sign up bonuses and ongoing spending than we do from anywhere else. So I have to be conscious to make sure I’m maximizing our spending patterns. I also get to see if I’m following the plans I set up and if I’m doing a good job keeping track of what’s in our wallets.
Thanks to Quicken and some scrap paper, here’s a breakdown of our spending for the last six months of 2019.
1. World of Hyatt Visa by Chase (19%)
I signed up for the World of Hyatt card at the beginning of 2019 and needed to spend $6,000 to get the full sign up bonus. Once I did that, I decided I might as well try to spend $15,000 and get an additional free night at a category 1-4 hotel. I’d generally shy away from putting that much on a single card, but I had a few big unexpected bills come our way so it wasn’t a stretch to meet the spending requirement.
I already have plans for the points I earned with the card for our Japan trip; I just need to find a good place to use the free night certificates.
2. Citi Premier (13%)
The Citi Premier is one of only two cards that Sharon and I both have, so I combined the spending from both cards for this list. The Premier shot up the rankings for several reasons. Our theme park passes renew during the second part of the year and I use the Premier to pay for those because it earns 2 points per dollar. I also moved our theater and event (concert/movie) ticket purchases to this card after the Citi Prestige removed its concert protection coverage.
Finally, I received a 5x point offer for purchases from department and clothing stores, so all of our holiday shopping at the mall went onto this card as well.
3. Barclaycard Arrival+ (12.7%)
It just goes to show how much of our spending is in the non-bonused categories. I’ve moved many of those payments (lawn care, utility bills, doctor co-pays) to the Arrival to earn 2% when redeeming the points for travel expenses. I’ve used the points for a free night in Fort Lauderdale and for an overpriced flight to New York.
I think this card will be dropping down the list in 2020 because of a new addition to our wallet.
4. Chase Sapphire Reserve (12.6%)
The Sapphire Reserve moved up in the rankings for a few reasons. It picked up the bulk of our travel expenses, now that Citi has done away with travel insurance coverage for their cards. I’m not sure if this card will remain in my wallet now that Chase has raised the annual fee by another $100.
5. Blue Business Plus (8.5%)
The new addition to our collection of cards during the last six months of 2019 was the American Express Blue Business Plus card. The ability to use this card and earn two Membership Rewards points per dollar on all spending is fantastic. Even better is that this card had no annual fee. I’m sure this card will be on this list for a long time.
6. Citi Prestige (5.6%)
The Prestige stayed on the list mainly because of the 5x points it earns on restaurants and the 3x it earned on hotel stays. I can see that being the only reason I’ll use the card going forward because of the removal of the travel insurance coverages which used to make the card stand out from the others.
I’ve made a strategic decision to hold onto the Prestige for another year, but after that, it’s on the chopping block.
The American Express Everyday Preferred took the biggest tumble on the list, falling from #1 to #7. The main reason being that we had three other cards competing for our non-bonused spend with the Blue Business Plus paying a more significant return and not requiring a certain number of transactions each month.
I’ll still use this card for grocery spending, but besides that, I’m not sure it’s worth keeping.
8. Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority (4.7%)
The only reason this card makes the list is that I was still finishing the spending requirement for the card in July. After that, I’ve only used it for a few purchases here and there. I’ll save it for Southwest onboard purchases and to use it when I get the Southwest credit added back to the card at my account anniversary.
Other Cards (19%)
The rest of our spending was spread over our other cards. Our cable bill goes into the Ink Cash to earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points. The cell phone bill gets charged to the Ink Preferred for the phone protection insurance. I used our Bonvoy Brilliant card to pay for our Marriott hotel stays and even let Sharon use her AMEX Green card for a while (Note from Sharon: Yay!) after the benefits for spending were improved.
Our travel expenses for the end of 2019 were higher than usual, having the Sapphire Reserve spike up on the list. The big loser was the American Express Everyday Preferred; its place in Sharon’s wallet was taken over by the Arrival+ and later by the Blue Business Plus.
I’m sure there will be a new card needing spending for a sign-up bonus when I make the list for the first six months of 2020, I just don’t know which one right now. That will be the most significant change to the list.
Besides that, our spending on travel or dining is usually a small percent of the total amount. For all the worries I have about whether to use the Citi Prestige, Sapphire Reserve or AMEX Green, it’s a small change to what we spend on groceries, utilities and gas every month.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary