At least once a year you should go through the credit cards you have and ask yourself why you’re keeping the card and if that reason is worth the annual fee.
In 2020 and 2021, it became harder to do this if you had several co-brand travel cards. The main reason to keep these cards is usually a combination of special treatment and loyalty program incentives (free nights or bonus points.) But when we weren’t traveling it didn’t matter if you had a free hotel night certificate, complimentary hotel breakfast, free checked bag, or 5,000 extra miles since all of those benefits were useless.
Banks adjusted by giving credits (like the monthly AMEX credit for dining and cell phone bills) and adding bonus categories for grocery shopping and food delivery services.
Some of those bonuses have remained, while some have gone away as most people are shifting back to their pre-pandemic spending patterns. This means it’s a great time to look at the cards to determine which ones are staying in your wallet, which ones you only use every once in a while and maybe decide that it’s time to let some cards go.
As I was going through our inventory, I discovered I was keeping several cards for a single purpose. It’s important to know this because if the reason you’re holding a card goes away or you get a better card, you might not need the original anymore.
I’m not counting co-brand hotel or airline cards in this category because you usually keep these cards for benefits with an airline or hotel chain. If you’re no longer using that company, you should probably think about getting rid of the card. I’m also not including cashback or set earning cards because these have a place for everyday spending.
Here are some of our credit cards that I keep for only one reason.
I signed up for the Apple Card when we purchased a new iPhone. I keep it for the 3% cashback and interest-free financing on Apple purchases. The card has no annual fee and we always have it with us because it’s connected to Apple Wallet. We used the card to buy a new MacBook power cable from the Apple Store in New York when ours died.
The Citi Rewards+ card has several interesting features for a no-annual-fee card, including 2% back at supermarkets and gas stations and the points “round-up” However, I keep the card for the 10% rebate on redeemed points. For example, when you redeem up to 100,000 points per year, you’ll get a 10% rebate. When I used all our Citi ThankYou points to book flights to Iceland, I received 10,000 points back. That’s $100 worth of points for keeping the card.
I’ve written about how I’ve had the Disney Visa card from Chase since the initial launch date. I no longer put much spending on the card as it only earns 1% back, even on Disney purchases. I keep it because of the perks and discounts you get at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Access to exclusive experiences for having this card makes it worthwhile.
I just did a product change to get the Citi Custom Cash. I wanted the card because it pays 5X ThankYou points in whichever of several categories you spend the most, including entertainment. I’ve missed having a card to use for our theater and concert tickets and this one fits the bill.
The Discover card is a pure cashback system and most purchases earn 1% back. I keep it because every 3 months Discover has several categories where you can earn 5% back, up to $75. If you can max out the benefit every quarter, you’ll earn $300 back for a no-annual-fee card.
Until I started writing, I didn’t notice that every card on this list has no annual fees. That could be why I have no problems holding onto them for a single, niche purpose. If I had to pay $89 per year for the Rewards+ card to earn a $100 rebate, I doubt I’d be keeping it.
My next step is to look at the travel co-brand cards. I feel I have a few more of those than I need.
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