[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners if available here — Chase Sapphire Preferred, Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card from Chase, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, American Express Blue Cash Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier, Amex EveryDay, American Express Platinum, Delta SkyMiles card from American Express, American Express SimplyCash business, Chase Ink Plus, Gold Delta Sky Miles card from American Express, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
If you are like most Americans, then you probably don’t think all that much about what credit cards you use. But what about the country’s top personal finance and travel bloggers? These are people who spend all day thinking about the best ways to make their money go further and earn the most rewards.
So I asked some of my fellow travel and personal finance writers to tell me what’s in their wallet — and their answers might help you to decide which credit cards you should be using.
Jeff Fruhwirth, Sustainable Life Blog
In my wallet, I’ve got three credit cards. My primary card and my go-to card for daily spending is the Chase Sapphire Preferred (reviewed here). I’ve had this card for over three years, and I continue to value the Ultimate Rewards points that I earn very, very highly. While it does have a $95 annual fee, though, I have made that back many times over when I have redeemed my points for flights and hotels. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program also has an abundance of transfer partners for when I want to use the points, and there are always lucrative redemption opportunities to be found if you’re flexible with your travel. I use this card for 90%+ of the transactions that I make.
I also keep the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express (business edition) with me at all times, and I use this card to cover any business expenses that I incur. Unfortunately, American Express cards are not accepted everywhere where I live, but it’s accepted most places and I’ve rarely had a problem using it. Like Ultimate Rewards points, Starwood Preferred Guest points can transferred to other programs, and you can also redeem them at some very fancy Starwood properties around the world, which include Westin. Finally, I have the IHG Rewards Club Select Card from Chase. I’ve got that in my wallet so that I can complete the minimum spend on the card and get the bonus points toward free nights at Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and other IHG brands.
Shawn Coomer, Miles to Memories
My overall credit card strategy involves earning the highest rewards in the simplest way. For that reason the main card I use for everyday spend is a Barclaycard Arrival Plus, which earns 2% in miles on all purchases, and I can use the miles earned to get statement credits toward my travel expenses. The other two cards I carry earn bonuses in the categories in which I spend the most money. Like many families, we spend the most on dining, groceries, gas and travel. For grocery purchases I like the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, which pays 6% back at grocery stores (on up to $6,000 per year).
When it comes to travel, gas and dining, I use the Citi ThankYou Premier since it pays 3X ThankYou points on travel and gas and 2X on dining and entertainment. With the combination of these three cards I have decent travel and purchase protection, a baseline of 2% earnings, and increased rewards in the categories where I spend the most.
Eric Rosenberg, Personal Profitability
My favorite cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the American Express EveryDay Preferred and the Chase Ink Plus (reviewed here) business card. We built up a big balance with Chase spending at restaurants, bars and travel with the Sapphire Preferred, which offers double points on these purchases. In addition, I use my Chase Ink Plus for all of my phone, Internet and office supply purchases for my business, earning an amazing 5x points per dollar spent. Finally, we recently got a 15,000-point sign-up bonus for the American Express EveryDay Preferred, and have been taking advantage of 3x points at grocery stores (up to $6,000 in purchases) and a 50% bonus for using the card for 30+ transactions per month. Like the Ultimate Rewards points that I earn from my Chase cards, this card earns Membership Rewards points with American Express that can be transferred to travel partners.
Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers
One credit card I use for everyday spending is the American Express EveryDay card. I get double points on grocery purchases, there’s no annual fee, and it has a rewards program as well. Another card in my wallet is the Citi ThankYou Premier card. That card gets me triple points on travel and gas, and double points on restaurants and entertainment. I also own the American Express Platinum Card. With that, I get $200 worth of statement credits each year when I make qualified travel purchases. I also get free access to various airport lounges, upgrades and discounts on car rentals, and it also has a decent rewards program.
Miranda Marquit, Planting Money Seeds
I have three rewards credit cards that I use on a regular basis. The first is a Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express. I use it for all my everyday expenses, from gas to groceries. I even have my rent paid automatically each month using this card. The miles earned allow my son and me to fly free when we travel. My Upromise MasterCard from Barclays is the card I use for online purchases, and the rewards from these purchases are deposited in my son’s 529 plan. I make regular contributions; the credit card rewards are gravy. My third card is a business card that I use for business travel and other purchases. I redeem the points for restaurant gift cards.
Zina Kumok, Debt Free After Three
The American Express SimplyCash Business Card is a favorite of mine for business expenses. It has a great sign-up bonus, decent cash-back offers and is easy to use. I keep all my business expenses on this card which makes easier to see how much my business expenses cost me. I use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card because I live far from my family and friends so having a great travel rewards card is essential. Southwest has amazing deals, their miles go far and I’m close to earning a companion pass. Plus this card is a Visa so I can use it everywhere. Finally, the Gold Delta Sky Miles card from American Express is another favorite of mine. Delta has great flights to Memphis, where I’m from, so I use this AmEx card when I can. I recommend figuring out what airline you use the most and getting their loyalty card. Those miles add up fast!
At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card from Chase, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Amex Blue Cash Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier, American Express EveryDay, American Express Platinum, Delta SkyMiles card from American Express, American Express SimplyCash business, Chase Ink Plus, Gold Delta Sky Miles card from American Express and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.