Many of my friends know me as their main source of credit card knowledge, and that’s something I take great pride in. Most of my knowledge comes from following Doctor of Credit and the /r/churning subreddit, and I just regurgitate the good parts for my friends. This post should provide the majority of information I know, and which credit cards you should be using.
There are two main types of credit cards – travel cards and cash back cards. Everyone starts with cash back cards since it seems easiest. You’re paying less on your bill, or getting money back, why wouldn’t you! Later, you find out bonuses on travel and airline cards give better sign on bonuses, so you start applying. It’s nice to have some of both, and to know when to use the right card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
I’ve convinced tons of friends to get this one, and it’s the best card I’ve ever had. 100k sign on Ultimate Rewards (at the time, it’s 50k now), TSA pre check credit, travel lounge access, and $300 in travel reimbursements per calendar year. So if you got the card in July, you’d pay your annual fee once (in July), and have $300 travel credit from July-December, and another $300 from January-June. Plus you earn Ultimate Rewards on that reimbursed spend! This is a premium card that’s totally worth the annual fee, and I won’t be cancelling it. $450 annual fee, which is NOT waived your first year.
Delta Business Gold Amex
This is Delta’s Business travel credit card. I got this since I own an LLC, and it’s for that business. It yielded me 50k Delta Skymiles for $3k spend in 3 months. $95 annual fee, but waived the first year. Might cancel this after a year.
American AAdvantage Card
This is American Airlines travel credit card. It gets you free bags on American, the airline I fly the 2nd most. It yielded me 50k sign on AA miles for $3k spend in 3 months. $95 annual fee, but waived the first year. Will definitely cancel this after a year.
Cash Back Cards
(RIP) Salle Mae Barclaycard
This was my most used card for years, before I got into the milage cards. It had 5% back on groceries, gas, and bookstores. Yeah, Amazon was considered a bookstore. No annual fee and lots of cash back. This card was killed off in March 2017 for some terrible 1.5% back card which I’ll never use.
This is a neat card. You get 1% in rewards on what you spend, and 1% on what you pay Citi. Some people use their points to pay down their balance on their card, DON’T DO THIS ON THIS CARD! Get a deposit into your bank, then pay your balance that way. If not, you’ll lose out on some of your 1% on what you pay Citi. I used that for a while as a secondary card, mostly for spend that didn’t fall under the Sallie Mae card categories. No annual fee.
American Express Blue Cash Everyday
I got this one years ago, it has 3% back on groceries, 2% on gas and 1% on everything else. It was a good card when it came out, but others are better now. It has no fee and a $100 cash back sign on bonus. Now there is a new benefit, 10% on grocery stores for your first six months with the card, which makes it much more worthwhile. No annual fee. Apply here!
BankAmericard Cash Rewards
This card got me a $150 bonus in 2013 when I first signed up, and actually another $150 for the same card as a retention offer in early 2017! The rewards on this one are okay, but there are other cards out there. No annual fee.
Barclaycard Cash Forward
This is a flat 1.5% cash back card, which isn’t as good as the 2% cards on the market. However, I got this one with a $150 sign on bonus for $500 spend in 3 months. No annual fee.
This one gave me a $150 sign on bonus for $500 spend, and 3% back on restaurants. I haven’t used this one in a while, but it did get me an official AARP number (I was 23 at the time!) No annual fee.
The original rolling category card. This card gave 5% on a different category of merchants every quarter, and 1% back on everything else. These points are Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), which work even better if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The CSR gives you a 25% bonus when redeeming UR. No annual fee.
Discover IT Card
This is another rolling categories card like the Chase Freedom. 1% back all the time, and 5% back on different categories every quarter. No annual fee. I like when the category is home improvement stores, since that’s where I tend to spend all my money now. Apply here!
Ally Credit Card
I got this one to help pad my emergency fund, which is stored in Ally Bank. I got $150 back for spending $500 in 3 months, which is great. I also got a 10% bonus on that for depositing straight into Ally. That’s a nice perk of this card if you keep an Ally account. No annual fee.