Brooke and I currently have over 30 combined credit cards, which we used to earn over 2.4 million points during 2015. You may be wondering how we keep up with so many credit cards, and how we know what to buy with which card. To earn the large sign up bonuses, we generally use manufactured spending techniques. However, for our daily purchases, we actually only use a few cards. These cards are carefully selected to maximize rewards, without using an overly-complicated system. The cards we carry will typically change each quarter as new bonus categories are rotated in. The following cards are in our wallets for the first quarter of 2016.
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Primary Spending Card – Discover IT
Discover really stepped up their game to compete with the Chase Freedom card on the rotating 5% categories. The Discover IT card has had this feature for a while but always took a backseat in my mind. However, with the introduction of the DOUBLE CASH BACK promotion for your first year with this card, Discover is clearly the choice. The 5% category for the first quarter of 2015 is gas stations, and with double cash back, we earn 10% on gas purchases up to $1,500 spent.
This card also offers 1% cash back on everything, which will be doubled as well! Earning 10% on gas and 2% on everything else is a pretty awesome deal. Price match is an excellent feature of this card. If you purchase an eligible item and notice the price went down within 90 days, contact Discover. They will refund the difference up to $500! When in doubt, we use the Discover IT for any purchase.
If you get the Discover IT card now, you will earn a $50 sign up bonus, which will (you guessed it) also be doubled!
Dining, Travel, and Expensive Gadgets – Chase Sapphire Preferred
The CSP is a card with very mixed reviews. Some people don’t find a lot of value with it, but I tend to disagree. We use this card for dining and travel, because it earns two Chase Ultimate Reward points per dollar in these categories. Chase UR points are one of the most highly valued, transferrable point currencies.
We also use it for travel because of the fantastic travel insurance it offers. If you book a rental car and pay with your CSP, you will get primary rental coverage. Simply decline to pay for the rental company’s insurance, and Chase will cover you if anything happens to the car. Nothing will be reported to your insurance. Most credit cards offer secondary coverage, putting your personal insurance on the hook first. The CSP also offers trip insurance, even on award flights! Just pay the fees with your CSP, and Chase will cover costs associated with travel delays (be sure to save your receipts!) While traveling internationally, Chase will also waive foreign transaction fees when you use this card.
Chase offers an additional year of warranty on top of any manufacturer warranty. We used the CSP to purchase an expensive Canon Camera, and we will get an extra year of coverage. The CSP is also made of metal, so if you need to scrape some ice off your window this winter, you’re covered! 🙂
Phone Bill & Office Supplies – Chase Ink+
The Chase Ink+ earns five UR points per dollar at office supply stores and on telecom expenses. We pay our cell phone bill with this card every month using ATT’s automated bill pay function. Any home office necessities or stamps also go on this card if we buy them at an office supply store. Pro tip – Buy stamps at Office Max and pay with your Ink+ card! (Great for the IHG Priceless Rewards promo)
If you get the Chase Ink+ card now, you will earn a 60,000 UR bonus after spending $5,000.
Redeemable Travel – Barclay Arrival Plus
Outside of airfare and rental cars, we usually use our Barclay A+ card for redeemable travel (if we have A+ miles available). The card earns two miles per dollar on all purchases, which can then be redeemed for 1-cent per point to reimburse travel expenses (must be over $100). So, when we book a fancy AirBNB in Europe for $120, we earn 240 A+ miles and pay ourselves back using 12,000 A+ miles to cover the cost. As a small bonus, Barclays offers a 5% point redemption bonus when you use your miles. Pretty slick!
If you get the Barclay Arrival+ card now, you will earn a 40,000 A+ mile bonus when you spend $3,000. These miles are worth $420 in travel redemptions!
Some people try to squeeze every single point out of their daily spending. This can lead to complicated spreadsheets and CC use guides. We prefer to keep it relatively simple. Hopefully this little guide helps you simplify your card use while earning some serious rewards. Check back next quarter to see if anything changes! Cheers!