While I have 7 credit cards as of June 2022, I only use 4 credit cards on a day-to-day basis. The 4 cards I consider to be most useful for me (and the 4 I use the most) are, in no particular order:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Freedom Flex
- American Express Platinum Card®
I’ll explain why these are my favorite cards and why I find them the most useful.
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Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a fantastic travel card for most people. With a modest $95 annual fee, it provides 2x points on travel purchases as well as 3x on dining & drugstore purchases. Its signup bonus gives you hundreds of dollars. Points are worth 1.25¢ instead of 1¢ when redeemed for travel on Chase Travel. Therefore, when redeeming for travel, you can consider the cash back value to be at least 2.5% on travel and at least 3.75% on dining & drugstores.
It provides a host of other travel-related benefits too, such as:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Limited trip interruption, trip cancellation, and trip delay insurance
- Baggage insurance
- Primary insurance coverage on rental cars
Each year at your card anniversary, you get $50 to spend on a hotel when booked through Chase Travel. This offsets the overall cost of the card to be only $45.
I mainly signed up when the limited-time 100,000 bonus points offer was running, which is worth at least $1,250 when redeemed for travel.
The high amount of value provided from the Sapphire Preferred makes it my go-to card for travel-related purchases, dining, and any transactions I make abroad.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a simple but powerful cash back card. It has no annual fee, yet it provides 1.5x back on all purchases, except for dining & drugstores, where it’s doubled and becomes 3x back. The 1.5x back on everything is one of the highest amounts for general purchases among reward credit cards; the Citi DoubleCash’s 2% back is better, but pair the Freedom Unlimited with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card and your Chase Ultimate Rewards points become more valuable. Since you can interchangably transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points between each card at a 1:1 ratio with no fees and no limits, any points earned on one Ultimate Rewards card is as good as earning it on another.
Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex is a nice no annual fee rotating bonuses card where you get 5% back on purchases belonging to select categories that change each quarter. The bonus cash back is something that you shouldn’t miss if at all possible; I just wouldn’t rely on it for anything because the elevated cash back rate changes each quarter, and most spending habits don’t change quarterly. Again, it becomes more powerful when paired with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card, for the same reasons as Freedom Unlimited. I wouldn’t recommend getting this card until you have both the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom Unlimited cards. However, I think it remains valuable, especially when the bonus categories happen to be for expenses you were going to make anyway and you can get some bonus points to use towards your next travel redemption.
American Express Platinum Card
The Amex Platinum is a luxury travel card that is perhaps the most expensive mainstream consumer credit card available. With an annual fee of $695, its high cost is offset by its various benefits, such as the signature Centurion Lounge network. For more information on why I like my Amex Platinum, see The best personal finance mistake I ever made.
It’s important to note that, despite this card’s various benefits, I only find its 5x points on airfare to be valuable. The 5x points on hotels booked through AmexTravel.com are limited in use, and everything else is 1x back, which is inferior to Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5x points on everything, and that’s a card with no annual fee.