What’s in my Wallet?: Credit card guru Jason Steele shares what he carries

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What’s in my Wallet?: Credit card guru Jason Steele shares what he carries
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We’re starting a new feature here at Clark.com where we ask our team of experts to tell you what credit cards are in our wallets and why. I’m Jason Steele and I’ve been covering credit and credit cards since 2008, and today I’ll give you an exclusive peek as to what’s in my wallet.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

I travel a lot, and this card is widely considered to be the best travel card on the market. It offers me 3x points on all travel and dining purchases, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points are earned in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which allows me to transfer my rewards to nine airlines and four hotel programs. I get tremendous value when I’m able to utilize transfer partners like United, Southwest, British Airways and Hyatt. And just keep in mind that you can redeem your rewards with these airline’s partners as well. That means that your United or Singapore miles can be redeem for flights on airlines like Lufthansa, Swiss, Turkish and other Star Alliance airlines. Likewise, British Airways miles can be redeem for flights on American, Alaska and other OneWorld partners, and Korean SkyPass miles can be redeemed for flights on Delta and other SkyTeam partners. Or, your points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel reservations made through Chase.

This card also comes with a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, which allows unlimited guests at over 1,000 locations around the world. It does have a $450 annual fee, but it’s mostly offset by a $300 annual travel statement credit. I consider its net cost to be $150 per year.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

This card offers me 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has no annual fee. But what savvy award travel enthusiasts know is that you are really earning Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to the Sapphire Reserve or other Chase cards that offer these points. This means that I can transfer my points to airline or hotel programs, or redeem them for 1.5 cents each towards travel reservations.

That 1.5 (points per dollar) multiplied by 1.5 (cents per point redeemed), means I earn 2.25 cents worth of travel for every dollar spent. It’s hard to beat that, isn’t it? That’s this is a great card for nearly all purchases outside of dining and travel.

Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card from Barclays

This is one of my favorite cards for a simple reason: it lets you redeem points for so-called “vacation rentals,” also known as time-shares. I would never buy into a timeshare, but I have to admit that some of these properties are very attractive. The Wyndham Rewards program allows members to redeem 15,000 points per bedroom per night for any of their thousands of vacation rental units around the world. Using these points, I’ve booked condos ski resorts in Beaver Creek and Breckenridge, Colorado, as well as for beach vacations in South Carolina and Hawaii. When my family stays there, we save money by having our own kitchen and laundry facilities.

This card offers 5x points for Wyndham purchases, 2x points on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart), and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. There’s a $75 annual fee for this card, but you also receive 6,000 bonus points each year.

Amex EveryDay® Preferred

I like this card because it offers 3x points at U.S. Supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year), 2x points at US gas stations and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. But it also gives you a 50% points bonus when you use your card to make 30 or more transactions in a statement cycle, allowing you to earn 4.5x, 3x and 1.5x respectively. Points are earned in the Membership Rewards program which allows you transfer them to 16 different airline partners, including Delta, Singapore, JetBlue, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card.

The Business Blue card from American Express 

For small business use, this card is hard to beat. It offers 2x points on up to $50,000 a year in purchases. These are also points in the Membership Rewards program, which is fantastic for transferring to airline miles. Best of all, there’s no annual fee for this card.

Why do I carry so many credit cards?

I’m a professional credit card expert, so it makes sense for me to try a lot of products. Also, I always avoid interest charges by paying each month’s statement balance in full. I’m very organized, so I always make my payments on-time. And while I try to use the card that will give me the most points for a particular purchase, I’m careful to never make additional purchases just to earn rewards.

If you ever need to carry a balance, I recommend that you use credit cards with the lowest possible interest rate. In fact, if you regularly carry a balance, or if having credit cards encourages you to get into debt, then you should consider a different form of payment like debit cards or just plain old cash.

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Jason Steele About the author:
Jason Steele is a journalist who specializes in covering credit cards, award travel, and other areas of personal finance. You can check out his website at JasonSteele.com.
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