The great card purge part 1: Premium cards

It’s been a bit over a year since I started this whole insane fucking endeavor, and a rich and rewarding year it has been. We have flown business class to Lisbon; will be doing so to Paris in October; Caroline flew all the way to Bali on the top deck of an Airbus 380, which was entirely business class; I’ve even flown first class to places like Minneapolis; I’ve flown back and forth to California in business several times; and when I’ve flown coach, I haven’t paid for it. So, it was worth opening 25 cards.

But most of these cards were only free their first year, if that; and I’ve already collected their signup bonuses. That means it’s time for me to start sizing up what I’m keeping, and what I’m dropping, over the next six months. Here’s my play by play:

Premium cards (that is, cards that cost more than $99 per year):

Chase Sapphire Reserve: No fucking way am I giving up this bitch. It’s $450 a year, but to me it’s $150, because it pays $300 automatically towards airfare, taxis, subway, etc. And having it lets me get triple points on dining, travel and transportation, as well as make those points worth at least 1.5 cents each. It just rains Ultimate Rewards with this one. Keep.

Chase Ritz-Carlton: Eh. Though it’s $450 per year, It’s functionally $150 per year to me, with some manual effort to claim the full $300 travel credit. Its chief ongoing benefit is being able to book domestic economy for two for $100 off. In practice, I don’t really use that, because I’d always rather pay with points instead, and now it also books those economy tickets as Basic Economy on the airlines that have it, which means that the two passengers on the itinerary don’t even have a guarantee of sitting together. I can always pick it up again if I miss it, and in the meantime, even if I close it I’ve got the heaviest (literally) card on the market that satisfyingly clanks when I throw it on the table. Drop.

Citi Prestige: This card was amazing when I first picked it up, but it is losing one of its two kick-ass benefits, which is lounge access when flying American Airlines. It’s retaining its 4th night free at any hotel feature though, and I’m already getting the card at a discounted price of $350/year (instead of $450), which I probably can’t get again. And $250 will come back to me as automatic credit when booking airfare. Also, it has excellent travel insurance for things like lost bags and delayed flights. So, it’s functionally $100, and has just enough left to make it worth having. Keep.

Amex Business Platinum: Less warm and fuzzy than it was, but it still makes Amex points worth 50% more than they would be otherwise when paying with points in business class (or my chosen airline, United, in economy). And having Centurion lounge access ain’t bad when I (infrequently) get to use it it. It’s $450/year, but I can use $200 of that towards airfare if I’m clever enough about it, so it’s functionally $250/year. And I like having free Gogo inflight wifi. So it’s probably something to keep, though if I close it and live without it for a bit, there’s a chance it will be eventually be offered to me again with a new signup bonus, and without the once-per-lifetime restriction. At any rate, I don’t have to think about it until the end of the year. Probably keep, but not sure.

That’s it for the heavy hitters. I’ll attend to the riffraff in my next post.

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