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These are the three types of cards I keep in my wallet

Heads up! We share savvy shopping and personal finance tips to put extra cash in your wallet. Android Central may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network. Please note that the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.

Diversity is incredibly important in your credit card strategy for a lot of reasons. You need cards with different bonus categories, perks that don’t overlap, and ideally cards that earn different types of points so you’ll have more flexibility when you’re ready to redeem.

It’s also important to think about the role different cards play in helping you build your credit score. If all you ever do is open cards for the welcome bonus and close them a year later, sooner or later your credit score will take a hit. Today I’m going to talk about the three kinds of cards I carry in my wallet, and how each one helps me earn points, travel better or build a strong credit score.

Cards I actually spend money on


This is the simplest and most obvious category, as it represents the cards that I actually carry in my wallet as opposed to leaving in a desk drawer at home. Within this category you’ll find two different types of cards: cards with strong bonus categories like the American Express® Gold Card which I use for all my dining and grocery purchases at U.S. supermarkets and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® that I use for travel expenses. Prepandemic, I’d estimate that as much as 50% of my monthly expenses went on one of these two cards.

Knowing that I spend heavily on travel and food, I was able to target cards that offer high returns in those categories. With the Amex Gold I earn 4x on worldwide dining purchases and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year at U.S. supermarkets; then 1x). TPG values Membership Rewards point at 2 cents each, making that a very solid 8% return. Similarly, the Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points per dollar on a very broadly defined travel category, letting me rack up thousands of bonus points a year paying for airfare, hotels, rideshares, parking meters, group tours and a host of other things.

The other half of my expenses don’t clearly fall into a single bonus category, so I use a card that offers a strong return on everyday spending. For me that usually means rotating between The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Membership Rewards points per dollar on your first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x) and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (1.5% cashback / 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points on all purchases).

Cards I keep open for their perks and benefits

The premium credit card market has continued to grow in recent years, with new offerings and product refreshes convincing customers to pay hefty annual fees to unlock luxury travel and lifestyle perks. I pay the $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) on The Platinum Card® from American Express every year, but I’d be shocked if I made more than 10 purchases on the card in a calendar year. While The Platinum is the original premium rewards card, it only offers one narrowly defined bonus category and I have other ways to earn Membership Rewards points (see above).

Still, I’m able to get a good value each calendar year by using the card’s up to $200 airline incidental fee credit, up to $200 annual Uber credit ($15 a month with a $20 bonus in December), the up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit (broken down to $50 from January to June and another $50 from July to December), and the occasional money-saving Amex Offer. Add in access to Amex’s growing collection of Centurion Lounges, some of the best airport lounges in the world, and I feel like I get my money’s worth every year.


One of my other favorite credit cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, falls into this category as well. I happily hold four different Bonvoy credit cards, but put all my spending on the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, not the Bonvoy Brilliant.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

Still, the Brilliant offers an incredibly compelling value proposition. In exchange for a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) you get an up to $300 annual Marriott property credit that can be used for room rates, food and drink, spa treatments and certain other incidental charges. That’s as good as cash to me, knocking the out of pocket cost for the card down to just $150.

Enter the most valuable benefit on the card, the anniversary free night certificate worth up to 50,000 points. TPG values Marriott points at .8 cents each, meaning you “pay” $150 for a free night worth $400, but it’s easy to get even more value than that. This year I redeemed my 50,000 point free night certificate at the St. Regis Langkawi, for a room that would’ve otherwise cost $650. That’s to say nothing of the massive pool suite we were upgraded to or the incredible free breakfast we received thanks to my Titanium elite status, easily bringing the value of this one night to $800 or more.


No-annual-fee cards that boost my credit score

It might surprise you to hear that a decent portion of my wallet consists of cards that I don’t spend any money on andthat don’t offer any meaningful benefits. In many ways, these are the most important cards. A great example would be The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, one of the first cards I opened after maxing out my 5/24 slots with Chase. The card doesn’t offer any valuable travel perks, and it’s earning rate isn’t as good as other cards in my wallet. But because this card has no annual fee, I plan to keep it open forever, increasing the average age of accounts and providing a serious boost to my credit score. The information for the Amex EveryDay card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


I have a few other cards that fall under this category, and the truth is these are the only cards I can say for certain I’ll always keep. While I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve, I could easily imagine Chase tweaking the benefits or raising the annual fee in the future to a point where I couldn’t justify it anymore. But for cards that have no annual fee, no amount of benefit changes or devalued earning rates would cause me to close the card as it costs me nothing to keep it open. Just be sure to put a small charge on the card every nine-12 months (like a pack of gum or a $1 Amazon balance reload) so the banks don’t close it for inactivity.

Bottom line

Holding different types of credit cards means more than just Visas and Mastercards or airline miles and hotel points. It means holding cards that serve different purposes and potentially even holding a large number of cards that you rarely spend anything on.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, please click here.

Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy


AG DEALS: Cloud storage and VPN deals you can’t beat

A fair share of us have found ourselves working from home or remotely attending school. Even after the pandemic subsides the remote lifestyle may not be going away anytime soon — at least for some.Whether it’s using your own PC or laptop or logging in through a company-owned device, you need to be smart. That means not taking chances with security measures and ensuring you have backed up copies of important files.We’ve gathered up some of the best discounted prices on cloud and backup storage and VPN services. There are whole sections dedicated to each of these categories in the AG Deals Store, but these are some of the more popular options.Polar Backup Cloud Storage: 1TB Lifetime Subscription ($29.99)Polar Backup utilizes state-of-the-art Amazon Web Services (AWS) technology, GDPR-compliance, and generous cloud storage to provide you smooth backups. Intuitive and user-friendly, this platform gives you full control of your data, letting you easily manage, sort, locate, and preview files with just a click.Polar Backup provides faster service times and backups with technology such as deduplication and block-level uploads, so you can rest east knowing your important files are always within reach. Unlike Sync solutions, your files will never be deleted even if you delete them from your PC or Mac — Polar Backup stores those files forever, unless you delete the backup itself. Also offered in 2TB and 5TB options.Zoolz Cloud Backup For Home: 1TB of Cloud Backup Storage ($19.99)Zoolz is one of the world’s leading cloud storage solutions, residing on the ultra-secure AWS infrastructure, and allowing you to quickly, seamlessly, and automatically backup all of your files. You can schedule when and where that backup goes and ensure you’ll always have access in the event of an accident. Pick up three years for $34.99.MaxiVPN Premium Plan: 6 Month Subscription ($12)MaxiVPN encrypts all the internet data coming out of your device, so no one between your device and the servers can intercept it. Choose from 300+ high-speed servers across 49+ countries. The premium MaxiVPN plan supports an unlimited number of devices: use your premium subscription on all your household’s devices without any extra charges and use the app as much as you like, without any restrictions on bandwidth consumption.LightyearVPN: 3-Yr Subscription ($89.99)With servers around the globe, LightyearVPN defeats content restrictions and censorship to deliver unlimited access to content viewing, gaming, social media, and more, from anywhere in the world. Most importantly, LightyearVPN uses Shadowsocks and V2Ray network protocols to make sure your can walk through the firewall and censorship. Also available in 1-year and 2-year plans.Photo Backup Stick Universal – 8GB ($53.99)The Photo Backup Stick Universal is an all-in-one picture and video backup tool for computers and phones. With the Photo Backup Stick Universal, you can back up from Windows computers, laptops, and tablets, Mac computers and laptops, iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch, and Android phones and tablets all with one tool.Simply plug in the stick to your device, open the Photo Backup Stick Universal app, and start back up! Clear up room on your devices, prevent the tragic loss of your photos and videos from lost or stolen phones, computer crashes, malware, and more.Other storage capacities available: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB

Samsung Phone Buyer’s Guide (Fall 2020)

When it comes to smartphones, Samsung is one of the biggest names in the game. As a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance back in 2007 it has been around since the very first days of Android.You’d be forgiven if you think Samsung has a new phone announcement every few weeks. What started as a slow trickle and almost annual release, its Galaxy S series has expanded to include a handful of models.Moreover, it introduced a Galaxy A line a few years back and has been refreshing it with regular consistency. Most recently, it has offered up a Galaxy Z family of phones and is fast at work growing it with successors.While it may feel daunting to try to make sense of all of the different models, it’s not quite as confusing as it seems. Here, we’ll help you get an understanding as to what Samsung offers consumers in fall of 2020.Galaxy SThe flagship series of phones, its new models are typically introduced in the spring. If you’re looking for the best of what’s available in the smartphone space, the latest Galaxy S is going to be part of that conversation.You’ll have no problem finding these handsets as pretty much all wireless providers and major retailers offer versions of the Galaxy S. And while it was originally just one model arriving each year, the Galaxy S now comprises multiple devices and price points. The specs vary slightly from model to model, but largely share the same features.The current generation is made up of the Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, Galaxy S20 Ultra, and (soon) Galaxy S20 Fan Edition. You’ll still find the predecessor (Galaxy S10) at a variety of carriers.Galaxy AIf the Galaxy S is considered the flagship line, the Galaxy A might best be described as the junior flagship line. It’s a great way to get most of the tech and features, including quality build materials. In short, the Galaxy A is a less expensive way of getting a quality Samsung experience.Instead of one model released each year, the Galaxy A is more of a family of phones that runs the gamut of entry-level all the way up to high-end. These are not as widely available as the Galaxy S but they’re becoming more popular.As of today, the key phones include the Galaxy A71, Galaxy A51, Galaxy A21, and Galaxy A01.Galaxy NoteThe biggest of what Samsung has to offer, the Galaxy Note arrives in the fall with bleeding-edge hardware. While the Galaxy S keeps getting a little bigger each year, the Galaxy Note is the only one with support for the built-in S Pen.Instead of one singular model to choose from, Samsung gives consumers multiple options in the Galaxy Note line. The key differences often being screen size and technology, battery, memory, and even color.You shouldn’t have trouble finding the Samsung Galaxy Note at the bigger wireless carriers; the selection sometimes varies from one provider to the next.The current model is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. In many cases you’ll also find the Galaxy Note 10 still available.Galaxy ZThe newest line from Samsung, this is where you’ll find its folding phones. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is more or less a tablet that folds in half while the Galaxy Z Flip is a clam shell experience.These models don’t have the high-end hardware found in the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note, but that’s offset with unique designs with custom functionality.Folding devices are still new to the market so these are going to be among the most expensive products. What’s more, they’re a bit tougher to get your hands on. They’re not produced in the same volume levels and not all carriers offer them.Where to BuyOf all the phone makers using Android, Samsung devices are probably the easiest to find. Check with your wireless provider and you’re bound to see a couple of options to choose from.In addition to carriers, Samsung phones can also be found at major retailers. Samsung also sells its handsets direct to consumer in both carrier-branded and unlocked capacity.Quick LinksVerizonAT&TT-MobileAmazonBest BuyB&H Photo VideoWalmartTargetSamsung

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