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Last week in the comment section of my post The Best Credit Cards I’ve Never Had, a reader asked me to write about my keeper cards, or the cards I renew year after year. Leana has written about the best long-term credit cards for families as well as more recently the best obscure keeper credit cards. But I’m happy to share the ones that I personally keep in my wallet for multiple years.
Before I share my keeper credit cards, I want to emphasize that there is no “one-size fits all” for the best cards to keep. Evaluating sign-up bonuses is a bit easier since it typically involves short-term limited spending. But the best keeper credit cards will vary by person based on monthly spending amounts, spending by category, tolerance of annual fees, credit card restriction/eligibility rules by bank, etc.
All of my current keeper cards are cards that originally came with high sign-up bonuses. I haven’t applied for cards that have low or non-existent bonuses just to have as a keeper card for everyday spending.
You should also know that I am somewhat lazy when it comes to maximizing everyday spending on keeper credit cards. Since I get the biggest bang for my buck on sign-up bonuses for new cards, I spend 95% of my effort figuring out the best credit card sign-up bonuses that align with my travel goals. In between new credit cards, I don’t pull out a plethora of different cards for different purchases. I just go back to my favorite 1-2 keeper cards. If at some point I can’t apply for any new cards, I will have to up my game and analysis on my everyday credit cards.
Note: Miles For Family makes a commission on some of these cards if you apply through our site. See How This Blog Makes Money.
Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink Plus
Since both my husband and I are over 5/24, we can’t get any new Chase cards at the moment. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are very valuable to us. We’ve used points to transfer to Southwest Airlines and Hyatt as well as booking travel through the Chase travel portal. There is no way we are giving up my husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve or my Chase Ink Plus.
My husband got the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card back in 2016 when the sign-up bonus was 100,000 points. Score! Although 5/24 was in place at this time, my husband was targeted for this card when he went into a bank branch. While the CSR has a hefty $450 annual fee, it comes with a $300 travel credit that we have no trouble using. That essentially brings down the annual fee to $150. I love that the card earns 3X points on dining and travel. My husband travels a lot for his job, so he racks up 3X points easily.
I got the Chase Ink Plus card in 2014 when the bonus was 70,000 points. Chase’s 5/24 rule was not in place at that time. The annual fee is $95, and my older version of the card comes with 5X points for office supply stores, cable, internet and cell phones. Since my family takes trips to Disney World and on Disney Cruise Line often, I’ve purchased Disney gift cards at office supply stores to rack up 5X points. I also purchase Amazon gift cards at 5X points. My version of the card is no longer available, but the newer Chase Ink Business Preferred (my referral) has an 80k bonus offer.
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
I got the Capital One Venture Rewards Card in 2017 when the bonus was 50,000 points. My husband had the card previously, and we’ve both had the very similar Barclaycard Arrival Plus card twice before. The annual fee is $95, waived the first year.
I love this card because it’s so simple. Everything earns 2X points. You can earn 10X points for booking hotels through a special portal at hotels.com.
Redeeming points is also very simple, and I love that I can use points for anything coded as travel. I recently redeemed points for a campground in New Zealand. Not long ago, Capital One introduced airline transfer partners, which I have not used yet.
The current bonus on this card is 50,000 points, but it has been as high as 75k in the past.
Chase World of Hyatt and Chase IHG
Within the past year, both my husband and I opened Chase World of Hyatt and Chase IHG cards (my referral links) before these cards were subject to 5/24. We applied for the cards for the bonus points, but we are keeping the cards because of the anniversary renewal free night certificates.
For the World of Hyatt card, we have to pay $95 X 2 for two free nights at any Hyatt hotel that costs 15,000 points or less. I already have plans to use our first set of renewal certs at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio. Paying $95 a night for that hotel is a steal, as peak rates run $300+ all-in. I have no doubt that we will continue to make good use out of those yearly renewal certs for pre-cruise hotels and other trips.
The annual fee for the Chase IHG card is $89. Since I travel to Denver a few times a year, I plan to use the certs for those visits. IHG has many choices in Denver that qualify under the renewal certificate free night.
If at any point my husband and I don’t feel like we get good value from our renewal certificates, we will cancel these cards.
My list of keeper cards is small. I like to keep things simple and focus my effort on new cards with high sign-up bonuses.
You probably noticed that none of my keeper credit cards are with Amex. I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points more than Amex Membership Rewards points. Several of the places where I use credit cards don’t accept Amex.
When you evaluate a card for its keeper status, make sure that you factor in the card’s annual fee to make sure you are still coming out ahead based on your projected annual purchases. Free isn’t free if your annual fee negates your accumulated rewards.
Are you surprised by any of my keeper credit cards? Which cards do you hold onto year after year?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.