Credit Cards The Basics

Blog Question: What Credit Cards Do You Use?

This is a question that I get from time to time – what credit cards do you use on a regular basis and what cards for what purchases?

I always hesitate a little to tell a newcomer to points which I use for which purposes because it is definitely not the perfect combination for everyone. I have particular point goals so some of my spending/card choices are with those goals in mind. Nevertheless, I will highlight which cards I currently use and then give some suggestions of what might be a decent strategy for anyone.

  • Airline Purchases – American Express Business Rewards Gold card (I have also used the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card as well) – 3X Membership Reward points per dollar spent (the bonus points post within 5 days after the airfare is purchased, sometimes quicker)
  • Hotel Purchases – Chase INK Bold (2X Ultimate Reward points per dollar spent) and Chase Sapphire Preferred (2.14 points per dollar spent). If I stay at particular hotels that I have a hotel branded credit card for (and I’m working on accruing points with that chain), I use that co-branded card (for example, Hyatt Chase card @ Hyatts, Amex SPG @ Starwoods, Hilton Amex @ Hiltons) since they give better than the 2 points per dollar at their own hotels.
  • Groceries – American Express Premier Rewards Gold – 2x Membership Reward points per dollar spent (at stand-alone grocery stores)
  • Car Rental – I actually use my United Explorer card to reserve it (because of the primary insurance coverage that comes with that card) and then, if I have time, when I return it, I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to actually pay for it – 2.14 points per dollar spent
  • Telecommunication Services – Chase INK Bold – 5x Ultimate Reward points per dollar spent
  • Gas – Chase INK Bold – 2X Ultimate Reward points per dollar and American Express Business Gold Rewards card – 2x Membership Reward points per dollar (at stand-alone gas stations)
  • Office Supplies Chase INK Bold – 5x Ultimate Reward points per dollar spent at office supply stores
  • Restaurants – Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2.14 points per dollar spent
  • Everyday purchases – If I am not trying to meet minimum spending thresholds on particular cards or top off certain accounts, I use my American Express SPG card. Even though it only gives one point per dollar spent, Starpoints transfer to airlines with a 5,000 mile bonus (when transferring 20,000 points) for a 1.25 point per dollar value. That gives it the edge over the second card I would use for general spending, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which gives 1.07 points per dollar because of the annual bonus of 7% on all points earned throughout the year. Of course, these cards are only ones that I use at brick and mortar stores or for online purchases that do not have bonus points through shopping portals.
So, to sum up, the cards that stay in my wallet for everyday use are: Chase INK Bold, Chase Sapphire Preferred, American Express Business Rewards Gold, and my American Express SPG. A wildcard that I did not mention is my Hilton American Express card that gives me 6X Hilton points per dollar spent at grocery stores, gas stations, telecommunications, and drugstores. That is very helpful for padding your hotel account.
I receive a commission if you use any of the links for American Express cards (except the Hilton) and do not earn a commission on any of the other cards. If you do choose to use my American Express links, I do greatly appreciate you supporting the blog!

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.