What Credit Cards I Hold & Why – Final Part

Credit Cards

TravelingForMiles.com may receive commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on TravelingForMiles.com are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. TravelingForMiles.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers.

Note: There are a number of links to Credit Cards in the blog post but there are no affiliate links. Any links to credit card products in this article are purely for information only and do not constitute a recommendation.

I get quite a few messages from readers and Twitter followers asking what credit cards I like to hold and which ones I recommend so I thought a walk-through of the cards I hold (and why I hold them) could be helpful.

I have a pretty extensive list of credit cards and there are way too many for a single blog so I’ve divided them up into more manageable groups:

My Other Credit Cards

AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard

AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard

Annual Fee: $89

Foreign Transaction Fees: No

Benefits most useful to me:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
  • Earn 10% of redeemed AAdvantage miles back per year (capped at 10,000 miles)

Other benefits:

  • Group 1 boarding on American Airlines
  • 25% saving on in-flight purchases on American Airlines
  • Free checked bag on American Airlines
  • $100 American Airlines Flight Discount when you spend $30,000 in a year
  • Lost baggage protection
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Trip cancellation & interruption insurance
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Purchase protection (first 120 days all states except NY where it’s 90 days)
  • Access to reduced mileage awards

Points Earned:

  • Everyday spending – 1 AAdvantage Mile/dollar
  • American Airlines spending – 2 AAdvantage Miles/dollar

Why I hold the credit card: 

Note: This credit card is no longer available to new applicants.

This was originally the US Airways Dividend miles credit card which I snapped up for the 50,000 AAdvantage miles sign-up bonus. I knew when I signed up for the card that it would be going out of existence thanks to the US Airways/American Airlines merger but I wanted to have it for two reasons:

  • To make sure I’d have access to whatever benefits Barclaycard brought in when the card was converted to an AAdvantage card.
  • To check to see if the 10% rebate on award miles was stackable with the rebate I already received from my Citi Platinum AAdvantage card (it isn’t).

As things stand it’s the cheapest of the three American Airlines AAdvantage cards I hold and, as it has the same earning rates as the other two cards and gives me a 10% rebate on awards, it’s probably the most likely card to survive any future cull. The earning rates aren’t great but, while AAdvantage remains my primary airline loyalty program, I want to have at least one card that earns AAdvantage miles.

AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard

Lastly, I have the option to upgrade this card to the AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard  which comes with a $195 annual fee. This, more expensive card awards 3 miles/dollar on all American Airlines spend and awards 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles per $20,000 spent – both those may be of use in the future as AAdvantage miles are get harder to earn from flying alone and should my travel drop.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa

Annual Fee: $75

Foreign Transaction Fees: Yes

Benefits most useful to me:

  • 40,000 points each year upon renewal

Other benefits:

  • Earn one free night when you charge $10,000 then renew your Card
  • Club Carlson Gold Elite Status
  • Lost baggage protection
  • Travel accident insurance

Points Earned:

  • Everyday spending – 5 points/dollar
  • Carlson-Rezidor Hotels – 10 points/dollar

Why I hold the credit card: 

This card had one fantastic benefit when I first got it – it awarded a free night when you redeemed for two or more award nights. That, in effect, meant that all 2-night weekend breaks that I booked using Club Carlson Gold points cost me the same as a single night – it was fantastic. Sadly all good things come to an end and this benefit was cut in June 2015.

I thought long and hard about cancelling this card when the 2nd free night benefit was cut and when Carlson seriously devalued their rewards program but I thing it’s worth keeping for the time being. The Gold Status benefit comes in useful in Europe where a lot of the better Carlson properties are and, while I don’t always get upgraded (like at the Radisson Blu Helsinki), I have received excellent service and some very nice upgrades at hotels like the May Fair in London.

The most irritating thing about this card is that it doesn’t waive foreign transaction fees and, to my mind, that’s ridiculous for a card co-branded with a global hotel chain. It makes the card useless (for spending purposes) outside of the US.

On the positive side of things, a reasonable Carlson Hotel costs 50,000 points for an award night (which I rarely have trouble booking) so, as the $75 annual fee gets me 40,000 points each year, it effectively gets me 80% of the way to a free night – and I value that at more than $75.

This card is probably safe in my credit card portfolio for now but if Carlson pushes through any further devaluations or if the card cuts benefits any further it will be gone.

Bottom Line

That’s the end of the round-up of all the US credit cards I hold – hopefully that answers the questions I’ve been asked. As I suspected when I set out to write these blog posts, this has been a very useful exercise for me as it’s helped me realise that some cards are really not worth their annual fees any more. There will be a few changes to my credit card portfolio in the next few months so I’ll keep this blog updated.