Credit Cards

Credit Cards on the Chopping Block

At the end of each year, I like to de-clutter and get rid of as much stuff as possible – that includes credit cards. I’ve added quite a few cards to my wallet this year, thanks to some generous promotions. The credit card stack has been getting pretty tall lately, to the point where it’s tipping over. With a few annual fees coming up in March, it’s time to put some of these credit cards on the chopping block. Here’s a lineup of cards I’m getting rid of and why:

Credit card stack scissors

Citi Executive AAdvantage Card. It hasn’t quite been a year since I picked up the 100,000 mile Citi Executive AAdvantage cards, but it’s time to cut them both lose. The Admiral’s Club membership isn’t worth the $450 annual fee, so there’s really no good reason to keep them. The sign-up bonus was great and meeting over $60,000 in spending requirements (for myself and a few family members) was fun.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Card. The annual fee on this card is $6 higher than the Barclay US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard, which will soon be converting to an AAdvantage branded card). Since the Citi and Barclay AAdvantage cards are identical otherwise, the Citi card goes. Plus, I’ve had way too many fraud incidents with Citi lately – some of which went undetected. My brother and I have both had our card numbers stolen, followed by purchases at Walmart stores and gas stations out of state. Considering both of us had our cards in our respective wallets each time this happened, it’s baffling that it keeps happening and Citi isn’t doing much to prevent it. They’ve taken care of it each time, but I don’t want to worry about security issues when it comes to cards I want to keep long term. The only reason I’m holding onto the Barclay AAdvantage branded card is because of the 10% rebate on award redemptions – otherwise, I would just earn my AAdvantage miles through the SPG Amex Business card.

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. While the American Express sync offers have been generous lately, I really don’t need both the personal and business version of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card. The Business version came in handy recently during the Hyatt gift card sale, when it got me an additional 5% discount. While I charge paid hotel rates to my Barclay Arrival Plus card, I like the option of getting a 5% discount through the SPG Business card if I decide at some point to get ride of the Arrival Plus card. Since I cancelled the Amex Platinum card earlier this year and need an Amex card in my wallet, the SPG Business card fits the bill. The $65 annual fee is reasonable and entitles me to discounts that make it worth keeping.

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card. Even though the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus on this card required a lot of spend, I got the card for my dad and brother and met the combined $20,000 spending requirement. Now that it’s done, there’s no need to pay the $75 annual fee again. Even if they end up waiving it, I’m trying to cut down on long-term credit cards and this one has to go. Instead, we’ll transfer Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan if necessary. The annual $99 companion ticket won’t be missed, since I’ll downgrade my card to the Platinum Plus version, allowing me to keep this benefit with a lower $50 annual fee. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred. There was a time when the idea of axing this card was absurd. It pains me to say this, but no matter how pretty the Sapphire Preferred card is, it has to go. It served its purpose back in the day, but with Chase eliminating the annual 7% dividend (current cardholders keep the benefit through the end of 2015), I don’t see a need for it. I get way more value out of my Ink Plus card and while I may be giving up 2 points per $1 on travel, I find myself charging those expenses to my Barclay Arrival Plus card these days anyway, since it allows me to redeem miles for those expenses. 

This decision comes down to the reduction of my manufactured spending activities. A year ago, I was pulling in nearly $40,000 per month and spreading it across different credit cards. Now that my manufactured spending has decreased significantly, I can’t justify having so many credit cards. So the Sapphire Preferred, with its reduced benefits and devalued partnerships (I’m looking at you, United and Hyatt), has to go. If I ever miss that heavy steel that used to weigh down my wallet, I can always add myself as an authorized user on a family member’s account without having to pay the $95 annual fee. All of us share our miles anyway, so it ultimately doesn’t matter who’s earning them on which account. 

Virgin Atlantic Mastercard. I picked up my second Virgin Atlantic Mastercard two months ago, so maybe it isn’t fair to put it on the chopping block, but I can’t imagine needing it past the 90,000 mile sign-up bonus. Since I don’t have a Hilton card right now and Virgin Atlantic miles transfer to Hilton HHonors at a 1:1.5 ratio, I may keep it for that reason. Plus, there are some decent redemption rates for short haul awards that may come in handy down the line. Once I’m done wrapping up the $12,000 spending requirement, I’ll swap it out for an Amex Surpass card for the Gold status without having to get another Citi card. 

Credit cards that will definitely be staying in my wallet include the Barclay Arrival Plus card for its versatility and the fact that I can always off-set the annual fee with miles, the Ink Plus for its category bonuses and discounts through Visa Savings, my new Club Carlson Visa, and the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Business card. These are cards that I’ll keep in the long run. Even the Barclay AAdvantage card may be back on the chopping block next year, but for now 4-5 cards are all I need.

Are you canceling any credit cards this year? I’d love to get your feedback in the comment section.

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  1. First to go will be the Citi Executive AAdvantage card. The annual fee is too high considering the benefits gained. I may also cancel the Platinum version as well unless I can get a retention offer. I don’t fly domestically and there aren’t really any benefits for international fliers except priority boarding. Ditto with my Amex Delta card.

    • Chances are you’ll get a retention offer for the AA Platinum card. Every time I’ve tried to cancel my card or someone else’s, they’ve offered me something like 5k points for spending $1k in three months to keep the card.

      • Good to know. Not sure I would keep the card for just a 5K bonus. Now if they’d waive the fees for another year!!!! I put over $60K spend on my Executive card so I’d like to have an AA earning card. But the fees are just too high considering the benefits. For the Platinum I get only priority boarding since I don’t fly domestically and the free bags are a domestic benefit. I would keep it if I knew I had a flight where I could use the free checked bags as that benefit is a nice one if you can use it.

  2. When I go to the Visa Savings page, it says that my Visa Ink Plus isn’t eligible for the program – any thoughts on why that may be?

  3. The Citi Executive card has a retention offer of a 1K bonus per month for 16 months when you spend $1K. I got that offer for all 4 cards my wife and I have. I’ll just keep this until the AF hits and then cancel. But it’s a nice way to get 8K miles a month. I want to keep the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card because of the 10% mile discount. We’ll probably cancel the Barclay US Air card at some point. It also pains me to cancel the Sapphire card when the AF hits, but it doesn’t make sense when I have the Ink card. But that Sapphire card is just so beautiful! I’ll also be canceling my Amex PRG. I got the Everyday Preferred card, which offers the same benefits plus 50% bonus points each month, for a much lower AF. My wife and I each have the Barclay Arrival card, so we’ll cancel one of those. I tried canceling the British Air Visa, but they offered me 9K Avios to keep it another year. That’s worth a R/T to the Caribbean from Miami, where I live.

    • It sounds like you’ll be making quite a killing with those retention offers. I’m too cheap to pay the $450 annual fee on the AA Executive card, so unless they offer me another 100k that card will have to go. My Amex RPG got the ax last year as well and I agree: Everyday Preferred is a good alternative.

      • I have no intention of paying the $450. I called to cancel well before the AF was due on all 4 cards and I’ve been getting 8K miles/month since. My 4th card’s AF won’t be until July.

  4. Esther from Bay Area

    Thoughts on keeping the Barclay Arrivals+ vs. getting the Citi DoubleCash card?

    I’m probably going to cancel my AAdvantage Executive too, sad because as I write this comment I’m in the AA/JAL lounge at HNL, and it’s awesome. I think I gained 5 pounds in here. 🙁

  5. I always think about canceling my SPG cards but then Small Business Saturday rolls around and I more than make up for the annual fees. This year, with AMEX offering $30 per card and my ~7 authorized users, it was definitely profitable. (All the swiping was a pain, but I found it worth it.)

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