What’s in Stephen’s wallet?

21

Greg and Nick have both recently shared what’s in their wallets, so I figured I’d get in on the act. I’ve a feeling my post will be a little longer than theirs as I have more cards in my wallet than most people likely carry and, to be honest, more than I probably need at any one time.

Still, the whole purpose of this was to give you all a genuine look at what cards are in our wallet, so here goes.

Stephen's wallet 1

My Wallet

Seeing as I have 18 credit & debit cards, 7 other cards, cash (both notes and coins), MOs and more in my wallet at the time of writing this, you might be wondering how I fit all that in there. I have a Big Skinny wallet – the World Bifold Wallet With Zippered Pocket – which is fantastic if you carry around a ton of cards. As the name suggests, it’s big in terms of its capacity, but remains somewhat skinny even with so much in it.

Measuring it just now, it’s only 1.25″ thick when folded which isn’t too shabby considering how stuffed it is.

Stephen's wallet 2

I bought it more than five years ago when there was a Groupon and it’s still in excellent shape. The only wear and tear is a slight tear in the plastic cover where you keep your driver’s license; other than that, it looks almost brand new. I carry it around every day and it’s still not showing any other signs of wear and tear, so I could see it easily lasting another five years or more. My net cost for the wallet (including shipping) was only $13.95 due to the Groupon which was an absolute bargain. If something ever did happen to it, I’d happily pay full price for a new one.

Here’s a direct link to the wallet I have in case you’re interested. They offer all kinds of other wallets including those with RFID in case that’s important to you. Note that this isn’t an ad or affiliate link – I just love the product. I think you can also buy their wallets on Amazon, so that might be a cheaper way of getting it if you buy Amazon gift cards at a discount.

My Cards

OK, on to the cards in my wallet. In no particular order, here’s what I have in there.

United MileagePlus Explorer for unbonused Spend

Despite being over 5/24, I was able to pick this up a couple of months ago as I was lucky enough to be targeted for one of the black star ‘Just For You’ offers.

The welcome offer had two thresholds – earn 40,000 miles when spending $2,000 in the first three months and earn 25,000 additional miles when spending $10,000 in the first six months. I’ve already earned the 40,000 bonus miles, so I’m now working on the $10k spending threshold. This is the card I’m using for unbonused spend, trips to the mall, etc.

Chase Ink Plus for office supply stores

In a recent podcast episode, I mentioned to Nick that I was finally on board the MS train. It figures that almost as soon as I boarded, Office Depot stopped running its unadvertised Visa gift card deals. They’ll hopefully start that back up in the coming months, so I like to keep the Ink Plus in my wallet so that I have it while out and about.

Amex Gold for groceries, restaurants & Amex Offers

My Amex Gold card is primarily in my wallet for groceries seeing as it earns 4x Membership Rewards per dollar. We tend to use my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve when eating out as I’d rather earn 3x Ultimate Rewards on dining expenses than 4x Membership Rewards seeing as we redeem a decent number for Hyatt stays, but on the rare occasions when we’re not together then I pay with this card.

I also tend to load Amex Offers to this card when they wouldn’t earn a bonus by being loaded to a different card, so that’s another good reason to keep it in my wallet.

Citi Dividend for groceries (for now)

The Citi Dividend card offers 5% categories that rotate each quarter. It’s a little different to the Chase Freedom and Discover It cards though as you’re not restricted to $1,500 of spend each quarter. The Citi Dividend has an annual limit of $6,000 in 5% bonused spend, but you can spend that all within one quarter if you want.

It’s offering 5% at grocery stores until March 31, 2020, so my plan is to max out the annual limit within the next couple of months, then store it until next year.

Amex Delta Gold Business for Lowe’s

Amex business cards can be handy to have as they’re sometimes targeted for Amex Offers that aren’t available on personal cards. I loaded the Lowe’s Amex Offer to this card, so I keep this card in my wallet for any time that I want to pick up a gift card at a 10% discount. Lowe’s carries a great selection of third party gift cards including grocery stores like Kroger, Giant, Albertsons, etc. (depending on what’s in your area), as well as Amazon. I’ll likely use a fair bit of the $1,000 offer limit on Shell and BP gift cards though seeing as we’ll be racking up the miles on our car this year, even more so than normal.

World of Hyatt for Hyatt stays & unbonused spend (usually)

We tend to stay ~75 nights per year in Hyatt properties, so it’s handy to have this card in my wallet for that reason alone. It’s also a great card for putting spend on as you earn a free category 1-4 certificate when spending $15,000 per cardmember year. I can’t get enough Hyatt points as we redeem so many (albeit for 5,000 points per night properties), so it’s always helpful to earn more.

The card also earns 2 elite night credits for every $5,000 of spend which is helpful if you’re trying to earn status. Even if you’ve already earned Globalist status, it can still be worth spending on it due to Milestone Rewards. After earning Globalist status, you can choose either 10,000 bonus points or 1 suite upgrade when hitting 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights in a year. We were due to hit 91 nights last year, but at the beginning of December I realized that we’d only reach 89 nights by the end of the year. The reason we were going to be a couple of nights short is because I’d booked a couple of Hyatt Place stays on a ‘Buy 3 nights, get the 4th night free’ rate. I’d assumed we’d earn 8 elite night credits, but we only earned 6 as the two “free nights” weren’t classed as eligible elite nights.

I could’ve booked a category 1 stay to get that one extra night to hit the 90 night threshold and claim 10,000 bonus points, but that would’ve meant I’d only come out 5,000 points ahead. Instead, I sent a secure message to Chase to ask how much I needed to spend to hit my next $5,000 threshold for two more elite night credits and they advised it was only something like $1,500. I therefore spent that on the card before my December statement closed which meant I earned the two elite night credits in time for it to hit my World of Hyatt account in 2019. I was therefore able to earn the full 10,000 bonus points on top of the ~1,500 points from the credit card spend.

Bank of America Cash Rewards for online spending & BankAmeriDeals

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers 1% cashback for most spend, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% in one of the following categories of your choice (n.b. There’s a limit of $2,500 of spend earning 2% and 3% combined each quarter):

  • Gas
  • Online shopping
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Drug stores
  • Home improvement/furnishings

When these 3% categories were first introduced, I selected drug stores as my 3% category to take advantage of gift card deals at Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS. Those deals usually involve earning Wellness+ Rewards BonusCash, ExtraBucks Rewards, etc. which, having tested them out, I don’t find to be as useful personally. I’ve therefore switched my selection to online shopping and primarily max it out through online gift card deals.

In addition to keeping it in my wallet to have the CVV easily accessible when needed, I occasionally use it in-store when I’m targeted for good BankAmeriDeals. It seems to frequently get an offer for 10% back on Staples purchases on up to $60 of spend, along with occasional offers for Rite Aid, CVS and more.

Wells Fargo debit card for cash & deposits

Wells Fargo is my main checking account, so I keep this card in my wallet for ATM withdrawals and deposits in-branch. I should probably add either my Ally or SoFi debit card to my wallet too for free ATM withdrawals when there aren’t any Wells Fargo branches nearby. For example, we’re currently in Louisiana for 4 weeks and there’s not a single Wells Fargo branch in the state.

Just as a random aside, there are no Staples branches in Louisiana either. Pennsylvania gets 75 of them, even Wyoming has 3, but Louisiana doesn’t even get 1 measly branch. Louisiana does have great food though, so there is that.

2x Simon Mall Visa gift cards

I stocked up on Visa gift cards at the Simon Mall in Gulfport, Mississippi the other week, so I’m working my way through them at Walmart. The Money Services lines in Mississippi and Louisiana have been pretty long, so I’ve only been liquidating a couple at a time so that I don’t hold up the lines.

Unfortunately it takes longer for me to obtain Money Orders at Walmart than it would the average person due to my driver’s license. Seeing as we travel full-time, we don’t have a home address. We therefore use a mail forwarding service in Florida which acts as our residential address for legal and tax purposes (although Citi and Amex don’t accept it as a valid home address). The Florida DMV doesn’t list our full mailing address on our driver’s license though; instead, they’ve entered our car’s license plate as the first line of our address, although the city, state and zip code are listed after that.

When the Walmart cashier scans my driver’s license, they have to manually enter various details. When they eventually come to the first line of the address, I have to explain the situation and give them our actual mailing address, so that holds up the line. Anyway, that doesn’t have anything to do with my wallet as such, but figured I’d share it as it’s a quirk of living on the road that I’d never considered before we set off on our road trip.

Alaska Business credit card for unbonused spend

This is actually my wife’s card, but I took it when going to Walmart the other day for groceries. We’re still working on its minimum spend, so we’re putting some unbonused spend on it too.

When applying, I don’t remember it asking if we wanted an employee card. I wish I’d looked more carefully for that section as we would’ve earned 2,000 bonus miles as part of the card’s welcome offer. In theory we could request a card now, but that would involve having the card sent to one address only to have it forwarded to wherever we are at that point, so it’s not been worth the effort (for me) for the sake of 2,000 miles.

Chase Freedom for gas spending

When possible, we take advantage of fuel points at Kroger or Albertsons stores (or affiliates of either). When that’s not an option, we’ll usually fill up at a Shell or BP using gift cards we’ve bought at a 10% discount from Amex Offers like the Lowe’s one mentioned earlier. For all other gas spend this quarter we’re using a Chase Freedom card (paired with GetUpside when possible) seeing as the Freedom card is offering 5% until March 31.

Providing there’s a good category during Q2, it’ll remain in my wallet until at least the end of June.

Discover It for grocery spending

I’ve already maxed out the $1,500 limit on 5% earning on my Discover It card, so this is my wife’s card. I’ve delayed maxing out Shae’s $1,500 limit for now though while I liquidate our Simon Mall purchases.

Citi Premier for not much in particular

This has ended up hidden away in my wallet behind another card. As good as some of the spending categories are, it doesn’t see much day-to-day action as we can usually get better returns on bonused spend with different cards. It doesn’t gather too much dust though as it likes to say hello to Simon now and then.

Amex Gold for Amex Offers

This card is in my name, but it’s an authorized user card on Shae’s Amex Gold. This AU card tends to get Membership Rewards-earning versions of Amex Offers, so I keep it in my wallet so that it’s always on hand in case I need to redeem one of those offers seeing as you can load a statement credit version of an Amex Offer to one card and a Membership Rewards version of an offer to another card.

Amex Gold for Amex Offers

This is Shae’s Amex Gold card. I keep it in my wallet as we often load Amex Offers to her card, so this way it’s always around in case I want to redeem any of them. Growing up in the UK and working in a convenience store and bank in the past, we were always taught to be incredibly anal with checking cards and signatures (although everything’s moved to chip & PIN and contactless payments now). For my own convenience, signatures are thankfully never checked here in the US. Then again, many payments no longer require signatures anyway.

Visa gift card

This has been sitting in my wallet for I don’t know how long. It’s from a super-old Office Depot deal and at some point I’ll actually get around to liquidating it.

Other Cards

All of those credit and debit cards are in the left hand side of my wallet. Yep, it easily holds 17 cards on just that one side with space for more. I have several other non-credit/debit cards on the right hand side of my wallet:

  • AAA membership
  • AARP membership – This is for the rare occasion we book a hotel using an AARP rate and need to show the card. It also offers discounts at several restaurants like Denny’s and Outback Steakhouse, but I usually forget about that until we’ve left the restaurant.
  • Sam’s Club membership – This is a little dusty seeing as bulk buying items isn’t realistic when your car contains everything you own with no space for anything else. We have a membership though seeing as it’s often possible to make a profit when getting one, plus Sam’s Club runs some good gift card deals.
  • Kroger gift card – I bought this at 10% off from a past Lowe’s Amex Offer and haven’t gotten around to fully redeeming it yet.
  • Kroger Plus shopper’s card – Until a few weeks ago, this account didn’t have a phone number attached to it, so I had to swipe or scan the card whenever I shopped at Kroger or wanted to redeem fuel points. I’ve now added a phone number to the account, so there’s not actually any reason to carry it around in my wallet any longer.
  • Driver’s license
  • Permanent Resident card – I’m from the UK, so I carry this around in case it’s needed. I learned my lesson when changing my California driver’s license to a Virginia one and the DMV worker called me stupid for not bringing my Permanent Resident card along, despite already having a valid US driver’s license.

Cards Not In My Wallet

Similar to Greg and Nick, there are loads of other cards which aren’t in my wallet but which I keep around for occasional usage or for other reasons (e.g. hotel night certificates at renewal). There are a few cards that sometimes make it into my wallet when I’m trying to increase spend, so here’s what they are.

Radisson Rewards

I have both the Premier personal card and the business card (which is no longer available), while Shae has the Premier card only. I’ve started to use these a little more now that I’m getting into manufactured spend as they help us rack up free stays pretty quickly.

Whenever possible, we redeem our Radisson Rewards points for category 2 properties that cost 15,000 points per night. It’s hard to find pet-friendly category 2 properties though, so I’ve resigned myself to more frequently having to redeem for category 3 properties that cost 28,000 points per night.

That depletes our points almost twice as quickly, so I need to build the balances up. The good thing is that these cards earn 5x Radisson Rewards points on everyday spend. While Radisson Rewards points aren’t worth a huge amount, it does mean that earning 28,000 points costs less than $30. These cards also offer a free night certificate when spending $10,000 per cardmember year. Although those are only valid at properties in the US, you can earn up to three per card, so we could end up with up to 9 free night certificates and 450,000 points if spending $30,000 on all three cards each year.

Chase Marriott Cards

I have both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and Premier Plus Business cards, while Shae has the business card only. I’ve been using these a little more recently because for as badly run as the Marriott Bonvoy program is, I still consistently get great value out of it. Our points balances have been slowly depleting, so I’ve been adding some spend to these cards in recent weeks.

A side benefit of this is that they’ll hopefully be targeted for more Chase Offers seeing as card usage plays a large factor in which offers you receive.

Bottom Line

My wallet contains far more cards than it realistically needs to on a day-to-day basis. Having said that, I’ve had numerous instances in the past where I’ve wanted to use a card and haven’t had it on me, so I’d rather err on the side of having too many cards than too few.

Email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

21 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments