A couple years ago at a party, we met a man who seemed so familiar. The longer we hung out and flung stories back and forth, the more we connected. “You’re sure we’ve never met” I asked for about the 5th time, at a total loss as for why this stranger seemed so familiar to me. He smiled sheepishly, and said “If I tell you where you know me from, promise not to tell other people at the party?” And then he said that famous line:

As much as we enjoyed our chat with the Capital One viking (who in fact is British and not Scandinavian), this article isn’t about him. It’s about you, and more specifically, what cards of all sorts you should have in your wallet. After a recent post, a good friend messaged to share her opinion that a post about what is in my wallet would be helpful as she tries to figure out what credit cards and loyalty programs to join.

But before all that, an aside: I happen to have the coolest wallet in the world. Many a man can relate when I say I was always bothered by old leather wallet. I mostly keep my wallet in my back pocket and a thick wallet is uncomfortable. Last month, I came across Mighty Wallets! The wallets (designed by various artists) are personal expression at it’s best. Before Mighty Wallet, the greatest intrigue from my wallet was the look and feel of my Chase Sapphire card. Now, people are obsessed with “how cool” my wallet is.  What’s more, they’re made of Tyvek and so they’re lightweight, tear resistant, water resistant, and incredibly thin. My Mighty Wallet full of cards is SMALLER than my empty leather wallet. Think about that! I’m obsessed with the thing and now combined with my iPhone handmade Carved Phone Case, people comment frequently about the personal touch to the two items I use the most when out in public. Check out some of our favorites:

Fans of NYC, rejoice! Mighty Wallet has an awesome “subway map” wallet!

We also love the Mighty Passport Cover

And it’s not just men’s wallets and passport covers, check out this great item for women!

But let’s get to the cards in my wallet. What’s my wallet look like right now?

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred. This is my go to card, the one I use the most and love the most.
  • Chase Ink. Those 5x per dollar at Office Supply Stores have been incredibly helpful for buying everything from office supplies to some of the other stuff sold at these stores, like Starbucks and Amazon gift cards, birthday cards, coffee and more! Note this is a business card, but if you make any money on the side, you’ve got a good chance of getting it!
  • American Express Platinum. It’s a hefty fee ($450), that’s for sure. But we wrote why we love it in a prior post. Here’s a hint: TONS of elite perks, from airport lounge access to elite status with hotels and car rental companies. It makes sense to have in our wallet- see if it makes sense for your wallet. I also like keeping an Amex on me at all times to use with Amex Offers, a social tool that has saved us some good cash over the last year.
  • Chase Debit Card. As much as we try and avoid spending cash, you never know when you’ll need some.
  • Credit card for work. Enough said, no benefits for me here.
  • Medical card. Again, I hope I don’t have to use it but I want it if I need it.
  • Driver’s License. Aside from working hard for this thing (who knew the exam would be so difficult) it’s obviously important to have.
  • Work ID otherwise known as a OneCard.
  • Two business cards. You never know who you’re going to meet.
  • KC Crepes frequent boba and crepe card. Don’t judge, I like boba. A lot.

But of course, there are a ton of cards hidden in a drawer, some that I need to carry, others that never leave that drawer. What are these? They’re organized below by category.

Credit Cards

  • Bank of America Rewards. This is my most pathetic rewards credit card. So why keep it? It’s the first credit card I opened (I was 18) and it has no annual fee. The lesson here: Keep a no fee card open as it helps maintain a good credit score.
  • Starwood American Express. I got this card for the 30,000 bonus points it offered at the time. And so far I’ve liked it. It has an annual fee of $65, lower than most, and even that is waived in the first year. Starwood points are valuable currency, as they can score us great hotel rooms at properties we like, or they can be transferred to airlines like American often at a conversation rate of 20,000 points for 25,000 miles, a very favorable equation.
  • Capital One World card. Before I got really serious about points and miles, I still knew that foreign transaction fees were deathly. Capital One offered cards with no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fee. It’s not the greatest of cards, but it has no annual fee and is often a backup card when I go abroad. While I can’t find a link to that specific card, their Quicksilver Visa gets at the same idea and benefits more or less.
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Siganture. This has no annual fee and it provides complimentary HHonors Silver Status for as long as I keep it. Silver doesn’t do much, but it is free breakfast and a few other perks here and there, and so for no annual fee? It’s a no brainer to keep it!
  • It’s not in my wallet yet, but the next card will be an Amex Everyday. It has no annual fee, has valuable earning at grocery stores and after 20 purchases in a month you earn a 20% points bonus. The card is part of American Express Membership Rewards meaning the points I accumulate can transfer to airlines like Delta or British Airways.
  • Wage Works Debit Card. I participate in a Flex Spending Account at work. This allows me to get some medical costs tax free. I anticipate how much I’ll spend on everything from eye glasses to dental appointments to the pharmacy. But I never use my card. Why? With Wage Works, I make my purchases on my regular credit card, and opt to have Wage Works reimburse me. Thus, this card will never see the light of day, despite being very valuable to me!

So what reward programs am I in?

  • British Airways Avios.  With my Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, and American Express Platinum, I can transfer the points I earn from those to my Avios account. From LAX, this means cheaper flights on partners like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines to places like Seattle, Hawaii, and more because British Airways has a distance based award chart which you can really use to your benefit.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage. I have platinum status with American and all in all, have been happy with their customer service and product. I bring the card with me when I travel, even though now a days the app on my iPhone is usually more than sufficient.
  • Delta Airlines Skymiles. I don’t love Delta’s frequent flyer program, but I do think their product is pretty good, especially now that they added more free entertainment options on long haul flights. I do like that my miles don’t expire with Delta (most airlines they expire if you don’t earn new miles every 12-18 months).
  • United Airlines Mileage Plus. When my dad worked for United, I never needed this card because I flew for free. The good old days. Now, I’ve got a United Airlines card.
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. I used to love Southwest for their rewards program but when they switched to their current program that is based on the amount of money spent, I lost interest (just like I lose more interest in United and Delta since I’m not a big spender for them). The card (and two free drink tickets) stay with me still because sometimes Southwest is the cheapest option and let’s be honest- they are a fun option!
  • Car rental companies. Like I mentioned earlier, my Platinum card gets me elite status with Hertz, National, and Avis and so I have accounts with them. I also have a Spot Club Card, which is a frequent parking card for The Parking Spot garages which are located in several cities around the United States. If you often park near the airport, it’s worth looking into.
  • Hotel cards. I have an IHG Rewards Club card (think Holiday Inn, Indigo, Crowne Plaza, and more). And I love them. Their rates are often the cheapest. I don’t get much in the way of benefits for my elite Gold Status with them but I like their rates, like their properties, and am happy that my points NEVER expire with them. I also have a Hilton HHonors card (Gold Status with them), Starwood (Gold Status), Marriott (Silver Elite Status), Hyatt Gold Passport and M Life (Las Vegas properties that allow me to transfer my points to Hyatt). Finally, I love Hotels.com rewards. Use a shopping portal like Chase Ultimate Rewards and not only do you earn a bonus 5 miles per dollar, but Hotels.com has an easy reward structure: After 10 nights, you get a certificate worth the average of your last 10 nights to use on a future stay.

Other Items

  • Priority Pass Select. As mentioned earlier, this means lounges everywhere from Lima to Seattle- which is valuable for me given my frequent travel. I get this for free with my Amex Platinum.
  • AAA card. Aside from discounted hotel rates and other discounts, you never know when you’ll need a tow. I’m a fan of AAA.
  • REI Membership Card. One of the greatest loyalty programs ever. REI membership is a whopping $20 for life. With that, comes a more than generous return policy, a 10% end of year dividend for members, exclusive sales, and more!
  • Costco membership. I run large group style retreats. You can see why buying bulk can be good for me.
  • Starbucks Gold Card. It’s the little perks like free drinks. Two thoughts on this: Use the app on the phone, don’t carry the card. And when you make purchases, Starbucks gives you one credit per purchase. So if you are buying a drink for you and then another one for someone else- ask them to do two separate transactions to get two credits instead of one. Free drinks faster.
  • I have a number of public transportation cards. I have my home Metro card for use on LA rail and busses (I love using public transpo in LA when I can), and I’ve also got cards for New York City, the Bart in SF, a Charlie Card for Boston, Tarjeta BIP for Santiago, Chile, a card for DC, and probably a few more. The point is this: For me, public transportation enhances the travel experience, and saves money.
  • LA Public Library card. Extremely valuable for my travel- why? Because our library has access to Kindle books, like many others around the nation. I rarely buy books on Amazon, despite using my Kindle EVERYWHERE! Thanks public library!
  • USC Alumni Card. When I’m back on campus, I get discounts on food and more. Here’s the point to some of the more wacky loyalty programs I’ve shared with you: Loyalty isn’t just about airlines and hotels. It’s about using the discounts and savings available to you anywhere and everywhere. If you’re like us, every dollar counts and adds up.
  • A Magis Card. Those who know, know. And that’s about 0.7% of this blog readership. A friend and I got to start something cool in college, and we put a Manifesto of what we think it means to be a respectable man when many stereotypes of manhood might present a different image. It’s a good reminder to see if I’m living out my values.
  • Foreign currency. I keep foreign currency for two reasons: One, it can be practical. I am in Mexico monthly, so a stack of pesos is a no brainer. We travel to Europe enough where I don’t see the point in exchanging Euros at a poor exchange rate when I can just use them later. But I also save currency for places I loved, to serve as a reminder to return. I’ve got a small amount of money from New Zealand, hoping I’ll find a way to use it again! Foreign currency is practical, but it can also be aspirational.

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