The Two Credit Cards At The Top Of My Wallet Right Now

a close up of a credit card

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a lot of challenges on people.  Way down the list of important items are the decisions we’re all making with the credit cards in our wallet.  Many of us have plenty of travel-related credit cards in our wallet.  I’ve got a podcast episode coming up later this week that goes through my entire wallet.  For now, though, I wanted to share my short-term credit card strategy.

There are a ton of short-term opportunities to earn extra miles with credit cards right now.  Many cards have added bonus categories for grocery shopping since essentially everyone was eating at home for a couple months.  Ditto food delivery services like Door Dash and bonuses for streaming services like Disney+, Netflix and Hulu.

I already earn 4 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar with my AMEX Gold card.  We don’t subscribe to many streaming services.  I prepaid for 3 years of Disney+ with a founders deal.  And, I used a discounted gift card for Netflix and Spotify.  But, there are two recent announcements I am taking advantage of:

World of Hyatt Credit Card Bonus Elite Nights

Through the end of June, 2020 the World of Hyatt (WOH) credit card is awarding 3 elite night credits for every $5,000 spent.  I already have lifetime Globalist, Hyatt’s top-tier elite status.  And, Hyatt has already announced they were extending all levels of elite status.  That might make you wonder why I’m bothering with trying to earn elite nights.

That’s where Milestone Rewards come into play.  In late 2018 Hyatt rolled out this program which matches up rewards with certain elite night achievements, or milestones.  Each milestone earns a reward, including bonuses like a $100 Hyatt gift card or a free night at virtually any Hyatt in the world.

I’m fortunate enough to have business spending each month. For May and June, I’ve been redirecting a good chunk of the expenditures that don’t fit into bonus categories, helping me rack up the Milestone Rewards.  I won’t max out at 100 elite nights before the end of June.  Won’t be close, for that matter.  But, the value of those rewards should be worth more than other earning options, assuming we start traveling again someday.

a pool with a building and a slide
Poolside at Hyatt Regency Tamaya

Charging For Lifetime Hilton Diamond

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for lifetime status.  I have lifetime American Airlines Advantage Platinum status, which has been largely disappointing since they added the Platinum Plus level and made other changes to their program.  I earned lifetime SPG Platinum status before that program went away.  That converted to some rare metal in the Marriott Bonvoy program.  Along with my Hyatt Globalist status, I figured I was pretty much done with lifetime status other than my inevitable march to 1 million butt-in-seat miles on United.

Then, due to some changes in work patterns, I ended up with a boatload of Hilton stays last year for me and some employees.  With a number of years of Hilton Diamond status in the bank, I was all of a sudden kind of, sort of, maybe in 7 or 8 years, with a bit of a miracle going to earn lifetime Hilton Diamond status.  The biggest obstacle?

Hyatt Globalist.  Hyatt treats me so well, I don’t have a lot of incentive to stay elsewhere. Racking up the hundreds of nights I still needed to finish off Hilton Diamond would be tough.  It’s the same reason I don’t stay at Marriott often.  When Hyatt does such a great job, it’s hard for me to look elsewhere.

So, why the heck am I planning to spend on my American Express Hilton Surpass card like a drunken sailor for the rest of 2020?  View From The Wing covered the announcement a month and a half ago that all spending on Hilton AMEX credit cards would count towards lifetime status for the remainder of 2020.  Initially, I though it was a bold move by Hilton and AMEX to attract spending through the end of the year when their competitors were looking at the next 3 or 4 months.  It took a while for my wheels to start turning (I’m not as young as I used to be).

The Surpass card earns 3 points per dollar for everyday spending, 6 points for restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets and 12 points for Hilton stays.  I’m still not sure I’d plug away in the 3X everyday spending category versus other cards that offer a better return.  However, the 6X and 12X categories would move me quickly towards the 2 million base points I’d need to finish off that requirement of lifetime Hilton Diamond.  So, that’s the plan at the end of June when the Hyatt offer runs out.

Side note: I did put some spending on the Surpass card last month to ensure points were posting correctly as lifetime progress.  I can report that my lifetime base points total went up the exact amount I was expecting.

The Final Two Pennies

In fairness, I did discuss the different permutations at length with Gary, founder and dishwasher-in-chief at View From The Wing.  He had some sound feedback for why the Hilton play may not be my best move.  Chase Freedom was just one of the choices he mentioned that might be a better fit. His thoughts lead me to refrain from dumping a bunch of spending in that 3X category just yet on Surpass, but we’ll see.  I do enjoy lifetime status more than most of my fellow bloggers.  Some chains are much more helpful than others.  If I do manage to finish off lifetime Hilton Diamond this year, I’ll hope that the treatment is closer to Hyatt than Marriott.

What do you think of my choices for credit card spending right now?

What are your spending choices with all the new bonus categories?

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And, I hope you’ll check out my podcast, Miles To Go.  We cover the latest travel news, tips and tricks every week so you can save money while you travel better.  From Disney to Dubai, San Francisco to Sydney, American Airlines to WestJet, we’ve got you covered!


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