Future Proof Toolkit - My Favorite Credit Cards

Welcome to another entry in the Future Proof Toolkit series - this is where I share with you some of my favorite tools in money and medicine.  If a product or service is listed below, it's because I've used it personally and loved it.  Today we're going to tackle credit cards.  It's a big topic.  Indeed there are a flood of websites dedicated to the sole purpose of finding you the perfect credit card or cards.  Luckily for you, I'm only going to list 5.  Enjoy!

Favorite Travel Card - Chase Sapphire Reserve

How could anyone recommend a card with a $450 annual fee?!  Let me tell you how.  Here is what you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card:

  • 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.  
  • Points transfer 1:1 to participating partner programs.
  • Earn 3pt/dollar on travel and dining. 1pt/dollar everywhere else.
  • $300 annual credit toward travel expenses – hotel, flights, Uber, even bus fare…
  • Up to $100 credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry application
  • Priority Pass Select Access at over 1000 airport lounges.
  • Primary rental car insurance and other travel protection benefits.
  • Extended warranty and other purchase protection benefits.
  • 50% bonus when redeeming points for travel at Chase Ultimate rewards online portal.
  • Transfer points to/from all of your other Chase credit cards - which means a de facto 50% boost to all of your point earnings when you transfer to and redeem through the Sapphire Reserve online portal.

Since signing up for the CSR, I’ve earned over 165,000 points (not including points I transferred in for the 50% bonus in redemption value).  I paid for most of my fellowship interview travels using these points plus a roundtrip first class ticket to China.  It has become my default go-to credit card and I still reach for it first whenever I go out.

Favorite Cash Back Card - Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash card is just like its name implies – a cash back credit card that pays you 2% on every purchase.  1% cashback has become the industry standard over time.  But there are few cards that offer you more than that.  Cards like Discover It and Chase Freedom offer you 5% cashback on certain categories, but the catch is that these categories change every 3 months and you have to opt in online to benefit.  With the Citi Double Cash card, you don’t have to think about it.  There is one small catch though – that’s how the cashback is earned.  You earn 1% on your purchase when you charge the card.  But you only earn the other 1% when you pay your bill.  So if you are someone who likes paying off your purchases before the monthly statement comes out, DON’T.  Just turn on auto-pay and you’ll be sure to earn 2% on every dollar spent.  Key features:

  • 2% cashback on every purchase.
  • NO annual fee.

Favorite Balance Transfer Card - Chase Slate

Ok, here’s some dirty laundry – I may be handing out money tips on the regular today, but I wasn’t always so financially responsible.  In fact, like many other college students who got their first credit card(s) before they truly understood the gravity of their financial decisions, I quickly found myself underwater during college with credit card debt.  Luckily, I found great personal finance advice online from blogs similar to the one you’re reading.  To this day, I thank my Chase Slate Card for getting me over that first big hurdle in my adult financial life.  Key features:

  • 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from account opening.
  • NO balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance in the first 60 days after account opening.
  • NO annual fee.

Favorite Business Card - Chase Ink Preferred

Here is the funny thing about money, sometimes it finds you when you’re not looking.  While I’ve never planned to make money from this blog, your support has made me a small business owner – emphasis on the word “small”.  Here are some reasons why the Chase Ink Preferred has become the go-to card for me when it comes to business purchases.  Key details:

  • 80,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months - yep, I transferred that right over to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
  • 3pt/dollar on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, advertising on social medial and search engines. 1pt/dollar everywhere else.
  • Points transfer 1:1 to participating partner programs.
  • 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel at Chase Ultimate rewards online portal. (I always transfer to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for the 50% bonus instead).
  • Cell phone protection - covers up to $600/claim in cellphone loss or damage when you pay for your phone bill with your Ink Preferred card.
  • $95 annual fee.

Favorite Backup Card – American Express Blue Cash Everyday

Given the benefits listed above, there aren’t many reasons for me to use another card.  But I thought the American Express Blue Cash card deserves a special mention.  Sure AMEX has taken a beating as a company since losing their long-time partnership with Costco, but they are still very competitive in their benefit offering as well customer service.  Here are the reasons why I keep my AMEX Blue Cash in my wallet.

  • Tiered cashback – 3% at grocery stores, 2% at gas stations and dept stores, 1% everywhere else.  This is my go-to card for grocery purchases.
  • Unparalleled customer service – a vestige of AMEX’s roots serving business customers, I’ve never had a bad call with an AMEX customer service agent.
  • Bonus promotions through AMEX Offers – I've saved $458 on purchases by taking advantage of these.
  • NO annual fee.

These are my favorite/most-used credit cards.  As part of the prep-work for writing this post, I pulled out all of my credit cards, including those I haven’t used in years.  Turns out I have 26 of them – 26!  It was tough trying to come up with just the top 5.  I hope you enjoyed this list.

Sponsor Highlight

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation is proud to serve physician and dentist clients in all 50 states, with multiple physician home loan programs to choose from.  Whether you are a CRNA, resident, fellow, attending, or self-employed in private practice, we have programs designed for the specific challenges that you may face having to do with limited down payments, student loans, complicated employment terms, etc.  Our team at Fairway is dedicated to serving our Core Values.

Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.