A New Year, A New Amex Plan – All My 2022 Card Strategies

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My 2022 American Express Card Strategy – The Moves I’m Planning

I focus on Amex more than any other card issuer.  In my view, Amex has been the most rewarding card issuer for years.  I’m not alone here.  Around this time annually, I focus extra on what cards I’m closing, product changing, and opening over the next year.  I know that plans will inevitably change a bit, mostly based on what other pleasant curves Amex throws throughout the year.  But as part of my plan, I reevaluate my Amex goals and establish a roadmap for the year.  Here’s what my 2022 American Express card plan looks like now.  But first, I’ll reset our current Amex card portfolio.

Our Current American Express Card Inventory

Pay Over Time Cards

Between my wife and I, we hold the following Pay Over Time Amex card accounts:

  • Gold (Three)
  • Business Gold (Two)
  • Platinum (More than I care to admit.)
  • Business Platinum (Again, more than I care to admit.)

I know I’m being a bit vague here, but I think you get the picture.  For what it’s worth, I hit the Amex’s supposed Pay Over Time card limit of 10 in December.

American Express Card
Returning to Marriott via the Bonvoy Business card was my most unexpected move last year.

Credit Cards

Here are the following Amex credit card accounts my wife and I currently hold:

  • Amex Blue Cash Preferred
  • Hilton Honors Amex (No Fee)
  • Delta Platinum Amex
  • Delta Gold Amex
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex
  • Delta Gold Business Amex

We’ve turned over our Amex card portfolio significantly over the past year.  In particular, we pursued the above Delta and Marriott cards based on elevated, limited-time card welcome offers.  The Blue Cash Preferred was another unexpected entrant into the portfolio this year due to a very generous welcome offer.  I downgraded my previous Hilton Aspire card to the no fee version early last year.  I’ve patiently awaited an upgrade offer with points, but nothing yet!

American Express Card
My decision to close the American Express Business Gold card is a no-brainer.

We’re Closing These Cards

For 2022, I’ll first start with what cards we’ll close.  As many of you know, 2021 was an absolutely remarkable year for Pay Over Time cards across the board.  Plenty of upgrade offers, card welcome offers with flexible terms, lucrative referral opportunities, the list goes on.  The wife and I indulged, and we’ll have to slim down a bit.  Here’s what we plan to close after the annual fee hits and why:

  • Amex Business Gold – We don’t scale our spending enough in the 4x gas category to warrant paying an annual fee on this card.  No ongoing card benefits exist that are particularly useful to us, either.  I’ll listen to a retention offer, but I don’t expect much.  The only way I would consider keeping one is if the annual fee is waived or I’m offered enough Membership Rewards to cover the annual fee (via Schwab cashout).
  • Amex Business Platinum – I plan to close some of our Business Platinum card accounts (at least).  If I’m offered a retention bonus which covers the annual fee, I could see keeping at least one for the ongoing benefits.  The airline fee credit and the Dell credit are enough to keep me around.
  • Amex Blue Cash Preferred – I’m currently maxing out the 6% cash back supermarket category and will subsequently close the card.  There’s no sense in allowing this card to take up a slot when there’s no other significant bonus category spending incentive this year.  I didn’t plan to keep the card after the second year of supermarket spending, anyway.
  • All Delta Cards – We primarily signed up for all of our Delta cards due to last year’s elevated welcome offers.  No ongoing spend plays here stand out compared to our other options.  Closing after one year has been the plan all along.

American Express Card
Please Amex, give me a worthy upgrade offer on my Hilton card.

We’re Product Changing These Cards

My wife and I each hold Schwab Platinum card accounts, but we plan to product change all of our other Platinums to Golds.  Of course, we’ll use up all of the Platinum benefits and credits we care about prior to product changing.  I’ll listen to retention offers, but I don’t expect to take one.  We greatly value that the Gold offers 4x earning with $25k spending capacity at supermarkets.  There’s an outside chance we opt to close instead based on other 2022 welcome offers for Pay Over Time cards and our card totals at that time.

My patience is beginning to wear thin on a worthy upgrade offer for my no fee Hilton card.  Despite the free night certificate drama of previous years, we plan to travel more and take advantage of such free nights.  Therefore, I may consider upgrading to a Surpass even without a points offer simply to obtain another free night with $15k spend while earning at 6x in supermarkets.  But, of course, this decision is highly dependent on other 2022 variables with Amex and other banks.

American Express Card
Will Amex make this card worth my effort to obtain?

We’re Pursuing These Cards

Now comes the most delightful part of this exercise – what we plan to apply for and (hopefully) obtain!  I’m presenting the contenders with the most desired ones first, but limited-time welcome offers will greatly influence the order we apply.  Here we go!

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex  – Rumors have been swirling of this card getting a refresh and a higher annual fee.  Hopefully, a huge welcome offer is part of the changes.  If so, the wife and I will each pursue this card.
  • Hilton Honors Amex Business  – I’ve never had this card, mostly because the ongoing spend angles aren’t as attractive to me.  Nonetheless, the ability to earn another free night certificate with $15k annual spend on the card is attractive.  That and a solid welcome offer will probably be enough to draw me in.
  • Hilton Honors Amex Aspire – The wife has never held the Aspire.  Amex periodically juices the welcome offer on this card, but it’s been a good while since the last instance.  She’ll strike when the offer increases.  Also, I may go after the Aspire again even if I’m not eligible for a welcome offer.  Why?  I enjoy the ongoing benefits of the card, and it would be another Amex referral bonus for my wife.
  • Delta Cards – We’ll keep stacking up SkyMiles if the welcome offers are good enough.  Indeed, we focus our direct airline miles earning solely on high return welcome offers, and Delta definitely delivered here last year.

Conclusion

By now, some of you are probably thinking that this plan may be a bit aggressive.  Could our behavior bring on the dreaded Amex pop-up window?  Perhaps, but I don’t think it’s particularly likely.  We were very busy with Amex last year, and we avoided the pop-up.  My wife and I tend to stagger our card applications and closures while consistently using our existing Amex cards.  If the pop-up comes, I’ll deal with it then, fully knowing that I can still do well with Amex’s rewards while living in a pop-up world.  Remember – you can’t win if you don’t play!  Regardless, I’m excited to see what surprises Amex throws our way in 2022.  Overall, hobbyists can usually come out ahead.  What are your 2022 American Express card plans?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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12 COMMENTS

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12 COMMENTS

    • Jonathan,
      Inevitably, it gets dinged, but not in any major way where I can’t get new cards. I try to space out my closures as much as possible, as well.

  1. I wanted to close my Amex Delta Business card last year, after downgrading it the year before when I wasn’t offered a decent AF deal (keeping the Delta Platinum personal card), but it has a very big line of credit. I want to free up a slot for an Amex gold card) the 4x grocery benefit is a winner for sure. I tried to transfer that line of credit to another Amex business card so I wouldn’t lose it. I couldn’t find a way to do that, so kept the account open. I haven’t used it all year. Is there a way to close the card without losing the line of credit?

    • Maestra K,
      If you haven’t tried this way already, call in and ask to move credit from the Delta Business card to another, then close.

  2. Plan is for one more Biz Plat using an offer that came in the US Mail, and keeping an eye out for that rumored Marriott Brilliant refresh. Besides the SUB, it sounds like that card may have a decent $50K spend sweet spot. Before deciding, will have to see what happens to their point valuation with the upcoming more dynamic pricing.

  3. I assume you know that cancelling Amex cards after 1 year is a risk. I’ve seen reports of clawbacks, being out on their “black list” for any future card and even having all accounts closed (and membership rewards points confiscated) for people that Amex believes are churning the cards primarily for the up front bonuses. Personally (and I only have 1 Amex card 1 would change) I keep the cards for 3 years – 2 renewal cycles – before making any changes)

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