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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?