Cleaning Out My Credit Card Closet – What’s Gotten the Axe in 2021

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Credit Card Accounts

The Credit Card Accounts I’ve Closed This Year, So Far

Shocker – I love opening credit card accounts, primarily due to the big rewards that come my way.  I’m not alone here.  I don’t close them as often, but doing so comes with a different sense of satisfaction.  It’s the credit card version of a fresh shave or mowing and edging my lawn.  I love holding cards, but I feel more squared away by cutting out the old ones.  Here are the credit card accounts the wife and I have closed in 2021 so far and why.  I’m also describing a few that we product changed, and one I expected to close but probably won’t.

What We’ve Closed

Credit Card Accounts

Discover it Miles (Multiple)

The decision to close these is probably the biggest no-brainer on this list.  My wife and I each closed our Discover it Miles card accounts after we received our 1.5% cash back matches at the end of our first cardmember years.  The Miles card is an effective 3% cash back card when one incorporates the cash back match at the end of the first cardmember year.  But the cards became 1.5% cash back versions in year two.  After earning a retention offer, we subsequently closed both.

Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex

I closed my Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex after the second year annual fee posted.  I placed higher value on another Amex credit card slot than any retention offer.  In the same timeframe, my wife was approved for this card in her name, providing us continuing access to this card’s earning structure and benefits.  Thanks, Amex, but we’re currently playing a high turnover game with your credit cards.

Amex Business Green

One of the wackier cards in the Amex portfolio, I couldn’t wait to close this account once the second year annual fee hit.  I wasn’t provided an upgrade offer to the Business Gold or Platinum, either.  Even after closing, the the card somehow counted against my five credit card limit.  But that got resolved.  Smell you later, Biz Green.

Amex Business Platinum

When the 10 card limit for Amex’s Pay Over Time cards was instituted not too long ago, I laughed.  How could I ever get close to 10 of those?  Well, I did this year.  Plus, I didn’t get a retention offer, anyway.  And no, I didn’t consider paying the $595 annual fee an option.  I ensured to use all of the airline fee and Dell credits and subsequently closed.

Amex Everyday Preferred (Multiple)

Once again, since the wife and I are playing a high turnover game with Amex credit cards, we quickly maxed out the $6k grocery spend on each card in early 2021, cashed out the points, and closed each account.  I like this card, but it’s not exactly useful for us after fulfilling the annual bonus category spending.

Amex Blue Cash Preferred

We maxed out the grocery spend on this card earlier in the year, and my wife subsequently closed the account.  Similar to the Delta Gold, we kept this card’s capability going, as I was approved for an excellent Blue Cash Preferred welcome offer soon after.  This is another solid Amex card that can be easily, quickly maximized.  I’ll rinse and repeat with my spend behavior in early 2022 and subsequently close mine.

Amex Blue Business Plus

I recently described why closing this “untouchable” card ended up an easy decision for me.  I simply have too many new card opportunities with Amex, and they’re all more lucrative than holding onto this card.  In a five Amex credit card limit world, this one just doesn’t make the cut for me currently.

Product Changes

Amex Gold (Multiple)

The wife and I each upgraded a personal Gold card account due to an excellent Platinum upgrade offer.  Our previous 2021 Gold use, the upgrade offer, and ongoing Platinum benefits made the product change worth the effort.  They’ll be downgraded or closed in 2022.

Amex Hilton Aspire

After maximizing the annual benefits, I downgraded the Aspire to the no fee Hilton card.  The ongoing pandemic decreased my need for this card.  I’ve been interested in upgrade offer opportunities, which I’ve benefitted from previously.  So far, there’s been no fruit there, though.  But I’m not going anywhere.

Credit Card Accounts

Citi AA MileUp

I love the 2x American miles earning of this card at grocery, but I couldn’t withstand the great 5x earning of the Custom Cash.  I took advantage of Citi’s easy product change process and had the card a week later.  Essentially, I still hold a 2x American Airlines card, thanks to my Double Cash and Citi’s temporary 1:1 transfer capability of ThankYou points to American.

Credit Card Accounts

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase is still pretty much boring me to death.  Also, the Reserve and Preferred improvements were pretty lame, from my perspective.  The biggest highlight to me was that the annual fees weren’t going up.  Snore.  I couldn’t find the exit to the Freedom Flex fast enough.

I Guess I Won’t Close This One…For Now

Credit Card Accounts

One of the few Barclays cards I hold is American Airlines’ Aviator Blue Mastercard.  I primarily liked the access I had to American’s reduced mileage awards via this card, but that’s being phased out.  When I heard that news, I figured I was done, since the $49 annual fee doesn’t get me much else.  But one thing I can’t ignore.  I like holding an American miles-earning card from a bank other than Citi.  The Blue earns at 1x everywhere, and I don’t feel like going down to the no fee, but only 0.5x-earning version.  I just product changed out of my one Citi card earning American miles (MileUp described above), and this card is useful for some other plays, anyway.  Is it worth the $49 annual fee?  Maybe not, but I just can’t shake it – yet.

Credit Card Accounts I’ve Closed – Conclusion

Geez, that’s a lot of Amex.  I’m not too surprised, though.  Amex is still my favorite card issuer, and I need to continually clear space for more accounts.  Discover’s mostly dead to me.  My Chase downgrade was primarily a defensive move – I didn’t want to speculatively pay a $550 annual fee with no assurance that Pay Yourself Back is sticking around longer term.  Since Citi’s a cinch to change accounts with, picking up the Custom Cash was easy money.  There will be more to come in 2021.  I look forward to my plans, but also more pleasant surprises!  What cards have you closed so far this year?

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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7 COMMENTS

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7 COMMENTS

  1. What AMEX cards do you find worth keeping longer term? The AMEX Blue Cash Preferred could be one such card although the Citi Custom Cash may be a better option for some. AMEX Hilton Aspire is the only travel card worth keeping to me if traveling. I understand your downgrade action with future potential upgrade scenario. The Chase Sapphire Reserve was a game changer when issued in 2017 but the $550 annual fee and obvious breakage credits will cause me to close it in 2022 when the $550 annual will be assessed.

    • JimT,
      Amex “keepers” vary by the individual, of course. Since I prefer the Hilton brands, I’ll hold (at least) one of their cards for the foreseeable future. Looking beyond cards subject to the 5 card limit, I’m fairly confident I’ll hold the Schwab Platinum and (at least) one Gold indefinitely.

  2. After you downgraded the Hilton Aspire did you continue to get the monthly $20 dining credit? Some people may have (being cryptic). Delete this if you think it best not to be out there.

    • Kate,
      Actively spend on your existing Amex cards, take advantage of referral bonuses to your Player 2, pay attention to welcome offer terms and conditions, and aggressively pursue cards/offers you want! Also, if possible, don’t close multiple Amex accounts close together.

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