When you're starting out in your credit journey, I recommend building a five card base for your credit history. The base should consist of keeper cards that will help increase your credit score, and ideally, no annual fee.
I decided to go the extra mile when building my base, which consists of 10 cards. Four of the cards are the same, so technically, I have 14 cards in my base.
Note: This doesn't mean you should go out and get ten cards. You should only add cards if you pay your balances in full each month and if you can benefit from the perks.
You can view credit card offers by going to the "Credit Card Offers" tab. Find offers for the respective cards in "Point Rewards Credit Cards" and "Travel Credit Cards." You don't have to use our links, but we're grateful when you do. Thank you for supporting AskSebby!
Cards 1-4: Bank of America Better Balance Rewards
I accidentally refreshed the application page when I applied for the Bank of America Better Balance Rewards card, which resulted in 6 cards. Oops. Bank of America closed two of the accounts because of the 2/3/4 rule.
I earn $480/year in cash back by:
a) Using card every month
(I make Amazon Allowance to myself)
b) Pay the card in full when your statement comes
c) Get $25 per quarter ($5 bonus w/ BoA bank account)
(auto-pay to my BoA account)
d) $30 * 4 quarters = $120 / card * 4 cards = $480 / year
TLDR: I get $240 in Amazon and $240 cash free every year
Cards 5-7: Chase Trifecta (Sebby Edition)
Chase Freedom x 2
- $3,000 of 5x back per quarter
- Can be modified to a Chase Freedom Unlimited when needed
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Travel card since I'm sitting on a ton of Ultimate Rewards points
- Can be downgraded to a Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom when needed
Cards 8-9: Hotel Keeper Cards
- $49 annual fee for 1 night at ANY IHG hotel
- IHG hotels = Kimpton, InterContinental, IHG (over 180 properties)
- TLDR: would you pay $49 per year for an "anywhere" night?
- IHG Platinum status (if status match options arise)
- $75 annual fee for any Category 1-4 (of 7) Hyatt
- Same idea as IHG, but more limited
- Good options in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Boston
Card 10: Amex EveryDay
- No annual fee
- Decent/good earning rates depending on spend/transactions
- A safe haven for my Amex Membership Reward (MR) points
- Only MR earning (personal)* card that doesn't have an annual fee
* Amex BBP is a good business version
Card 11: Citi Prestige
- $450 annual fee ($350 AF if you're CitiGold or YMMV in-branch)
- $250 travel credit so $100 effective AF
- Downgrade path to Costco, Double Cash, or Dividend (5x card)
- 4th-night free perk + work or family/friends visiting SF = profit?
Card 12: US Bank Altitude Reserve
- $400 AF - $325 travel credit = $75 effective AF
- Downgrade path to US Bank Cash+
- Cheaper, but worse than the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Card 13-14: Discover It x 2
- 5% back every quarter (10% with Cashback match)
- Pros: Discover Deals + price matching
- Cons: No extended warranty + return protection
- Good for purchases that don't require these other benefits