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Posted: 2:00 p.m. Monday, June 9, 2014

Clark's 5 Favorite Credit Cards

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ClarkHoward.com


People are always coming up to me and asking, "What credit card do you use?" The reality is I carry 5 cards and use them each for different things!

Here's a closer look at the 5 credit cards that are in my wallet

The main 2 cards I use are both Costco American Express cards. Today Costco only issues one card like this, but I was grandfathered into a prior card that pays 1.45% cashback on everything we charge.

I wanted the second and newer Costco Amex card so badly that we bought a second membership that my wife owns and I'm her second on that card. So why in the world would I do that? I'm sounding pretty foolish, aren't I?

Well, the second Costco Amex card pays 2% on travel and restaurants and 4% on gasoline. (I don't think they offer a 4% card anymore for gas.)

My wife and I know which card we use when. Basically, we use the green Costco card for gas, restaurant, and travel; and the silver Costco card for everything else!

But in reality, a lot of places don't accept American Express. So we also have a USAA MasterCard that I use primarily at Sam's Club.

I can also charge my USAA insurance premiums to this card and get 1.25% cash back. Same thing at Sam's Club for purchases I make there. So this card is only used for those 2 things and nothing else. (By the way, this card also has a 1% foreign transaction currency when you travel internationally.)

OK, that's 3 cards down and 2 to go. True confession time: The remaining 2 cards make me kind of a hypocrite. That's because I have 2 airline frequent flyer miles credit cards even though I have spoken out against them so much through the years.

The first one I have is the British Airways Visa card for travel overseas. When you see this card advertised, a typical kind of promotion you see is getting 50,000 miles upfront to sign up. But beware, this card has a roughly $100 annual fee. That makes it strictly for big volume chargers who like to go overseas. One benefit is that there are no foreign transaction fees to use the card abroad.

BONUS: If you buy British Airways tickets with this card, you get a 10% discount off even the lowest fares. My wife and I travel so much that it absolutely pays off for us. It also offers a free seat if you have a high enough level of charges each year.

The other airline card I have is the Southwest Air Rapid Rewards Visa card. I fly so much that I'm on the cusp of qualifying for the free companion pass. So the charges I do on this card get me the credits I need so my wife flies with me free all year long. And the redemption rate for frequent flier miles on Southwest is 100%.

BONUS: My executive producer Christa uses the dining points on her Southwest card and ties them into her OpenTable (free app) account to get cash back when she makes restaurant reservations.

Of the 5 cards I have, the 2 that have the least value to me are the USAA MasterCard and the Southwest Visa Card. I could probably get by with just 3.

Finally, one thing to note that's kind of a no-brainer for me: I pay my bill in full each month on each of these cards!

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