How I Swipe: Senior Writer Zach Griff
Welcome to How I Swipe, a credit card routine series with a focus on strategic credit card spending while at home and on the road. Below is a short list of questions we asked TPG senior writer Zach Griff to answer about how he spends on his credit cards, covering everything from the first card he opened to his go-to card for everyday spend to what cards are in his wallet when he hits the road.
TPG: What is the first credit card you opened?
ZG: I first opened the Discover It no-annual-fee card years ago, when I was graduating high school. I’d read about the importance of building credit, so I figured I’d start small with a student-friendly credit card.
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TPG: How many credit cards do you have?
ZG: At this point, I’m at 11 cards.
TPG: How many cards do you actively use?
ZG: Some of my cards just sit in the “sock drawer.” I basically use just four cards and keep the rest for the benefits.
TPG: What’s the last card you opened?
ZG: I last opened the World of Hyatt Credit Card in 2019, and I’m anxiously awaiting my next application when I’m under Chase’s 5/24 rule.
TPG: What card do you want to open next?
ZG: I’m on the hunt for The Platinum Card® from American Express. I’m fortunate enough to already be an authorized user on my mom’s Platinum card, but I’m looking to open my own with the increased bonuses.
Related: 10x bonus point categories and 75K welcome offer: The Platinum Card from American Express review
TPG: How much do you pay in annual fees?
ZG: Too much… But seriously, the annual fees more than pay for themselves when you consider all the benefits and accelerated points earning I maximize.
TPG: What is your go-to card for everyday spend?
ZG: I have both the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express — both are fantastic for everyday use, so I’ll alternate between them.
TPG: What card perks are most useful day to day?
ZG: The American Express® Gold Card perks are fantastic. With the dining credit, Uber credit and annual airline fee credit (ending this year), I’m sure to maximize the perks. Plus, you never know what valuable Amex Offers will show up on your account.
TPG: How many points on average do you earn from credit card spend per month?
ZG: I’d say I earn about 10,000 points per month across my everyday and travel spend.
TPG: What is your favorite card stacking opportunity?
ZG: I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve 10x on Lyft coupled with the Lyft Plus membership. I’m saving 15% on each ride and earning 10x points for every ride, making it the ideal perk for urban dwellers.
Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review
Taking this show on the road
TPG: What card(s) do you use to book travel?
ZG: The Platinum Card from Amex for the 5x on airfare. Everything else goes on the Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3x on all travel.
Related: The best travel credit cards of 2021
TPG: What cards do you bring with you on the road?
ZG: I actually put most of my cards in my Apple Wallet so that I can tap to pay whenever necessary, without filling up physical wallet space. My most used cards when traveling include the Amex Gold and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
TPG: What card perks are most useful when traveling?
ZG: As mentioned, the Lyft perk is fantastic. I’ll also use the Uber credits from my Amex cards to place delivery orders with Uber Eats.
TPG: What’s the best points redemption you’ve ever made?
ZG: You can’t beat using Amex points for Emirates’ game-changer first-class suite!
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
TPG: What’s a rookie credit card mistake you’ve made in the past?
ZG: Applying for a card when I was within Chase’s 5/24 rule. I should’ve done my research before performing a hard pull on my credit score.
Related: 4 credit card mistakes to avoid
TPG: What tricks do you have for managing your card accounts?
ZG: I use a combination of excel sheets and recurring iPhone reminders to ensure that I’m maximizing all my spend.
TPG: What’s a card perk that doesn’t exist, that you wish did?
Related: TPG staff, readers share 10 credit card perks on their 2021 wish list
ZG: I wish Citi would restore the fourth-night free benefit back to its original glory.
TPG: Any credit card pearls of wisdom you want beginners to know?
ZG: Start small and responsibly. If you carry a balance, odds are that you’re losing the game.
Related: How to get started earning rewards with your first credit card