Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.

My Top 3 Credit Cards in My Wallet [While Living in New York City]

Stella Shon's image
Stella Shon
Stella Shon's image

Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

85 Published Articles 619 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 25U.S. States Visited: 22

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...
Edited by: Nick Ellis
Nick Ellis's image

Nick Ellis

Editor & Content Contributor

151 Published Articles 734 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 35U.S. States Visited: 25

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
& Juan Ruiz
Juan Ruiz's image

Juan Ruiz

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

88 Published Articles 653 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 41U.S. States Visited: 28

Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been ...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

It’s almost been 3 years since I made my big move to Manhattan. While that may not grant me official New Yorker status just yet, I’ve come to the point where I consider this buzzing metropolis my home.

That said, I carry nearly a dozen credit cards in my wallet that help maximize my lifestyle, whether I’m traveling somewhere new or dining at one of the many fantastic restaurants in my neighborhood.

But let’s say I wanted to make my life simple with just 3 cards and ditch the others for good. In that case, I’d pick the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card, the American Express® Gold Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express — here’s why.

My Current Travel and Lifestyle Habits

Before we dive in, I’ll give some context on my current travel and lifestyle habits.

I’ve lived in various apartments in several neighborhoods in Manhattan since I first moved here in 2020, and rent is easily my largest recurring experience. At every single apartment I’ve lived in, I’ve experienced notorious rent increases — most recently by more than 30%!

As a freelance editor and content contributor, I also spend a large chunk of my time traveling. Fortunately, many of the New York City airports have experienced a “glow-up” while I’ve lived here. LaGuardia is now my favorite airport to fly out of — it’s the closest airport by distance and offers a great range of lounge options. But even Newark‘s new Terminal A has become a great place to fly from.

When I’m not traveling, I like going on runs on the West Side Highway or exploring new fitness classes on ClassPass, dining at new restaurants every week, and seeing new Broadway shows or concerts. None of those activities (except running) are free, and I spend the vast majority of my budget on rent, food, and groceries. Based on my current lifestyle habits, these 3 cards help me outsize my rewards potential and fuel my future trips.

Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card

Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees

Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

$0

Never before has there been a credit card built specifically with renters in mind. Enter the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card, designed specifically to help renters earn rewards on their rent payments with no transaction fees.

Of course, aside from rewards on rent, there are many other solid benefits that the card offers that add extra value to cardholders. In this guide, we provide a complete breakdown of everything the Bilt card has to offer to help you decide whether the card makes sense for you.

Pros

  • 3x points per $1 at restaurants including eligible delivery
  • 2x points per $1 on travel booked directly with airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies
  • 1x point per $1 on rent payments, without a transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Access to airline transfer partners

Cons

  • Does not offer a welcome bonus
  • Must use the card 5 times each statement period to earn points
  • $0 annual card fee
  • 1X points on rent payments with no fees (on up to $100,000 in rent payments every year) and non-bonus purchases
  • 2X points on travel (when booked directly with an airline, hotel, car rental or cruise company)
  • 3X points on dining
  • Use the card 5 times each statement period to earn points

Financial Snapshot

  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Card Categories

You can’t talk about New York without bringing up everyone’s favorite subject matter: rent.

Unsurprisingly, New York City tops the charts as the most expensive U.S. rental market. In December 2022, the median rent for a 1-bedroom home was $3,738, according to CNBC.

In the name of transparency, I pay around $2,000 per month for rent — and that’s with 1 roommate! Perhaps the only silver lining of paying an exorbitant amount of rent is that I can earn points for my most expensive recurring expense with my Bilt card.

Issued by Wells Fargo, the Bilt card is an innovative product that allows you to earn points on rent without fees (including a $0 annual fee!). Therefore, as long as you don’t miss a payment on the card — which you should be doing anyway if you have a credit card — you won’t pay fees and will earn points on rent. Here’s the ongoing rewards rate:

  • 3x points on dining, including takeout and delivery
  • 2x points on travel, from airfare to hotels to subway fares to bus tickets to taxis — and you can earn 5x total points on Lyft rideshares now!
  • 1x points on rent (capped at 50,000 points earned per year) and all other eligible purchases

New York View From Brooklyn
I’m able to earn thousands of points alone from rent thanks to my Bilt card.

From rent alone, I earn 24,000 points every year. We estimate that Bilt points are worth 1.8 cents apiece, so I’m bringing home a respectable $432 worth of points from rent annually.

Hot Tip: The Bilt Rewards Alliance is made up of more than 2 million participating rental homes where you can seamlessly pay your rent through the Bilt app. Even if your apartment isn’t part of this network (mine isn’t), Bilt generates a checking and savings account number on the app that you can use to pay rent to your landlord, and it’ll charge your card the amount. It’s that easy.

The only “catch” is that you have to use this card 5x monthly (of any amount) to reap the full points on rent. But between my $2.75 subway fare or a $7 latte, hitting this monthly requirement is effortless.

Plus, on the first of every month, I look forward to Bilt Rent Day where cardholders can earn double points on all purchases (except rent). That means 6x points at restaurants, 4x points on travel, and 2x points on non-bonus purchases. For me, that’s when I like to strategically line up the monthly payment date for my hefty medical or utility bills to earn double points.

Simply put, it’s easy to amass a pile of Bilt points, which are quickly becoming my favorite loyalty currency. With 12 airline and 2 hotel transfer partners that transfer at a 1:1 ratio, my favorites are American Airlines AAdvantage and World of Hyatt.

Most recently, I transferred my Bilt points to Hyatt to book the stunning Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch for 23,000 points per night. With nightly rates at over $600 per night, I scored an excellent 2.6 per point value with my Bilt points.

American Express® Gold Card

BEST FOR DINING
American Express® Gold CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees

American Express® Gold Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

American Express® Gold Card

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
60,000 points
$1,320
$250
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.

With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.

There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.

Pros

  • 4x points per dollar at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases; and 1x thereafter
  • 3x points per dollar on flights purchased directly from airlines or at Amex Travel
  • Up to $120 annual dining credit: up to $10 monthly statement credit when you pay with the Amex Gold card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations
  • Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash: get $10 monthly in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. when you add your Gold Card to your Uber account
  • No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees)
  • Access to Amex’s The Hotel Collection
  • Access to American Express transfer partners

Cons

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

If it’s not rent, it’s everything related to food that puts a dent in my spending. In fact, I use my Amex Gold card exclusively for dining and groceries, as it earns:

  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide
  • 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to the first $25,000 spent per year; then 1x points)
  • 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines or through AmexTravel.com
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases

The 4x point multiplier is incredibly powerful and arguably one of the best earning rates for both dining and groceries. I do enjoy cooking at home most days, but I equally like exploring new restaurants and allocate a significant portion of my budget for dining.

New York Restaurant
With so many amazing restaurants in the New York area, the Amex Gold helps me earn 4x points on dining.

While this number fluctuates per month (depending if I’m in New York or traveling), let’s say that I spend around $1,000 per month on these 2 bonus categories. That’s 48,000 Membership Rewards points that I’m taking home every year, worth $1,056 according to our valuations.

These rewards earned cover the $250 annual fee (rates & fees) for me. Other ways I maximize this card is by taking advantage of monthly statement credits of up to $240 that you can enroll for on your Amex account:

The first credit is incredibly easy to use, and I look forward to my Uber Cash getting automatically loaded every month. Inevitably, I’ll take an Uber ride (or multiple) throughout the month, so the $10 discount adds up to $120 in automatic savings every year.

Admittedly, the second credit is harder to use and may not be as intuitive — it’s almost like it was built for New Yorkers to use. I happen to live a 5-minute walk from a Shake Shack, where I’ll treat myself to a single Shackburger and fries once a month, or I’ll use Grubhub pickup to grab lunch and avoid unnecessary delivery fees.

The Amex Membership Rewards program boasts 20 airline and hotel transfer partners, including Delta Air Lines, my preferred domestic carrier. However, the international programs are where you’ll find incredible value for your points — I just booked an Iberia business class flight for 50,000 points between Madrid (MAD) and New York (JFK) this summer by transferring points to Iberia Plus.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
$695
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros

  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
  • Annual and monthly statement credits upon enrollment (airline credit, Uber Cash credit, Saks Fifth Avenue credit, streaming credit, prepaid hotel credit on eligible stays, Walmart+ credit, CLEAR credit, and Equinox credit)
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit
  • Access to American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts
  • Access to Amex International Airline Program
  • No foreign transaction fees (rates and fees)

Cons

  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card®. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $300 back in statement credits per calendar year on an Equinox membership, or an Equinox club membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. Visit https://platinum.equinox.com/ to enroll.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®. Learn more.
  • $100 Global Entry Credit: Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $300 SoulCycle At-Home Bike Credit: Get a $300 statement credit for the purchase of a SoulCycle at-home bike with your Platinum Card®. An Equinox+ subscription is required to purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike and access SoulCycle content. Must charge full price of bike in one transaction. Shipping available in the contiguous U.S. only. Enrollment Required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

The final card I’d pick is a bit of a luxury.

At the start of 2023, I finally bit the bullet and opened the Amex Platinum card. I had avoided opening one for so long, as the $695 annual fee (rates & fees) is daunting.

However, the Amex Platinum card comes with an extensive number of statement credits that the issuer claims to amount to more than $1,400 yearly. While that’s true, there are many credits I wouldn’t necessarily use at all if I didn’t hold the card.

With that said, here are the statement credits that I know I would already use personally that help me justify the $695 annual fee:

Those 4 statement credits amount to $840 per year, and that’s before I consider the other statement credits that are merely nice-to-haves at this point:

Of course, I don’t maximize every single credit. For instance, I don’t go to Equinox gyms, although there are plenty of locations in New York. If you are a member, you’ll get up to $300 in Equinox credit toward your gym membership every year.

There’s also a useful credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or up to $85 for TSA PreCheck application fees every 5 years. I already have Global Entry, but you can use this credit to pay for a family member or friend’s application — trust me, they’ll thank you later!

Hot Tip: All Amex cards get access to incredible Amex Offers, which display 100 great discounts at a time for dining, entertainment, and more. Some of these offers can be quite lucrative, like a $150 statement credit when you spend $600 more on Delta Air Lines.

But we haven’t even discussed my 2 favorite benefits on the Amex Platinum yet: access to the Global Lounge Collection and the terrific earning rate on flights and hotels.

I am constantly traveling, primarily as I can easily access 3 major airports at any point. At New York’s LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy (JFK), I can visit the Amex Centurion Lounge to grab a bite (and avoid overpaying for a lousy airport meal), charge up my devices, and even take a shower before my flight. Even better, the Newark (EWR) Centurion Lounge is slated to open sometime this year.

Centurion Lounge JFK Buffet
The Amex Centurion Lounge food beats dining at any other airport restaurant. Image Credit: James Larounis

When flying domestically, I mostly fly with Delta, so the ability to access Delta Sky Clubs on a same-day ticket is helpful, too. That said, I much prefer the gorgeous new Sky Club in LaGuardia’s Terminal C nowadays. You can also enroll in a Priority Pass membership, which grants you access to 1,400+ partner lounges worldwide.

The last point I’ll make is the fantastic earning rate on the card. You can earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com (up to the first $500,000 spent per calendar year; then 1x points) and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, as well as 1x points on all other purchases. That 5x multiplier is industry-leading when it comes to earning points on flights and hotels. Combined with the points I earn from my Amex Gold card, I earn a giant balance of Membership Rewards points every year.

While I’m still working to achieve the spending minimum for the 150,000-point welcome offer, there’s a world of possibilities when those points arrive in my Membership Rewards balance. Right now, I’m eyeing another business class flight on Singapore Airlines to Southeast Asia.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to my favorite rewards cards, it boils down to 2 factors: How can I maximize my everyday spending, and how can I elevate my travel experience? Surely, if I lived in another part of the country (or the world), I may have a different approach, but these 3 cards have been valuable additions to my lifestyle in New York City.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best credit card to use in New York City?

The Amex Gold card is a superb choice to earn an industry-leading 4x points per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide. For flights, hotels, subway rides, rideshare services, and everything travel-related, we recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

What is the best airport to fly into if you're going to New York City?

LaGuardia Airport is the closest by distance, located just 9 miles away from Midtown Manhattan. Although further away, John F. Kennedy International Airport (~18 miles) and even Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey (~16 miles) are still accessible to New York City — even with public transit.

Can you earn credit card points on rent?

Most landlords may charge an additional fee to use a credit card to pay for rent, or worse, may not accept credit cards at all. However, the no-annual-fee Bilt card is the perfect solution to earning points on rent (fee free!), as well as offering a great variety of everyday bonus categories.

Is the Amex Platinum card worth it?

It’s clear that the Amex Platinum card is geared toward city dwellers, as it offers a variety of credits for Uber, luxury hotels, and even Saks Fifth Avenue. For frequent travelers, the Amex Platinum card is well worth it as you can enter the Amex Centurion Lounges at New York-LGA and New York-JFK — and a third location is underway at Newark Airport!

Stella Shon's image

About Stella Shon

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in The New York Times, USA Today, and more.

INSIDERS ONLY: UP PULSE

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse

Get the latest travel tips, crucial news, flight & hotel deal alerts...

Plus — expert strategies to maximize your points & miles by joining our (free) newsletter.

We respect your privacy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. Google's privacy policy and terms of service apply.

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse
DMCA.com Protection Status