3 No-Brainer Credit Cards Everyone Must Have in Their Wallet

I’ve been asked by numerous people time and time again what credit card they should get next, so I’ve decided to compile a list of the 3 credit cards I have in my wallet and why it’s a no brainer to get these cards! As a disclaimer, I may receive compensation when you click on links to these products. Everything in this post is of my sole opinion.

As a background, I’ve spent the past 2 years analyzing, double checking, and cross-referencing the top credit cards out there. As a consultant, I’ve analyzed loyalty cards for airlines (American, United, Southwest, Delta), hotels (Marriott, SPG, Hilton), and bank credit cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Citi Double Cash Back), and more. After reviewing each credit card, I’ve narrowed it down to the following 3 credit cards that I carry in my wallet today:

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
  2. Chase Freedom
  3. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Check back next week for a thorough review of the new Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. Now let’s get started!


Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best overall credit card out there. It’s marketed as a travel credit card, but if you’re eating out and ubering around the city, this card more than pays for itself. If you’re a recent grad or a college student, the majority of your expenses will be on transportation or dining. Even bars that sell food are considered dining and many are eligible for the 2x points. I’ve had this card for almost 2 years and redeemed over $2000 worth of points through just this card. I’ve booked a round-trip flight to New York, redeemed $1000 for a 4-night stay at the JW Marriot in San Francisco, and even redeemed for special events in any city, including the Hunger Games Exhibition in San Francisco.

You get 50,000 points after you spend $4000 in the first 3 months (worth $625 with Chase Ultimate Rewards®) and 2X points on Hotels, Flights, Taxis (Ubers, Lyfts), Restaurants, and any other travel related expenses. You also get access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, allowing you to redeem 25% value in points. At just $95 a year, this card is a no-brainer. As always, there are no foreign transaction fees, no blackout dates, no travel restrictions. I’ve booked numerous hotels and flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards and have never had a problem.

Whether you’re a traveler or not, the Chase Sapphire Preferred signup bonus alone more than pays for the card and is a no-brainer card to have in your wallet! To all of you post-grads and college students out there, this is the card for you!

You can check out a great review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card at

*I have also started checking out the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Check out my post next week for a thorough review.

freedomChase Freedom

The Chase Freedom credit card has been my oldest card. With no annual fee and the easiest credit card to attain with good credit, it was a no-brainer. You earn $150 after spending $300 in the first 3 months and earn up to 5% on combined purchases (up to $1500) in specific bonus categories that you activate each quarter. These categories include restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and wholesale clubs. Who doesn’t love getting an extra 5% at the gas station or on your next meal?

What makes this card a no-brainer is that it costs no annual fee and you use it only on bonus category expenses. Want more… transfer these points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account to redeem points at a 50% bonus and transfer points 1:1 to Chase partners, included United and American, and even Southwest.

Pair this card with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, and you’ll have a perfect House of Cards.

Find out more about the Chase Freedom card at


Chase Freedom Unlimited

When the Chase Freedom Unlimited card was announced a few months ago, I didn’t think much of it. At just 1.5 points per $1 spent on every purchase, it’s not the most valuable card out there with no annual fee. But after analyzing my expenses on my Chase Sapphire Reserve, I realized that I’d only been earning 1 point on over half of my monthly expenses. Grocery stores, gas stations, and drug stores are just a few places where the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card shines!

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is currently offering $150 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months and has no annual fee. For every dollar you spend on the card, you get 1.5 points, simple enough, but here is where the card becomes truly powerful. You can transfer points from your Freedom Unlimited to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account. This allows you to redeem points at a 50% bonus, and transfer points to partners including United and American 1 for 1.

I’ve had numerous times where I found flights on United for far fewer points than Chase. With just 2 clicks, I can transfer my points to my United MileagePlus account, and BAM!!! Flights booked!

Combine this card with your Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom, and you’re golden!

Find out more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited card at

There are numerous great credit cards out there. These are just a few that I’ve chosen to carry with me. Depending on your traveling lifestyle and spending habits, certain cards may be better than others, for example, getting the Marriott Rewards Credit Card if you’re a loyal Marriott Member, or getting the United MileagePlus card if you solely fly United. Have I missed any credit cards? Do you have a different opinion? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

The Experience Bank

What is the meaning of life?

No, I’m not trying to pose a question with a philosophical solution to the ultimate question, but it does beg the relatively simple question, “What do you want to do with your life?” Most people would say they want to have a stable job, a family, settle down, make a lot of money, retire, live happily, but none of these responses really answer that question. People have a tendency to pursue happiness. While there can be misconceptions about how to attain happiness, it is in our nature to pursue it, and to find meaning and fulfillment in our lives. People have conceived various solutions to satisfy this craving, from religion to government, to satisfying our curiosities, but we are so busy cultivating our intellectual skills in the pursuit of successful careers, that we neglect the pursuit of happiness. Very rarely do our solutions satisfy that need for happiness. In response to that problem, I’d like to propose another solution, the experience bank.

Your Experience Bank is a collection of many firsts throughout your lifetime, from big firsts like your college graduation, your first job, your first car, your first house, your first child, to little milestones like your first time driving, first love, first road trip, first time injured, first time abroad, and so on.

Throughout the course of your lifetime you’re constantly depositing experiences into your experience bank. It provides a glimpse into you, your identity, your being. These very experiences shape who you are as a person, both good and bad.

I’ve had many experiences that I have deposited into my experience bank. Experiences like being involved with Business Professionals of America, an experience that has helped me grow personally and socially, attending the University of Illinois, an experience that has helped me understand college and understand what my identity means to me, starting SnoHassle or FreeSkies, experiences that have allowed me to grow my skills in entrepreneurship while expanding my knowledge beyond the field of engineering, going abroad for the first, second, and third time, an experience that has shaped my understanding of the world and ignited my insatiable desire to travel. These experiences have allowed me to learn more about myself, and have shaped my identity. It is because of these experiences, consisting of both actions I’ve taken and those I haven’t, that have determined my future, and allowed me to attain happiness. The actions you take and the decisions you make over the course of your lifetime can be both good and bad, slowly carving out your identity, and filling that bank.

It is at these crucial moments in your life that a few important questions must be asked. Is that experience worth adding to your experience bank? Where do you draw the line? How does this experience shape your identity? Some experiences can grow you while others can hurt you physically, mentally, and psychologically. Some experiences may be illegal, some can compromise your morality, some can hurt those around you, some can test your honesty, your character, and your trust. It can be wonderful to fill your experience bank with every experience possible, but it’s also important to understand that certain experiences can mar your identity and degrade your character. Not all experiences can be controlled by you, in fact, many of them have been imposed on you, both good and bad, but it is in your power to make the most of that experience and shape it in a way that benefits your experience bank.

So this is the challenge I propose to you. Take it upon yourself to fill your experience bank with the best experiences. When making decisions throughout your life, think about how it affects your experience bank. Will having a stable job, settling down, earning a lot of money, or retiring grow your experience bank? When you’re on your deathbed, it’s not about how much money you have or what your job was, it’s about how you’ve filled your experience bank, and what you’ve experienced.


To Succeed, Be The One Everyone Can Count On

The CEO and Founder of the 1871 Start-up Incubator that I work at, Howard Tullman, recently had his article featured on the INC homepage. He talks about some basic skills everyone should have to be successful, whether it be in their careers, relationships, or their entrepreneurial endeavors. You can check out his inspiring article below:

To Succeed, Be The One Everyone Can Count On 


Talent is great, hard work is essential, but there’s an intangible quality that makes all the difference. Here’s how to develop it.

It’s not just country music that we rely on to say the simple things that need sayin’. And the Blues doesn’t have a monopoly on tellin’ it like it is (or how it ain’t), or the way it should be. The fact is that over the years many songs from many genres have told stories that resonate with millions of listeners; that’s how “hits” become timeless classics.

Sometimes, but only rarely, is it a memorable hook that drives the widespread appreciation of these classic tunes: a special intro (like Keith’s on “Satisfaction”) or a guitar solo (think Carlos Santana). Most of the time it’s the immediate and intimate connection we have with the lyrics that seals the deal. They seem to speak directly to us, ultimately “killing us softly” with a sensation of unexpected emotion.

Putting aside all the songs about love (including love of country) and loss, what strikes me is that the single most successful and consistent message in the largest number of classic songs is one that’s just as significant in our business lives as it is in our personal affairs. It’s about the importance of being there.

Think about it. What have you got “when you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand”?  Of course, you’ve got a friend. And who will “take your part when darkness comes and pain is all around”?  Simon and Garfunkel–for sure. And for all those times “in our lives when we all have pain, we all have sorrow”?  We know we can lean on Bill Withers.

Everyone needs someone in their lives that they can count on, someone to call when there’s no one else to call. And, these days, with radical change and ongoing disruption a constant part of every business, the most valuable people in any company are the ones you can count on in a crisis or a crunch–the “go-to” guys and girls. The people who are there in a pinch and who you naturally tend to run to, not from, when the feces hits the fan.

This isn’t part of anyone’s job description, and it’s not something you can create on the fly. That’s why there’s no better investment you could possibly make in your career or your future than being the first stop when someone’s looking for help, versus the last resort.

The good news is that this is a trait you can develop over time, like any other part of your reputation. If you’re truly committed and your efforts are sincere and authentic, you can make it happen. Here’s how.

1. Stay Up (Perspiration)

Be the early bird at the office. Effort and energy trump talent all day long. And it never hurts to be the night owl, too. Not the guy who’s the last to leave the office after the TGIF party, but the person who puts in the extra time to make sure that things are done right the first time. Turns out that the buddies you buy beers for aren’t very often the ones you’d bet your business on. And, as often as not, while you’re bellying up to the bar (or buying someone a breakfast burrito the next morning) the real winners are back at the ranch taking care of business.

2. Step Up (Passion)

Make sure that everyone knows you’re interested and available, that you’re excited about the business and the opportunities and that you really want to be a part of the program. Ya gotta want it and it’s gotta show. You need to put it out there and understand that all anyone can do is say no–they won’t eat you.  And, if you keep asking, I guarantee you that it’ll only be a “no for now,” and it’ll be full speed ahead soon enough. Anyone who tells you it’s not cool to be out front and eager these days will soon be changing the bottles on the water cooler while you’re being welcomed into the club.

3. Study Up (Preparation)

Even in the world of great entrepreneurial BS’ers, it actually does help to know what you’re talking about. “Wingin’ it” is good for sports bars and on Thanksgiving, but it’s not a strategy for success in business. As I said recently, saying you don’t know something these days isn’t a commentary on your lack of knowledge but a confession of laziness and lack of interest, because the information is out there; it’s mostly a matter of looking. The kind of knowledge, research, and situational awareness that matter don’t happen automatically or without help. You’ve got to put in the time, do the looking, and ask for assistance when you don’t have or can’t find all the answers, in order to be ready when someone asks for a hand.

4. Stand Up (Principles)

You can’t create value if you don’t have a set of real values that consistently guide and inform the way you behave. Charismatic leaders can attract a lot of followers, but the attraction is to themselves rather than to something greater and more important. Cause leaders bring the multitudes along with them in support of doing things that matter, and make a difference not simply to a single business but to a broader and more general good. It’s important for the people you work with (and for) to understand that you believe that the best plans and the best businesses are focused on creating situations where everyone can benefit and where it’s a win-win-win all around. Not easy to pull off, but very important in the end.

5. Bear Up (Perseverance)

Execution is everything. Keeping at it, getting knocked down and picking yourself up again, making it clear that you won’t settle for less or take no for an answer–these are all behaviors and traits that the big dogs in the business will quickly pick up on, because (a) it’s absolutely a part of their own DNA and (b) it’s also a big part of what got them to where they are. Winners have a Spidey-sense about other winners and, while their ears don’t actually perk up like a dog’s, you can’t miss the shift in their interest and attention when they encounter another of their own species. Wanting to win is fine; wanting to do the work that it takes to win, and to keep at it until you do win, is what makes the difference in the end.

That’s all it takes. You can make it happen, and there’s no time like the present to get started. It’s a lifelong, iterative journey, and the good news is that it gets better all the time.

If there’s a goal or an endpoint to the process, it’s very simple. When the chips are down and the fat’s in the fire, you want to be the one who people can count on.

10 Key Decisions You Should Make In Your 20s

I’m not even going to try and summarize this, but this was an article I found online that I had to share. It was written by Jessica Stillman for It covers some of the most important things that people our age should be taking full advantage of. It’s not another “spend more time away from technology” kind of article, but one that focuses on aspects that would truly enhance our college experiences.

“With many of us taking much longer than our parents or grandparents to finish our education and settle into a career (thanks, crappy economy), it can feel that these days your 20s is one decade-long stint in the waiting room of life.

Sure, it’s generally a time of experimentation, parties and freedom, but as anyone who’s been there recently can tell you, it’s also hugely stressful. And it matters. A lot.

As clinical psychologist Meg Jay explains in her book, The Defining Decade, though your 20s can feel both responsibility and consequence-free, the choices you make in this decade of life have an outsized impact on how your life progresses down the road. So how do you enjoy the good aspects of this period of self-exploration while still setting yourself up for the best shot at success and happiness down the road?

That’s what a thoughtful young questions asked on question-and-answer site Quora lately, eliciting wise responses from several entrepreneurs and post-20s business minds. Here are some of the highlights of their advice:


This was one of the most common pieces of advice. “You are mature enough to go on your own and immature enough to learn from others. You don’t have family obligations and are carefree,” explains Shikhar Agarwal, a young computer engineer living in Silicon Valley. “Use this time to meet different people, live with them and understand their thoughts and culture, go backpacking and learn how to survive independently in a new place.”

Travel is a great provider of knowledge. Not from Hilton to Hilton, but from city to city and country to country staying, where possible, with local families. We learn through struggling. Push your self to struggle with language, customs, foods, and arts,” agrees financial investigator Burke Files.

Think of Money as a Result, Not a Goal…

It’s natural to want to live comfortably later on, but according to several of the Quora responders, the best way to attain this goal isn’t to focus on money itself. “Don’t stress about money. It will come,” summarizes copywriter Patrick Gant.

So what should you focus on instead? Finding what you like to do and getting good at it. “You don’t have much responsibilities during 20s and can take risks. So follow your passion — don’t get tempted by short term gains. If you want to do a PhD, don’t get attracted towards the huge job package. First find your passion,” writes Agarwal (though don’t think you have to absolutely adore your job — “only 0.1% of people have a dream job,” cautions another responder.)

…But Save

Money shouldn’t be your primary motivator, but nearly everyone who responded agreed that you should still focus on sensible financial planning, especially setting away a rainy day fund to cushion you when you hit inevitable bumps in the road. “Start saving. Set aside 6-12 months of living expenses. You don’t want to panic or change your lifestyle if something bad happens like injury, sickness, and/or job loss,” advises Drew Eckhardt, a systems software engineer.

Start Taking Care of Your Body

It’s much easier to get in the habit before you’ve done much damage to yourself physically or developed long-standing bad habits. “By my late 20s, I had ignored and jeopardized my health through a lot of partying and burying my head in the sand,” confesses advertising creative director Christian Cipriani. “I turned, but it was very hard. I’d picked up a lot of speed over the years, so it was much more like redirecting a ship than a motorcycle.”

The solution? “Take care of your body. Minimally, 30-45 minutes of aerobics 5-6 times a week and some weight training alternate days. Your body will thank you forever,” suggests researcher Bill Welsh. This isn’t just about health; it’s also about enjoyment. “You’re at your athletic peak. It’s great to bicycle 420 miles across a state climbing 30,000 feet worth of mountains and feel good doing it. Enjoy it,” writes Eckhardt.

Tame Your Tech

20-somethings are notorious for being tied to their smartphones 24/7. Use tech for all it’s worth, sure, but also learn to set reasonable limits to your usage so you can use that time for other things. “Everywhere — bus, meeting, restaurant, friends and so on, your eyes are always down — staring at the smartphone. Maybe someone has liked your photo on Facebook, upvoted your answer — come on — get some air!” urges Agarwal.

“Swap TV watching or internet surfing for practice on something that you enjoy and that’s also useful,” writes Linda Lonnqvist. “And if there are a couple of other people in the room you’re in, talk to them, don’t text someone else,” adds Welsh.

Forgive Yourself, and Others, for Mistakes

If you’re the type who sailed through school and university raking in accolades, your 20s is probably when you’ll discover that everyone — even A students and super achievers — makes mistakes. That might sting a bit, but it’s an essential part of growing up. “Learn to accept your mistakes,” urges Advait Kamat. You probably spent your teenage years being cocky and trying to seem in control. Things are different now, he continues: “You’re going to be facing a lot of rejection when you go out hunting for a job. You’re going to be making a lot of amateurish mistakes… That’s when you’ll have to say ‘I made a mistake and I’m sorry for it.’ And mean it.”

Welsh agrees and takes the ‘accept mistakes’ argument a step further: “Don’t react poorly to mistakes. Mistakes are a great education, and probably the quickest way we have to finally getting things right. If you understand this, it will make you patient with other people who make mistakes, and you will learn forgiveness. It’s a very short hop from there to kindness, the greatest virtue a human being can have.”

Distance Yourself From Drama

You really don’t need problematic, energy-sucking people in your life. “Learn to tell the difference between people who value you for who you are as you are versus those who just want a piece of you,” advises Gant. “Avoid toxic and clingy people. These people are time wasters,” adds Roger Austen.

Invest in Self-Knowledge

Your “20s is the best time to start understanding yourself,” writes Agarwal. “You should know what upsets you and what makes you happy. Realize what is THE thing that would motivate you in times of greatest failure. Find the answers to these questions — what is your fear; who loves you; what do you want to achieve and so on.”

“Learn something about yourself. Our biggest learning task in life is learning who we are,” writes Andrew Gumperz.

Slow Down

Between struggling to get your career off the ground, sort our your romantic life and enjoy the social opportunities surrounding you, It’s easy to feel frantic in your 20s. That’s natural but don’t forget to pause, breathe and take stock from time to time. “Slow down long enough each day to listen to your intuition,” suggests author and coach Jessica Manca. “All good things come when your mind is still. Find ways to get the snow globe of your mind to settle,” agrees entrepreneur Paul Doran.


The little things count too — at least two responders were adamant that you will deeply regret it later on if you don’t take care of your teeth now. Ken Meltsner, a solutions architect, recalls that he “had too many friends neglect good dental care because it costs money that they didn’t have, or didn’t think dentistry was important enough. It is — trust me. You’re stuck with the same teeth for the rest of your life, and crappy care when you’re young will end up costing you many times more as you get older.”

– Jessica Stillman

You can read the entire article online at: