It can be hard to leave a relationship even when it doesn’t serve you anymore. But when you settle, you leave no room for something that’s right for you.

That applies to any kind of relationship — including with your credit cards.

I recently canceled my American Express® Gold Card. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I realized I was getting less than I was giving (specifically, a $250 annual fee). On top of that, I caught myself considering a different card altogether. I wondered if I’d find more value in it, if it’d fit my lifestyle and support my goals better.

That’s when I realized it was time to pull the trigger. It was great while it lasted, but the Amex Gold wasn’t the right card for me anymore. Here’s why I broke up with Amex and which card I got instead.

Why I got the Amex Gold

I applied for the Amex Gold in 2021. I was a renter in Austin, Texas. I had two cash back cards to my name, and food occupied a big space in my budget. Thanks to the pandemic, I ordered in a lot and tried new recipes (bison burger, anyone?). When it became a little less scary to be outside, I also ventured out to consume copious amounts of tacos. And when I wanted to treat myself, I went to Central Market — the local upscale store chain — and allowed myself impulse purchases.

Social distancing brought on pent-up demand for travel, and I very much was a part of it. So of course I got the Amex Gold. With 4X points on restaurant (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarket purchases (on up to $25,000 in supermarket purchases per year, then 1X points), I could eat my way to free travel. As for the $250 annual fee, I could easily offset it with annual credits. The card offers up to $120 in annual dining credits (up to $10 in monthly statement credits) for purchases with GrubHub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly,, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations and up to $120 annual Uber Cash credits (as $10 in automatic monthly credits) toward Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S.

I loved my Amex Gold. I charged most of my food expenses on it and earned rewards that took me on trips, both around the country and abroad. And every month, I spent the credits on GrubHub and Uber Eats, usually within the first week.

You can see why it was my favorite card. It was perfect for me — until it wasn’t anymore.

Why I canceled the Amex Gold

Let’s fast forward to 2024. Things are different. I’m living in Seattle, which is more expensive than Austin, and paying a mortgage, which in my case is less affordable than renting. Inflation is doing a number on my wallet. Dining out turns into occasional trips to a coffee shop for pastries and lattes. My grocery budget shrinks.

Now I also have six credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Travel remains a priority for me, and amassing travel rewards becomes crucial to affording it. At the same time, I realized that spreading my spending across three rewards ecosystems wasn’t helping me earn free travel faster.

When you have $100 in one card rewards program, another $100 in the other and $200 in the third, you can’t easily redeem them all together on a $400 plane ticket. The only way to do so is by moving your points and miles to the same airline loyalty program. Amex, Capital One and Chase share a small handful of transfer partners, so such a move would require plenty of luck and some work. And that’s all a bit too complicated for my taste.

To add to that, I realized I was only ordering food delivery to offset Amex Gold’s annual fee. Healthy savings taste better than the best Indian or Chinese takeout, and I grew frustrated with this expense. And the $10 monthly credit covers a third of a typical order’s cost at best.

Rewards from my regular food spending alone aren’t enough to justify the fee either. ​​I already worry I spend too much on food — I don’t want to also stress about spending too little. 

That’s when I knew it was time to say goodbye to the card.

The credit card I got instead

I called Amex and let them know I want to cancel the card — the credit card version of a break-up conversation.

But I still needed a good card for groceries and restaurants. Food is still a significant category in my budget.

I got the Capital One Venture X a couple of years ago, and now it takes the center spot in my credit card strategy. This is now my favorite card, thanks to 2X miles on purchases, flexible travel redemptions and perks like airport lounge access and TSA PreCheck/Global Entry. I’m also in love with how I don’t have to worry about the $395 annual fee. The $300 annual travel credit for bookings through Capital One Travel and the 10,000-mile anniversary bonus allow this card to practically pay for itself.

The only thing I don’t get with the card is bonus rewards at restaurants and grocery stories. But what if I had another Capital One card for food purchases to pool rewards with my Venture X?

Enter the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. The card earns 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and charges no annual fee. Eight percent on entertainment purchases through Capital One is also a nice bonus. And the best part: While the SavorOne earns cash back, you can convert it to Venture X miles at 1 cent per mile.

So I got the SavorOne. It took me five weeks to earn the $200 intro bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months with the card. In a matter of a few clicks, that $200 turned into 20,000 miles added to my Venture X rewards balance.

I’m pleased. I’m in a healthy, fulfilling credit card relationship again.

Give your cards a good look

When you have multiple credit cards, it’s easy to settle and lose sight of whether the combination really serves you.

Few things stay the same. The economy is always changing and influencing your spending habits. Your budget changes, and your priorities in life shift.

Sometimes, credit cards change too. Benefits come and go. Annual fees increase.

Pay attention to when a credit card stops providing enough value. That doesn’t always mean worrying you don’t spend enough to justify an annual fee like I did. In some cases, you may want to switch from a no-annual-fee card to one that charges a fee because your spending has increased in a certain category or specific perks have become important.

Note that closing an account completely isn’t always necessary. In my situation, the issuer didn’t have a card I could switch to that’d make sense for me. Often, however, you can find something to upgrade or downgrade to. And if your card doesn’t have an annual fee, you can also keep it active with a single recurring charge to avoid losing it — which can benefit your credit score by helping you maintain a lower utilization percentage.

After all, canceling a credit card isn’t ideal. It can ding your credit score as you lose access to a credit line which isn’t great news for your credit utilization. Still, sometimes you need to pull the trigger — and you want to be able to recognize when that moment comes.

The bottom line

The Amex Gold is an excellent card for a travel-minded foodie. It was the right card for me until it wasn’t. Today, I’m happy with my modest Capital One SavorOne as it complements my card strategy perfectly.

If you’re beginning to suspect your relationship with a card has run its course, perhaps you should consider a similar move. Remember that a card’s job is to provide value. Once it stops, despite all the rewards you’ve earned, it may be the time to let it go. Just don’t forget to redeem those rewards first.