Best credit card pairing

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The Best Two-Card Combos for Your Wallet

Credit card rewards can be a great way to get value from a credit card every time you spend. Whether you want cash back, points, or miles, there are several cards that are wallet-worthy. 

But in many cases, it might make sense to use more than one credit card to maximize your rewards. Here’s why it’s worth considering and a few examples of combinations that might help you achieve your rewards goals.

Why Create a Combo?

There’s no one best credit card for everyone. While some cards offer a high flat rewards rate on every purchase you make, others will give you extra rewards in certain spending categories. Depending on how you spend your money, the best way to earn as many rewards as possible may be to use more than one card.

For example, let’s say your top spending categories are grocery shopping and gas. There are a lot of credit cards that offer high rewards rates in one of those categories but not the other. In this instance, getting two cards could allow you to maximize your rewards for groceries and gas.

Also, many tiered-rewards credit cards will give you a high rewards rate on certain purchases, but most of your charges will typically only net you 1% cash back, or 1 point or mile per dollar spent. In this case, it might be best to pair a tiered-rewards card with a card that offers a high flat rate so you can avoid mediocre rewards rates altogether.

Finally, some cards offer excellent travel or purchase benefits (sometimes both) that go beyond their rewards program. Depending on how you plan to use your cards, it could be worth getting one primarily for the perks. 

If you like the idea of synergizing your spending to earn more rewards, here are some ideas to help you find the right combination.

The Best Combo for Foodies

Whether you’re eating out or stocking up on high-quality ingredients at the grocery store, you’ll have a hard time beating a combination of the American Express Gold Card and Citi Double Cash. 

The Amex Gold Card offers 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and 4 points per dollar on up to $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets. What’s more, you’ll get a $10 monthly credit toward purchases made at select restaurants and through food delivery services. The card’s annual fee is $250.  

One of the issues with the card, though, is that many popular retailers that sell groceries aren’t considered supermarkets—think Walmart, Target, and wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club. As a result, it makes sense to pair the Amex Gold with the Citi Double Cash Card, which offers a flat 2% cash back on every purchase—that’s 1% back when you make purchases and another 1% back when you pay them off.

What Makes This Combo Great

The strength of this duo is that both cards give you excellent rates on high-spend categories. Dining and groceries combine for the third-biggest yearly expense for American families, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And when you aren’t buying groceries or eating out, the Double Cash gives you an industry-leading rewards rate on cash-back purchases you pay off. 

The Savor Rewards From Capital One is a lower-cost alternative for this combination. Its annual fee is $95, and it offers the same 4-points-per-dollar rewards rate on dining that the Amex Gold does. However, the card does not offer the boosted rewards rate for delivery services like DoorDash.

The Best Combo for Travelers

A lot of credit card issuers offer multiple travel credit cards, but one of the best combinations for travel enthusiasts is the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Freedom Unlimited. 

You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on travel and dining, plus 1 point per dollar everywhere else with the Sapphire Reserve. In contrast, the Freedom Unlimited offers 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase; 3 points per dollar at drugstores and on dining, including restaurants, takeout, and delivery; and 1.5 points per dollar on everything else. 

In this scenario, you technically don’t need to use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for anything but non-Chase travel purchases. But you’ll be able to enjoy the card’s premium perks, which include complimentary airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, trip insurance, and other top-tier benefits. You’ll also get 50% more value if you use your points to book travel through Chase as well as the flexibility to transfer points to one of Chase’s 13 travel and hotel partners.

What Makes This Combo Great

Here’s where these two cards are better together. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is technically a cash-back credit card, but your rewards are in the form of Ultimate Rewards points.  You can transfer points earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account and get all the redemption benefits the Reserve provides.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee. A more affordable option would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has a $95 annual fee and the same number of travel partners but does not include the $300 travel credit, airport lounge access, and several other travel-related benefits.

The Best Combo for Everyday Purchases

Every budget is different, but some cards offer better rewards in certain everyday spending categories than others. A solid combination of cards in this area is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express and Bank of America Cash Rewards.

The Amex card offers 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), 6% back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% back on eligible transit and at U.S. gas stations, and 1% back on everything else. 

And while those rewards rates alone are impressive, the card has a weakness: Its supermarket bonus doesn’t include wholesale clubs. The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is a smart pairing because it gives you 2% cash back on wholesale clubs and lets you choose one of six everyday spending categories to earn 3% cash back: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings.

Just keep in mind that Bank of America caps the 3% and 2% rewards rates at $2,500 spent in both categories each quarter.

What Makes This Combo Great

The Blue Cash Preferred and Cash Rewards cards work in tandem to ensure you get the most points possible for your grocery purchases, whether you’re shopping at a supermarket or wholesale club. And your online or pharmacy purchases are covered, too, with the Cash Rewards’ 3% rewards rate.

The Best Shared Rewards Combos

One of the best ways to maximize your rewards is to combine credit cards within the same rewards program. The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited combo noted above, for instance, helps you get more out of your points earned with the cash-back card than you could by using the Freedom Unlimited alone.

Other excellent shared rewards combinations include:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Reserve) and Chase Freedom Flex: Travel perks and high earnings on rotating categories.
  • The Platinum Card from American Express and American Express Gold Card: Travel perks and strong dining and supermarket points earnings.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (or Preferred) and Chase Ink Business Preferred: Extensive travel perks along with points earnings on multiple business-related categories.
  • American Express Gold Card and Blue Business Plus from American Express: Good travel and dining rewards with a great baseline rewards rate for all other purchases.
  • Citi Premier Card and Citi Double Cash Card: Solid earnings on everyday spending categories, including travel and high earnings on all other purchases.

Note that in some of these cases, you’ll need to own a business to get approved for one of the cards. However, you don’t need to be a full-time business owner to qualify—side hustles count.

Building Your Own Two-Card Combo

Just as there’s no single best credit card out there for everyone, the same goes for credit card combinations. Here are some tips to help you find the best combo to maximize your rewards and benefits:

  • Decide the type of rewards you want, whether it’s cash back, hotel points, airline miles, or general travel rewards.
  • Think about your biggest spending categories and try to find cards that provide the best fit.
  • Consider whether you want to pool your rewards between cards—this would require you to get two cards in the same rewards program.
  • Keep in mind that some banks may have some restrictions. For example, Chase may not let you carry the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred at the same time.
  • Look beyond the rewards programs to perks, insurance protections, annual fees, and other features.
  • Know that while a certain combo might work for you now, that may change in the future. Don’t be afraid to adapt and switch up your credit card strategy.

Finally, make sure you stay organized with your monthly payments and budget tracking. The more credit cards you use regularly, the harder it can be to keep up, and you might accidentally overspend or miss a payment. But if you do it right, you could get a lot more value out of two cards together than just one alone.

Sours: https://www.thebalance.com/best-credit-card-combination-5097563

The best credit card combos: Maximize rewards and cash back for every dollar you spend

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

Most people would love to just use one credit card for all purchases. However, no credit card currently offers all of the perks and rewards needed to make it the one card to rule them all. 

Instead, the best way to maximize the return on your purchases is by curating a credit card portfolio. By using the right combination of cards, you can earn the highest amount of rewards on every type of purchase you make.

And thankfully this doesn't have to be a complicated process. Select breaks downs some of the best two- and three-card combos that can help you really maximize the return on every dollar you spend.

Best credit card combinations

Best Chase credit card combo

The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex℠  is one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. You'll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in a quarterly rotating bonus category and on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus, you'll earn 3% cash back on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and at drugstores.

Those are great earning rates, but your rewards are only worth one cent per point if you only have the Chase Freedom Flex. Thankfully, you can boost the value of these points by turning your cash back into transferrable Ultimate Rewards points worth much more than 1 cent per point. All you need to do is pair the Chase Freedom Flex with a Chase card that earns transferrable Ultimate Rewards points. For many, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the perfect match.

The $95-annual-fee Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases. Points linked to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be transferred to 13 airline and hotel partners. Or, you can redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or through Pay Yourself Back at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.

Plus, eligible new cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months. That bonus is worth $750 when redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal or with Pay Yourself Back.

To boost your return further, add the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Freedom Unlimited is structured similarly to the Freedom Flex. However, instead of a 5% rotating category, the Freedom Unlimited offers a base earning rate of 1.5% cash back on all non-bonus purchases. Combined with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you'll earn (at least) 1.5X transferrable Ultimate Rewards points on all purchases.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Rewards

    $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Best Citi credit card combo

If you're looking for a simple no-annual-fee cashback card, it's hard to beat the Citi Double Cash. This card earns 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase plus 1% when you pay your bill. Boost your Citi Double Cash cash-back earnings by pairing it with a Citi card that earns ThankYou points. And what better card to pair it with than one of the best travel cards charging under a $100 annual fee: the Citi Premier Card.

The Citi Premier Card earns 3X ThankYou points per dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel and hotels — and 1X point per dollar spent everywhere else. Plus, once per calendar year, you can save $100 off a hotel stay of $500+. That more than wipes out the card's $95 annual fee.

Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to any one of 16 airline partners. Citi's eclectic mix of airline partners takes a bit of getting used to. But, you'll be rewarded for doing so with 7,500-mile award flights to Hawaii, 45,000-mile business class awards to Europe (via Turkish Airlines) and 44,000-mile business class award flights to Africa (when using Eithad miles for Royal Air Maroc).

Further boost your earnings by adding the new, no-annual-fee Citi Custom Cash to your Citi card lineup. This card is practically a "choose your bonus category" card. You'll automatically earn 5% cash back in the category in which you spend the most each month, and the cash back is earned in the form of ThankYou points, so you'd also be able to transfer those rewards to airlines if you hold a Citi Premier card.

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

Terms apply.

Citi Premier® Card

  • Rewards

    3X points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on hotels and air travel, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 23.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

Terms apply.

Best American Express credit card combo

The American Express Gold Card is the ultimate dining and travel card. Cardholders earn 4X points on dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases each year) and you'll earn 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel. Plus, you can enroll to get valuable perks like 12 complimentary months of Uber Eats Pass, $10 per month in dining credits and $10 per month in Uber Cash.

That's about as close as some people can get to a perfect credit card. But, there's also a way to complement this card. The Amex EveryDay Preferred has a base earning rate of 3X points on U.S supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases) and 2X points at U.S. gas stations. You can boost that base earning rate by 50% by making 30 purchases in a billing period. By doing so, you can earn 4.5X points on groceries, 3X points on gas and 1.5X points on all other purchases.

If you have a small business, you can complement this duo with the Blue Business Plus Credit Card. This no-annual-fee business card earns 2X points on up to $50,000 in purchases each year, 1X points thereafter. By strategically using this Amex trio, you'll earn a minimum of 2X points on all purchases — at least until you reach the $50,000 cap on the Blue Business Plus Card. Right now, there's also a welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 Membership Reward Points® after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership.

American Express® Gold Card

  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points on restaurants (including takeout and delivery, plus, Uber Eats purchases) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

  • Rewards

    Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases up to $50,000 per year, then 1X point per dollar

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 15,000 Membership Reward Points® after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.24% to 19.24%variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Best Capital One credit card combo

Capital One offers two primary types of cards: miles-earning cards and cash-back cards. And the perfect Capital One card combo pairs the best credit card from each category.

Capital One's best cash-back card is the Capital One Savor Rewards Card — which earns an unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. 

For simplicity in mileage earning, it's hard to beat the Capital One Venture Card's unlimited 2X mileage earnings on every purchase. Plus, the Capital One Venture Card has a healthy welcome bonus: New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

By combining the two, you'll get solid cash back earnings in many popular spending categories and 2x miles on all other purchases. Redeem the Capital One Venture miles for travel at 1 cent each or transfer them to any of Capital One's 18 airline and hotel transfer partners. And the cash back earned from the Savor can actually be converted into miles if you have a Venture card, and therefor transferred to travel partners.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 4% on eligible streaming services, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases; N/A on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 24.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    17.24% to 24.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Best cash-back credit card combo

  • Core combo:Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, Chase Freedom Flex and the Citi Double Cash
  • Earning rates: 6% cash back at supermarkets and streaming services; 5% back on eligible travel and in rotating categories; 3% back on dining, drugstores, transit, and gas stations; and 2% cashback on all other purchases
  • Combined annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees)
  • No annual fee card to boost your earnings: Citi Custom Cash Card

Travel credit cards can help travelers slash their travel costs. But, for many, cash is king. If you're looking for the best cash-back return, you'll want to pair credit cards from multiple banks. The best cash-back trio combines a card from American Express, Chase and Citi.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express earns 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%) and 6% cash back on select streaming subscriptions. Plus you'll earn 3% cash back on eligible transit purchases and at U.S. gas stations. Eligible new cardholders can earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.

Add the Chase Freedom Flex card to boost your cash back earnings on travel, dining and drugstore purchases. The Freedom Flex card earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter in a rotating category, 5% back on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% back on dining at restaurants and drugstore purchases.

Then, the Citi Double Cash is your go-to for all other purchases. You'll earn a total of 2% cash back -- 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay your bill.

If you don't mind adding a fourth card to the mix, consider getting the Citi Custom Cash Card to earn 5% cash back in yet another category. The Citi Custom Cash automatically earns 5% cash back in the category which you spent the most in that billing cycle. By strategically planning your purchases, you can get 5% back in one of the following categories each month: restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs or live entertainment.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

  • Annual fee

    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • High 6% cash back at U.S. supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit

Cons

  • 2.7% fee on purchases made abroad
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $679
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,397

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

  • Rewards

    5% cash back on purchases in top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (then 1%); unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. The bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for first 15 months

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent, Good

Terms apply.

Bottom line

Everyone would love the simplicity of just one credit card. However, a little complexity can really pay off. You can really boost your earnings by strategically combining credit cards. Most credit card issuers offer ways to earn at least 5X points or at least 5% cash back in select categories. By combining these, you can quickly rack up the points and cash-back earnings.

For rates and fees for the Blue Cash Preferred Card, click here.

For rates and fees for the Amex Gold Card, click here

For rates and fees for the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card, click here

For rates and fees for the The Blue Business Plus, click here

Information about the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Sours: https://www.cnbc.com/select/best-credit-card-combinations/
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Better together: An ultimate guide to the best credit card pairings

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.


You don’t need to open one card for every year you’ve been alive like I have to reap some serious credit card rewards. By being strategic about using the right two or three cards together, you can exponentially increase your return on spending.

We’ve written extensively about two of the most popular card groupings — the Chase Trifecta and Amex Trifecta. Like most elements of travel rewards, these card strategies are designed to be flexible and not dogmatic. What works well for one person may not work for you, and vice versa. In every case, it’s less about the cards themselves and more about their benefits — such as sign-up bonuses, bonus categories, perks, and more — that work so well together.

Today, we’ll take a look at the different factors you should focus on when building your credit card strategy, whether you stick to a tried and trusted trifecta or invent something new that works even better for your specific circumstances.

Interested in more credit card news and advice from The Points Guy? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

In This Post

Think about the types of points and miles you’re earning

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

If you have 60,000 points in a single currency, you could likely book a round-trip economy award to Europe and net yourself anywhere from 1-3 cents per point in redemption value.

But if you have 300,000 points, you can book a business-class award instead and probably get a redemption value of 4-7 cents per point. Yes, you’re spending more of your miles, but each mile is worth more because you can spring for premium seats. This is a strong argument in favor of accumulating points within a single loyalty program.

Even if you have no interest in fancy first- or business-class awards, let’s say you’re trying to book a family vacation for four or more people. You’ll still need to amass a lot of points with one program in order to get any value at all. When I was just starting out collecting points and miles, a friend poignantly told me:

“The least-valuable mile is the one you never redeem.”

If you never build up a large enough balance to actually book an award, then the miles you do have are essentially worthless.

There does come a point (right around the time you hit 5/24 for most people) when diversifying your points starts to become important. Diversity gives you access to new loyalty programs, meaning you have a better chance at finding award space on the days you need to travel, but it also gives you access to more programs within a single airline alliance. Having both Chase and Amex points increases the value of each currency, as you can choose between United, Singapore, Avianca, and Air Canada to book Star Alliance awards for the fewest possible miles.

Questions to consider before opening a new card

If you’re early on in your points journey, concentrating on a single program like Chase Ultimate Rewards is likely the smartest move. But when you’re looking for a new credit card, you should always evaluate how the points fit into your existing wallet. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this card help me reach an award I’ve been saving for?
  • Does this card unlock a new loyalty program I can get value out of, or does it serve another role?
  • Does this card offer new or better bonus categories that line up with the areas where I spend the most money?

Example

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of my favorite all-around credit cards and is the starter card I always recommend to my friends. There’s a fantastic rewards rate to rack up Ultimate Rewards points on everyday purchases: 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on drugstore and dining purchases, and 1.5% on all other eligible purchases.

 

This card is also a great first pick for those who might not have enough credit history to apply for a Chase Sapphire card outright. That recommendation is based on the assumption that you’ll continue to build your card strategy around Chase, and eventually a Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — so that your earnings from the Freedom Unlimited can be redeemed as fully transferable points. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, so you can double your return by waiting to redeem this way instead of opting for cash back.

Mix-and-match bonus categories

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are dynamic starter cards because they each earn 3 points per dollar on dining (up from 2x for the Sapphire Preferred), but the Sapphire Reserve happens to also earn 3x on travel. The travel and dining bonus categories are broadly defined and these are areas where people tend to spend a lot of money. As you look to add your second and third cards, you should consider those that offer strong bonuses in other areas you spend in.

Maybe you get the American Express® Gold Card for its 4x points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year at U.S. supermarkets, then 1x), and shift some of your restaurant spend and U.S. supermarket spending there. Maybe you pick a card with a bonus category for gas purchases, business expenses or some other category you spend heavily in.

Related: The best travel rewards credit cards for each bonus category

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Most people will find that a significant chunk of their spending isn’t covered by any credit card bonus category that’s currently available. Most online purchases, for example, fall into this catch-all category of everyday, non-bonus spending. This isn’t a problem, but it’s important that you have a plan in place to earn the maximum number of points on these purchases. We’ve ranked the cards that offer the best return on everyday spending, and in general, you should do your best to always earn at least 1.5x points on every purchase you make.

Example

Both the Chase and Amex trifectas are great examples of how to balance your bonus categories. Each of these options features:

The right perks at the right cost

For many people, an additional Priority Pass Select membership or Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit has little or no value. Once you have one benefit, you don’t get any value out of getting a second or third one from a new card. Rather than continuing to pay money for perks you don’t need or won’t use, you should focus on getting a good return out of the cards you decide to keep long-term.

What this means in practice is that even though most people will benefit from having at least one premium credit card in their wallet, adding a second, third or fourth gets more challenging. You could choose to read this as an argument against holding too many premium credit cards at once, though it’s certainly possible to get a worthy value from several premium credit cards at the same time.

Example

When I chose to open my Amex Platinum card, I had to do the math: I already had a Priority Pass Select membership and a Global Entry application fee credit (up to $100) courtesy of my Chase Sapphire Reserve; I never stay at Hilton properties; and I was already Marriott Titanium (the Platinum card gives complimentary Marriott and Hilton Gold status; enrollment is required for select benefits).

HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 29: American Express celebrates the opening of the Centurion Lounge at Hong Kong international airport on September 29, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images For American Express)

After accounting for the up to $1,400-plus annual statement credits, much of my decision to open the Platinum Card comes from the Centurion Lounge access it offers. Since I travel often, I can justify the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) — but this may not be the right decision for everyone.

Building blocks

Now that you’re thinking about this high-level approach when building a new credit card strategy or fleshing out your existing one, let’s talk about the tools that can help you get there.

In the beginning, you might feel like your hand is forced because of Chase’s 5/24 rule (the issuer won’t approve you for most of its cards if you open five or more accounts in the span of 24 months). However, the truth is, even without considering this restriction, Chase still offers some of the best cards for anyone to start with. You’ll notice that the Chase and Amex trifectas both include at least one card from each of the following categories to help maximize perks and bonus categories while keeping your out-of-pocket cost down.

Anchor cards

I like to think about my anchor as the credit card I would keep if I had to choose just one. For me, that’s the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which covers most of the bases, including luxury perks and great bonus categories.

Here are a few top choices:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined eligible purchases, during your first six months of card membership. Terms apply.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus free night award (worth up to 85,000 points) after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Offer ends Nov. 3, 2021. Terms apply.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.
  • American Express Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership. Terms apply.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Obviously, your choice of an anchor card will determine what other bonus categories you need to account for, but most of the choices above offer some sort of bonus on travel spending. When looking to diversify your bonus earnings, popular options include business expenses, dining, and gas.

Everyday spending

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)

Depending on how much of your budget is non-bonus everyday spending, you might use this opportunity to double down on earning transferable points or to diversify into a new currency.

Bottom line

One of the biggest mistakes people make early on in their points journey is to jump on a sizeable welcome bonus without having a clear strategy in place. While it’s OK to deviate from your plan when a great opportunity arises, having a clear understanding of how and why your rewards credit cards work together will help you make better decisions in the short term and the long run as well.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Chris Dong.

Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy. 

For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Plus Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

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Ethan Steinberg Ethan's been a frequent flier for as long as he can remember, from studying abroad in Paris to moving to Shanghai after graduating college where he now serves as TPG's eyes and ears for all things travel in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sours: https://thepointsguy.com/guide/ultimate-guide-credit-card-pairings/
Top 10 BEST Credit Cards To Always Use (Shopify Drop-shipping)

Best credit card combinations to maximize rewards

Having the right credit card makes it easy to earn cash back or travel rewards for each dollar you spend, but the right combination of cards can be even better. That’s because some rewards credit cards have earning structures that work well together. Plus, many cards from the same issuer let you pool all your points in one account. With a few different cards that complement each other, you can typically earn a lot more rewards and cardholder benefits over time.

But which credit card combinations are the best? That really depends on the type of rewards you want to earn and how you plan to redeem them. Some card combos stand out thanks to their stellar earning rates and plethora of redemption options. Here are some of the best credit card combos to consider and how they could work for you.

Best credit card combos

Best card combination for diverse spending

Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Sapphire Reserve

CardRewardsKey featuresAnnual fee

Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • 5% cash back on activated bonus category purchases each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%) and on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 3% cash back on dining (including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases
  • At least 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Free ShopRunner membership
  • Free DashPass membership for 3 months (50% off thereafter)
$0
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • 3X points on eligible travel and restaurant purchases (after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 10X total points on Lyft purchases (through Mar. 31, 2022)
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • $300 annual travel credit (applies to most travel purchases)
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit every 4 years
  • $60 DoorDash credits in 2021
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges
  • Free Lyft Pink membership for one year
  • Free DashPass membership for one year
$550

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are a powerful pair. It all starts with the Chase Freedom Flex, which offers 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1 percent). Additionally, you’ll earn 3 percent on dining and drugstore purchases.

There is no annual fee with this card, so you can use it for bonus spending and regular purchases without paying for the privilege. You can also qualify for a bonus of $200 when you sign up and spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve does charge a $550 annual fee, but you’ll earn 3X points on all dining and travel purchases and 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months. You’ll also receive a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, $300 in travel reimbursement credits each year, up to a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck and a 50 percent boost to your points when you redeem them for travel through the Chase portal.

Even better, though the Freedom Flex is marketed as earning cash back, you’ll actually earn Ultimate Rewards points and be able to transfer them to your Reserve to take advantage of the points boost.

How to use this combo for maximum effect

Use the Chase Freedom Flex for each quarter’s bonus categories, which tend to include gas, grocery stores, dining and more throughout the year. Make sure to “opt in” to earn the 5 percent rate and spend up to $1,500 in combined category spending to max this out if you can.

Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve card for all dining purchases in order to earn 3X points. You can also earn 3X points on travel-related purchases after you earn your $300 annual travel credit. Since both cards earn 1 point/1 percent per $1 on regular spending, you can use either one for regular purchases.

After racking up rewards, pool all your Chase points in your Reserve account to get 50 percent more rewards points on travel through the Chase portal. For an even better deal, redeem your points for 1:1 transfers to airline and hotel loyalty Chase transfer partners, like Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus. These will get you much more value for your points than other redemption options, like gift cards or cash back.

What you should consider

Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee, make sure you utilize its $300 in annual travel credits each year and the airport lounge access you qualify for. Also, take time to apply for Global Entry or TSA Precheck since you’ll receive up to a $100 credit for the membership fee.

Best card combination for business travelers

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

CardRewardsKey featuresAnnual fee

The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 10X points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (on up to $25,000 combined spending) during your first six months of membership
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel (up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X points)
  • 5X points on eligible hotels booked via American Express Travel
  • 1X points on everything else
  • Up to $200 in airline fee credits
  • Up to $200 back on eligible hotel bookings
  • Up to $200 in Uber credits
  • Up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck (every 4 years)
  • Up to $179 in CLEAR membership statement credits by paying with your card (annually)
  • Up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits
  • Airport lounge access
$695
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card
  • 2X points on up to $50,000 in purchases each year, then 1X points
  • Global Assist hotline
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • American Express tools for small businesses
  • Purchase protection and extended warranties
$0

The Platinum Card® from American Express starts you off with 100,000 points when you spend $6,000 on your card within six months. You’ll also earn 5X points on airfares booked directly with airlines or airfares and prepaid hotels booked through the American Express Travel Portal. All other purchases made with this card earn 1X points.

Important cardholder benefits include up to $200 in Uber credits each year (doled out monthly), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit, airport lounge membership and a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Keep in mind, however, that a $695 annual fee applies.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card, on the other hand, offers 2X points on up to $50,000 in spending each year, then 1X points, which makes it a solid choice for small business owners.

How to use this combo for maximum effect

Use the Amex Platinum Card for all your airfare and prepaid hotels to earn 5X points, but make sure to use your Blue Business Plus Credit Card for regular business spending. From there, pool all your points and redeem for travel through AmexTravel.com or for transfers to airline and hotel partners like Delta SkyMiles and Air France/Flying Blue.

What you should consider

The Platinum Card from American Express works best for consumers who travel a lot and can take advantage of its benefits. Make sure to select an airline you fly with frequently for the airline credit and connect your credit card to your Uber account so you can maximize that benefit. Also, make sure to take advantage of the airport lounge benefit and apply for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, so you get maximum bang for your buck.

Best all-around card combination

Citi Premier® Card and Citi® Double Cash Card

CardRewardsKey featuresAnnual fee

Citi Premier® Card
  • 3X points per dollar on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases
  • 1X points per dollar on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees Annual hotel savings benefit: Earn $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com, once per calendar year
$95
Citi® Double Cash Card
  • 1% at the time of purchase
  • Another 1% when you pay for your purchases
  • Lengthy intro APR for balance transfers
  • Ability to convert rewards to ThankYou points at a $1-to-100-point rate
$0

The Citi Premier® Card gives you 80,000 points when you sign up and spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. On top of that, you’ll earn 3X points on air travel and gas and 1X points on other purchases. This card does have a $95 annual fee.

The Citi® Double Cash Card, on the other hand, gives you 2 percent back on everything you buy—1 percent back when you make a purchase and another 1 percent as you pay it off. There’s no annual fee, either.

How to use this combo for maximum effect

Use the Citi Premier Card for all your air travel, restaurant, supermarket and gas purchases. Meanwhile, use the Citi Double Cash for all other purchases since you’ll earn up to 2 percent back (1 percent cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1 percent as you pay for those purchases).

As you rack up rewards, pool them in your Citi Premier account for the most lucrative redemption options. You’ll be able to transfer points to Citi transfer partners like Air France/Flying Blue, JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic.

What you should consider

Make sure you’re using the Citi Premier for all bonus category spending and the Citi Double Cash for everything else you buy. Like all card combinations on this list, these two cards come with high APRs. Make sure you pay your balance in full each month so you’re not paying more interest than you earn in rewards.

Best for maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Chase trifecta

If you’re ready to take your combo game to the next level, consider gathering a trifecta of cards.

So far, we’ve been discussing credit card duos. However, for those who don’t mind some extra work on their credit card strategy, a card trio may be an even better choice, offering more potential to maximize rewards.

The Chase trifecta is arguably the best well-known card trio. There are variations to which cards it can consist of, but the most common one is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable reward currencies in the credit card market. Tripling your efforts on collecting Ultimate Rewards points can allow you to fast-track your way to lucrative redemptions.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns at least 1.5 percent cash back on general purchases, helping you ensure you get more than 1 percent back on everything you buy. The card also offers 5 percent cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 percent cash back on dining and 3 percent cash back on drugstore purchases. Through March 2022, you can also earn 5 percent back on Lyft purchases.

Further, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will reward you 3X points on dining and travel purchases, and the Ink Business Preferred will earn 3X points on up to $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and select online advertising (then 1X points).

If you’re only looking into personal credit cards, you can swap the Ink Business Preferred to the Chase Freedom Flex and earn 5 percent back in quarterly rotating categories to still get the most out of your credit card combo. The Flex is also a zero annual fee card, while the Ink Business Preferred charges $95 per year.

Best for Amex loyalists

The Amex trifecta

It requires an intricate strategy and a certain level of spending to juggle multiple credit card reward currencies, especially if we’re talking about annual-fee cards—and these efforts might simply not make sense for many cardholders. That’s why it may be a better idea to stay loyal to one issuer.

If you have a premium American Express card, earn American Express Membership Rewards points and your goal is to maximize points, sticking with the issuer may be rather rewarding. Look into the Amex trifecta: the Amex Gold, Amex Platinum and the Blue Business Plus Card.

We’ve already covered how the Amex Platinum and Blue Business Plus work together, but with the addition of the American Express® Gold Card, you can significantly boost your rewards earnings.

The card earns 4X points on dining at restaurants and purchases at U.S. supermarkets, 3X points on airfare and flight upgrades purchased through the American Express Travel Portal and 1X points on everything else. Dining and groceries are a highly lucrative category: No matter if you buy your groceries and cook your food, order it in or eat out, the Amex Gold will probably reward you.

The American Express Gold costs $250 per year, but with annual statement credit benefits alone (up to $120 in Uber Cash and up $120 in dining credits), the card almost pays for itself.

Just keep in mind that this combo would cost you $800 in annual fees. While you can more than compensate the cost if you use all of the available statement credit benefits, this may require significant spending on your part.

Pros and cons of having multiple credit cards

Having a few credit cards in your wallet may sound like a good idea, but is it really? There are definitely pros and cons that come with carrying multiple cards, but the benefits can outweigh the negatives if you use your cards the right way.

Pros:

  • You can earn more rewards in bonus category spending with different cards
  • Multiple cards can let you earn more than one sign-up or welcome bonus
  • Cards often come with different perks and benefits

Cons:

  • Having more than one credit card bill means keeping up with multiple payments each month
  • It’s easier to get into debt when you have more open credit
  • Opening too many credit cards at once can cause a temporary negative impact to your credit score

To make the most of the best credit card combinations, you have to be committed to using cards only for purchases you planned to make anyway. Also, be prepared to pay your balances in full every month so you never have to pay interest on your purchases. If you wind up paying 17 percent APR or more on a revolving balance, the 1 percent to 5 percent in rewards you’ll earn won’t be worth it.

Sours: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/best-credit-card-combinations/

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