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A credit card alone can only get you so far. Whether it’s the big stuff (electronics, air travel, hotels), the everyday stuff (gas, groceries, food, entertainment) or anything in between (utilities, insurance, cable/internet), putting it all on one credit card can lead to very predictable monthly statements and a very predictable stream of rewards.
Don’t misinterpret that. There’s nothing wrong with predictable. Predictable is a good thing. In fact, it can be a great thing.
But you don’t have to sacrifice the certainty and simplicity of your finances to diversify (or even multiply) your rewards. Adding another credit card to your rotation could put you in pole position for more miles, bigger perks and more cash back. Adding the right credit card to your rotation could take you to a whole new level.
We sniffed out some of the best credit card combos industry-wide.
Best card combinations by issuer
Some of the most obvious benefits come with pledging your allegiance to one issuer and one issuer alone. It’s also sometimes easier to navigate a single rewards system and credit card companies often reward their most loyal customers. Here are a few of our favorites:
If you’re a frequent traveler, Chase may be your best bet, allowing cardholders to easily port their points between travel partners. With the Chase Ultimate Rewards program customers have a lot of flexibility when it comes to redemption with plenty of options and points transfers to dozens of travel partners. Using multiple Chase credit cards can boost your returns but be aware of the 5/24 rule that prevents applicants from obtaining a sixth card if they’ve opened 5 lines of credit with any issuer within the past 24 months.
Try starting with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers 2x points on travel and dining, together with the Chase Freedom® card, which offers 5% cash back on rotating categories for up to $1,500 per quarter. Bunch it all together and that’s plenty of points to put toward hotels and airfare. Pay attention (and sign up!) to make sure you maximize those rotating cash back categories on your Freedom card and use your cards wisely as time goes on, pretty soon your everyday spending could be funding your next vacation.
If you’re a business owner, you’ve got even more potential with Capital One. Bundle the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card for 4% cash back on all dining and entertainment, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business for 2% on all company related expenses, and the Capital One® Quicksilver® Card for 1.5% cash back on everything else. Those cash back rewards will stack up quickly if you’re using the right card for the right purchases.
If you’re looking for premium travel rewards, with easy redemption, and you don’t mind paying high annual fees for the privileged American Express offers a flexible rewards program that can be easily spread across airline and hotel partners. The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of our favorites, boasting a 60,000-point welcome offer after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Though it does have a high annual fee of $550 busy travelers will enjoy the additional benefits like lounge access and airline fee credit. The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express makes for a good pairing. Earning 3x points on flights booked directly with the airlines and a welcome offer of 25,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. That’s 85,000 points at your fingertips, good on hotels, flights, cruises, and a whole host of other options. If you’re already spending heavily on your credit cards and you value luxury travel rewards, this could be the combo for you.
Best card combinations across the industry
Most of us end up borrowing across multiple card issuers, which presents a whole new set of opportunities for those willing to seek them out. For example, grouping cards like the Citi Simplicity® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers unique benefits that could lend themselves to your lifestyle. The Citi Simplicity® is our favorite 0% interest credit card — just take a look at this list of no’s:
- No annual fees.
- No penalty rates.
- No late fees.
By pairing the level of flexibility that the Citi Simplicity card brings, with the Capital One® Venture Rewards, which offers a generous 50,000-mile signup bonus if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months and 2 miles per dollar spent, you’ll have plenty of room to make big purchases and accrue rewards to fund your travel.
Similarly, the Discover it® Cash Back card and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express team up for a particularly rewarding duo. With 1% cash back on everything and 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to a quarterly maximum and you need to sign-up), the Discover it Cash Back stands fairly well on its own. If you maximize your quarterly bonus categories on the Discover it card the Blue Cash Everyday compliments it by offering high rates on your other everyday spend categories: 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to an annual limit) and 2% at U.S. gas stations for example. These two make for a compelling cash-back pairing that could boost your returns on every dollar you spend.
Good things come in threes. If you go right down the list of the Best Rewards Credit Cards, you’ll see a few familiar faces hovering in the top three: the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, the Discover it® Cash Back and the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Tether those together and you’ll earn a steady stream of miles (Venture Rewards), a high 5% cash back on rotating categories (Discover it) and great cash back rates on dining with a waiver on all foreign transaction fees (Savor) — with low annual fees to boot.
The best combination for you
The key phrase is “for you.” Ultimately, the best credit card combination is the one that offers you the benefits and flexibility you’re looking for on the spending you are already doing. Is it cash back? Is it travel? Or more specifically, seat upgrades? The beauty of combining credit cards is that it allows you to garner a variety of credit card rewards and get the highest amount back from your spending.
There are a number of cards that make for a great match to super-charge your returns. Make sure to know what you are looking for: Prioritize your interests, start your due diligence, and – with a little research – the right combination won’t evade you long.
Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.