Best credit card combinations to maximize rewards


At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.

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 card combination for diverse spending

Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Reserve are a powerful pair. It all starts with the Chase Freedom, which offers 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate plus 1 percent back on everything else. 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 $150 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.

How to use this combo for maximum effect

Use the Chase Freedom 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.

This combo is most powerful if you plan to use rewards for travel. You can pool all your Chase points in one account and redeem for gift cards, merchandise and more, but you can also pool them 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 partners like Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus.

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 frequent travelers

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

The Platinum Card from American Express starts you off with 75,000 points when you spend $5,000 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 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 $550 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.

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 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-round card combination

Citi Premier® Card and Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi Premier Card gives you 60,000 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, 1x points on other purchases. This card does have a $95 annual fee.

The Citi Double Cash, 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. restaurants, super makers and gas purchases. Meanwhile, use the Citi Double Cash for all other purchases since you’ll earn 2 percent (1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases).

As you rack up rewards, pool them in your Citi Premier account since you’ll get 25 percent more travel value when you book airfare through the Citi Travel Center. You’ll also have the option 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.

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.

The pros of having multiple cards are obvious:

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

Cons you should be aware of include:

  • 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 to 5 percent in rewards you’ll earn won’t be worth it.