Whether you decide on joint finances as a couple or you think keeping your money separate seems safer, there are plenty of reasons for both people in a relationship to have access to the same credit card.
Not only can you use cards to earn rewards on your spending, but you can also enjoy consumer protections like extended warranties or purchase protection against damage or theft. And travel credit cards, in particular, offer a range of perks that can make travel more comfortable for both parties in a relationship.
Managing credit is part of the experience of navigating your finances as a couple, and determining a method that works for you both can help you maximize savings and keep up your financial health.
Best credit card strategies for couples
Here are a few of the ways couples can plan their use of plastic together, including some of the advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Joint credit cards
Many card issuers no longer allow joint credit card accounts with co-applicants in which more than one person is listed as the primary borrower. The easier way to allow two parties access to one account is by having one person add the other as an authorized user on their credit card.
Add each other as authorized users
The most common way to be on the same account as your spouse or partner is by having them add you as an authorized user on their credit card account, or by adding them to your account. Only the person who signed up for the account is the primary borrower in this case, but you’re both borrowing against the same line of credit and earning rewards toward the same balance.
The downside of authorized user accounts is that the authorized user won’t earn a separate sign-up bonus, whereas you could double up on bonuses if both spouses opened their own card. Some premium travel credit cards also tend to charge a fee to add an authorized user to the account.
However, adding an authorized user can make a lot of sense if one spouse has much better credit and the other spouse may not be approved for their own card. Being added as an authorized user could even help boost a lower credit rating over time, provided the credit card is used responsibly by all parties.
Keep credit card accounts separate
Many couples also choose to keep their credit card accounts separate, and this is not always due to keeping finances separate. Having separate cards means both spouses can earn their own sign-up bonuses and have their own rewards categories.
Since many rewards programs (like Chase Ultimate Rewards) let you combine points with a spouse or partner living at the same address, being able to double up on initial bonus rewards is a huge benefit.
It’s important to note that you can include household income in your credit card application per federal law. This means that a stay-at-home parent can include their spouse’s income and all other household income on their application, thus making it easier for them to get approved for their own credit card.
Bankrate’s picks for the best credit cards for couples:
- Best for travelers: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Best for no annual fee: Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card
- Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for cash back categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠
Best for travelers: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft purchases through March 2022
- $95 annual fee
Why it’s the best for travelers
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid option if you want some maximum travel value in your redemption options. With this card, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points 1:1 to airline and hotel programs or book travel through the Chase portal and get 25 percent more value out of your points. You can also redeem your points for cash back, statement credits, gift cards and more.
Chase lets you combine all your points with a spouse or partner who lives at the same address, so it makes sense for couples to each have their own card and earn their own sign-up bonus early on.
Other cardholder benefits couples might use include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary auto rental insurance coverage, purchase protection against damage or theft, extended warranties on eligible items and baggage insurance coverage.
Best for no annual fee: Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card
- Earn $200 bonus cash rewards after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months
- Earn unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases
- No annual fee
- Zero percent intro APR on purchases from account opening and qualifying balance transfers from account opening for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99 percent to 24.99 percent
Why it’s the best with no annual fee
The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card earns a solid 2 percent cash rewards on purchases, so you’ll never have to worry about keeping track of bonus categories. The unlimited cash rewards without an annual fee is worth considering, and the $200 bonus cash rewards you’ll earn when you spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening is a nice way to kickstart your earnings.
If you and your spouse need to make a large purchase, you can also save money with the intro 0 percent APR offer on purchases from account opening for 15 months. Just remember, that rate won’t last forever: your card’s APR will reset to the higher variable rate of 14.99 percent to 24.99 percent once 15 months are up.
Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.
- Earn 6 percent cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1 percent) as well as select streaming services, 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases and transit and 1 percent back on other purchases
- Zero percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months, followed by a variable APR of 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
Why it’s the best for groceries
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the best option for couples who spend a lot on groceries, but you may want to consider opening separate card accounts. With separate accounts, not only can both partners earn the welcome offer (a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months), but they can also each earn 6 percent back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1 percent). Considering that the average couple with two kids under age five spends $848.80 per month, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), couples could alternate cards when paying for groceries and earn $611 in rewards each year in this category alone.
This card does charge an annual fee, but you can quickly earn back the $95 ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year) by maximizing rewards categories. You can use your rewards for statement credits, cash back or gift cards as well, so you’ll have some flexibility in terms of how you and your partner decide to cash them in together or separately.
Best for cash back categories: Chase Freedom Flex
- Earn $200 when you spend $500 within three months of account opening
- Earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter in activated bonus categories (then 1 percent) and 1 percent back on other purchases.
- Earn 5 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases and Lyft rides (through March 2022), 3 percent cash back on dining (including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
- No annual fee
- Zero percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent
Why it’s the best for earning cash back
The Chase Freedom Flex is another good choice for couples since you can earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 in combined rotating categories each quarter upon activation, then 1 percent.
Chase lets you combine all your points with a spouse or partner at the same address, so both partners could get individual cards and earn a sign-up bonus, then combine rewards later.
If you want to save money on purchases, you’ll also love the fact this card offers zero percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent. If you decide to transfer over high-interest balances from other cards or loans, a 3 percent balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies for the first 60 days. After that, the balance transfer fee goes up to 5 percent with the same $5 minimum.
Don’t see the card for you? Our CardMatch feature can help you find a card that best fits your needs.