Super credit card duos. What’s in your wallet?

In the past I’ve analyzed the heck out of cards to come up with the best credit card combinations based on earning rates, annual fees, redemption value, etc.  Today, I’ll take a more casual look at my favorite credit card duos.  I like cards that have great perks and earn great category bonuses.  And I prefer cards that earn transferable points (points that can be transferred to airline and hotel programs).  A big plus is when those points can alternatively be used for better than 1 cent per point value to purchase travel.  Together, that means that I like Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards (see this post for a comparison of the three programs).  Of course, SPG points are awesome too, but that’s a discussion for a different post.

In each of the below cases, I believe that credit cards are better in pairs.  With the right cards, you can maximize point earnings and get the best value from your points.  So, without further ado, here are my favorite credit card duos…

Membership Rewards: Amex Enhanced Business Platinum + Amex EveryDay Preferred

Great redemption value; Lounge Access, Elite Status, Free In-Flight Wifi; Up to 5X airfare, 4.5X grocery, 3X gas, and 1.5X everywhere else.

Amx Business Platinum and EveryDay Preferred

This combination has it all: best benefits, best earnings on spend, best point value when used to purchase airfare, huge list of airline transfer partners, and (unfortunately) a very high combined annual fee. (Photo shows no-fee EveryDay card rather than EveryDay Preferred, so please use your imagination)

Everyday Preferred ($95 annual fee): 3x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases.  Earn 50% more points: Use your Card 30 or more times per billing period to get 50% more points: 4.5X grocery (1.5X after $6K spend), 3X gas, 1.5X everywhere else.

Enhanced Business Platinum ($450 annual fee – $200 annual airline fee credits): 5X flights and hotels booked through Amex Travel (this feature kicks in on March 30th). $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement. Great airport lounge benefits (including Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass). Rental car elite status. SPG and Marriott Gold elite status. Hilton Gold elite status. Free Boingo wifi. 10 complimentary single flight segment passes for Gogo inflight internet each calendar year. 50% Pay with Points rebate for selected airline, and for business or first class with any airline.  For complete details regarding Business Platinum card benefits, please see: Your Platinum Card arrived. Here’s what to do next…

Why this is a great combo: This combination delivers fantastic benefits, huge earnings on spend, and terrific value when redeeming points.  Membership Rewards points are best redeemed by transferring to an airline program for premium class international awards, or for the Amex Enhanced Business Platinum 50% rebate when you pay for flights with points.  In the latter case, you get 2 cents per point value, and may get even more (see: Wow! 2.17 cents per point from Business Platinum pay with points!).

On the other hand: This combo has a very high combined annual fee.  The EveryDay Preferred incurs foreign transaction fees.  Can be a big hassle to ensure 30 EveryDay Preferred purchases per month.  The $200 in airline fee reimbursements are not as easily earned as the the Sapphire Reserve card’s travel reimbursements.  And the Enhanced Business Platinum 50% point rebate is limited to your selected airline when buying economy class tickets.

Ultimate Rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve + Freedom Unlimited

Excellent point redemption value; lounge access; 3X travel & dining, 1.5X everywhere else.

Chase Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited View 2

This combo offers fantastic point earnings on travel & dining, and very good (1.5X) earnings everywhere else. Even though the Sapphire Reserve has a very high annual fee, it’s $300 travel credit is incredibly easy to get.

Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee – $300 in annual travel credits): 3X travel & dining. Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel. Primary auto rental collision damage waiver. Priority Pass Select lounge access. $100 Global Entry fee credit.

Chase Freedom Unlimited (No annual fee): 1.5X everywhere. Transfer points to your Sapphire Reserve card for better point redemption value.

Why this is a great combo: With points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal, you’ll earn at least 2.25 cents in travel per dollar spent with your Freedom Unlimited card, and 4.5 cents in travel per dollar spent on travel & dining with your Sapphire Reserve card.  And while 1.5 cents per point is good value, you can often get much better value by transferring points to high value partners such as Hyatt, United, Korean Airways, etc.  For more details, please see: Chase Sapphire Reserve Complete Guide.

On the other hand: The Freedom Unlimited card does charge foreign exchange fees, so you’ll want to use your Sapphire Reserve card when traveling outside of the US.  Also, the Sapphire Reserve card’s lounge benefits are limited to Priority Pass lounges alone.  That severely limits domestic lounge options when compared to the Amex duo, above.

ThankYou Rewards: Citi ThankYou Premier + AT&T Access More

Very good point redemption value; 3X travel, gas, and online retail; 2X dining and entertainment.

Citi ThankYou Premier and ATT

This combination is great for those who spend a lot on travel, gas, or online purchases. Points can be transferred to select airline programs or used for 1.25 cents per point towards travel booked through ThankYou Rewards.

Citi ThankYou Premier ($95 annual fee): 3X travel & gas; 2X dining & entertainment.

Citi AT&T Access More ($95 annual fee – 10K points annually when you spend at least $10K): 3X online retail & travel; 3X AT&T.  This card is no longer available for new applicants BUT you may be able to product change from another Citibank card to this one.

Why this is a great combo: Low combined annual fee when you consider the AT&T card’s annual 10K points rebate (which is worth $125 in travel when combined with the Premier card).  Free authorized user cards.  This is the only combination that offers a great category bonus for most online purchases (3X with the AT&T card).

On the other hand: The AT&T card may be hard to get since it is no longer available to new applicants, plus it charges foreign transaction fees, so use the Premier card when traveling.  Citi ThankYou has fewer and mostly less valuable transfer partners than Amex or Chase.  No lounge access benefits with this combination (but you could swap in the Citi Prestige card for the Premier in order to get lounge access).

Photo Bomb

What happens when my dog gets curious about my credit card photo shoot?  A photo bomb, of course…

Dog photo bomb

What’s in your wallet?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. Quick question.

    Isn’t it possible to transfer your freedom points to the reserve and reap the same redemption value per point?

  2. When would it make sense to carry multiple combos? Initially, I would think that it’s overkill and poor value bc you’re paying multiple high card fees for the premium, plus the lower card in some cases. And the premium cards overlap so much. However, maybe with high spend, if you can utilize the various categories and bonuses, it makes sense? Do you carry all of these, and if so at what point is it worthwhile to keep them all?

    • imo, if you want to speculate get em all. If you lose a little on one u make it up with the other. this is about winning the war, not individual battles…takes a long time to learn.

    • It can make sense when the incremental value of the additional cards outweighs the extra annual fees. I think that most people would do better to stick primarily with one family of transferable points (e.g. Amex Membership Rewards, or Chase Ultimate Rewards, or even SPG). Earn points in other programs primarily through credit card signup bonuses and then cancel or downgrade to no-fee cards after the first year is up.

    • I started the process to convert my Legacy AA AMEX to Costco. Halfway through the process I learn’t converting AMEX to MC will deny me getting a bonus for another 24 months because the account numbers will change. So I canceled the conversion so hat I can get the next AA bonus in April/ May 2017.

      Best way is to convert an TY card into ATT card and Citi is Pretty good about converting to any card. By being in the TY family this will not count against the “closed or opened in the last 24 month” language.

      These are the 2 things to keep in mind:
      1. Covert within the same family (TY to TY or AA to AA)
      2. Convert within the same processor ( MC to MC or Visa to Visa)

        • You are spot on, with your theory on that blog greg.

          I can confirm this as I have talked to 3 representatives before I cancelled my request to convert my AA AMEX to Costco Visa.

          They told I’ll be ineligible to get a new AA bonus 24 months after the conversion.

          Another interesting thing would be, how chase would see a new MC while calculating 5/24. All in all that grey area is not worth a try, I tnink

          On the other hand, I converted my TY Premier to preferred after 12 months in April 2016 and I’m due for the bonus next month. It didn’t affect it at all. I checked with the agent about my eligibility to receive bonus in April 2017 during the same call as well

    • Kumar is probably leading you in the right direction on this. I converted an AA card to AT&T, but I did get a new account number. I did it about 14 months ago I believe and haven’t tried to open a new TY card in that time — so I can’t confirm that it precluded me from getting another TY bonus, but I believe Kumar is right.

  3. If you are an authorized user on an amex biz platinum card, but have never had one yourself as primary cardholder and have never received sign up bonus, are you eligible?

  4. You should give one of those nice wallets to Nick for doing a great job
    straight out of the gate.
    – You have at least four of them. 🙂

  5. One other thing to keep in mind are the various other benefits and insurance included when deciding what cards to put spend on.

    I find generally Citi to be weakest as they try everything to deny a valid claim, and have narrower definitions for their coverages (for example, no extended warranty on an Apple certified refurbished laptop because it’s “pre-owned”, yet Chase and Amex do cover that situation).

    With Amex careful about putting travel spend as they have no trip interruption/cancellation insurance. Otherwise pretty good with extended warranty etc.

    Chase is best of all in my experience, easy and customer friendly when it comes to coming through on their promised benefits, from purchase protection to travel to extended warranty.

  6. Cash earned at 1.5% on Capital One Quicksilver or 3% at restaurants on Capital One Premier Dining card may be redeemed for 2% on travel purchases when transferred to Venture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *