How to stack cards to get the most on your everyday spending

Pairing the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express with the right card can significantly boost your earnings

Stacking credit cards for everyday spending

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Running an errand to fill up your gas tank or restock your pantry may not be the most glamorous part of your day, but, with the right cash back card, you can make those everyday tasks much more rewarding.

There are many cash back credit cards that offer bonus rewards on everyday purchases such as gas and groceries. One of our favorites is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which gives you a whopping 6-percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, 1 percent thereafter), 3-percent cash back on U.S. gas station and U.S. department store purchases and 1-percent cash back on everything else.

The card does charge a $95 annual fee, but we think that fee is well worth it if you want to earn the most cash back on your everyday spending. We figure that the average shopper who spends $15,900 on the card would earn around $304 in cash back each year:

Blue Cash Everyday Average rewards rate Cash back earned Total minus annual fee
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter)
  • 3% U.S. gas stations & U.S. department stores
  • 1% other purchases
2.51% $399 $304

Even better, you can push your rewards rate higher by pairing the Blue Cash Preferred card with credit cards that offer bonuses on other categories of purchases. Here are some of the best card pairings for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card:

Combination one: AmEx all the way

American Express recently launched a new credit card – the American Express Cash Magnet card – which offers 1.5-percent cash back on every purchase. If you love American Express cards, or you just want to keep things as simple as possible for yourself by sticking to a single issuer – the American Express Cash Magnet card makes a great partner to the Blue Cash Preferred card.

By swapping in the Cash Magnet card to earn 1.5-percent cash back on purchases that don’t qualify for a bonus with the Blue Cash Preferred card, the average cardholder can push their cash back rate to 2.8-percent, amounting to $351 in cash back with $15,900 yearly credit card spend:

AmEx Blue Cash Preferred and the AmEx Cash Magnet

# Average rewards rate Cash back earned Total minus annual fee
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 3% U.S. gas stations & U.S. department stores with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 1.5% other purchases with the Cash Magnet card
2.8% $446 $351

Combination two: Maximizing points

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is another great card to pair with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card. Just like the Cash Magnet card, it offers 1.5-percent cash back on every purchase. However, the rewards that you earn with the Freedom Unlimited card are a little more versatile than the Cash Magnet card. You can transfer them to certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which awards a 25-percent bonus on those points when you redeem them for travel for the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

If you prefer to earn points rather than cash back on purchases that fall outside the Blue Cash Preferred card’s bonus categories, Ultimate Rewards cards are a great way to go:

AmEx Blue Cash Preferred with the Chase Freedom Unlimited

# Average rewards rate Cash back earned Total minus annual fee
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 3% U.S. gas stations & U.S. department stores with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 1.5% other purchases with the Freedom Unlimited card
2.8% $446 $351

Combination three: Maximizing cash back

If you prefer cash back rewards and want to earn the most cash back possible, the Citi Double Cash Card and the Blue Cash Preferred cards is one of the ultimate card pairings. The Citi Double Cash card offers up to 2-percent back on every purchase – 1 percent when you make the purchase and another 1 percent when you pay your bill on time.

Combined with the Blue Cash Preferred card, the Citi Double Cash card pushes the rewards rate to 3.1 percent cash back for the average cardholder. We figure that a cardholder who spends around $15,900 per year on these two cards can earn nearly $400 in cash back per year:

AmEx Blue Cash Preferred with the Citi Double Cash

# Average rewards rate Cash back earned Total minus annual fee
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 3% U.S. gas stations & U.S. department stores with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 2% other purchases with the Citi Double Cash card
3.1% $493 $398

Other tips for stacking cards:

Make it a trio of cards

You can further increase your earning rate by adding in an additional card that offers a bonus on other categories of purchases. For instance, you can earn 2 points per dollar on dining and travel purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Use the right card for each category of spend

Stick to using your Blue Cash Preferred card for U.S. supermarket, gas stations and department store purchases. The card’s rewards rate on the rest of your purchases is low – only 1-percent cash back – so try to rotate in a card with a higher rewards rate for the rest of your purchases.

Max out the 6-percent bonus category

To get the most out of the Blue Cash Preferred card, you need to use up every dollar of spend for the 6-percent bonus category. The card cuts you off at $6,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases per year – that’s only $500 in grocery spend per month, which we think is a pretty manageable amount for the average family. However, if that’s outside your food budget, you might think outside the box and look for other items that you can purchase at the supermarket, which brings us to our next suggestion:

Buy gift cards

If you’re full up on groceries, many supermarkets will allow you to purchase gift cards with your credit card. You can stock up on restaurant, Best Buy or Amazon gift cards with your Blue Cash Preferred card to earn 6-percent cash back.

Switch to another card once you’ve hit the $6,000 spending cap

Keep close tabs on your supermarket purchases with the Blue Cash Preferred card. Once you hit the $6,000 spending cap, switch over to another credit card for your grocery purchases (such as the Cash Magnet card or the Citi Double Cash card) to earn a better rate than 1-percent cash back.

Use our Wallet app to find the right card for every purchase

Keeping track of bonus categories on multiple cards can be tricky. Our Wallet App keeps track of all your cards for you and tells you which card to use to maximize your rewards at the time purchase.

Bottom line

With the right credit combination, you can earn hundreds of dollars in rewards on your everyday purchases. While the average cash back card earns a mere 1.5-percent cash back, you can easily double that amount by pairing the right cards – not a bad incentive for running errands!


See related: 
AmEx’s Cash Magnet card offers a $250 bonus and 1.5 percent back on every purchaseWhich 1.5 percent cash back card is right for you?Blue Cash Everyday vs. Blue Cash Preferred

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy


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Updated: 11-16-2018