If you’ve said your vows or joined your finances with your partner, it might be time to move past the credit card that’s been by your side all through your single years. Here’s a rundown of some of the best rewards cards for couples.
If you’ve said your vows or joined your finances with your partner, it might be time to move past the credit card that’s been by your side all through your single years. And even if you keep that card, it pays to consider adding cards that give couples the chance to earn big.
Whether you’re combining your finances or keeping them separate, you can still meld your rewards, says Jason Steele, a credit card and award travel expert at The Points Guy who teams up with his wife on rewards.
“The reasons for keeping money separate might not apply to points and miles, especially if you travel together,” he says.
Here’s a rundown of some of the best rewards cards for couples and tips on how you can use these cards and your married or domestic partner status to get the most from your rewards.
See related: How to save on your babymoon
Double up on big travel bonuses
One of the best perks of being a couple is that a sweet sign-up bonus can become double in value.
One popular card for couples, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points, worth $750 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. To get the bonus, you have to spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening the account. This minimum spend should be fairly easy to reach with two people pulling out the card for all purchases.
It’s important to note that the bonus is available to you only if you don’t have a Chase Sapphire card now and haven’t earned a bonus for opening one in the past 48 months. But if both you and your sweetie are eligible and get the card, one after the other, that’s 120,000 points worth $1,500 or possibly much more if transferred into an airline frequent flyer program.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card also offers several other ways for savvy newlyweds to stack bonuses and save:
- Chase offers another bonus through its refer-a-friend program. While it can be fraught to refer a friend to a credit card, it’s much easier to refer your new husband or wife. When one spouse becomes a cardholder and refers the other, you get another 15,000 extra points.
- Any card with Chase Ultimate Rewards, including this one, allows you to transfer points between spouses or domestic partners for free. This makes it easier to book travel and also helps to ensure you don’t get separated during a trip as you could if you were on separate reservations. “It’s a million times easier just to put everything in one account and book all under one reservation,” Steele says.
- Keep in mind that when two members of a couple each get a card, they can get hit with double annual fees. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the annual fee is $95.
How should you handle the double sign-ups? First, one of you can get the card. You can work together to complete the minimum spend on the first card and get the sign-up bonus. The cardholder then refers the other spouse through the refer-a-friend program to snag another 15,000 points. Spouse No. 2 can get the card. Then both work to complete the minimum spend for the second sign-up bonus. This way, a couple can rack up 135,000 points in six months.
There’s a lot of payoff in doubling big sign-up bonuses. “If it’s a good deal for one, it’s a great deal for two,” Steele says.
Profit from double-spending cash back power
Two more cards that work nicely for couples are the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Discover it® Cash Back card. With these cards, couples can rack up rewards quickly through the spending power of two.
Here’s the lowdown on how you can gain from getting the Blue Cash Preferred Card or the Discover it Cash Back card.
- The Blue Cash Preferred Card works well for daily spending. It offers 6% cash back on eligible purchases at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year (then it’s 1%), 6% on select U.S. streaming services, 3% on gas fill-ups at U.S. gas stations, 3% on transit purchases such as parking, taxis and ride-sharing services, and 1% on all other purchases. However, there is a $95 annual fee that is not waived the first year, so it might not make sense for both people to get the card.
- The best part for couples? If you spend $1,000 on your card in the first three months, you get $250 back as a statement credit. You can sock it away in your savings account, buy something you need for your home together or splurge on a date night. Meeting this target should be a snap with two people using the card.
- The Discover it Cash Back card offers 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories (once enrolled every quarter) up to a quarterly maximum and 1% on all other purchases. Couples can “hack” this to rack up big rewards, says Jacob Lumby, who has a Ph.D. in financial planning and is co-founder of CashCowCouple.com. For example, the category for winter 2020 is grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS, and the quarterly cap is $1,500. For a dual cardholder household, that cap becomes $3,000. “That’s a really big deal,” Lumby says. He and his wife, Vanessa, buy gift cards to the places they shop to ensure they use the entire allotted amount in rotating categories.
- The Discover it Cash Back card has no annual fee, so it makes financial sense for both spouses or partners to become cardholders to increase the bonus category cap. And Discover will match all the cash back you earn in your first year with no limit. “That offer makes the card even more powerful,” Lumby says.
Another big plus for both of these cards is they offer 0% introductory periods on balance transfers and purchases. The Blue Cash Preferred Card offers a 12-month intro period, while the Discover it Cash Back card offers a 14-month intro period. After that, the variable APR on the Blue Cash Preferred Card ranges from 12.99% to 23.99%, while on the Discover it Cash Back card it ranges from 11.99% to 22.99% variable.
It’s a fact of life that many couples start married life either in debt from the wedding or at least strapped for cash, says J.R. Duren, a personal finance blogger for the consumer site HighYa.com. On top of that, couples who don’t already live together will likely be joining households and may need a new fridge, bed or some other pricey item.
One caveat, though: Don’t let the zero-interest offer tempt you to start your life together digging into debt. Instead, figure out how much you will have to pay each month to pay off your purchase without paying a cent in interest. Make sure it’s doable before you buy.
“Getting married costs you money both before and afterward,” Duren says.“If you can pay off the balance during the promotional period, it’s a really good idea to use one of these cards to finance a big purchase.”
See related: 5 tips for pooling credit card rewards spending
Get a travel bonus made for two
One popular perk, the Southwest Companion Pass, seems like it was made for couples in the honeymoon phase. You can open a Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and earn the sign-up bonus to start racking up enough points for a companion pass. If you earn the pass, it will allow your new Mr. or Mrs. to fly with you for free for almost two years if you get the timing right.
“How do you beat that?” Lumby says. He and his wife have combined award flights with the Southwest Companion Pass to soak in the sun in Aruba and Jamaica without having to shell out much cash. When you buy a ticket with miles, your companion still can use the pass.
If this perk sounds good and you plan to apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, there are a few caveats to consider.
- It is harder to get the companion pass now, thanks to rule changes put in place last year that limit sign-up bonuses on Southwest consumer cards, but it can still be done. To qualify for the companion pass, you need to accumulate 125,000 points. The current sign-up bonus for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months. The restrictions don’t apply to business cards, so you could apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, too, and get a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. That will put you close to the required threshold.
- You should apply for this and any other Chase cards you want first so you don’t get turned down due to Chase’s 5/24 rule. The rule could get you rejected for a Chase card if you’ve opened five or more cards with any issuer over the past two years.
- The $69 annual fee for this card is not waived the first year, and neither is the $99 annual fee for the business card. You’ll have to decide if the chance to earn the companion pass makes the fees worthwhile. Think about how often you and your beloved will use the pass, and crunch the numbers.
- When you get a companion pass, you have to designate one person as your travel companion, which is perfect for newlyweds. Timing is important because you get the pass for the following calendar year plus the rest of the calendar year in which you earned the pass. The earlier in the year you can earn it, the better.
With this card, it doesn’t make sense for both members of the couple to become cardholders, Lumby says. Instead, one should sign up and focus on getting the companion pass for the other, but you could add your spouse or partner as an authorized user so you both can build up the spending required to qualify for the bonus.
Married life has its rewards, especially when it comes to credit cards. But it’s important to get your finances in order, create a budget and get on the same page about money before you delve into points and miles together, Duren says.
If money is super tight, you might want to get just one solid cash back card first or even avoid credit cards altogether for a while, he says. “In some cases, it might be best to focus on strengthening your finances now and worry about rewards later,” he says.