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 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 100,000 points, worth $1,250 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 200,000 points worth $2,500 towards travel 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 215,000 points.
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 (waived for the first year), so it might not make sense for both people to get 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 January through March 2021 is grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS, and the quarterly cap is $1,500. For a dual cardholder household, that cap becomes $3,000 (only allowed for two individual accounts, not an authorized user). “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 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 13.99% 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. 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.
The eligibility requirements to get the Pass can be challenging to meet, but if you have one of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards (Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card), earning the Companion Pass becomes much more realistic.
If this perk sounds good and you plan to apply for a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, here’s what you should consider.
- If you sign up for one of the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards and spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, you can earn 65,000 Rapid Rewards points, eligible toward earning Companion Pass. All points you earn from spending with the card will also count toward the pass.
- You can’t sign up for more than one personal Southwest card to earn double points, but you can own both a personal Southwest card and a business Southwest card, if you’re eligible for a business card.
- To earn the Companion Pass, you’ll need to earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year or take 100 qualifying flights. Once you hit the qualification, you’ll have the pass for the remainder of the year you earned it plus the entire following calendar year. That means you can have close to two years of Companion Pass if you time it right.
- 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 annual fees for these cards are not waived the first year. 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 (unless you’ve earned it with the sign-up bonus offer). 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. “In some cases, it might be best to focus on strengthening your finances now and worry about rewards later,” he says.
*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.