4 Best Credit Card Combinations to Maximize Rewards

You can create a credit card combination powerhouse based on your household needs.
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Written by Melissa Lambarena
Senior Writer
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Edited by Erica Corbin
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Card Coupling: Pair Up Your Credit Cards to Maximize Rewards-story

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Two rewards credit cards can be better than one — as long as you're prepared for a little extra legwork to maximize those rewards. The right combination will depend on your spending habits, but in general, your options include:

  • A bonus category credit card: These cards earn a higher rewards rate (often 3% to 5% back) on specific kinds of purchases like food, travel, gas, groceries, etc. — but a lower rate (usually 1%) on everything else.

  • A flat-rate rewards card: These cards earn the same rewards rate on all purchases, regardless of category. The industry standard is 1.5% back on everything you buy, though higher flat rates do exist.

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You don't have to settle for either/or. Why not get both: a high rewards rate on the spending you do the most of, and a decent rate on anything else that doesn't fall into those categories. Here are some of our favorite pairings:

Citi® Double Cash Card
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Discover it® Cash Back
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Our pairing for: Cash back

Discover it® Cash Back and Citi Double Cash® Card

Doubling up on cash-back credit cards can yield hundreds of dollars in rewards annually.

The $0-annual-fee Discover it® Cash Back offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending in bonus categories that rotate each quarter when you activate. (All other purchases earn 1%.) In the past, bonus categories have included things like gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

For anything that doesn't fall into a bonus category, you could use a flat-rate credit card so you don't have to settle for just 1% back on those purchases. One excellent choice among flat-rate cards is the Citi Double Cash® Card. It offers 2% cash back on purchases: 1% back when you buy, and 1% back when you pay your purchases off.

So to recap, you'd use the Discover it® Cash Back for purchases that fall under a bonus category, and you'd swipe or dip the Citi Double Cash® Card for everything else.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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Chase Freedom Flex
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Our pairing for: Frequent travelers

Chase Freedom Flex® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Freedom Flex® earns 5% back in rotating bonus categories throughout the year, up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 (you must opt-in each quarter to get those earnings), and 1% back on all other non-bonus-category purchases.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card ($95 annual fee) offers 5 points per dollar spent on travel booked through Chase, 3 points per dollar spent on eligible dining, select streaming services and select online grocery purchases, 2 points per dollar spent on all other travel and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

These two cards work well together because you can transfer your points — aka Chase Ultimate Rewards® — from your Chase Freedom Flex® to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card account and redeem them for travel through Chase's online portal, in which case they're worth 25% more. Another option is to transfer them to one of Chase's multiple travel partners at a 1:1 ratio.

Using both strategically is key. For example, use the Chase Freedom Flex® when it’s earning 5% cash back on products or services you already buy. Most of the time, using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card on dining and travel is ideal (unless, of course, the Chase Freedom Flex® is featuring restaurants as a 5% bonus retailer).

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
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Our pairing for: Families

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

If you've got a lot of hungry mouths to feed, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can be a valuable companion. It earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year, 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on transit including U.S. gas stations and 1% back on everything else. Terms apply (see rates and fees). It comes with a fee, currently: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.. But if you spend at least $31 a week at the supermarket, you'll make up for that cost in rewards.

Use that card for groceries, Netflix and gas, and pair it with a card like the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card which earns 2% cash back on all purchases.

Our pairing for: Everyday purchases

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card and Citi Custom Cash® Card

The $95-annual-fee Citi Strata Premier℠ Card and Citi Custom Cash® Card are an excellent duo for everyday use. The Citi Strata Premier℠ Card earns 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on air travel and most hotels, 3 points at supermarkets, 3 points at gas stations and 3 points at restaurants. You'll also earn a whopping 10 points per dollar on hotels, car rentals and attractions booked through Citi. Everything else earns 1 point per dollar.

Citi Custom Cash® Card
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Citibank Strata Premier Card
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Some of these categories have the potential to overlap with those on the Citi Custom Cash® Card which earns 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your highest spend category per billing cycle (from a list of ten options). All other purchases earn 1% back. Rewards are earned as ThankYou points. The eligible 5% categories include grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, select travel, select transit and live entertainment.

You could give the Citi Custom Cash® Card one job and use it only to spend in one category you’re likely to max out. For instance, you could max it out with groceries and instead of defaulting to 1% cash back, you could move your grocery spending to the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card. If you don’t want to keep track of that, use the Citi Custom Cash regularly in a 5% category that doesn’t overlap. Rewards earned on both cards redeem for cash back and travel at the same value. Other redemption options may vary.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, see this page.
Cash Back Cards from Our Partners
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

on Wells Fargo's website

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
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Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases


Intro offer


Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
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Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One® SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
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Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases. Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases. Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024. Terms apply.


Intro offer


Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

See more Cash Back cards

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