The best business and personal credit card combinations
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with new card details and information.
While several credit cards work well all by themselves, you can get a much better value by strategically combining some cards. Groupings such as the Chase trifecta or Amex trifecta, where you hold three cards in the same rewards program, are obvious examples. But small business owners have even more opportunities to combine cards to maximize value. Even if you don’t have a registered LLC, your side hustle can qualify you to open business credit cards.
The best personal/business card combinations generally either work better together than they do alone or complement each other to help you diversify your points earning and bonus categories. Today, I’m walking through a few of my favorite combos and why they work so well together.
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Best for: Those looking to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite status
Why they work together: If you’re looking to get a jump on earning top-tier elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program, one tip is to hold both the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, which comes wit Platinum status for one year (February 1, 2021-January 31, 2022). Offer ends 1/13/21. Platinum status comes with a 50% point bonus on paid stays, priority late checkout, upgrades when available, a welcome gift and much more. This card has a $125 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Of course, these cards come with some great benefits beyond the potential for Platinum elite status — limited-time welcome offers, a free night award annually on each (with the potential to earn a second on the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex), and solid earning rates. Both cards earn 6x points at Marriott hotels, while the Bonvoy Brilliant earns 3x points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with the airline. Meanwhile the Bonvoy Business card earns 4x points at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, wireless phone services purchased from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping.
The Marriott Boundless has a $95 annual fee so together, these cards only cost $220 per year in annual fees.
Best for: Luxury travelers who want to maximize their business and personal travel experiences
Why they work together: These cards, while overlapping in some features, offer an unbeatable lineup of luxury travel benefits. You’re earning 5x on flights (on up to $500,000 on the Amex Platinum card starting Jan. 1, 2021) and prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, receiving $1,100 in travel credits and getting access to perks such as Gold elite status with Marriott and Hilton, extensive lounge access and more.
While both of these cards offer access to the same collection of Membership Rewards transfer partners (and occasional transfer bonuses), the Business Platinum’s 35% rebate when you pay with points for select flights on amextravel.com allows you to lock in a minimum redemption value of about 1.5 cents per point, and continue to earn miles and elite credit on your free tickets.
Each card offers its own impressive welcome bonus as well. The Business Platinum offers 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening, while the personal Amex Platinum offers 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Together, these bonuses alone are worth $3,200, according to TPG valuations.
Your annual fees will be on the steeper side at $1,145 total — $550 for the personal Platinum (see rates and fees) and $595 for the Business Platinum (see rates and fees). However, you might be able to write off your business card’s annual fee as an expense, and the value each card offers greatly offsets the cost of adding them to your wallet.
Best for: Maximizing the Chase Ultimate Rewards program
Why they work together: While the Chase Sapphire Reserve is undeniably Chase’s most premium card offering, it doesn’t have the most valuable sign-up bonus in the family. That title goes to the Ink Business Preferred, which has a 100,000 point bonus (after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months) worth a whopping $2,000, based on TPG’s valuations.
However, signing up for Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred bonuses will give you 150,000 Ultimate Rewards points, enough for six nights at the Grand Hotel Majestic in Lake Maggiore, Italy, or even a round-trip first-class award on ANA if you take advantage of the incredible Virgin Atlantic sweet spot. And while you may not be traveling right now, those points will certainly come in handy for a trip once you are back in the air or on the road.
Long after your sign-up bonus has been earned and redeemed, this combo will continue to offer top-notch earning rates. The Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points on all travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases. These bonus categories are very broadly defined and have no annual caps or limits. Now, between Nov. 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, Sapphire Reserve cardmembers will earn 3x points on grocery store purchases, up to $1,000 per month. Chase added gas and groceries to the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit through the end of 2020, but that’s now being extended through June 30, 2021.
The Ink Business Preferred also earns 3x on your first $150,000 spent annually in select business-friendly categories that include travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and eligible online advertising.
The Sapphire Reserve provides all the perks you need to enjoy a life of luxury travel, including a Priority Pass Select membership, up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit and more. This drops your out-of-pocket cost to just $245 a year for this powerful pair. While you’ll usually get the best value by transferring your Chase points to travel partners such as Hyatt and United, if you opt to redeem directly through the Chase travel portal, you’ll also get a 50% bonus with the Sapphire Reserve. Keep in mind that Chase also now has a Pay Yourself Back feature, where you can redeem your points at a bonus for other non-travel purchases.
Best for: Those interested in flexible rewards categories
Why they work together: These two cards have one thing in common — flexible bonus categories. With the Amex Business Gold, you’ll earn 4x points on the first $150,000 spent annually in the two categories you spend the most in each month. The bonus points are automatically assigned at the end of the month to the two categories where you spend the most. The Bank of America Cash Rewards card, on the other hand, allows you to 3% cash back on one of the following categories of your choosing: travel, gas, online shopping, dining, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings (which you can change every month). You’ll also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. (Note: there’s a $2,500 cap on combined 3% and 2% cash back purchases; you’ll earn 1% afterward).
If you are an existing Bank of America customer, you could earn even more rewards through the Preferred Rewards program. If your combined balance across Bank of America and Merrill accounts qualifies you for one of the three Preferred Rewards tiers, you could earn anywhere from 3.75% to 5.25% cash back on your chosen 3% bonus categories, 2.5% to 3.5% back on your 2% categories and 1.25% to 1.75% on other purchases with your Bank of America Cash Rewards card.
Together, these two cards allow you to customize your rewards structure to your specific spending habits, both at home and at the office. Plus, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card has no annual fee, meaning having both cards in your wallet only costs $295 (see rates and fees) for the Amex Business Gold‘s annual fee.
Why they work together: Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards sit unmatched as the most valuable transferable points currencies out there. Still, the top-tier cards for both of these programs cost more than $1,000 in annual fees combined. While both beginners and experts need to diversify their points portfolio, those new to earning rewards may not be able to justify paying two high annual fees for cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Business Platinum.
The Blue Business Plus card is far and away the best business card for everyday spending, offering 2x points or a 4% return on your first $50,000 in purchases each year (then 1x). If you use this for your non-bonus spending and put your travel and dining purchases on the Sapphire Preferred, you can guarantee value out of every purchase you make. You’ll also be a leg up on the redemption side as well. If you need to book a Star Alliance flight, you can pit United (Chase) against Aeroplan and Avianca (Amex) to see which program offers the best rate. Same for Oneworld and SkyTeam; the flexibility to choose which points to redeem will get you a better return on all of them.
The best part? Together, these cards only cost $95 in annual fees (see rates and fees for the Blue Business Plus card). Plus, right now the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a sizable 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, which gives you an immediate nest egg of points for your next trip.
These are just a few of the most promising business and personal card combinations, but you can tailor these suggestions to meet your own needs. Start with strong building blocks like the Amex Business Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve, and look for cards with complimentary perks and bonus categories, or cards that can let you diversify into an entirely new points currency.
For rates and fees of the Business Platinum Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Amex, click here.
Featured image by The Points Guy
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- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.