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While there are a number of credit cards that work well all by themselves, you can get a much better value by strategically combining some cards. Groupings like the Chase trifecta or Amex trifecta, where you hold three cards in the same rewards program, are obvious examples. But small business owners also have a unique advantage.
When you own a small business you can combine your personal rewards card strategy with your business rewards card strategy to earn even more points. Even if you don’t have a formal company, your side hustle can qualify you to open business credit cards.
The personal/business card combinations generally come in one of two forms:
- Two cards that work better together than they do on their own or
- Complementary cards that help you diversify your points earning and bonus categories
Below are some of the best personal and business card combinations out there.
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card
The Business Platinum Card from American Express: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points: 50,000 after spending $10,000 in the first 3 months and another 25,000 points if you spend an additional $10,000 ($20,000 total) in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $595 (see rates & fees)
Putting them together: Pairing these two heavy metal charge cards will give you a nearly unbeatable combination of luxury travel perks, bonus categories and redemption options. The combined welcome bonuses come out to a nice 110,000 Membership Rewards points, worth $2,200 based on TPG’s valuations.
The long-term earning potential of this duo is just as exciting:
- 5x: Flights and prepaid hotels booked at amextravel.com (Business Platinum)
- 4x: US restaurants and US supermarkets up to $25,000 a year; then 1x (Amex Gold)
- 3x: Flights booked directly with the airline or at amextravel.com (Amex Gold)
- 1x: All other purchases on both cards
- 50% points bonus: Purchases over $5,000 (Business Platinum)
With this pair you’ll also enjoy complimentary Marriott and Hilton Gold elite status, a comprehensive set of airport lounge benefits including a Priority Pass select membership, access to Amex Centurion lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta. You will also receive a premium concierge service, a free year of WeWork access and much, much more. These perks are all thanks to the Business Platinum card.
Your annual fees will be on the steeper side at $845 total for these two cards, though you might be able to write off your business card’s annual fee as an expense. You’ll also enjoy a number of annual statement credits that sharply reduce your out-of-pocket cost.
With the Amex Gold card, you get up to a $100 annual airline incidental fee credit (valid for ancillary charges such as seat selection, lounge access, etc.) and up to a $120 annual dining credit that breaks down to $10 a month at the following merchants: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
The Business Platinum offers up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in annual statement credits for US purchases with Dell. If you can max out all of these credits each year, you’ll enjoy nearly 75% in rebates on the annual fees you pay.
While both of these cards offer access to the same collection of Membership Rewards transfer partners (and occasional transfer bonuses), the Business Platinum also offers a 35% rebate when you pay with points for select flights. This 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.
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $95.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $450.
Putting them together: While the Chase Sapphire Reserve is undeniably Chase’s most premium card offering, it doesn’t have the most valuable welcome bonus in the family. That title goes to the Chase Ink Business Preferred with a 80,000-point bonus worth a whopping $1,600 based on TPG’s valuations.
Signing up for both of these bonuses will give you 130,000 Ultimate Rewards points, enough for five nights at the Park Hyatt Maldives, a round-trip business-class award to Europe via United MileagePlus, or even a round-trip first-class award on ANA if you take advantage of the incredible Virgin Atlantic sweet spot.
Long after your welcome bonus has been earned and redeemed, this combo will continue to offer top-notch earning rates. The Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points (worth 6% based on TPG’s valuations) on all travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining purchases. These bonus categories are very broadly defined and have no annual caps or limits.
The Ink Business Preferred also earns 3x on your first $150,000 spent annually in the following business friendly categories:
- Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets and taxis
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
The Sapphire Reserve provides all the perks you need to enjoy a life of luxury travel, including a Priority Pass select membership, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit and more.
The Reserve also comes with a $300 annual travel credit, which is automatically applied to your account when you make eligible purchases. 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 like Hyatt and United, if you opt to redeem directly through the Chase travel portal, you’ll get a 50% bonus with the Sapphire Reserve.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Putting them together: The limited-time elevated welcome bonuses on these Bonvoy Amex cards, valid until Apr. 24, 2019, offer an easy way to quickly and meaningfully boost your Marriott points balance. While either 100,000-point offer will open the door to some high-end hotel redemptions, having 200,000 points gives you access to some much more valuable redemptions. For example, if you transfer 195,000 points to Korean Air it can book you a one-way first-class ticket to Asia on the carrier’s 747-8 with a free stopover in Seoul (ICN), while 180,000 points transferred to Alaska will book you a one-way first-class award on either Cathay Pacific or JAL, again with a free stopover in those airlines’ hubs.
TPG values Marriott points at 0.9 cents each, so while 200,000 points should be worth about $1,800, you can easily redeem that critical mass of points for 10x as much with airfares on those routes in the $18,000 range.
You’ll also find that doubling down on Bonvoy credit cards is a great decision long-term. All of the entry-level Bonvoy cards offer an annual free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points, which is more than enough to justify the $125 annual fee on the Bonvoy Business Amex. If you spend $60,000 a year on the card you’ll get a second free night. With the Bonvoy Brilliant you get a free night worth up to 50,000 points, meaning that these two cards together guarantee you at least two nights in luxury hotels every year.
Both cards earn the same 6x points on Marriott purchases and 2x on everyday spending, so you can switch back and forth as you please. Use your Bonvoy Brilliant for the first $300 you spend at Marriott each cardmember year to trigger your annual Marriott statement credit, then switch to the Bonvoy Business Amex.
You’ll get automatic Marriott Gold status with the Bonvoy Brilliant card, and 15 elite night credits each year as well. This makes qualifying for Marriott Platinum status and earning suite upgrades and choice benefits much more attainable, as it lowers the requirement from 50 nights in a hotel each year to 35.
The Business Platinum Amex and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Business Platinum Card from American Express: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points—50,000 after spending $10,000 in the first 3 months and another 25,000 points if you spend an additional $10,000 ($20,000 total) in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $595.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.
Putting them together: The Business Platinum card pretty much sells itself to high-spending businesses with its first-rate suite of travel perks, Pay With Points rebate and especially its 50% points bonus on purchases over $5,000. One area where it’s not top of its field is earning on everyday spending purchases under $5,000. A cheap and easy fix is to pair the Business Platinum with the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, which earns 2x miles on every purchase with no caps to worry about. These miles can be redeemed at a fixed value of 1 cent each toward the cost of travel, or transferred to one of the following 14 partner airlines:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Hainan Fortune Wings Club
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore KrisFlyer
Many of these partners do overlap with Amex, but note that Capital One miles have a the 2:1.5 transfer ratio (except for Emirates and Singapore, which transfer at a 2:1 ratio), compared to the 1:1 rate you get if you transfer points from Amex. The Venture Rewards card also earns 10x miles at hotels.com when you book with your card through hotels.com/venture, meaning if you or your business aren’t loyal to a single hotel chain, you can use this card to rack up miles even faster.
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express: No annual fee (see rates & fees) and it earns 2x Membership Rewards points on your first $50,000 of purchases each year (then 1 point per dollar).
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. The annual fee is $450.
Putting them together: Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards sit unmatched as the most valuable transferable points currencies out there. The Sapphire Reserve might be the most rewarding personal credit card on the market from a pure earning and burning perspective, but if your business could diversify into also earning Amex Membership Rewards at no additional cost, why wouldn’t you?
The Blue Business Plus card is far and away the best card for everyday spending, offering 2x points or a 4% return on your first $50,000 in purchases a year (then 1x). If you use this for your non-bonus spending and put your travel and dining purchases on the Sapphire Reserve, you can guarantee a return of 4-6% on 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.
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 complementary 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 Amex Gold, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Amex, click here.
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Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees