What to do when your ‘Player 2’ isn’t as excited about credit card rewards

Mar 16, 2021

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There’s a lot of advantages to being coupled up when it comes to earning points and miles.

When you have a Player 2 — which is how many travel rewards hobbyists refer to their spouse or significant other — you can get double the credit card sign-up bonuses, pool your points together for bigger balances and make use of referral and authorized user bonuses. Though redeeming for two, or for a family, means you need a lot of points, having someone else help with the earning can get you to redemption levels much quicker.

However, just because you dove in excitedly learning about loyalty programs, award redemptions and travel rewards credit cards doesn’t necessarily mean your partner shares that same feeling. If they do, great! But not every Player 2 is so enthusiastic about playing the points and miles game. Some may be downright reluctant. Here’s some things you can do to make it easier for your reluctant or hesitant partner to get more involved in credit card rewards.

Label their credit cards

(Photo by BonNontawat/Shutterstock)

Are you always trying to get your P2 to use the credit card that earns the most points on each purchase? Maybe that’s the American Express® Gold Card, with a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) for 4x on restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 on purchases each calendar year; then 1x). But for gas station fill-ups, you want them to use the Citi Premier® Card, with a more reasonable $95 a year. Or, you want them to use the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex for wholesale club shopping this quarter.

It’s easy to forget which card to use, even for those who are enthusiastic about points and miles. So it can be understandably confusing for someone who doesn’t care about the small details of credit card rewards.

One way to help is to put small labels or sticky notes on cards explaining when and where to use them. Just add a short note (such as “groceries”) on each card that P2 can refer to before they pay. If you’re using cards with rotating category bonuses, don’t forget to activate the new categories each quarter and be sure to update the label on your P2’s card. And if P2 reaches the spending limit for that quarter — $1,500 on the Chase Freedom (no longer open for new applications) and Freedom Flex, for example — remove that card from their wallet and replace it with the next best card for that category.

Just give them one card

If labels and sticky notes are still just too overwhelming, don’t force it. Don’t worry about your P2 achieving the maximum amount of points on every spending category if it’s going to cause stress or strife. “Happy spouse, happy house,” right?

One option is to give them a recently opened card that hasn’t yet reached the minimum spending requirement. Or you might suggest they use a fixed-earning, everyday type of card, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card. That way there’s no worrying about using different cards on different purchases and mixing something up.

While you’re leaving points on the table by not maximizing your spending on every category, at least they’re not using cash or a debit card.

Don’t make them speak with the bank

(Photo by Shutterstock)

Every now and then when dealing with credit cards, you need to call the bank. Maybe it’s to contact the reconsideration line if you hope to turn a denied application into an approval. Or you want to call for a retention offer and see if you can get the bank to waive your annual fee or give you bonus points for agreeing to keep the card and paying the fee. If your P2 is the account holder, they are the one the bank is going to expect to speak with.

Related: TPG readers find success with retention bonuses

However, often you can have your P2 make the call and confirm their identity, then ask the representative to speak with you and have you take over the call from there. Amex even allows cardholders to designate an account manager with two levels of access to either act as full proxy on an account or just have limited ability to complete day-to-day account tasks.

In addition, many account requests or questions can be handled via chat or secure message, which gives you, the more knowledgeable person about the account, the opportunity to interact directly with the representative on behalf of your P2.

Stagger applications

When you see a great new sign-up bonus, it can be tempting to have both of you sign up for it at the same time. But if your Player 2 isn’t comfortable opening too many cards at once, you may want to stagger applications between the two of you.

Opening multiple cards means double the minimum spending requirement, which can be overwhelming to complete in a few months. For cards that don’t waive the first-year fee requirement, this will also mean double the annual fee that typically needs to be paid with the first statement. If you’re opening a premium card, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express with its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), this means you’ll owe $1,245. For some people, this may be no big deal, but a reluctant participant in the points hobby may balk when there’s other things they’d rather spend money on, especially since you can get up to three Amex Platinum authorized user cards for $175 a year (see rates and fees).

While it may be great for both of you to pick up those high-value welcome offers, if P2 is hesitant to apply at the same time as you, just wait and let them apply down the road. You never know, the offer may be even higher later on.

Let them pick the next travel destination

Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Kaanapali Beach on Maui. (Photo by ejs9/Getty Images)

If Player 2 wants to go to Hawaii, explain how you need to apply for a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, which will get you enough points to fly to Hawaii and points towards a Companion Pass, so that the second person flies for almost free (just paying the $5.60 in taxes), not just to Hawaii but on all future trips for the next year.

If your P2 is excited about the next destination and feels like they’re working to help make it a reality, they will be more likely to not mind a few inconveniences like switching their spending to a new credit card.

Bottom line

Getting your spouse or significant other involved in credit card rewards can make the game even more lucrative than it is as a solo player. You’ll earn more points, faster, and be able to splurge on more award redemptions.

If they aren’t as excited as you are about it, try these ideas to see if it helps get them on board.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Featured photo by Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images.

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