Just hitched? Start wedded life with the right plastic for two
Personal Finance Writer
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Joining your lives also means marrying your credit card rewards
strategy, which starts with picking the right cards.
Now that you’ve said your vows, 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 at The
Points Guy 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 newly
married couples and tips on how you can use these cards and your married status
to get the most from your rewards.
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, offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points,
worth $625 when redeemed 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. If both spouses get the card, one after
the other, that’s 100,000 points worth $1,250 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.
- You can get an additional 5,000 points for
adding your first authorized user to your card and making a purchase on that
card within three months after account opening. And it’s free to add an
authorized user to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (unlike the Chase Sapphire
Reserve, which charges $75). If you both get the card and add each other,
that’s 10,000 points.
- 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
10,000 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.
- When two members of a couple each get a card,
they can get hit with double annual fees. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred,
the $95 annual fee is waived the first year. Before the annual fee hits a year
down the road, one of you can cancel or downgrade to a no-annual-fee Chase card,
such as the Chase
How should you handle the double sign-ups? First, one of you
can get the card and add the other as an authorized user to get the authorized
user bonus. 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 10,000 points. Spouse No. 2 can get the
card and add spouse No. 1 as an authorized user for 5,000 more points. Then
both work to complete minimum spend for the second sign-up bonus. This way, a
couple can rack up 120,000 points in six months.
See related: Chase Ultimate Rewards cards: Which one should you get?
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 newly married couples
are the American Express EveryDay Preferred
card 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 newlyweds can gain from getting the
AmEx EveryDay Preferred card or the Discover it Cash Back card.
it’s a good deal for one, it’s a great deal for two.”
- The AmEx EveryDay Preferred works well for all
the daily spending of newly married life. It offers 3 points per dollar spent
at supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year), 2 points at gas stations and 1 point
for all other purchases. However, there is a $95 annual fee that is not waived
the first year, so it might not make sense for both spouses to get the card.
- The best part for couples? When you make 30 or
more transactions in a billing cycle on the AmEx EveryDay Preferred, you get a
bonus of 50 percent on the points earned in that cycle. Meeting this target
should be easier for two spouses using the card than it would be for one person.
This bonus essentially gets you 4.5 points at supermarkets, 3 points at gas
stations and one and a half for everything else. “It’s a pretty attractive card
when you can reach that bonus,” Steele says.
- The Discover it Cash Back card offers 5 percent
cash back in rotating quarterly categories up to set spending limits, and 1 percent
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 cofounder of CashCowCouple.com. For example, the
category for spring 2018 is grocery stores, and the quarterly cap is $1,500.
For a dual cardholder household, that cap becomes $3,000. “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 to become cardholders to
increase the bonus category cap. And Discover will match all the cash back you
earn in your first year. “That offer makes the card even more powerful,” Lumby
Another big plus for both these cards is they offer 0-percent introductory periods for 14 months on balance transfers and purchases.
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 0-interest offer tempt you
to start married life 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,”
“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
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. You can open a Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
and earn the sign-up bonus to start racking up enough points for a companion pass.
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.
Any card with Chase Ultimate Rewards … allows you to transfer points between spouses or domestic partners for
See related: The direct route to a Southwest companion pass
“How do you beat that?” Lumby says. In the past year, 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.
If this perk sounds good and you plan to apply for the Southwest
Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, there are a few caveats to consider.
- It is harder to get the companion pass now,
thanks to recent
rule changes that limit sign-up bonuses on Southwest consumer cards, but it
can still be done. To qualify for the companion pass, you need to accumulate
110,000 points. The current sign-up bonus for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
Credit Card is 40,000 points. The new restrictions don’t apply to business
cards, so you could apply for a business version, too, and get a 60,000-point
sign-up bonus. That puts you very close to snagging the pass.
- 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 $69 annual fee for this card is not waived
the first year, and neither is the $99 annual fee for the business card. 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. 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 spouse should sign
up and focus on getting the companion pass for the other, but you could add
your spouse 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,
he says. “In some cases, it might be best to focus on strengthening your
finances now and worry about rewards later,” he says.
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