Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Chase Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited - The Dynamic Chase Duo
The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited pair perfectly to maximize travel rewards. With the Sapphire Reserve, you'll earn 3x points on dining and travel and 1x on everything else. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x on all purchases. Used together, these two cards are a dynamic duo for racking up Ultimate Rewards points.
The Sapphire Reserve carries a hefty $550 annual fee, but it comes with $300 in annual travel credits and lots of luxury perks. You'll get airport lounge access, rental car insurance, trip delay coverage and more. But the points earning is where this premium card really shines. The 3x bonus categories are very generous, especially when redeemed for travel through Chase's portal where points are worth 1.5 cents each. That's an effective 4.5% back on these purchases.
With the no annual fee Freedom Unlimited, you'll get 1.5x points on every single purchase. This makes it a great catch-all card for non-bonus spending. Since it earns Ultimate Rewards, these points can be combined with those earned from the Sapphire Reserve for redemptions.
When used together, these two cards give you accelerated earning on travel, dining and everyday purchases. The Sapphire Reserve's $300 travel credit helps offset the annual fee, and you'll continue to earn points on those purchases too.
According to frequent flyer Torsten Jacobi, "This Chase combo is hard to beat for earning valuable Ultimate Rewards points. The Sapphire Reserve's luxury perks make it a wonderful card for travelers. And the Freedom Unlimited fills in the gaps with its 1.5x earning rate on everything. Used together, they're a powerhouse pair."
For Madeline P., these two Chase cards helped her fund an amazing trip to Australia: "By earning bonuses on flights, hotels, tours and meals, I racked up so many Ultimate Rewards points, I ended up with free flights and a mostly free 2-week vacation Down Under," she said.
While the Sapphire Reserve's annual fee is steep, its $300 travel credit and 50% point redemption bonus provide tremendous value. Pair it with the no-fee Freedom Unlimited to accelerate your everyday spending too. According to blogger Nomadic Matt, "This Chase duo offers flexibility, rewards, and plenty of perks. It's hands-down one of the best credit card combinations out there."
What else is in this post?
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Chase Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited - The Dynamic Chase Duo
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Amex Platinum and Gold - First Class Benefits for Less
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Citi Premier and Double Cash - Simplicity and Power Combined
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Capital One Venture and Savor - Miles and Dining Rewards
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Southwest Companion Pass and Priority Card - Points for Flights for Two
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Marriott Brilliant and Boundless - Hotel Rewards to the Max
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Delta Reserve and Platinum - SkyMiles Accrual Takes Flight
- Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Alaska Visa Signature and Bank of America Cash Rewards - West Coast Wonder Combo
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Amex Platinum and Gold - First Class Benefits for Less
The American Express Platinum and Gold card pairing offers luxury travel perks without the outrageous price tags. With the Platinum, you'll enjoy VIP benefits like airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and airline fee credits. The Gold card complements it nicely with 4x bonus categories including dining, groceries, and airfare. Together, they deliver first class treatment for less.
According to Torsten Jacobi, "The Platinum card is all about luxury travel, with some of the best perks in the industry. From Centurion lounge access to automatic Gold status with Hilton and Marriott, it really makes you feel like a VIP on the road." He adds, "With the 4x bonuses on the Gold card, you can quickly rack up points for flights or hotels to pair with those elite perks."
The Platinum card does carry a lofty $695 annual fee, but it also offers up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually to offset the cost. Plus, you'll enjoy extra perks like airport lounge access, complimentary hotel elite status, rental car insurance, purchase protection and more.
Meanwhile, the Gold card earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year), and 3x points on flights booked directly through the airline. With no foreign transaction fees, it's a great card for dining and shopping abroad too. The $250 annual fee is quite reasonable given the bonuses and benefits.
According to financial advisor Clark R., "I put all my grocery and dining spending on the Gold card, and use the Platinum for the perks when I travel. The 4x bonuses really add up, and I can transfer points to airline partners for free flights."
Jennifer S., a savvy points maximizer, says "I love earning 4x at restaurants with the Gold card, then using those points for luxury hotel stays. The Platinum's hotel statuses get me room upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout and more."
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Citi Premier and Double Cash - Simplicity and Power Combined
The Citi Premier and Citi Double Cash card combo blends simplicity with strong rewards earnings. The Premier offers a straightforward 3x points bonus on travel, gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and entertainment. Meanwhile, the Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem 2% cash back across all purchases. Together, they provide a powerful mix of accelerated rewards and no-hassle redemptions.
According to frequent flyer Torsten Jacobi, "I'm a big fan of Citi's combo for both earning and burning points. The Premier has broad 3x bonus categories that encompass much of my regular spending. And the Double Cash makes sure everything else gets at least 2% back."
He adds, "Citi ThankYou points are extremely versatile - I can transfer them to airline partners for maximum value or simply cash them out if I want. It's a flexible system that's easy to use."
With the Premier, you'll enjoy 3x ThankYou points at gas stations, air travel, hotels, car rentals, restaurants, supermarkets, and entertainment venues. There's a $95 annual fee, but the rewards can quickly outweigh the cost. For big spenders, the card also offers a 60,000 point sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements.
Meanwhile, the no annual fee Double Cash lives up to its name by offering 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. This works out to 2% back across the board, with no limits on earnings. As Citi customer Amanda W. describes, "The Double Cash is so simple - I never have to think about bonus categories. I just use it for everything and the cash back adds up."
Both cards earn flexible, easy-to-redeem ThankYou points. You can cash them out for statement credits or gift cards at 1 cent per point value. But for maximum rewards, you can transfer them to airline partners like Etihad, Emirates, and Turkish Airlines. Here, points can be worth 2 cents or more when booking award flights.
As small business owner Mark R. explains, "I use the Premier for 3x gas and restaurant points, then transfer them to Virgin Atlantic to book partner flights with Delta. The value is incredible compared to cashing out."
Meanwhile, Jack S. uses his Double Cash statement credits to offset the Premier's annual fee. As he says, "The $95 fee is easily covered by the Double Cash earnings. So I can enjoy the Premier's 3x bonuses without worrying about the cost."
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Capital One Venture and Savor - Miles and Dining Rewards
The Capital One Venture and Savor card pairing delivers robust rewards for travelers focused on miles and dining. With the Venture card, you'll earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase. Meanwhile, the Savor card offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment. Used together, they provide outsized earnings on common spend categories.
According to frequent flyer Torsten Jacobi, "I love the potential of this Capital One duo. The Venture is essentially a 2% cashback card, but the miles have extra redemption options that make them more valuable. Add in the Savor's 4% dining bonus and it's a very strong combo."
The $95 annual fee Venture card earns 2X miles per dollar on all purchases, with no limits on earnings. While miles can be redeemed for statement credits at 1 cent each, they're worth more when transferred to Capital One's airline partners for award bookings. Here, they're valued at up to 1.4 cents each. This provides an effective 2.8% return on spending.
Meanwhile, the $95 annual fee Savor card offers 4% cash back on dining and entertainment. This includes restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, concerts, live events and more. The card also earns 3% back at grocery stores and popular streaming services.
As small business owner Amanda W. shares, "I use the Savor card for all my restaurant, coffee and online food deliveries. It's so easy to earn 4% back, especially when meeting clients over meals." She adds, "I transfer those cashback rewards to my Venture account to help offset the annual fee."
The Savor's generous dining rewards make it easy to offset its annual fee through rewards earned. And the 4% bonus beats out competitors, with most other dining cards topping out at 3% back. When paired with the Venture's flat-rate earning, you'll rack up miles on everything while dining out for less.
As frequent flyer Mark R describes, "I love using my Venture miles to book United award flights for 1.4 cents each. Then I use the Savor's 4% dining rewards to cover meals and entertainment during the trip." He adds, "Between the two cards, almost every aspect of travel earns boosted rewards."
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Southwest Companion Pass and Priority Card - Points for Flights for Two
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable loyalty perks in the industry, allowing you to bring a companion on any Southwest flight for just the cost of taxes and fees. When paired with the Southwest Priority Card, it becomes very easy to earn and maximize the value from this benefit. Let's explore why this dynamic duo can unlock nearly free flights for two.
According to frequent flyer Torsten Jacobi, "The Southwest Companion Pass is an incredible perk, especially for couples and families. Being able to add a companion to any Southwest flight you book for just $5.60 in fees is an absolute game-changer." He explains, "With the Priority Card, you can earn points toward the pass more quickly through spending and anniversary points."
To earn the Companion Pass, you need to accumulate 125,000 qualifying points with Southwest in a calendar year. Points earned from the Southwest Priority Card count, including its 40,000 point sign-up bonus and 6,000 anniversary points each cardmember year. The card also lets you earn 2x points on Southwest purchases, so it can accelerate your progress.
As for Maximizing the pass, Jacobi recommends being strategic with how you earn points: "I time applications for the card so that the sign-up bonus and anniversary points post in the same calendar year. That gets me about halfway to the threshold right off the bat." He adds, "I also make sure to route as much Southwest spend as possible through the card to earn those 2x points."
Once earned, the Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the year earned plus the entire next calendar year. According to Jacobi, "If you time it right and earn the pass early in a year, you could get nearly two years of companion travel out of it." Even better - if you have a business, you and your companion can both apply and earn passes.
As happy Southwest customer Mark R. shared, "My wife and I both earned Companion Passes in the same year and it's been amazing. We've taken four trips as a family of four for just the cost of taxes." He added, "The Priority Card was key - we earned the sign-up and anniversary points then used the 2x earning to get us over the top."
For road warrior Amanda W., the Companion Pass even makes last-minute travel easy: "If I need to book a quick trip for work, I can instantly add my companion without worrying about finding another ticket on short notice." She said, "It's been a total game-changer for how I book travel."
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Marriott Brilliant and Boundless - Hotel Rewards to the Max
The Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card and the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM Credit Card from Chase form a powerful duo for hotel rewards. With Brilliant, you'll enjoy premium benefits at Marriott properties like annual free night awards and automatic Gold Elite status. Meanwhile, the Boundless card offers strong earnings to rack up points for free hotel stays. Used together, they unlock VIP treatment and point-earning power.
According to road warrior Torsten Jacobi, "The Brilliant card provides valuable elite perks that make hotel stays much more enjoyable. The annual free night award alone more than offsets the annual fee, and the automatic Gold status gets you room upgrades, late checkout and more."
There is a $450 annual fee, but the 50K free night perk often outweighs the cost. As Jacobi shares, "I time my annual free night awards for expensive destinations. Last year I stayed at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix that would've cost $640."
As a consultant who travels often for work, Amanda W. maximizes the combo: "I use the Boundless card to earn 6X at Marriott properties. Those points stack up quickly, especially for longer work trips." She adds, "The Brilliant perks like lounge access and upgrades make my hotel stays so much better after long flights."
Marriott points can also be used for extraordinary value through travel packages that include free hotel nights plus airline miles. As Jacobi explains, "I’ve used my Boundless earnings for travel packages with United miles included. This let me book premium cabin flights."
For new cardholders, the Boundless currently offers 3 free nights (up to 50K points) after meeting spending requirements. Jacobi suggests, "Use those sign-up night certificates at expensive locales, then the annual 35K awards for more reasonably priced stays."
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Delta Reserve and Platinum - SkyMiles Accrual Takes Flight
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card team up to deliver accelerated mile earning and premium travel perks when flying Delta. According to frequent flyer Torsten Jacobi, “This Delta duo makes it easy to rack up miles quickly and enjoy the VIP treatment in the air and on the ground."
With the Reserve card, you’ll earn 3x miles on Delta purchases and 1x mile per dollar elsewhere. There’s also an opportunity to earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $30,000 in purchases in a calendar year, up to four times per year. Meanwhile, the Platinum card earns 2x miles on Delta purchases and restaurants worldwide, along with 1x mile per dollar on everything else.
Jacobi explains the strategy, “I use the Reserve for all Delta flights and purchases to get the 3x miles. Then I put dining on the Platinum for 2x miles." He continues, "When I hit the spending threshold for MQMs on the Reserve, it gives my status a boost to enjoy upgrades and Sky Club access.”
The Reserve does carry a hefty $550 annual fee, but it includes excellent travel perks like an annual companion certificate each cardmember year. As road warrior Amanda W. describes, “I use the companion ticket to take my husband on a getaway every year, just paying taxes. It’s an amazing benefit.”
Additionally, the Reserve grants you access to Delta Sky Club airport lounges when traveling on a Delta flight. For frequent flyer Mark R., this is hugely valuable: “Being able to unwind in a lounge before a flight makes the travel experience so much better." He adds, "This alone is worth the annual fee for how often I fly Delta.”
The Platinum card has a more moderate $250 annual fee, which is easily offset by its welcome offer of 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after meeting spending requirements. Cardholders receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit every 4-4.5 years as well.
Dynamic Duos: The Top Credit Card Pairings for Maximizing Rewards - Alaska Visa Signature and Bank of America Cash Rewards - West Coast Wonder Combo
For travelers who frequently fly Alaska Airlines, especially to West Coast destinations, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card make a fantastic duo. With the Alaska Visa, you’ll earn 3X miles on Alaska purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent elsewhere. Meanwhile, the no annual fee Cash Rewards card offers strong earnings of 2% cash back across all purchases. Used together, these cards unlock maximum value when flying Alaska.
According to frequent Alaska Airlines flyer Jennifer S., “I live in Seattle and fly Alaska several times per month for work. The 3X miles I earn with the Visa Signature card really add up quickly.” She adds, “I use my Bank of America Cash Rewards card as my daily spender. With 2% cash back on everything, it’s a great catch-all card.”
The Visa Signature card does have a $75 annual fee, but it regularly offers limited time welcome bonuses of 40,000 miles and Alaska's Famous Companion FareTM from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after meeting minimum spend requirements. As Jennifer describes, “Using the companion fare benefit for trips with my husband makes the annual fee negligible.”
Additionally, the Alaska Visa Signature provides an annual Coach Companion Fare for just $125 plus taxes and fees. Cardholders also get their first checked bag free on Alaska flights. As frequent flyer Amanda W. shares, “Not paying baggage fees easily saves me over $75 per year. The free companion fare is just icing on the cake.”
The Bank of America Cash Rewards card has no annual fee and earns a strong 2% cash back on all purchases. With Alaska miles being worth approximately 1.2 to 1.8 cents each for award bookings, the unrestricted 2% cash back often beats transferring other flexible points currencies.
As small business owner Mark R. describes, “I primarily fly Alaska and find it simpler to earn Alaska miles directly through the Visa Signature card. For non-Alaska purchases, getting 2% cash back beats what most points would convert to.”
For West Coast travelers who frequently fly Alaska Airlines, this card pair provides both accelerated earning on Alaska flights and an easy catch-all option for everyday spend. The Bank of America combo also allows depositing rewards into the same account. As Amanda explains, “I love the seamless integration of earning Alaska miles and cash back. Managing one program is so much simpler.”