How to stack cards to get the most on your everyday spending

Running an errand to fill up your gas tank or restock your pantry may not be the most glamorous part of your day, but, with the right cash back card, you can make those everyday tasks much more rewarding.

Best credit card combinations for everyday spending

  • For maximizing points
  • For maximizing cash back
  • For Amex loyalists

There are many cash back credit cards that offer bonus rewards on everyday purchases such as gas and groceries. One of our favorites is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which gives you a whopping 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases and (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, 1% thereafter), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services 3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1% cash back on everything else.

The card does charge an ongoing $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year), but we think that fee is well worth it if you want to earn the most cash back on your everyday spending. We figure that the average shopper who spends $15,900 on the card would earn around $323 in cash back each year.

Combination one: Maximizing points

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is another great card to pair with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card. Just like the Cash Magnet card, it offers at least 1.5% cash back on every purchase. However, the rewards that you earn with the Freedom Unlimited card are a little more versatile than the Cash Magnet card and it comes with additional cash back categories: 5% on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel, plus 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. You can transfer them to certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which awards a 25% bonus on those points when you redeem them for travel for the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

If you prefer to earn points rather than cash back on purchases that fall outside the Blue Cash Preferred card’s bonus categories, Ultimate Rewards cards are a great way to go:

Estimated yearly rewards: Amex Blue Cash Preferred + Chase Freedom Unlimited

Combined Rewards Average Rewards Rate Estimate cash back earned (after ongoing annual fee)
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 6% select U.S. streaming services with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 5% Chase Ultimate Rewards travel with the Freedom Unlimited card
  • 3% dining and drugstore purchases with the Freedom Unlimited card
  • 3% transit & U.S. gas stations with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 1.5% other purchases with the Freedom Unlimited card
3.49% $459.91

Combination two: Maximizing cash back

If you prefer cash back rewards and want to earn the most cash back possible, the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Blue Cash Preferred cards is one of the ultimate card pairings. The Citi Double Cash card offers up to 2% back on every purchase – 1% when you make the purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill on time.

Combined with the Blue Cash Preferred card, the Citi Double Cash card pushes the rewards rate to 3.19% cash back for the average cardholder. We figure that a cardholder who spends around $15,900 per year on these two cards can earn nearly $412 in cash back per year.

Estimated yearly rewards: Amex Blue Cash Preferred + Citi Double Cash

Combined rewards Average rewards rate Estimated cash back earned (after ongoing annual fee)
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 6% select U.S. streaming services with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 3% transit & U.S. gas stations with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 2% other purchases with the Citi Double Cash card (1% when you buy, 1% as you pay)
3.19% $412

Combination three: Amex all the way

If you love American Express cards, or you just want to keep things as simple as possible for yourself by sticking to a single issuer – the American Express Cash Magnet® Card* that offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase makes a great partner to the Blue Cash Preferred card.

By swapping in the Cash Magnet card to earn 1.5% cash back on purchases that don’t qualify for a bonus with the Blue Cash Preferred card, the average cardholder can push their cash back rate to 2.91%, amounting to $368 in cash back with $15,900 yearly credit card spend.

Estimated yearly rewards: Blue Cash Preferred + Amex Cash Magnet

Combined rewards Average rewards rate Estimated cash back earned (after ongoing annual fee)
  • 6% U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter) with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 6% select U.S. streaming services with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 3% transit and U.S. gas stations with the Blue Cash Preferred card
  • 1.5% other purchases with the Cash Magnet card
2.91% $368

Other tips for stacking cards

Make it a trio of cards

You can further increase your earning rate by adding in an additional card that offers a bonus on other categories of purchases. For instance, you can earn 3 points per dollar on dining purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Use the right card for each category of spend

Stick to using your Blue Cash Preferred card for U.S. supermarket, select streaming, transit and gas station purchases. The card’s rewards rate on the rest of your purchases is low – only 1% cash back – so try to rotate in a card with a higher rewards rate for the rest of your purchases.

Max out the 6% bonus category

To get the most out of the Blue Cash Preferred card, you need to use up every dollar of spend for the 6% bonus category. The card cuts you off at $6,000 in purchases per year for the 6% bonus rate – that’s only $500 in grocery spend per month, which we think is a pretty manageable amount for the average family. However, if that’s outside your food budget, you might think outside the box and look for other items that you can purchase at the supermarket, which brings us to our next suggestion:

Buy gift cards

If you’re full up on groceries, many supermarkets will allow you to purchase gift cards with your credit card. You can stock up on restaurant, Best Buy or Amazon gift cards with your Blue Cash Preferred card to earn 6% cash back.

Switch to another card once you’ve hit the $6,000 spending cap

Keep close tabs on your supermarket purchases with the Blue Cash Preferred card. Once you hit the $6,000 spending cap, switch over to another credit card for your grocery purchases (such as the Cash Magnet card or the Citi Double Cash card) to earn a better rate than 1% cash back.

Bottom line

With the right credit combination, you can earn hundreds of dollars in rewards on your everyday purchases. While the average cash back card earns a mere 1.5% cash back, you can easily double that amount by pairing the right cards – not a bad incentive for running errands!

*All information about the American Express Cash Magnet® Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

Source: creditcards.com

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Citi Custom Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card are two cash back credit cards that offer a unique way to earn rewards. Instead of earning specific rates in specific categories, you decide which categories earn you bonus cash back. This is a great feature because it puts you in control of earning extra rewards through your credit card spending.

Citi Custom Cash vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards

To help us compare some of the key features of the Citi Custom Cash card and the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card, the key highlights are included in this table:

Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards

Rewards rate
  • 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, then 1%
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores, or home improvements and furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined spend limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Welcome bonus $200 (20,000 ThankYou points) after spending $750 in first 3 months of account opening $200 if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days of account opening
Annual fee $0 $0

Earning cash back

Both the Citi Custom Cash card and the Bank of America Customized Rewards card allow you to earn cash back after spending on the card. Both cards also allow you some control over the categories where you’ll get bonus rewards.

Regular rewards

The Citi Custom Cash earns 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, on up to the first $500 spent, then 1% cash back. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

There are other cards that offer 5% cash back, but most of those have rotating quarterly categories set by the credit card issuer, such as Discover’s rotating bonus categories. Some quarters, it might work great for you, but in other quarters you might find it hard to get much benefit. The Citi Custom Cash card is the first card that offers 5% cash back on the category in which you spend the most. You don’t need to set your 5% category through your account – you’ll automatically earn 5% cash back on purchases in whichever category you spend the most that month, on up to $500 in spending.

It’s important to note that the cash back you earn with the Citi Custom Cash is paid in the form of ThankYou points. This makes the Citi Custom Cash card even more exciting due to the flexibility of ThankYou points. You can always redeem your ThankYou points for cash at a rate of 1 cent per ThankYou point, but you can also combine your ThankYou points with points earned from other Citi credit cards (like the Citi Premier® Card) for added value, and then redeem them by booking your next trip on the ThankYou rewards center.

On the other hand, the Bank of America Customized Rewards card allows you to choose which category earns bonus rewards. You’ll earn 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvements and furnishings), 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases and 1% cash back on other purchases. But there’s a catch: the 2% and 3% bonus categories are limited to a combined total of $2,500 in spending each quarter.

The Bank of America Customized Cash card is also part of Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. This can be a way to supercharge the rewards rate you earn with your credit card. How much cash you have in deposit with either Bank of America or Merrill affects your Preferred Rewards program tier, which in turn could boost your rewards rate.

Those who qualify for the highest tier, the Platinum Honors level, must have at least $100,000 on deposit, but they get a 75% bonus on all cash back they earn with the Customized Cash Rewards card. That means you’ll essentially earn 5.25% cash back in the category of your choice and 3.5% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

Sign-up bonus

When comparing the Citi Custom Cash versus the Bank of America Customized Rewards cards, the two cards have very similar sign-up bonuses.

The Citi Custom Cash is currently offering $200 (awarded as 20,000 ThankYou points) after spending $750 in the first three months of having the card.

The Bank of America Customized Rewards has a welcome offer of $200 if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of having the card.

While the spending threshold on the Bank of America Customized Rewards card is slightly higher, both welcome offers give the same bonus amount and relatively easy to obtain.

Redeeming cash back

Both the Bank of America Customized Rewards card and the Citi Custom Cash card allow you to redeem your cash back for checks, direct deposit or as a statement credit. Getting your cash as a statement credit is probably the simplest way to redeem your rewards, and there is no minimum amount to redeem for a statement credit.

As we mentioned earlier, with the Citi Custom Cash card, your cash back is actually paid out in the form of Citi ThankYou points. You can combine the ThankYou points you earn using the Custom Cash card with ThankYou points you earn with other Citi credit cards like the Citi Premier. This opens up another avenue to redeem the rewards you earn. At a rate of 1 cent per point, you can use your ThankYou points for travel or transfer them to Citi’s hotel and airline travel partners.

Since the Citi ThankYou points can be redeemed in a variety of ways, they are slightly more valuable than the Bank of America Customized Rewards’ cash back that are limited to only a few redemption options.

Other perks

The Citi Custom Cash card and Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card are both very basic credit cards. They do not have a ton of other perks and benefits. One great feature is that both cards come with no annual fee. The Customized Cash Rewards card does offer an introductory 0% APR for 15 billing cycles for new purchases as well as balance transfers made within 60 days of opening the account, then 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR thereafter.

The Citi Custom Cash also offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months on both new purchases and balance transfers, as long as the balance transfers are performed in the first four months of account opening. Then the regular APR will be a variable 13.99% to 23.99%.

Citi Custom Cash Card: Best for lower spenders or those with very focused spending

The 5% cash back you earn with the Citi Custom Cash is limited to only the first $500 in spending each month. Any spending above that amount or in categories other than the one in which you spend the most only earns 1% cash back. Since 1% cash back is a fairly low cash back rate, it makes sense to focus your spending on the Custom Cash card in only one category each month, up to the $500.

Others who might consider the Citi Custom Cash card are those who have several different credit cards. If you plan to pair several credit cards, it may not be a big deal to spend in one category on the Citi Custom Cash card each month to snag the 5% rewards. If you can maximize the 5% rewards category each month, that’s an extra 30,000 ThankYou points or $300 each year.

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards: Best for those with large deposit or investment accounts

Because of the power of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards is best for those who can deposit at least $100,000 with either Bank of America or Merrill. This will give you Platinum Honors status with Preferred Rewards and a 75% bonus on all rewards that you earn with the Customized Cash Rewards credit card. You’ll then earn 5.25% cash back in the category of your choice and 3.5% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

Even if you don’t have $100,000 to put away in a Bank of America account, at least $20,000 or $50,000 will also respectively qualify you for the Gold or Platinum tier. Though the increased rewards on those are lower, at 25% for Gold and 50% for Platinum, the Preferred Rewards does make the Customized Cash Rewards a more attractive option. If you don’t participate in the program at all, you only earn 2% and 3% in qualifying categories up to $2,500.

Bottom line

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards and Citi Custom Cash cards are both cash back credit cards that allow you to choose the spending categories where you can earn bonus rewards. If you know exactly which category you spend the most in, gas or dining or online shopping, the Customized Cash Rewards might be the better move – especially if you already have a good sum in a Bank of America or Merrill account to help boost your rewards.

For those who don’t spend as much or use multiple credit cards at a time to maximize rewards, the Citi Custom Cash card is also an excellent choice. Though the spend limit for the 5% cash back is rather low at $500, the Citi ThankYou points may be redeemed in so many ways, it gives the Custom Cash an extra edge in the competition. Both cards come with no annual fee, making them excellent cash back cards to consider. Which one is right for you will depend on your own specific spending habits.

Source: creditcards.com