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

How to book a trip to Thailand with your Amex Platinum Card

Thinking about booking a trip to Thailand as the world opens back up?

There are many different ways to use your credit card rewards and miles to get yourself a free trip to the “Land of Smiles” and also lots of airlines you can use to route yourself to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK).

If you’ve been racking up Membership Rewards points using The Platinum Card® from American Express over the past year – or any other Amex rewards-earning card – now is the time to turn your points into post-pandemic travel.

Since there are a few ways to put these points to work for planning an epic trip, let’s first look at the two methods for planning international travel. Then I’ll share my top option for redeeming my American Express earnings to land myself in the birthplace of pad thai. (Spoiler alert: It’s transferring points for round-trip business class travel on All Nippon Airways [ANA] via Japan.)

See related: How I use my Amex Platinum card

Read more from our credit card experts.

Ask Stephanie a question.

Two ways to redeem Amex points for international travel

There are two distinct ways to use your Membership Rewards points to book an international ticket to Thailand. You can either book directly through the American Express Travel portal, or you can transfer your points to any of the 19 Membership Rewards airline partners and book directly with them.

Which way is better? Both options are fantastic, but you’ll need to factor in where you are going, which airlines will take you there and how much the ticket costs to determine which booking method will give you a better return on the value of your points.

Booking with Amex Travel

When I log in to my American Express account and search the travel page, it’s easy to see that tickets from Los Angeles (LAX) to Thailand (BKK) in late summer 2021 are around $750 round trip in economy class, or 75,000 Membership Rewards points. Not too bad since I got 100,000 points from my Platinum card’s welcome bonus, and the flights are on ANA – a nice Japanese airline.

However, since a trans-Pacific flight to Bangkok is a long plane ride, I prefer to travel premium class whenever possible. If I use Amex Travel to look up the cost of that same round-trip ANA flight from LAX to BKK in business class, it’s $6,377. Paying with Membership Rewards, the equivalent price is 637,655 points. Unfortunately, that’s more points or money than I normally have at any given time to spend on a flight.

See related: Cash back vs. points: Which is better?

Booking through a Membership Rewards travel partner

You can also transfer your Membership Rewards points to one of the program’s travel partners, then use those points to book your trip through that airline’s mileage program.

For the same trip to Thailand from LAX, you could transfer points from Membership Rewards to the ANA mileage program. Once the points arrive in your ANA account (which might take a few days), you can use them to book your tickets. Amex Travel bases the points cost of your flight on the actual ticket price, but ANA charges set rates according to the class of service, fare type, and whether you’re traveling during high, medium or low season.

For example, the same ANA business class fare I would have paid over 600,000 miles for on the travel portal would only cost 100,000 miles during the low season purchased directly through ANA. Guess which ticket I’ll be choosing to fly to Thailand.

See related: Avoid these common travel credit card mistakes

Which option should you choose?

To know which method is best for booking any specific itinerary, you’ll have to check and compare all of your options every time.

The benefit of booking through a mileage program is that sometimes, as in my example, you can squeeze more value out of your points – especially if you purchase more expensive premium tickets. But you’ll have to do the research to know which airline partner programs to check.

On the other hand, if you book through Amex Travel, you may get a better deal on points cost if the fare is already low. And since this type of rewards ticket is considered a “paid” ticket from the airline’s perspective, you’ll still earn miles from the flight in the airline’s loyalty program when you take your trip.

Bottom line

Membership Rewards points earned from the American Express Platinum card are valuable for booking big trips like a post-pandemic visit to Thailand. Because these points provide flexibility when booking tickets, you have many options to get the most redemption value.

Source: creditcards.com

[Targeted] American Express Transfer Bonus: 20% To Singapore Airlines

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Receive a 20% bonus when you transfer your American Express membership rewards points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. For example, transfer 1,000 American Express membership rewards and receive 1,200 KrisFlyer miles.

The Fine Print

  • Unknown end date

Our Verdict

Don’t think we’ve ever seen a transfer bonus to KrisFlyer. You can view a full list of transfer bonuses that are currently available and have been previously available by clicking here. As always I don’t think it’s worth transferring miles speculatively due to no notice devaluations to airline programs.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

American Express To Launch Limited Edition Platinum Card Designs (Designs Released)

Update: Card designs are now live.

Original post: American Express has announced a partnership with artists Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley to create new designs for the American Express Platinum card. The designs will be unveiled in Miami on December 1, 2021 and card members will be able to request the new designs. In addition American Express will donate $1 million in sponsorship to The Studio Museum in Harlem (the Studio Museum).

Source: doctorofcredit.com

American Express Transfer Bonus: 30% To Virgin Atlantic

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Receive a 30% bonus when you transfer your American Express membership rewards points to Virgin Atlantic. For example, transfer 1,000 American Express membership rewards and receive 1,300 Virgin Atlantic miles.

The Fine Print

  • Valid until 12/31/21

Our Verdict

This is the standard transfer bonus we see from American Express to Virgin Atlantic, although haven’t seen it in some time. You can view a full list of the previous and current transfer bonuses by clicking here. My recommendation is to only transfer if you have a redemption in mind for the short to medium term due to airline programs constantly devaluing their programs.

Source: doctorofcredit.com