What is the best credit card strategy for married couples?


As the title says. What credit cards should a married couple use to maximize travel awards/or cashback? Should each person have different cards in order to get more value? Or, should one person be an authorized user to increase spending on one card?

I have the Discover It card and have my wife as an authorized user; however, have we already reached the cash back cap for the current quarter? Should she get a Discover It card too and add me as an authorized user?

Will an Amex gold make sense for a married couple? What about the chase cards?

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  1. Cash back vs travel is a personal choice you have to make. You have a discover today. Are you happy with cash rewards or would you rather have travel rewards? If you want to travel internationally this could make sense. Amex gold costs $250 to carry. Are you willing to pay that fee in return for rewards?

    I have no idea what your spending profile is. But, you could each apply for your own Citi custom cash card. This would give you 5% on your highest spend category each. One of you uses it on groceries and the other on gas for example. Or you each max out 5% on $500 worth of groceries a month.

  2. From /r/churning

    I did the CSP for me, then my wife… hers will get downgraded to freedom, mine will get upgraded to CSR…

    The flowchart is a great tool, but you do have to tweak based on your needs/wants/goals

    Travel vs Cash, Hotel cards or Airline. How many SUBS can you hit? Risk, etc. Business cards or not?

    My wife is at 4/24, I’m at 3/24 (for Chase). I’m working my way through a lot of business cards (because I have a lot of business spend)

    Just remember that it’s a marathon, and not a race. I use Google Sheets to keep track of my applications and 5/24 for both of us.

    I try to keep applications at 3 months apart. You have to understand that a lot of the recommendations are based on SUBs, and that there are a lot with downgrade paths.

    If you have a thin file, you might not want to get any card that you won’t want to keep long term.

  3. Lots of great questions!

    There’s no one ideal strategy. It’ll come down to your goals and mutual interest in various multi-card strategies. Not to mention credit histories and what cards each of you already has. As you’ve noted, some cards have limits on how much cashback can be earned in a month or quarter.

    The first and most important decision is whether you want to pursue cashback or travel points. Cashback is simpler and more immediate, while points may involve more planning and strategizing on redemptions. You can pursue a mix of the two, such as Chase UR points, which gives 1cpp on cash/statement credit, but can have higher value when redeemed on a Sapphire card for travel purposes.

    Chase is a system where you can transfer points between cards and between users. For example, you both could have your own CFF to double the 5%-eligible spending you can do in a quarter (same would work for Discover It).

    You can also refer each other to different cards to get extra bonuses beyond SUBs, one of the best advantages to having an active P2.

    My spouse doesn’t want to have to think about which card to use for her spending, so she has a Citi DC for 2% on everything. I do most of the major category spending, so things like groceries still get the higher bonuses. It sacrifices a fairly small amount of potential cashback for peace of mind, which is worth it to me.

    But having a fully engaged P2 means you can diversify on SUBs and use referrals to double up on others.

  4. My strategy with P2 is each of us gets a different, quality card, and we refer each other to the card for referral points. So I got the CSP 2 months ago and referred my wife to it this month. She will grab the CFU and refer me to it, and I’ll grab the CFF and refer her to it.

    We do the same with lots of airline cards, too. Delta Gold and Delta Plat, the Aadvantage Select, etc.

    You’ll get a lot more rewards by referring and opening up your own cards with SUBs.

  5. There’s a lot to cover here. First decide whether you are trying to maximize travel, cash back or some combination of both. Then pick a point ecosphere, Citi, Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards. Once there, apply for cards that are offering high SUBs, and make sure to hit the minimum spend on those cards. Some cards are worth it even without high SUBs. The Amex Gold is one of the cards we use the most often for 4x Restaurants and 4x Groceries. Certain cards, like CFF, the Discover It, only offer $1,500 in quarterly category bonuses. Because there’s no annual fee on those cards, it makes sense to have multiples.

  6. We went CSP for our first card since there is no authorized user fee. We then quickly realized that the return on spend from the CSP was at least 50% less than the CSR based on our spend. We travel quite a bit which gives us the 3x back and we use the points to book flights/hotels at a 50% boost. We also use this card for all the times we eat out. These also return 3x points. We also use it for the ‘other’ category which is 1x plus the 50% boost when we redeem the points. So 4.5x back on our two biggest expenses is great plus at least 1.5x on the ‘other’ stuff. You can also just take the 3x/1x as cash back.

    Fee is kind of hefty $550 (I actually haven’t been billed for since we PC’d in May) but easily gets taken care of by the $300 travel credit and the priority pass perk. Priority pass is awesome. We get $28 each to spend as we choose at a specific restaurant. I value this to the fullest since we always need to eat before we fly. $28 is more than enough at the place we go to. We’ve used about 6 times, so $168 of this. I haven’t even dug into the other stuff but so far we’ve used $418 of the $550 fee in about two months. The other stuff we don’t value much like door dash (rarely use it) and Lyft Pink. I’m assuming we’ll use priority pass a bunch more and go over the $550. (We’re going to New Orleans this Sunday and Brazil next Thursday)

  7. My husband and I both get the same cards. That way we can take advantage of the referral and SU bonuses. It’s also great for when you max out a spending category, just switch to your spouse’s card and you can double the spending in bonus categories. Most of our cards are Chase and they let you transfer points to each other.

  8. There is no theoretical best strategy.

    To answer your questions:

    * With player 2, you can easily build the absolute perfect cashback set up for your case in less time. Making each other authorized users is only helpful if you both use a certain category like gas.
    * Discover card is generally a good card to have if you have short history.
    * Whatever makes a card good for a single person will make it good for a couple.

    Here’s what you can do with a player 2:

    * Secure a referral bonus for a lot of cards. Player A apply for the card then when player B is ready you can refer him/her
    * Pool your points for bigger rewards. Most companies will allow you to pool points with a household member. I believe Chase is one of them
    * A lot more annual fee cards can be keeper card like airline cards with companion certificate for a flight at half price and hotel cards with free night certificate makes great anniversary gift.

  9. If I were a couple right now, I’d go for getting a Citi Custom Cash. Then I’d use one for groceries and the other for dining. Then I’d go Altitude Go, CFF, Discover it.

  10. Whether you focus more on Cashback or points when you have a player #2 then yeah, getting them their own copy of the card if you’re teaching the cash/points limit makes sense. Not to mention you can get double the sign up bonus es. Another benefit is getting those hotel keeper cards together. The kind that usually charge around a $95 AF but come with a annual free night or enough points each year for a free night or two. Combine them and you got 2-4 days of hotel stays each year.

  11. Technically, you don’t need to be an authorized user to use the card. No one ID checks. Stay at home wives have been using the “husband’s” card for decades. Stores aren’t going to turn away your money because you don’t look like a James or a Sarah, and maybe you’re gender queer, it’s not something worth the cashier’s time.

    Chase has rejected a new sign up from someone who was an authorized user on the same card. Now whether they do it all the time I don’t know. At one point Chase was trying to limit card SUBs to one per “household” but they found out it wasn’t legal.

    Also consider if you churn SUBs on checking accounts that a joint account owner will definitely count as “bonus already received.”

    Sometimes you can get a second card for yourself without an AU so spouse can have a copy, albeit with your name on it. Or you can put the card on Google and Apple Pay on multiple phones.

    Having AUs is the proper way to go about it, but I’m just pointing out that it’s not technically required to make a transaction in-person and definitely not required online.

  12. Lots of good comments here already so I’ll just fill in a couple of niches.

    It’s pretty universal that you can be the primary on a card and also have your spouse also have the same card with you being listed as an authorized user on his/her card. That can sometimes be useful when meeting SUBs and you want to chase enhanced bonuses.

    You can each list household income when applying for cards, but if you don’t file your federal tax returns jointly you may have to go through hoops if you get a 4506-C request. If you file individually and you’re both employed what they see won’t be close to what you claimed which will raise questions.

  13. OP it would be helpful if you could provide more info on the spending profile of you and your wife by using the template so folks can provide answers that are better suited for both of you

  14. Really depends if your SO is into it, mine is not so she’s an authorized user on my highest general cash back card and I manage payment for big ticket items to my cash back credit card strategy. It isn’t optimal but the pain/time required to make it so isn’t anywhere near worth it.

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