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the ULTIMATE 2-card combo

Aim_High
Senior Contributor

the ULTIMATE 2-card combo

Last month, I started a topic "Simplicity: ONE card"  (See LINK) to discuss what our wallets would look like if we were to pare down with the goal of one card remaining from what we currently hold.  This is a related but a slightly different modality.   Forget about the cards you currently hold.   Let's talk about ... IF you were going to pick only TWO CARDS to carry ... which two would they be, and why?  I've found there are certain combinations that work really well together in certain rewards or cash back programs.  They don't have to be from the same lender, although sometimes that offers certain synergies due to rewards or loyalty structuress.  Here are some of my all-time best two card combos. 

 

For cash back, and for those who can reallocate $100K of investments or IRAs into Merrill Lynch, it's hard to beat the Bank of America Premium Rewards paired with a Customized Cash Rewards.  That $100K gets you into the Preferred Rewards program at Platinum Honors level.  A Premium Rewards card would earn the base rate of 1.5% on all uncategorized spend multiplied by 1.75% for the boost = 2.625% on all uncategorized spend, and uncapped.  It would also earn 2% uncapped on dining and travel and with PH status, so 2.00 x 1.75 = 3.5% in cash back.  You would earn a similar boost on the Customized Cash Rewards Visa, so the 2.00% on grocery and warehouse clubs becomes 3.5% with PH status, and the 3% on your selected category (which can be changed as often as monthly) becomes 5.25% cash back with top-earning PH status.   

BofA_NEW_Premium_Rewards_2021.jpg   BofA_NEW_Cash_Rewards_2021_02.jpg

 

So with just (2) cards, you would earn:  

 

  • 5.25% on selected category of gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings.
  • 3.50% on grocery stores and warehouse clubs.
  • 3.50% on dining and travel, uncapped
  • 2.625% on everything else

... and just one $95 AF that is completely reimbursed with TSA Global Entry credit ($100/4 years or average $25/year) plus $100 annual airline fee credit.  Effectively, they are paying you $30 a year on average to carry the card! 

 

A more simple two-card CASH lineup (without any investment requirement) would be the AOD FCU Visa Signature [that earns 3% on everything, uncapped and uncategorized, with no AF] paired with one additional card of your choice that earns at least 5% on one category, probably your highest-spend category or categories.  For example, the Chase Amazon Prime Visa, the Discover IT, the Chase Freedom Flex, the Citi Custom Cash, the US Bank Cash+, the Elan Max Cash Preferred, or any other of the 5% rotators such as the ones mentioned in this recent thread on Comprehensive List of 5% Rotators.  IMO, I would not include the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred in such a list since after the AF, the best return you get on groceries is only 4.4% if you spend exactly $6K, before you start adding back in the return for streaming.  A simple no-AF 3% + no-AF 5% beats that. 

AOD_FCU_Visa_Sig.jpg   Discover_Garnet.jpg

 

Honorable mention for the simple two-card CASH lineup would go to the above but substituting the Alliant Visa Signature card in place of the AOD FCU Visa Signature, which would earn a base of 2.5% on up to $10K monthly.

Alliant_Visa_Signature.jpg   Discover_Garnet.jpg

 

For Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) point earnings, I would go with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa Infinite paired with the Freedom Unlimited Visa Signature to earn:

9CSR.jpg   4CFU.jpg

 

  • 4.5% on dining, uncapped (for travel) ... or 3% (in cash)
  • 4.5% on travel, uncapped (for travel) ... or 3% (in cash)
  • 4.5% on drug stores (for travel) ... or 3% (in cash)
  • 2.25% on everything else (for travel) ... or 1.5% (in cash)
  • If transferred to partners, the earnings rates could be up to 6% on travel, dining and drugstores and 3% on everything else.

One $550 AF reduced with $300 credits to $250 and further with additional credits.  Premium travel and shopping protections and insurances.  

 

For AMEX Member Rewards Points (MRs), I think it's hard to beat the GOLD card combined with the Blue Business Plus to earn:

AMEX_GOLD_02.jpg   Blue_Business_PLUS.jpg

 

  • 4X MRs on dining
  • 4X MRs on groceries, up to $25K annual spend
  • 3x MRs on airfare
  • 2X MRs on everything else, up to $50K annual spend
  • MR value approximately 1 ccp to 2 ccp for travel, worth 4% to 8% on dining-groceries; 3% to 6% on airfare; 2% to 4% on everything else.
  • One $250 AF with dining and other credits that reinburse all or most of it. 

With Thank You (TY) Points and Citibank, I would probably pair the Premier Mastercard card with the Double Cash Mastercard.  With TY points worth 1 ccp to about 1.7 ccp, you would earn:

CITI_Premier.jpg   CITI_DoubleCash.jpg

 

  • 3X TYs on dining (3% to 5.1%)
  • 3X TYs on groceries (3% to 5.1%)
  • 3X TYs on gas (3% to 5.1%)
  • 3X TYs on airfare (3% to 5.1%)
  • 3X TYs on hotels (3% to 5.1%)
  • 2X TYs on everything else (2% to 3.4%)

The $95 AF on Premier is completely refunded with the annual $100 hotel credit.

 

I could think of a few other combos but just wanted to get the discussion started.  Smiley Happy

 

Apologies in advance to @BearsCubsOtters since I "kill" him when I start these topics.  lol Smiley Tongue  And shout-out to @Taurus22 who enjoys these topics. 

 



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 1 of 18
17 REPLIES 17
BearsCubsOtters
Frequent Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo

@Aim_High 

 

Bwhahahahahahaha!

 

I can see you at your desktop, robe and slippers with a coffee mug that reads, "#1 Credit Dad" when you write these LOL.

 

All kidding aside, this is great information for those looking for information on these cards. 

 

citi-custom-cash_222x140.pngLimitless.jpg

 

Daddy only does cash back (and yes, I realize Custom Cash technically earns TY points) and Daddy likes simplicity:

 

USAA Limitless Cash Rewards Visa

2.5% on all purchases

no limits on how much I can earn each year, no minmums to redeem-and-I control my cash back which goes into my USAA savings account until I decide where to invest it. Can't do that with AOD.

 

Citi Custom Cash World Elite Mastercard

5% cash back on groceries all year (I would not use it for anything else)

No signing up, no waiting for one quarter and groceries are my largest spend each month (and I stay at or under $500 for that).

Like my USAA Limitless, I control the points/cash back and can receive a check or ACH for my cash back. 

 

So yeah, you still kill me. 

 

On a side note, and since this is Smorgasboard, I would like you to upgrade that awful Wells Fargo Cash Wise to the Active Cash.

Message 2 of 18
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo


@BearsCubsOtters wrote:

@Aim_High 

 

Bwhahahahahahaha!

 

I can see you at your desktop, robe and slippers with a coffee mug that reads, "#1 Credit Dad" when you write these LOL.

 

All kidding aside, this is great information for those looking for information on these cards. 

 

citi-custom-cash_222x140.png   Limitless.jpg

 

Daddy only does cash back (and yes, I realize Custom Cash technically earns TY points) and Daddy likes simplicity:

 

USAA Limitless Cash Rewards Visa

2.5% on all purchases

no limits on how much I can earn each year, no minmums to redeem-and-I control my cash back which goes into my USAA savings account until I decide where to invest it. Can't do that with AOD.

 

Citi Custom Cash World Elite Mastercard

5% cash back on groceries all year (I would not use it for anything else)

No signing up, no waiting for one quarter and groceries are my largest spend each month (and I stay at or under $500 for that).

Like my USAA Limitless, I control the points/cash back and can receive a check or ACH for my cash back. 

 

So yeah, you still kill me. 

 

On a side note, and since this is Smorgasboard, I would like you to upgrade that awful Wells Fargo Cash Wise to the Active Cash.


Nice choices, @BearsCubsOttersSmiley Happy  You give me too much credit with robe and slippers instead of barefoot and boxers with day-old stubble and chomping on an unlit cigar.   Lol  Smiley Tongue  

 

I didn't mention the USAA Limitless since it's no longer available but a great choice if you hold it!  And for these purposes, I like any card you can use month-in and month-out on the same category (Custom Cash) with only a monthly cap to keep in check. 

 

Yes, the Active Cash is awful but there's a backstory. Smiley Sad  I added it last year when I didn't really need it, but there was a purpose to it.  I already had many other cards over 2% at that point much less my Quicksilver at 1.5% with no minimum redemption.   Still ....

 

  • I had a marketing preapproval with unique code.
  • It had a $150 SUB for low spending.
  • I wanted to broaden my credit relationship with the largest banks and WF was one I didn't yet have.
  •  ... and I had planned to apply for the Propel and to combine that Cash Wise limit with it to bulk it up. 

Then ... WF decided to cancel the Propel this year and revise their lineup.  So now, I'm holding onto Cash Wise with plans to eventually consolidate it with a better card if they come out with something.  Active Cash doesn't really help me out since I have multiple better 2% or higher cards, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I'm hoping for a great travel card replacement product.  



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 3 of 18
FinStar
Moderator

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo

Message 4 of 18
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo


@FinStar wrote:   Older [locked] topic, but still applicable:

https://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/SmorgasBoard/IF-IF-you-could-only-carry-TWO-cards-for-the-rest-of-y...


Thanks for the link @FinStar.  I really appreciated when those responses stated why they picked the cards they did, and also outlined the rewards since rewards programs are in constant flux. 



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 5 of 18
spiritcraft1
Valued Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo

Very cool.  The Affinity Visa would give you the 5% Amazon plus rotators that are sometimes 7% CB.  I will have to look into this BofA thing.  Does it work with a Business  CC in the mix?


|Biz | AU

Rebuilding from a sudden, swift and complete credit disaster in early 2014 | Starting Scores 2017 = High 300's - Low 400's
8-1-18 -
Current F08 -
Current 2,4,5 -
Current F09 -

No PG Biz Credit in Order of Approval - Uline, Quill, Grainger, SupplyWorks, MSC, Amsterdam, Citi Tractor Supply Rev .8k, Amazon Net 55 $5.5k, NewEgg Net 30 10k, Richelieu 2k, Wurth Supply 2k, Global Ind 2k, Sam's Club Store 11.k, Shell Fleet 19.5k, Citi Exxon 2.5k, Dell Biz Revolving $15k
Message 6 of 18
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo


@spiritcraft1 wrote:

Very cool.  The Affinity Visa would give you the 5% Amazon plus rotators that are sometimes 7% CB. 

 

I will have to look into this BofA thing.  Does it work with a Business  CC in the mix?


Yes, that Affinity FCU has been popular on My Fico although I don't have it.  To clarify, it's different from the Alliant CU Visa I mentioned above although the cards look similar.  The Affinity-Alliant combo could work well together to get at least 2.5% back on everything!

 

Alliant_Visa_Signature.jpg   Affinity_FCU_Visa.jpg  

 

From my understanding, Bank of America has separate programs for Preferred Rewards for individual (or) business.  I don't think they merge and each has to qualify separately.  They've offered me business cards but I don't want to move more money to qualify for the business rewards program.



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 7 of 18
spiritcraft1
Valued Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo


@Aim_High wrote:

@spiritcraft1 wrote:

Very cool.  The Affinity Visa would give you the 5% Amazon plus rotators that are sometimes 7% CB. 

 

I will have to look into this BofA thing.  Does it work with a Business  CC in the mix?


Yes, that Affinity FCU has been popular on My Fico although I don't have it.  To clarify, it's different from the Alliant CU Visa I mentioned above although the cards look similar.  The Affinity-Alliant combo could work well together to get at least 2.5% back on everything!

 

Alliant_Visa_Signature.jpg   Affinity_FCU_Visa.jpg  

 

From my understanding, Bank of America has separate programs for Preferred Rewards for individual (or) business.  I don't think they merge and each has to qualify separately.  They've offered me business cards but I don't want to move more money to qualify for the business rewards program.


 

Thank you.    I was trying to do some math with a guess on yearly spend and comparing it to what we are getting in interest (not much these days).  It would seem that your plan above would provide a net gain on moving the sum required since that is currently getting 1% or so in a Kasasa savings account.  If interest rates were 4%, not so much of course. 

 

I will look into the business side as well. 


|Biz | AU

Rebuilding from a sudden, swift and complete credit disaster in early 2014 | Starting Scores 2017 = High 300's - Low 400's
8-1-18 -
Current F08 -
Current 2,4,5 -
Current F09 -

No PG Biz Credit in Order of Approval - Uline, Quill, Grainger, SupplyWorks, MSC, Amsterdam, Citi Tractor Supply Rev .8k, Amazon Net 55 $5.5k, NewEgg Net 30 10k, Richelieu 2k, Wurth Supply 2k, Global Ind 2k, Sam's Club Store 11.k, Shell Fleet 19.5k, Citi Exxon 2.5k, Dell Biz Revolving $15k
Message 8 of 18
BearsCubsOtters
Frequent Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo


@Aim_High wrote:

@BearsCubsOtters wrote:

@Aim_High 

 

Bwhahahahahahaha!

 

I can see you at your desktop, robe and slippers with a coffee mug that reads, "#1 Credit Dad" when you write these LOL.

 

All kidding aside, this is great information for those looking for information on these cards. 

 

citi-custom-cash_222x140.png   Limitless.jpg

 

Daddy only does cash back (and yes, I realize Custom Cash technically earns TY points) and Daddy likes simplicity:

 

USAA Limitless Cash Rewards Visa

2.5% on all purchases

no limits on how much I can earn each year, no minmums to redeem-and-I control my cash back which goes into my USAA savings account until I decide where to invest it. Can't do that with AOD.

 

Citi Custom Cash World Elite Mastercard

5% cash back on groceries all year (I would not use it for anything else)

No signing up, no waiting for one quarter and groceries are my largest spend each month (and I stay at or under $500 for that).

Like my USAA Limitless, I control the points/cash back and can receive a check or ACH for my cash back. 

 

So yeah, you still kill me. 

 

On a side note, and since this is Smorgasboard, I would like you to upgrade that awful Wells Fargo Cash Wise to the Active Cash.


Nice choices, @BearsCubsOttersSmiley Happy  You give me too much credit with robe and slippers instead of barefoot and boxers with day-old stubble and chomping on an unlit cigar.   Lol  Smiley Tongue  

 

Then ... WF decided to cancel the Propel this year and revise their lineup.  So now, I'm holding onto Cash Wise with plans to eventually consolidate it with a better card if they come out with something.  Active Cash doesn't really help me out since I have multiple better 2% or higher cards, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I'm hoping for a great travel card replacement product.  


Ah that makes sense. I am waiting to see what their last, new card will be. Still waiting for that d@mn new GM Card too...I hate waiting!

Message 9 of 18
Aim_High
Senior Contributor

Re: the ULTIMATE 2-card combo

Glad to help, @spiritcraft1.  I believe that most of us on My Fico that have qualified for Preferred Rewards elected to do it via Merrill Lynch instead of leaving large deposits to languish in regular banking accounts.  Most banks and credit unions have much lower interest rates on regular checking and savings as compared to even money market accounts.  On the other hand, moving an IRA or some stock or mutual fund investments you don't plan to touch lets you qualify with assets you've already got invested for a better return. 

 

I did move about $20K to banking accounts temporarily as a part of setting up Preferred Rewards and reaping a SUB.  I got one SUB for opening banking accounts, one for opening the Merrill Lynch accounts, and another for opening the Premium Rewards card!  All told, it added up to $1,175.  See this link  for my Premium Rewards approval and data points from July 2020. 

 

Part of my strategy besides lender diversity is to also have diversity in how I can earn rewards.  I don't want to be tied down to MRs, URs, TYs, or even cash but have the option to select alternative earnings.  That's actually part of how I came up with those "two-card combos" for a high earnings rate in different currencies with just a couple of cards.  So while I have the PR/CCR combo, it doesn't get the majority of my spend right now.  (I am spreading my spend right now between cards.) 



Length of Credit > 35 years; Total Credit Limits > $600K
AoOA > 28 years (Jun 1993); AoYA (Nov 2021)
* Hover cursor over cards to see name & CL, or press & hold on mobile app.
Message 10 of 18
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