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Best Credit Card Combination in May 2022: What You Should Be Using

Best Credit Card Combination in May 2022: What You Should Be Using

The best credit card combination is the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®, because it offers the most flexibility in both earning and redemption value.

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Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Citi is an advertising partner

One way to maximize your credit card rewards is by combining perks from several related credit cards. Some credit cards offer bonus rewards rates in specific categories, while others have excellent all-around earning. When you choose just one credit card, you have to make tradeoffs to pick one card that has the rewards and benefits that work best for you. But choosing a credit card combination allows you to pick and choose the best perks and earnings rates of multiple credit cards.

We surveyed credit cards on ValuePenguin and top issuer sites to find cards with generous earning categories. We then used spending estimates to identify card combinations with the largest amount of earning power for the average consumer.

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The following credit card combinations allow you to get the best of the benefits of the different cards, and can really take your earning and redeeming potential to the next level.

Best credit card combinations 2022

Best travel credit card combination

Estimated rewards: $662 ?

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Major categories6% estimated earnings on travel purchases
  • 6% estimated earnings on restaurant purchases and
  • 4.25% estimated earnings on gas and grocery purchases
3% estimated earnings on other purchases
Annual fee$95$0$0
Credit needed750-850680-850680-850
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

We think that the Chase Trifecta is the best overall credit card combination for a couple of important reasons. The first is the overall flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that you earn — you can use them to book travel directly or transfer them to travel partners with the Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. While the "best" use of your points is the one that gets you where you want to go when you want to go there, transferring your points to Chase's hotel and airline partners can often get you at least $0.02 per point in value.

Both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards do not come with an annual fee, and the annual fee on the Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is only $95. Another perk of this credit card combination is how comprehensive the earnings potential is. You have solid category bonuses with the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, the ability to earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent in rotating quarterly categories with the Chase Freedom Flex℠, and 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all other purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Here is an example that gives a general idea of what an average consumer might earn with these three Chase credit cards:

Earning rate
Rewards earned
Restaurants$3,0006%$90
Gas stations$2,0004.25%$85
Supermarkets$4,0004.25%$170
Travel$8006%$48
Hotels$3506%$21
Flights$4006%$24
General$7,4503%$224
Total$662

Another alternative for the Chase credit card combination is to substitute the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. Some people may prefer the bonuses on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (dining, online grocery and streaming services). Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card come with a $95 annual fee.

Best Amex credit card combination

Estimated rewards: $1,045 ?

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
Generic card art
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Major categories10% estimated earnings on directly booked flights and Amex travel flights and prepaid hotels8% estimated earnings on restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets4% estimated earnings on other purchases (up to $50,000 in net purchases per year)
Annual fee$695 $250 No annual fee
Credit needed720-850720-850680-850
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Not available on ValuePenguin

American Express Membership Rewards are another rewards program that has excellent flexibility in both earning and redeeming points. With this Amex trifecta, you can get outstanding earning potential on flights, prepaid hotels, restaurants and U.S. supermarkets while using The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express to earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on all other purchases (up to $50,000 per year).

It's not as lucrative to redeem points directly for travel with Membership Rewards, but you'll get around $0.02 per point when you transfer points to travel partners, by our estimates. Coupled with the monthly credits on the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express as well as the outstanding perks like airport lounge access and travel discounts, this credit card combination is one of the best ones out there. Keep in mind that because of the sizable fees on the The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card, this combination is more expensive than some of the other options, but the rewards can make it worth it.

Both the The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card offer a variety of different monthly, semiannual and annual credits. For example, the American Express® Gold Card gives up to $10 monthly in Uber Cash for U.S. Uber rides and eats when you upload the card to the Uber app. So if you truly want to maximize your rewards, you'll want to make sure that you use all of your credits each time they're available.

Here is one spending example to give you a general idea of what an average consumer could earn with this combo:

Earning rate
Rewards earned
Restaurants$3,0008%$240
Gas stations$2,0004%$80
U.S. Supermarkets$4,0008%$320
Travel$8004%$32
Hotels (prepaid)$35010%$35
Flights (booked directly or through Amex)$40010%$40
General$7,4504%$298
Total$1,045

Unlike typical credit cards, the The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card allow you to carry a balance on some charges, but not all

Best two credit cards to have

Estimated rewards: $1,008 ?

American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
Generic card art
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Major categories
  • 8% estimated earnings on restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets
  • 6% on directly booked flights or flights booked through Amex travel
4% estimated earnings on other purchases
Annual fee$250 No annual fee
Credit needed720-850680-850
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Not available on ValuePenguin

If you like earning American Express Membership Rewards points but don't want to pay the hefty annual fee on the The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can consider a modified version of the Amex trifecta. By pairing the American Express® Gold Card with The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, you still get the extra earnings on restaurants, supermarkets in the U.S. and flights with the outstanding earnings on everyday purchases.

You do end up getting a lower earnings rate on flights without the The Platinum Card® from American Express and you'll miss out on benefits like airport lounge access and the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, but you'll also save the $695 annual fee. And as you can see from our sample rewards chart below, your estimated annual rewards earned is not much lower than what you'd earn if you had all three Amex cards.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

Earning rate
Rewards earned
Restaurants$3,0008%$240
Gas stations$2,0004%$80
U.S. Supermarkets$4,0008%$320
Travel$8004%$32
Hotels$3504%$14
Flights$4006%$24
General$7,4504%$298
Total$1,008

Unlike typical credit cards, the American Express® Gold Card allows you to carry a balance on some charges, but not all

Best hotel credit card combination

Estimated rewards: $830 ?

Generic card art
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
Major categories
  • 6% estimated earnings on Hilton hotel purchases
  • 3% estimated earnings on U.S. gas stations
  • 8% estimated earnings on restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets
  • 6% estimated earnings on directly booked flights or flights booked through Amex travel
  • 2% estimated earnings on other purchases
Annual fee$95$250
Credit needed720-850720-850
Not available on ValuePenguin
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

If you're looking for a credit card combination that combines a flexible rewards currency with a direct hotel connection, you might want to consider the combination of the American Express® Gold Card and Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. Using these two cards allows you to have bonus categories at supermarkets in the U.S., restaurants, gas stations in the U.S. and many flights, hitting most of the major spending categories. The American Express® Gold Card comes with an annual fee of $250 and the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has an annual fee of $95, so you'll want to make sure that the rewards you get will offset those fees.

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, please click here

Amex points are worth around $0.02 when transferred to travel partners and Hilton points are worth $0.005 (only half a cent), by our estimates, so you'll want to take that into account while valuing the rewards you get. Hilton is an Amex transfer partner, but it only transfers 1:1. Since Amex Membership Rewards points are worth much more than Hilton Honors points, it's not a great idea to transfer from Amex to Hilton.

Here is one example that gives a general idea of what an average consumer could earn over a year:

Earning rate
Rewards earned
Restaurants$3,0008%$240
U.S. gas stations$2,0003%$60
U.S. supermarkets$4,0008%$320
Travel$8002%$16
Hotels$3506%$21
Flights (booked directly or through Amex)$4006%$24
General$7,4502%$149
Total$830

Unlike typical credit cards, the American Express® Gold Card allows you to carry a balance on some charges, but not all

Best airline credit card combination

Estimated rewards: $810 ?

Generic card art
JetBlue Plus Card
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
Major categories9.6% estimated earnings on JetBlue purchases
  • 8% estimated earnings on restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets
  • 2% estimated earnings on other purchases
Annual fee$99$250
Credit neededN/A720-850
Not available on ValuePenguin
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

If you're looking to combine flexible credit card rewards with an airline credit card, consider this combo from American Express and JetBlue. You'll get the restaurant and U.S. supermarket bonuses that come with the American Express® Gold Card along with excellent earning on JetBlue purchases. If JetBlue is not your primary airline, you could also consider substituting the co-branded airline card for the airline you fly most often.

And here is how this credit card combo stacks up for an average consumer's spending over a year:

Earning rate
Rewards earned
Restaurants$3,0008%$240
Gas stations$2,0002%$40
U.S. supermarkets$4,0008%$320
Travel$8002%$16
Hotels$3502%$7
Flights$4009.6%$38
General$7,4502%$149
Total$810

Unlike typical credit cards, the American Express® Gold Card allows you to carry a balance on some charges, but not all

Best cash back credit card combo

Estimated rewards: $550 ?

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Generic card art
PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Major categories5% earnings on up to $500 in groceries each month (if groceries is your top category)
  • 4% earnings on gas stations
  • 3% earnings at restaurants
  • 2% earnings on other purchases
Annual fee$0$0$0
Credit needed660-8500-850660-850
Apply Now
On Citibank's Secure Website
Not available on ValuePenguin
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. On Wells Fargo's Secure Website

If you're looking to earn cash back rather than travel rewards, this triple combination is one to consider. You'll potentially earn a high value on groceries, gas stations and restaurants, while still earning a solid 2% cash back on all other purchases. And considering that none of these cards charges an annual fee, they make for a solid combination.

Here is a look at an example that gives a general idea of what an average consumer could earn:

Earning rate
Rewards earned
Restaurants$3,0003%$90
Gas stations$2,0004%$80
Supermarkets$4,0005%$200
Travel$8002%$16
Hotels (prepaid)$3502%$7
Flights (booked on Amex)$4002%$8
General$7,4502%$149
Total$550

How to choose the right credit card combo

With so many different credit card combinations, it may be a bit overwhelming to figure out what is the right choice for you. Here are a few things that you might want to consider:

First, decide what kind of rewards you're most interested in. Cashback, airline miles, hotel points, flexible currencies — these can all be viable strategies depending on your travel habits. Determine what kind of rewards work best for you, and look for a combination that allows you to maximize your earning potential.

You should also look at your particular spending habits. The estimated rewards potential we shared earlier in this article is only an estimate. You may spend significantly more or less in certain categories — look for credit card combinations that give bonuses in the categories where you spend the most.

Pairing cards in the same family (e.g., Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Amex Membership Rewards) can work to your advantage by allowing you to easily combine the rewards that you earn from multiple cards. When you have multiple credit cards that all earn the same type of points, you can use the top-earning card no matter where you are. That can allow you to supercharge your earning power.

Another thing to think about is that different types of miles and points are worth different amounts. One Chase Ultimate Rewards® point is worth significantly more than one Hilton Honors point, for example. When you're calculating which credit card combination is the best, make sure you account for the various values of points. One way to do this is to convert every type of mile or point to its approximate cash value. That can allow for a more apples to apples comparison.

Many credit cards come with annual fees, which can offset some of the rewards that you'll earn. The more credit cards you have in your combination, the more potential annual fees that you might pay. While it's true that in many cases the value of the rewards that you'll earn are more than a card's annual fee, you'll want to make sure to account for any fees when you calculate your best combination.

Many credit cards come with monthly or annual credits that can help to offset the cost of a card's annual fee. While possibly earning a credit during the year is not the same as cash you have to pay upfront, credits like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®'s travel credit can help cancel out a large annual fee.

Depending on your travel and financial habits, there are many other features that come with various credit cards that might save you money through different perks. Common features might include travel insurance, airport lounge access, free checked bags, free hotel nights or complimentary subscriptions. Put a value on the features of the cards that you would use to help you determine which combination provides the most value for you.

Can I combine miles from different credit cards?

Whether you can combine miles from different credit cards depends on the type of card and rewards. Most rewards programs allow you to combine miles if you have multiple cards for the same person. When you apply for a new hotel or airline credit card, for example, you will be asked to include your loyalty number on the card application. That way any miles or points that you earn will be added to your existing loyalty account.

Much fewer are the rewards programs that allow you to combine miles and points from the accounts of different people. In most cases, airline and hotel loyalty programs will not allow you to combine miles and points between different people without paying a hefty transfer fee. On the other hand, bank points (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards® or Citi ThankYou points) generally will allow you to transfer points to authorized credit card users and/or people in the same household.

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How to combine credit card points

Many banks allow you to transfer points between people who live in the same household and/or are authorized users on the credit card, though the rules vary slightly by bank. This can be very advantageous, because it can allow spouses to combine points. In the case of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, it also allows you to earn points on their no-fee cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ to and then get 50% more value by transferring those points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® account.

Here are the rules about combining credit card points from the major issuers of flexible credit card points:

  • Chase — allows combining Ultimate Rewards with another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you or one member of your household.
  • American Express — does not allow you to transfer Membership Rewards points to another account. You can transfer Membership Rewards points to a hotel or airline partner in your own name or in the name of an additional card member linked to your Membership Rewards account.
  • Citi — allows combining ThankYou points only across accounts owned by the same person.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here

The information related to The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, JetBlue Plus Card and PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).